Seoul continues to establish itself as one of Asia’s most modern and innovative cities. With cutting-edge initiatives ranging from high-tech public transit to creative urban projects, the metropolitan government ensures Seoul offers forward-looking and convenient infrastructure. One highly anticipated 2024 development is the Seoul River Bus Service on the Han River.
This river boat service in Seoul will allow easier access to riverside destinations for locals and tourists alike, helping them get between some of the most popular destinations in Seoul, such as Yeouido and Jamsil (home of the Lotte World Tower). Seoul’s river bus service will allow people to cross the city’s mighty Han River, which is currently a hassle to do, with ease and speed.
The Seoul river bus service hasn’t started yet, and some of the details in this article may change by the time it launches in October 2024. I will continue to update this article before and after the river boat in Seoul begins operation so you have the most up to date information available. Read on to discover more about Seoul’s latest innovation, which prioritises accessibility, sustainability, and tourism needs.
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What Is The Seoul River Bus Service?
The Seoul river bus service is an innovative new river-based transportation service being launched by the Seoul government to promote sustainability as well as tourism and accessibility around the Han River area. It will allow people to travel between various destinations on the Han River for a small fee and save time and effort vs. current methods of travelling between Han River locations.
There will be a total of 8 eco-friendly vehicles to carry up to 199 passengers, bicycles, and wheelchairs at a time along the length of the Han River in central Seoul. The boats will move at 17 knots (31 km/h), which will make them faster than rush-hour traffic. It will run from Magok in the west of the city (close to Gimpo Airport) to Jamsil in the east – home of the Lotte World Tower and Seokchon Lake.
Seoul Mayor Oh Se-Hoon stated the electric vessels will offer a climate-friendly transit option for 2.5 million citizens and visitors alike by 2030. He envisions the service as both a practical mobility solution and tourism draw, showcasing the innovative attractions of Seoul while addressing environmental issues through green transportation infrastructure enhancements along the iconic river.
When Will The Seoul River Bus Service Begin?
The metropolitan government has stated that the Seoul river bus service will begin in October 2024, as long as the construction of river bus terminals meets the expected schedule. The service will connect seven terminals along the Han River at first, but could be expanded to other parts of the city at later dates. I will add updates about extensions to this article when announced.
What Hours Does The Seoul River Bus Run?
The river bus service will run during the following hours:
- Weekdays: from 6:30am until 10:30pm
- Weekends: from 9:30am until 10:30pm
- Holidays: from 9:30am until 10:30pm
The earlier hours during the week are to allow commuters to travel along the river instead of using congested road and public transportation routes. This should make travelling in Seoul during rush hour less stressful (it’s really busy now) and save commuters a lot of time in some situations.
How Often Will The River Boat In Seoul Operate?
The river boat in Seoul will run at different frequencies depending on the time of day and week:
- Weekdays (Rush Hour): 15 minute intervals (6:30am to 9:00am & 6:00pm to 8:30pm)
- Weekdays (Other Times): 30 minute intervals
- Weekends (All Times): 30 minute intervals
- Express Service: 16 times during commuting hours
The Seoul river bus service takes up to 75 minutes to travel the full route between Magok and Jamsil, or 54 minutes between these two destinations if you use the express service that only stops at Magok, Yeouido, and Jamsil.
What Are The Seoul River Bus Stops?
The Seoul river bus service will stop at the following locations (as shown from left to right in the map image above) along the Han River:
You can see these destinations with this Seoul River Bus Locations Map from Google Maps. These destinations were chosen based on a number of factors and provide services to residential, commercial and tourist areas. The most popular areas for tourists on the Han River are Mangwon, Yeouido, and Ttukseom, but each area has attractions and services that travellers are likely to travel to.
What Can You See Near These Stops?
