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Cheonggyecheon

lantern3During my 2 months stay in Korea, I had my chance to experience Lantern Festival, one of the capital’s flagship events in the month of November. Seoul Lantern Festival 2013 or in korean “서울 등축제 2013” was held on the first day till 17th of November. It is an annual festival where hundreds of lanterns are displayed on the famous Cheonggyecheon Stream.

The festival has been held since 2009 in the month of November yearly and has been one of the most important festivals.

A year before, I was in Korea too when the festival was held, but I failed to see the festival. I went too late to the venue and found out that the lantern lights had been turned off. This year I make sure to come during the lighting hours. This year’s theme is Hanseong Baekje, Dream of One Thousand Years “한성백제 천년의 끔”.  

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The lanterns as seen from the street level

It was around 7PM when my friend and I reached the Cheonggyecheon and there were more than a thousand people crowding the place. We could choose to go down and walk along the stream or saw the lanterns from the street level. So to enjoy the festival fully, we joined the crowds walking along the stream. We entered from the Cheongye Plaza, one of the main gates. For safety reasons, there was only one way walking direction with a few exit gates along the stream.

We still could stop to take pictures as long as we didn’t block the way. And because we walked with thousands more of crowd, there was a bit of human traffic towards the exit gates. The lanterns were beautifully handcrafted by the locals and international artists, and each of them portrayed their own stories.

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Colourful lanterns lit up the underpass wall

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Beautiful right? I amazed on how the lanterns were made. I don’t recommend to go during weekend or last few days of the festival. Go on weekdays and early to avoid too many crowd.

The Lantern Festival 2013 was spectacular and very busy. If you happen to be in Seoul when it is on and you do not mind walking with thousands of others to view the themed lanterns I would recommend it.

Lighting Hours: 17:00 – 23:00

Admission: Free

Website: www.visitseoul.net

How to get there:

  1. Take subway to City Hall Station (Line 1 & 2, dark blue & green line) take exit #4. Walk for 5 minutes. (this route is nearer to Cheonggye Plaza)
  2. Take subway to Gwanghwamun Station (line 5, purple line), take exit #5. Walk for about 5 minutes (this route is nearer to Cheonggye Plaza)
  3. Take subway to Euljiro 1(il)-ga Station (line 2, green line), take exit #2 or #3. Walk for 10 minutes.
  4. Take subway to Jonggak Station (line 1, blue line), take exit #5. Walk for 5 minutes.

Notes:

  • -The venue starts from Cheonggye Plaza and ends before Jongno Station near Insadong.
  • Avoid weekends or the last few days of the festival. The crowd will be crazy.
  • The stream is located within 4 subway lines. Each exit gates are located near the subway exits.
  • Don’t forget to watch your belongings and beware of pickpockets.

Cheonggyecheon Stream 청계천 is one of the most historical places in Seoul. The stream is older than Seoul city itself and used to be a disposal place for wastewater. It then went under a major restoration which completed in 2005.

In my first visit to Seoul, I did not have enough time to visit this place. And although I went to see the lantern festival in November 2013, it was a failure too because I went not during the lighting hours. Only in spring 2013, I succeeded to see the beauty of Cheonggyecheon 청계천.

Cheonggyecheon 청계천 is very accessible as it is located near several subway lines and nearby Insadong, the art street of Seoul. If you walk from Jongno and Insadong, you will pass by these two landmarks.

cheon1Although there are several sights worth for seeing here, I only went to Cheonggye Plaza which is the Cheonggyecheon 청계천s starting point. The Plaza is decorated with colourful lanterns and a spiral sculpture that mark the starting point of the stream.

In contrast to its location in one of most hectic boulevards in Seoul, Cheonggyecheon 청계천 becomes a good place to clear one’s mind. The stream is quiet and serene as it is about 5m below the street level. Over 500,000 people walk alongside daily, alone or together with organised walking tours.

Another special thing that happens in Cheonggyecheon 청계천 is the annual lantern festival. Since 2009 in the month of November, hundreds of lanterns designed by locals and artists, are put up  along the stream to celebrate the annual lantern festival. This is one of the major festivals in the capital where thousands of people will come here and enjoy the walk while looking at the beautifully light-up lanterns. I was lucky to be in town last year and had my chance to experience the worth-going festival (click here to ready my post about the Seoul Lantern Festival 2013).

Cheonggyecheon 청계천 is a great place to visit and hang out with friends, your loved one and your families!

Admission: Free

How to get there:

  1. Take subway to City Hall Station (Line 1 & 2, dark blue & green line) take exit #4. Walk for 5 minutes. (this route is nearer to Cheonggye Plaza)
  2. Take subway to Gwanghwamun Station (line 5, purple line), take exit #5. Walk for about 5 minutes (this route is nearer to Cheonggye Plaza)
  3. Take subway to Euljiro 1(il)-ga Station (line 2, green line), take exit #2 or #3. Walk for 10 minutes.
  4. Take subway to Jonggak Station (line 1, blue line), take exit #5. Walk for 5 minutes.
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