Explore the landscapes, flavours and character of rural South Korea on this off-the-beaten-track cycling holiday. Visit historical temples, cycle scenic coastlines and stop at sleepy fishing villages along the way.
Explore Tour Leader / Cycle guide
1 nights simple cabins
8 nights comfortable hotel
1 nights simple hotel
Trip maximum 16 Explore average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Jeju, Jeju is a volcanic island home to some of South Korea's most beautiful coastal landscapes. Formed, as legend would have it, by a mystical grandmother shovelling dirt, and whose sons, turned to stone in grief at her death, form the 360 parasitic cones around the central Mount Hallasan shield volcano. Jeju has seen recent increases in popularity, although very few European visitors make it to the island. Jeju is perfect for coastal and country cycling where travelling by bicycle enables us to see the best of the island, enjoying relaxed riding whilst dipping into some of Jeju's many impressive historic and geological sites.
For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 8.30pm for the welcome meeting. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Jeju at any time. If you would like to receive an airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Jeju International Airport (CJU), which is a forty-five minute drive from the hotel. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to relax and enjoy the hotel facilities.
Whistle Lark Hotel (or similar)
This morning, after collecting and fitting the bikes for Jeju Island, we will ease slowly into our cycling, enjoying a day riding along Jeju's coastal bike path to the white sand beach and cobalt sea at Hyeopjae Beach, continuing through the potato fields to a prominent headland, offering impressive views of Mount Hallasan and the neighbouring islands. We visit the temples at the foot of Sanbangsan Mountain, each with its own character in murals, statues and Chinese characters. From here, we wind through the jagged headlands to the quirky artistic town of Seogwipo, staying on a peaceful seafront out of town where the old lava flows tumble into the sea.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 66 kilometres (total 810 metres accumulated ascent)
Hotel Sumorum (or similar)
Taking in the colourful seaside sculptures through town, the coastal road through Seogwipo enjoys natural wonders en route - where we may stop to see the famous Oedolgae Rock or Jeongbang Waterfall. You might even see a Korean pop (K-pop) celebrity on holiday, before we continue eastwards across the picturesque Soesokkak Estuary. Next we cycle to Jeju's Folk Museum and discover more about the stone harubangs (statues) that have guarded the island since the eighteenth century. Continuing northwards, we ride on a narrow causeway to Seongsan, where the sheer sides of the vast volcanic plug of Seongsan Ilchulbong rise from the sea, overlooking the Haenyo grandmothers freediving for seafood.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 62 kilometres (total 440 metres accumulated ascent)
Blue Mountain Hotel (or similar)
An impressive sunrise over the sea is usually the reward for those who rise early to hike the volcanic peak of Seongsan Ilchulbong. Our ride continues westwards through the coastal wetlands, rich with local bird life. Approaching Jeju City from the north, we will wind through the small coastal settlements alongside Jeju's traditional stone walls, where Borimsa temple, damaged and rebuilt following the 1948 Jeju uprising, is juxtaposed against the bustling modern day port below the hillside cycle path. We spend the night in Jeju City.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 55 kilometres (total 380 metres accumulated ascent)
Today we enjoy a rest day from cycling, flying from Jeju to the mainland at Busan, Korea's second city, before a short drive to the historic city of Gyeongju, once capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla. In the afternoon, we will explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Bulguksa Temple, an important site for Korean Buddhists, and home to seven of Korea's designated 'National Treasures' from the golden age of Buddhist art. Although historically Buddhism was the principle religion, according to the 2015 census the majority of South Koreans have no formal affiliation with religion. In the evening, we will relax in the beautiful night-time scene at Anapji Pond, before experiencing our first night in a traditional Korean house or hanok. The rooms are very simple with minimal furnishing and an ensuite WC and shower. At night a futon style mattress is laid on the wooden flooring with blanket and pillow. The rooms are twin share with full bedding provided.
