Cherry Blossoms in Korea | Forecast 2020 + Best Places to See Them
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
Jump to what you want.
- 1 When is cherry blossom season in Korea?
- 2 The best time to see cherry blossoms in Korea
- 3 Planning a trip to Korea?
- 4 Where to See Cherry Blossoms in Korea
- 5 Korea’s Cherry Blossom Festivals
- 5.1 Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival (진해군항제)
- 5.2 Yeouido Cherry Blossom Festival
- 5.3 Seokchon Lake Cherry Blossom Festival
- 5.4 Gyeongju Cherry Blossom Marathon: April 4, 2020
- 5.5 Jeju Cherry Blossom Festival
- 5.6 Hwagae Cherry Blossom Festival
- 5.7 Gyeongpo Cherry Blossom Festival
- 5.8 Cheongpung Lake Cherry Blossom Festival
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?
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.
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.
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’s Cherry Blossom Festivals
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)
Festival Dates: March 30th – April 10th, 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.
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!
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.)
Yeouido Cherry Blossom Festival
Festival Dates: TBA
Yeouido is perhaps the best, albeit most crowded place in Seoul to see not just Korea’s cherry blossoms, 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.
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
Festival Dates: TBA
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.
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).
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.
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
Festival Dates: TBA
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
Festival Dates: TBA
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, with your partner, while holding hands, you’ll fall madly and deeply in love with each other forever.
At the festival, aside from seeing Korea’s 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). 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
Festival Dates: April 6th – 17th, 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.
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.
Cheongpung Lake Cherry Blossom Festival
Festival Dates: TBA
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.
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