|Riders enjoy a bicycle trip on the Namhan River bicycle route. / Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization|
By Jun Ji-hye
Korea is an ideal destination for bicycle trips due to extensive dedicated bicycle paths around the country and stunning natural landscapes in addition to convenient bike rentals.
Some booths along bike trails even offer stamps to riders upon their arrival to track their courses and collect a memento to mark their progress.
As people have been unable to travel overseas due to the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) as well as online travel agencies including Agoda have recommended some great cycling routes across the nation that will make summer vacation more special.
The Namhan River bicycle route, which opened October 2011, has been considered a must-ride course for cyclists here.
It is a 140-kilometer-long path that links Namyangju of Gyeonggi Province and Chungju of North Chungcheong Province.
The route passes many natural attractions such as Dumulmeori in Yangpyeong, and historical sites such as Tangeumdae Terrace in Chungju, as well as a tunnel and a closed train station.
Dumulmeori is the place where the Namhan and Bukhan rivers meet.
Tangeumdae Terrace is a beautiful park situated along the river where royal court musician Ureuk of Silla Kingdom (57 B.C.-A.D. 935) used to play his gayageum (a traditional Korean zither-like instrument).
The KTO said the route has attracted more than 400,000 riders annually since its opening.
"The route, which is easy to access from Seoul and its surrounding areas, has many convenient facilities such as bike parking lots and bike rentals," a KTO official said.
Gyeongju in North Gyeongsang Province makes a great spot for families to bond over the city's 1,000-year history as the capital of Silla.
Bicycle trails are well-established throughout the city, making it easy to visit its major attractions.
|A bicycle is parked in front of Gyeongju Station. / Courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization|
Agoda said travelers can explore the glorious history of Silla by discovering traces of the past at royal tomb complex Daereungwon and astronomical observatory Cheomseongdae as well as Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond, which are all part of the Gyeongju Historic Areas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Cyclists can also experience nature at the man-made Bomun Lake along the bike path.
Nakdong River, Jeju Island
Nakdong River is the longest river in Korea, with its bicycle route stretching about 390 kilometers starting from Andong Dam.
It is a hard course to complete as it takes about four to five days, but riders can enjoy breathtaking views along the route and sightseeing in the nearby villages.
Along the route, riders can also enjoy leisure activities such as canoeing and kayaking, as well as a variety of traditional food and cultural experiences.
Meanwhile, Jeju Island is renowned for its volcanic wonders, waterfalls and white sand beaches, with its bike paths built along the coastal roads and the coastal ring road where traffic is not heavy.
Cyclists are recommended to follow the Jeju Fantasy Bike Path to pedal past the splendid coastline, beaches and several village parks, and check out South Korea's highest peak on Mount Halla.
Reasons to ride
According to Agoda's Usage and Attitude Study 2019, experiencing nature and the countryside are the top motivations for people to travel.
Cycling gets tourists close to that with many bike routes connecting scenic sights, nature parks and the countryside.
Riders can take in the sights at their own pace and hop on or off wherever they like.
Going on a bike tour also allows tourists to easily navigate off the beaten path where public transport might not take them, to explore country lanes and tracks, meet locals and experience travel from a different perspective.
The online travel agency shares two other reasons to travel by bicycle ― it's eco-friendly and a rewarding workout.
"With health being a key topic this year, people will be able to exercise and have fun at the same time during the bike trip," an Agoda official said. "Cycling is also an affordable and eco-friendly way to get around."