One good day trip that you can try in South Korea that is quite out of ordinary is a combination of Gangchon Rail Bike and late lunch of Grilled Eel near Ungilsan station.
The Gangchon rail bike features an old railway turned into a bike park. You can pedal along the lovely Bukhangang River and old tunnels in the area. Based from my experience, it is a tiring but fun experience- imagine, you need to pedal a bike for around 50 minutes ( with a partner), but in exchange, you get to see lovely mountain and river side sceneries. Of course you don’t have to worry about intersections and all since this track is not used anymore so you’re safe. One more thing is that if you don’t know how to bike, it should be ok since you’ll be riding a sidecar which can technically balance on its own.
The starting point of the bike track is in Gimyujeong station, exit 1. Right after exiting the station, you will see the Gangchon Rail Park signboard rightaway with the numerous 2-seater and 4-seater bikes. Just show your voucher (which you can purchase online in Funko) in the entrance gate and the staff will give you the tickets in exchange. A 2-seater bike costs 25,000 korean won, while a 4-seater bike costs 35,000 korean won. Pretty affordable since these costs are group-charged already.
Before you start the trip, the staff will inform you about the guidelines and instructions (how to pedal, maintaining distance with the bike in front of you, etc). After that, you are on your own- and you can pedal your way through the tracks!
Gangchon Rail Park also had some gimmicks plotted inside the tunnels. Some tunnels will be pitch black inside, with colored lights being played in tune of famous K-pop songs like Gangnam style, etc. You might have a hard time taking a video though since you cannot completely stop (it will cause delay to the other bikes).
The whole experience lasted for around 60 minutes, with a short break (10-15 minutes) in between. The brief station stop has a mini coffee shop (where you can by coffee, Tteokbokki, chips, etc) and public toilets that you can use. Make sure to maximize this break as you won’t be allowed to stop in any other areas of the track.
Overall, I enjoyed Gangchon Rail Bike experience, but was quite tired after. Pedalling through these tracks might look easy, but it’s not. You can enjoy it fully during downslopes, but some portion are flat or uphill so you need to exert effort. Just count how many calories you can burn and you’ll have the energy to push through. Crybabies are not allowed since you cannot simple abandon the trip in the middle or you will be lost somewhere in the middle of the mountains.
Where to buy Gangchon Rail Bike tickets: You can buy it online here (Gangchon Rail Bike via Funko). Once you confirm your booking and pay, you will receive a voucher after 1-2 days. I’ve tried this and it works.
How to go: The Funko voucher will mention the step by step instructions as well. Assuming that you’re staying in Myeongdong, here are the transfers that you need to do based from train guide Korea.
- Myeongdong (Blue line) –> Get off at Dongdaemun History & Culture Park station, transfer to Green line.
- Dongdaemun History & Culture Park (Green line) –> Get off at Wangsimni station, transfer to Tea line
- Wangsimni (Teal line) –> Get off at Mangu Station
- Mangu station –> Gimyujeong station (your destination)
- Take exit # 1, and you will see Gangchon rail bike signboard rightaway
The Madaldal Kid tip: This experience for me can be best tried during Spring or Autumn. You can check the other rail bikes as well, depending upon the season of your visit. Gangchon Rail bike proved to be beautiful during winter too based from my experience.
- Gyeonggang Rail Bike – good for Spring due to the presence of cherry blossoms along the tracks, along the North Han river. These tracks are also used as background scenes for some movies.
- Gapyeong Rail Bike – good for Autumn. It’s also located along the North Han river.
Cost: Roundtrip fare is around 6,000 korean won, and the Gangchon voucher for a 2-seater is 25,000 korean won (total already). A 4-seater bike costs 35,000 korean won.
Grilled Fresh Eel experience in Ungilsan
After the rail bike, we are supposed to just have lunch in a convenience store and go straight to Strawberry Picking. However, upon arrival in Ungilsan station, we cannot find a taxi. We tried to wait for around 20 minutes, but no taxi in sight still. So, we decided to walk around the station and found several tents full of customers. Apparently, these shops sell grilled fresh eel. It was quite pricey at around 50,000 korean won for 2 big eels, but we gave it a try for experience.
The eel served to us is quite big and it was immediately placed on top of the charcoal grill. Every now and then the staff will come to our table to cut the eel. Since we like it roasted we just placed the eel with garlic chunks for quite some time.
It was good. Personally, I love ordering unagi in Japanese restaurants so eating grilled fresh eel in Korea doesn’t make a difference, even better! The restaurants served unlimited greens with spicy sauce so you can eat your eel with it, then wrapped inside a mint leaf! Don’t forget to include garlic chunk for the overall experience.
How to go: Please refer to the train screenshot below. One-way trip from Gimyujeong to Ungilsan will take around 100 minutes.
Cost: Train trip costs 3050 korean won, and the grilled eel costs 50,000 korean won for 2 people. It’s quite expensive since it’s a famous local dish with quality in the area and you won’t usually find eel as fresh as this in the city.
Overall, these 2 experiences will take around 8-9 hours. You can leave Seoul as early as 6:30 or 7AM, arrive in Gangchon railbike at around 8:30 AM via train, then arrive in Ungilsan by 11:30 AM, have lunch and go back to Seoul. The train travels for both of these locations are quite long (~100 minutes per way), so you need to assess first if this is something you like to do. As for us, we tried to do it to experience something unusual and experience to rural parts of South Korea as well.
If you are too busy and still want to have a Budget Travel Experience, you can ask me to create a customized budget travel itinerary for you or even hire The Madaldal Kid as your budget travel tour guide! >>click here.
For other posts, you can refer to my Budget Travel in Korea series.
Budget Travel Series – Busan:
Budget Travel Series – Seoul:
- Korean Visa Requirements and How to Apply?
- Part 1 – Seoul Korea Budget Travel – DIY Guide
- Part 2 – Seoul Korea Budget Travel – Itinerary and Budget
- Part 3 – Seoul, Korea Budget Travel – Day 1 – Changdeokgung Palace, Samcheong-dong, Bukchon Hanok Village, Namsan Tower, Dongdaemun Market
- Part 4- Seoul, Korea Budget Travel – Day 2 – Nami Island, Namdaemun Market, Myeongdong Cat Café
- Part 5 – Seoul, Korea Budget Travel-Day 3 -Self Bar, Everland
- Part 6 – Seoul, Korea Budget Travel-Day 4 –Namdaemun Market and Incheon International Airport
- Part 7- Seoul, Korea Budget Travel – Cat Café in Myeongdong
- Part 8-Seoul, Korea Budget Travel – Myeongdong Gyoza Food Experience!
- Part 9- Seoul, Korea Budget Travel-Notes and Personal Learnings about South Korea
- Myeongdong Wonder Dogs Cafe
- Funtastic Tours Korea- Affordable tours and Nami Island + Petite France experience
- Gangchon Railbike Experience and Grilled Eel in Ungilsan
- Hongdae Foodtrip – must try restaurants and coffee shops
Recommended Hostels in Seoul:
- Myeongdong Global Hostel
- Seoul Mansion
- Namsan Guesthouse 3-Myeongdong
- Namsan Guesthouse 4-Myeongdong
- Zaza Backpackers- Myeongdong