I followed the link and discovered a bike trail linking Busan (where we’d arrived on the ferry from Japan) to Seoul (where we needed to get to in order to sort out Philippine visas and a new passport for Eric).
Could it really be so easy? Why hadn’t we heard of Korea’s cycle routes? We’d checked out a few Crazy Guy on a Bike blogs and only heard about hills (we’d had enough of those in Japan) and heavy traffic.
This bike trail business sounded too good to be true. But there it was…we could hop on the Nakdonggang river trail just outside of Busan, then we’d switch to the Saejae River trail, after that on to the Namhanggang and finally we’d follow the Han River right into the center of Seoul.
Our Japan tour got off to a less than auspicious start (note to self: never again cycle heavily populated urban corridors like Osaka-Tokyo). The rain, heat, humidity and terrifying tunnels had taken a toll on morale. Korea HAD to be fun. A nice easy ride along the river ways might be the recipe for rediscovering why we have devoted a big chunk of our lives to two-wheeled travel.
Busan’s a big city. The metropolitan area has a population of 4.5 million. The first thing that struck us was the hustle and bustle of city life. In Japan, things were always pretty sedate. In Korea, people jostled in the busy markets and sellers called out to potential customers. Outside the posh shopping districts, the city had a gritty edge to it. Our kind of place.
Koreans are less shy and inhibited than the Japanese and strangers often come up to chat. Getting directions poses no problem in such a well-wired country. EVERYBODY totes a smart phone and they’ll gladly pull up Google maps and point you in the right direction. And Koreans are CRAZY about cycling. The whole country has taken up mountain biking with fervor. On our fully-loaded machines, we almost feel like rock stars at times. Locals cheer as we pass and shout encouragement such as “you are great!” Our self-esteem is not floundering. And, yes, it’s FUN to cycle in Korea.
If you’re taking a ferry between Japan and Korea try Kampu Ferry from Shimoneseki to Busan. This company often offers half price tickets to cyclists.
To plan your own Korea bike tour check out the excellent 4 Rivers Cycleway Guide.
Visit our Bike Touring Korea Flickr Page to see more Korea cycle touring photos.