The Gangchon Rail Bike is an unforgettable ride through stunning mountain vistas and whimsical tunnels near Nami Island in South Korea. It starts inside Gangchon Rail Park and winds through majestic landscapes, next to the Bukhan River, before ending at Nanggu Village.
From atop the abandoned Gyeongchun Line train tracks, you’ll drink in the one-of-a-kind, immersive views you can only see from the window of a train as it chugs along the knife-edge of a mountain. The Gangchon Rail Bike is absolutely one of the best things I’ve done when traveling around Korea.
We’re living through strange times. QR Code check-in, masking, and social distancing are standard behaviours to follow wherever you happen to go in Korea this year. Stay safe.
In this guide, you’ll get the full scoop on:
- the difference between the Gangchon Rail bike and the Gapyeong Rail bike
- which train station to go to in the Gangchon Rail Park (there are 3, and they’re not close to each other)
- where to score discounted tickets
- how far in advance you need to book so you don’t miss out
Jump to what you want.
- 1 Gangchon Rail Bike vs Gapyeong Rail Bike
- 2 What to Expect on the Gangchon Rail Bike
- 3 How to Reserve the Gangchon Rail Bike from Gimyujeong Station
- 4 Best time to ride the Gangchon Rail Bike
Gangchon Rail Bike vs Gapyeong Rail Bike
The Gangchon Rail Bike and the Gapyeong Rail Bike are 2 completely separate routes within the Gangchon Rail Park. Keep in mind that even though they both use the old Gyeongchun railway tracks that linked the cities of Seoul and Chuncheon before 2010, they are NOT connected.
These rail bike courses offer a nostalgic ride across old railway bridges, near mountainous landscapes, and through abandoned train tunnels, but they’re definitely not the same. I’ll detail the major differences further on in this guide.
TIP | Both the Gangchon rail bike and the Gapyeong Rail Bike have their own charms, but the one that leaves from Gimyujeong Station is the one you want to book if you only have time to do ONE of these rail bikes courses. Reserve discounted tickets at least 5 days in advance here.
Gangchon Rail Park | 강촌레일파크
It’s important to know that there are 3 separate train stations within Gangchon Rail Park that are not geographically close to each other. These are Gimyujeong, Gapyeong, and Gyeong-gang Station. Make sure you know exactly which station you’re supposed to leave from!
The Gangchon Rail Bike | 김유정 레일바이크
The Gangchon Rail Bike is probably the one you want to book. It’s the most photographed and most popular rail bike for good reason. This is an 8.5-km one way course, that involves a rail bike, train ride, and shuttle bus to get back to your starting point.
It leaves from and returns to Gimyujeong Station in the Gangchon Rail Park, which is about a 30 minute drive away from Nami Island and very close to the city of Chuncheon.
TIP | If you’d like to see Nami Island, Petite France, or the Garden of Morning Calm AND ride the Gangchon Rail bike, it’s easier (and cheaper!) to book a tour that includes round-trip transport between all locations. Customize and book an easy day tour to Nami Island (or Petite France or the Garden of Morning Calm) + Gangchon Rail Bike here.
The Gapyeong Rail Bike | 가평 레일바이크
The Gapyeong Rail Bike is a 8-km round-trip course (4-km each way), that leaves from either Gapyeong or Gyeong-gang Station in the Gangchon Rail Park. You can take it in either direction, but you will end up pedaling back through landscape you’ve already seen.
Gapyeong is the closest station to Nami Island, so it’s super convenient if you want to combine a visit to the 2 places. However, if you want to try to get same day tickets for the Gapyeong Rail Bike, your best chance is probably at Gyeong-gang station.
What to Expect on the Gangchon Rail Bike
The Gangchon Rail Bike departs from Gimyujeong Station and takes approximately 1 hour to complete. The first 6-km are pedaled on either 2 or 4 seater rail bikes. It’s not too difficult, but there are a few spots where you’ll definitely have to get those leg muscles working.
Along the way, you’ll pedal past majestic mountains and peaceful grasses, while enjoying views of the North Han River along the way. The 4 themed tunnels on this route take you into darkness, bubbles, pinwheels, pulsing lights, and then back out into the gorgeous light of Gangwon Province.
Make no mistake, the landscapes along this route are stunning
At the end of the route, there’s a 20 minute break at Nanggu Village where you can use the bathroom, get snacks and take pictures, before boarding the Romantic Train for the last 2.5-km. A shuttle bus takes you back to where you started at Gimyujeong Station.
GOOD TO KNOW | There is one open-air car on the Romantic Train. If you want to get on the first shuttle bus back to Gimyujeong Station, get on it because it’s closest to the exit. Walk quickly to the shuttle bus area, without stopping for any breaks, otherwise you’ll end up waiting for the next shuttle. The walk takes about 10 minutes.
How to Reserve the Gangchon Rail Bike from Gimyujeong Station
It’s possible to book same-day time slots for the Gangchon Rail Bike, but it regularly sells out days in advance. It’s best to reserve your tickets before you make the trip to Chuncheon to avoid being disappointed.
There are multiple ways to book, but almost all involve reserving at least 24 hours in advance, so plan accordingly.
Book an all-inclusive tour
If you don’t have your own car, the best option is to make a whole day of it and see some of the other highlights of the area at the same time. These include Nami Island, the Garden of Morning Calm, and Petite France.
These packages are super convenient because they include round-trip transport between sites, admission tickets, english or chinese speaking guides, and a rail bike time slot. They must be booked IN ADVANCE (mostly because of the rail bike). Here’s where you can book.
Nami Island + Garden of Morning Calm (or Petite France) + Gangchon Rail Bike Day Tour from Seoul
Private Tour of Nami Island, Petite France and the Gangchon Rail Bike (4 days in advance)
Alpaca World, Soyanggang Skywalk + Gangchon Rail Bike Day Tour from Seoul (24 hours in advance)
Directly on the Gangchon Rail Bike Website
You can reserve the Gangchon Rail Bike from Gimyujeong Station directly on their website (Korean only on the reservation page). Just click the red button at the bottom of the page after reading the reservation guide. The cost for a 2 seater bike is 30,000 won. A 4 seater rail bike costs 40,000 won.
Some important things to note:
- you must reserve this 24 hours in advance
- you can choose between and 2 and 4 seater rail bikes, but children over 36 months old are counted as adults and take up a seat
- you need to show up 20 minutes in advance of your time slot to exchange your reservation number for a ticket on-site
- there are no refunds for cancellations, changes or missed time slots
TIP | If booking directly on the Korean website is intimidating, you can reserve your Gangchon Rail Bike ticket 5 days in advance and enjoy a discount (28,200 vs 30,000 won for a 2 seater, 38,000 vs 40,000 won for a 4 seater) on Trazy. Book a Gangchon Rail Bike ticket here.
Best time to ride the Gangchon Rail Bike
The Gangchon Rail Bike runs all year, in every season. Each season offers something unique, so the “best time to visit” is really subjective. It depends on your tolerance for cold or heat and which particular scenery you’d like to see.
Gangchon Rail Bike in Autumn
We visited near the end of October because we wanted to try to catch the autumn foliage in Korea. It was incredibly gorgeous, but I think the first week of November would actually be better for more variety of colour. The leaves were still pretty green when we visited. The wind was pretty intense at times, so definitely dress warm.
We booked our Gangchon Rail Bike at the 3:30 time slot, and it was the perfect time to catch the sun as it started to set behind the mountains in the area.
Gangchon Rail Park in Winter
If romantic snowy scenes are your thing, winter is definitely the best choice. You’ll need to bundle up if you plan to ride the Gangchon Rail Bike from December to February. It takes around an hour to complete the whole course, and Korea in winter is COLD.
Gangchon Rail Park in Spring
Spring brings mild temperatures and cherry blossoms to Korea. In these months, you can enjoy blooming flowers and grasses. Unfortunately, yellow dust pollution also fills the skies at this time, so be sure to check air quality before booking.
Gangchon Rail Bike in Summer
Summer is the one season to be a little cautious. Korea suffers heavy monsoons and intense humidity during the summer months, so you might end up pedaling in a downpour! Plan accordingly.
What do you think? Will a visit to Gangchon Rail Park be at the top of your list? Let us know in the comments below!