Cross-Country Routes icon.

Ara
Bicycle Path

The shortest and first bike path along Korea's Cross-Country Route.

The Ara Waterway Path begins (or ends) the Cross-Country Route. It’s the shortest and flattest of all Korea’s certification bike paths.

The bike path starts at the edge of the Yellow Sea (황해; West Sea), travels east through the northern regions of Incheon City (인천시), then spills onto the Han River (한강) in Seoul (서울).

The Stats
Start
Incheon City
(인천시)
← 21 km →
1 hour
End
Seoul City
(서울시)
Checkpoints Logo
Checkpoints (2)
Bus Icon
Bus Terminals
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Directions
Link button to Kakao Maps Highlights.
Highlights

City-to-City Path Breakdown

Ride the shortest path on the Cross-Country Route.

Ride the shortest and flattest path down the Ara Waterway on the Cross-Country Path in Incheon.

Ara Bike Path Overview

Bike in front of the Ara West Sea Lock on the Ara Bike Path.
The Ara West Sea Lock marks the starting point of the Cross-Country Bike Path.

The Ara Bicycle Path follows the Ara Waterway, a man-made canal connecting the Han River on the edge of Seoul to the Yellow Sea, known to Koreans as the West Sea.

Begin near the Ara West Sea Lock, the point where the waterway spills into the Yellow Sea. Both the north and south side of the canal hold bridges, parks, and recreational areas. 

The main bike path sails along the southern side of the canal. But interesting landmarks inhabit the north side, as well.

There are fourteen bridges that cross the canal. Bicycle rental stations, restrooms, art installations, and more park facilities rest under many of the bridges.

The bike route touches three cities. The longest stretch, eastward from the Yellow Sea, crawls along the northern edge of Incheon. Near the end, the path touches the bottom bit of Gimpo (김포) before unfurling into the westernmost edge of Seoul.

Eight Scenic Views

The city of Incheon designated eight scenic views (수향8경) along the Ara Waterway. West to East, beginning from the Ara West Sea Lock, they run:

Duri Ecological Park along the Ara Bike Path in Incheon, South Korea.
Duri Ecological Park is the 6th scenic view along the Ara Waterway canal in Incheon.

What exactly is an “Ara Falls?” We’ll explore these sights more in depth in our Bike Incheon to Seoul guide.

Can you read Korean? Click here for a detailed map of the Ara Waterway.

Types of Paths & Difficulty

The Ara Bicycle Path is the easiest of Korea’s certification bike paths. Keep a steady pace and you can conquer its twenty kilometer course in less than two hours.

Only two stretches near the beginning and end detour onto city streets. But all sport sidewalks with bike lanes. The majority of the route follows designated bike paths.

North vs South

Bike roads run along both the north and south sides of the Ara Waterway. They mirror in difficulty and length.

There are differences, however.

  • The south side holds the “official bike path.” Both the start and end line lie below the Ara Waterway.
  • To reach the north side, you must cross the Ara Waterway twice. Over and back again. (Seven bridges — three with elevators direct from the bike path — make crossing simple.)

Each side holds a unique set of landmarks (read above).

A picture of bicycles on the Incheon and Seoul Subway in South Korea.
When boarding subways with your bike, enter in either the front of rear cars. Do you best to stay away from non-biking passengers.

How To Get There

Because it lies in the third largest city in Korea, you have a range of options to get to the Ara Bike Path.

Subway

Are you already in Seoul or Incheon? Take the subway.

Airport Express

The Airport Express (AREX) is a commuter train that travels from Incheon International Airport to Seoul Station (서울역) in the middle of the capital.

AREX tracks run parallel to two thirds of the Ara Waterway and bike path. And like most Korean subways, it allows passengers to board with full-size bikes on weekends and holidays.

Three AREX stations sit closest to the Ara Bike Path.

A picture of bicycles on the Incheon and Seoul Subway in South Korea.
When boarding subways with your bike, enter in either the front of rear cars. Do you best to stay away from non-biking passengers.
Cheongna International City Station

As the crow flies, Cheongna International City Station (청라국제도시역) snuggles closest to the Ara West Sea Lock, the Cross-Country Route’s start line.


However, it doesn’t sit close to the bike path. You must navigate three kilometers of city streets before you arrive at the start line (directions).

Geomam Station
Want to get to the start line? Geomam Station (검암역) might be the simplest access point. The station sits a couple hundred meters from the bike path. However, it lies one third of the way down the route. You’ll need to pedal eight kilometers backwards to reach the Ara West Sea Lock (directions). So if you want to complete the Ara Bicycle Path in one go, you’ll ride the route’s back-third twice. Up and back again. Add eight kilometers to your 20 km ride. (Don’t fret! The ride’s pleasant both ways.) Geomam Station connects the Airport Express line with Incheon Subway Line 2. However, Incheon Subway Line 2 does not accept full-size bikes any day of the week.
Gyeyang Station

Like Geomam, Gyeyang Station (계양역) offers excellent access to the Ara Bike Path, lying only a few kilometers off-path. 

