Bike Boxing overseas and cycling from Incheon Airport to Seoul

Bike boxing overseas was one of the challenges, when I decided to solo Seoul to Busan trail, aka 4 Rivers.
After 7D6N 680km in October 2023, I successfully completed the 4 rivers trail. This was a new milestone for me.

but, there were many doubts …

How should I plan my days, where should I stay? Will language and food be an issue? Can I scale the mountains? I will miss Google!

Surprisingly, the two initial doubts are those of bicycle boxing (and courier), and how to travel out of Incheon Airport with my bicycle!

What happens if my bike does not arrive? Or if damaged during transit?
It is always easier to rent a bike from Korea, but I wanted to challenge myself.
~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~

This is the first blog post of my journey, and I will focus on Bicycle Boxing and cycling out of Incheon airport (a novelty).

The next few posts will focus on the itinerary and experiences.

Summary and photos videos of my 7D6N journey.

1)7D6N itinerary
Day1 90km IncheonAirport to AraWest to Hongdae
(Strava Day 1)
Day2 90km Seoul to Yangpyeong
(Strava Day 2)
Day3 123km Yangpyeong to Suanbo
(Strava Day 3)
Day4 82km Suanbo to SangjuSi
(Strava Day 4)
Day5 90km SangjuSi to Daegu
(Strava Day 5)
Day6 114km Daegu to Namji
(Strava Day 6)
Day7 95km Namji to Busan
(Strava Day 7)

2)Part 1 and 2 of my custom Google Map will share my route, F&B and motels from Seoul to Busan. Do take note that I did not follow 100% 4 Rivers Route, skip Andong, and I did not search for all the certification booths.

(Part 1 Seoul to Sangji here) Red dots depict the Certification Booths.
https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=1wkn6Pfp_OownBmnRM_C3gOaBEOos-pU&usp=sharing

Gpx of Seoul to Busan Trail


(Part 2 Sangji to Busan here)

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=16LLQuW-Xw9wna0ifgsfTBmLnOzz74ug&usp=sharing

3)YouTube videos of my 4 Rivers trail (wip)

Day 1 Bike boxing, ferry and cycling from Incheon Airport to Ara West

Day 2 – 4 Rivers trail Seoul to Yeoju

Day 3 – Yeoju to Suanbo

Day4 82km Suanbo to SangjuSi (submit two mountains)

Day 5 90km SangjuSi towards Gumi and Daegu

I am still working on the other videos, do browse through all the photos in album below.

Korea Four Rivers Photos

4) 300+ Facebook photos over 7D6N
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10231495769562405&type=3

*5)Seoul to Busan and Beyond (SBB) group for your cycling research
https://www.facebook.com/groups/543187712445164

6) No1 Tip. Google Map is almost useless in South Korea. You need to master Kakao and Naver Map quickly. These apps are life savers for your navigation and hunt for F&B and motels. (I would recommend Kakao as it displays the elevation too.)

=== Airport Logistics and Boxing = ===

I flew into Incheon airport, and departed via Busan airport. Many would choose to take a KTX train from Busan back to Seoul Incheon airport.

My trip was in October November, peak of autumn Foliage. Good weather and scenic autumn foliage routes.

You can check the same website for their Cherry Blossom forecast too!

Autumn Forecast for Korea 2023 (image credit Inmykorea.com)

Tip 2. Many choose to train or bus from Incheon Airport to Seoul downtown.
They can then cycle to Ara West start point (5km from Cheongna International City Station (Station GPS 37.556283, 126.624608).

* (Please correct me if I am wrong). Both foldies and road bikes need to be wrap before boarding. Foldies can go on the train any day, but road bikes only certain days, and only first or last cabin

** Search S2B Facebook for others’ Bus/train experiences, destination Ara West

Using Kakao Map, I cycled from Incheon airport, ferry over to Wolmi and cycled to Ara West (total 38km). This route is not for everyone, as logistics is not straightforward. I hope my YouTube video will help with your planning.

