South Korea was the last country that I would be cycling in on this tour; sadly my cycle tour is coming to an end. Also I’m heading North during the Northern hemisphere’s winter, which admittedly is a bit daft, so it’s getting cooler and I have no intention of cycling in the winter. I knew that I’d be hitting South Korea during autumn so it would be amazing autumnal colours and I knew that they had a really good cycle route from Seoul in the North all the way down to Busan in the South. I didn’t realise just how amazing a cycle route it was though and I have to say that this one has to be the best; even better than what Taiwan was.
The scenery along the route was amazing.
Heading south out of Seoul
The cycle paths on this route were mostly away from the main road, this is the cycle route out of Seoul heading south.
I was initially doing really well this day until I took a right turn at the end of this road, when I should have turned left, I was actually trying to get out of Seoul this day, but of course I got extremely lost and ended up spending another night in Seoul, but I got to stay near Gangnam Square and learn more about the Gangnam style song.
It was easy to get water along the route.
Loads of comfort stops along the way.
The crime rate in South Korea was really really low. I saw people in Starbucks for example leave their laptops and mobile phones on the table and go to the loo and come back to find the device still there. So, the women’s toilet’s were interesting as they would have signs up saying that if you felt that you were being followed into the toilet, there is a number or button in the toilet that you could push. The picture above also shows that if you feel that someone is filming you whilst you are in the toilet stall, you can always push down this barrier which more than likely hit their hand and definitely prevent them from filming under the wall of the stall.
Gangnam is the most expensive district of South Korea, with lots of plastic surgery clinics, fancy stores and big business. It is the place to go to for plastic surgery. South Korea is well known for its beauty industry.
Once on the cycle route there were loads of signposts along the way, but I really couldn’t decipher anything. In South Korea they use Naver Maps rather than Google maps, so it was trying to get used to a new navigation system and I just struggled – or in other words; I just didn’t have the patience or inclination to work it out and really needed a teenager to show me how it worked. There were loads of signs along the route informing me of all of the up and coming accommodation, but I just didn’t have a clue. Luckily on the odd occassions when I couldn’t work it out, a cyclist would pop up from somewhere and point me in the right direction as obvioiusly I was going the wrong way.
So, I initially thought that by about 2pm if I arrived at a reasonable sized town/city I would start to look for a place to stay. I pretty soon realised that I didn’t have a clue as to what I was looking for because I couldn’t read any of the signs. Luckily in this town, there was a police station and even better ‘police’ was written as ‘police’ and the friendly policeman was able to tell me that this building was actually a hotel.
Defibrilator along the route.
Details of the route ahead.
Knowing how steep and how long the hill was great.
The cycling infrastructure was amazing. Tunnels through mountains so that I didn’t have to cycle over or around the mountain, I could just cycle through it, although I really don’t like going through tunnels and wherever possible I take a different route to avoid them. This day I had no choice and I had nine tunnels to go through.
The tunnels were really well lit.
Mid way through another tunnel
Near the end of another tunnel.
I was amazed that there were so many bridges that were for bicycles only.
There were a few days when it was a little bit chilly and foggy.
It is possible to get a certificate and medal for cycling this route. At the start of the journey, you need to buy a passport, that you stamp at these certification stations that are along the route. Once complete you can get your certificate and medal. I decided not to go for the medal or certificate.
There are five different trails in South Korea. I did the Four Rivers trail.
Quite a few bike stations could be found along the way.
Another cycle only bridge on a very foggy day. I cycled this route out of season, so on most days I didn’t actually see anyone.
The scenery was amazing.
Corn left out to dry.
The route also went through a lot of agricultural land. The disadavantage of the route is that it bypassed alot of towns and cities, and I do enjoy cycling through them. The advantage of the route was the lack of dogs, so I did not have to contend with any dogs trying to chase me, which was bliss.
Fortunately just as it was starting to get dark, I managed to find a place to stay along the route thankfully there was a bicycle under the sign and arrows pointing me in the right direction and bicycles on the roof of the building so I knew that I had found the right place. The chap who owned it was a keen cyclist himself and had done quite a few of the cycle routes in South Korea and collected the medals and certicifates along the way.
I loved the ‘Love Hotels’. they were all extremely warm and toasty with underfloor heating.
Some of the ‘Love Hotels’ were ‘manless’. This meant that there was no receptionist and you had to pay using the above machine. There were two prices to stay in these hotels depending on whether you were only going to stay a few hours or stay overnight.
