Seoul Tips: Enjoying Han River Like a Local

Yeouido Park/ Taken by author

Experience: The culture of Han River

Spending time at Han River is a great way to enjoy the views of Seoul and relax within the city. Whether its bike riding, walking, food stalls, a picnic, convenience stores, or fried chicken restaurants, Han River have something for everyone. The most popular parks along the river are Yeouido, Ttukseom and Banpo, where you can experience all of these.

These parks in particular are very popular among Korean university students, as going to Han River is a very typical part of Korean university life. So, to make the most of your student life in Korea and experience typical Korean university life, going to one of the Han River parks is an essential experience!

For those learning Korean, you can also practice at Han River, whether it’s ordering food or interacting stall workers,  there are plenty of chances to do so!

So, to make the most of your time at Han River, and to experience it like a local student, we’ve put together some of the best things to do there and how to navigate them!

Biking

Han River is lined with designated walking and bike trails for everyone to enjoy. From Ahjusshis that speed through, to tourists that slowly enjoy the views on the trail, you can see everyone. There is plenty of possible sight-seeing also, as the Han River bicycle trail is the longest biking trail in Korea, stretching a total of 240km. You can find this trail by searching 한강자전거길/ Hangang Bicycle Path on Naver or Kakao Maps.

Luckily, joining in this aspect of the Han River experience is made easy and affordable with Seoul Bike (called 따릉이 in Korean). The service is available in Korean, English, Chinese, and Japanese. This bike rental service can be accessed online or through their mobile application (Seoul Bike or 따릉이 on any application store). It displays real-time information of where bikes are available to rent on their map. The bike stations are spread all throughout Seoul, including near Han River, making it possible to enjoy riding all along the river!

How to use Seoul Bike:

Once you have found an available bike, simply go on the application or website and purchase one of the pass options. When the payment if complete you will be given a number code which you can then enter on the bike’s screen. This will unlock the bike and you’ll be free to go! When returning the bike, it isn’t necessary to return it to the same place, just another Seoul Bike station.

Seoul Bike’s price range:

  • 1 Hour – 1,000 Won
  • 2 Hours – 2,000 Won
  • 1 Day – 5,000 Won
Bike riding along Han River/ Taken by author

Do you enjoy cycling? Check out this post for more information about the cycling culture in Korea.

Han River’s food culture

Food is very important in Korean culture and eating at Han River is no exception to this.

When stepping out of the station (or when coming close to the park) you will be met by a sea of Ahjumas handing out flyers for 치킨 (fried chicken) delivery restaurants which you can call. Ordering through these flyers can be a great way to practice some Korean Language skills and learn some basic vocabulary also!

Conveniently, if you do order food to Yeouido or Ttukseom Park, there are designated delivery stations where you can collect your food from the delivery driver. These are called ‘배달 존’ (Delivery Zone), which are easily viewable on Naver and Kakao Maps. So, when ordering food over the phone or through a delivery app you can select these as your pickup location and the delivery driver will know exactly where to meet you.

For those who can’t order food in Korean, typically there will always be a fried chicken take-out store with an English menu to order from. There are also many convenience stores along Han River, and a visit to them is a must do experience! Making instant ramen is also a classic (and budget friendly) part of Han River culture, which you can do at every Han River convenience store’s ramen stations.  So, whether you order fried chicken or make instant ramen, you get to experience a piece of Han River culture.

Chicken & ramen / Taken by author

Additionally, drinking is a huge part of the Han River experience. So, along with ordering some fried chicken, or when making instant ramen you best buy some beer too. Especially when ordering fried chicken, so you can get that ‘chicken & beer’, ‘치맥’ (치킨 맥주) experience.

Interesting in knowing more about drinking in Korea? Check out our Korean drinking etiquette and games post.  

How to make the most of the picnic atmosphere

Along with Ahjumas handing out food flyers outside the station, there will also be Ahjumas inviting you to rent out picnic gear from their store.

Prices vary between 2,000 – 10,000 Won (Plus a deposit fee to ensure you return the gear). For 2,000 Won you will get a small picnic rug, whereas 10,000 Won will get you a rug, table, and decorations. Renting picnic decorations is a growing trend for Han River picnic goers, especially Korean university students, so it’s a great way to get a feeling of the Han River experience and enjoy it as local students do!

Events

Autumn is the prime time to enjoy what Han River has to offer in terms of events. The pandemic had put a halt to many of these events, but some have made a return.

These include:

  • Hangang Moonlight Market: a food market running every Friday & Saturday night from September at Banpo Park.
  • Seoul International fireworks festival: a firework festival that can be viewed all along Han River, that takes place annually in October.
  • Banpo Moonlight Rainbow Fountain: is a light show along Banpo Bridge which runs from April – October
Banpo Bridge, Banpo Moonlight Rainbow Fountain / Taken by author

Access to Han River Parks

  • Yeouido Park: Yeouinaru Station (Subway Line 5) Exit 2 or 3 (Less than a 5-minute walk)
  • Ttukseom Park: Ttukseom Park Station (Subway Line 7) Exit 2 or 3 (Less than a 5-minute walk)
  • Banpo Park: Express Bus Terminal Station (Subway Line 3,7,9) Exit 8-1 (20-minute walk)
  • Banpo Hangang Park (Blue Bus 405, 740) (Less than a 5-minute walk)
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Emily Castles

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