Bikepacking Seoul to Busan – Day 1 cycle to Seoul downtown

Bikepacking Seoul to Busan took me 7D6N. In my first post, I had shared about the logistics of bike boxing, and cycling out of Incheon Airport to Ara West.

As mentioned in my first blog post, it is almost 80km from Airport to Seoul (Hongdae). That would be easily 5 hours on the road, do buffer enough time to reach your motel earlier.

I only pre-book a motel for the first night, the other nights are all walk in. It is very discomforting for me, as I was worried about room and motel availability. Many folks have done it, you are safe.


Bikepacking Seoul to Busan

Breakdown of my Four River itinerary.
Total distance was 680km over 7D6N, elevation 3500m.

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)

Day 1 route from Incheon Airport -> Ferry -> Wolmi -> Ara West start point -> Seoul Hongdae . Doable but challenging, as there are many unknowns.

Incheon Ferry to Wolmi
Incheon Ferry seagulls
You may watch my Day 1 video first.

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

Ara West would be the Start point of Seoul to Busan trail (aka Four Rivers).
You can get your passbook (passport) from here.

K-Water ( the architect for Four Rivers) came up with this passbook idea (and red certification booths), to encourage more folks to cycle and enjoy the river views.

Take note that my route did not capture all the red booths, as the journey itself was already packed with attractions (and memories).
Cyclists will spot these red booths and stamp their passbook. At the 633km end point (Busan), they can get a medal as badge of honour.
Certification booths and stamps Seoul to Busan

The only differences would be how many days do you need to complete Four Rivers trail.  Reasonably fit folks will take between 5 to 7 days. I took 7D6N with daily 90, 100km (including some detours), rolling speed of 23-25kmh.

I would strongly recommend you to buffer one extra day. For emergencies, or to explore more in one province. No need to rush.

My trip was cut short by 30km on Day 1, due to thunderstorm.
On the last day, two punctures delayed my  finale celebration.

Ara West Start point four rivers

Cycling Korea Autumn foliage

Cycling in autumn, beautiful foliage and earlier sunset (at 1745). This means I have one hour less to cycle every day, and I needed to do some (destination) adjustment.  In rural areas, it will be pitch dark by 1815.


Just follow the Four River signages (or blue lines) to stay on the bike trail.
Validate your route with Naver or Kakao Map (Kakao preferred as it shows you the elevations infront).

Since I arrived in Seoul downtown in the evening, the Blue lines and Red pavements assured me me that I am on the right track.
(Some Four rivers signages are already worn off)

Kakao and Naver Map are reliable, but it will be time consuming for first timers to only rely on on Kakao Map. Many self doubts.

Four rivers signage navigation

Getting dark, I arrived in my motel only at 2000. Would recommend you to arrive before sunset. I do not need extra anxiety from cycling in the dark and unfamiliar terrain/routes.

I should highlight that my route is not exactly four rivers route, ie following the red certification booths.

Refer map below, if you are going for stamps, follow the Red arrow. I had crossed Han river and stayed at Hongdae, because I wanted to visit some downtown attractions (red circle).

You may browse additional landmarks in my custom Google Map.
The “red” colour markers are the certification booths locations, thanks to a Mr Yoo.

There are at least 25 bridges across Han river, those following the “official” route need to know which bridge to take.

Anyway, Seoul Mansion Guest House was my motel for Day 1.

I had accidentally cycled extra 10km to another “Seoul Mansion”!

I actually shortlisted 10 motels nearby, and most will not allow you to roll bikes into the room.

Seoul motels recommendation
It was a cool temperature during Autumn evenings. It will get colder as I cycled South. (and morning 0800 can be 8-10 degrees)
Hongdae street vibes
Hongdae street busking

Hongdae street is only 10min walk from Motel.

Had wanted to stay near Hongdae, as I heard the busking and night vibes are happening. Kakao shop is popular for those looking for souvenirs or gifts.

Hongdae Kakao shop

Some random pork soup to warm the body. Meals in Korea would be around 8000 to 10000 per pax. I did encounter 2 restaurants who only serve minimum 3 pax, not single.

(wip) I might share my planning Gsheet later.

Day 1 Bikepacking Seoul to Busan would be easy for seasoned cyclists. Those new to bikepacking (including me) might wish to take note of a few things.

Additional Bikepacking Seoul to Busan tips

1)It is always easier to rent a bike in Korea (rather than ship over).
It is a luxury to cycle in a group (with support car), cycling solo means you are on your own, be it navigation or research (for motel and F&B).

..and the panniers will weigh you down.

2)Travelling solo will always be cheaper than a group package.
– Bikepacking expense estimation per item,  Motel (40,000 to 60,000 Won), Meal (8000 to 12000 Won), cafe (8000 to 10000 Won) and convenience stores snacks and drinks (2000 won) .

(Solo) Per day conservative budget can be between  SGD70 to 100 (70,000 to 100,000 Won). Total 7D6N would be an affordable SGD 490 (490,000 Won).

The most value meals are from convenience stores (like CU, GS25 etc), 5000 Won. I only budget 55,000Won on certain days.

A 7D6N packaged tour will easily set you back by 2,000 to 2,500 SGD (250,000 to 300,000 Won). (Inclusive 4 or 5 star hotels, support vehicle and guide etc)

3)We will always pack more in our pannier. You will feel every extra kilogram.  As you cycle more, you will learn how to pack front and back, left and right, for better balance.

Those things which are used frequently should not be unloaded (daily).
Fyi, last minute packing of pannier (especially mornings) is time-consuming.

4)It helps if you can shower in your jersey and pants :p
Just scrub down with soap, and dry your jersey with towels (overnight).
I bought 3 jerseys, but only wore two sets for 7 days (no extra odour).

5)Cycling 200km is different from cycling 2 x 100km. Train for multi-day cycling. Consecutive cycling will wear you down, I was on the road for 10-12 hours easily daily.

6)Coming from flat Singapore, there are limited elevation training grounds.
There are many slopes Big and Small in Korea’s four rivers route.
Some of us train on Malaysia slopes and gradient.

7)Cycling in cold weather is new for me too. Get a long-sleeve thermal jersey and long cycling pant. I have an inner layer to wick off any perspiration. The usual layering applies.

– Balaclava to cover my exposed neck and ear
– Full gloves (not half) to ensure all fingers are insulated
– I had an extra set of thermal (heat tech) as standby

Even at 20 degrees, you can feel the chills when the wind blows, or when you go downhill. Morning 0800 in the countryside can be as low as 8 to 10 degrees.

On the first few days, I noticed Korean cyclists covering their mouths. I did not, and my lips were numb from cool weather exposure.

Be it Autumn or Spring, I have no doubt that you will fully savoured what Four Rivers trail has to offer.


a)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.
I have indicated “Purple markers” to represent Detours and Slopes.

(Part 1 Seoul to Sangji) Red dots depict the Certification Booths.

Gpx of Seoul to Busan Trail

(Part 2 Sangji to Busan here)

b)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

Day 6 114km from Daegu to Namji (Hardest segment for me)

Finale. Day 7 95km from Namji to Busan (end point)
I am still working on the other videos, do browse through all the photos in album below.

Korea Four Rivers Photos

c) 300+ Facebook photos over 7D6N

d) 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
Day 3 – Cycling Seoul to Busan – Day 3 Yangpyeong to Suanbo