South korea on the bike for 2 months

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
wck
Posts: 2
Joined: 6 Jan 2019, 6:01pm

South korea on the bike for 2 months

Postby wck » 6 Jan 2019, 8:32pm

Hi,
I am new in the forum and would like to ask if anyone cycled south korea in the last years? I have been to Seoul a couple of times (without bike) and would like to explore the country.
Thanks for any tips or routes!

simonhill
Posts: 2519
Joined: 13 Jan 2007, 11:28am
Location: Essex

Re: South korea on the bike for 2 months

Postby simonhill » 7 Jan 2019, 4:21pm

I've been to S Korea twice, for a total of about 12 weeks. The last time was only 3 months ago.

They have some wonderful cycle paths and you can ride long distances on off road paths. The most amazing is the one that goes right through the centre of Seoul, completely traffic free. Unfortunately they don't have very good websites - they used to, but I can't link to them now.

The whole thing is called 4 Rivers and you can google all sorts of info, videos, etc. There is also the excellent East Coast path.

If you look at this link https://kojects.com/long-distance-cycling/, and click on "Main Routes" you will see a map of the paths.

I've ridden all of them and they are pretty good, but sometimes the long distance rivers paths can get a bit tedious. If you like to see people, etc the East Coast route is great. For me, I'm also happy to hit the roads and cycle in the cities to get a feel for the country.

There are plenty of small roads you can follow, but you need good interactive mapping. Riding this way can be slow. The main road system in Korea is very good (for cars) and you are allowed to cycle on many of these roads. From what I can work out if there is no other road (usually because the old road has been absorbed into the upgraded) then you can ride. I've ridden on a 6 lane motorway standard highway with a 5 km tunnel.

Google maps are OK, but are not allowed to show distances, which is annoying. The best maps I found were Naver maps, there is a cycle mode and you can get it in English. It shows all cycle paths, cycle friendly roads, etc in the country. A truly wonderful resource. I used to have it open on my tablet. Also, it shows distances on bike friendly paths if you plot a route.

I didn't take a tent because there are plenty of cheapish motels. These are often called love motels, but they aren't seedy, just good value. Average was 40,000 won per night (£27). If you have a tent then you can wild camp along the cycle paths, legally. There are plenty of water and toilet stops that you can use. Some have electricity outlets. Generally they seem pretty relaxed towards touring cyclists.

Food is a bit of a challenge as most westerners don't find it too great. It grew on me (after 2 visits), but the saving grace are the convenience stores where you can get snacks and microwave meals. Fresh fruit and veg is rare and very expensive.

You will not see many if any foreign touring cyclists. On the weekends the paths are full of Koreans riding for fun and to fill their trail passports.

Best time to go is Sept to early November. Dry and sunny with little rain. The air is cooling down and it has a nice fresh feel. Nights can get chilly. Summers are meant to be hot and humid. Look at accuweather for detailed weather info - you can search out lots of detail.

They have a wonderful long distance bus system. Just turn up buy a ticket and your bike will go for free in the baggage hold. Trains are more complicated, but some can be used. Metro in Seoul and Busan take bikes at weekends and holidays - this can be useful for getting off Incheon Island where the main airport is.

English isn't widely spoken, but plenty of their signs, etc are in English eg a Motel is more likely to have an English than a Korean name. Road signs are usually bi lingual. Having a translate app available helps, but I usually don't bother. I don't worry about language - I don't starve, I find somewhere to sleep, how to access transport, etc. It ain't rocket science.

I wasn't that impressed with the country on my first visit, but strangely started to really enjoy the place on my second. I think the improvement in the convenience stores may have had something to do with this.

Go and enjoy.

User avatar
John1054
Moderator
Posts: 640
Joined: 11 May 2012, 11:43am
Location: Sunshine Coast

Re: South korea on the bike for 2 months

Postby John1054 » 7 Jan 2019, 4:56pm

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/Seoul2Seoul

Try this link to a tour taken by friends on recumbents. They have also toured extensively in U.S.A. and are at present in Mexico. Good luck.

wck
Posts: 2
Joined: 6 Jan 2019, 6:01pm

Re: South korea on the bike for 2 months

Postby wck » 12 Jan 2019, 11:18am

Thank you so much Simon and John for the links and information. All and more i need to know, just great.
Happy trails, keep moving, Helga

User avatar
Neil Wheadon
Posts: 55
Joined: 30 Mar 2008, 11:52pm

Re: South korea on the bike for 2 months

Postby Neil Wheadon » 12 Jan 2019, 5:14pm

Hi Simon
How completed is the east coast section? When I looked into it a few months ago, parts were still under construction.
Looking at the website it's split into 2 parts. Are both northern and southern sections complete?
Thanks
Neil
CTC Tour Leader

simonhill
Posts: 2519
Joined: 13 Jan 2007, 11:28am
Location: Essex

Re: South korea on the bike for 2 months

Postby simonhill » 13 Jan 2019, 8:52am

Hi Neil,

Unfortunately the Korean webpages are quite old and haven't been updated.

I cycled from nearly the top south to Yeongdeok 3 years ago. It was all complete. In October I cycled from same place south to Ulsan. The path was complete all the way.

After Ulsan there were mixed reports about he path, so I took the train for the last 50kms. I did see the blue line that marks the route running south from Ulsan so there must be some sort of path heading to Busan. I've read it goes inland and gets very hilly, I've also read it doesn't go inland but follows main roads too much. I know it can't follow the coast as there is no road and it's not cyclable, although there is a walking trail. Hence I got the train.

The East coast path is not like the 4 Rivers, which are mainly off road, often on river levees. Most of it is on road, often on small coastal roads through fishing villages, but sometimes it has to go on the main highway. It is marked all the way by a blue line, but this hasn't been maintained and sometimes disappears under new tarmac. It's not difficult to follow although I did sometimes miss some of the fiddly bits. Basically you just keep going south (or north). As such there isn't much actual construction, just line painting and sign erecting, with a few dedicated bits of cycleway every now and then.

I enjoyed it. It sometimes got a bit same-y, coast, small fishing village with squid drying everywhere, etc, but it was better than the main N to S 4 Rivers path that has a few days of dull riverbank riding in wide flat valleys with no towns.

It's definitely worth a ride and maybe combine with some of the shorter southern 4 Rivers paths. By the way, the easiest way out of Busan is on the bus, otherwise it's all 6 lane highways.