2024 CCCTS South Korea Tour Review


In April of 2024, 15 keen cyclists from across North America embarked on a cycling tour of South Korea, taking us through bustling cities, beautiful valleys, and along stunning coastlines. Over the course of 15 days, we grew closer to each other, made lasting memories, and deepened our knowledge of South Korea and its many cultural offerings. Here is a review of our trip.

Day 1: Welcome to Seoul

Upon arrival in Seoul, the electrifying capital of South Korea, we were instantly immersed in a vibrant blend of modernity and tradition. After a smooth check-in at the Kensington Hotel, we enjoyed our first group meal and introduced ourselves to each other. By 6 PM we were gathered for a delightful welcome dinner and detailed trip briefing, setting the stage for our 15-day adventure across South Korea. The anticipation was palpable as we mingled with fellow travelers, sharing our excitement for the journey ahead. We all had our first in-country foray into South Korean cuisine and some members of the group learnt to brace their pallets for the spice we would surely experience again. This was a trip organized by Spice Roads tour company after all. What did they expect?

Photo: First group dinner

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Day 2: Seoul to Yangpyeong

Our cycling journey kicked off with a bike fitting session at the hotel, ensuring everyone was comfortable and ready for the ride. We then set off along the dedicated bike paths of Seoul, marveling at the seamless integration of cycling infrastructure in such a busy city. The transition from urban landscapes to rural scenery was seamless and breathtaking. We stopped for a refreshing lunch near Paldang Dam on the Han River, where we enjoyed a variety of Korean noodle soups. After lunch, we continued to Yangpyeong, enjoying the serene riverside views and lush greenery. Our first 82 km ride ended at Chereville Spa Tourist Hotel, where we relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful riverside and mountain views. The spa facilities were a perfect way to unwind after our first day on the road.

Photo: Riding out of Seoul along the Han river

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Day 3: Yangpyeong to Chungju

Cycling along the Hanghang Bicycle Path was a serene experience, surrounded by pine trees and small islands along the Han River. The flat terrain made for an enjoyable 73 km ride, with frequent stops to stamp our bike passports at designated points along the route. Each stamp was a unique design representing the area, adding an element of fun to our journey. We stopped for a leisurely lunch at a local riverside restaurant, where we savored traditional Korean dishes such as kimchi (fermented cabbage) and japchae (stir-fried glass noodles). The day’s ride culminated at the Iden Hotel & Spa in Chungju, where the city’s famed hot springs provided a much-needed respite for our muscles. The evening was spent soaking in the scenery, chatting about the day’s experiences. We were also taught an important lesson today, to not ride your bike and use your phone simultaneously, as one of our guides, JJ, took a fall doing so.

Photo: Han River bicycle path

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Day 4: Chungju to Mungyeong

The terrain became more challenging on day 4 as we tackled Sojoryung and Ihwaryung Mountains. The climbs were rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding valleys and a sense of accomplishment. We paused frequently to catch our breath and take photos of the breathtaking scenery. Our descent was exhilarating, and we soon found ourselves in Mungyeong, a city rich in history. We settled into the Mungyeong Hot Spring Hotel, where the hot springs provided another perfect recovery session after our strenuous 76 km ride. Dinner featured local specialties, including Mungyeong’s famous beef dishes.

Photo: View from Ihwaryung Mountain

Day 5: Mungyeong to Andong

Today’s 101 km ride took us through central Korea’s agricultural heartland. We cycled past picturesque apple orchards, lush rice paddies, and charming villages. The peaceful countryside was a stark contrast to the bustling cities we had seen, and the slower pace allowed us to truly appreciate the rural beauty. We enjoyed a hearty lunch at a farmhouse restaurant, where we tasted homemade kimchi and fresh vegetables. Following the Nakdong River, we made our way to Andong. This city, known for its cultural heritage, offered us a chance to unwind for a couple days. In the evening, we enjoyed a local fried chicken dinner, before heading off to bed to allow our muscles to recover.

Photo: Arriving in Andong

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Day 6: Exploring Andong Hahoe Village

Taking a break from cycling, we explored the traditional Hahoe Village, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Walking through the village’s narrow roads, we marveled at the Joseon Dynasty architecture, preserved hanok houses, and ancient trees. A self-guided tour helped us understand the historical and cultural significance of the village. The day was leisurely, with meals on our own, allowing us to fully immerse ourselves in the cultural experience. Many of us took the chance to sample Andong jjimdak (braised chicken) at a local restaurant, renowned for its savory flavors.

