Strolling along the Cheonggyecheon 청계천 – the urban river of Seoul

Seoul is a city that reminds me very much of Singapore – tall buildings, jam-packed traffic, a sea of people moving through it. But right in the city centre running from Seoul City Hall to Beodeul is the Cheonggyecheon, or the Cheonggye river, and I spent many an hour just sitting along side this little river that cuts right through the urban city.

Seoul Cheonggyecheon View Crossings
Seoul Cheonggyecheon View Crossings

Once upon a time the Cheonggyecheong was super polluted and covered up by an expressway and almost forgotten. Though it was much contested at that time, the city decided to sink some money into sprucing up the river into a community and green space, and it has become quite a well-loved feature of the city. I saw families and couples and tourists alike walking along the banks, catching a breather in the midst of a hot summer day.

The water of the Cheonggyecheong today is pretty clear and clean and so inviting, especially in the summer heat. I couldn’t resist kicking off my shoes and sticking my feet in the water, hiding underneath the shade of the many bridges, or hopping over the various man-made pebble bridges like a hyperactive kid.

Seoul Cheonggyecheon Fountain
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,

Besides lovely landscaping, you can also find art lining the river banks at various points. There is a fountain at the Dongdaemun end and at one point there’s even a mini underground gallery with photographs of the Cheonggyecheon.

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!
Seoul Cheonggyecheon The Spring
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.
Seoul Cheonggyecheon Gwangtongyo Bridge
The traditional Gwangtonggyo Bridge or Daegwangtonggyo – some of these stones are from the 1400s!
Seoul Cheonggyecheon Tourism Ad Shoot
I was wondering what this weird scene was with people dancing around and lip syncing, and later managed to find out on google that it was a Seoul Tourism Ad! Sadly you can’t see the youtube clip anymore, but watching people film stuff is always hilarious
Seoul Cheonggyecheon River Rocks
A fun little crossing
Seoul Cheonggyecheon Art Mosaic
This is a very small portion of the mural of the olden King’s procession (The Banchado of King Jeongjo) between Samilgyo bridge and Jangtonggyo bridge – it is veryyyyyyyyy long. It’s also accompanied by a tape recording of drums and pipes playing, making for a real 360 art experience

How to get to the Cheonggyecheon

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)

Read more of my posts on Seoul, or check out other parts of South Korea to visit.

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