Set 16 feet (5 meters) below street level, the pedestrianized Cheonggyecheon stream runs east-west through the South Korean capital and ranks among the city’s best spots for walking and people watching. The 3.6-mile (5.8-kilometer) route through Seoul passes 22 bridges and several art installations and fountains (illuminated at night) along the way.
It’s hard to miss Cheonggyecheon if you’re spending time in Seoul. It’s centrally located and close to numerous attractions, including Deoksugung, Changgyeonggung, and Changdeokgung Palaces; the Insa-dong neighborhood; and Seoul Plaza. Nighttime tours of Seoul often include a stroll along Cheonggyecheon for a chance to see the revitalized stream and cityscape illuminated in colorful lights. If you’re walking on your own, start near Cheonggye Plaza at the western end of the stream.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Cheonggyecheon stream is a must-visit for active travelers, families, and those looking for an escape from the busy city streets.
- Wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking over uneven surfaces.
- Don’t forget to bring sun protection; depending on the time of day, there’s not always much shade along the walkways.
- Strollers are available for rent at the Chenggye Plaza Information Center.
How to Get There
Cheonggyecheon stream is easy to reach on the Seoul subway. Take line 5 to Gwanghwamun Station, or line 1 or 2 to City Hall Station to access Cheonggye Plaza, the western terminus of the stream.
When to Get There
The pathways lining the stream offer a convenient way to explore downtown Seoul on foot, and it’s best to take advantage of spring or autumn weather if you can. In summer, visit the stream in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat, and remember to bundle up in the winter months. Plan to visit at night to see the stream illuminated.
History of Cheonggyecheon
Until its restoration in 2005, Cheonggyecheon was just a neglected waterway hidden beneath an overpass. The regeneration project cost a total of 386 billion won (about 281 million US dollars). The nearby (and free) Cheonggyecheon Museum chronicles the history of the stream and the restoration process with a scale model and period photographs.