Photo: The group at Buyongdae Cliff overlooking Andong Hahoe Village

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Day 7: Andong to Cheongsong

Back on our bikes, we journeyed 54 km to Cheongsong, passing by Andong Lake and navigating the scenic roads of the Taebaek mountain range. The ride was more relaxed, allowing us to enjoy the cooler temperatures and serene mountain views. We stopped at various viewpoints to stamp our bike passports again and take photos of the breathtaking landscape. Lunch was eaten less than a kilometer from the end of the ride, as this was a shorter day, allowing us more time to savour the local cuisine. We arrived at Mt Juwang Spa Hotel, where we once again indulged in the region’s hot springs, renowned for their therapeutic properties. Dinner featured local Cheongsong dishes, including fresh mountain vegetables.

Photo: The group after riding past Andong Lake

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Day 8: Cheongsong to Yeongdeok

Today’s milestone was reaching South Korea’s East Coast. The ride involved a challenging ascent of Juwang Mountain, with its steep climbs and narrow paths. However, the views from the top were a nice reward, with the East Sea visible far in the distance. Our descent was thrilling, as we navigated winding roads through lush forests. We celebrated our arrival in Yeongdeok with a feast of fresh Korean King Crab at a seaside restaurant. The crab was delicious, and the meal was a perfect way to celebrate our achievement. Our accommodation for the night was a cozy Korean Motel, where we enjoyed the sound of the waves and the fresh sea breeze, with a view overlooking the illuminated bridge.

Photo: Base camp 1 during the climb up Juwang Mountain (we needed lots of breaks)

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Day 9: Yeongdeok to Gyeongju

Our final cycling day on the mainland took us 100 km along the beautiful East Sea coast to Gyeongju. The coastal route offered stunning ocean views, sandy beaches, and quaint fishing villages. We stopped at various points to stamp our bike passports and take in the sights, including at a gorgeous café overlooking the water. A western lunch at a beachside restaurant was a highlight, featuring burgers and burritos for all to relish the tastes of home. Upon arriving in Gyeongju, we were fascinated by its rich history from the Silla Kingdom. The evening was spent relaxing and discussing our journey over a delicious dinner, before winding down for another extra-long sleep before our second rest day. The unfortunate part of this day was Deb earning the trip award for best fall.

Photo: The group along the East Sea coastline

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Day 10: Discovering Gyeongju

A day off from cycling allowed us to delve into Gyeongju’s histori c treasures. We visited the Daereungwon Tomb Complex, where the royal tombs of the Silla Kingdom are located. The sight of the massive grassy mounds was awe-inspiring. We also saw: the Cheomseongdae Observatory (an ancient astronomical observatory building made of 27 steps of 30cm. stones), the Sacred Bell of Great King Seongdeok, and the Gyeongju National Museum that outlined the history and art of the Shilla Dynasty and included statues of Buddha and explained the influence of Buddhism on parts of the Shilla culture. Meals were on our own, allowing us to try local specialties such as sambap (rice wrapped in lettuce) and Gyeongju bread, a sweet pastry filled with red bean paste.

Photo: The group out exploring during the day

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Day 11: Train to Busan & Ferry to Jeju Island

We took a morning train to Busan, South Korea’s second-largest city. The vibrant cityscape was a stark contrast to the rural and historical sites we had visited. We explored the colorful Gamcheon Cultural Village, with its winding streets and vibrant murals. The Jagalchi Fish Market was a sensory delight, offering a dazzling array of fresh seafood. Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, perched on a cliff by the sea, provided a serene escape from the urban hustle. After exploring Nampodong Street, we feasted on a dinner of every kind of seafood imaginable – lobster, abalone, shrimps, squid, and more. Then we were driven to Yeosu to board an overnight ferry to Jeju Island. Everyone got a small sleeping berth – or “box” – and tried to get a few hours of sleep.


