The summer in South Korea can be really hot with its notorious humidity. Although this hot season can be difficult to bear, the Han River offers plenty of activities that you can enjoy safely, despite the COVID-19 situation. This guide will introduce you to a few events and activities that will (hopefully) make your summer days and nights memorable at the Han River.
Hangang Mongddang Summer Festival (July-August)
The Hangang Mongddang Summer Festival is a 31-day long project run by the City of Seoul, aimed to provide a series of events and fun activities at the 11 Han River parks during the summer. A festivalmade possible by the participation of citizens, artists, and local businesses, it attracts more than 10 million people each season. Some events from previous seasons include water fights, waterparks, movies, performances, circuses, yacht festivals, and food festivals.
The 2020 edition of the festival was canceled because of the COVID-19 restrictions. This year, the organizers are working hard to prepare for the festival, but have yet to confirm and announce the 2021 edition officially, depending on the overall pandemic situation. Make sure to constantly check their official website here to keep updated.
The Bamdokkaebi Night Market is a series of night markets in different areas of Seoul where you can eat foods from various international cuisines at food trucks, shop for handmade accessories, gifts, and more while enjoying the Han River atmosphere. Normally, 2 of the 6 markets usually run along the Han River at these locations:
The Bamdokkaebi Night Market was also canceled in 2020, but is hoping to open again this season, having already started preparations. Watch out for news and exact dates and times on their official website here.
Two features to enjoy during the hot summer at Yeouido Hangang Park are the Waterlight Square (Mulbit Gwangjang) and Piano Waterway. On your way from Yeouinaru Subway Station to Yeouido Hangang Park, you will encounter the Piano Waterway, a 415m long strip of running water that leads to Waterlight Square and overlooks the Han River. Here, you can cool off by dunking your feet in the water and playing splash. At night, you can enjoy the Piano Waterway and Waterlight Square shimmer from the installed lights on the water floor and nearby city lights.
Make this trip more enjoyable by attending the Bamdokkaebi Night Market at Yeouido Hangang Park.
Chimaek (치맥 or Chicken and Beer) is one of the most popular menu combinations to order when going to the Han River, either during the day or at night. When entering the parks, many times you will be met with enthusiastic ajummas giving out flyers for restaurants who deliver there, but if you like none of those options, you can also order normally through the food delivery apps.
Pizza, chicken, pasta, burgers, whatever it is you are craving, we assure you it’s more delicious when you have it with a can of beer by the beautiful Han River, together with your friends!
One of the most fun things you can do on the Han River is to go on a River Ferry Cruise. You can visit one of the two E-Land Cruise ferry terminals in Yeouido and Jamsil and choose from several cruise options:
Story Cruise: for admiring the beautiful Han River and its surroundings by day.
Music Cruise: for taking in the city nightscape and the colorful Banpo Rainbow Bridge lights.
Lunch and Dinner BuffetCruise: for cruises which include delicious meals aboard.
Go on the cruise, enjoy the breeze running through your hair, breathe in and relax! It’s also a great option for going on a date with your partner or your friends.
If you think that packaged ramen tastes better than cup ramen, you can make and eat your own packaged ramen at Hangang. Just go to any of the convenience stores nearby the river. Buy the type of packaged ramen you want, pay for it, and take it to the ‘Ramen Machine’ that will boil the ramen for you in a foldable, aluminum foil or paper bowl. There are also eggs, sausages, kimchi, and other add-ons to your ramen for sale. While taking in the night (or even day) view of the Seoul skyline along Hangang, why not try cooking and eating ramen?
You can easily find Sebitseom, the floating islands, when you go to Banpo Hangang Park. These islands have glowing features that change colors, and are also known for being Dr. Helen Cho’s Gene Laboratory in Avengers: Age of Ultron !
Of the three floating structures, Gavit Island offers the Tubester, a circular motor boat for 6 people that you can easily maneuver and enjoy foods and beverages while on the water and watching the beautiful night skyline. Make your summer picnics, parties, or events on the river with your friends and family even more special by riding the Tubester!
For more details about rates and times, check out their English site here.
7. Water Sports
The Han River offers many water sport activities, including yachting, surfboarding, water skiing, dragon boating, parasailing, wakeboarding, and more! Jamwon Hangang Park offers yachting, while you can find water skiing, wakeboarding, and windsurfing at Ttukseom, Jamwon, and Mangwon Hangang Parks! Note that you cannot find all of these water sports at all Hangang Parks, so make sure to find out before getting there!
Zooty Windsurfing and Waterskiing Club (02-444-8229) or Gangpoong (02-446-5077) are two water sports vendors at the Ttukseom Hangang Park.
8. Han River Outdoor Swimming Pools
Another way to fight the humid summer is to jump into the outdoor swimming pools at the Hangang Parks, which usually run throughout the whole season. With a small entrance fee, you get entrance to the pools at Ttukseom, Yeouido, Gwangnaru, Jamwon, Jamsil, Nanji, and Yanghwa Hangang Parks. The picture above is of the swimming pool at Ttukseom.
In 2020, the Seoul Metropolitan Government decided to cancel the opening of these swimming pools because of the COVID-19 situation. Nothing official has been announced regarding these swimming pools for 2021 yet, so stay tuned for updates!
The Rainbow Fountain at Banpo Bridge runs at a length of 1140m, and it was recorded as the longest strip of fountain in the 2008 Guinness Book Records. The fountain shows running every 30 minutes display dancing streams of water shoot out from Banpo Bridge and into Hangang below, accompanied with colorful lights and music.
In addition to the Mulbit Gwangjang Fountain show, there is also the Floating Fountain at Yeouido Hangang Park near the floating stage. This is a multimedia show with colored LED lights, videos, and music.