Tip 3. Cycle 20km Incheon airport to Ferry terminal Kakao Map link.
https://kko.to/j-uz9v1mrL (Updated Feb2024, refer end of page for Naver alternative route)

Kakao Map cycling from Incheon airport to Ara West

However, first timers will find cycling out of Incheon airport intimidating. I hope my mistakes will help you navigate towards Ferry point safely. Refer to three screenshots.

Tip 3a. Using Kakao map. From airport, you will reach these 3 lanes.
(Estimated GPS 37.440727, 126.466127)

Take middle path and cycle towards Cargo Terminal. 20km to reach Ferry point. (My mistake was I took the rightmost lane, and went into the highway! I had to do a U-turn at CS petrol station)

 

Ferry location (GPS 37.49253, 126.58089)

Tip 3b.
Grab the Incheon -> Wolmi ticket for 3500Won.
Ferry frequency is every 60mins, and trip is 20min.

(If you miss a boat, 60 minutes delay!)

Ferry from Incheon airport to Wolmi and Ara West

Once you disembark at Wolmi, I might recommend below Incheon landmark for a photo (GPS 37.47383, 126.59659), and maybe “Wolmido Lighthouse”.

(You will see Incheon and Wolmi being interchanged some times)

Tip 3c. Cycle 18km from Wolmi Ferry point to Ara West (Start point for 4 rivers trail). Refer Kakao Map -> https://kko.to/oSgKuGlnbp

Do expect uneven pavements, and plenty of kerbs for the first 10km.

My itinerary was to cycle estimated 36km from Incheon Airport to Ara West, followed by 40-50km towards downtown Seoul (Hongdae).

Tip 3d. Refer Ara West to Seoul Downtown Kakao Map direction https://kko.to/KvV8H3L0yG

Ara West start point

Tip 4. Ara West 0 km marker. You can buy your Certification Passbook near here (GPS 37.556827, 126.603891)

Tip 5. How to box your bicycle and fly.

Let us backtrack.
Before we even fly, the first challenge would be finding an airline which can accommodate your odd-size bicycle cardbox (Checkin limits, and cardboard dimensions etc)

I even had problems finding cardboard for my bike! Thanks to Liaoge for their help!

I had to YouTube and find out how others pack and bubble wrap their frames. We cannot assume that airport handlers will be gentle when then handle luggage :p

Since I have 25kg checkin allowance, I need to max out the cardboard content. Beside cycling stuffs, I need to pack for my off-bike days too.

Bike Boxing overseas

Packing your stuff into the panniers is an exercise too. We try to balance front back and left right. Those regular items should be packed on top.

My panniers and bags were already 1.5 to 2kg. Add in the 7D6N kit total 11kg extra! This will definitely provide additional resistance to your cycling experience.

Panniers for overseas cycling

Ready to depart Changi Airport for my first solo bike adventure!

Foldie Bike Boxing for overseas

 

Tip 6. Unboxing at Incheon took me another 60-80 minutes. The bike assembly was easy, but squeezing items into the panniers took time.

Bike unboxing at Incheon airport

Many curious folks will be staring at you 🙂
And I would recommend that you practice boxing and unboxing before the flight.

Fast forward to 633km (end point at Busan).

You will notice that 90% of folks arrive at Busan during the day. I arrived at 7pm 18 degrees, due to two punctures.

The dark welcome did not provide a lot of inspiration :p
Time to celebrate my achievement!

Korea Seoul to Busan Strava

Refer to my 7 days Strava links above.

 

Tip 7. Now how do you find a box in Busan to fly back?
Instead of flying out from Seoul, I chose to exit via Busan. Those who depart from Incheon would need to train back to Seoul, Incheon.

For public transport (train and bus), you would need to bag your bike.
Photo below, my reliable Muji bag, foldie and panniers.

My motel was only two stations away from Busan Airport (Gimhae International Airport).

