While Paris has the Seine River and London has the Thames, Seoul’s representative river is none other than the Hangang River. Running from the east to west of Seoul, Hangang River. The river is a popular attraction among Koreans, and even if you don’t make explicit plans to visit the river, you’ll definitely see it when touring Seoul. A total of 11 parks were formed along the Hangang River, and every summer, the parks host unique events and a variety of performances. From day to night, there are seemingly endless things to see or do here. Read on to find out more about these exclusive experiences!
Walking around Ttukseom Hangang Park, you can’t help but notice a unique, attention grabbing building standing along the way. This three-story building might look like a giant snake but don’t be afraid; it is called Jabeolle (J-Bug), Korean for inchworm, and serves as a public multi-culture complex.
The first floor is worth exploring with its on-going art exhibitions and performances by amateur artists and performers. The interior of the complex is divided into the head, body and tail sections, with each area offering various cultural experiences. Performances take place in the head section, while the body features a snack bar. The tail serves as an exhibition space for various artworks.
For visitors who are traveling to Korea in summer, the outdoor swimming pools and water playgrounds at Hangang River are one of the top recommendations for you. Only open during the summer season, this is probably one of the most attractive offers to enjoy cooling waters in downtown Seoul.
Among the 11 Hangang Parks, the five parks at Yeouido, Ttukseom, Jamwon, Gwangnaru, and Jamsil feature outdoor public swimming pools. In addition, Nanji Hangang Park and Yanghwa Hangang Park also have water playground facilities for visitors to splash around in. Don’t miss your chance to cool off with the Hangang River right beside you!
From March to October, a variety of festivals are held at Hangang River for all citizens. Festivals celebrate seasonal themes, rotating among flowers in spring, water leisure sports and activities in summer, and fireworks in fall. Among the many summer festivals taking place in Seoul, Hangang Summer Festival is truly one of the best there is!
This year’s Hangang Summer Festival is held from July 19 to August 18. The theme for this year’s festival is "Cultural Picnic at the Hangang River," and visitors can participate in any of the 80 programs, which are divided into three themes of "Cool Hangang (water leisure sports/competition)," "Touching Hangang (performances & movies)," and "Together Hangang (camping/ecological programs).”
If you are looking for a good view to go with your coffee, lookout cafés are be the best option. These spots offer the best views of Hangang River, especially at dusk or sunset. Presently, there are two cafes each on Hangangdaegyo, Yanghwadaegyo, and Dongjakdaegyo Bridges. Of the six, we recommend Gyeonu Café and Jiknyeo Café on Hangangdaegyo Bridge, and Gureum Café and Noeul Café on Dongjakdaegyo Bridge as their central locations offer magnificent views.
Gureum Café and Noeul Café located on Dongjakdaegyo Bridge boast the finest view of all the lookout cafés on the Hangang River. The two cafés are very similar in size and they both serve coffee, juice, tea and other beverages. Furthermore, tourists who would like to satisfy their hunger can enjoy a Western-style meal such as pasta or pizza, too. Above all, both cafés offer an outdoor terrace where you can feel the river breeze while appreciating the nightscape coming alive as the sun sets.
One of the most famous evening attractions at Hangang River is none other than the Hangang River Ferry Cruise! The cruise offers a splendid nightscape of Seoul, attracting numerous international visitors non-stop. It’s also popular among couples as a date course or a marriage proposal spot thanks to its romantic atmosphere.
The programs offered by the Hangang River ferry cruise vary according to the time of day. Visitors can hand-feed seagulls and watch a musical performance on the Story Cruise, enjoy a buffet during the regular Lunch or Dinner Cruise, or take in the Banpo Rainbow Fountain Show and jazz music on the Music Cruise. Visitors can also enjoy a live guitar music performance on the Moonlight Cruise or even a baking experience and performance called Pang Pang Cruise for some interactive fun! Each cruise has a unique schedule and travel days, so travelers who are interested in these programs are advised to check the schedule in advance before visiting. International visitors are also reminded that proper identification such as a passport is required to board all ferries in Korea.
After sunset, a late-night market pops up in various places across Seoul, including Yeouido Hangang Park and Banpo Hangang Park. This weekend-only event, called the Seoul Bamdokkaebi Night Market, lives up to its name by appearing at night and disappearing before morning, just like a bamdokkaebi (night goblin). The night market has been attracting crowds of Seoulites as well as numerous tourists every week.
The biggest merit of this night market is that there is much to see and eat all in one place! Magic shows, DJ music performances, and buskers can be found throughout the market, and diverse international foods are sold at reasonable prices in food trucks. With a cool evening breeze, this is undeniably one of the best places to enjoy the nightscape of Hangang River. The night market operating hours and days vary by each location so be sure to check the details before visiting.
Some Sevit rose in popularity among the public after appearing in the movie "The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015).” Located near the southernmost part of Banpodaegyo Bridge, Some Sevit is a cluster of three artificial islands that appear to float on the surface of Hangang River. The islands are known for their beautiful and colorful kaleidoscopic illumination at night.
Some Sevit is one of the most famous attractions for taking in night views of Seoul. Across from Some Sevit are Banpo Hangang Park Dalbit Square and an outdoor performance stage, allowing visitors to be entertained with music and performances while enjoying the summer evening. Try taking a picnic at Some Sevit with chicken and beer for an unforgettable summer night by Hangang River.
In close proximity to Some Sevit, visitors can find the all-time favorite Banpodaegyo Rainbow Fountain! This bridge fountain was recorded in the Guinness World Records in 2008 for being the world’s longest bridge fountain. The fountain runs 570 meters on both sides of Banpo Bridge with a total of 380 nozzles installed. Unlike a typical water fountain that spouts water from the bottom to the top, Banpodaegyo Rainbow Fountain shoots water from the top of the bridge, down into the Hangang River below. Over 200 LED lights illuminate the water spray in an array of colors as it dances to the exciting music in the background for a revitalizing and vivacious presentation.
* This column was last updated in July 2019, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details before visiting.