The Essential Han River Guide

The Essential Han River Guide 1

The Han River is in many ways the heart of Seoul.

Not only does it divide the north and south of the city, in many ways the old and the new, but it is also one of the most loved locations in the city.

As many rivers help define cities – the Thames in London and the Yarra in Melbourne to name but two, the Han River helps define Seoul.

It’s easy to say that the Han River is one of the must-visit locations in Seoul. It’s also most definitely true! If you are in Seoul and haven’t visited the Han River then you are missing out.

You may also hear of the Han River referred to as ‘Hangang’ (pronounced as Han-gang). This is the rivers name in Korean and is the romanisation of the Korean word 한강.

With the river being such a central pillar of Seoul, make sure that you get the chance to visit it. It may ‘only’ be a river, but it’s a very important one, and one with many different activities!


This post contains affiliate links. For more information, read my affiliate disclaimer.


When to Visit the Han River

One of the questions I get asked very often is ‘when is the best time to visit the Han River?’. The best time to visit is definitely whenever you are in Seoul! However, here’s a bit more detail.

Before you even consider when the best time to visit the Han River is, it’s best to ask yourself when is the best time to visit Seoul? Every season has different attractions and highlights.

Generally, the best season to enjoy the most Han River activities is summer. This is because it’s not only the warmest season but also the Han’s busiest season. All of the water activities will be open.

However, summer also brings crowds. If you plan to visit some of the popular Han River parks such as Yeouido, Ttukseom, or Nanji, then you might find summer quite crowded.

Spring and Fall are also great times to visit the river as they often have fewer crowds and milder weather. Just be careful, as it can get quite chilly after the sun goes down.

In Spring, there will also be cherry blossom festivals at some of the Han River parks. These festivals are stunning and the river background makes them even more so. 

Winter is the hardest season in which to visit the Han River because it is so cold. While the Han River can still be enjoyed, make sure to wear warm clothes!

In winter, there will be far fewer events and activities at the river. However, many activities such as picnicking, biking, and strolling along the river can still be enjoyed.

While I still recommend at least visiting the river in winter, there are also a lot of other activities that you can enjoy in winter.


Best Time of Day to Visit

The Essential Han River Guide 2

If you want a stunning view, visit at sunset!

While you can visit the river at any time, I would recommend two times in particular. Firstly is in the morning, secondly is at dusk.

The morning is a great time to visit the river as it is well before the crowds will begin to appear. Before 1 pm, most of the people you come across will be exercising. There won’t be many picnickers or couples!

During the afternoon the river will get busier until around 8 pm. 6 pm to 8 pm is peak time at Hangang. However, it is for good reason.

Since the river flows east to west, it is a fantastic sunset viewing location. In fact, many of the best sunsets in Seoul can be witnessed along the banks of the Han River.

While this is the busiest time, it is also the most beautiful. If you want to visit and avoid the crowds though, make sure to go before 1 pm!


How to Get to the Han River

Since the Han River flows right through the centre of Seoul, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of different ways to get to the river. 

With that being said, these are the directions to get to a few of the more popular locations on the river.


How to Get to Yeouido

The Essential Han River Guide 3

Despite the name, the best subway station to reach Yeouido Hangang Park is Yeouinaru Station. Yeouinaru is located on Line 5 (purple line). Exit the station via exit 2 or 3. 

Both of these exits are located right next to the Han River park and they are located right next to each other. However, exit 2 is a more direct way to the various food stalls and other vendors.


How to Get to Ttukseom Hangang Park

The Essential Han River Guide 4

Again, despite the name, the best station to reach Ttukseom Hangang Park is actually Ttukseom Resort Station. The station is located on Line 7 (dark green line).

From the station, exit from either exit 2 or 3. They are located just opposite each other and both lead down straight into the Ttukseom Hangang Park. 