Most of the ‘Love Hotels’ had private parking for each room or the car parks are quite dark and shaded so that it’s not possible to see who was using the hotel.
Haeundae Beach, Busan
40 Steps, Busan
Monorail in Yeongju-dong, Jung-gu (district) in Busan. The man walking down the stairs was doing his daily exercise by taking the mono-rail up the steep stairs and then walking back down.
Busan was my destination, it was pretty hilly, so once I arrived at Busan, I didn’t actually attempt to cycle around.
Busan at night
Fish market in Busan
Haeundae beach at dusk
Artwork on Haeundae beach which was been made from rubbish
Haeundae beach at night
Alot of the cars in South Korea had these blue sponges on them. They are remnants of the car being shipped from the manufacturer’s factory. Manufacturers put these on car doors to protect them during transit. Usually, when a new car arrives at a dealership, they remove all packing material including these little blue sponges, but in South Korea alot of customers are asking dealers to keep the sponges on the car. The sponges are meant to help prevent the car from getting any dings in it.
The food in South Korea has to be my favourite so far, I just loved the variety of side dishes and the fact that you could always ask for more should you need anymore. The sweet potato lattes were the best, quite basically because it was a total sugar overload.
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By Susan Doram
I am passionate about cycling and enjoy encouraging others to ride their bicycles. I am a cycle coach and founder member and chair for Leicester Women's Velo and Founder member and club secretary for Ride on Sistas.
I love to encourage others to get active. I am an award wining personal trainer and one of Cycling UK's 100 Women in Cycling 2019.
I've been on numerous cycle tours and have encouraged others to join me. Part of my cycle touring experience has included cycling around the world for just over 2 1/2 years.
View all of Susan Doram's posts.
Brilliant blog & photos Susan. Hope your settled somewhere cozy for Christmas 🎄 🌲 🌲
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Thanks for reading Jo. South Korea was beautiful. I’ll see you in February, I’m not looking forward to the cold.
Lovely pictures. I appreciate the captions. Lots of memories and some things I don’t recall. I spent 6 weeks cycling all of the routes except the East Coast in 2015. I see trees along the route have grown (I was there in mid-September to end of October, longed for the shade they will one day offer). Fabulous trip. I want to go back, and want to go other places…
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Thanks for reading Karla. The East Coast I think is supposed to be hard to get to the start of, that’s amazing that you managed to do ALL of the other routes. It was quite cool when I was there. I hope that you have another cycle tour planned soon.
I’m dreaming of other cycle trips but in home/work phase right now. I just went back and read through all of your blog posts. Inspiring. So far I’ve only gone for 6 weeks to 3 months at a time as I like being home too. I love the way you travel mixing up staying in one place and cycling. In the fall 2020 I’m headed to Italy with a friend for a month for a tourist trip (not cycling, hopefully some good hiking). I’m debating taking my bike with me and riding in Southern Europe (possibly into Morocco, I’ve been following a woman from Alaska who is solo touring south in Western Africa right now). Japan has been high on my list for a long time but far enough north that going there in November seems cold and dark.
I love your setup with the front panniers only and small bag on rear rack. That is part of the attraction of southeast Asia with lots of lodging and not need for camping gear.
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Asia was fantastic for cycle touring. There was no need for camping gear. Although admittedly I was still carrying too much stuff. That’s cool that you’re able to go for 6 weeks to 3 months tours – it mixes it up. I don’t think that I could have moved on from place to place on my tour, stopping and staying and meeting people helped me to remember places much better. Thanks for reading the blog. Italy, Southern Europe and Morocco sound interesting, especially Morocco. Japan is supposed to be great for cycling too but as you say November would be a bit chilly. Could you send me a link for the woman who is cycle touring in West Africa, that sounds interesting. Thanks
What a brilliant experience Susan! It will be strange coming back. Are you planning another tour or giving it a rest for a while?
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Thanks for reading Donna, I really want to keep on riding, but I have to go home at some point, but not too sure how long for, still undecided 😊
Looks incredible Susan – not a soul in sight! Somewhere that I knew very little about but now I’m intrigued and impressed by all those lovely cycle paths and facilities. Great reading and photos here. Thank you so much x
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It was amazing. It’s the S Korean equivalent of LEJOG, imagine if we had that infrastructure in the UK. It was really well thought out.
Wow Susan… your travels look amazing. Keep having fun and look after yourself 🤓
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Thanks for reading