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South Korea

Seoul to Busan

Guided Cycling Holiday

Grade

1
2
3
4
5

Duration

14 days

Prices from

£4,275 P.P.
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Join us on this beautiful cycling journey through South Korea. A place of contrasts from ancient to modern and serene to chaotic. This is a trip that offers the chance to experience a country steeped in a rich and fascinating history that vies for attention with the bustling vibrancy of its capital Seoul.
Home to several World Heritage Sites this often overlooked country is a rare Asian gem. It’s a sheer delight for the savvy traveller with an interest in history, culture and cuisine. With a sunny climate and lush green fields and forests in the spring and summer that turn to beautiful colours in the Autumn it makes for a wonderful place to bike.
Our route takes you through a mountainous landscape of sleepy villages that sit alongside peaceful farming communities and where ancient traditions and cultures are passionately kept alive.
This place to place ride starts in Seoul and ends in the historic Gyeongju. Along the way you’ll visit Yangpyeong, relax in hot springs in Suanbo, take in the UNESCO cultural village of Andong Hahoe and at the small port of Yeongdoek feast on King Crab.
With lots to see in Gyeongju there is time set aside here to explore and visit the main museum that houses an amazing collection of gold artifacts from the Shilla era.
From here we transfer to South Korea’s second largest city Busan where the tour ends. With so much to see in this amazing country why not tag on extra time here or in Seoul or hop over to Jeju and enjoy this lovely Korean island.
Photo Sep 18 2022, 4 22 02 PM.jpg

Holiday Highlights

  • Seoul – Cool art, sights and shopping
  • Bustling Busan and its beautiful beaches
  • Historic Gyeongju and Andong’s Hahoe Cultural Village
  • K-Pop, culture and delicious cuisine
  • Traffic-free cycle paths and rural riding
  • Hot springs and misty mountains

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Itinerary

Day 1
Departure - Overnight flight to South Korea

We leave for South Korea from our chosen departure airports to Seoul’s Incheon International Airport (ICN) arriving the following day.

Day 2
Arrival Seoul
  • Meals: Dinner

Welcome to South Korea! Flights from the UK/Europe tend to arrive late afternoon and so after transferring from the airport (45mins/1hr) and following hotel check-in, there will be a group meeting, where you’ll meet your tour leader. During this we can go over all the formalities of the trip and answer any questions that you may have. After the group meeting, we’ll head out for our first deliciously tasty evening meal.

Day 3
Seoul to Yangpyeong
47 Miles / 75 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

After breakfast and the bike fit we set off on our amazing journey through South Korea. Centrally located, our hotel has easy access to the newly developed Cheonggyecheon Stream Bike Path that cuts through the heart of the city and ensures we’ve no need for vehicle transfers out of Seoul. After around 6kms we’ll reach the Han River Park where we continue along the Han River Bikeway which we’ll be using for much of our initial cycling days.

Although a fairly chunky distance today it’s thankfully lacking in any major hills which will certainly aid our progress. On exiting the city limits our ‘weekend warrior’ city bike companions ebb away and we are soon away from Seoul’s hustle and bustle. It’s not long before the views begin to open up with Paldang scheduled in for lunch mid-point of the ride.

Suitably replenished we continue our way along the traffic-free cycle-route all the way to Yangpyeong. The evening meal is taken close to the accommodation at a small restaurant whose speciality is ginseng chicken soup.

Day 4
Yangpyeong to Angsung
42 Miles / 68 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Back on the bikes we depart directly from the hotel and are soon enjoying the South Han River Bike Path. As with yesterday it is pretty much traffic-free and as we are that bit further away from Seoul our biking buddies are few and far between from here on in. The scenery alters too with the area less open and pine trees more prevalent. As yesterday it’s a similarly flat day, with a few less kms as we head to the county of Angsung.

The whole area is famous for its hot springs that bubble to the surface from around 700 metres below the ground. Renowned for its healing properties, it is effective for treating back pain, stiff shoulders, fatigue and a whole gamut of other ailments. So, what better way to relax after a day on the bike than by seeing what all the fuss is about.