How to Get to Banpo Hangang Park

The Essential Han River Guide 5

To get to Banpo Hangang Park you have two choices. The first involves a bit more walking, but the walking is alongside the Han River. The second option is more direct but involves covering a block or two of the city.

The first method is to go to Dongjak Station on Line 4 (light blue). From there, exit the station via exit 2 – this will take you right onto the banks of the Han River. Follow the river east for 10-15 minutes and you will arrive at Banpo Han River Park.

Secondly, you can arrive at the Express Bus Terminal Station on Line 3 (orange), 7 (dark green) and 9 (light brown). Exit from Exit 8-1 and go straight until you come across a big highway (it should be the third road to the right).

Follow the highway straight and you will come across some stairs which will take you into the park. 


How to Enjoy the Han River

There are a lot of different ways that the Han River can be enjoyed. The river has become a big attraction for both locals and tourists alike and has been designed to entertain people.

Some of the most popular ways to enjoy the Han River are with a Han River Cruise, as a picnic location, and as an exercise location for everything from walking to skateboarding and biking.

However, there are even more activities that are a bit more unique. Many of the bridges have stunning lighting at night and some even put on light shows.

There is even a museum/park called the Seoul Battleship Park which has two retired navy boats as well as a submarine!

On top of this, there is a large variety of different water activities that you can enjoy. From cruising on the Han River to taking out peddle boats, kayaks, or having jet-ski rides.

All of this is to say, there isn’t a lack of activities to do on and near the Han River. Whether you want an action-packed day or would just prefer to relax and enjoy the atmosphere, the river has you covered.


Picnicking at the Han River

The Essential Han River Guide 6

A picnic on any riverside is usually a great time. However, Korea has a few conveniences which make picnicking at the Han River the ultimate ‘only in Korea’ activity.

Not only are tents and mats available for hire, but they are also virtually free. Mats can be found as low as 2000KRW (less than $2). However, they do require a deposit in order to make sure you return the item. Tents can be hired from 10,000KRW on Trazy.

If you get hungry while picnicking, why not order some food straight to your tent. No, seriously! You can deliver food right to your tent!

Although most of the delivery services are Korean, there are also some that have English service available. You will find flyers for food all around popular picnic areas such as Yeouido.

If you are planning to enjoy a picnic on the banks of the Han River make sure to bring a picnic kit! These are the best items to enjoy summer (or spring or fall!) evening at the famous Hangang.

Picnic EssentialsBluetooth speaker, outdoor blanket, paper cups, tumbler, picnic mat, bug repellent, lantern, hand sanitizer.

It can be difficult to order food if you can’t speak Korean. Luckily, there are a few great services that can help with ordering food. One such service is Gowonderfully. They are fantastic for quick tasks when you need someone fluent in Korean!


Han River Cruise

One of the most popular ways to enjoy the Han River – and indeed one of my favourite ways, is to take a Han River cruise.

Although this might sound expensive, it really isn’t! Cruises can be enjoyed for less than $15 per person. They are definitely one of the best ways to enjoy the Han River and to see the sights that it offers!

If you would like to eat, then most of the cruises also offer food onboard which can be enjoyed by customers.

The cruises go from many different points along the Han River. Generally, I would recommend taking a cruise from a central point in the city. Locations like Yeouido have a lot of highrise buildings and make for some stunning scenes. 

If you are interested in taking a cruise on the Han River, make sure to check out these deals.


Biking

Another way to enjoy the warm weather is to bike along the banks of the Han River. Nearly the whole river has paved paths on both sides. What’s more, these paths are very well maintained and are flat and smooth.

Bikes can be hired for very cheap prices – from less than $1 per hour you can enjoy biking along the Han River. If you purchase more credit, you can even get discounts. 

The bikes can be hired from an app which is now provided in English. Although the app is not very good (it performs terribly at times), it is usable.

Balance can be topped up by a variety of different methods and discounts can be applied when purchasing longer periods of time.

