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cherry blossoms in korea

The blooming of cherry blossoms in Korea is the most eagerly anticipated spring event in the country.

This wave of fairy tale gorgeousness sweeps it’s way up the Peninsula, transforming the mundane greys of winter into a silvery pink wonderland, along the way. It makes the whole season feel fresh, optimistic and ripe with possibility.

*Cue romantic sigh of relief

cherry blossoms in korea
The blooming of Korea's cherry blossoms is the country's most eagerly anticipated spring event.

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When is cherry blossom season in Korea?

The blooming of cherry blossoms in Korea is an occasion that absolutely everyone in the country looks forward to. No one can pinpoint exactly what makes this annual blushing of the trees such a special event, but I’d guess it has something to do with its temporal nature.

After all, what could be 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 blossoms in korea
Bloom, bloom, bloom beautiful cherry blossom!

But when does Korea’s cherry blossom season actually begin? Well, it’s a little complicated…

If spring decides to makes an early appearance in Korea, cherry blossoms might bless us with their beauty starting at the end of March. And they might stick around until the 3rd week of April. From bud to bloom to dramatic death, the whole season lasts a month at best.

These ephemeral blooms usually hang onto their trees for about a week, before starting to drop to the ground. All bets are off though, if it rains or there’s a lot of wind. These factors will shorten their lifespan painfully. They’re fickle like that.

The best time to see cherry blossoms in Korea

Cherry blossom forecasting is an inexact science at best. After all, nature doesn’t run on any real schedule and our weather patterns are seeing drastic changes. However, in my personal experience, the best time to see Korea’s cherry blossoms at their absolute peak is in the first week to 10 days of April.

Cherry Blossom trees and petals falling at Gyeonghwa Station in Jinhae, Korea

Jinhae is one of the best spots to see cherry blossoms in Korea. Source: korea.net

I’ve lived in Seoul for the last 10 years, and there hasn’t been a single one, where the first 10 days of April weren’t the peak of Korea’s cherry blossom season. At this time, you’re guaranteed to find somewhere in the country to see these blush-y blooms at their best.

If you MUST stand under the cherry blossoms pictured above, and I recommend you do – book a tour to the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival. It’s my pick for the best place in Korea to see cherry blossoms at their absolute peak. There’s limited space AND limited dates offered for this tour, and it costs almost exactly the same as traveling there independently, so I advise reserving a spot as soon as you can. It WILL sell out.

If you prefer to customize your own itinerary, you can book a private sightseeing tour to the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival, for a group of 2- 10 people.

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Where to See Cherry Blossoms in Korea

Keep in mind that cherry blossoms in Korea will appear where it’s warmest first, so head to Jeju, Busan, or anywhere on the south end of the Peninsula, if you’re visiting near the end of March or very beginning of April. Any time after that, head north.

If you can’t make it to Korea in the first 10 days of April, head to the northeastern coastal regions, which are usually a lot cooler than the interior of the country. You could also pray, give offerings to the goddess, or bow before Mother Nature to increase your odds. You never know. It might help.

korea cherry blossoms, spring in korea,sakura korea, south korea cherry blossom, cherry blossom festivals korea
I dare you to resist falling in love with the cherry blossoms that take over Korea in April.

Cherry Blossom Festivals in Korea

Since we’re still in the depths of winter, dates for Korea’s cherry blossom festivals have mostly not been finalized. However, in 2020, most, if not all of these festivals will take place in the last days of March, and end by mid-April. They have for every single year I’ve lived in Korea, so this will not change. They usually run for a 3-10 day span, including at least 1 weekend to accommodate as many visitors as possible.

That doesn’t mean you can’t head to these locations outside of festival dates. Of course you can! It just means there won’t be extra activities on offer, and you’ll have to focus solely on the beauty of the cherry blossoms themselves… maybe even without the crowds.

I’ve updated dates for 2020 wherever possible. Keep checking back though, as I’ll update this post with Korea’s cherry blossom festival dates as soon as they’re released.

Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival (진해군항제): Cancelled for 2020

This is the largest, most famous cherry blossom festival in Korea. Over 2 million tourists visit every single year. There’s good reason. Jinhae offers some of Korea’s most impossibly romantic cherry blossom scenes.

You can gaze at pale pink petals as they drift sentimentally down onto the train tracks of Gyeonghwa Station, or snap a pic at one of Korea’s most iconic cherry blossom locations – the tunnel of cherry trees atop Jinhae’s Yeojwacheon Stream.

jinhae cherry blossoms in korea
This spot in Jinhae is one of the most photographed cherry blossom locations in Korea.

There’s also a military band parade, a multi-media fireworks show, and a commemoration of Admiral Yi-Sun-Shin during the festival.

