Seoul Sights – Cheonggyecheon

In Korea by Jaclynn Seah0 Comments

Happy Friday people! Yes I’m still prolonging my holiday mood a good month after my Seoul trip… Here’s a post to take you into the weekend, and do check out my friend Anch’s blog Type: Seoul for all things Korean! The lucky duck has stayed there for a little bit and has pretty helpful tips for anyone who’s headed that way… do look out for an upcoming guest post from her in the near future!

And don’t forget to check out TOTshop down at Zouk Flea & Easy this Sunday 14/8 from 2-7pm! And if you miss it this weekend, keep your eyes peeled for next Saturday where TOTshop will be out and about again… stay tuned!

Seoul is a city very much like Singapore and other metropolis – tall buildings, jam-packed traffic, a sea of people… but running through the middle of Seoul, from Seoul City Hall to Beodeul is the Cheonggyecheon, or the Cheonggye river, and unlike Singapore’s ‘rivers’ which are more like canals and drains, the Cheonggyecheon is a little piece of nature smack in the center of Seoul.

Cheonggyecheon in summer

I managed to walk quite a significant length of the river over the course of my trip, different portions at different times. It seems a bit impossible that you’re still in the city when you’re walking along the river – the river is one level below the street level and accessible by stairs at various points along the river, and somehow when you’re down there the sounds just melt away and all you hear is the sound of running water.

Sticking my feet in the water and hiding under the bridge

The water of the river is also remarkably clear and clean and it’s so inviting, especially in the summer heat, which is precisely what I (and many other Koreans too!) did. After all that walking you do, it’s pretty awesome to hide in the shade of the many bridges, kick off your shoes and stick your feet into the clean clear water.

One of many crossing points

The Cheonggyecheon is such a fun place to be! You can walk the paths on either side of the river, and if you feel like it, you can hop over to the other side with many strategically placed rocks throughout the length of the river. Artworks line the walls of the river at various points, there’s a fountain at the Dongdaemun end and at one point there’s even a mini underground gallery with photographs of the Cheonggyecheon.

It’s kinda amazing that this river was once polluted and covered up by an expressway! Though it was much contested at that time, sinking some money into sprucing up the river was a great idea as it has now become such an iconic feature in Seoul and is much loved by the city, with families and couples and tourists alike walking the banks, catching a breather in the midst of a hot summer day.

Here’s a little visual tour of my favourite bits of the Cheonggyecheon below. If you don’t have the time to walk all of it, there are 8 prominent landmarks that you’re recommended to see known as the Cheonggye 8 Views ( I saw half of them). I’ve linked to some articles at iTour Seoul so you can read a bit more about them:

  1. Cheonggye plaza
  2. Gwangtonggyo Bridge
  3. The Banchado of King Jeongjo (Tile Painting) between Jangtonggyo & Samilgyo Bridge
  4. The Fashion Square (Wall of Culture)
  5. Historic Laundry Site <– women used to do their laundry here back in the day
  6. The Wall of Hope between Hwanghakgyo & Biudanggyo Bridge <– 20,000 tiles, woah
  7. The Old Expressway Ruins/Tunnel Fountain <– The tunnel fountain sounds nice!
  8. Beodeul Wetland <– I didn’t venture so far, but it sounds awesome!

This shell-shaped structure is called 'The Spring', designed by a Swedish guy and stands at Cheonggye plaza. (it looks like it would make an awesome slide!)

The most traditional bridge, Gwangtonggyo, on the left, leading towards the Mojeongyo bridge on the right, where we spotted a K-pop group filming an MTV, complete with fake crowd, a couple of human statues and lots of lip syncing. No idea if they were famous though!

Added: Amazingly, I found out what they were shooting! It was a tourism ad for Seoul! Check out the short clip at below:

Hopping over one of many crossings in the Cheongyecheon

The Gwanggyo gallery under the Gwanggyo bridge with a whole bunch of beautiful photos of the Cheonggyecheon

This mural of the olden King's procession (The Banchado of King Jeongjo) is between Samilgyo bridge and Jangtonggyo bridge and is veryyyyyyyyy long. It's also accompanied by a tape recording of drums and pipes playing, making for a real 360 art experience!

There are paths on both sides of the river and they're not always identical, so if you get bored, just cross over to the other side

Gosa fountain at Dongdaemun in the evening - Pyounghwa clothing market is on the left. You can see a part of the wall of culture on the right, but because I only came here at night so I didn't take a decent picture to put up here

Cheonggyecheon in the Dongdaemun area by night. The bridges are lit up and if you're in the right spots, you get a light and fountain show too!

Tourist Info:

Head down to the river any time!

You can sign up for walking tours with official tour guides though, check it out here

Getting There:

It’s such a long stretch of river cutting right through Seoul, so there are plenty of ways to get there!

Here‘s a convenient map of the Cheonggyecheon.

Here are the subway stops which are close by:

  • Line 1 runs parallel to the river on its north side
    • Jonggak Station
    • Jongno 3-ga station (line 3)
    • Jongno 5-ga station
    • Dongdaemun station (line 4)
    • Dongmyo station (line 6)
    • Sinseoldong station
    • Jegidong station
  • Line 2 runs parallel to the river on its south side
    • Euljiro 1-ga station
    • Euljiro 3-ga station (line 3)
    • Euljiro 4-ga station (line 5)
    • Dongdaemun Stadium station
    • Sangwangshipri station

Around the area:

Major landmarks or areas within walking distance:

  • Gwanghwamun Plaza and Gyeongbokgung (Cheongye Plaza)
  • Jogyesa and Insadong
  • Changdeokgung
  • Gwangjang market
  • Dongdaemun (Fashion Square/Wall of Culture/Historic Laundry Site)
  • Seoul Folk Flea Market (Wall of Hope/Tunnel Fountain/Bridge Posts)

Leave a Comment