Tips for Tourists: Cycling in Gyeongju

View West of Mt. Gumi & Mt. Geumgang

View West of Mt. Gumi & Mt. Geumgang

If you’re only in Gyeongju for a short time, definitely take a day to check out the big sights like, Bulguksa, Seokuram, Anapji Pond, etc. (Honestly, I’d give the Museum a miss, unless it’s raining).  But if you really want to experience what makes this city so cool, take an afternoon to hop on a bike and ride around the countryside.

Mt. Namsan at sunset with drying rice

Mt. Namsan at sunset with drying rice

When they say that Gyeongju is an outdoor museum, they aren’t kidding.  Around the valley there are literally hundreds of relics, ruins, ancient  Buddhas, temples,  etc.  scattered among the farm villages and rice paddies.  And the easiest way to see them all is by bike.  If you’re into cycling, you could spend 4 or 5 days biking around here.

Joongsaeng Temple, Mt. Nangsan

Joongsaeng Temple, Mt. Nangsan

Fortunately Gyeongju is pretty well equipped with bike rental shops.  There are several around the bus stations, just outside the train station to the left, and one or two around the south parking lot for Daeneungwon Tombs Park.  The going rate is about 7,000 won for the day (if they try charge you 10,000, tell them your friend got it for 7).  They have street bikes, mountain bikes and tandems (for the romantically inclined).  Most shops let you keep the bikes out till about 6 or 7 pm, but you will have to leave some form of photo ID as a deposit.

Sunset over Mt. Seoaksan

Sunset over Mt. Seoaksan

In spite of what the Gyeongju English Tourist Information Map says, my best advice for cycling is to stay off the main roads.  If not, you’ll spend the whole ride sucking exhaust and being blown about by the trucks tearing off to Ulsan or Pohang.  The whole valley around Gyeongju is a maze of farm roads weaving about through the rice paddies and they’re perfect for cycling.  They’re cement, generally flat and the only traffic you’ll come across is the occasional tractor or farm truck.  Don’t be afraid to explore.  If you can keep some general landmarks in sight, you really can’t get that lost.

Farm roads of Hyongok Myon Valley, West of Gyeongju

Farm roads of Hyongok Myon Valley, West of Gyeongju

I hope to get a few cycling routes posted up here eventually.  Until then, if you’re short on time and only have an afternoon, I suggest biking along the east or west sides of Mt. Namsan and stopping off at the tombs, temples, tea houses, etc. along the way.  You should definitely pick up both the English AND Korean maps of Mt. Namsan at the tourist kiosk before you go, as the Korean maps actually have the roads on them along with some cycling routes.  Too bad they haven’t bothered to translate these maps into English yet.

View Bike Rental Shops Gyeongju in a larger map

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6 Comments

  • Sarah
    02/22/2011 - 17:23 | Permalink

    thanks for sharing this very useful information … however how can I find the location of the paddy field in your picture. can you let me know where is it located?

    do you have a cycling map as reference?

    Hope to hear from you, thanks for help.

  • Sherwin
    02/22/2011 - 20:08 | Permalink

    Hey Sarah,

    They do have cycling maps for a few routes available at the tourist info booths here in town. They’re only available in Korean atm, but you should still be able to navigate well enough using the map. Here are a few maps I’ve posted on the blog, though some are more useful than others for cyclists:

    http://www.sherwinvjones.com/gyeongjublog/maps/

    Your best bet is to check out the roads and terrain on Naver Maps. The detail and image quality is waaaaay better than Google Maps:

    http://map.naver.com/?dlevel=8&lat=35.8441422&lng=129.2173055&menu=location&mapMode=1&enc=b64

    Happy cycling!

  • Oliver
    04/21/2012 - 00:06 | Permalink

    Hey Sherwin, I am planning to visit Gyeongju next month. I found your blog and instantly love your perspective of exploring Gyeongju. I am planning to check the city out on bike but it can be a problem if I want to enter certain tourist sites. Are there adequate bike racks? Otherwise, what do you recommend if I do not want to leave my rented bikes unattended/locked?

  • Sherwin
    04/21/2012 - 20:59 | Permalink

    Hey Oliver, the bike rental shops should give you a bike lock when you pick up your bike. If you’re biking with friends, they’ll also usually tell you to lock your bakes to each other. However, if your cycling alone, you should be able to find enough bike racks, lamp posts and trees to lock it to around town. Hope that helps. Happy biking!

  • Linda
    10/08/2012 - 11:55 | Permalink

    Hi. Im planning to do cycling ard Gyeongju. But I will be there during winter. Think there will be bicycles for rent in winter? :))

  • Sherwin
    10/08/2012 - 20:16 | Permalink

    Hey Linda, the last time I checked the bike rental shops by the train station and bus terminals were open year round. I don’t know what the rental fee is up to by now, but it shouldn’t be too unreasonable. You can usually bargain them down a bit too. Just to be sure to bring some form of ID they can keep as a security deposit on the bike.

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