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korea in march | gurye sansuyu village

After the deep freeze of Korea in January, and February, Korea in March brings a milder climate, bright flowers, and an optimistic vibe. It’s time to shed the heavy parkas and step lightly into the season of freshness and new life.

korea in march | sansuyu village gurye

March is the first month of spring in Korea.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • what the March weather in Korea is like
  • the Seoul weather in March and other major cities and tourist hotspots, including Busan, Jeju, Gangneung and the East Coast
  • the best spring festivals to attend in South Korea in March
  • what to wear and the best things to pack for a successful trip to Korea in March

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Visiting Korea in March

After one of the quietest months of the year, travel picks up again in Korea in March. Visitors from all over the world head to Seoul en-masse for a spring season full of flowers, cultural festivals, and some of the best weather of the year.

south korea in march | jamsil hangang park plum blossoms

The first spring flowers bloom in South Korea in March.

Ice thaws, pretty plum blossoms and vivid sansuyu peek their heads out from under the snow, and streets are full of people enjoying the warm glow of the sun. March in South Korea is truly wonderful – particularly in the last week of the month, when cherry blossoms turn the entire country into a romantic pink paradise.

korea in march | hwagae cherry blossom road

Cherry blossoms bloom at the end of March in Korea ⓒ Kim Jiho, Korea Tourism Organization

It gets much more challenging to book good value accommodation in popular neighbourhoods like Myeongdong and Hongdae from mid-March onwards. It’s wise to reserve in advance if you can.

With Chinese tourists finally getting out of pandemic lockdown and traveling to Korea again, I expect that accommodation choices will be in much shorter supply during peak travel seasons, from now on.

Korea in March | Weather

March in Korea is a shoulder month, as winter transitions fully into summer. Average temperatures across the country range from a low of 1°C | 35°F in Gangneung, and up to 13°C | 55°F on Jeju Island.

It’s still cool at the beginning of the month, but there’s a definite warming trend. By the end of March in Korea, I’d even call it balmy in some areas of the country. I was roasting in jeans and a cardigan in Daegu last year, at this time.

march in south korea | cherry blossoms at chimsanjeong pavilion daegu korea

It was toasty warm in Daegu at the end of March.

Free of humidity, with little precipitation, long days, and lots of sunshine – the Korea weather in March is very, very comfortable for spending lots of time outdoors exploring – for most travelers.

Those of you not used to a 4 season climate however, might find it cold. If you’re coming from Southeast Asia or other hot countries, definitely prepare with layers of clothing to stay warm, especially at the beginning of the month and at night.

korea in march | ganworan hermitage seosan

At the beginning of March, it can still be cold enough in some parts of Korea for a winter coat.

Korea Weather in March | Seoul

Seoul in March gets progressively more comfortable with average temperatures increasing 6°C | 10°F from February. Average temperatures range from 2°C | 35°F to 10°C | 51°F.

seoul in march | coex mall area

Seoul gets progressively warmer in March.

It rains for about 7 days of the month, totalling 47-mm | 1.85-inches over the course of the month. In March in Korea, the days get longer and the sun gets stronger. It’s definitely time to pull out sun protection, or wear a hat when exploring outdoors – particularly if you’re prone to burning.

korea in march | yangjaecheon stream cherry blossom path at sunset

There’s lots of sunshine in Seoul in March.

* Personal note: It can feel very warm by the end of March in Korea, with cherry blossoms and many other spring flowers in full bloom. Last year, we were sweating in jeans and cardigans by the end of the month. Unless you really can’t tolerate cold at all, a jacket is only required at night, after the sun goes down.

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Korea Weather in March | Busan

March is a pleasant month to wander around Busan, with average temperatures ranging from 7°C | 44°F to 12°C | 53°F. It’s a little wet, with an average of 9 days of rain per month, totalling approximately 27-mm | 1 inch of precipitation, but it’s really nothing to be concerned about.

korea in march | Hwangnyeongsan Mountain Busan

Cherry blossoms bloom at the end of March in Busan © Dionitius Jonathan, (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Even though the overall temperature is higher, the sea water around Busan is at its absolute coldest in March, at 13°C | 56°F. This temperature is considered life-threatening, so swimming is out of the question, no matter how warm it feels.

HIGHLIGHTS OF BUSAN TOUR  |  Short on time? Explore the best attractions in Busan with this affordable tour to the Busan Skywalk, Gamcheon Culture Village, Songdo Cable Car, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, and more. Lunch and transport included. Check details here.

