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Bicycle Tour of Yeouido and Seonyudo

Recent Posts, Posted by Matt in ALL DESTINATIONS,Best of DK,Nature,Seoul,Transportation, 19 Comments

Bicycle Tour of Yeouido and Seonyudo


During the Joseon Dynasty, the Hangang river’s frequent floods relegated Yeouido island (여의도)  to pastureland and peanut fields; indeed, the name Yeouido means, “Useless Island.” Japanese colonial authorities built Korea’s first airport there in 1929. But it, too, succumbed to the Hangang. It wasn’t until a bridge linking Yeouido to the mainland was built in 1970 that development began in earnest. Fast-forward to today and Yeouido is the home of Seoul’s financial, political and broadcasting worlds. The best way to see it all? A bicycle tour of Yeouido and Seonyudo!

A bicycle tour of Yeouido and Seonyudo from Hangang river (한강)

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Although the so-called “Manhattan of Seoul” is no longer useless, what happens inside its sturdy towers may be of little consequence to most visitors. The business people who work there walk on wide sidewalks that lack the spirit of many Seoul neighborhoods. Nevertheless, tucked here and there are delicious places to eat, worthwhile attractions, and some of the city’s best green spaces.

A bicycle tour of Yeouido and Seonyudo from Yeouido island (여의도)

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Touring 3 Parks on 2 Wheels

A bicycle tour of Yeouido and Seonyudo should begin on the bigger of the two islands. Yeouido’s oval-shaped perimeter is all park. The Yeouido Saetgang Ecological Park (샛강생태공원)  lines its south bank, while its north side is part of the Hangang riverside parks network. There’s even more green in-between. Yeouido Park (여의도공원) is an attractive, 23-hectare plot situated where airplanes once landed. A large blacktop remains, but these days, bicycles and roller blades are cruising the tarmac. If you didn’t bring your own bicycle, don’t worry – for 3,000 won you can rent one.

A bicycle tour of Yeouido and Seonyudo from Yeouido island (여의도)

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Before setting off on a bicycle tour, however, I’d recommend lunch. Jinju Jip is renowned for Seoul’s best kongguksu (콩국수), or noodles served in a chilled soybean broth. Located beneath the Yeouido Department Store, the restaurant’s unremarkable interior won’t distract you from devouring a summertime favorite. For the carnivores, there’s Changgo 43. The restaurant specializes in a 180g slab of succulent Korean beef so tender it’s easily sliced with a plastic spatula.

A bicycle tour of Yeouido and Seonyudo from Yeouido island (여의도)

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Once your hunger is satisfied, I’d recommend picking up that bike and riding northward. The Hangang Park’s Yeouido section was completely redone in 2009 as part of the “Hangang Renaissance Project.” The 25-year plan is to rehabilitate the river and transform it into a world-class attraction. For Yeouido, that meant building a floating amphitheater and a large water fountain. Even more surprising is what’s underneath the Mapodaegyo Bridge – a “Color Park” depicting Seoul’s official color palette.

Pretty in Pink

Pink is not among Seoul’s official colors, but the curving pink tower on Yeouido’s eastern tip is one of the city’s signature buildings. Briefly the tallest outside North America, the 63 Building (육삼빌딩) – named for its 60 above- plus three below- stories – is a popular destination that holds Korea’s first public aquarium, Seoul’s first wax museum, and the Sky Café, whose top floor location affords some of the city’s best views.

A bicycle tour of Yeouido and Seonyudo from Yeouido Saetgang Ecological Park and Saetgang Bridge

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From up on high, you would be forgiven if the words, “This is an island?” came to mind. Yeouido fits snugly against the Hangang’s southern bank; in fact, only a narrow stream separates it from the mainland. But these wetlands, known as the Yeouido Saetgang Ecological Park , are an attractive setting to continue your tour. Large willow trees and reeds camouflage various fish, fowl and even rabbits. Under construction is an ultra-modern, 354-meter footbridge that will cross the marsh and connect the island’s growing number of skyscrapers to Yeongdeungpo-gu.

