South Korea wants to play a game. What game? How about a country-wide treasure hunt?
Korea’s Bike Certification System created a system where cyclists can document their journey across Korea’s extensive bicycle paths.
First, buy a Bike Certification Passport. As you ride, find red phone booths along the bike paths. Stamp your Bike Passport with the unique stamp inside. After you collect all the stamps, win a certificate and the right to buy an Olympic-style medal.
Interested? You bet!
Below we present the tools to fill your Bike Certification Passport to the brim with stamps. We’ll give you a guide, a complete list of checkpoints, and maps, maps and more maps.
Let’s get stamping!
Want to collect all the stamps in Korea’s Bike Certification System? We’ll walk you through buying a Bike Certification Passport, spotting the checkpoints, and getting certified.
Let’s hit the path. Don’t forget your passport!
What is the Bike Certification System?
Korea completed the Four Rivers Project (4대강 정비 사업) in 2012. The infrastructure project constructed a series of dams and weirs to secure water resources and restore Korea’s four major rivers.
The project also built recreational parks and added an extensive network of bike paths. These new paths connected with local bike paths and allowed bikers to ride clear across Korea.
Also known as a stamp tour, the certification system dropped a series of stamp booths along the bike paths. Cyclists could buy a Bike Certification passport and document their bike journeys.
Korean Certification Bicycle Paths
Twelve bike paths make up Korea’s Bicycle Certification System. They flow across the peninsula, along the east coast, and down four major rivers.
- Ara Bicycle Path (아라자 전거길)
- Hangang Bicycle Path (한강자 전거길)
- Bukhangang Bicycle Path (북한강 자전거길)
- Saejae Bicycle Path (새재 자전거길)
- Nakdonggang Bicycle Path (낙동강 자전거길)
- Geumgang Bicycle Path (금강 자전거길)
- Yeongsangang Bicycle Path (영산강 자전거길)
- Seomjingang Bicycle Path (섬진강 자전거길)
- Ocheon Bicycle Path (오천 자전거길)
- East Coast Gangwon Bicycle Path (동해안자전거길 (강원))
- East Coast Gyeongbuk Bicycle Path (동해안자전거길 (경북))
- Jeju Fantasy Bicycle Path (제주환상자전거길)
Collect all the stamps on any bike path and receive a sticker (스티커) to put in your Bike Passport.
Han River Bicycle Paths
Note there are three bicycle paths along the Han River.
- Hangang Bicycle Path (한강자 전거길)
- Hangang Bicycle Path (Seoul) (한강 자전거길 (서울구간))
- Namhangang Bicycle Path (남한강 자전거길)
The Hangang Bicycle Path runs from the Ara Hangang Lock (아라한강갑문) just before Seoul (서울) to the Chungju Dam (충주댐) outside of Chungju (충주). It connects with the Saejae Bicycle Path and is a part of the Cross-Country Bicycle Path.
Namhangang vs. Bukhangang
To understand the Namhangang and the Bukhangang, let’s translate some words.
- “Gang” (강) means “river”
- “Nam” (남) means “south”
- “Buk” (북) means “north”
Now take the names apart. You can see that Buk-Han-Gang (북-한-강) translates to North Han River. And Nam-Han-Gang (남-한-강) equals South Han River.
The Namhan and Bukhan Rivers combine to form the Han River east of Seoul. The Han River continues westward. It spills into the Yellow Sea near the DMZ. (That’s why you won’t see cargo ships sail the Han River.)
How Does It Work?
After you buy an official Certification Bike Passport, ride along Korea’s twelve certification bike paths. You’ll stumble upon a series of red phone booths, or Certification Checkpoints.
Inside each red phone booth sits a unique stamp. Mark your passport with the stamp to prove you visited the location.
Step 1: Buy a Bike Certification Passport
To start your certification journey, you’ll need a Bike Certification Passport (인증수첩).
Visit a Certification Center (인증센터). You’ll find them in culture centers or offices near large infrastructure installations, like weirs (보; bo).
(Reference our Certification Checkpoints listings page for exact locations.)
Certification Centers sell Bike Passports for ₩4,000. A paper bike certification map costs an extra ₩500.
When you finish a bike path, Certification Centers will certify its completion and give your award.
You can also buy Bike Passports online. However, you must create an account on the Rivers Guide website. This might not be possible for some because it requires a Korean phone number and Alien Registration Card (ARC).
Inside the Bike Passport
Slip your crisp, new Bike Passport into the protective sleeve and open it up.
Inside the cover, a serial number (i.e. BK1234567) sits above a bar code. This unique number comes in handy if you want to sign up for the bike certification smartphone app.
First Few Pages
On the next page, you’ll see a space to write your contact info and some instructions on how to use the Bike Passport.
Continue to flip and find a list of all the bike paths and checkpoint names (구간 및 장소). Next to each checkpoint, you’ll find two columns.
See a dot next to the checkpoint in the 수첩판매 column? Buy a new Bike Passport there. A dot under 종주인증? Certify your Bike Passport.
Next up, the master cycling road map (자전거길 전체지도). This map will show you all of Korea, it’s bike paths, and Certification Checkpoints. Behold it with awe.
The next twenty-eight pages show map sections with bike path lines connecting circles. Each circle has the name of a Certification Checkpoint. Inside, find a bike icon and the word “stamp.”
You guessed it! Slap your certification stamps here!
The map sections list each bike path’s name in Korean and English, start/end checkpoints (코스; course), time & distance (시간 & 거리), and a brief description.
The last few pages of the Bike Passport leave room to mount your spiffy certificate of completion stickers.
Step 2: Find a Certification Checkpoint
Hop on your bike and hit the bike paths. Let’s hunt for those Certification Checkpoints (인증장소).
