Saturday, January 7, 2012

RTW Correspondence with Linda Lee interested in Cycling in Korea, Bicycle Touring in South Korea, Routes & Ideas

My RTW Correspondence with Linda Lee who is planning on Cycling in Korea....includes the  following bits of information:
  • Where to ride in South Korea?
  • Route suggestions for South Korea bicycle travel 
  • Suggestions on purchasing a bicycle in South Korea
  • Free Camping or Stealth camping in South Korea
  • Jim-Jil-Bangs/Sauna/Guesthouses where cyclists stay
  • Cycling clubs for distance bicycle endurance training 
  • National Park Camping in South Korea 
  • Warning advisory for Yellow Dust in Korea
  • Best seasons to bicycle tour in Korea

[Linda Lee writes:]
Hi Brian,

I saw your website and blog online and I thought I'd give you a shot about some advise about biking in Korea. I'm visiting Korea this winter and spring, doing some traveling and was thinking of doing a ride around Korea in May. Do you have any recommendations for where you've ridden? Any advise? Also, I'm assuming you're traveling with your own bike, but have you seen any decent resale situations in Korea? I ride a Trek road bike with SRAM set up at home, but it will cost more than 400 to bring my bike with me, so I was hoping maybe to even buy something used to use while there.

Anyway, I'm not sure if I will hear back from you, but if you're in the mood to share some tips, please feel free to ride.

With great appreciation,

Brian Perich

Hi Linda,

I post hundreds of updates and get about 1% feedback directly, (:  So, I am glad to assist anyone. I would recommend watching   And you can purchase either a road or MTB for your shipping price in Korea. If you have a friend here, have them look around, the local high-end market is really expensive, I have ridden pieces of good bikes put together through sponsors.

Routes: so many!  Check the Korea Randonneurs website, download the routes, they should be up there, or directly from Jan Boonstra's informative Cycling in Korea website.  I will definitely recommend the East Coast, from Dong Seoul Express Bus Terminal to Sokcho, you can rest and relax with your bike stowed under the bus, watch the scenery as you cross the country.

Once you arrive in Sokcho, pedal south to Seoraksan National Park (nearby camping only $2 per night/pp.). Other cities en route: Yang Yang, Gangneung (where I live, welcome to couch surf or we can recommend a local hotel that is comfortable for you), Donghae, Samcheok, ...Uljin, Gyeongju, Pohang, Ulsan, Busan (455km, about 4-5 days, camping okay or you can stay at Jim-Jil-Bangs/Sauna/Guesthouses with private shower/steam/scrub areas for each gender, plus common areas with sweat lodge style experiences, and pillows for sleeping over night, it's warm and inexpensive too (about $7USD per night, stay as long as you like). 

You can also consider stealth or free camping as long as you stay off the beaches which are patrolled at night by ROK soldiers. The South Korean coast is safe, but you should be camping in the trees, not directly on the beaches at night. There are designated campgrounds like Mangsang Beach in Donghae, or along the West Coast which are open year-round for beachside camping. You can camp for free about anywhere there are trees, nature, mountains, rocks and level ground (:

Other routes are possible from Gangneung, you can reroute to the mountains, climb about 1000 meters in 20km on Daegwallyeong, continue 25km to Jinbu, and turn south on Hwy 35, beautiful inner mountain highway through Jeongseon, Taebaek, and you can also loop back to the coast to Donghae or continue inland to other cities. It's very safe to cycle tour in Korea, bring or buy a local standard bicycle lock though, there are thefts in bigger cities, I keep my bike with me, or lock it up with camping overnight, nobody would bother you camping 99.9% of the time here. It'll be a great tour. 

Keep in mind, spring Yellow Dust season can be deadly serious, I would recommend the summer (July-August) to get the most out of riding smog and dust-free, you could ferry to Jeju-do Island from Busan once you get down there, all information can be googled that I am mentioning, about 4-5 days, camping ok, tour around the volcanic island with pristine beaches (sweltering hot in July-August though, better for the spring May tour, the dust problem wouldn't affect you) 

Best seasons to bicycle tour in Korea are Summer-Winter (June-February), keeping in mind the Yellow Dust in (March-May), it's fantastic the rest of the year. Winter is also the clearest for air quality, low smog/dust and best for touring on the coastal perimeters (West, East or South coasts & Jeju Island).

