Frequently Asked Questions
Below, find some questions frequently asked by readers. If you have any more quick queries, shoot me an email. I’ll put up the answers.
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I want to get adventurous. Is it possible to ride the Cross-Country and East Coast Routes back-to-back?
- Cross-Country Route First
- East Coast Route First
- The Gangwon Bicycle Path spans 242 kilometers along Gangwon Province’s coast and forms the top section of the East Coast Route.
- The Gyeongbuk Bike Path is the East Coast Route’s bottom section. It crosses 76 kilometers along North Gyeongsang Province’s coast, between Yeongdeok and Uljin Counties.
You won’t find stamp booths or an official Certification Bike Path between Yeongdeok County and Busan Metropolitan City along the bottom third of Korea’s east coast. However, a series of coastal roads allows cyclists to conquer this lower section (directions).
Covering about 247 kilometers, you will traverse the following districts as you make your way up to the Gyeongbuk Bike Path:
- Busan Metropolitan City
- Ulsan Metropolitan City
- Gyeongju City in North Gyeongsang Province
- Pohang City in North Gyeongsang Province
I suggest starting at the top of Igidae Park (map; directions) in Busan Metropolitan City. It offers a spectacular view of Gwangan Bridge (map). Then ride eastward through Busan and encounter a wealth of highlights:
Yes, you can find several short and long-term luggage storage services in Korea. And a few provide luggage delivery services.
- Safex provides luggage storage and delivery service in many major cities, including Seoul, Busan, Jeju Island, Daegu, and more. In Seoul, they operate out of Incheon and Gimpo Airports, and Seoul, Hongik, and Yongsan Subway Stations. Read more.
- Stasher charges around $6 USD per day for each piece of luggage. This international app based network holds locations in Seoul, Busan and more.
- Radical Storage is another international luggage storage service. It charges ₩7,000 per day for each item. They keep storage facilities in Seoul and Busan.
Wi-Fi hotspots dot the Korean cities. And cell coverage blankets the landscape. In cities big and small, you’ll find free public hotspots. Wi-Fi dries up once you get into the country’s rural parts, leaving only tiny oases of internet coverage.
However, if you rely on the internet to get around, you’ll want to rent a travel SIM. How do you do that?
- You can purchase a SIM card before coming to Korea here. You can find options for 3~30, 30~60, or 60~120 days.
- Purchase a temporary SIM card when you arrive at:
- Or you can visit one of Korea’s three major telecom companies’ websites or stores:
Read more about temporary Korean sim cards here.
And remember, your phone needs to be unlocked in order to use a SIM card from another carrier.
Korea runs a Bicycle Certification system. Like a country-wide treasure hunt. You can take part by buying a Bike Passport at a management building near some certification centers (they look like red booths).
As you cycle Korea’s twelve certification bike paths, keep an eye out for more of these certification centers (red booths). Inside them, find a stamp with which to mark your Bike Passport.
After you fill up your bike passport, revisit one of the management buildings near select certification centers and have a worker certify your stamps.
Finally, receive your rewards.
To buy a Bike Passport online, you need to create an account with Rivers Guide. And to do that, you need either an Alien Registration Card or Resident Registration Number. Those are available for long-term visa holders or Korean citizens.
Though shy, many young Koreans boast communicable English. However, the hagwons (private academies) they attend focus on test taking. So they don’t have tons of person-to-person speaking experience.
English education didn’t become popular until a few decades ago. So lots of older folks have limited speaking skills. “Hello.” “Where are you from?”
A personal anecdote: I’ve lived in Korea for the better part of a decade, and I’m sorry to say that my Korean speaking skills stagnated after a few lessons. I’ve gotten around fine with just a handful of phrases and translation apps.
Regulations prevent Korea’s financial systems from fully integrating with the wider world. Even large international corporations, like Citibank, have severed systems. One for Korea. One for everywhere else.
Because foreigners represent a sliver of Korea’s population, and most overseas visitors stick to Seoul and Busan, many accommodations in the country’s middle parts only advertise on domestic booking sites like Ddnayo and Yanolja. They only accept domestic cards and bank transfers.
