Cross-Country Routes icon.

Cross-Country Route

Ride through the heart of Korea, from Incheon to Busan.

The Cross-Country Route offers a diverse and rewarding ride through South Korea. Start in either Incheon (인천) in the northwest, or in Busan (부산), in the southeast.

The Stats

Start
Incheon City
(인천시)
← 633 km →
34 hours
End
Busan City
(부산시)
Checkpoints Logo
Checkpoints (29)
Bus Icon
Bus Terminals
Link button to Kakao Maps directions.
Directions
Link button to Kakao Maps Highlights.
Highlights

Start at the edge of the Yellow Sea and follow a protected bike path into Seoul.

Easy ride down a canal.

Ride through Seoul. Chug through old train tunnels. And pass by history as you follow the Han River.

Hangang
Bicycle Path

Ride through the capital city.

Climb two peaks and gaze upon quaint towns on this short, rural bike path.

Climb mountains in rural Korea.

Follow the Nakdong River around farm fields and bird sanctuaries to the beach city of Busan.

Follow Korea’s longest river.

Beginning in the north, you’ll find yourself on the edge of the Yellow Sea (황해). Follow the Han River through Seoul (서울) and into the heart of Korea.

Hop over a mountainous pass in the middle of the country and join the bike path along Nakdong River, the longest in South Korea. You’ll meander south through Daegu (대구) and into rural farmlands.

The bike path finishes as the Nakdong River spills into the East Sea (동해) at the bottom of Busan (부산), Korea’s second largest city.

The Four Rivers Project established the Cross-Country route in 2012. It created a series of weirs and dams to regulate and revitalize four major rivers in Korea.

The project also created new and bridged local bike paths. This gave cyclists a clear path across the country.

Ara Bicycle Path

The northern start of the cross-country originates in Incheon, Seoul’s sister city to the west. The Ara Bicycle Path (21 km) is the shortest in Korea.

It flies down a narrow canal from the Yellow Sea. The flat jaunt breezes through lively parks and spills into the Han River in Seoul.

Hangang Bicycle Path

The Hangang Bicycle Path (192 km) runs through Seoul and into the middle of Korea.

The certification system breaks the Hangang Bicycle Path in two: the path in Seoul and the Namhangang path beyond.

Through Seoul, the path offers the best views of Korea’s megacity. You’ll pass by the most photographed landmarks, including the National Assembly, Namsan Mountain and Tower, and Lotte Tower.

Just outside of Seoul, you’ll roll into the Namhangang Bicycle Path, the second portion of the Hangang Path. The bike follows Nam (south; 남) Han (한) River (gang; 강) down into the middle of country.

You’ll follow a decommissioned railroad track through tunnels, past King Sejong’s tomb, and onto the toes of a mountain pass.sho

Saejae Bicycle Path

The Saejae Bicycle Path (100 km) presents the most difficult portion of the Cross-Country Route. The name (Saejae; 새재) literally translates to high pass. You’ll understand as you climb two mighty mountain passes.

At the top, you’ll catch terrific views of tiny towns and rural Korea. Don’t forget to stop by a waterfall or hot springs on your way off the mountain. 

Nakdonggang Bicycle Path

Korea’s longest cycling road, the Nakdonggang Bicycle Path (324 km), follows South Korea’s longest river, the Nakdong River.

The Saejae flows into the path. But the bike road starts about eighty kilometers to the east in the city of Andong (안동), where the Nakdong River originates.

You don’t need the Andong portion of the path to complete the Cross-Country certification. However, you’ll need it to complete the Four RiversGrand Slam, and Nakdonggang certifications.

The Nakdonggang Bicycle Path hugs both sides of the wide river. It passes by Daegu (대구), Korea’s third largest city, national parks, an ancient Confucian academy, and futuristic weirs.

After flowing around wide bends, a few tall hills spice up the path, giving spectacular views of the river.

The Nakdong River spills into the South Sea (남해) in Busan (부산). Atop a delta at the mouth of the river, you’ll find a bird sanctuary and the final Certification Checkpoint.

The Paths

Other than the Saejae Bicycle Path, cyclists can enjoy protected bike paths for most of the journey.

Beware of large cities in peak season. Paths get crowded. Mobs of cyclists and meandering couples equal traffic jams and path rage.

When not on protected paths, the route follows country roads. Long ago, major highways siphoned off traffic. But beware of local bongo trucks and sightseeing SUVs.

Many of the bike paths are multipurpose. Farmers use the bike paths to move farming equipment and access their fields. Big tractor tires sometimes pull clumps of mud onto the asphalt.

Time and Distance

The Cross-Country Route has both the longest (633 km; 393 miles) route and the steepest ascent (539-meter; 1768 ft).

Strong cyclists averaging over 20 km/h (12 mph) over ten hours could complete the course in three to four days.

For a sightseeing pace, (12 km/h; 8 mph), budget six to eight days. You’ll have plenty of time to take breaks, discover delicious food, and capture those selfies.

Your total cycling distance may vary. Often the bike paths flow down both sides of the Han and Nakdong Rivers.

The Nakdonggang Bicycle Path begins with an eighty kilometer detour from the city of Andong (안동). You won’t need to complete this path to receive a Cross-Country certification.

Remember, bus terminals dot the bike paths. You can jump on and off and complete the route in sections.