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Yeongsangang
Bicycle Path

An arborous adventure down a short river.

Trees & weirs & observatories, oh my!

The Yeongsangang Bicycle Path (영산강자전거길) tracks the Yeongsan River (영산강; Yeongsangang) from its origins, through Gwangju (광주시), and into the Yellow Sea (황해).

Pedal from bamboo and Metasequoia treeline walks, by Korea’s fourth largest metro area, to culinary bearing planes.

The Stats
Start
Damyang County
(담양군)
← 133 km →
7 hours
End
Mokpo City
(목포시)
Checkpoints Logo
Checkpoints (7)
Bus Icon
Bus Terminals
Link button to Kakao Maps directions.
Directions
Link button to Kakao Maps Highlights.
Highlights

City-to-City Path Breakdown

From a dam-made lake, cycle by tree-lined paths into Gwangju.

Explore an inland lighthouse and country-famous cuisine.

Bike Path Overview

Yeongsan River (영산강) is fed by multiple streams. At a length of 138.75 kilometers, it begins in earnest at Damyang Lake. It flows through Damyang County, Saju, Gwangju. In Mokpo, the river exits into the Yellow Sea.

The river was also known as one of the four great rivers in Korea. From early on in Korea’s history, the river provided a route to the Yellow Sea, and on to Japan and China. of the Goryeo kingdom, during the time of the three kingdoms of Korea.

The Course

Municipalities

The Yeongsangang Bike Path passes one metropolitan city, one province, two cities, and two counties. Skim these brief profiles of each.

  • South Jeolla Province (전라남도) sits on the southwest tip of Korea. Gwangju Metropolitan City, known for rebelling against the nation’s strongmen policies, once was its capital. Like North Jeolla, South Jeolla keeps the other portion of the fertile Honam Plains and cooks up some of the country’s most delectable dishes. The province’s coast produces seaweed and oysters, and wrangles thousands of mostly uninhabited islands in its borders.
    • Damyang County (담양군), the source of the Yeongsan River, was the setting for a few popular dramas. Shoot locations included Metasequoia Road and Juknokwon, a bamboo forest. The county also cultivates bamboo for construction, crafts, and more. Adding to the Joella Provinces’ culinary reputation, Damyang’s culinary delicacies include tteokgalbi and grilled ribs.
    • Naju City (나주시), half the namesake of Jeolla, was an important stronghold for the region, producing key resistance leaders. Fertile plains account for 70% of the district’s land, a rarity in Korea. Farms grow rice and nationally known pears. In the past, its Yeongsan River port sailed agriculture bounties into the Yellow Sea and beyond from Naju. Foodies know the city for their gomtang (beef soup) and fermented skate (stinky stingray).
    • Muan County (무안군) recently became the capital of South Jeolla Province after Gwangju became a metropolitan city. The county holds a gaggle of shiny new structures on its border with Mokpo City. Stuck between the Yeongsan River and Yellow Sea, Muan’s coast contains vast protected mudflats. When the tide retreats, farmers wade out into the sticky earth and dig for sea critters, including famed small octopus delicacies. The county’s other famous crops include onions and lotus, for which they hold a festival come August.
    • Mokpo City (목포시) is a port city at the end of the Yeongsan River. During the Imjin Wars, Korea’s most lauded admiral stationed his turtle boats in the city’s ports, fending off attacks from the Japanese. When Japan occupied Korea, they used the port and city to export cotton and rice from the upstream Honam Plains. Today, because development shifted east to the Gyeongsan Region, Mokpo shrunk. However, it still makes a living brewing sojo, beer, and catching maritime delicacies.
  • Gwangju Metropolitan City (광주광역시), Korea’s sixth largest, sits on the southwest end of the peninsula along the Yeongsan River. Once the capital of South Jeolla Province, this left leaning city, ideologically opposed to the neighboring, conservative Gyeongsang Provinces, birthed two modern popular uprisings. One against Japanese Occupation. And another against an oppressive South Korean government. Though poorer than other metro cities, Gwangju holds a reputation for food, markets, and arts.

Elevation

Bike Path Types

Certification

Seven certification centers populate the Yeongsangang Bicycle Path.

Collect all stamps and receive the Yeongsangang Bike Path certification. The route counts towards the Four Rivers and Grand Slam certifications.