As mentioned, the most popular stops on the river bus in Seoul for tourists are Mangwon, Yeouido, and Ttukseom, as these stops are home to popular Han River parks and other tourist attractions. If you’re planning to ride the Seoul river bus service when you visit Seoul, this table shows you some of the key attractions and areas you’ll find near each stop. This will help you plan your Seoul itinerary.
|River Bus Terminal
|What To See & Do Nearby
|Gimpo Airport for internal flights in Korea. Seoul Botanic Garden & Wetland. Gangnseo Marsh Ecological Wetland. Gangseo Hangang River Park.
|Seoul Battleship Park. World Cup Stadium. Haneul Sky Park. Oil Tank Culture Park.
|Yeouido Hangang River Park (Seoul cherry blossom hotspot). 63 Building (observatory & aquarium). National Assembly. Han River Cruise. Various festivals throughout the year.
|Banpo Rainbow Fountain Bridge. Banpo Hangang River Park. Seoul Wave Art Centre. Provides access to Gangnam area.
|Dalmaji Park & Peak. Seoul Forest Park (across the river). Eungbongsan Pavilion & Viewing Point. Provides access to Itaewon.
|Ttukseom Hangang River Park. Common Ground. Home to sledding in winter and swimming pools in summer. Provides access to Seongsu-dong.
|Lotte World Tower (Seoul Sky Observatory). Lotte World Adventure. Seokchon Lake. Jamsil Sports Complex. Olympic Park.
Future Terminals On The Han River Boat Service
Besides the original 7 stops on the Seoul river bus service, the city government has announced plans to add more destinations to help increase convenience for commuters and to make Seoul more attractive for tourists. The line might extend past Magok to the Gimpo Ara Han River dock, which is close to Gimpo Airport hotels and duty free shops. There may also be more stops between terminals.
As well as the river bus, the Seoul government has a number of other future attractions in the works, such as the world’s first twin ferris wheel and an aerial gondola connecting various cultural and tourist hotspots along the river. These are part of Seoul mayor Oh Se-Hoon’s “Great Han River Project Plan” that will transform the capital’s riverside area in the next few years.
How Much Does The Seoul River Boat Cost?
The Seoul river boat service will cost ₩3,000 (about $2.25) per ride, which is more expensive than the current price of subway rides and bus rides in the capital, but offers a convenient method of crossing the river which will certainly save a lot of time. You should be able to use transportation cards such as the T-Money Card to pay for the rides, although this is still to be confirmed.
Seoul’s public transportation network currently allows free transfers between buses and subways within 30 minutes, as long as you touch out with your transportation card when leaving the bus or subway. It hasn’t been confirmed whether the Seoul river bus service will also feature free or discounted transfers between journeys with other methods of public transportation.
How To Get Discounted River Boat Rides In Seoul
As part of the Seoul government’s push to reduce commuting costs and encourage people to use more public transportation, people with a Seoul Climate Card will also be able to ride on the Han River boat service for free. The Climate Card, which launched in January 2024, offers unlimited public transportation within the city for a monthly fee starting at ₩62,000.
What To See And Do On The Han River
The Han River offers an abundance of attractions for visitors to Seoul to enjoy. Travellers can explore lengthy riverside parks perfect for cycling, jogging or leisurely strolls, with scenic stretches like Yeouido Hangang Park and Ttukseom Hangang Park. There are also swimming pools, sports facilities and performance venues situated along the shores, and various festivals throughout the year.
Here are 15 top sights along the Han River in Seoul:
- 1. Yeouido Hangang Park – Popular park with trails, bike paths, and gardens.
- 2. Banpo Hangang Park – Home to the Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain.
- 3. Seoul Forest Park – Huge eco-park with gardens, a zoo, and playgrounds.
- 4. Seoul Wave Art Centre – Riverside Starbucks and artistic destination.
- 5. Sevit Island – Artificial islands with performance venues.
- 6. Nodeul Island – Cultural space with a focus on nature, books, and music.
- 7. Nanji Hangang Park – Peaceful riverside park with tall tree-lined pathways.
- 8. Jamsil Hangang Park – Packed with sports facilities and baseball stadium.