Train to Busan airport

Take note that “full bikes” are not supposed to roll inside the airport compound. I supposed folding bikes have more leeway (cannot confirm)

I engaged Zim Carry’s bike boxing services.
(The alternate option would be to hunt for a bike box in Busan, and diy wrap your cardboard. You might need a taxi to cart your box to the airport).

Price breakdown:

Big bicycle box – 18,000Won
Leave box overnight – 15,000Won
Total:33,000Won
(At $33 SGD, this is very affordable for convenience)

Just take note of Zim Carry’s short opening hours.
They close at 2000, and open at 0500.
If there is no queue, packing should be faster than 45 minutes.

Zim Carry’s respond time via Facebook messenger takes weeks!
(Perhaps they are not comfortable replying in English)
But this was unnecessary stress for bike travellers, I could not Find/Google for English tips about Zim Carry services etc.

Do get your Korean friends to call them if necessary.


Box and luggage storage pricing. My bicycle “Max” box was 15,000Won overnight.

Beside the bike, max out the box (25kg for SIA) with your accessories.
Please buy the bubble wrap to protect your frame too.

Bike Boxing overseas at Busan

Although Busan is an international airport, they only accommodate “smaller” planes. Please ensure your bike box (length = 156cm) is viable.
Mine barely pass Busan airport’s clearance!

My bike box need to enter the lift at a 45 degree angle 🙂

Bike Boxing overseas at odd-size counters

Adding a small feedback about Busan Airport’s poor Tax Refund SOP ( link).
Just take note that after scanning the QR code for your receipts, the tax-refund counter is inside the immigration segment (after passport clearance).

Google Map Review shows that “Tax Refund” is a recurring issue for Busan. Otherwise, other airport services are good.

Busan airport poor Tax Refund service

 

Milestone achieved! I went out of my comfort zone and challenged my own fitness and resourcefulness.

The cold mornings and early sunsets in Autumn presented some challenges.
Happy to complete my first solo overseas trip.

Tip X.

-You might be surprised but the hardest thing to commit is time (and taking leave). We can train our fitness, we can equip and upgrade our bike accessories, but it is so hard to get extended leave. (Do not forget to buy a nice souvenir for your supportive partner too!)

-As mentioned earlier, the easiest option would be to join a cycling group for your overseas ride. Besides a safety car, you can leave your  heavy panniers inside the car! Some seasoned cyclists would have dedicated soft or hard casings for their bikes too. Once they land, they will engage local courier to ship their boxes to their destination. (Diy Bike Boxing overseas does give a sense of satisfaction)

-In case you are curious, the four rivers in Seoul to Busan are Hangang, Nakdonggang, Geumgang and Yeongsangang. I suspect you can cycle at least 50km next to the majestic Han river, this is longer than Singapore!

* (refer map below, updated 2024 Feb )
Naver Map indicated a shortcut is available (shaved 3km off to ferry, who can confirm route?)
– Take note it is only true for opposite direction! (ie from Ferry to airport)
– And there is a barrier between the lanes? Do we lift bikes over?

 

** Timing is of essence. Those who wish to cycle from Incheon airport towards Seoul will clock 80-90km easily. This is including 20min on the ferry.

If you cycle 20kmh average, you will need 4 hours + 20min Ferry for journey. (Need to add meal breaks. If you miss a ferry, add 1 hour delay!  Thus plan with BUFFER to reach your motel in good time.)

* Seoul to Busan blog :
Day 0 Summary – Bike Boxing overseas and cycling from Incheon Airport to Seoul
Day 1 – Bikepacking Seoul to Busan – Day 1 cycle to Seoul downtown
Day 2 – Bikepacking 4 Rivers – Day 2 to Yeoju

ps.. YouTube : Cycle Taiwan Hualien to Taitung with kids (this is still my most memorable overseas ride)

Blog – https://sengkangbabies.com/holiday/day-2-cycling-hualien-to-ruisui

Author: SengkangBabies

I am a Blogging Daddy of four. Our kids are roaming Singapore to bring you FUN, This blog is use to capture our kids' growing up phases, and we want you to leave our blog with a smile :) View all posts by SengkangBabies

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