Day 5
Angsung to Suanbo
30 Miles / 48 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

A few more undulations along the way today as we head to the time-honoured hot springs town of Suanbo in North Chungcheong. Set in a lovely location it’s a compact little place whose healing waters have been shooting water to the surface for over 30,000 years.

It has been part of Korean culture for centuries and was officially mentioned in 1018, during the ninth year of King Hyeongjong’s reign. Taking a hot bath here is certainly part of the attraction. That said, with the nearby hills and mountains being a hikers paradise it’s now firmly on the map with those looking to combine some exercise and bathing.

It’s even got a hot foot bath in the centre of the town if your feet need a fix. Suanbo is famed for its pheasant dishes and we’ll visit our favourite restaurant tonight to sample this local fayre.

Day 6
Suanbo to Mungyeong Saejae
25 Miles / 40 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Suitably re-fuelled and refreshed it’s time to tackle a few hills. The scenery will have been slowly changing yesterday, and today it continues to change, with the riverside meanderings replaced by densely covered mountains and steep-sided valleys. We’ll be heading upwards, straight from the get-go on leaving Suanbo as we take on Sojoryung (362m). Steep at times it’s a tough 2.5km climb to tackle first thing in the morning. That said the views that it affords are well worth the effort and there are plenty of places to take a little rest should you need to.

As well as the mountain scenery you are now in an area famous for its chillies and you’ll see every nook and cranny filled with these hot little devils as you cycle along. Our second climb is that of Ihwaryung (548m) which comes after a great downhill section. Ihwaryung has formed the boundary between Chungcheong Province and Gyeongsang Province since the Josun Dynasty (1392-1910) and it’s easy to see why.

It’ll be a great sense of achievement to reach the top and kick back for a while at the café whilst you catch your breath. As the old adage goes: what goes up must come down and you’re in for a treat! From the top there is a great winding descent down to the Munkyeong Valley below and the exertions of the climbs will soon be forgotten. Once in the valley we’ll enjoy a few rolling kms to the edge of Mungyeong Saejae (Mungyeong Pass). The pass played an important role as the gateway in and out of Gyeongsang province with scholars, traders and government officials from Gyeongsang all required to go through the pass on the way to Seoul and Busan. Our accommodation is situated at the valley end within Mungyeong Saejae Provincial Park.

It can be a busy place during the day for visitors but come late afternoon (when we plan to arrive) it’s transformed into a much quieter place and is a great place to take a wander especially during the colours of Autumn. Our evening meal is taken a short stroll away from our accommodation and offers the chance to taste some local delicacies.

Day 7
Mungyeong Saejae to Andong City
35 - 51 Miles / 56 - 82 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Heading out from the park we’ve a big ride ahead. Thankfully the hills of yesterday won’t be around and after a few initial undulations it’s pretty flat throughout.

This is a day of wonderful rural riding that starts amongst the apple orchards of Mungyeong Saejae and ends close to the cultural heritage village of Andong Hahoe. It’s a day that sees us cycling a beautiful route that weaves its way beside streams and rivers, criss-crosses farmland and cuts its way through huge swathes of paddy fields, whose vivid greens contrasts with the nearby darker mountain scenery.

It’s a ride where cover/shade is limited and so there will be plenty of stops scheduled along the way. Today’s distance whilst scheduled for 82kms may well be reduced depending on the weather conditions (predominantly heat) and the progress of the group on the day. With accommodation limited in this immediate location our accommodation tonight is situated in downtown Andong City.

Whilst the location is a contrast from the rural tranquillity of today’s ride the hotel is modern and well appointed. With lots of tasty food options from traditional Korean to mainstream Western to choose from in the evening you’ll not go hungry whilst absorbing this slice of local Korean nightlife. What’s more we’ll be here for two evenings and so there’s no need to re-pack your luggage in the morning.

Please note that as we will be transferring at the end of today’s ride the distance cycled will be flexible depending on the group’s progress. Transfer time 30-45 minutes approx.

