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A Hangang River Cruise Through Seoul

Recent Posts, Posted by Matt in ALL DESTINATIONS,Nature,Seoul,Transportation, 15 Comments

A Hangang River Cruise Through Seoul


If you’re looking for something different, a Hangang river cruise through Seoul is a unique way to view the city. Surely anyone who has visited Seoul knows of the wide and mighty Hangang (한강). From its modest origins atop two mountains, one in South Korea and the other in the North, the Hangang winds along peacefully for over 500 kilometers before passing through Seoul on its way into the West Sea (or Yellow Sea).


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Despite being over one kilometer wide in places, the shallow Hangang isn’t fit for deep-hulled boats, which limits its navigation to flat-bottomed barges and pleasure craft. Fortunately, since 1986, a small fleet of cruise ships operated by the C& Hangang Land company has ferried passengers on a Hangang river cruise through Seoul on one-way and roundtrip tours from seven docks.

Seeing Seoul from its main artery is a great way to get your bearings in such a huge city. My friend and I took the cruise from Jamsil dock, in southeast Seoul to the wharf on Yeouido island (여의도) in the west. Along the way, you’ll no doubt see numerous landmarks, including the main stadium from the 1988 Olympic Summer Games, and neighborhoods like Apgujeong-dong and Hannam-dong.

Something you should know before boarding a Hangang river cruise through Seoul is the obvious – this isn’t Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor! That is to say, this cruise is more peaceful or romantic than thrilling. With the notable exception of Yeouido, most of Seoul’s dramatic skyline was built a ways from the riverfront, due to flooding concerns in the past.

From Hangang river (한강)

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Despite the lack of copious skyscrapers, a highlight to any Hangang river cruise through Seoul is passing under many of the city’s 27 bridges. In fact, anyone who’s taken a cruise of late has enjoyed the colorful fruits of a just completed, 3-year project.

From Hangang river (한강)

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Since 2006, Seoul City has worked with lighting designers to create new illumination systems for the bridges that span the river. The result is a diverse array of bright and beautiful pieces of light art that paint not just the bridges, but the surrounding river as well in a colorful glow. On our tour, we saw “White Sea” and “Korea in the World,” the titles of the displays on the Hangang (한강대교) and Dongho (동호대교) bridges, respectively.

From Hangang river (한강)

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To conserve energy, only half of the bridges are illuminated at any one time, and low-wattage, energy-efficient bulbs and cold cathode lamps were installed. In fact, the daily cost for illuminating a bridge is just 33,000 won, or about 25-bucks. In addition to the standard sightseeing cruises, the boats can also be chartered for special events and parties. There’s an especially tacky “Pirates of the Caribbean”-themed boat, if that’s your thing.

From Hangang river (한강)

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But whichever route you choose, here are a couple of tips: Although you’ll probably also want to spend part of your cruise on the decks outside of the cabin, when you board the boat, make a beeline for one of four seats located on the top deck at the ship’s bow. Also, although night cruises are popular, why not take a daylight cruise? The afternoon sailings also afford great views and a refreshing breeze on these hot summer days. And finally, if you’d prefer to see the Hangang from the seat of a bike, check out this article about a bicycle tour of Yeouido (여의도)  and Seonyudo (선유도) islands..
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15 Comments

26 September 2009 03:33

Hui Suk Jones

Could you explain to me how to get the Han River Cruise?

Thank you!

11 February 2010 06:03

Celebrating Seollal in Seoul | Discovering Korea

[...] including the Korean War Memorial, the 63 Building [video], COEX Aquarium, N Seoul Tower and the Hangang River Ferry Cruise [video]. The Seodaemun Prison History Museum will be closed on the 14th. The major amusement parks – [...]

26 November 2010 22:49

Discovering Korea – Cruising the Hangang

[...] water’s traffic. Add to that the occasional water skier, banana boat riders and, of course, the Hangang pleasure boat cruises that slowly ply their way along the [...]

21 December 2010 10:59

Ian

Can you tell me if the buffet cruise runs on Christmas day? Do you need to make reservations (if so where and when)? Is the cruise worth it?

thanks for your help and speedy response.

21 January 2011 14:30

dwi

thank ypu matt for the info …am going on the 13th may ..hopefully its gonna be a wonderfull trip over there …

15 November 2011 16:15

jacq

thanks matt for the info, its great to know about the cruise.
wonder when you get off at Yeouido Island, is there any interesting agenda that i should not missed?

December 22 2011 02:09 am

Matt

Yeouido has a lot of great sites, especially natural ones. For example, the Hangang Park on Yeouido is really nice (though better during the warmer months!) and the island's other side has the Saetgang Ecological Park, which is a more wild type of park. The island itself is famous for the tall tower - the 63 Building. Inside it are lots of attractions, including an aquarium, IMAX theater, restaurants and a viewing level up top with great views. There's also the National Assembly Building on the island's west end, which offers tours. Hope that gets you started!

Best,
Matt

24 March 2012 10:41

Dr Arthur Swan

We watched a Korean film last night which featured the Han river. We were impressed and have been loooking up the geography and history of the area.

Very impressive. We might visit later.

March 26 2012 11:05 am

Matt

Hello Dr. Swan,
So glad to hear of your interest to visit and hope you do so soon.

Best,
Matt

12 April 2012 12:40

adhot

hi matt, im so thankful for all your posts about Korea.. very informative and appealing, thanks!

10 January 2014 19:21

Ally

Hi Matt, do you know if we can dock off at Banpo Bridge?

January 15 2014 14:47 pm

Matt

Hi Ally,

If you mean can you tie up on the bridge, I suspect not. If you find out differently, can you let me know? Thanks!
Best, Matt

22 March 2014 22:47

Lyn Reyes

does the han river cruise (yeouido to yeouido) offer lunch menu?

March 31 2014 02:57 am

Matt

Hi Lyn,
No, I don't think there is a meal service onboard. However, you can buy snacks and (I think) fried chicken at the Yeouido wharf.

Best, Matt

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