Rapeseed blossoms in spring, duck boats and water-skis in summer, clear blue skies and multi-colored leaves in fall, and pristine, white snow in winter make Hangang River Seoul’s premier tourist destination no matter what the season.
The Hangang River area is full of hidden attractions tucked in every corner that are easy to miss if you simply travel back and forth across the river by car. To experience the true charm of the Hangang River, take a walk along its welcoming banks or indulge in a river cruise ride.
Summer and winter in Korea have seemed to grow longer over time, leaving only a relatively short few weeks for visitors to enjoy the beauty of fall. With the days of fall quickly passing and winter just around the corner, one of the best ways to get the most out of the season is to enjoy one of the area’s signature festivals. The Hangang area hosts a large number of festivals throughout the year, but fall is the season in which the festivals of Hangang River truly shine.
One of the most exciting and highly-anticipated Hangang festivals is the Seoul International Fireworks Festival, which creates splendid splashes of color in the sky above Yeouido Hangang Park. The annual festival, held in October, is participated in by fireworks teams from around the world and is attended by an average of more than one million people. In 2014, international teams included those from the United Kingdom, China, and Italy; in 2015, teams from the United States and the Philippines presented fireworks shows with touching American ballads and catchy Filipino pop songs.
Another nighttime attraction along the river is the Seoul Bamdokkaebi Night Market in Yeouido Hangang Park, an event that first made its debut in 2015. Reminiscent of the night markets of Thailand, China, and Taiwan, the Bamdokkaebi Night Market has a warm and welcoming ambience that unique to Seoul, an ambience that is only heightened by the magnificent river nightscape and the market’s mouthwatering food. The market features scrumptious dishes from more than 40 food trucks, an outdoor market selling a variety of unique products, a flea market, a mini-circus, mime performances, magic shows, and much more.
Not to be outdone by its nighttime festivals with their appetizing treats and unforgettable performances, Hangang during the day offers a treasure trove of rich sights that unfurl their wonders long before the festivals even begin. Take a trip to Yeouido Hangang Park before the night market begins to see the softer, calmer side of the river.
A visit to the river during the day is one of the best ways to experience the striking beauty of season. Unobstructed by buildings, the blue skies above Hangang River beckon and invite you to relax and unwind. Walk along the Hangang waterfront under the white fluffy clouds in an azure sky, gaze at the flowing river that winds lazily through the heart of the city, and breathe in the cool breeze that chases away all memories of the summer heat. There is no other way that you can really appreciate the beauty of the fall sky in Seoul.
Yeouido Hangang Park in particular offers a breathtaking view of nature, untouched and thriving in its original beauty. As Seoul’s representative ecological preserve, the Yeouido Saetgang Ecological Park is home to water deer, raccoons and wildcats. Korean Angelica Trees and Sawtooth Oaks grow between willows and reed fields, and wildflowers such as Golden-samphires and Speedwells spring up in bunches.
The main reason Hangang River is so beloved by people of all ages, male and female, is that it offers everything you could possibly ask for—cultural events, nature, and a refreshing environment. The outskirts of Yeouido Hangang Park are also well-known as a hub of beer and fried chicken—a favorite combination among Koreans
Pedaling a bike in the fall breeze and lying on the green grass for a rest, followed by some fried chicken and a cold beer create a special kind of synergy that cannot be described in words. It is worth noting, however, that unlike most of the Yeouido Hangang Park, foods and beverages are not allowed in Seonyudo Park.
A popular night-time activity for foreign visitors to Seoul is the Hangang River Cruise, which is the perfect way to enjoy the Hangang nightscape. What has now become a long-time landmark of Yeouido Hangang Park, the Hangang cruise ship offers a chance not only to enjoy the sights, but also to dine on some delicious cuisine.
The Hangang Cruise Ship embarks from Yeouinaru, which is also well-known as the filming site of the popular Korean drama, “My Love from the Star”, and stops at the Banpo Moonlight Rainbow Fountain before returning to the dock for passengers to disembark. There are also various programs available on the ship, such as lunch and dinner buffets and live shows.
“My Love from the Star”, aired on SBS from 2013 to 2014, starred celebrities Jun Ji-hyun and Kim Soo-hyun and was a huge both at home and overseas. The drama is a fantasy romance between Do Min-joon, an alien who fell to Earth 400 years ago, and Cheon Song-yi, a top Hallyu star.
Even if you’re a land lover at heart, there are still many scenic spots at the Hangang parks that will give you a memorable evening out. One of the best spots is the Banpo Hangang Park, where you can not only get a look at the elegant Moonlight Rainbow Fountain, but also drink in an uninterrupted panoramic view of Hangang River enshrouded in darkness. The way Banpo Hangang Park seems to shine in the moonlight is what puts it at the top of the list as one of the most beautiful night views in Seoul.
There are many interesting attractions in the Hangang vicinity—the Moonlight Rainbow Fountain, the Jamsugyo Bridge, which now has a pedestrian walkway, and Moonlight Square. The Moonlight Rainbow Fountain has even been listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest bridge fountain, and proudly puts on a beautiful, multi-colored performance day and night. At night, the fountain show is accompanied by music, making it a must-see Hangang destination for visitors everywhere.
Seoul is a city that never sleeps. Even in the wee hours of the night, restaurants rush orders to people picnicking on the banks of the Hangang River, and shops are open for business. Instead of ending its day when the sun goes down, the Hangang River area reveals a whole new set of charms after sunset, making it the most “Seoul-like” place in Seoul.