Day 8
Andong City and Hahoe Cultural Village
Non Cycling Day
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

After 5 days of cycling it’s time to take a break from the bikes. After a more relaxed start to the day, we head to Andong Hahoe Cultural Village. Situated around 20kms from Andong City we’ll utilise our support vehicle(s) for the short journey here. A UNESCO World Heritage site since 2010 it is a traditional village from the Joseon Dynasty and a valuable part of Korean culture. The village maintains old architectural styles that have been lost due to rapid modernisation and development in South Korea with its values focussing on retaining the tradition of clan-based villages. With its aristocratic tile roofed residences and thatched roof servants’ homes you’ll really be able to see what life would have once been like in days gone by.

With plenty to see here it’s a matter of choosing your own pace and having a wander to see what you’ll discover. Culturally enriched after lunch we’ll transfer back from Hahoe to our accommodation. After a spot of down-time we head out in the evening. Time once again to explore downtown Andong and eat in one of our favourite restaurants.

Day 9
Andong City to Cheongsong
43 Miles / 70 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Refreshed after a day off the bikes we head off from our hotel to Cheongsong. We are heading up into the mountains today and whilst not as hilly as some earlier days there are a few climbs to test the legs, as we leave the relative flat close to Andong.

Our first point of interest is Andong Lake. This is one of the largest artificial lakes in South Korea and makes for a great place to take a break and take on some snacks. After this we slowly edge our way back into the hills with the route for once not on a designated cycle way. Our final destination today is Cheongsong. Its name is derived from “Cheongbo” and ‘Songsang’ meaning ‘green treasure’ and ‘pine tree ecology’. It’s easy to see why with the Autumn colours here particularly splendid. Situated amidst the Taebaek mountain range this is a very scenic area with temperatures usually cooler than the previous days’ rides.

Once more we are in the land of hot springs with the hotel’s onsen facilities surely in need of a visit.

Day 10
Cheongsong to Yeongdeok
34 Miles / 54 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Perhaps our most challenging day of riding as we set our sights on the peaceful coastal town of Yeongdeok situated on the East Sea of South Korea. From Cheongsong we’ll be continuing our route through the mountains and be close-by Korea’s smallest National Park Juwangsan. Our climbing focus for the day is Juwang. Topping out at 721 metres it’s a steady scenic climb that is similar to those you’ll have experienced near Suanbo, just some more pedal strokes longer! As always the support vehicle is at hand should you wish to take it easy and hop aboard.

With our destination tonight at sea-level the focus from the top of Juwang as expected follows a downward trajectory for the remainder of the ride to the coast. We are heading to the east coast of Gyeongsangbuk-do and Yeongdoek. This typical fishing village blessed with the natural beauty of the mountains and East Sea of Korea boasts over a hundred snow crab restaurants in its Gangguhang Port and has been the centre of the Snow Crab ‘scene’ since the times of the Goryeo Dynasty. There’s no guessing what might be on the menu tonight, the difficulty is which restaurant to choose and needless to say if crab just isn’t your thing, there will be other options available.

Day 11
Yeongdeok to Pohang
28 Miles / 45 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Hopefully you’ll have not eaten so much Snow Crab that you’ll start to cycle sideways during today’s ride. It’s a shorter distance today as we switch the mountains for the coast and head south to Pohang – a distance of 45 kms. Today’s ride is pretty much flat and is a nice contrast to the couple of days from Andong and sees us heading southwards along the east coast of Korea. A coastal path and quieter roads on the ride help to keep us away from busier traffic sections. The scenery is nice throughout with our companion the vivid blue waters of the East Sea.

The ride ends in Pohang (South Korea’s main steel making area) and although an industrial area it has a good coastal bike path. Our accommodation (modern hotel) is situated at the northern tip of Yeongildae Beach. A beautiful sandy beach with some great places to eat this evening.

Day 12
Pohang to Gyeongju
28 Miles / 45 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Heading away from Pohang and the coast our final day of riding sees us taking a coastal route before heading inland and taking the Pohang/Gyeongju bike path that leads us to Gyeongju. It’s a short day with some undulating sections which means we should arrive to Gyeongju around lunchtime.

