The Cheonggyecheon

Cheonggyecheon is not just a waterway that crosses Seoul it's a symbol of resilience and modernity. The nearly 11-kilometre-long artificial river, which meanders through the heart of the South Korean capital, offers a haven of peace away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Restored and reopened to the public in 2005 after decades spent under a freeway, it is now one of the city's major attractions, rich in history, culture and varied activities.

The fascinating history of Cheonggyecheon

Cheonggyecheon is a striking example of urban transformation. Originally a natural watercourse, the river was progressively covered over during the 1950s and 1960s to make way for road infrastructure, responding to the city's rapid expansion and increasing traffic. It was only in the early 2000s that the Seoul government initiated an ambitious restoration project aimed at restoring the river to its original form as part of a vast urban revitalization program.

This renaturation project, which cost over $900 million, has not only brought the river back to life, but has also transformed the adjacent neighborhoods into pedestrian zones popular with locals and tourists alike. The story of Cheonggyecheon is a testament to Seoul's ability to marry heritage conservation with urban innovation.

What to do in Cheonggyecheon

Walks and Relaxation The walk along Cheonggyecheon is a must for anyone visiting Seoul. Lined with pedestrian walkways and punctuated by over twenty bridges, it offers a pleasant and accessible route for all. Visitors can admire the works of public art, waterfall walls and fountains, which enliven the route all year round.

Cultural Events and Festivals Cheonggyecheon: Cheonggyecheon is the scene of many cultural events, especially during traditional festivals such as the Seoul Lantern Festival, when thousands of lanterns light up the river, creating a magical spectacle.

Recommended routes along the Cheonggyecheon River

To discover the Cheonggyecheon, there's nothing better than to start at the river's starting point, near the square. Gwanghwamunand follow its course all the way to its mouth in the Han River. This itinerary allows you to discover different aspects of Seoul, from its historic districts to its modern areas.

  1. From Gwanghwamun to Dongdaemun This section of the promenade passes through several historic districts and offers breathtaking views of historic sites such as Gyeongbokgung Palace and Insa-dong, famous for its art galleries and antique stores.

  2. From Dongdaemun to Majang-dong Majang: Continuing eastwards, the walk becomes quieter. Visitors can discover the Majang market, renowned for its fresh meat and seafood.

Major points of interest around Cheonggyecheon

Dongdaemun Market Dongdaemun: Located in the immediate vicinity of Cheonggyecheon, Dongdaemun is Asia's largest textile market. It's a shopper's paradise, offering an impressive variety of clothes, jewelry and accessories.

Seoul Museum of Art The Cheonggyecheon Museum: This museum, located not far from the Cheonggyecheon spring, is a must for contemporary art lovers. Its temporary and permanent exhibitions feature both Korean and international artists.

Gyeongbokgung Palace The Cheonggyecheon Palace: Although slightly set back from the course of the Cheonggyecheon, this historic palace is easily accessible from the river and offers a fascinating insight into Korean architecture and history.

Cheonggyecheon is a veritable artery of life running through the heart of Seoul, offering residents and visitors alike a unique space where nature and urbanism coexist harmoniously. This exemplary restoration project has not only revitalized a once-neglected area of the city, but has also served as a model for similar initiatives around the world, demonstrating the positive impact of sustainable urban development.


The Cheonggyecheon River is accessible 24 hours a day, but the best times to visit are early morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds. The evening is also a magical time to enjoy the lantern lighting and light installations along the river.
Yes, Cheonggyecheon hosts a variety of events and festivals throughout the year. The Seoul Lantern Festival, usually held in November, is particularly popular. Visitors can also enjoy art performances, temporary installations and seasonal markets that regularly take place along the river.
No, swimming is not permitted in the Cheonggyecheon. The river is intended for walking and recreational activities along its banks, but swimming is prohibited for reasons of safety and cleanliness.
Yes, Cheonggyecheon is accessible to people with reduced mobility. There are well-maintained ramps and paths along the river, allowing easy access for all.
No, access to Cheonggyecheon is totally free. Visitors can explore the river and its surroundings without paying an entrance fee.
It takes around two to three hours to cover the entire 11-kilometre route if you take a continuous walk.

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Where is Cheonggyecheon located?

The Cheonggyecheon is located in the heart of Seoul, the capital of South Korea. This man-made waterway crosses the city center from west to east, starting near Gwanghwamun Square and flowing into the Han River. The area around Cheonggyecheon is highly accessible, with numerous subway stations nearby, making it an easy-to-reach central point for residents and visitors to the city.

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