A bicycle tour of Yeouido and Seonyudo from Yeouido island (여의도)

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As you pedal towards Yeouido’s west end, the green copper dome of South Korea’s National Assembly comes into view. You could take a guided tour of the country’s parliament, but the real attraction occurs outside each spring, when 1,400 flowering cherry trees cover Yeouiseo-ro Street in pink petals.

Staying Focused on a Wandering Isle

Having reached Yeouido’s western tip, if you turned your handlebars to the left, after about 1.5 kilometers, you’d arrive at the Rainbow Bridge. Designed by Rudy Ricciotti and presented as a gift to South Korea from France in 2000, the bridge leads to Seonyudo, another island with a compelling story.

A bicycle tour of Yeouido and Seonyudo from Seoul Seonyudo Island (선유도)

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We continue our bicycle tour of Yeouido and Seonyudo with a look back at the Joseon Dynasty, when Seonyudo island (선유도) was a favorite destination for wandering Confucian scholars called seonbi, who went there to paint and compose poetry. During the Japanese colonial period, however, its picturesque cliffs were flattened, and in 1978 the island was turned into a sewage treatment plant.

A bicycle tour of Yeouido and Seonyudo from Seoul Seonyudo Island (선유도)

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In 2003, as part of the Hangang Renaissance Project, the island was re-opened as an eco-consciousness park. Described by the city as a “post-modern space,” the award-winning park integrates the old treatment plant’s structures into a series of water-themed gardens. For example, bygone settling basins for chemicals are now home to small fish and species of aquatic plants that naturally purify water.

A bicycle tour of Yeouido and Seonyudo from Seoul Seonyudo Island (선유도)

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In addition to the botanical gardens, the Hangang History Museum, a 200-seat amphitheater and Naru Café are also located on Seonyudo. The café offers simple snacks and a great place to relax and watch the river. As you wonder how so much nature could be found amidst a huge city like Seoul, we conclude our bicycle tour of Yeouido and Seonyudo… just don’t forget to return that bicycle..
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For your information…

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Hangang riverside parks are open 24 hours.Free Admission. Bicycle rentals are typically 3,000 won per hour.02-1330
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Seonyudo and Yeouido are both located in Yeongdeungpo-gu districtYeouido can be reached via Yeouinaru Station on Lines 5+9, Exits 3-4.Seonyudo can be reached via Seonyudo Station (#912) on Line 9, Exit 2 (or take a taxi from Exit 1).
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View Larger Map
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This article appeared in the April 2010 edition of SEOUL magazine, published by Seoul Selection.

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19 Comments

1 April 2010 19:11

Sbobet

Thanks a lot for a bunch of good tips. I look forward to reading more on the topic in the future. Keep up the good work! This blog is going to be great resource. Love reading it.

1 April 2010 21:48

Discovering Korea – A Bicycle Tour of Yeouido and Seonyudo

[...] the original post: Discovering Korea – A Bicycle Tour of Yeouido and Seonyudo Posted in Bicycle | Tags: april, Bicycle, [...]

3 May 2010 18:12

Vee

Hello,
Thanks so much for the great info & tips! Hehe, you keep adding more things to do in my itinerary, before I leave Seoul. I was wondering, would it be dangerous to go biking, if you’re an inexperienced bike-rider?

Thank you!

P.S: I also checked out your recommended bakeries & must say that “brown bread” was absolutely delicious & now, one of my favourite bakeries to frequent! On a sidenote though, please check out: Retro oven (http://map.naver.com/local/company_view.nhn?code=13120629#) – somewhere in the back alleyways of Gangnam. Another European-esque bakery :)

May 03 2010 20:24 pm

Matt

Hi Vee,

Thanks for the note and for the tip on Retro Oven... always great to hear of a new place and I neglect Gangnam too frequently.
RE: bikes, not to sound over cautious, but I think riding downtown is a little treacherous. I'd recommend doing so along the extensive network of trails along the Han River, or some of the major streams (Anyang-cheon, Hongjecheon, Yangjaecheon, etc.)