No cycling today
Hwangnamguan Hanok Village (or similar)
After collecting and fitting the bikes for the mainland ride, we set out from Gyeongju. Today we experience the scenery and landscapes of Korea's inland hills and valleys - riding across the wide rivers and through the rice and wheat fields, we will arrive in the traditional folk village of Gyeongju Yangdong, before taking back country lanes to our overnight destination of Pohang, famous for its spectacular golden sand beach and corniche.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 45 kilometres (total 70 metres accumulated ascent)
Lahan Hotel (or similar)
Riding northwards along the scenic coastal road, we will enjoy peaceful cycling along quiet coastal roads and bike paths, under impressive cliffs and through traditional fishing villages, before arriving in Ganggu Port, famed home to both Korean classical scholars, and a thriving crab industry - already famous over one thousand years ago in the Goryeo dynasty. Here, enjoying the view to the mountains and the Sea of Japan, we will wander the fish markets and enjoy the traditional delicacies on offer in the town's many local seafood restaurants.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 46 kilometres (total 460 metres accumulated ascent)
Local Motel (or similar)
From Ganggu Port, we will continue along the peaceful east coast cycle path to Hupo. We leave the bikes along a beautiful covered lakeside walkway under the cliffs, to venture underground for the impressive stalactites, stalagmites, caverns, passages and rock formations of the limestone caves at Seongryugul. Back in the open air, we follow the coastal road past golden sand beaches and coastal wetlands to the small hamlet of Gisyeong Mangyang. From here it is a short drive to Uljin town where we spend the night.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 82 kilometres (total 1040 metres accumulated ascent)
Uljin Grand Hotel (or similar)
We start the day with a drive up the coast to Samcheok where we start our ride. The final day of cycling, past old military fortifications and observation posts, will see us continuing up the east coast with beautiful rock formations and crystal clear water. Our ride ends at Gangneung, a well known Korean beach town where we will enjoy our last night on the coast.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 50 kilometres (total 1010 metres accumulated ascent)
Gyeongpo Beach Hotel (or similar)
An early start will see us catch a fast train (approx. 2.5hrs) from Gangneung to South Korea's capital Seoul, home to approximately a fifth of the country's population, and where a fast-growing economy and rapidly improving quality of life contribute to a fascinating time for Korea's social and cultural development. With a history stretching back over two thousand years, the city boasts impressive modern architecture and public services, alongside traditional temples and mountains that rise out of the urban districts. After enjoying a brief sightseeing tour and a free afternoon's shopping, we will enjoy a farewell meal together in a traditional Korean restaurant. Korean food is full of flavour and variety with many interesting dishes, stews and colourful, intricate deserts. Meals are very healthy; largely based on rice, supplemented with vegetable and meat side dishes and usually accompanied by Kimchi, fermented cabbage. Tonight let your tour leader guide you through the menu and perhaps try something a little more unusual.
New Seoul Hotel (or similar)
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Seoul.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Seoul at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive an airport transfer today, you need to depart from Incheon International Airport (ICN), which is an hours' drive from the hotel.
Total distance : 255 miles
South Korea has four distinct seasons: long, cold winters; short summers which tend to be hot and humid; autumn and spring offer pleasant weather but tend to pass quickly. Jeju Island tends to have a warmer climate due to its southern location, temperatures usually reach up to 25 degrees during the summer months.
2 Pin Round
When cycling: quick drying cycle tops, padded cycle shorts, lightweight wind and water proof jacket and warmer breathable layers where local conditions require. General: Pack essentially for hot or mild weather depending plus some warmer clothes for cooler nights. You may want to pack a swimsuit and towel, as there will be some opportunities to swim.
If you are not bringing cycle shoes then try to bring stiff-soled shoes as these are better for cycling - transmitting your energy into the pedals more efficiently. This becomes more relevant and recommended the more demanding the grade and distances to cover. Comfortable shoes, trainers, sandals or flip flops are useful when not on the bike.
On all Explore cycle holidays we strongly recommend you bring along and wear your cycle helmet. In case of an accident resulting in personal injury, certain insurance policies are invalidated in cases where a helmet was not being worn. Cycle glasses to protect against dust, pollen and the sun, padded cycle gloves and a water bottle or water delivery system (e.g. camelback or platypus) are also useful. You may choose to bring your own gel seat cover for added comfort. Other items to consider bringing are a sunhat and sun cream, torch, earplugs and insect repellent.
Bus, Bicycle, Flight, Train
Comfortable - Our mid-range accommodation offers a good level of service often with other amenities such as a restaurant, bar, garden or swimming pool. Generally rooms will be comfortable with en-suite facilities. In Gyeongju we spend the night in a traditional style Hanok accommodation. The rooms are very simple with minimal furnishing and an ensuite WC and shower. At night a futon style mattress is laid on the wooden flooring with blanket and pillow. All bedding is provided. In Ganggu Port we spend the night in a local style simple motel in en suite rooms.
Can you drink the water?
It is generally possible to drink the local tap water, therefore to reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles we recommend you bring a refillable water bottle with you. Your leader will advise you on refill points each day.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
South Korea: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens for a stay of less than 90 days. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against malaria, infectious hepatitis, typhoid, tetanus and polio. Consult your travel clinic for latest advice on different prophylaxis available against malaria. Travellers may wish to take immunisation against Japanese Encephalitis. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.