A breakdown of where to sleep after a long day of biking in Korea.
It’s well past sundown. North of 100 km, you conquered hills and filled your memory card to the brim. Exhaustion clouds your thoughts. You ask, ‘Where am I going to lay your head?’ Here’s a guide to finding accommodations while cycling in Korea.
Thankfully, Korea is dense. You’re never too far away from a good place to crash. From the bubbling Jacuzzis in love motels to Christmas light-festooned glamping tents.
Though motels are the most ubiquitous option while cycling in Korea, there are plenty of other options.
Hotels are one step above motels in Korea. They are less of a homegrown industry. They tend to have your normal trappings as western hotels.
In general, hotels are for families. They’re usually more expensive than motels. But, they usually don’t have 대실 (hourly rental) options. So, you can assume beds have been used mostly for sleeping.
You often find pensions outside of cities. They are used for family or group excursions away from noisy cities.
The rooms are large. They can be half a building or even a whole house. Most include a kitchen with pots and pans. If you can find a local mart nearby, you can cook rustle up dinner yourself.
Pensions are expensive. But, the cost can easily be split between the group to bring down the price.
Many pensions don’t have beds. You and your group will be bedding down in ondol (온돌) style rooms. Pensions will provide blankets for padding. The floors are often softer than normal. But, you won’t get that mattress feel.
Riding the waves of twenty-something Instagram vagrants, youth hostels surfed into Korea. There isn’t much difference in style and patronage from you’re typical Amsterdam hostel. (Maybe fewer drugs.)
Hostels provide some of the cheapest accommodations in Korea. Room types vary. Though, mostly they are dorm style.
You can find rooms with four-bed, female only rooms. You’ll also stumble upon a few sixteen-bed mixed dorms. For a little extra, some hostels provide private rooms with shared bathroom.
They downsides of hostels are the same in Korea. Some travelers arrive at 1 AM. Neighbors quake bunkbed above with their sleep apnea. Your bunkmates set the thermostat to reflect their native equatorial or polar climates.
Korean and English booking apps can list a good selection of hostels. Because hostels are imports, owners cater to travelers and their budgets.
You won’t find many hostels in small-town Korea. They’re typically in larger cities: Seoul, Busan, and Daegu.
Hostels are popular among cyclists. They’re a great place to meet new people.
Guest House (게스트하우스)
Guest houses are similar to hostels. They are usually owned by your average Joe or Jane (Seo-yeon or Min-jun).
Typically guest houses are residential: in a house or apartment. Some cheaper options cram three bunk beds into a bedroom. You might also stumble upon the master bedroom of a thirty-story loft in Busan.
Like hostels, guesthouses are a way for your average Seo-yeon to make some extra scratch. They’ll target tourists, both Korean and foreigner.
You can find some great deals in interesting locations if you keep a lookout.