After searching around, we decided to rent a car from OTS because their website has the option for English, as well as I read that their rental representatives can speak mandarin because they have a lot of customers from Taiwan! It will be easier for us to communicate and clarify any issues or ask for help!
There are many cars for you to choose from, depending on your group size and needs!
We booked ourselves a Toyota C-HR and topped up with their Premium Safety Pack (Better Insurance on top of basic one) as well as opt in for the ETC (Toll Card for faster travel on expressway) and car seats for our children! We are only paying approximately SGD60 a day for all theses! It's so cheap!
Driving Rules In Okinawa, JapanJapan carries traffic on the left and the driver is on the right side of the car, just like Singapore!
The rules are about the same in Singapore too:
- All passengers must fasten their seatbelts
- Drinking and driving is absolutely prohibited
- Using your mobile phone while driving is absolutely prohibited. Specifically for the driver, using a mobile phone while driving is subject to a penalty of 50,000 yen or less. Sending and receiving texts are subject to similar penalty for gazing at the screen. Please beware.
Do note that their traffic lights are different from Singapore. You must always stop when the light is red. Vehicles traveling straight as well as those turning right or left must stop. However, even when the light is red, you may go in the direction a green arrow indicates.
It will be great to familiarise with the below Japanese Traffic Signs before you go too.
In Okinawa, they have bus lanes like in Singapore too! Especially in Naha City area! During the regulated hours, only designated vehicles and authorized vehicles are allowed to use these lanes. The bus lanes are in effect every day during commuting hours in the morning and evening, except for Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, and Jan 2-3.
The rental vehicle will come will GPS which you can use to navigate and get around. However, it seems like Japan uses Map Code unique to themselves, create by the company called Denso. To find the map codes for the places that we will be driving to, I used various sources like https://www.mapion.co.jp/ as well as http://japanmapcode.com/en/, however i notice that the Map Codes are different from different sources! 😓 I also read reviews that Google Maps does not work very well and it may be difficult to find the place you want to go to.
On the OTS website, it is recommended that you use Navicon Apps to search for the places you want to go on your mobile phone. I found the app is called NaviBridge by Denso. You simply just search for the place and send the command from your phone to the GPS system to go! Do note that the app only works when you are in Japan though. Haha, so I am not able to test it out before we go!
- Please book in advance
Book your car online in advance for they have early bird discount rates! Sometimes they have sale going on, so you can check out which rates are better. You can look for coupon code on their mainpage to apply (remember to apply your coupon code!) at checkout for additional discount!
- Make good use of the expressway!
The expressway in Okinawa is an attractive option because it offers smooth traveling from Naha to the resorts in Central Okinawa compared to local roads that are prone to traffic jams. They offers discounted rates during designated hours too!
- Beware of Bus Lanes!
One of the things to be aware of when driving in Okinawa are the bus lanes. Common vehicles including car rentals are prohibited from driving in these lanes during rush hours in the morning and evening for the purpose of relieving traffic and ensuring that buses remain on schedule. The hours vary by area, so please be sure to check before renting a car.
- Choose a Car Rental with ETC
Toll booths that accept cash may get congested during certain hours when utilizing the expressway, but you can get through smoothly using ETC. ETC is an attractive system, as it also offers discounts during designated hours. Save money on your trip!
More about Driving In Okinawa can be found on
https://www.otsinternational.jp/otsrentacar/en/guide/user-info/#sec05. Be sure to read them and get familiarise before your self-driving trip in Okinawa!
Other Posts on 7D6N Okinawa Family Trip:
Interesting Facts and Recommended Hotels
Getting Around in Okinawa
Car Rental and Self Driving in Okinawa