These bikes can be hired not only at the Han River but all over the city! In fact, the green and white bikes can be found on nearly every 2nd or 3rd block in the city.

Once you understand how to use the app, the bikes are very easy to hire and return. They can be returned to any bike stand in the city, and as mentioned above, they are very common.

If you want a new way to explore the Han River or even the city of Seoul, make sure to check out the bikes in Seoul!


Watching the Sunset

Watching the sunset is one of my favourite activities at the Han River – not only because it’s a large open space, but also because the river flows east to west. Since the sun sets above the river, this makes for some beautiful views.

There are fantastic views all around the river, and I would recommend watching the sunset wherever is most convenient for you. I have a whole post dedicated to the best sunset locations in Seoul and I could go on and on!

Perhaps the best place to watch the sunset, though, is from some of the bridges that cross the Han River. Nearly all of the bridges have footpaths and stairs leading onto them.

If you can’t make it to the bridges, or would simply prefer to not walk across them, then the sunset view from the banks of the Han River is also stunning.

Although there are many fantastic sunset locations along the river, one of my favourites is at Ttukseom. The view towards Namsan Tower is breathtaking and one of the best that you can see in Seoul!


Water Sports

The Essential Han River Guide 7

Being a river, Han has a lot of different water sports which can also be enjoyed. From windsurfing to Flyboarding, there really is a lot to be enjoyed here.

Most of the water sports take part in the major Han River hubs. This means Yeouido and Ttukseom primarily, although there are a few other areas along the river which also offer water activities.

If you are feeling up for something adventurous then I would recommend trying out flyboarding. I’m almost certain you have seen videos of it before, and it is a lot of fun!

If you are looking for something a bit less extreme, then there are also pedal boats and other activities which can be enjoyed.


Han River Swimming Pools

At the peak of summer (mid-July to mid-August), the Han River swimming pools open. These swimming pools are located all over the Han River, and can be found at Ttukseom, Yeouido, Gwangnaru, Mangwon, Jamwon, Jamsil, Nanji and Yangwha Han River parks.

The pools have a small fee – Children are 3000KRW, youths are 4000, and adults 5000. Children under six years of age get free admission.

The pools are open to all ages, however, they are split into different areas. There are children’s pools and close by the adult pools can be found. 

Located near the pools are showers and snack bars, and this makes them an all-in-one place to have some family fun. 

Ttukseom Hangang Park has the most famous of the pools, however, it can be quite packed at times. If you want to avoid the crowds, try to visit in the morning (before noon).

The pools are open from 9 am until 7 pm. However, as mentioned above, you can expect these pools to be quite busy – especially after lunchtime.


Best Locations to Enjoy the Han River

The Han River is massive. It winds through Seoul for many kilometres and has many distinctive and unique areas to visit. On top of that, there are tens of different Han River parks. Possibly even hundreds!

Some of the more popular locations along the Han River are well known by all – Yeouido Hangang Park, Ttukseom Hangang Park, and Banpo Hangang Park to name three.

I will cover these parks before discussing a few of the lesser-known parks along the river banks.


Yeouido Hangang Park

A Sunset at Yeouido
One of Seoul’s most stunning sunsets, located at Yeouido.

Yeouido Han River Park is perhaps the most well-known river park in Seoul. It is located in a very wealthy part of Seoul – right next to the general assembly building. 

The park itself is located on Yeouido, an island which is located in the Han River. The island can be accessed from the purple line and also from the dark brown line. The station itself is located very close to the park and makes it very easy to access.

Yeouido can be very crowded at times as it is very well-known and liked. However, the upside of this is that it means there are a lot of activities and food vendors on site.

There are both grassy areas which are great for sitting, and concrete areas which are for fantastic for skateboarding and biking.

To take advantage of this, mats and tents can both be hired from the exit of the subway station and online. More interestingly, there are also segways and hoverboards for hire if you want another way to explore the park.

