Cycling in Seoul: Han Riverside and Yeouido Bike Ride

I enjoy cycling. Not enough to own a bike at home but enough to hire one or join a tour on most of my trips. When planning my trip to South Korea, I decided that I wanted to give cycling in Seoul a try. I thought it would be a great way to get my bearings and explore the city. So as soon as I dropped my bags at the hostel, I headed out for my first adventure. I decided to follow my guidebook’s advice and hire a bike to head on a self-guided tour of Yeouido and the Hangang River area.

 


Cycling in Seoul: Han Riverside and Yeouido Bike Ride

Yeouido Island

I jumped on the subway and made my way to Yeouido – a huge island that’s home to Seoul’s main financial district. Some of the city’s (and even South Korea’s) tallest skyscrapers are located on Yeouido but I wasn’t here for the buildings. I headed towards the river and the Yeouido Hangang Park – a sprawling green space along the banks of the Hangang River.

Yeouido Hangang Park - Cycling in Seoul
Yeouido Hangang Park

Yeouido Bike Rental – Hangang Park

I found the small bike rental hut after a few minutes strolling the park’s clean paths. There was a price list in Korean and English and I decided that two hours would be enough for me to complete the 15km route I planned to do. 5000 won (£3.50/$4.70) would get me a “single” classic bike while splashing out 10000 won (£6.70/$9.40) would land me an “advanced” bike which I soon figured out was a hybrid bike. I decided I was advanced enough to go for the latter.

After handing over my passport as a deposit (you can use any photo ID), I was handed my shiny bike and I was on my way! It was sunny and warm – I avoided the worst of the midday heat – as I set off to explore.

Bike hire - Cycling in Seoul
The bike rental kiosk in Yeouido Hangang Park

Yeouido Hangang Park

I cycled west through Hangang Park past strolling couples, friends relaxing in inflatable donuts and kids splashing around in the stream. I stopped to check out a sculpture of a monster from a famous Korean movie “The Host” that visitors are encouraged to climb. The nearby “I SEOUL U” sign – the capital’s official slogan – offered great views of the city skyline across the river. The park seemed like a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. UPDATE: The I SEOUL U sign location has changed a number of times since March 2018. Let me know if you spot it somewhere different in the city!

Monster scuplture - Cycling in Seoul
The monster sculpture in Hangang Park
I Seoul U - Cycling in Seoul
I Seoul U is an official slogan of the Korean capital

Han River Cycling – Crossing the Hangang River

I headed out of the park and up the ramp onto the busy Mapo Bridge. I cycled across and took the ramp down to the North bank of the Han River. There were a lot more cyclists on this side and a dedicated cycle lane that went along the river. Biking in Seoul appeared to be just as popular as it is in London!

I was surprised to notice an outdoor gym just a little further. As it turned out, Koreans love to keep active and this became a common sight throughout my visit! I couldn’t resist a mini workout and did a few sets of the bench press! I also got talking to some locals who came up to me and asked me questions about where I am from and what I was doing Korea. I’ve only been in the country a few hours and was already experiencing its incredible hospitality!

Mapo Bridge - Cycling in Seoul
Crossing the Mapo Bridge
Outdoor gym - Cycling in Seoul
I mean, I simply had to…

I continued my riverside bike ride, passing a gym every couple of minutes. If I stopped at every single one, I’d be packing some serious muscle by the end of the ride! There were also locals playing something resembling bowls and croquet but I couldn’t really figure out what they were doing! The views on this side of the river weren’t as good, as the path traced a busy carriageway but once in a while I caught a glimpse of Yeouido and its skyscrapers and greenery on the other side.

North bank of the River Han - Cycling in Seoul
The bike path along the north bank of the Han River
Locals playing a game - Cycling in Seoul
Locals playing…something

Jeoldusan Martyrs Shrine

After a few kilometres I reached a cliff with a building adorned by a cross. This was the Jeoldusan Martyrs Shrine, where in 1866 up to 2000 Korean Catholics were executed and thrown into the Han River. Jeoldusan means “Beheading Hill” in Korean – I am glad I wasn’t visiting during the night as I can imagine it would be quite creepy.