Every fifteen to thirty kilometers you’ll stumble upon a red phone booth.
Certification Checkpoint vs. Certification Center
There are many names for those red phone booths that sit along the bicycle paths. We’ll make it simple. We list them as Certification Checkpoints and Certification Centers.
Certification Checkpoints, as we define them, red phone booths on the paths. Others might call them unmanned checkpoint booths. Why? Because there’s no one to turn to ask questions or help if there’s a missing stamp.
Certification Centers are inside government buildings, like culture centers or near infrastructure offices. They have a Certification Checkpoint (red phone booth) outside the building. Inside, you’ll find someone to sell you a map and certify your Bike Passport.
I Saw the Sign
Worried about missing a stamp booth? Along the bike paths you’ll spot signs with 자전거길 인증센터 (Bike Certification Center) emblazoned on them. They let you know a Certification Checkpoint sits just down the path.
The signs give the checkpoint’s name and the remaining distance. For example, 상주 상풍교 — 3.0km 전방 (Sangju Sangpung Bridge — 3 kilometers).
Give Me a Break!
Certification Checkpoints pop up every fifteen to thirty kilometers (nine to eighteen miles). The perfect distance. By the time you reach the next stamp booth, it’s time to take a break and peep the view.
Step 3: Stamp Your Bike Passport
Inside each Certification Checkpoint booth, you’ll find a unique stamp, ink pad, bike map, and QR code for the certification app.
The unique stamp shows the name of the checkpoint and a picture that represents the area.
Open your Bike Passport. Flip to the bike path’s page and find the checkpoint’s circle.
Dab the stamp on the ink pad. Press it on the circle, firm and even. Lift and let dry.
Get the Perfect Stamp
Who likes a smeared stamp? No one.
Some checkpoints sit far from civilization. They don’t sit atop many to-do lists. So you might find a dry ink pad, a deformed stamp, or worse.
- Wipe down the stamp with the cloth.
- Dab the stamp on your personal ink pad.
- Test the stamp on scratch paper.
- Don’t shift the stamp when pressing down.
Oh no! Someone tossed the stamp in the bushes! Or the ink pad ran dry!
Don’t fuss. Take a picture. Get yourself, your bike, and the Certification Checkpoint booth in the frame. Certification Centers will accept it as proof.
Step 4: Get Certified
You got all the stamps for a bike path? Oh, wait! For the entire Cross-Country Bike Path? Wow! We’re impressed.
What now? Visit a Certification Center. Don’t forget your Bike Passport!
Once you arrive, flip to the last page in your Bike Passport. You’ll find a form. Write your name (성명), address (주소), phone number (전화번호), and identification number (ARC or passport).
Tear the form out of your Bike Passport and hand it to the certification center clerk.
Now sit back and reflect on your bike adventures while the clerk enters you into the system. Think about all the hills you climbed and flats you repaired while they inspect your stamps.
Thud! What’s that sound? Is that a special stamp? Yes. An official certification sticker. One of a few awards you’ll receive upon completing routes.
Awards? Read on!
Bicycle Path Certifications
You can receive four types of certifications when completing the official certification bike paths. Let’s explore!
Gain a certification by collecting all the stamps on any of the eleven bicycle paths below.
- Hangang (한강 종주)
- Hangang (북한강 종주)
- Saejae (새재 종주)
- Nakdonggang (낙동강 종주)
- Geumgang (금강 종주)
- Yeongsangang (영산강 종주)
- Seomjingang (섬진강 종주)
- Ocheon (오천 종주)
- East Coast (Gangwon) (동해안 종주 (강원))
- East Coast (Gyeongbuk) (동해안 종주 (경북))
- Jeju Fantasy (제주환상 종주)
Collect the stamps for any of these bike paths and receive a certification sticker (스티커). Stick it in the back of your Bike Passport. The bicycle gods will look down upon you approvingly.
Start/End at the Ara West Sea Lock (아라서해갑문) Certification Checkpoint in Incheon (인천) on the northwest coast of Korea. End/Start at the Nakdonggang Estuary Bank (낙동강하구둑) Certification Checkpoint in Busan (부산) on the southeastern tip.
You don’t need the following stamps.
Both Certification Checkpoints lie far off the cross-country path.
On the Hangang Bicycle Path, the Ttukseom Observatory Complex and Gwangnaru Bicycle Park checkpoints sit on opposite sides of the Han River. If you get either stamp, the other will count. You don’t have to hop across a bridge.
Don’t mind the Bukhangang Bicycle Path. It isn’t a part of the Cross-Country Bicycle Path.
Got all the Cross-Country stamps? Great! You’ll receive three awards.
Not only will you get a sticker for your Bike Passport, you’ll receive an official certificate with your name. Free of charge!
It doesn’t stop there. Set up an account on the Rivers Guide website. Then you can order an Olympic-style medal. The medal costs ₩7,500. A display case adds ₩4,000 to the bill.
The bicycle gods are beaming.
Four Rivers Bicycle Path Certification
Complete the Four Rivers Bicycle Path (4대강종주) by riding along Korea’s four major rivers.
Collect all the stamps on the following bicycle paths.
You sailed Korea’s rivers and collected all the stamps? Fantastic! Like the Cross-Country certification, you earned three awards.
- Certification Sticker (스티커; free)
- Certificate of Completion (인증서; free)
- Certification Medal (인증메달; ₩7,500 + ₩4,000 display case)
The bicycle gods will hold a banquet in your honor.
You caught them all? No way! Dress to impress and visit a Certification Center. Three awards await.
Drape all three medals around your neck. Take a bow. The bicycle gods forged a statue of you and your bike and raised it in the Plaza de Korean Bicycle Tour.