In the late afternoon / early evening it is planned to have a relaxed walk to check out some of the historic sights of this amazing location.To compliment our time here we stay in a traditional Korean house that is based around a Donggyeonggwan (a guesthouse for foreign distinguished guests or central officials during the Goryeo and Joseon eras).

Whilst maintaining traditional values it is now a comfortable place to stay and perfectly placed to explore see the highlights of the area, especially Cheomseongdae, Daereungwon and Anapji.

Day 13
Gyeongju to Busan
Non Cycling Day
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

The ancient sights of Gyeongju certainly deserve more time and so we’ve scheduled in most of the day to discover this ‘live city museum’ or ‘museum without walls’ as it is sometimes referred to. Gyeongju has more tombs, temples, rock carvings, pagodas, Buddhist icons and palatial ruins than any other place in South Korea.

It is simply bursting with historic places, cultural properties such as the Bulguksa Temple, the Seokguram Cave which are certainly not-to-be-missed sites and feature on our hit-list. Cultural highlights ticked off we take the speedy 30 minute KTX bullet train from Shin-Gyeongju train station to bustling Busan.

Once checked into our centrally located hotel we head out for our final Korean meal with the local guides and support team.

Day 14
Departures
  • Meals: Breakfast

Sadly our cycling journey through Korea is at an end. For those ending their time in Korea it’s time for onward connections.

Whether you are heading back to Seoul by train or plane, spending extra time in Busan or plan to fly to beautiful Jeju Island, there’s plenty to enjoy and fill a few extra days if you wish to extend.

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The Cycling

Terrain

During our time in Korea we will be cycling on well-surfaced cycle paths and roads. For the vast majority of the time you will be on cycle paths or quiet side roads where there is little or no traffic. On entering some of the larger towns and cities the traffic does increase a little, though is rarely heavy or too onerous.

Our initial day of riding sees us on a popular Seoul cycleway where we will be ‘accompanied’ at times by local riders and commuters. We’ll also have to stop at various junctions / intersections on this section.

Once out of the city our route takes us alongside the Han River and surrounding valleys and is relatively flat. After Suanbo the route gets hillier as we head into the mountains before descending to Munkyeong. From here the route is undulating and meandering as it heads through the fertile rice growing areas close to Andong.

On leaving Andong we once again head up into the mountains. Now on quiet rural roads rather than cycle ways you can expect some challenging sections near the hot springs mountain area of Cheongsong. On reaching the East Sea at Yeongdeok the hills are behind us and we’ve some coastal miles ahead. Our final section sees us heading inland on a combination of rolling small roads and cycle routes that lead us to Gyeongju.

Photo Sep 17 2022, 11 09 13 AM.jpg

Cycling Adventures Grade

1
2
3
4
5
Grade 3 : Moderate

Distances generally between 20-45 miles / 32-72 kms per day

For the leisure cyclist with a good level of physical fitness

May include some steeper, cheeky climbs

Possibly sections of varying terrain (eg. forest tracks, gravel paths etc)

Our grading guidelines have been carefully created based on our many years of cycling experience, as well as customer feedback from our trips. Of course, if you're still struggling to figure out where you fit on the scale, do feel free to give us a quick call and we'll be more than happy to help!

For more information about our grading system click here.

Is this suitable for you?

Although you may not cycle everyday, you do keep yourself relatively fit and maybe enjoy an afternoon out on your bike at the weekend. Your preference is perhaps for flatter terrain but you don’t mind tackling some hills, and the occasional steep climb if you can take it at your own pace. For those happy to tackle some ups and downs, and possibly some sections of varying terrain (eg. forest tracks, gravel paths etc) we’d recommend our grade 3 trips. We’d generally expect those on a Grade 3 holiday to have a decent level of physical fitness and be comfortable with some longer days in the saddle.

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Dates & Prices

Private Departures

Private Departures

Are you keen to only travel with your family or friends? Struggling to find the right date? Well, we can organise a private departure for this tour and tailor aspects to suit your group's specific needs. Contact our friendly team and we'll help you turn your dream into reality.