- 9. Ttukseom Hangang Park – Cycling, paddle boats and an outdoor stage.
- 10. Seonyudo Park – Striking architectural pavilion on an island.
- 11. Eungbongsan Mountain – Scenic lookout point that’s popular with couples.
- 12. Ichon Hangang Park – Features sports fields, swimming pools, and a marina.
- 13. Oil Tank Culture Park – Converted fuel tanks into exhibition and event spaces.
- 14. Seoul Battleship Park -Seoul’s first-ever battleship-themed park with real battleships.
- 15. Paradise Casino Walkerhill – Entertainment area near Achasan Bridge and Jamsil.
With so much recreation, entertainment and sightseeing available along the banks of the river, the Han River area promises appealing destinations for any visitor to Seoul, which will only be enhanced with the forthcoming water bus service. The natural scenery, historic landmarks, and wealth of activities offer compelling reasons for travellers to explore this iconic river and its parks.
Han River Night Cruises In Seoul
When the sun goes down, the Han River comes alive with illuminated cruise boats that provide a magical way to see Seoul’s skyline. The Seoul Hangang River Cruise is a popular way to see the sights of Seoul along the river at night. Lasting about an hour, the river cruise brings passengers past the glittering Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain, city landmarks, and picturesque parks after dark.
Gliding gently down the river, the evening cruise allows visitors to view Seoul’s vibrant energy from a unique vantage point amid the glistening reflections of a capital that truly never sleeps. As well as night cruises that show you Seoul’s vibrant city lights under moonlit skies, you can also take a Han River cruise during the day with regular departures daily. Book online or buy tickets on the day.
Other Ways To Get Around The Han River
The Han River encompasses some of the most beautiful parts of Seoul, with 12 riverside parks, attractions, and areas of natural beauty to enjoy throughout the city. Besides taking a river bus in Seoul to see the Han River, here are some other ways you can explore the waterway.
By Bicycle: The Seoul Public Bike rental service provides people the chance to rent bikes and cycle along the long stretches of the river’s edge. Popular areas for cycling are around Yeouido and in Seongsu-dong between Seoul Forest Park and Ttukseom Park and beyond. This is one of the best places to ride a bike in Korea, with 240km of cycle routes along the Han River.
By Foot: Along with cycle paths that run along the Han River’s shore, there are also walking paths in similar areas. The walking path around Yeouido is especially beautiful and home to several spring flower festivals, including one of Seoul’s largest cherry blossom festivals. Walking between the two banks of the river has been hard until the introduction of the river bus in Seoul, which will making exploring easier.
River Cruise: As mentioned, a river cruise is a great way to see the sights of Seoul, both during the day and at night. Even though the new Seoul river bus service might reduce people’s desire to pay for a cruise, the fact that you can travel in peace and pass under the many beautiful bridges at a slow pace will keep the cruise popular.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about the Seoul river bus service. These answers are based on my own experience and from research conducted to write this article. If you have any more questions about this topic, please feel free to post a comment at the end of this article.
When will the Seoul river bus service begin?
The Seoul river bus service is scheduled to begin in October 2024. It will operate river boats for commuters and travellers from 06:30am to 10:30pm on weekdays and 09:30am to 10:30pm on weekends and public holidays.
What’s the best place to visit on the Han River?
The best place to visit on the Han River is Yeouido Hangang Park. Spanning over 2 miles of riverfront, it offers the perfect urban oasis with bike paths through lush gardens, outdoor performance spaces, and sweeping views of Seoul’s skyline.
Where do the Han River night cruises depart From?
The Han River night cruises, operated by Eland, depart from the Eland Cruise Terminal on Yeouido Island in Seoul. The closest subway station is Yeouinaru Station and it takes about 10 minutes to walk from the station to the cruise terminal.
Will the Seoul river bus operate during winter?
The Seoul river bus should operate during winter in Korea, however, the service may be restricted or cancelled at times when the Han River freezes over, which can happen when the weather is very cold.
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