Cycling around Jeju Island is really popular here in South Korea, and it’s a great way to spend your summer. There are so many things to see and do – you can enjoy great beaches, excellent Korean food and amazing volcanic landscapes all the way. Hardcore athletes can do the whole trip in a single day, while those who prefer to take it slowly can savour the journey over one to two weeks. You can spend your nights in comfortable, affordable accommodation, or you can camp out near the beach for free. Best of all, Jeju has abundant bicycle paths and quiet country roads that meander through the gorgeous island scenery, making it a great place to take a cycling holiday with the whole family. Below are some of our favorite routes, for more detailed google map routes, bike hire and much more check out our latest eBook Jeju Island – A Slow Travel Adventure Guidebook here.
There is a well established bike route that circumnavigates the island, mostly following the coastal road. If you go that way, you can’t go too far wrong. It’s the route we took the first time we rode around the island. On our 2nd and 3rd trips we decided to try to explore a little of the back-roads and the countryside for a few reasons:
- On occasions the main route follows a very large and busy road that is noisy and unpleasant.
- Sometimes the main route takes you through very developed and occasionally industrial parts of the island (especially near Jeju City).
- Though most of the coast is lovely, large sections are severely over-developed for tourism. While the tourist cheesiness can be a part of the fun of Jeju, we wanted to experience the landscape without the constant presence of resorts with their tourist buses, flashing lights and plastic palm-trees.
- We wanted to see a bit more variety in Jeju’s landscapes. If you stick to the coast the whole way around, you won’t see so many orange farms, stone walled fields or the gorgeous grassy, cone-shaped hills that Jeju is so famous for.
Here are a couple of variations from the coastal route that we recommend if you plan to circumnavigate Jeju Island by bike. If you click on the link, it will take you to the route on RidewithGPS.com where you can check it out in more detail and download the route to use on your own GPS device or smartphone. You’re welcome.
Ansong Village to Hwasun
If you decide to cut the far south western corner of Jeju off your trip, this is a great way to get from route 1132 to Hwasun, which has a lovely beach and is a great place to stop for the night. This shortcut takes you along tiny farming roads, through little villages, attractive cultivated fields and patches of woodland. The best part is that for the whole 6 ½ kilometres, you have a jaw-dropping view of Dan Mountain and Sambang Mountain. This was probably my favourite bit of riding in all of my three trips around Jeju – it’s really lovely!
Donnaeko to Wimi Village
On our most recent trip in 2013, we took a detour out to Donnaeko to camp and swim in the crystal-clear river there. This 10km route from Donnaeko to Wimi Villlage takes you back to the coastal route but allows you to bypass the noisy, boring, windy and ugly stretch of road that is the coastal route East of Seogwipo City. Going this way you will enjoy mostly level, winding country roads with few cars and a wide shoulder, followed by tree-lined country lanes and an exhilarating downhill back to the coast.
Pyoseon Village to Onpyeong Village via Songeup Traditional Village
This 20km detour takes you away from the coast at Pyoseon in the south-eastern corner of Jeju, to visit Songeup Traditional Village – a delightfully well-preserved settlement presenting what daily life was like on Jeju during the Joseon Dynasty. It then returns to the coast via peaceful country roads. The landscape in this area is lush, green and brimming with life; the villages are charming and full of old, stone houses; and apart from a brief stretch on route 1119, the roads are small and very quiet.
Gimnyeong to Jeju City
We’ve always found the stretch of the coastal route from Gimnyeong Village to Jeju City to be fairly boring, windy, dirty and traffic-heavy. Once it joins route 1132 and enters the outskirts of Jeju city it becomes downright dangerous – it follows narrow, busy streets with no room for bikes and puts the bike-lane on the pavement which is also narrow as well as uneven and with lots of pedestrians. On our recent trip we took this 33km route which avoids all the large, busy roads and gives you the chance to visit Manjanggul Cave which is an enourmous lava tunnel that you can walk through; it’s absolutely stunning and is UNESCO listed – this alone makes the detour worthwhile. For the rest of the trip from Manjanggul to the very edge of Jeju City, you’ll be cruising along quiet roads through a charming landscape of seemingly endless wild forests interspersed with occasional orange groves – bliss!