BIKING AROUND KOREA: SEOUL TO BUSAN

Two bikes packed with luggage for a six-day trip across South Korea.

You haven't fully experienced South Korea until you hop on a bike and go. Rural South Korea is Korea at its best. And this adventure gets up close and personal with The Land of the Morning Calm.

Please note: Stories about our journey are posted in smaller day-by-day segments below. This blog includes an overview of the trip for anyone interested in doing it, as well as a few tips and helpful links.

As part of a massive river restoration project, the South Korean government has created bike paths that mostly follow four of the nation’s largest rivers, making it possible to travel from Incheon to Busan by bicycle.

Although met with plenty of political and environmental opposition, The Four Major Rivers Restoration Project, led by [former] president Lee Myung-bak, not only aims to improve water security, flood control, and ecosystem vitality, it also encourages more people to discover what the Republic of Korea is all about on the countryside of life.

In addition to biking from Incheon to Busan, you can also explore the Guem and Yeongsan rivers. Various other bike paths already exist throughout the country as well. And as biking continues to gain popularity, South Korea will likely become much more biker friendly.

The total distance from Incheon to Busan using bike trails is approximately 600 kilometers. If you choose to take this route, you’ll follow the Han and Nakdong rivers. The Seajae Bike Road connects the two river paths by cutting through challenging mountain terrain for some extra fun.

Don’t be deceived. Just because the bike paths follow rivers doesn’t mean it’s going to be flat and easy the entire way. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. There are many steep inclines, and swerving declines to survive. But, gorgeous valleys with breathtaking views will be your reward on the way up and down.

The paths are well marked, but with room to improve. Opportunities to take a wrong turn and/or get lost still abound. Exercise caution as the trail often uses roads where it’s either impossible or unnecessary to have a separate path.

Be sure to have enough water to last for a very long time, unless you’re okay drinking water from questionable sources such as a hose from someone’s yard, or iced tea a random ajumma hands you. You’ll learn to appreciate convenience stores even more after making this trek. Contrary to popular belief, there isn’t a 711 or Family Mart (now CU) on every corner of Korea.

Two guys. Two bikes. Two rivers. Several mountains. Six days. Approximately 550 kilometers. Seoul to Busan: A journey of a lifetime. This is our story.

Biking Around Korea: Seoul to Busan

DAY 1: Triangle Kimbap 
DAY 2: Dam It!
DAY 3: This is Korea
DAY 4: A Bit Dramatic
DAY 5: Get Lost 
DAY 6: Sudden Mountains 
DAY 7-8: Binging

RELATED SITES:

BY JAN BOONSTRA: Bicycling in Korea
JOONGANG DAILY: Four River Bicycle Roads Is A Hit
KOREA TOURISM ORGANIZATION: Riverside Bike Trails in Korea (PDF)
MINISTRY OF SECURITY AND PUBLIC ADMIN: Bicycle Routes in South Korea
SEOUL CITY: Bike Seoul
SEOUL BIKE: Taking Bikes on the Subway
WIKIPEDIA: Four Major Rivers Project

Comments

  1. When I was in the UK I was following your trip on Instagram. It was amazing! I felt like I was on the trip with you. I remember thinking, "I could never ever do that." So reading about it is the closest I'll ever get :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Noelle, you could/should totally do it! Thanks for following along. I enjoyed seeing your posts about the UK as well.

      Delete
  2. Hi Everyone,


    My friends & I have recently cycled from Seoul to Busan and made a little video of our trip, this will give everyone a great idea of what it's like



    http://vimeo.com/58534795


    Enjoy!!


    Chris

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chris, that's such a fun video! Thanks so much for sharing. Brought back a lot of wonderful memories from the trip.

      Delete
  3. Hello
    I'm from Bangladesh. i am planning to do a bicycle trip for 10-14 days in Republic of Korea along with my one other friend/ team mate. I am an passionate bicycle commuter/rider and have done number of cross-country rides/ long distance rides in last 5-6 years. we are planning to arrive Seoul by June 2013. Please advice if there is any suggested route that we should consider. raianmail@gmail.com

    regards
    Md. Shakhawat Chowdhury

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello! Thanks so much for your comment. Please check out the 'related sites' section I posted on the blog for suggested routes, maps, and other important information. I hope you have a wonderful time on your bike trip across Korea! And please let me know if you have any other questions.

      Delete
  4. Hi :-)

    Korea has just newly built bike paths all around the country to make you discover this wonderful country in a new way as you have never seen it before.

    Don’t wait anymore time and go to register on our website, the BikeOasis team will be glad to provide you all the services you need (food, accommodation, guide, transportation) to make your Bike Tour unforgettable.

    Right now!, Go to www.bikeOasis.kr and try to get a prize by participating to our first contest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll check out your site! Thanks for the information.

      Delete
  5. Your trip article was great..I felt like reading your article more passionately.
    I have planned a Trip to Seoul..Please can you suggest some good place in city area to stay in my Seoul trip. Also Yummy eatouts and shopping streets?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Pooja Kamthe,

      Thank you for reading my article. When is your trip to Seoul? Have you already visited? There are so many great places to stay in the city, as well as to eat. What's your budget?

      Delete
  6. Hello. I sent you an email a couple of weeks back but no reply so I'll try here as well!

    I'm very interested in biking from Seoul to Busan or just around Korea for that matter. The thing is I just have a regular MTB, nothing special or fancy. I've noticed that most people that bike even "just" Seoul to Busan have touring bikes, or at least very sturdy bikes. Would this be a big problem? I'm afraid that the bike would just fall apart halfway, even if I pack it light and biking carefully.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Christopher, I hope you received my email. I apologize for my lack of response. I don't have access to quality Internet on a regular basis here in Myanmar. I want to know how your trip from Seoul to Busan goes! Keep me posted.

      Delete
  7. Those are amazing photos! I just finished the Busan to Seoul route and it was great great great! It was autumn and glorious. Here is some photos if you're interested http://www.jambi-jambi.com/landscapes/

    ReplyDelete

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