6 Pro Tips for Cycling in Seoul
Cycling is one of the most rewarding ways for you to enjoy Korea!
The Korean government invested a tremendous amount of money in cycle routes and infrastructure. Using these bike-paths are safe ways to explore and exercise.
The entire Riverside Bike Trail system stretches over 1,757 kilometers along the Hangang, Geumgang, Yeongsangang, and Nakdonggang Rivers. There are awesome scenic views and attractions along the paths, cheap places to eat and even plenty of campgrounds. Just Google “4 Rivers Trails” and a ton of information will magically appear. We recommend with a Seoul adventure along portions of the Han River Trail.
Follow these helpful tips to assure your perfect day of cycling:
Prepare your Bike:
A 30 second check of your bicycle will prevent hours of unhappiness while riding. Check that your wheels are free of wobbles, tires for proper inflation, tire treads for small sharp objects lodged in the rubber from previous rides, your brakes for good grip, and that your chain moves with ease.
Bicycle lights are mandatory if riding at night and a bell (or horn) is highly recommended equipment to avoid unwanted collisions. Be sure that your lights and noise devices are functioning properly and have adequate battery power before you start your ride.
In Korea, if you do find an issue with your bicycle, local bike shops provide fast, friendly and inexpensive bike tune-ups, and tipping for services is not necessary.
Don’t have a bike? Rent one!
If you don’t own a bicycle, don’t fret. Bike rentals are very popular and readily available around the bike paths. Free rentals are available for two-hours at a time. Longer bike rides require a full day rental.
A quick internet search will yield lists of rental places around Seoul and other areas.
Prepare for the Day:
Checking the weather is a given, be sure to match the right clothes for the weather conditions, bring sunscreen if needed, and check that your pant legs can’t come in contact with the bike chain. Cycling can be enjoyable even in the snow and rain when you have clothes that keep you dry and you ride cautiously.
Sometimes Seoul has high pollution levels, you may want to check the air quality before your start your day for any activity. A face mask specialized in filtering PM2.5 (Particulate Matter that’s 100 times thinner than a human hair) can help minimize health risks. Face masks and glasses are commonly worn by cyclists to protect against insects in the evening.
Water is essential to cycling and all outdoor activities, always bring a bottle with you. And a flat tire is inevitable, being prepared with a spare tube or patch kit and small air pump can save you a lot of extra walking and time. But if forget your water and repair items while cycling in Seoul, No Worries! You’re never too far from a convenience store or bike shop that can supply your needs, just be sure to triple check you have some money, your ID and transportation card with you!
Bring your camera! There’s always something exciting or interesting to see every day on Seoul’s cycling trails!
Last but not least, take your cellphone with you. It’s important to have a way to call for help in case of emergencies (119 is the nationwide emergency telephone number).
Know Your Route:
Korea has done a great job at creating and maintaining cycling and walking trail systems with abundant clear signage, rest stops, and amenities such as drinking water fountains and bathrooms.
Get yourself a bike map. These can be found for free at the district offices, library, tourist information booths, bike rental shops, at the Han river and other places.
A GPS and cellphone map applications are two more tools at your disposal to track your progress and know your location. There are many updated maps of Korea for your portable GPS available for download, and Seoul has WiFi everywhere which makes your cellphone map applications still useful even without data service.
If you become really stuck, there are lots of friendly people along the bike trails willing to help or direct you towards your destination.
Etiquette, Culture and Local Bike Laws:
Seoul and all of Korea are very densely populated, and even at night cycling and walking paths are often crowded; consideration for others can’t be emphasized enough.
A few simple “rules of the road” will prevent complicated problems on the bike paths:
- Always keep to the far right. Stay off sidewalks.
- Abide by all traffic signs and lights.
- Notify your presence when approaching or passing people.
- Walk your bike when on non-bicycle paths.
- Unless you are disabled, a child or a senior, never ride your bicycle in a crosswalk.
- Be aware of your surroundings – anticipate pedestrians not paying attention, cars that might not notice you, or dogs that are unleashed.
Bicycles are considered a vehicle and therefore are held accountable in accidents in the same manner that a car is accountable. If an accident occurs, take photos and call 119 if necessary for emergency services.
The trails in Seoul are busiest on the weekends and holidays. To avoid the crowds, try planning your rides for the early mornings and weekdays.
Bikes on Buses and Subways:
By far, the easiest and most affordable way for you to reach the trailhead is by public transportation. Intercity buses will allow you to put the bike in the luggage compartment under the bus.
Bikes are allowed to ride on the subway on weekends and public holidays (although never allowed on line 9). Bicycles are banned during week days on nearly all subway lines, except for non-numbered lines leading out of Seoul which allow bicycles at all times. Bicycles may only be boarded on the first or last train cars.
Avoid taking your bicycle on public transportation during rush hours! It will be difficult to make your way through large crowds and you risk damaging your ride.
At all times, be considerate of others. This is true when riding on the trails, but especially important on public transportation.
For more biking tips in Korea, check out these Trazy posts:
And be sure to share your Seoul cycling excursions on Trazy.com!