Certification Centers

The Yeongsan River

Highlights

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How To Get There

Yeongsangang Bike path runs down the southwest end of the peninsula. Nearby intercity bus terminals, rail lines, and Gwangju’s subway system give riders three transportation options to get them and their bike to and from the route:

Intercity Bus

Yeongsangang Bike Path’s start and end points offer nearby intercity bus terminals, each with an excellent selection of outbound and inbound routes.

A picture of an intercity bus with the luggage compartment open.
Pop your bike in the luggage compartment and hop on board the intercity bus.

The Start

Damyang Bus Terminal (담양공용버스터미널) is the closest to the start of the Yeongsangang Bike Path. It rests 10.1 kilometers from the Damyang Dam Certification Center (담양댐 인증센터), the first red stamp booth (directions).

It operates both intercity (timetable) express (timetable) buses that venture to Seoul, Daegu, Gwangju, and South Jeolla settlements.

However, few routes flow from Damyang. Only two buses from Damyang visit Seoul’s Central City Bus Terminal (센트럴시티터미널timetable; 11:00 & 17:00). And two buses arrive from Seoul (timetable; 8:10 & 17:10).

Want more options? The Gwangju Bus Terminal (광주종합버스터미널) acts as an excellent transfer station.

  • 13 buses travel from Gwangju to Damyang per day between 7:40 and 22:45 (timetable).
  • 28 buses travel from Damyang to Gwangju per day between 6:56 and 21:35 (timetable)

A thirty-minute journey each way, Gwangju’s intercity (timetable) and express (timetable) buses connect to almost every major metropolitan city and province on the peninsula.

The End

The Mokpo Bus Terminal (목포종합버스터미널) lies 4.2 kilometers from the Yeongsangang Estuary Bank Certification Center (영산강하굿둑인증센터), the finish line (directions).

This jonghap (종합; combined) the terminal sends both intercity (timetable) and express (timetable) buses to Seoul, Busan, Incheon, Daegu, and many more provincial districts.

The Middle

In the middle of the Yeongsangang Bike Path, a huge metropolitan city and a historic town provide useful intercity bus entry points.

Nakdonggang Bus Terminals

Subways

Like Daejeon, Gwangju Metropolitan City owns a single line subway system. (As of this edit, engineers are working on Line 2.)

Cyclists with full-size bikes will find Gwangju’s Metro System less useful.

Subway Line 1 follows an east/west route and crosses under the Yeongsan River and bike path. Two stations sit on either side of the waterway.

Want to take a subway train from the bus terminal to the bike path? Navigate two kilometers of city street to Nongseong Station (농성역). Ride Line 1 five stops and get off at Kimdaejung Convention Center Station (directions). It’ll shave off about five kilometers of cycling.

However, a bike ride from the intercity bus terminal lasts only 7.7 kilometers. It follows a streamside bike path (directions), which might take less time and include more ocular candy.

Here are some rules for riding with a bike on Gwangju’s subway system.

Trains

Don’t like buses? The Honam Line (호남선), named after the Honam Plains where the Yeongsan River flows, flows southwest from Seoul Station (서울역) to Mokpo Station (목포역), where the route concludes.

A picture of a mugunghwa train arriving at a station in South Korea.
Though limited and require reservations, trains offer an alternative way to get you and your bike to Korea's bike paths.

Six train stations sit on or near the bike path, offering plenty of hop-on or hop-off points.

The train stations intersect with the Yeongsangang Bike Path beginning in Gwangju’s Gwangju Songjeong Station, midway through its run.

While Mokpo Station holds the namesake of the destination city, Imseong-ri Station, also in Mokpo, sits closer to the finish line.

Train Trials

Want to ride a train with your full-size bike (MTB, road, hybrid)? You’ll need to book a ticket that includes a bike cradle.

How? Download the Korail app or search their website. Find one of the select trains with bicycle seats and purchase it in advance.

Read our guide to the app here and check bike-friendly train timetables here.

  • Booking online or by using the app requires an ARC number or a kind Korean friend.
  • All bicycle tickets come with a seat for the human and a cradle for the bike in an adjoining train car. 
  • All trains accept folding bicycles. No special ticket. Just compact and stuff it in the luggage compartment.