For around 10,000KRW per hour, you can hire these electronic devices and explore the riverside. It’s a fantastic way to spend a summer evening!


Ttukseom Hangang Park

Ttukseom Han River Park is another of my favourites. This is another of the more famous parks in Seoul and holds many performances and festivals every year – especially in the warmer months.

The Han River park is located at Ttukseom Resort Station (뚝섬유원지역) on line 7. The train station is located directly above the park and can be accessed with a very short walk from the station.

J-Bug (a big, seemingly floating, building that overlooks the park) is another attraction that makes Ttukseom unique. This building has a few exhibitions as well as some viewpoints to take in the sunset

Under the structure, there are a lot of paths that can be explored. If you would prefer to rest, then you can enjoy the grass areas with mats that can be hired. Similar to Yeouido, there are also bikes which can be hired.

While Ttukseom doesn’t have as many food options (unless you order), there is a big convenience store which has not only typical convenience store food, but also a few meal foods such as chicken.

Ttukseom, while still quite crowded at times, tends to be less busy than Yeouido. While Yeouido has more food options on sight, this can easily be overcome with delivery food.

One of Ttukseom Hangang’s biggest attractions is that there are a lot of festivals and events held throughout the year. From concerts to talk shows and dances, there is always something happening at Ttukseom Resort Station.


Banpo Hangang Park

The Essential Han River Guide 8

Banpo Han River Park is another of the popular Han River parks in Seoul, and one that is famous for a unique reason.

While not as maintained and built up as Ttukseom and Yeouido Hangang parks, Banpo has one attraction which makes it stand out amongst the rest – that attraction is the waterfall light show of Banpo Bridge.

In the warmer months, at set times, the bridge will spray water out the sides and paint the water with rainbow coloured lights. It’s a stunning sight!

Banpo Hangang Park isn’t as popular of a picnic spot as the two above parks, and as such, it’s often a nice park to visit if you would prefer to stay away from the crowds. 

While the park is by no means worse, it is different. It is less built up and has fewer facilities than the other parks. However, it does have some unique attractions that make it worth visiting!


Nanji Hangang Park

Nanji Han River Park Views!

This Han River park is located close to Hongdae, at World Cup Stadium. World Cup Stadium is a large area containing not only the World Cup Stadium but also a cluster of other parks.

The World Cup Stadium Parks are all located close to the station and are within a short walking distance of the exit.

Although the park itself is made up of five smaller parks, the one in question is Nanji Hangang Park. This park is located on the banks of the Han River and is well maintained. 

When I visited the park in 2018 it was a great place to have a picnic. However, it didn’t have many facilities as it is one of the lesser-visited Han River parks.

Nanji has some stunning views though, and this is what makes it stand out to me. On top of this, it’s rarely ever crowded and this makes it a great place to have a more private picnic in the evening.


Jamwon Hangang Park

Jamwon is another park found on the orange line. Jamwon is one of my favourite parks as it has more trees and shaded areas than the other parks on this list.

This is especially key in summer when the weather easily gets into the high 30’s. Although the humidity remains, the shade does provide some form of relief from the relentless heat.

Jamwon also has some fields which are famous for their Pink Muhly Grass in the fall. This easily makes for one of the most beautiful Han River parks in the city, and if you haven’t yet seen it in fall, I highly recommend it!

If you can’t visit in fall, consider visiting in spring. In spring, there are poppies blooming and they

There are also bikes available for hire. From 1000KRW per hour, these bikes can be hired and enjoyed. There are bike paths along the side of the river which are well made and flat.

If you are looking to visit a Han River Park in spring or fall then I would recommend Jamwon Han River Park.


Hapjeong Hangang Park

Hapjeong has less of a Han River Park, as it isn’t a dedicated area for a park. However, it has some nice riverside paths as well as a few fantastic seating areas that make it ideal for a picnic. So while Hapjeong isn’t technically a Han River Park, it’s still a very nice place to visit.

