Day 3 (night) in South Korea: Banpo Bridge

We took line 4 northwards from Seoul Grand Park station to arrive at Dongjak station. There is a cafe on Dongjak bridge that, according to travel bloggers, gives good views of Banpo bridge and its Moonlight Rainbow Fountain Show, a light and water fountain show that occurs at half-hour intervals every night (starting from 7.30pm on weekends, and 8pm on weekdays)!

 

The cafe in question is Gureum Cafe, or Cloud Cafe. Take Exit 1 from Dongjak station, turn left and head straight to the stairs that look like these:

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Climb up, and find yourself on Dongjak bridge. Advance a little more and before long, the Han river comes into view and the iconic structure that is Gureum Cafe greets you. It’s actually one of nine similar-looking lookout cafes perched atop bridges spanning the Han river, and the curved windows are designed to provide an immersive view of the river.

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We entered and chose seats overlooking the Han river, as well as the Banpodaegyo (daegyo means great bridge; in Chinese it’s da qiao), and took a look at the menu. The items were rather pricey in our opinion; the cheapest was a drink at 9,000 won. In the end, we decided to share a 219Margherita pizza, which at 19,000 won tragically blew a hole in our wallets and wrecked our budget.

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We started eating while the first of the shows started. It was more of a water fountain show, as the sky was still bright then, despite it being 7.30pm (days are long in summer!), and Banpodaegyo failed to light up in a spectrum of colours. The pizza was bland and tasted mostly cheesy; we didn’t think it was worth paying 19,000 won for. What stood out for us instead was the pickled radish side dish that the pizza came with – right amount of crunch and bursting with flavour. Koreans do love their side dishes and at moments like these, they end up overshadowing the main dish.

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At approximately 8pm, the lights suddenly dimmed, lending an air of romance to the cafe and allowing a clearer view of the lights on the bridge. That was when we noticed these lights in various wire shapes. Circles, stars, cuboids, diamonds, and more – they were a nice touch! Clara snapped a photo, and you can check it out below!

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We felt strange that there didn’t seem to be a rainbow fountain show at 8pm, but thought they might have skipped it, as the sky was not completely dark then, and awaited the 8.30pm show. Soon, it was 8.30pm, and yet, still no rainbow fountain to be seen. Puzzled, we wondered if an entire night of shows have been cancelled altogether, perhaps owing to bad weather. Nevertheless, we continued shooting the bridge, already illuminated by default.

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Concerned that the reflective glass was hampering our ability to view the show, we asked if we could go up to the rooftop, and were granted permission on condition that food was not consumed upstairs (which was fine, as we have finished our pizza). The rooftop did give a clear and unobstructed view of Banpodaegyo, but as 9pm came and went, we could not notice anything different. It was only after zooming into our photos of the bridge did we realise that the rainbow fountain show did happen – we were just too far from it to notice it did!

For this reason alone, we would not recommend coming to Gureum Cafe just to catch the show, although it does offer magnificent views of Dongjak bridge and N Seoul Tower – that’s where the featured image on the very first post was taken!

There was no room for disappointment however, as we needed to get back to our guesthouse, get some sleep for the night, and get up early the next morning to catch the KTX to Busan!

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