Directions: Take an intercity bus to Jinhae (진해). You can walk to the festival venue from the bus terminal. Just follow the crowds!

PRO TIP

Make your trip totally hassle-free, by booking a guided tour that stops at all the most famous cherry blossom spots in Jinhae. The best part? It costs almost exactly the same as travelling to Jinhae independently (one way bus tickets from Seoul to Jinhae are 27,000 won.)


Click here to reserve a hassle-free tour to Jinhae

Yeouido Cherry Blossom Festival (영등포 여의도 봄꽃축제): Festival Dates: April 6 – 12, 2020

Yeouido is perhaps the best, albeit most crowded place in Seoul to see not just cherry blossom in Korea, but also azaleas, forsythia, and other spring flowers in full bloom. With 1,400 to 1,600 trees in the park, you’re guaranteed a stunning and dramatic sight.

cherry blossoms in korea, spring in korea, cherry blossom festivals in korea, yeouido cherry blossom festival

New, old and pretty pink flowers in Yeouido (photo courtesy: twobrownfeet.com)

An alternative to avoid the crowds is to take a Han River Cruise during Korea’s cherry blossom season. Yeouido is the starting dock for these boat rides, and it’ll take you right past all those gorgeous spring flowers.

Directions: 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.

Seokchon Lake Cherry Blossom Festival: April 3-12, 2020

The Seokchon Lake Cherry Blossom Festival is near and dear to my heart, because it’s the one I never miss. Sure, part of it is because Seokchon Lake is walking distance from my house, but it’s also because it’s incredibly gorgeous.

seokchon lake cherry blossom festival korea
Seokchon Lake in full bloom

Directions: Jamsil subway, Exit 1 or 2. Seokchon Lake is directly behind the Lotte World Mall.

44% OFF LOTTE WORLD COMBO TICKETS

See the Seokchon Lake Cherry Blossom Festival, visit the Lotte World Tower, and Lotte World Amusement Park all at the same time! Get combo tickets in advance and save up to 44% off the ticket price (only for foreign passport holders).


Click here to get discounted admission tickets for Lotte World

To see Seoul and its cherry blossoms from high in the sky, visit the Lotte World Tower Seoul Sky Observatory. It’s the tallest building in Korea, and the 5th tallest building in the world. It’s located right next to Seokchon Lake. You can’t miss it – just look up. You can get discounted tickets to the Lotte World Tower Seoul Sky Observatory here.

lotte world tower and cherry blossoms in korea
The Lotte World Tower is the tallest building in Korea!

Gyeongju Cherry Blossom Marathon: April 4, 2020

If you’d like to run under a sea of falling cherry blossom petals in Korea, you can take part in the 29th 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.

Hubby ran this in 2016, and the course is just as stunningly beautiful as you dream it’ll be.

If you have time, I recommend you stay in Gyeongju for 2 or 3 days. I recently visited, and had a wonderful time exploring Korea’s Silla Dynasty History and eating as much ssambap as I could. This small city is considered Korea’s “museum without walls,” and it’s well worth a visit.

If you do decide to spend a couple of days exploring this chilled out city, I can’t recommend staying at the Apple House enough. I stayed in this little motel on my last visit there, and it’s definitely the best budget accommodation I’ve stayed in the country. Like most Korean motels, the interior design can be called interesting at best, but in terms of value and convenience, it really can’t be beat. It’s walking distance to a ton of major tourist sites, as well as trendy cafe and restaurant street Hwangnidan-gil, plus you actually get big bath towels there. BIG bath towels. In Korea! Imagine.

RECOMMENDED TOUR: Gyeongju Small Group Day Tour

Jeju Cherry Blossom Festival: cancelled for 2020

Board a flight down to Jeju Island and you might be able to see grandest petals in Korea – the King Cherry Tree blossoms. Best 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. You’ll have to be perfect with your timing to catch them!

Directions: 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.

RECOMMENDED TOUR: Eastern Jeju Discovery

Hwagae Cherry Blossom Festival: March 27-29, 2020

The “10ri Cherry Blossom Road’ in Hwagae consists of 200 peach trees and 1,200 cherry blossom trees, which were planted by villagers back in 1931. It’s believed that if you walk down this 4km cherry blossom lined road in Korea, with your partner, while holding hands, you’ll fall madly and deeply in love with each other forever.

At the festival, aside from seeing cherry blossoms in Korea, you can visit the historic Hwagae Market, and dine on traditional foods like Euneo-hoe (sliced raw sweetish) and Chamgetang (king crab broth). Yum!

Directions: 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.

Gyeongpo Cherry Blossom Festival: April 6 – 17, 2020

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, but there are blooms to be found all around the Lake.

Korea's cherry blossoms next to Gyeongpo Lake, spring in korea, gyeongpo cherry blossom festival

“Gyeongpo Cherry Blossom,” by gangwon.to

If, for some strange reason, you get overwhelmed by all the effervescent pinkness, you can take the short stroll over to Gyeongpo Beach, one of our very favourite escapes from Seoul. Drink in the view of the 4 kilometre stretch of sandy beach, and indulge in fresher than fresh seafood from one of the restaurants that lines the street facing the sea.

LIMITED EDITION TOUR

This limited edition tour takes you to the Gyeongpo Lake Cherry Blossom Festival, where you can admire thousands of gorgeous trees. Stop at Daegwallyeong Sheep Farm, feed the fluffy residents and stroll around the beautiful farm.


Click to book a day tour to Gyeongpo Beach + Daegwallyeong Sheep Farm

> Selfies with sheep?? Read all about our visit to Daegwallyeong Sheep Farm.

Cheongpung Lake Cherry Blossom Festival: April 2020

Taking place along the 13 kilometre Cheongpong Lake Road, at this festival, you can see thousands of Korea’s 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!

Directions: 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.

The truth is you don’t have to attend ANY of these cherry blossom festivals to get your pink fix. The all too short cherry blossom season in Korea covers the entire country from top to bottom, and you’ll see them pretty much every which way you turn.

Was this post about where to see cherry blossoms in Korea helpful? Be sure to share, pin, and comment below!

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Comments:

  • Joyce

    November 14, 2019

    Hellooo Shelley! It’s so good to chance upon your post and find that you have lived in Seoul for so long! I’ve been trying to research on the days of peak blooms in different areas and most webs just wrote Early April etc.

    I would really appreciate it if you can give me some advice here!

    I’ll be travelling to Korea next year from 26march to 6 april 2020. Am intending to visit Busan (with Jinhae, Gyeongju day trips) and Seoul! Just wondering when is a good day to visit Jinhae and Gyeongju? Also, I rented a hanbok in Seoul hoping for photos with the cherry blossoms in the palaces and parks, but I’m a bit worried that there might not be much blooms by 6 April. Will they be close to peak by then? Thanks for the valuable info! ?

    reply...
      • Joyce

        November 14, 2019

        Yay that’s great!! Thanks for spending time replying! I’m thinking of planning accommodations soon as the forecast usually comes by Feb right? Am confused because I read up that Jinhae festival usually falls on 1-10april on most years. Is it possible to head there on 30/31 March before the festival start, say there is no fixed entrance period I hope?

        If I plan it as the visiting dates below, do you reckon Jin Hae and Gyeongju area would have peaked or early bloom only? Or would you can advise me to push Jin Hae and Gyeongju slightly by 1-2 days late?

        Busan: 26 to 29 March (4 days)
        Jin Hae: 30 March (1 day)
        Gyeongju: 31 March (1 day)
        Seoul: 1 to 6 April (6 days)

        reply...
  • Blossom lovin student

    March 16, 2019

    Hey Shelley! This post is so awesome and I really hope that I will be able to catch these beautiful sights! However, the first day of my school exchange programme to Seoul is on the 16th :(not sure if you might see this, but do you think i’ll stillbe able to see the cherry blossoms? 🙁

    Cheers and thanks for the lovely write up!

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  • January 21, 2019

    Love your lists. I hope I can make it to Jinhae this year! 🙂

    reply...
  • January 18, 2019

    such a special time of year!

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  • January 18, 2019

    Wow it really sounds like a great place to be in the spring bloom! Can’t wait for spring! Just a couple more months and then we’re there 🙂

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  • January 16, 2019

    Terrific post Shelley. I hadn’t realized the whole cherry blossom thing was as big as it is in Korea. We get streets of them in Vancouver, and in some of the parks too, but nothing like Korea. Or Japan. We’ll be in Kyoto March 12-26 and hoping to catch the beginning of the season there.
    Alison

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  • January 15, 2019

    I finally understood the whole cherry blossom obsession when I lived in Washington, DC, for a year. Before that, I couldn’t really imagine traveling somewhere just to see a bunch of pink buds and blooms. I get it now! They are so delicate and soft and magical, and I slowly walked around underneath the boughs, head tipped up, staggering like I was high on drugs! Seoul’s blossoms are stunning, so maybe that’s when I’ll try to drag J back to Korea someday!

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  • January 15, 2019

    Such a beautiful sight to see. ?

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  • January 15, 2019

    That was a great, thorough post. It’s 28 degrees F where I am right now, so those cherry blossoms are looking pretty inviting right now. Beautiful pictures, too.

    reply...

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