Yes you can get away with putting your bike on a KTX, any train car or under a bus, but it may involve taking off your wheels, having to make sure there's space between all the luggage or pretending not to know rules and hoping not to be caught.
And so traveling between cities, if there is a train option with cycle racks available that will be my first option. There's always space, no taking wheels off or stressing about being caught.
But how do you find trains with bike racks? When do they run? Between which cities and where can you buy tickets or check? These were questions that kept me from using this care-free service. The answer is the Korail App!
Unfortunately it's all in Korean, but if you know your Korean letters you can book tickets easy on your phone and secure a bike seat and know which trains have bike racks. There are lots of tutorials online that explains how to use the Korail app, just do a simple google search, but they don't show you how to check for a bike rack.
I took a few quick screen shots and tried to show how you would find a ticket for yourself and your bike. It's not pretty, but hopefully it's useful.
I've taken the train from Haeundae to Ulsan and back a few times now, once I did not even have a bicycle ticket, because they were sold out. So I checked the time of the bicycle train and just got on it anyways, there's 5 bike racks, but lots of space available for more bikes.
Once you know the time the trains come and go, it's pretty much the same for each day. Every day at 7:38am a train with bicycle racks leave from Haeundae station.
For the trains near Haeundae and Ulsan the bike racks are always in the cafeteria car, number 4. If it's not a bike friendly train they take out the cafeteria car, so the train has car 3 and 5, but car 4 is just missing.
I'm already planning my next train cycle trip, maybe Miryang or Gyeongju...
It has been my goal to cycle alongside the Taewha river in Ulsan and to explore all the nooks and cranies with my bike in Ulsan Grand Park for a long time. Finally with the help of the slow train I managed to explore these lovely places.
Every Saturday at 7:38am a train leaves from Haeundae station and travels all the way to Gyeongju. This train departs from the brand new Haeundae station in the middle of nowhere, not close to the subway or the ocean or nothing. Actually the closest thing to the new station of note is the big highway running nearby. But if you use your pedals and wheels it's not hard to get to the new station.
And so only once or twice a day the slow train includes a cafeteria car, which also contains 5 bicycle racks and lots of space to stack or keep more bikes. On the Korail app you can book the bicycle seats if you use the app in Korean and if the seats have not been sold out.
Even though the train did not have any bicycle seats left when I booked, I just put my bike in car 4, its the cafeteria car so there's lots of space. The train is a really great way to get to and from Ulsan or Gyeongju without a 60 or more km ride.
From Haeundae station to Taewhagang station it takes just under 1 hour. Then from the station you can cycle right away to the river and the cycle track, it's just a few hundred meters. There are two courses, one going West and one going North. I tried the western course and left North for another day.
The Taewha river is not so different from many other river paths in Korea, but riding along an unknown road was refreshing and relaxing. Compared to the Nakdong river near Busan there were also very few people or cyclists around, so you could really just spin and cruise ahead on the generally flat course. Just as you set into your rhythm and think it's going to stay the same, you are delightfully surprised by bamboo forests filling the banks of the river and lining the cycling path. It feels like being transported to Korea's Bamboo tourist destination in Damyang, except that you can actually cycle through these forests. A truly wonderful experience.
Once you reach the furthest Western point of the cycle route, staying on one side of river you find a welcome and neat little coffee shop with sandwhiches, drip coffee and more. After grabbing a cup and a bit to eat I set off back along the river on the other side. At 3pm I took the train back to Haeundae, but I will be back to finish the Northern cycle track.
Route: West - East Taehwa river cycle path (Ulsan)
Distance: +/- 30 km
Terrain: Cycle track
Start: Taewha train station (Ulsan)
I cycled from Haeundae into Ulsan once, I remember the last part from Jinha beach being filled with big highways and construction, lots of trucks and little space to cycle on the side walks, it was not a pleasant experience and since then I've avoided it, mostly ending at Jinha beach and heading back to Haeundae.
But with the construction of the East Coast cycle route I've been extremely curious how they will make a safe pleasant ride into Ulsan from the South. And so an opportunity arose where I was dropped off just north of Jinha beach with my bike and I decided to try and find a way or try and find a path into Ulsan. To my greatest surprise and joy I suddenly started seeing familiar bicycle signs and arrows and I before I know it I was on the soon to be East coast cycle route.
Right next to this sign I found the most amazing map. So far I could not find any information or visual presentation of where or how the cycle road would look like into Ulsan, even Naver's cycle map function is pretty empty. And smaller, safer cycle roads are not easy to find between the industrial roads entering Ulsan.
I cycled along this brand new cycle road, it was made along little roads going through the farmlands, avoiding the highways or bigger roads, at places there was some construction or unfinished road, but it was all clearly marked with a lightblue line painted on the right indicating the East coast route. Unfortunately it did not last, the last bit I entered the industrial area and even though I was still on a cycle track it was next to a very big road with lots of trucks. The cycle track was made on the sidewalk, but the sidewalk consisted of shops, big truck stops and pavement being interrupted by roads turning in. It was better than I remembered last time, but still not what I hoped. Going along I also felt like I lost the signs and the East coast route, or it simply has not been made yet. I cycled into Ulsan and used my GPS to navigate through the streets to the Ulsan Grand Park.
My conclusion: I now know where the bicycle road into Ulsan will run, even though it's not all finished. With time it will be clearer and next time I might find the last part where I lost the trail this time. At the moment with the cycle route not indicated on Naver maps or on any map I'm unsure how cyclists are finding safe pleasant roads from Ulsan to Haeundae, I hope this can be of some help to some of them.
Any information about cycling in South Korea.