Jeoldusan Martyrs Shrine - Cycling in Seoul
Jeoldusan Martyrs Shrine

Seonyudo Park

It was time to cross the river back to the south side and after carrying the bike up the steps to Yanghwa Bridge, I cycled past the entrance to Seonyudo Park which occupies an island in the middle of the river. I didn’t have time to explore it but I’ve heard that it’s a great place to wander around or enjoy a drink at the café.

Cycling paths - Cycling in Seoul
View of the cycling paths from Yanghwa Bridge. Seonyudo Park is on the right of the pic across the water

Art under the bridge

Once on the other side, I stopped to check another outdoor gym right under the bridge. Among the fitness equipment, pillars supporting the bridge each sported colourful music and film themed murals. I thought it was a really cool way to utilise what would otherwise be a drab space that you wouldn’t give a second glance.

Mural - Cycling in Seoul
One of the colourful murals under the Yanghwa Bridge
Colourful art - Cycling in Seoul
Workout equipment and colourful art pieces combine to make great use of space under the bridge

Seoul Marina and National Assembly Hall

I rode on down the tree-lined lane and soon made it back to the western tip of Yeouido. There was a fork in the road. Before continuing along the route, I took a detour to check out the Seoul Marina and the National Assembly building (heading down the right path in the photo). Back at the fork, I turned left and headed under the bridge you can see on the left side of the photo.

Fork in the road - Cycling in Seoul
Left for Yaouido Saetgang Eco Park. Right for National Assembly, marina and Hangang Park
View of Yeouido - Cycling in Seoul
Seoul National Assembly Hall and the Seoul Marina in the foreground
Seoul Marina - Cycling in Seoul
Seoul Marina

Yeouido Saetgang Eco Park

The route heads down the quieter southern part of Yeoudo island along the greenery of Yeouido Saetgang Eco Park. It’s the first eco park of its kind in Korea and was designed to preserve the ecosystem of the area and educate visitors about flora and fauna in the area. I stopped a few times to wander along the boardwalks that take you closer to nature. I really enjoyed the peace and quiet of the area, even with the towering skyscrapers visible in the background.

Saetgang Eco Park - Cycling in Seoul
The cycling route continues through an eco park – the first of its kind in Korea
Boardwalk in Saetgang Eco Park - Cycling in Seoul
One of the boardwalks in the Yeouido Saetgang Eco Park

63 SQUARE

After the relaxing stretch through the Eco Park, I reached the eastern end of Yeouido and started heading back towards Hangang Park and the start of my ride. This part of the island is notable for 63 SQUARE, a towering skyscraper and one of Korea’s tallest and most recognised buildings. There is an observatory deck offering impressive views of Seoul, restaurants and even an aquarium!

63 SQUARE building - Cycling in Seoul
The towering 63 SQUARE building

I was soon back in Hangang Park, cycling past ice cream stalls and restaurants set just offshore on a pier. Visitors could also hire swan boats to explore the river.

I managed to cover 15 km in my two allotted hours and still had a few minutes spare when I handed my bike over. I stretched my legs with a stroll through the park, enjoying the late afternoon sun and multiple iced coffees I bought to rehydrate! As first days go in a foreign country, this was a pretty good one!

Cycling in Seoul

If you liked this post, check out my other blogs on South Korea!

Korea Travel Guide: 11 Essential Tips for First Time Visitors

8 South Korea Hiking Trails You Don’t Want To Miss

15 Reasons You Should Visit South Korea


Biking in Seoul – The Trip

What: A 15km cycling route around Yeouido island and along the Han River

Where: Yeouido, Seoul, South Korea

Getting There: Subway Line 5 to Yeouinaru, take exit 3 and follow signs to Hangang Cruise Terminal in Yeouido Hangang Park.

Accommodation: I stayed at Zzzip Guesthouse in Hongdae which offers private rooms and dorms at good prices. The owners are fantastic and I highly recommend a stay! It’s about 15 minutes away from Yeouido Hangang Park by subway

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30 thoughts on “Cycling in Seoul: Han Riverside and Yeouido Bike Ride

  1. Deborah Regen says:

    Nice post, I almost feel like I’m right there with you enjoying a sunny morning in Seoul. I would probably opt for a 2-hr bicycle rental myself, sounds like fun and good exercise. I’m glad to learn about the existence of this eco-park and green space in a major city like Seoul, quite a delightful surprise. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Seoul has done some incredible work on transforming spaces to make them more green and people-friendly. There are loads of initiatives like that in the city! Really refreshing to see!

