Come March, South Korea will transform into a beautiful pink paradise! Check out the best places to go and things to do during cherry blossom season.
Many think of Japan when it comes to cherry blossom vacations, but it’s not the only country in the region with stunning floral blooms every spring 🌸.
Enter South Korea — the land of K-pop, K-drama, and also cherry blossoms. Blooms last for about 10 days, so you’ll need careful planning and lots of luck to catch the pink hues.
Photo credit: @rawkkim via Unsplash
*Pro-tip: Bookmark this guide for annual updates on the latest forecast in South Korea!
South Korea’s Cherry Blossom 2023 Forecast
Based on historical trends, flowers in South Korea start blooming in late March to April before wilting in early May, depending on the location.
While the official forecast is expected to be released in March, here are some estimated dates based on the 2022 forecast!
*Note: Dates shown on the map are tentative flowering dates, not full bloom dates.
South Korean Cities with the Best Cherry Blossoms
Don’t miss these cities during cherry blossom season!
Cherry blossoms start blooming around 18 March on Jeju Island — the southernmost part of South Korea. If you’re planning to hit a few cities, start from the south and plan your route northward according to the bloom patterns.
Cherry blossoms in Jeju Island. Photo credit: Jeju Tourism Organization
Cherry blossom and Forsythia in Jeju Island’s Seogwipo. Photo credit: Jeju Tourism Organization
Jeju Island is home to a native species of cherry blossom known as the Jeju Flowering Cherry (previously known as King Cherry). With slightly bigger petals than the ubiquitous Yoshino cherry species found in Japan, the Jeju Flowering Cherry was once misidentified as just another Yoshino until the late eighties.
Today, many visitors flock to Jeju Island during the months of spring to witness the blooming of the rarer Jeju native.
Sunrise at Seongsan Ilchulbong peak.
While chasing cherry blossoms, don’t forget to check some unique experiences off your bucket list too — like catching epic sunrises and dolphin spotting!
Best Viewing Spots: Downtown area of Seogwipo, Mt. Hallasan, Jeonnong-ro, Hallim Park, Noksan-ro, Jeonnong-ro cherry blossom street
Getting Around: There are three public bus systems in Jeju Island, and they are all as inconvenient as they are confusing. So unless you have a lot of time in Jeju Island, we’ll recommend you forgo cost-savings and just charter a private car or rent one to save both time and planning.
Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival, Busan. Photo credit: Klook
Bomun Lake in Gyeongju, South Korea. Photo credit: Naver
Samnak Ecological Park. Photo credit: Busan Metropolitan City
The biggest cherry blossom festival in the country would be the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival near Busan. And if you’re travelling around Busan or the southern area of South Korea, there’s also Gyeongju, the old capital of Silla, where you can feast your eyes on cherry blossoms galore.
South Korea is a pretty homogenous country and everywhere seems to be the same after a while, but Busan offers different views as a coastal city. If you’ve had enough of Seoul-searching, hop onto that train to Busan to experience a South Korea unlike any other.
Best Viewing Spots: Hwangnyeongsan Mountain, Dalmaji-gil Road, Macdo Ecological Park, Samnak Ecological Park, Oncheon-cheon, Yeonji Park, Namcheon-dong Cherry Blossom Road, Gyeonghwa Station (in Jinhae), Yeojwacheon Stream (in Jinhae), Bomun Complex (in Gyeongju)
Gyeongju Gyochon Traditional Village.
Getting Around: The Busan Metro system is perhaps the easiest way to get around the city. Ease your navigation around Busan by downloading the handy Busan metro app (Android) or Subway Korea app (iOS) for directions. Busan is also a perfect base for a road trip, with underrated cities like Gyeongju and Daegu less than 3 hours away by car.
*Pro-tip: You can book your car online and pick it up from Gimhae International Airport or your preferred location! But if you want to skip all the fuss, hop on these tours instead.
Tours for cherry blossom season:
– Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival Day/Night Tour (~S$55)
– Jinhae Cherry Blossom Tour from Busan (~S$47)
– Cherry Blossom Hunting Tour from Busan (~S$98)
– Gyeongju Cherry Blossom Festival One day Tour from Busan (~S$66)
– Daegu E-WORLD Land & Spring Cherry Blossom Day Tour (~S$95)
Seokchon Lake Park in Seoul. Photo credit: Korea Tourism Organization
Kyunghee University Seoul in Spring. Photo credit: Pinterest
Come spring, Seoul is dotted pink with cherry trees blooming across the city — perfect for showing off on the ‘gram. For cherry blossom viewing away from the crowds, head to Kyunghee University, which offers impressive neo-classical architecture as a backdrop.
Besides admiring flowers, don’t forget to check out other attractions in Seoul too like Lotte World, Seoul City Wall and of course, shopping along the bustling streets of Myeong-dong and Hongdae.
Best Viewing Spots: Yeoduido Park, Kyunghee University, Seoul Forest, Seoul Grand Park, Seokchon Lake Park
Gapyeong Rail Bike. Photo credit: Klook
But if you think you’re done exploring Seoul, hop on a trip to Nami Island — famous for attractions like the Garden of Morning Calm and Petite France. Opt for the Gapyeong Rail Bike Experience and recreate your own romantic K-drama scene amongst pink flowers.