Happy riding and thanks again!

Best,
Matt

2 June 2010 20:57

Midori

Great blog.

I followed your tip and did the cycling tour of Yeuido, which was fantastic.

There was only one problem. I couldn’t cycle over to Seonyudo because the Rainbow Bridge has a big ‘No bicycles’ sign! We were even waved away by a security guard.

Bit of a glaring mistake in the info Matt. Just so everyone knows, Rainbow Bridge is PEDESTRIAN.

June 10 2010 14:07 pm

Matt

Hi Midori,
Thanks for your note. I'm getting jealous of everyone who's taking these bike trips along the Han!
Sorry if I suggested that bicycles were allowed on Seonyudo! But c'mon, there's a bike rack right below the bridge!^^

Anyway, thanks again and hope to hear from you again soon.
Best, Matt

3 June 2010 16:52

Eldon Kimchi–Killer

I would like to get a Map of the Hangang River Valley Bike Trail

I was able to Bike the Right Side of the Park all the way to the end

I entered the Park via the Amsa Train Station area

I wanna go back and try to Bike the Left Side, heading towards the Downtown Core

I would really like to get my hands on a Map of the Bike Trail.

I already have a Map of the area, but it doesn’t show the ” Bike Trail”

I wanna see how far along the River the Bike Trail folllows it

Hope to hear back from you soon

I Fly back to Canada on June 13 Th.

Eldon

June 10 2010 14:03 pm

Matt

Hello Kimchi-Killer!
Sorry for my late response... re: a map of the Hangang River's bike trails, I don't have one readily available, but basically the entire riverfront on both sides (north and south) have bike paths, and many of the bridges are bicycle accessible. Most of Seoul's built-up downtown areas are not near the riverfront, with the exception of Yeouido Island. Anyhow, I hope you enjoy your bicycle trip... I've been meaning to do a Seoul Scene video on bicycling the Han for some time now!

Best, Matt

3 November 2010 20:23

Discovering Korea – All Destinations

[...] A Bicycle Tour of Yeouido and Seonyudo [...]

4 November 2010 23:48

Discovering Korea – Cruising the Hangang

[...] Link: A Bicycle Tour of Yeouido and Seonyudo [...]

10 December 2010 12:46

Lee

Hi there, was planning to visit seoul during last week of march till first week of april for one week. Do you think we should follow a tour or something as we’re afraid of communication problems. as well as, would love to see the cherry blossoms during my short stay there, any idea where we should head to ? pls reply to my email if possible thanks :)

Lee,
Singapore

13 April 2011 10:16

Grace

Hangang Bike tour in Korea!!!

Don’t miss unforgettable experience!!
Please join us :)

9 June 2011 13:54

Yuri

It sounds interesting….
wanna be there soon =)

11 March 2012 21:24

daniel

Is the cycling path in flat land? We do not have good stamina for uphill cycling, want to be prepared.

Thanks.

November 12 2012 18:54 pm

Matt

Yes! It's all quite flat :)

5 February 2013 21:27

Judy

Thanks for all the wonderful info. I ll be visiting seoul for the 1st time in April. You are one comprehensive guide!

February 06 2013 07:02 am

Matt

Hi Judy, Thanks for your nice remarks! You'll be visiting Seoul at a wonderful time of year. I hope you have a great trip.
Best, Matt

6 June 2013 21:45

jaslyn

Hi Matt,
Your tip is really awesome!

One question, can we return the bikes at different bike stations along the Hangang river or we have to head back to the original one?

July 15 2013 02:52 am

Matt

Hi Jaslyn,
Great question. If you rent from one of the riverside park stations with attendants, I'm pretty sure you have to return the bike to the place of rental. However, if you're able to rent one of the bike share bicycles (via kiosk), I think you can return them to any other kiosk. Trouble is, last I checked it was difficult/impossible for foreigners to register since they don't have a Korean ID number. Hopefully that's been worked out, but you should definitely check!
Best, Matt

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