East Coast Route
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The East Coast Route follows the East Sea up the coast of Korea.
In the southern town of Yeongdeok, you’ll notice an inordinate amount seafood adornment. Giant crab molds hang above restaurant entrances. During Chuseok, cars full of hungry tourists bloat these parts. They’re here for the ₩80,000 a plates of snow crab.
As you move north, you’ll find quaint fishing villages fighting off hordes of giant crab statues rising from the East Sea.
Samcheok also marks the beginning of the Romantic Road. This self-declared road extends up to the resort city of Sokcho. Rocky coastlines bring lovers and families.
Between Sokcho and Gangneung, you’ll stumble upon beaches. Hotels, surf shops, and restaurants fill every space inch. In the summer, tourists hop across the road, from hot sand to air conditioning.
Between tourist traps, you’re reminded of Korea’s past and present. Barbwire fences rust on sandbars. Lookout posts top rocky ridge lines.
Traffic thins as you move north. Farms take over the small village of Goseong. Offshore islands and rocky outcrops dot the seascape.
In the town of Daejin, you’ll find the easternmost point of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The last checkpoint booth marks the end (or start) of the East Coast Route. A military road block helps clarify the fact.
(If you’d like to get closer to the DMZ and visit the Goseong Unification Observation Tower, buy a tour. You can also get a taxi there.)
The East Coast Route is a mix of sidewalk, protected bike lanes, and country roads.
Near the resort towns of Sokcho and Gangneung, you’ll find sidewalks and dedicated bike paths. Don’t worry about riding with normal traffic.
In the south, around the fishing towns of Yeongdeok and Uljin, you’ll ride mostly country roads. You won’t find sidewalks or protected bike paths.
When the road is wide enough, blue lines carve out a lane for you. But, you’ll usually hug the lines on unprotected, two-lane roads.
Don’t worry. These country roads populate less crowded parts of the coast. A major highway a few kilometers inland diverts most of the traffic. You only have to look out for locals and the odd tourist.
High percentage inclines will slow your progress in the south. Summer traffic and tourists gum up the path.
If you keep up a good pace, you can reach your destination in four days.