Seoul is a city that is designed for cyclists. Koreans cleverly designed the 1988 Olympics' biking and running trails, and sporting facilities with the future in mind. Unlike any other Olympic host country, Korea continues to make full use of their Olympic facilities. Because of this, Seoul is covered in outdoor trails and bike-friendly lanes that have created a cycling culture among Seoul Koreans.
Investing in a bicycle while living in Seoul will be worth your time and money. This investment will not only enforce a healthier lifestyle and reduce stress, it will help you contribute to a cleaner planet. To be a bike-fundi in Seoul you need to know where to buy a bike, where to go riding, and what the lifestyle benefits are.
1. Where can you buy a bike in Seoul?
There are plenty of options to buy bikes in Seoul. The majority of new teachers order their bikes online. I do not recommend this. Bikes ordered online are shipped unassembled and sometimes with rusty Chinese parts. Instead of ordering online, take a stroll around your neighborhood, and you should find plenty of local bike shops. Seoul is saturated in bike shops. You just have to be willing to do a bit of walking to find them.
In my neighborhood, there are six bike shops within a 15-minute walk from my apartment. These bike shops offer a wide variety of bikes that range from 80,000₩ to 400,000₩. You can find bicycles with baskets, ergonomic bicycles, mountain bicycles, racing bicycles and electric bicycles.The bikes are manufactured all over the world and include Alton from America or Cook from France or Samchuly from Korea. Most of the shop products are good quality and they sell biking equipment too! Some owners offer free services to customers who buy bikes from their shops, such as puncture repairs and bike tune ups.
If you cannot find a bicycle shop in your area, check out Gmarket or 11th Street. For good deals on a used bike, search Craigslist or Facebook for foreigners who are selling their bicycles at the end of their contracts in Korea.
2. Where can you bike in Seoul?
Seoul has an endless number of bike-friendly trails. Set out on a day trip with no direction in mind. Each road leads to a new trail - with no destination in mind, you will find an adventure around each corner. Or set out for the Han River, a great place to bike. Professionals, clubs and serious cyclists can be found on the bike trails that run along the Han River. The river lanes bustle with cyclists like a bike highway through Seoul.
Mt. Achasan is a great destination for a more adventurous ride.Mt. Achasan riding is not for the faint-hearted. Trails are muddy and traverse large granite rocks. Also, Bundang has a large XC trail network centered around Yuldong Park. These trails are a lot of fun and are easily accessible by subway or car.
Lastly, leisurely bikers can ride peacefully on the Olympic Park trails, around your neighborhood or along the streams and fortresses that encompass Seoul.
3. Why should you invest in a bike while living in Seoul?
First, cycling to and from work helps lower your stress and helps you keep a happy peaceful attitude. A commute in the fresh air helps me think more clearly and relax. When I commute by bus or subway, I arrive to work harried after dealing with pushing by other commuters and the chaos and stuffiness inside the vehicles. When I commute by bike, I arrive to work refreshed. Commuting outdoors ensures a dose of fresh air and maybe even Vitamin D. This is essential for me: I am teaching in Seoul and work inside a closed environment with Korean kids for up to seven hours a day.
Secondly, there are plenty of physical health benefits to cycling in addition to mental health benefits. Biking can lead weight loss and great cardiovascular fitness. You burn a decent amount of calories cycling and I find that once on a bike it is easy to put in the maximum riding because, it gets your endorphins and heart-rating pumping! If you looking to trim down and staying fit while living in Korea, buying a bicycle to commute makes it easy!
Finally, you can save a significant amount of money on transportation. I save up to 80,000₩ per month by biking or walking to and from school and shopping. Shopping errands also become much easier because you can cycle wearing a backpack and attach shopping bags to the handlebars. This is far more convenient than carrying very heavy shopping bags for a 20 minute walk home.
So buy a bike and start peddling away – to a happier, healthier, stress-free life in Seoul!
It is no surprise that Tijana Huysamen, a South African born Capetownian, avid traveler and travel journalist, fell in love with South Korea and its people. After Tijana arrived in South Korea in 2010, she had the opportunity to live in the heart of the Korean countryside. During her time spent in Chungnam province she learned to speak Korean, prepare Korean food and experience the humble nature of the countryside people. After a year break in New York, Tijana jumped at the opportunity to return to Korea again, and is currently working at the CDI Jamsil Branch, in Jamsil, Seoul. Read Tijana’s Aclipse blog to gain a unique perspective on Korea and her shared experiences and adventures both in a major city and in the countryside. Follow Tijana on Twitter @TeeAnni or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request more information on teaching in Korea!