  2. California Globetrotter says:

    We’ve never rented bikes while we travel although I say it would be nice! I don’t know why we don’t! I’ve only done a bike tour is Barcelona and that was hectic! Hills and traffic don’t mix well when you don’t know where you’re going! Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard!

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Ah I can understand when it’s busy and you are riding in built up areas but this was pretty relaxing and I never felt intimidated by other cyclists and there were no roads to cross! Hopefully you will get a chance to rent a bike someday soon!

  3. Sara says:

    This looks like a great place to navigate with a bike. Love the art under the bridge and the details of the Eco ark! The first time I ever rented a bike in a foreign country was Denmark and it was slightly intimidating since the bike culture is a little intense. I’ve been wanting to do another bike tour, but my husband is not as excited about biking as I am, lol. I think it’s a great way to get around, see a lot, and save your feet though! #TheWeeklyPostcard
    Sara recently posted…Central Park Postcard PhotosMy Profile

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Ha, you need to keep trying to persuade him! Cycling is so much fun! You are right – I probably would be intimidated in Copenhagen or Amsterdam too! but it’s a great way to get around

  4. Angie (FeetDoTravel) says:

    I do enjoy bike rides along easy cycle routes and this seems perfect for me! It’s an efficient way of seeing a new place and a cool breeze on my face on a sunny day always makes me smile (and feel like a dog with its head out a car window!). I love how Asia (and Australia) has outdoor gyms, but you wouldn’t need to worry about legs on a bike ride (unless you are slightly bit crazy lol). Great art as well, and I have heard that the Korean people are incredibly friendly! Pinned. #feetdotravel

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Thanks Angie – I was in my element as you can imagine. Considering I only just arrived too, this was a great way to get my bearings!

  5. Elaine Masters says:

    Wish I were more of a bicyclist as it’s a great way to get around. In the Galapagos borrowing our hotel’s bikes made it easy to explore the city – pretty flat too. Loved your pictures and seeing the greens. Didn’t expect that in such a big city.

    • Travel Lexx says:

      I am not a cyclist back home but I love exploring places on two wheels when I travel! Great way to get around as you say! Thank you for the kind words!

  6. Shona says:

    This is such a great way to begin exploring Seoul. I love walking but riding packs so much in a lot less time.
    I was very surprised at seeing such a natural environment in Seoul. I’ve never been, but it’s looking like I should. When I do, I’ll definitely be grabbing a bike.

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Thanks, Shona. I did do it pretty quickly but I wouldn’t say I rushed too much and it was a great way to spend a couple of hours!

  7. Bryna | Dotted Line Travels says:

    If I was better at cycling, this would be totally down my alley. Alas, I only sort of taught myself how to ride a bike a year or two ago and I haven’t mastered avoiding people or braking without falling, so this is off limits for me, unless there are tandem bikes! It’s great that you were able to cover so much ground. I love the murals that you came across!
    Bryna | Dotted Line Travels recently posted…Temples of Angkor: BayonMy Profile

    • Travel Lexx says:

      This wasn’t actually too bad – not too many other cyclists and they usually let you know when they are coming! Definitely worth considering as you get more confident!

  8. tracy collins says:

    My daughter would have loved to have done this when she was in Korea! Will definitely tell her as I know she wants to go back and she loves anything to do with cycling/hiking etc.

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Thanks Ruth – yeah in a city that big it was nice seeing these spaces and people utilising them in so many different ways!

  9. Sharon says:

    Wow, you were able to see so much on a bike! The outdoor gym is really funny. I love renting a bike and exploring a new city. You see more than if you’re on a bus or metro, and you can stop where you want, all while moving faster than you can walk. Perfect!
    Sharon recently posted…Innsbruck’s Olympic Ski JumpMy Profile

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Thanks Sharon – absolutely agree – great way to explore and get your bearings. Beats being on the stuffy metro (even though Asian public transport is usually nice and air-conditioned).

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Thanks Kelly – I loved Seoul. I will hopefully post more about it in the future so you will be able to find even more reasons to go!

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