However, also like Geomam, it rests eight kilometers from Ara Hangang Lock (directions), the Ara Bike Path’s end in Seoul; and 16 km from Ara West Sea Lock, the start.

Gyeyang Station connects with Incheon Subway Line 1, which allows full-size bikes on weekends and holidays.

Other Lines

Seoul’s mega subway system reaches into every satellite city. Subway Line 1 and the Suin–Bundang Line, a commuter train, extend westward into Incheon’s borders.

However, Incheon maintains two subway lines of its own. Both end along the Ara Waterway.

Intercity Bus

Not in Incheon or Seoul? Take a bus. They’re the best tool to hop between cities with a bike in Korea.

Incheon Bus Terminal (인천종합버스터미널) sits square in the middle of Incheon’s mainland. (Incheon also controls hundreds of islands in the Yellow Sea.)

However, the Ara Bike Path and Waterway live in the city’s northern regions.

Want to ride a bike there? You’re looking at a good 19 kilometer haul (directions), half through busy city streets.

Don’t worry. The bus terminal buddies up with a subway station. On the weekends or holidays, this is the fastest method.

A picture of intercity buses at a rest stop in South Korea.
Intercity buses are the best way to move around Korea with your bike. They stop by every major cycling path.

Airplane

Coming from overseas. You’re in luck. Incheon International Airport (인천국제공항) lives on Yeongjong Island, which you can see from the Ara West Sea Lock.


If you land in Korea with your bike on the weekend, just head to the airport’s basement and hop on the Airport Express. Hop off four or five stops later at Cheongna International City or Geomam Stations.

Gyeongin Ara Waterway

The Ara Bicycle Path borrows its name from the Gyeongin Ara Waterway (경인 아라뱃길; a.k.a. Ara Waterway.)

Let’s take that name apart

  • “Gyeong” (경) comes from an old name for Seoul.
  • “In” (인) refers to the city of Incheon.
  • “Ara” (아라) derives from Arirang, an ancient Korean folk song.

The Ara Waterway is Korea’s first people-produced canal. Eighteen kilometers long. Eighty meters wide. Six meters deep. The canal starts at the Han River in Seoul and flows into the Yellow Sea.

King Gojong of Goryeo first explored its construction in the 13th century. However, limited technology scrapped the project. Today’s canal didn’t break ground until 2009, with its completion coming in 2012.

A birds-eye view of the Ara Bike Path in Incheon, South Korea.
The Ara Waterway connects the Han River with the Yellow Sea and absorbs flood waters.

Purpose of the Ara Waterway

The Ara Waterway serves three purposes. It prevents flooding, provides recreational parks, and allows passage for cargo and cruise chips.

Flood Prevention

Engineers built the Ara Waterway to stop frequent flooding from the Han River and nearby streams.

Swaths of Incheon and neighboring Gimpo and Bucheon Cities lie in the Gulpo Basin, where the Gulpo Stream (굴포천) flows. This land depression rests just four meters above sea level.

That’s good, right? Well… Gulpo Stream rests six meters above sea level. And the Han River courses ten meters above. So when the skies opened, river waters breached their banks and washed over the Gulpo Basin and all its inhabitants.

The Ara Waterway drains excess flood waters from the local rivers and dumps it into the Yellow Sea.

Recreation

When constructing the canal, civil engineers installed waterside parks. While riding the Ara Waterway, you’ll see art installations, conveniently spaced bathrooms, and observation decks for park goers to enjoy.

Towards the end of the path, you’ll find the Ara Marina (김포마리나), where weekend sailors dock their leisure boats.

Cargo and Cruise Ships

The Ara Waterway also provides passage for cargo and cruise ships. The Ara West and Hangang Sea Locks sport chambers which raise and lower passing vessels to the relative water levels of the Ara Waterway, Yellow Sea, and Han River.

Cargo ship traffic has not yet picked up along the waterway. Leisure boats and sightseeing cruise ships dominate the calm canal’s waters.

Districts of the Ara Waterway

Behind Seoul and Busan, Incheon Metropolitan City (인천광역시) is the third most populous city in Korea, holding over three million residents.

Nestled against the Yellow Sea in the nation’s northwest, Incheon is a part of the Seoul Capital Area (수도권), which includes Gyeonggi Province (경기도) and its dozens of cities.