K: Awwww, I just can’t describe how much I enjoy strolling around Han River with a truly professional Korean tour guide, Jeon.
J: I’m very honored to introduce you to this wonderful place!
K: If you introduce the Han River to someone who hasn’t heard of it, what will you say?
J: The Mekong River plays many roles in Southeast Asia, and the Han River has many roles like Mekong River, especially symbolic meanings. Korea’s rapid economic growth is also called ‘The miracle of the Han River’. Over time, the Han River has become a place of relaxation and romance, culture and happiness for not only Seoul citizens but also Koreans.
K: Is the lake attached to any historical event?
J: In the Three Kingdoms era of the Korean Peninsula, nations fought each other to occupy the Han River basin. The Han River plays a central role in the Korean Peninsula. Now there is a bridge, so you can easily cross it, but in the past there were no bridges, so people had to cross the Han River by boat. Many people exchanged goods, fruits together in this place, and it was also a place where various cultures converged. That's why the Han River has many people's journeys and historical symbols for many years.
K: You remind me of Hoan Kiem Lake or Sword Lake in my hometown Vietnam. It is also attached to a historical legend and it has become the heart of the capital city of Hanoi. If you come to Vietnam, you shouldn’t miss this place either because there are many activities for locals and tourists around the lake.
| Flyboarding/Hoverboarding on the Han River. (Photo: trazy.com)
J: Actually there are various activities that Korean and tourists love to do around the Han River, too. Let me show you! Actually most of the people here look for exercise. There are so many sporting equipment, there are bikes, kickboards, power boards and joggers. There are also emergency – safety devices to help people to exercise comfortably and safely. The area around the exercise facility is surrounded by the Han river and nature, so you can exercise more refreshingly, and joyfully.
K: I wonder if we can do any sports on the river?
J: Because of the river, there are lively water sports here, especially in the summer. You can enjoy wakeboarding, motorboating, surfing, and many other water sports. There is also a duck boat or cruise ship experience program for families. You can see the night view of Seoul on the boat, eat delicious food and have a good night time.
| Riverside bicycle route. (Photo:pinterest)
K: Look! There are a lot of bikers over there.
J: This place is really safe and comfortable to ride. It is safe because there is no way for a car and the pedestrian and bicycle paths are clearly separated. There are many places where you can rent a bicycle and if you download the application, you can automatically rent and return your bicycle with an affordable price 1,000 won ( less than 1 USD) per hour.
K: I think you should suggest me that application.
J: Sure. It is especially touching when I ride a bicycle on a beautiful autumn day.
K: I wonder whether families and friends could go camping overnight here because the area is so large for a barbecue or things like that.
J: Actually most areas in Hangang cannot enter after 11p.m. for safety reasons. However, in certain areas, family and friends can relax and enjoy camping. There are tents and campers available if you make a reservation in advance. Han River Park also hosts a variety of events, especially swimming pools in summer and a skating rink in winter. There are also movies at night.
K: You mean the open air cinema? I began to love this place, Jeon, I wish I could stay here for a whole day. Oh, just kidding, I’d be starving to death.
J: Don’t you worry about that. You’re gonna love the night market. Since the beginning of this year, the ‘Bamdokaebi Night Market’ (Night Goblin Market) has been held in crowded places on the Han River. In particular, this event is held by Seoul city in cooperation with young business people. So all the foods sold are very fresh, varied, and special. Grilled steak with fantastic sauce, chicken seasoned with special recipe sauce, from traditional Korean Food such as Ttokboki, Kimbob, fishcake to foods of various countries.
K: No way, Ttokboki is my favorite!
|Bamdokaebi Night Market in Seoul. (Photo: myhubs.org)
J: Yeah! In addition, each event and each foods are different in different regions, so people really want to walk and run for a day to go to various places to experience. In here, not just selling food, but selling culture. Underground musicians, Indie Singers perform live, or you can make your own handmade products. It is so diverse that it is hard to find what events are going on and what foods are sold. One day is too short!!
K: Really? So how long is enough for me to experience all activities here? It’s hard to say right? But I definitely should come back another time. I wonder what else about Han River that can wow me, Jeon?
J: By the Han River, Seoul is divided into North and South. So several bridges were built between the north and the south. There is a long observation deck café next to the bridge. From the Han River Park under the bridge, take the elevator up to the observatory, and you can see the vivid cloudscape in the morning, and the city night view of Seoul at night. This is a convenience store-style café where you can enjoy not only coffee but also a variety of foods, drinks and alcohol!!!
| Tent city on Han River Park. (Photo: reddit.com)
K: It’s now autumn in Korea, isn’t it? How to enjoy a walk around Han River on a beautiful autumn day like a true Korean, Jeon?
J: Rent a bicycle at the entrance of the Han River Park and enjoy the autumn scenery. If you’re tired a little, stop your bike, go up to the observatory café, have a cool drink and go to the night market. Nature, scenery, culture and people, food and entertainment in the cool autumn weather will make your day so rich.
K: Okay so let’s see who’ll rent a bike first. Runnnn!