The newly-constructed bicycle route that runs along Korea’s four major rivers—
Yeongsangang River— stretches 1,757 kilometers across the country and takes riders past traditional Korean villages, historical relics, and restaurants with traditional Korean food. Connecting the land from east to west, and from north to south, the route was recently constructed, and is safe for cycling. It also features a variety of convenience facilities including camp sites. The route also features several bicycle rental shops on the way, so visitors can rent a bike and safety gear at affordable prices. Read on and immerse yourself in the scenic adventures of cycling tours around Korea.
Geumgang River Bicycle Route (146 kilometers, 9 hours 40 minutes)
Geumgang River means “a river as beautiful as silk” and runs through the waist of the Korean Peninsula in Gongju and Buyeo, where the Baekje culture flourished. The river then flows into the West Sea at
Geumgang Estuary Bank connecting Gunsan and Seocheon. The Geumgang River bicycle route begins at
Daecheong Dam in Daejeon, passing by Sejong City—Korea’s new administrative city—before ending at Gongju. Gongju, which was the second capital of the Baekje Kingdom, is a place where the past and the present coexist. The bicycle route goes around the
Gongsanseong Fortress, which was built during the Baekje period, then extends by the scenic riverside of the Geumgang River before reaching Baekjebo Weir in the gateway to Buyeo, the third capital of Baekje. In Buyeo, riders can visit the
Baekje Cultural Land,
Jeongnimsaji Five-story Pagoda,
Buyeo National Museum, and
Seodong Park and Gungnamji Park to learn about the history of Baekje. Then, after riding past the riverside with beautiful groves of willow, they will run into Ganggyeong in Nonsan, which is famous for its fermented seafood market. Riders can breathe in a refreshing wind from the river as they ride from Ganggyeong to Iksan, and then to Gunsan.
- Gongsanseong Fortress
- Gongsanseong Fortress in Gongju is a “heavenly-blessed” stronghold that protected the capital of the Baekje Kingdom for 64 years. King Seongwang, the 26th ruler of Baekje and son of King Muryeong (25th king of Baekje, ruled from 462 to 523), later moved the capital to Sabiseong in Buyeo in 538. There are still remnants believed to be those of an old royal palace of the Baekje Kingdom.
- Royal Tomb of King Muryeong
- The discovery of the royal tomb of King Muryeong was a great excitement for archaeologists around the world. The tomb was discovered accidentally during the installation of drainage pipes in Tomb 6 in Songsan-ri tumuli in 1971. The untouched tomb, which had no marks of being robbed, has a memorial stone showing that the tomb belonged to King Muryeong and the queen of Baekje. Thus, the fascinating culture of Baekje was again revealed to the world, transcending time and space. A total of 108 types of relics, with 2,906 uncovered in total, were excavated from the tomb, including the gold crowns of the king and the queen. Most of the relics are on display at the nearby Gongju National Museum.
- Gudeurae Park
- Gudeurae Park in Buyeo used to be a ferry port
from which a boat carried Baekje kings to and from Wangheungsa Temple. Today, Hwangpo yellow hemp cloth sailboats travel up and down the river to
Goransa Temple of Busosanseong. Across from
Nakhwaam Rock of
Busosanseong Fortress and the
Deurae Ferry is the Baekje History Reproduction Complex, which has reproductions of royal palaces of the Baekje Kingdom.
- Gungnamji Pond
- Gungnamji Pond is an artificial pond that was constructed during the reign of King Muwang (30th ruler of Baekje). It is said that the king and the queen enjoyed boat riding on the pond. In summer, the pond is full of lotus blossoms, turning into a venue for a lotus festival. Near the pond are the
Jeongnimsaji Temple site,
Jeongnimsaji Museum, and
Buyeo National Museum.
- Ganggyeong Fermented Seafood Market
- During the Joseon period, Chinese traders carried silk and salt on boat up the Geumgang River down to Ganggyeong. In the early 1900s, Ganggyeong grew to be one of the nation’s three largest markets. With merchants developing low-sodium fermented seafood, the Ganggyeong market grew to become the top fermented seafood market in Korea. There are many buildings from the 1900s in the area.
- Iksan Jewelry Museum
- The Jewelry Museum in Iksan houses 110,000 splendid and rare jewels and precious stones. The most interesting exhibit is the jewel flower created by a German artist. The work features 213 diamonds,
15 gold leaves, and 36 garnets. Visitors can purchase jewelry at affordable prices.
- Sinseong-ri Reed Field
- The Sinseong-ri Reed Field in Seocheon has a different ambiance in the morning and in the afternoon. The field of reeds, which are twice as high as an average adult, extends two kilometers along a walk trail, attracting many couples. Nearby, there are the Dalgogae (Moon Hill) Mosi Village and Hansan Sogokju brewery.
- Geumgang Migratory Bird Observatory
- Situated in Geumgang Estuary Bank in Gunsan, the Geumgang Migratory Bird Observatory is housed in an oval-shaped building with 11 floors above ground. It features permanent exhibition galleries, a 3D Theater, and a room of animal specimens. Situated between Gunsan and Seocheon, the Geumgang River is a great habitat for winter migratory birds and offers splendid views of spectacled teal and other birds on the move in great numbers.
- Saemangeum Seawall
- Referred to as the Great Wall on the sea, the Saemangeum Seawall is the longest seawall in the world spanning 33.9 kilometers. It is 1.4 kilometers longer than the longest dike at the Zuiderzee Works in the Netherlands. Famous for its fantastic drive course, the Saemangeum Seawall is also gaining reputation as a walking trip destination due to the recent walking fever. Go up on the observatory to get a birds-eye-view of the big and small islands of the Gogunsan Archipelago.
Gongju is most associated with Gongju gukbap, which was widely enjoyed by its residents in the 1950s. The soup is based on a rich broth of beef bones boiled with a flavorful onion. The rice is served separately with the soup. Gongju gukbap is reasonably priced, and has gained recently in popularity with Japanese tourists. There are a few gukbap restaurants near Gongsanseong Fortress and Hanok Village. Another specialty of Gongju is ssambap featuring rice that is wrapped with 20 or more types of organically-grown lettuce and herbs, food made with chestnuts, and sanchae (wild greens) bibimbap. Located in Seocheon, the Seocheon Fish Market sells various fish and clams caught in the West Sea at affordable prices.
Situated near the Royal Tomb of King Muryeong, the Gongju Hanok Village is managed by the City of Gongju to offer visitors a chance to experience hanok (traditional Korean houses). The dozen or so hanok are heated by burning logs. The restrooms and shower facilities are inside the houses for the convenience of guests. Situated inside the Baekje History Reproduction Complex, the Lotte Buyeo Resort is the first history and culture thematic resort in Korea where visitors can enjoy history, culture, relaxation, sports, and entertainment. The resort offers 322 rooms in its hotel and condominium and an indoor aqua pool approximately 4,000 square meters in size with an artificial wave pool and spa. The round-shaped hanok corridor, which symbolizes the great spirit of the maritime kingdom of Baekje, is a modern building with applications of traditional architectural techniques.