Hapjeong Han River Park can be easily reached from Hapjeong Station and is one of the most enjoyable parks along the banks of the Han River.

To my knowledge, tents and mats can’t be hired here, however. So make sure to bring your own picnic gear. Food is available at nearby stores, and it’s easy to carry food down to the riverside.

It also has one of the most beautiful views out of all of the Han River parks. Looking towards Yeouido, the view is fantastic.

Finally, Hapjeong is located just across the bridge from Yeouido. If you fancy the best view, you can start at Hapjeong and cross the bridge towards Yeouido. This is one of the best sunset views in the city!


Best Views

One of the best Han River activities is to watch the sunset or sunrise on the banks of the river. So much so, that the river is often regarded as having many of the best views in the city.

I can attest to this, as I have spent months exploring different locations on the Han River and finding, what I believe, are some of the best views that the city has to offer. These are the best Han River views!


Ttukseom

The Essential Han River Guide 9

Ttukseom Resort Station has one of the most popular Han River parks, and it is for good reason – the park also has one of the best Han River views in the city. 

The west-facing view from the park provides a breathtaking view of Namsan Tower, one of Seoul’s most famous landmarks. The tower is iconic and standing atop Namsan (South Mountain), the view is a must-see in Seoul.

This is even truer because the sun sets behind Namsan, highlighting the tower and making its shadow stand out. 

Ttukseom also has a second view which although not as iconic, is also very stunning! That view is the view directly across the river from the park.

Across the river are a few different high-rise buildings with a variety of lights. These lights reflect off the surface of the water, and in turn, make for a fantastic reflection photo. 


Dongho Bridge

Dongho Bridge Sunset
Dongho Bridge sunset in summer

Dongho Bridge is the bridge that crosses the Han River between Oksu and Apgujeong. The view on the eastern side of the bridge is one of my all-time favourites in Seoul and it is unforgettable when coupled with a good sunset. 

This is one of the less cluttered views as it is in an area where there aren’t as many high-rise buildings. Due to this, you get to see the vastness of the Han River. This makes for some fantastic reflection photos!


Dongjak Bridge Emart

The Essential Han River Guide 10

This one might sound a little funny, but hear me out! Did you know that there are two Emart 24 convenience stores located on either side of Dongjak Bridge? Well, there are, and they provide some amazing views!

Dongjak Bridge is located more towards the east of Seoul, and the bridge itself isn’t as famous as many other bridges. However, it also has a unique attraction in the two convenience stores located on the bridge. 

The Emart stores are 3 stories tall and look nothing at all like convenience stores. Rather, they look like observatories. Inside these buildings are a convenience store, a small library, a cafe, and a deck on the roof.

You don’t need to spend much at these stores as they sell everything from ramen to restaurant food. Once you get some food, you are welcome to enjoy the fantastic river views from the observation areas. 

Despite being Emart 24, these stores are a great location for a date. They have some of the best views and are very affordable. If you would prefer something a bit fancier, then they also offer more expensive foods and coffee!


Haneul Garden

Although located a short distance from the river itself, Haneul Garden provides some of the best river views in the city.

The park is very famously known for being a landfill that was converted to one of Seoul’s top natural attractions. If you have seen photos of silver grass in Seoul, then there is a good chance that those photos are from here!

Haneul Garden is located at World Cup Stadium and is located within a few minutes walk of Nanji Hangang Park – a park which I talked about earlier in this post. 

If you want to learn more about the park itself, read this post on the World Cup Stadium parks. However, I also wanted to add that it is a park with a fantastic view and one which overlooks the Han River in all its splendour.


Festivals

The Essential Han River Guide 11

Being the heart of Seoul, the Han River hosts a large variety of different festivals every year. While the festivals included here aren’t the only ones on throughout the year, they are some of the most famous and popular.


