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Where to sleep while biking in Korea.

The sun dipped below the distant hills. Today you conquered hills, slalomed around bike paths, and filled your phone with photos. Now everything aches. It’s time to go to bed.

But where? You’re in the right place. We’ll give you a rundown of the best place to crash after biking in Korea and more.

Want to soak in a love motel hot tub? How about pampering yourself in an expensive resort? No. Well, there are cheap hostels and guesthouses to suit the budget biker.

Wait. You’re a bikepacker? You should have said you were adventurous. This guide also goes through some dos and don’ts while camping in Korea.

But first, let’s explore how to plan your route. You don’t want to end up in pitch black farm fields, no bed in sight.

A guide to Korea’s motels.

A guide to finding and sleeping in Korea’s cheap and plentiful motels. 

Hotels, hostels, & more.

A rundown of Korea’s other sleeping quarters, from hanoks to saunas.

Rules for camping in Korea.

Tips and rules for bikepackers planning to camp along Korea’s bike paths.

Find the Finish Line

Before you hop on our bikes, make a plan! First, three questions.

    • Where do you start?
    • How long can you cycle?
    • How long do you want to cycle?
A picture of Golden Tulip Skybay Hotel at Gyeongpo Beach near Gangneung.
Along Korea’s east coast, you’ll find several awe-inspiring hotels and resorts.

Now, open a map. (Kakao Maps, Naver Maps). From your start point, find the cities or towns that fall into your can and want to cycle ranges. Unless you’re bikepacking and pitching a tent, these are your finish lines.

Now, figure out if these towns have places to sleep.

Suanbo (수안보) is a remote little outpost on the Saejae Bicycle Path. They have plenty of beds for tourists. Only those tourists are there to visit the famous hot springs. A room will run you ₩120,000 ($100) a night.

Once you find your finish line, pin two or three accommodations on your map. After a ten-hour ride, don’t find out all the rooms booked.

Korean Maps

Welcome to Korea. Almost everything is written using Hangul (한글), Korea’s writing system. So it makes sense to search for accommodations with it.

If you type “motel” into Kakao or Naver Maps, you’ll get results. Piano Motel, V Motel, Design Motel. But that’s only because the business listed their name in English. 

Now let’s type in “모텔.” That’s “motel” in Hangul. Whoa! There’s more. A lot more.

Not only are we searching for a business name, we’re scanning the motel category.

A motel and cafe in the form of a ship near the city of Pohang in South Korea.
Not only can you find motels in all parts of Korea, you can find interesting tourist attractions like this ship cafés near Pohang along Korea’s East Coast.

Learn more about Korean maps here. You’ll find out why Korea neutered Google and some more tricks about using Kakao and Naver Maps biking.

Quick take. Kakao Maps is best for biking. Naver is great for everything else.

Want to skip the Korean. Lucky for you, we give you some handy links below. Tap them and you’ll open Kakao maps. We created links that will research whichever area in which you zoom.

The Hot Spots

A picture of the Ramada Inn in the city of Sokcho along Korea's East Coast Bike Route.
You can find familiar hotel brands in Korea, like this Ramada Inn in the city of Sokcho along Korea’s East Coast Bike Route.

Like people, motels hate being alone. They huddle around bars, nightclubs, and noraebongs (노래방; karaoke bars).

Why? They don’t call them love motels for nothing. Many rent out their rooms in three hour chunks. Huddling around adult watering holes snags more customers than in a family neighborhood.

Similarly, pensions and resorts hang near beaches and natural wonders. Hotels set up shop in big cities. And hostels lend beds on the top floors of walk-up buildings in tourist hotspots.

Logistics

You picked a place. Good. Where are you eating dinner? Breakfast in the morning? How far are you from the bike path?

In Daegu (대구), the Cross-Country bike path kisses the western border of the city. If you book a motel in center city, the next morning you’ll ride forty-minutes just to get back to the start line.

You picked a place right on the bike path? Good. But it’s in a fishing town that caters to wealthy tourists. Your dining options feature 80,000 ($75) a plate snow crab restaurants and a GS25 convenience store with thirteen-hour-old gimbap.

Try to pick accommodations with plenty of grub spots near the bike path. You’ll save time at night and in the morning.

To Book or Not to Book

Find your perfect accommodations? You could book using a Korean booking app or a western based app like Booking.com or Airbnb.

But, like everything in life, you’ll find pros and cons. Let’s run through them.

To Book

The Donghae Grand Hotel (동해그랜드관광호텔) brings luxury and a little bit of Roman inspired design to the East Coast Bike Path.
The Donghae Grand Hotel (동해그랜드관광호텔) brings luxury and a little bit of Roman inspired design to the East Coast Bike Path.

Advanced booking has advantages.

Depending on the time of year, you might receive a discount on Korean booking apps like 여기어때 or Yanolja.

Secondly, holidays bloat the roads in Korea. Vacationers fill every vacant room. So if you don’t book a room during the Chuseok or Seollal holidays, pack a tent. You and your bike will sleep under the stars.

Lastly, if you reserve a room, you’ll have a goal to work towards. You’ll know exactly how many kilometers you must conquer. Budget time for meals and detours accordingly.

Not To Book

Touring Korea by Bike is an unpredictable brew. Mix flat tires with injuries and weather. This cocktail might leave you fifty-kilometers behind schedule. If you book before your trip, you probably can’t cancel without penalty.

Additionally, you’ll find the best selection of accommodations on Korean apps. For non-Koreans, navigating them gets complicated. You won’t find English language options. And the apps require you to register using a phone number and personal info. (Check out our guide for online booking.)

Finally, don’t book if you want the flexibility. You will find sightseeing detours with biking in Korea. If you want to explore more, don’t chain yourself to a motel room.