The Cheonggyecheon Stream in Seoul is a downtown waterway that is over 5 miles in length. It was the focus of a massive urban redevelopment in 2005 at a cost of $900m. The stream is now a hotspot in Seoul for locals and tourists alike. All of the Cheonggyecheon district was once paved with concrete roads and an elevated highway until this green redevelopment.
I walked to the Cheonggyecheon Stream from my hotel in Myeongdong, which was a nice stroll in the autumn weather, taking around 20 minutes. There is always entertainment at the start of the stream, with street performers and local art on display, not only on the walls, but also staged on the stream itself.
The stream has fairly well manicured greenery in the vicinity. What I like most, though, was the various fountains on display, which added to the calming atmosphere of the area. Most cities in Asia have gardens to escape the concrete jungle, and in Seoul there is an added 5.2 mile pedestrian walkway alongside this Cheonggyecheon Stream. I walked the Cheonggyecheon from the beginning to Dongdaemum Market.
As the stream is located well beneath the surface of the road – almost like a subterranean ‘cut and cover’ metro line – it adds to the peacefulness of the surroundings. It is not possible to hear traffic noise along here. In fact, I only heard the sound of the water and the occasional swan! It is no surprise this is a hotspot for Seoulites for all ages; I can imagine the young coming here for a romantic evening, and the old coming here to enjoy a spot of air.
Apparently, it is considered acceptable to remove your shoes and dip your feet in the stream. However, it is not deep enough in which to swim, being only around knee-deep to an adult as far as I could tell. During lantern festivals and other such special occasions, it would be nice to join others in wading along portions of the Cheonggyecheon.