|Spring by the Hangang River|
The article courtesy of SEOUL magazine
After spending its youth trickling and splashing through the mountains of Gangwon-do, the Hangang River enters Seoul as a fat, sedate, and middle-aged waterway, its lack of pace furthered by a variety of man-made interventions. Series of parks on each bank guide the Hangang through the city, punctuated by bridges, resorts, and marinas and linked by a network of walking and bicycle paths.
Located on the north bank of the river, this spot is easily reached from Exits 2 and 3 of Ttukseom Resort Station (Line 7), making it a good place to start a day’s journey. There’s plenty to do here, including hiring “duck boats” for a 40-minute jaunt on the river (KRW 15,000/23,000 for pedal-powered/automatic), waterskiing and windsurfing (call T. 02-1330 for information), or relaxing on the embankments with snacks from one of the nearby convenience stores. Also worth a look is the Jabeolle (J-Bug) cultural complex, a raised, tubular structure whose innards are comprised of a gallery, cafés, a restaurant, and a gift shop; it offers a great view across the river.
A couple of kilometers west along the riverbank lies Seoul Forest, one of the capital’s major green areas. Designed with the aim of creating a local equivalent of New York’s Central Park, Seoul Forest is a combination of trees, lawns, gardens, greenhouses, a butterfly house, lakes, and more. It even has a deer garden, with deer feeding opportunities on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons at 2pm and 3:30pm (reserve by calling T. 02-460-2987; Korean). There are cafés and convenience stores in the forest itself and a collection of restaurants and cafés on the lower floors of the two giant green apartment blocks nearby.
Another five kilometers west stands Seoul’s only “double deck” bridge: while Banpo Bridge carries most traffic above the river, like the Hangang’s other bridges, the Jamsu Bridge—directly beneath it—lies barely a few meters above the water level, making it an ideal point to cross the river from north to south along dedicated bicycle lanes (though crossing the river at other bridges is possible, too, thanks to various staircases, ramps, and elevators). On the way here, shortly after Seoul Forest and the mouth of Jungnangcheon Stream, is Mt. Eungbongsan, a favorite spot for photographers in search of the perfect shot of the cityscape.
From the southern terminus of Jamsu Bridge, it’s a 6.5-kilometer journey west to the island of Yeouido. The journey takes in Banpo Hangang Park, as well as a possible short diversion to Seoul National Cemetery, a large complex containing the resting places of some of the country’s greatest heroes and most controversial figures.
A short distance west of Yeouido is Seonyudo Park, an attractive complex set on the island of the same name. Seonyudo Park is famous for its innovative design, which makes extensive use of the giant concrete tanks, walkways, baths, and other structures remaining from the water treatment facility previously located there. The park comes to life from late spring onward and makes an impression on most visitors.
World Cup Park complex
Yanghwa Bridge offers a good way to cross the river again, back to its northern bank. From here, the journey continues west to the enormous World Cup Park complex. If you’re hungry again, the World Cup stadium itself is home to several eateries. If not, make your way around the network of walking and cycling trails around the complex. Haneul Park is a high hill that offers great views across the western part of the capital and of the setting sun. Crowned with fields of reeds dotted with sculpture-like structures, it makes for an atmospheric end to the day. Nanji Hangang Park contains a variety of sports fields and a camping ground, which can be used for daytime picnics and barbecues (KRW 3,750) or camping at night in a variety of tents (reservation needed; call T. 02-304-0061; Korean). Noeul Park is a wide, grassy area that also boasts a golf course, while Nanjicheon Park features as its centerpiece a successfully restored stream, once heavily polluted but now a haven for local wildlife.
The route above, from Ttukseom Resort to Nanji Hangang Park, is around 25 km long. If you’ve blasted your way through it in a couple of hours and are not even ready for lunch, there are various other options available. Heading back along the southern bank and continuing from Yeouido all the way to Amsa-dong, near the 1988 Olympics complex, is one 25-kilometer possibility; others include following bike paths up the various streams that flow into the Hangang: Jungnangcheon (near Seoul Forest) and Hongjecheon (just east of Nanji Hangang Park) Streams on the northern bank and Anyangcheon (3 km west of the southern terminus of Yanghwa Bridge) and Tancheon/Yangjaecheon (slightly east of Ttukseom Resort; cross the river via Yeongdong Bridge) Streams on the southern bank.
The route described above covers a fair distance in central Seoul, but for more information on any of the places it passes through, see the Korea Tourism Organization website (http://english.visitkorea.or.kr) or call the Korea Travel Hotline at T. 02-1330.
The article courtesy of SEOUL magazine