Han River Summer Festival

The biggest festival that takes place at the Han River annually is the Hangang Summer Festival – a festival which lasts for a month throughout July and August. 

This festival takes place not in one location on the Han, but actually in many different parks along the river. In 2019, 11 parks were included in the festivities! It’s really quite a widespread festival and this is great – it means that everyone can access it. 

Events can range from water activities to concerts and film showings. There are also cultural performances that take place, and they are a great way to experience a little of the Korean culture!

For exact details on the events including when and where they will take place, I recommend reading the official page for the festival.


Han River Movie Nights

Throughout the summer, you can also find movie screenings at the parks along the Han River. Most of these movie screenings are part of the above-mentioned Hangang Summer Festival, however, some are also screened outside of the festival.

For more specific times, check out the official site


Han River Night Markets

The Bamdokkaebi Night Market takes place along the banks of the Han River on Friday and Saturday nights in the summer. This market runs from 6 pm to 11 pm at the Yeouido and Banpo Han River parks.

The markets sell lots of different foods from all over the world. On top of this, the market also sells various handmade goods and other items.

Even if you don’t plan on purchasing anything, the market has an enjoyable atmosphere and it is one of the more exciting times to visit the Han River.

There are also other markets that take place irregularly along the Han River that can be found throughout the year. 


Greenplugged Festival

The Greenplugged Festival is an event which takes place in mid-May. This event (at least the Seoul variant of it) takes place at the Nanji Hangang Park and features a line-up of performances by various singers. 

The event has a focus on environmental consideration and that is why the venue of Nanji Hangang Park was chosen. Before being converted to one of Seoul’s stunning parks, the area was a landfill site.

Since then, not only Nanji Hangang Park but also the surrounding parks at World Cup Stadium have been converted into one of the top parks in Seoul.

The line-up for Greenplugged has yet to be announced for 2020. However, you can find more information on their website.


Yeouido Cherry Blossom Festival

The Essential Han River Guide 12

Cherry blossoms are one of the spring biggest attractions not only in Korea but all over the world. Korea has a lot of cherry blossom festivals, however, most of them take place outside of Seoul.

If you are looking for a Cherry blossom festival in Korea and happen to be around in mid-April, then make sure to head over to Yeouido for the yearly cherry blossom festival.

Not only are the cherry blossoms blooming, but also the azaleas and other flowers. 

In the evening, the park and trees are lit up with LED lights and this is almost even more popular than the daytime festival. 

If you are in Seoul and want to see the cherry blossoms, make sure to check out the Yeouido Cherry Blossom Festival – it is one of the best in the city!


Seoul International Fireworks Festival

The Essential Han River Guide 13

For anyone that doesn’t mind fireworks, this is the highlight out of all of the Han River festivals. The Seoul International Fireworks Festival is the biggest fireworks festival in Seoul and it lights up the whole city in October. 

The fireworks festival generally lasts for 5 days in early October. The fireworks will mark the end of the festival and take place on the last night. 

As the name implies, the fireworks are on a truly grand scale and they are definitely on a global scale in terms of size and beauty. 

What makes the festival unique from other fireworks festivals is that it takes place over the Han River – this makes for some stunning reflections which only highlight the beauty of the fireworks.

If you are in Seoul in early October make sure to visit the Seoul International Fireworks Festival. It’s a festival that you won’t want to miss!


The Han River – a Must Visit Place in Seoul

There are a few places in Seoul that are on every must-visit list. Namsan Tower, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Myeongdong, Namdaemun and the Han River to name but a few.

While some of these places aren’t as fantastic as they are made out to be, there are also some which truly are must-visits. The Han River is one of them. Not only is it a place that has a lot of activities, but it is iconic of Seoul and represents a large part of the city’s identity.

For that reason, the Han River is a must-visit location when you visit Seoul.

If you have any questions or have something that you would like to see added to the list, please let me know! I am always looking to add to these lists and update them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *