Top
  >  Asia   >  The Unforgettable Gangchon Rail Bike near Nami Island
gangchon rail bike tunnel

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.

gangchon rail bike tunnel

The Gangchon Rail Bike is truly unforgettable

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

*Psst… this post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure.

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.

gangchon rail bike

The rail bikes use the discontinued Gyeongchun Line train tracks

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!

gangchon rail bike

Make sure you reserve the right rail bike and go to the right train station

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.

Gimyujeong Station in Gangchon Rail Park

If you see these “book buildings,” you’re at Gimyujeong Station in Gangchon Rail Park

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.

nami island sign with autumn foliage in the background

The Gapyeong Rail Bike is closer to Nami Island than the Gangchon Rail Bike.

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.

the pinwheel tunnel at gangchon rail bike

There are 4 cool themed tunnels on the route

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

gangchon rail bike

You’ll see the gorgeous landscapes of Gangwondo as you ride

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

On Klook (48 hours in advance)  |  On Trazy (only available on Tuesdays and Thursdays)

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.

rail bikes at gangchon rail park

A 2 seater rail is bike costs 30,000 won and 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.

gangchon rail bike

The sun was setting over the mountains when we rode the Gangchon Rail Bike

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.

korea cherry blossoms, spring in korea,sakura korea, south korea cherry blossom, cherry blossom festivals korea, seoul forest

In April, you can see cherry blossoms in Korea

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!

Comments:

  • November 14, 2020

    This looks absolutely fabulous! And your photos are gorgeous. We’ve decided that our next trip (whenever that will be!) will be to Taiwan and Korea – both new countries for us. I’ve been watching K-dramas for months now – can’t get enough of them!
    Alison

    reply...
  • November 14, 2020

    this is so cool, and original! I love it!

    reply...
  • November 12, 2020

    South Korea is so pretty! I have to to get back …. when, I have no idea since you probably won’t let us stupid Americans back in anytime soon (justifiably!). Hope you are all doing well!

    reply...
      • November 19, 2020

        🙂 We are healthy, and we get out by driving. You know I love my road trips, and these have been safe so far with all of our precautions. Stay healthy there this winter!

        reply...
  • November 12, 2020

    When I read the title ‘Rail bike’ I presumed it was riding an old bicycle on a bicycle trail lol! Quitet the opposite the more I read your post and saw the photos! It looks like an open-aired buggy on rails but cozier than a train and brings you really close the nature. It looked like you picked a good time to go on the rail bike – those autumn colours are amazing. I can see why you have to reserve it as it might get sold out 😀

    reply...

Share your thoughts

%d bloggers like this: