Where to Get your Cherry Blossom On in Korea: Updated for 2015
*If you’re looking for updated 2016 Cherry Blossom Festival dates, please see THIS POST.
Every spring, an eagerly anticipated silvery pink wave of luminescent gorgeousness sweeps it’s way up the Korean Peninsula.
Yup, you guessed it. The blooming of the cherry blossoms.
It’s an occasion that almost everyone in the country looks forward to. And while no one can pinpoint exactly what makes this annual blushing of the trees such a special event, I’d guess that it has something to do with it’s temporal nature.
Could there be anything more poetic than the falling of an infinite number of frail pink petals, as they drift peacefully to their deaths, just a few days or weeks after flowering?
Cherry blossom festivals take place across the peninsula. Here’s where you can you witness this ephemeral event.
Jeju Cherry Blossom Festival: March 27 – 29
Board a flight down to Jeju Island and you might be able to see the grandest petals of them all – the King Cherry Tree blossoms. Seen all over Seogwipo’s downtown and around Jeju Sports Complex, these cherry trees fully blossom for only 2 to 3 days, so they are more fleeting than normal. Best be quick to catch them!
To get there: From the airport, take bus 500 and get off at the New Jeju Rotary stop (신제주로터리). Cross the street, and take bus 20, going in the opposite direction. Get off at Public Health Centre 1 stop.
Jinhae Gunhangje Festival: April 1 – 10
This is the largest cherry blossom festival in the country, drawing over 2 million tourists every year, with it’s stunning tunnel of cherry trees. There’s also a military band parade, a multi-media fireworks show, and a commemoration of Admiral Yi-Sun-Shin.
To get there: Take an intercity bus to Jinhae (진해). You can walk to the festival venue from the bus terminal. Just follow the crowds!
Hwagae Cherry Blossoms Festival: April 3 – 5
The “10ri Cherry Blossom Road’ in Hwagae consists of 200 peach trees and 1,200 cherry blossom trees, which were planted by villagers in 1931. It’s believed that if you walk down this 4km cherry blossom lined road, with your partner, while holding hands, you’ll fall madly and deeply in love with each other.
At the festival, aside from seeing the cherry blossoms, you can visit the historic Hwagae Market, and dine on traditional foods like Euneo-hoe (sliced raw sweetish) and Chamgetang (king crab broth).
To get there: Take an intercity bus from Seoul’s Nambu Bus Terminal, to Hadong (하동). Buses run at: 06:30, 08:00, 09:30, 11:30, 13:30, 15:30, 17:30, 19:30 and 22:00.
Yeouido Spring Flower Festival: April 3 – 8
This is perhaps the best, albeit most crowded place, in Seoul to see not just the cherry blossoms, but also azaleas, forsythia, and other spring flowers in full bloom. With 1,400 to 1,600 cherry blossom trees, you’re guaranteed a stunning and dramatic sight.
To get there: The closest subway station is the National Assembly Station on Line 9. Take Exit 1 or 6 and walk for 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can get off at Yeouinaru Station on Line 5, take Exit 1 and walk for 20 minutes.
Gyeongpo Cherry Blossom Festival: April 3 – 10
A string of cherry blossom trees line the 4.3 kilometre path that surrounds gorgeous Gyeongpo Lake. Activities and flower exhibitions centre around Gyeongpodae Pavilion, one of Korea’s regional tangible cultural treasures. If, for some strange reason, you get overwhelmed by all the effervescent pinkness, you can take the short stroll over to Gyeongpodae, one of our very favourite escapes from Seoul. Drink in the view of the 4 kilometre stretch of sandy beach, and indulge in fresh seafood from one of the nearby restaurants.
To get there: Take a bus to Gangneung Intercity/Express Bus Terminal, from Dong Seoul Terminal. Once in Gangneung, take Bus 202, and get off at Gyeongpodae.
Gyeongju Cherry Blossom Marathon: April 4
If you’d like to run under a sea of falling petals, you can take part in the 24th Gyeongju Cherry Blossom Marathon. Beginning at Gyeongju Culture Expo Square, the mostly flat course, can be run in 5km, 10km, half or full marathon distances.
For more information and to register, visit the Cherry Marathon Website.
Seokchon Lake Cherry Blossom Festival: April 10 – 12
This man-made lake with walking paths is divided into 2 basins, both of which are bordered by cherry blossom trees.
While you’re there, why not stop by one of our favourite places in Seoul: The Hosoo Bakery and Cafe. You can sip a latte while you watch the petals gloriously falling to the ground.
To get there: Head to Jamsil Station on Line 2, and take Exit 3.
Cheongpunghoban Cherry Blossom Festival: April 10 – 12
Taking place along the 13 kilometre Cheongpong Lake Road, at this festival, you can see thousands of mature cherry trees, a street concert, magic show and parade. Medicinal teas and food made from wild herbs native to the area will be on offer, and if you’re really brave, you can even bunjee jump!
To get there: Take an intercity bus to Jecheon Terminal. From Dong Seoul Terminal, the bus leaves at 10 – 30 minute intervals, starting at 6:30 in the morning. The last bus leaves at 21:00.
Everyone in the country wants a glimpse of these stunning flowers, so cherry blossom festivals can be seriously crowded. Koreans are not really morning people, so if you’re able to, visit during off-peak hours. Attend on a weekday, in the early morning, and you’ll be sure to have lots of space to truly enjoy the romance of the blossoms. Make sure you bring your camera!
Of course, if you want to avoid the crowds, you don’t have to attend any of these festivals. The trees will be blooming in force all over the country. In Seoul, one of my favourite places to see the cherry blossoms is at Bongeunsa, next to Coex Mall. Last spring, I had the temple and the trees scattered around it’s grounds practically to myself. Just make sure you get out for a stroll before the cherry blossoms disappear.
Have you seen the blossoming of these gorgeous pink buds? Tell us all about your experience in the comments below.