It's been a while since I've posted specifics about Bicycle-Lite touring in South Korea, here's that update! Some popular routes that I have explored to date:
1. Sokcho-Yang Yang-Gangneung-Donghae-Samcheok-Uljin-Pyeonghae-Gyeongju-Ulsan-Busan (Hwy 7, 475km, difficulty level 7.5/10).
Allow yourself 5-6 days and enjoy Jim-jil-bang (Saunas in Sokcho, Gangneung, Donghae, Samcheok, Uljin, Pohang, Gyeongju or international hostel*, Busan).
2. Gangneung loop! Gangneung, Gangwondo (starting) ride West on Hwy 456 towards Daegwallyeong Museum. This is a 25km ride with 830 meters to ascend to the top (Pyeongchang-gun).
Another 20km inland riding on smooth, car-free pavement through meadows and easy rolling mountains above 700 meters, reaching Jinbu, you will find a river under the Hwy 50 Inter-province. This is a great place for a swim or camping, if you plan a multi-day, this is a great place to rest for a night and continue on south Hwy 35, or West to Wonju.
Next stage, follow signs for Taebaek (Hwy 35), Southbound in the inner mountain passage, you'll find the river along your left/parallel to this route. The ride difficulty is 5.0/10 with rolling grade and a few long/light ascents.
When you reach the junction of Donghae (east) and Jeongseon/Taebaek (West...20/55km respectively), the option West is the most challenging (Difficulty 9.5/10). Westbound takes you across 7 - 700 meter+ mountain passes, eventually there is a massive descent, be prepared to brake hard, it drops into S.Donghae and you can ride into the city center or camp on the outskirts of town.
Finally, from Donghae to Gangneung, Gangwon Province via Hwy 7, takes you past Mangsang Beach, and Okgye, there are two mountains to pass through via the Donghae 1,2 tunnels, reversing this route southbound towards Donghae from Gangneung, I have reached 71 km/h after passing through the Donghae 2 tunnel. The complete loop is 257km, can be completed in 2-3 days.
3. Seongnam (Seoul) City, -Suam-Andong-Daegu, approximately 355km, 3 day tour. Difficulty 7/10. Last day of this tour Andong-Daegu, 100km+ can be completed in 4 hours, grade ascends and the ride is excellent all-around. See specific maps leading southwest from Seongnam (Bundang).
4. Ansan City, Gyeonggi Province - Suwon-Osan-Pyeongtaek-Cheonan (Day 1), Follow Rural rice fields and the subway line south of Suwon, Hwy 1. From Cheonan, it's an excellent ride West to Boryeong/Daecheon Beach, approximately 100km, highway 1 road conditions (mask recommended) Day 2. Next, follow the coastal or inner Hwy towards Gunsan-gun (Mokpo) Southbound, there are vineyands and grapes are seasonally best in August, also the hottest month on the peninsula! Route is long and flat, approximately 355km in total distance, takes 3-3.5 days to complete. Difficulty 8/10.
5. Daebudo Island, Gyeonggi, Province. Adjacent to Ansan/Siheung Cities is Daebudo Island. Close access from Incheon/Siheung via the land bridge built for cyclists! A tour can take 1-2 days, there are a variety of Pensions/Rentals available in different areas of the island. If you cycle around the island, it's optional to continue Southbound towards Suwon/Hwaseong Cities for a longer adventure ride. Camping is possible here. There are also wetlands and a number of reclaimed land projects with service roads off the beaten roadway to explore.
6. Western coast. Incheon/Siheung/Ansan/Suwon//Cheonan/Mokpo. You can ride to Daebudo Island via the land bridge, loop the island and head south through the Gubong Tunnel towards Suwon. From Suwon City, you can follow Route 1 South towards Daejeon, pass Osan, Pyeongtaek, Cheonan. At Cheonan, the highway splits, you want to ride West towards Daecheon Beach /Boryeong area. Along the route, you can find accommodations in Jim-Jil-Bangs (Sauna/guest houses), Minbaks or small guesthouses, Pensions (guest house), and the common Love Motels.
7. Ride from the Han River (Akpujeong) west towards the East coast, there are plenty of rural roads leading to Seoraksan National Park. Allow yourself 2-3 days. From Seoraksan National Park (campground) you can ride to nearby Sokcho, or continue on the inner farming roads south towards Yang Yang and Gangneung City where there is hotel accommodations (Skytel in Kyo-dong, Taekchi in Gangneung is a good choice!)
Also, consider camping around Daegwallyeong (Hwy 7 to Hwy 35 to Hwy 456), the top of the coast mountains surrounding Gangneung City to the west are great for camping. You can adventure past the guard post (right turn just after the summit) and find the road directly to the Buddhist temple complex (small shrines). There is a trail head located there. Ride up and through the trail obstacle course to find the hidden wonders of the Wind Turbine fields (grasslands and open meadows).
8. Seoul-Busan on the new estuaries bike paths. Complete pavement off the main roads of Korea. This route follows old rail tracks paved over, through tunnels, and continues along open areas of the Nakdong Estuaries and wetland projects to Busan.
9. Southern coastal ride, from Busan to Mokpo. Visit the coastal islands, there are many bridges that connect different cities and villages, optional ferries to hop along the coast too (Mokpo ferry to Incheon for example).
10. Jeju-do, Jeju Island touring. Take a tour around Jeju Island in May/June while the water is warming up. The island is surrounded by pristine beaches, remnants of volcanic activity that formed the landmass. At the center of the island is Halla-san Mountain, an extinct volcano and site of horse ranches and more grasslands. Seogipo City in the south of the island boasts many accommodation choices, hotels, pension (efficiencies for cooking), or fancy hotels like the Shilla. July-August, the temperatures are sweltering, you will melt on a cycle -be forewarned. Winter would be dry-mild on the coasts of the island, camping is available everywhere you decide to pitch a tent.
*** If you need a detailed route for South Korea, just send a message/post a message with your contact information, consider a donation to the Korean-World, and I will customize something right for your time and micro adventures.***
(Gangneung-Pohang. 24 hours, 250km, Overnight camping trip!)