Start Date
End Date
Duration
Price p.p.
Start Date
10/06/2023
Return Date
23/06/2023
Duration
14 days
Price
£4,275.00
Start Date
21/10/2023
Return Date
03/11/2023
Duration
14 days
Price
£4,275.00

Whats Included Tick

A) Accommodation (shared twin / double en suite rooms)

B) Meals as per itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)

C) Filtered water and snacks whilst cycling

D) Full tour service including bilingual Korean guide(s)

E) Support vehicle and luggage transfers

E) Unless stated otherwise, at least one leader qualified in First Aid

F) Tickets for Andong cultural site

G) KTX Bullet Train from Shin-Gyeongju to Busan with the group on Day 13

H) Group airport transfer on scheduled arrival day from Seoul’s Incheon International Airport (ICN)

I) Group transfer on scheduled departure day which will drop at both Busan’s Gimhae International Airport (PUS) and Busan’s KTX train station.

What's not Included Cross

A) Bike rental (available if required)

B) Flights and charges for travelling with your bike (if applicable)

C) Meals not stated in the itinerary

D) Single room (available if required)

E) Travel insurance

F) Personal clothing and equipment

G) Personal expenditure (souvenirs, bar bills, hotel facilities etc)

H) Optional activities mentioned in itinerary

I) Onsen facilities whilst at the hotels – 10,000 Won (per onsen)

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The Essentials

Travel Options

Our tour starts in South Korea’s capital city Seoul, following arrival at its Incheon International Airport (ICN). From the UK the best direct flights are generally with Korean airlines and Asiana Airlines from London Heathrow (LHR).

Non-direct options include Air France, KLM and Emirates all of which are useful if wishing to use regional UK and London airports. Finnair and Turkish Airlines also offer non direct options from London Heathrow too. Other airlines may be available, please chat to our team.

Group airport transfers are included in the holiday cost and both the arrival and return transfers will be co-ordinated with the group flight schedule. We will provide you with details of suitable flight/arrival/departure schedules as flight timetables become available.

Please check with us before making any travel arrangements to ensure we have reached the minimum number required to guarantee your holiday and to make sure your arrangements fit with our scheduled transfers.

Please note If you make travel arrangements that fall outside of the scheduled transfer windows, there may be an additional charge for individual transfers.

Accommodation

As with all of our trips we aim to use accommodation which showcases the style and hospitality of the area you are visiting. We always have comfort and convenience in mind when selecting such places.

Part of the joy of travelling by bike through some of the smaller, rural areas, means of course that we are limited in our choice of accommodation – sometimes we are staying in the only guesthouse / small hotel. Whilst not having all the facilities that you may be accustomed to at home, we can safely say that these small, family-run places make up for that in location, views, atmosphere and friendly service.

Throughout the tour there will be a range of accommodation types and styles depending on the region you are travelling through and the availability in our overnight stops. In some locations we are required to opt for larger hotels with modern facilities. Whilst these may not have the character of some of the other places, they are well located and chosen to reduce lengthy transfers.

Some of the highlights of the trip are on days 3 and 9 where you can enjoy the hot springs at the hotel’s onsen facilities. On day 12 another highlight is a stay in a traditional Korean house. Here the rooms are twin share and mattresses and bedding are provided for sleeping on the floor in a traditional style. hwangnamguan.co.kr

A single room supplement is available for those wanting their own room, this covers most nights of the trip except at Yeongdeok on day 10 where single rooms are not available.

Bike Hire

Due to the place to place nature of this tour we recommend renting a bike with us. Our bikes will be ready for you in Seoul at the start of the tour and we’ll take care of them from Busan at the end. From Busan you can then choose to fly or catch the train without having to worry about travelling with your bike or bike bags.

Our bikes for this trip are lightweight aluminium Giant hybrids with rim brakes, good components, 700c wheels and an upright riding position.

If you decide to rent we can include a helmet (though always nicer to bring your own!) and all the necessary spares for the trip. If required, please request a helmet on booking. If you prefer to bring along your own saddle and pedals then this is fine, again, just let us know upon booking.

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