The Cross-Country Route follows a series of cycling paths and picturesque country roads from South Korea’s northwest to the southeast tip of the peninsula.
Four separate certification bike paths create the route, each strung together to form a continuous path.
The Han River (Hangang) Bike Path continues the Cross-Country Route. It flies through the capital’s core, offering glimpses at iconic highlights.
In the middle of Korea, the Saejae Bike Path takes over the Cross-Country Route. It ascends two mountain passes near the highest point of an ancient highway. Discover waterfalls, hot springs, and high-angle views along the way.
Dive onto the Nakdong River (Nakdonggang) Bike Path, the last leg of the Cross-Country tour. Wind south down the Nakdong River, the nation’s longest. Zig past eight weirs. Zag around Daegu City. And climb spiky hills overlooking ancient Confucian academies and hanok villages.
The Four Rivers Restoration Project
Throughout Korean history, the country’s rivers had a bad temper. They flooded. They dried up. They swept away riverside folk.
So in the 1980s, the government hatched a plan to control the Han, Korea’s most notorious river. They built dams (Paldang Dam) and weirs (Jamsil Bridge) to control its flow. Then workers dredged the riverbed to prevent sudden changes in its course after floods.
Ara Bicycle Path
Below, find all the resources you need to bike the Ara Bike Path.
Hangang Bicycle Path
The Hangang Bicycle Path, or “Han River” Bike Path, traverses both the Han (한강; map) and South Han Rivers (남한강; map). At 192 kilometers long, it’s the second longest and second leg of the Cross-Country Route.
Korea’s bike path certification system officially breaks the Hangang Bicycle Path in two:
The Hangang Bike Path (Seoul) begins where the Ara Bike Path ends. It straddles both the Han River’s north and south banks through Seoul, offering access to the city’s highlights, including the National Assembly, Namsan Mountain and Tower, Lotte Tower, and Banpo Fountain Bridge.
(Riding for the Cross-Country Certification? You don’t need the Chungju Dam stamp. It sits at the end of a 16-kilometer detour. From the Binaeseom Certification Center, head directly to the Chungju Tangeumdae Certification Center, the first on the Saejae Bike Path.)
Below, find pages with useful info about the Hangang Bike Path.
- Hangang Bike Path — an overview of the bike path.
- Bike Seoul (South Side) — a ride-through (1A of 3).
- Bike Seoul (North Side) — a ride-through (1B of 3).
- Bike Seoul to Yeoju — a ride-through (2 of 3).
- Bike Yeoju to Chungju — a ride-through (3 of 3).
- The Han River — all about the waterway.
- Highlights — major attractions on the Hangang Bike Path.
- How to Get There — transportation to the Hangang Bike Path.
Saejae Bicycle Path
The Saejae Bike Path gets its name from the Mungyeong Saejae Pass. Now a provincial park with fortress gates, it was the highest point on the Great Yeongnam Road, which connected Seoul to Busan during the Joseon Dynasty (1392 ~ 1897). The name “Saejae” (새재) loosely translates to “a mountain pass so high, even birds have a hard time crossing it.”
Saejae Bike Path ends on the Nakdong River at Sangju Sangpung Bridge Certification Center on the edge of Sangju City.
Below, find pages with useful info, tips, and ride-throughs for the Saejae Bike Path.
Nakdonggang Bicycle Path
The Nakdonggang Bike Path doesn’t begin where the Saejae Bike Path ends. It starts 70 kilometers east of the Cross-Country Route.
- Want to ride the whole Nakdonggang route? Start at the Andong Dam Certification Center (안동댐인증센터; map) 70 kilometers upriver from Sangpung Bridge.
- Just cycling for the Cross-Country Route certification? Continue south from Sangpung Bridge. Skip the stamp in Andong City.
The Nakdonggang Bike Path and Cross-Country Route end near where the Nakdong River spills into the Korea Strait (남해; “South Sea”; map). Cross the finish line on Eulsukdo Island (을숙도; map), a river isle in Busan City (부산시; map), Korea’s second largest city.
Find all the resources you need to bike the Ara Bike Path below.
- Nakdonggang Bike Path — an overview of the bike path.
- Bike Andong to Sangju — a ride-through (1 of 5).
- Bike Sangju to Gumi — a ride-through (2 of 5).
- Bike Gumi to Daegu — a ride-through (3 of 5).
- Bike Daegu to Changnyeong — a ride-through (4 of 5).
- Bike Changnyeong to Busan — a ride-through (5 of 5).
- The Nakdong River — all about the waterway.
- Highlights — major attractions on the Nakdonggang Bike Path.
- How to Get There — transportation to the Nakdonggang Bike Path.
Bike Path Types
Other than the Saejae Bicycle Path, most of the Cross-Country Route rides on protected cycle paths.
- 70% bike paths
- 20% country roads
- 10% farm roads
Peak season, beware of paths in and around Seoul and Busan. Folks of all ages and skill levels crowd the cycling roads. Mixed with dawdling couples and feral young ones, you’ll often find traffic jams and raging cyclists. Keep calm and forgive.
Outside the metropolises, cycle traffic thins out. Stay alert and keep your lane, however. Make way for cyclists on a speedrun.
Worried about vehicle roads? The Cross-Country Route travels a handful of them. However, long ago, modern, mountain-boring highways siphoned off long-distance travelers. Occasional bongo trucks and sightseeing SUVs haunt the pavement, though.
While much of the bike path travels through municipal riverside parks, some of the route’s linking sections use farmer access roads. Tractors with wide tread often drop mud clumps in the bike lanes.
Time & Distance
The Cross-Country Route is long (633 km; 393 mi) and climbs the tallest peak (539 m; 1768 ft) among all Korea’s certification paths.
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, ride 12 km/h (8 mph) and budget six to eight days. That’s plenty of time for breezy breaks, long lunches, and memory cards full of photos.
And two detours travel to far-flung certification centers (Chungju Dam & Andong Dam). Together, they add up to 86 kilometers of extra pavement. However, you don’t need these stamps for the Cross-Country Certification.
Remember, bus terminals line the route. Use them to jump on and off the bike paths. Conquer the country bit-by-bit.
How to Get There
- It sits on the edge of Busan, a major metropolitan city.
- Korea’s third largest airport hums kilometers away.
- A subway line and a couple of intercity bus terminals lie close by.
Each transportation option has some important limitations to consider.
Need to get to rural parts? Every district holds an Intercity bus terminal. Their armies of buses are the best way for cyclists with full-size bikes to zoom around Korea.