CONTRIBUTED BY JULIA WERTS
I seriously can’t remember the last time I rode a bike. It was A LONG TIME AGO. So when my brother and I took my 5 year old boys (and their 2 year old sister) to Yeouido Hangang Park to ride their new Big Boy Bikes—with little boy training wheels–the thought of riding a bike myself hadn’t even crossed my mind. It’s been that long. But as the boys pedaled past me, and I struggled to keep up with a toddler in my arms, the solution was obvious. And the phrase: It’s like riding a bike… I can now state with utmost confidence that it is, in fact, true. And the best part was being able to strap my crazy toddler into the child seat and immobilize her for an hour.
If you’ve never been to Hangang Park at Yeouido Island, it’s lovely. For us, it’s a quick 5-minute drive across Mapo Bridge, so we go there often. In the summer, kids can splash around and play in the elaborate fountain/wading pools (I don’t know what to call it, but it’s wonderful!), there’s plenty of grass along the riverside for kids to run and play, and of course, because this is Korea, there are plenty of cute photo ops to preserve the memory of your trip to Yeouido for all of eternity. The park also has playgrounds, ducks to feed, and what really came in handy for me during our last trip there–bicycle rentals.
The standard bicycles that are offered are pretty adorable in that 1950s, little white basket in the front for the flowers you picked up at the local market sort of way. I really felt like I should have been wearing capri pants and canvas sneakers with a gingham scarf tied around my neck. Sadly for me though, I was unable to make such a statement. 😉
There are a number of places to rent bikes along the riverside park. If you take the subway, the stop is Yeouinaru Station, Exit 2 or 3. From either exit, just walk down into the park and walk a short distance in either direction and there are rental stations. If you drive there, cross Mapo Bridge and make the second left. The IFC Mall will be on your right. Make the next left and proceed straight until you come to a T-intersection. Make a left and the entrance to the parking lot will be on the right. Parking is approximately 2,000W/hr.
The rates for rentals are:
Standard 1 person bikes (includes those with child seats attached) and kids bikes (with training wheels): 3,000W for the first hour and 500W for each additional 15 minutes
2 person bikes and “advanced” bikes: 6,000W for the first hour and 1,000W for each additional 15 minutes.
When you rent the bike, you must leave your phone number and an ID card. You’re given a receipt with a time-stamp on it and off you go! You must return the bike to the same rental station, and your ID card is returned to you.
For the more serious cyclists, there’s a bike lane along the river, but if you’re like us and meandering along the river while trying to prevent your children from killing themselves, then I recommend staying off the bike lanes! There are additional paths that are wide enough for pedestrians and cyclists.
We rode our bikes along the river, played at the playground, ate some Korean picnic-y type food (kimbab, ddukboki and soondae) and headed home. All in all, a very successful day with the kids! Next trip to the park… We’re riding one of those swan boats!
***Julia is wise in the ways of making Korea fun for kids and grown-ups. She does amazing things with yarn and she is an art historian too! To read more about her adventures in Seoul, check out her blog: JKWDesigns.com***