You could also continue your tour in Japan, another option with the ferry 

Jan Boonstra has an excellent set of maps, he knows the interior routes across Korea

Hope this helps! Cheers & perhaps I'll meet you when you come to Korea

Brian Perich - Korean-World Blogger
 This is when I need to push my bicycle in Korean winters
 Gangwon-do (Province) is on the northeastern corner of the country, great cycling!
 Small trails around farms in Gangneung, Gangwon-do Province, South Korea
 Rice starting to grow in early summer months (June)
 Korean farm tractors
 Simple MTB (mountain bike) for bike-lite camping, tent strapped on crossbar protected with pipe insulation sold at hardware stores in Korea
 Cycling with my friend Jon Adie around Gangneung. There are regional riders all over the country that know their areas on the back of their hands. I am one of them (and have only my perspectives, there is much to learn and enjoy about cycling in many areas of South Korea).  There are off-road MTB clubs like MTBK (Mountain Biking in Korea group on Facebook/Yahoo), Han River Riders (Facebook) in Seoul, Cycling in Korea (Facebook) and there are loads of friendly Korean bicycle clubs and organized events planned each year (easiest if you get involved directly or know someone that can speak Korean to help you) and Internationals here to help.
 Pine forests surround Gangneung City's rural area of South Korea
 English teachers frequently ride in Korea! (Go Jon Go!!!)

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About the Korean-World Author

Brian Perich was an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) lecturer for a decade, father, and adventure cyclist based in South Korea.

Previously, Brian has led Canoe adventures in Quetico Provincial Park, Atikokan, Ontario, Canada (1993/1999); led Grand American camping adventures (2000); lived at Paramahansa Yogananda's SRF Ashram for 5 months (see the film "AWAKE"), formerly worked in titanium welding at Agilent Technologies, formerly worked in Winery industry in Marin County with Kendall Jackson in California; Surfing and Meditation continued for several years in California, British Columbia, South Korea, Yoga training in California 1999-2000.

Between 1994-1998 - Brian completed his own adventures with motorcycles. His motorcycling marathons took him across the United States and central/western Canada, while traveling solo over an astounding 24,000km in 60 days! Brian endured 900 mile/1300km average days in the motorcycle saddle and apparently loved every minute of those adventures.

Today, he has given up motorcycle adventures altogether, but finds an outlet for his enthusiasm in outdoor recreation while bicycle touring and micro-blogging about those experiences on his mountain bikes.

While employed as an English teacher in South Korea, Brian has became an advocate for bicycle touring on his mountain bikes. The Korean-World blog originated from those small adventures in Korea, now expanded to cover his recent trek down the TransMongolian highway to the Gobi Desert, cycling 900km east through the Khentii grasslands and in 2012 crossing Mongolia in 45 days, 2500 kilometers 1553 miles. HimalayasX expedition Brian previously cycled across western China, the Taklamakan Desert, the northern Himalayas of East Turkestan Xinjiang/Uyghur Autonomous Region, the corrugated back roads and mountains of Kham Tibet. Brian successfully completed his 2011 mountain bike expedition with 3200 kilometers / 1988 miles unsupported, on/off road MTB adventure cycling.
Brian has completed his second mountain bike journey, MongoliaX expedition - Crossing Mongolia 2012, an unsupported mountain bike MTB expedition across 2500km of Outer Mongolia from Ulanbaatar to Altai Taven-Bogd National Park bordering China, Russia and Mongolia.

In 2013, as a sequel to a trilogy of cycle tours, Brian enjoyed a more leisure bicycle tour onboard his Koga-Miyata World Traveller seeing the northern tier of the United States and western Canada covering 3400 kilometers / 2000 miles in 30 days. This North American cycle tour was called Totherocktour. Enjoying the adventure of bicycle travel and every great conversation started while traveling on the road - has refueled his inspirations to cycle around the Earth. In 2013, while he cycled solo from the Great Lake State of Michigan, United States to Banff National Park in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. He weaved through local communities and reconnected with friends, family and community after spending almost a decade in Asia.

Brian is now supporting several non-profit foundations through expeditions: IDEAS Foundation of Canada IDEAS is the acronym for Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society which supports the IBD community, those suffering from IBD-inflammatory bowel disease, also known as Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis.

The second non-profit foundation is ETE.ORG - Education Through Expeditions, UK which supports educational outreach programs inside schools around the world. ETE connects explorers with students in the classroom, through an interactive online program in development (Beta).

Brian is researching support for a 18000 kilometer bicycle expedition across the Americas: North, Central and South America - ONE -Arctic to Argentina
Please contact him if you are interested in helping out.

Twitter: Cycleagain
Location: Gangneung, Gangwon-do, South Korea or southern Ontario, Canada.

Thanks for visiting my Journal from Asia

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Brian's friends have also been...Cycling in Korea!

Brian's friends have also been...Cycling in Korea!

Cycling in Korea, Warning: always wear a helmet! (I gave mine to my friend)

Cycling in Korea, Warning: always wear a helmet! (I gave mine to my friend)

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