One of the best things of Korea is that all activities are possible, and the ones most exciting for tourists are usually very budget-friendly too! Even Renting a bike is possible on a budget. All you need is a phone and some apps. Gwangju hosts a handful of beautiful parks and sights to see, and along with Seoul, have also offered a bike rental system, called Tarangge. It is the local dialect version of the Seoul version, Tarangi.
Cycling along Gwangju Stream can lead you into Naju, or all the way in Damyang, depending if you go left or right. However, this bike rental only allows for 1,5 hours, so we will not go that far, but rather discover the area on two wheels!
Step 1: install the app
You will need a korean phone number and bank card to register for the app, so ask a korean friend if you are a tourist!
The apps you need to download are Tarangge, and Paynow. Register as a new user on Tarangge, and register your bank card on Paynow prior to renting a bike.
Google Play | App Store
Step 2 – buy a ‘Ticket’
Which is the membership fee for renting these bikes. For 1 day, it is 1,000won, while for a whole year it is 30,000 won. The payment will take you to the PayNow app, so ensure that is installed and your card is registered in advance, to avoid errors. The app works best in Korean.
Step 3 – locate a bike rack
ex. at City Hall. Each bike rack with a row of green bikes, will have a numbered sign of the parking rack. There are over 50 parking racks, so you can pick up and drop off your bike at any of the 50 designated bike racks. There should be a disinfectant spray mounted on the sign, to disinfect your hands as well as the saddle and handlebars.
Step 4 – unlock your bike and wear a helmet.
In order to start renting the bike you chose, press the button on the sign behind the saddle. A computerized voice will give you instructions. Scan the QR code with the Tarangge app, to register the bike for rent. By typing a number code given to you, the bike will unlock itself. Get settled, wear the helmet provided in the basket in front, adjust the saddle if necessary, and keep the app at hand. It will remind you of the time you have left, and mark the other parking spots.
Off we go!
1st stop, Gwangju Stream.
Head North behind the city hall, and find a path exclusive for bikes that will lead you down to the water. There are access paths to the stream every few 100 meters along the stream. Once down, you have nothing but red bike path in front of you, that seems endless.
Cycle in whatever direction you like. You will pass another cyclist once in a while. Ride into the sunset, come across a dam and stone bridge. This spot is exclusive for cyclists, and ever so peaceful. The traffic up above is long forgotten. The bridges high above you remind you where you are.
After having exercised enough, you can climb up the alleys back to the main road. You can cycle through town, or return your bike.
Depending on where you find yourself, see which park is closest to you: the 5.18 Memorial Park, the Uncheon Reservoir, or the Statue Park and Energy Park.
The 5.18 Memorial Park, closes to City Hall
Hosts the 5.18 culture center, a memorial statue and artwork, and a hike up to a beautiful 3-story pavilion.
The lower corner of the park hosts Mugaksa Temple (무각사) – a newly-built temple, in a very modern, gallery-like building, with a hanok-style 2nd floor. Mugaksa also organizes temple stays. The neighboring book café and art gallery automatically exude the same peaceful energy as the temple. The monk rings the bell at 6.30 sharp, so time your visit! The giant golden buddha is visible through the glass doors, from the other side of the courtyard. The month of May celebrates Buddha’s birth, and the outskirts of the park as well as the entire temple courtyard are magnificently lit by lanterns, that grow more beautiful as the sky grows darker.
After having left Mugaksa, cross the large intersection, and enter the Uncheon Reservoir (운천저수지). The park is aligned with benches, and a romantically curved wooden dock is paved over the reservoir. It is an ideal dating spot, as you see couples walking all around. Pavilions are situated in the middle of the reservoir, for a spot of shade and a view on the water. Waterlilies drift along. Lanterns are also present in may, and beautiful cherry blossom trees reflect beautifully in the water in early spring.
Best seen during the day, are the statue park, that hosts the Gwangju Performance Maru, and the energy park.
For more info, read my article on the Performance Maru, and enjoy a traditional Korean Music Performance free of Charge!