When I travel by bike, I search for motels. They are everywhere and not too expensive. If you’re not traveling on holidays, you won’t need to book a room with them in advance.
Just in case, keep some cash on you. Korea is a safe country. Plenty of deviants voice-phish the elderly. But it’s rare for someone to get pick-pocketed.
Again, issues only pop-up when paying with an international card online.
Korean words often get lost in translation. Some translators convert every Hangul (Korean) utterance into English. For example:
- Banpo-dae-gyo (반포대교) — “dae-gyo” means “large bridge.” So the complete translation is “Banpo ‘Big’ Bridge.”
- Jeju-do (제주도) — “do” means island. “Jeju Island.”
- Ipo-bo (이포보) — “bo” means weir. “Ipo Weir.”
- Insa-dong (인사동) — “dong” means neighborhood. “Insa Neighborhood.”
- Hangang (한강) — “gang” means river. “Han River.”
All those consonant-dense bike path names are just a case of overzealous transcription.
- Hangang Bike Path — “Han River Bike Path”
- Nakdonggang Bike Path — “Nakdong River Bike Path”
Unless it’s an official title, Korea by Bike translates every Korean word into English.
In major cities like Seoul and Busan, builders paired almost all bike paths with walking and running paths. So if you run or walk in cycling lanes, you’ll get shouted at by passing cyclists.
In the countryside, the pedestrian paths disappear, leaving only bike lanes. However, they’re not as crowded as the metropolitan areas. So you’ll often find local runners and walkers using them.
I’ve spotted plenty of folks riding electric scooters of all types on long-distance journeys. Because they’re wheeled contractions, they stick to cycling lanes. Neither cyclists nor walkers bat an eye.
What about collecting bicycle certification stamps using electric help? That’s between you and your god.
(Korea’s certification system is a pastime. Not a competition.)
Each cycling route offers unique perspectives on Korea.
The Cross-Country Route may be the most well known. It travels from the northwest edge of Korea to the southeast tip, riding two rivers, a canal, and hopping a mountain pass along the way.
Most of the route is flat. However, you’ll find a handful of big climbs. Two of the toughest sit in the middle of the country. You can skip the section by using an intercity bus.
Spanning 633 kilometers, the route will take between 5 to 8 days to complete.
The East-Coast Route is gorgeous. Passing dozens of beaches and resort towns, it offers amazing views of Korea’s eastern coastline.
A little more challenging than the Cross-Country Route, the East Coast bike paths don’t cross metropolitan cities and ride on lightly trafficked vehicle roads. Furthermore, the bottom half of the route, below Donghae City, passes a series of spiky hills.
Many riders can cross the route’s 343 kilometers in 5 to 7 days.
The Western Routes feature four separate bike paths that crawl along three rivers and a series of streams. None feature hamstring stretching hills and all sport unique natural and cultural sights.
Averaging between 100 to 150 kilometers, cyclists can finish each bike path in one to two days to complete.
Jeju Fantasy Bike Path
The Jeju Fantasy Bike Path circles Jeju Island, known as Korea’s Hawaii. It meanders by some of the nation’s most photographed beaches, as well as natural wonders like dormant volcanoes and waterfalls.
Most riders can complete the island’s 234-kilometers circumference in 3 to 4 days.
Korea by Bike is a travel guide website run by me, a lowly writer. I do not rent bicycles.
- Seoul Bicycle Rental Shop (a.k.a. Green Bicycle Park) operates out of the Itaewon Neighborhood. Depending on the model (road, MTB, electric), they rent bikes for between ₩18,000 and ₩30,000 per day.
- Bike Nara is a Giant retailer in the Hongdae area. They also rent touring and road bikes for ￦25,000 a day or ￦120,000~150,000 a week for Cross-Country Route riders.
Yes. A couple of companies offer cycling tours on Jeju island.
Core Jeju runs a 5 day tour around the island by bike. But they cater more towards Korean and Chinese tourists.