Cycling the northern Han River
A friend asked about cycling from Seoul to Busan and although I haven’t done that, I’ve been to the starting point. The Bukhangang (northern Han River) cycling track is an incredibly scenic getaway east of the congested Gangnam/Jamsil area. It’s the first leg of the 700km Seoul-Busan route, but it’s also a perfectly good destination in itself, suitable for those of us who can only peddle for an hour before our butt hurts too much.
To get started, catch the Seoul metro to Paldang station (팔당역, K128 on the Gyeongui-Jungang line) in the east. Alternatively, if you’re coming from the south, you could take a bus to Hanam City / Misa-ri but be prepared for a nice long walk through the park and across the Paldang bridge (팔당대교).
At Paldang station, turn left when you come out and walk past some restaurants selling 콩국수 (soybean noodles). You’ll see a pretty large and professional-looking bike shop. Rates are shown in the photo, with the cheapest bikes at 3,000 won an hour. There are options for city bikes and mountain bikes with gears.
Once you’ve got your bike, come out of the store and turn left, heading east into the hills. The trail is pretty obvious and flat, following the Han River. Look out for raptors such as the White-tailed Sea Eagle or Steller’s Sea Eagle as they coast on the updrafts between the mountains before hunting fish in the river.
Click on the map above for a larger image. The top right-hand corner is a recreational sightseeing route. Note that the map is upside down (south is up) so the bike shop is at the right hand side and our route takes us past the pink numbers 1,2,3 and 5. The other two maps on the board are for hard-core cyclists who want to go to Busan.
The route offers plenty of photo opportunities as it runs past and onto an old railway track, featured in the drama Doctors with Park Shin-hye and Kim Rae-won. We took our time and got to the point where the railway crosses the river in about an hour (It’s about 10km). There, we stopped at a three-storey café for a coffee before heading back to the bike shop.
Cycling at Paldang bridge was much more fun than Yeoido (which is not too bad really). The bike shop is more professional than most you find in Seoul, the scenery is breathtaking and the coffee is good and cheap. Even if you don’t cycle, there is a great café spot near the train station that is worth a date.
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