Getting Around: The city of Seoul is accessible via the Seoul Metro, and we recommend getting the Discover Seoul Pass — which offers discounts to over 100 tourist attractions and also acts as a transportation card.
Tours for cherry blossom season:
– Jinhae Gunhangje Cherry Blossom Festival Day Tour from Seoul (~S$57)
– Cherry Blossom Random Tour (~S$56)
– Pink King Cherry Blossom Tour from Seoul (~S$71)
– Seoul City Tour with Cherry Blossom (~S$93)
– Cherry Blossom Korean Folk Village Tour (~S$104)
– Eden Cherry Blossom Festival & Nami Island & Gangchon Rail Bike Day Tour (~S$61)
Getting Around Seoul (Transport Essentials)
Discover Seoul Pass.
Within Seoul: Public transportation within Seoul is pretty straightforward using just the T-Money card for subways and buses. Alternatively, get the Discover Seoul Pass that gives you free admission to 65 of Seoul’s hottest attractions for a period of 24, 48 or 72 hours, which also doubles up as a rechargeable T-Money card.
Explore South Korea beyond Seoul with the Korail Pass!
Intercity Travels: For longer distances, the Korail Pass is a more value-for-money option. This comes with options for three and five consecutive days as well as flexi two and four days. The latter would be perfect for chasing cherry blossoms across multiple cities in South Korea!
Score Cheap Flights from Singapore to South Korea
From Singapore, there are direct flights to various popular cities in South Korea like Seoul, Busan, and even Jeju! It’ll be peak season, so try and settle those big-ticket items like flights and accommodation early to keep costs low.
If you want more flexibility, many airlines also allow you to change your travel dates for a small fee. Of course, the earlier you decide the better it is as the dates you might want to change might be full or have a surcharge!
South Korea Must-Eats in Spring
1) Fresh King Crab
Enjoy a king crab meal at Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul.
Early spring (around March) is the best time to splurge on King Crabs in South Korea, as they are at their largest and freshest. While they are available almost all year round at Seoul’s Noryangjin Fish Market, the crabs caught off-season are less fleshy.
2) Jjukkumi (쭈꾸미) — Webfoot Octopus
Jjukkumi dish. Photo credit: Timeout
These baby-like octopi aren’t exactly juvenile but are another breed of octopus with shorter tentacles. Jjukkumi can be enjoyed grilled, stir-fried, blanched or cooked in a hotpot. The best time to eat jjukkumi is between March and May as that’s the spawning season!
3) Korean Strawberries
Korean strawberries in a South Korea local market. Photo credit: Sunyshore
Korea boasts one of the sweetest and juiciest strawberries in the world, and you’re in for a treat to the best harvests when you visit in spring. The strawberry season lasts from late winter to early summer (Jan to May), and during those months, many strawberry farms allow visitors to pick their own strawberries at a fee.
Frequently Asked Questions about Cherry Blossoms in South Korea
1) What do locals usually do during the Cherry Blossom season?
Similar to Japan’s Hanami, South Koreans also enjoy “벚꽃 놀이 (beot-ggot nori or flower viewing)” during springtime. This comes hand-in-hand with another activity — springtime picnic!
Public parks and gardens in South Korea will be busier than usual during springtime, whether or not cherry blossom trees are in sight. To South Koreans, springtime picnics are simply get-together time enjoyed with family and friends. Mothers would dress their kids up and even prepare extravagant lunch boxes.
South Korean children’s lunch box. Photo credit: @gnldi1101 via Instagram
Other typical food items Koreans would prepare in their picnic baskets include gimbap, dosirak (Korean lunchbox), gyeran-mari (omelette roll), and even makgeolli rice wine and red wine!
2) What’s a Cherry Blossom festival like in South Korea?
Jinhae Gunhangje Festival (진해군항제)
Cherry blossom festivals in South Korea last from a week to a month and are often hyped up with makeshift markets, street performers and even staged concerts. South Koreans even have a term “봄을 타다 (bom-eul ta da)”, which loosely translates to “ride the spring”, to represent a specific change of mood as spring arrives.
The fanciest cherry blossom festival of all is none other than the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival in Busan. There’s a slow-speed sightseeing “cherry blossom shuttle train” that only operates during the period of the festival, and visitors can also expect fireworks displays on certain nights.
3) What should travellers be prepared for during this season?
Photo credit: @clarissaacindy via Instagram
In South Korea, there’s a term “봄비 (bom bi)” that translates to “spring rain”. Though temperatures are generally climbing higher, light rain is expected to be quite frequent during springtime so pack warm and waterproof outerwear. There’s no need to bring along heat packs and umbrellas as those are sold at most convenience stores in South Korea.
That said, the first rainfall marks the end of the freezing winter and it’s also a signal that flowering trees will start blooming. So that means it’s time to rent a hanbok (Korean traditional costume) and be one with the spring scene of South Korea.
For more ideas on what to do in Korea during cherry blossom season, check out Klook’s curated list of tours and experiences here!
Know of any other great cherry blossom spots in Korea? Let us know in the comments below!
This article was brought to you by Klook.