Photo: Walking around Busan harbour

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Day 12: Jeju Island to Seogwipo

Arriving at Jeju Island at sunrise was magical. We immediately started cycling despite a short sleep for most onboard the ferry, covering 88 km to Seogwipo. The island’s volcanic scenery and coastal views were spectacular, with stops at various points to stamp our bike passports. We cycled past iconic landmarks like Hallasan Mountain and Jeongbang Waterfall. Lunch was a delightful seaweed soup, accompanied by local delicacies. Our accommodation at the Lemain Hotel provided a perfect rest spot after a day of scenic cycling. In the evening, we enjoyed a local fried chicken dinner on a rooftop, and went out exploring Seogwipo’s vibrant night market, sampling local food and shopping for souvenirs.

Photo: Jeju Island coastline

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Day 13: Seogwipo to Seongsan Ilchulbong

The 85 km ride to Seongsan Ilchulbong, famed for its volcanic formations, was filled with stunning coastal views and lush green landscapes. We stopped at several viewpoints to rest, stamp our bike passports, and take photos. Lunch was another seaweed soup, this time with views overlooking the sea. Before the end of our journey, we had to bid farewell to three of our youngest tour members. They unfortunately had to head back to Canada early and work on Monday. The Blue Mountain Hotel offered stunning views and comfort for the night. Dinner was a seafood feast, featuring Jeju’s famous abalone and grilled mackerel.

Photo: Riding through Jeju

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Day 14: Seongsan Ilchulbong to Jeju City

Our intention was to rise early in the morning prior to the day’s ride to witness the spectacular sunrise from the top of the crater-style peak at Seongsan Ilchulbong Marine Provincial Park. Alas the weather didn’t cooperate. Heavy rain and strong winds fell upon us forcing us to forego the sunrise and our last riding day. Prior to leaving in the bus for our journey back to Jeju City several members of our group decided to climb the crater-style peak, despite the weather. The exhilarating climb was well worth the effort with spectacular views from the top. Upon reaching Jeju City, we checked into the Whistle Lark Hotel and later sat down to a farewell dinner that was a fitting end to our incredible journey, filled with laughter, shared stories, and delicious Korean cuisine.

Photo: Farewell dinner

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Day 15: Departure from Jeju

Saying goodbye to South Korea was bittersweet. Depending on our travel plans, we either headed to Seoul via Jeju airport or extended our stay for some beach relaxation. Reflecting on the past two weeks, we cherished the memories, the camaraderie, and the diverse landscapes we had experienced. Our bike passports, filled with stamps from each location, served as a cherished memento of our journey. The tour company that organized the trip did a fantastic job, ensuring every detail was perfect. Our guides JJ, JP, Dugi, Kambi, and Mr. Seo were exceptional, providing invaluable insights, support, and fun throughout the tour. This trip was more than just a cycling adventure; it was a cultural odyssey that left us with unforgettable memories and a deeper appreciation for South Korea.

Photo: A Jeju beach

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Our 15-day cycling adventure across South Korea was more than just a physical challenge; it was a cultural odyssey. From the bustling streets of Seoul to the serene landscapes of Jeju Island, each day brought new discoveries and adventures. The bike passports we stamped at various locations throughout our journey were a unique way to commemorate our progress and achievements, telling the story of a place we visited and the memories we made along the way. This trip was truly an adventure of a lifetime, combining the thrill of cycling with the rich tapestry of South Korean culture and history. Here’s to many more adventures on the road!

Extra Photos for Each Day

Day 1:

Photo: National Museum of Korea

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Day 2:

Photo: Bike path along the Han River

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Day 3:

Photo: Lots of cycling over bridges

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Day 4:

Photo: View of a waterfall

A bridge over a river

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Day 5:

Photo: Valley views

A river running through a forest

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Day 6:

Photo: Hahoe Village

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Day 7:

Photo: Andong Lake

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Day 8:

Photo: East Coast Crab Restaurant

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Day 9:

Photo: East Sea Coastline

A bridge over water with a pagoda

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Day 10:

Photo: Monument for the Korean war along the coastline

Statues of soldiers on a beach

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Day 11:

Photo: Western influence in Busan

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Day 12:

Photo: Rocking with the Jeju Island Rocks A group of people posing for a picture

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Day 13:

Photo: Seogwipo Seaweed Soup

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Day 14:

Photo: Squid hanging out to dry

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Day 15:

Photo: Many thanks to our wonderful trip organizers, Robin and Dan.

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