Korea Weather in March | Jeju Island

Apricot flowers, cherry blossoms, and canola vividly colour Jeju Island in March. Average temperatures range from 6°C | 43°F to 13°C | 55°F, with 11 days of rainfall totalling 89-mm | 3.5 inches of precipitation.

march in south korea | jeju cherry blossoms

Yellow and pink on Jeju Island in March © Kim Gwang-je, Korea Tourism Organization

Though it’s a bit cooler, March is actually an excellent time to visit Jeju Island. There’s zero risk of typhoons and potential flight cancellations due to strong winds.

Like Busan though, at 13°C | 56°F, the sea temperatures around Jeju in March are low enough to be considered life-threatening. Admire the sea from afar.

korea in march | gwakji beach jeju

It looks warm enough to swim at Gwakji Beach in Jeju in March but trust me… it’s not.

GETTING AROUND JEJU ISLAND  |  Public transit on Jeju Island is not as efficient as in Seoul. Distances are long, and it’s a lot slower, so most visitors either take day tours, hire a taxi, rent a car, or book a private car charter.

To rent a car as a traveller to Korea, you MUST have: a book type international driver’s permit (obtained in your home country), your passport, and your driver’s license from home. Check prices here.

Korea Weather in March | Gangneung (Gangwon-do)

The Korea weather in March on the East Coast beaches is still quite cold, with average temperatures ranging from 1°C | 35°F to 8°C | 46°F.

There’s about 9 days of rain in the Gangneung area in March, and the sea temperature is a frigid 8°C | 47°F. Entering the water unprotected at this temperature risks maximum intensity cold shock and hyperventilation.

korea in march | yongpyong ski resort

You can still ski in early March at some ski resorts in Gangwon-do.

Gangneung in March is one of the few areas of Korea that still gets snowfall. Over 3 days, 42-mm | 1.65 inches of snow falls in Gangneung. That’s why ski resorts like Yongpyong Resort and Alpensia located in Gangwon-do stay open later than other ski resorts that are closer to Seoul.

PRIVATE TAXI TOUR OF GANGNEUNG  |  This 3 hour taxi tour of Gangneung area sites provides incredible value at just 20,000 won per car (max 4 people). Choose between K-WAVE, Coffee City, or Gangneung History Tour to see famous sites like the BTS bus stop, Anmok Beach Coffee Street, Gyeongpo Lake, or Ohjukheon in total comfort. Get details here.

Air Quality in Korea in March

Bad air quality used to be something we mostly only had to deal with for a few months during spring in South Korea, but this is unfortunately no longer the case. I’m writing this in mid-February, and we’ve just gone through a week of truly horrendous air.

korea in march | lotte world tower in pollution

Bad air quality can be a real downer in Korea in March.

This icky air can be incredibly harmful to your health, so if you’re visiting Korea in March, you may need to protect your lungs with some sort of air pollution mask.

There’s no need to buy something in advance at home. You can pick up disposable air pollution masks in any pharmacy, convenience store or Daiso in Korea for less than a few thousand won. Look out for ones labeled KF94. This is the Korean equivalent of an N95 mask.

Korea in March | Public Holidays 2024

There’s 1 major national public holiday in South Korea in March: Independence Movement Day is on Friday, March 1st, 2024.

march in south korea | independence movement day

There are sure to be events to mark Independence Movement Day in Korea © Jeon Han, Korea.net (CC BY-SA 2.0)

This is a holiday for most Koreans, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have trouble finding things to do. Almost all tourist sites, restaurants, and attractions will be open to the public.

In past years, special events to commemorate this important day in Korean history have taken place at the Bosingak Bell, Sejong Centre, and Gwanghwamun Square, so keep your eyes open for those.

Bosingak Pavilion | Independence Movement Day event

March 1st celebrations at the Bosingak Pavilion © Jeon Han, Korea.net (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Independence Movement Day

The March 1st movement or Samil (3-1) Independence Movement was a series of protests against Japanese occupation. Organized by 33 Korean cultural and religious leaders, it began on March 1st, 1919 in Seoul, and spread throughout the country.

march in korea | red cross pamphlet on Samil Movement

The Declaration of Independence – Red Cross Pamphlet on the Samil Movement

Before the Japanese suppressed the movement a year later, 2-million Koreans had demonstrated in over 1,500 public protests. The cost was high, with 7,000 people losing their lives, many more wounded, and houses, churches, and schools destroyed.

MARCH 14TH: WHITE DAY IN KOREA  |  White Day is a romantic holiday that’s celebrated in South Korea on March 14. Very similar to Valentine’s Day, on this date, men are expected to give gifts to their partners.

Limited Edition Spring Tours in Korea

Plum blossoms in Gwangyang Maehwa Village are usually the first sign of spring in Korea, with petals bursting into bloom from mid-March. Like cherry blossom season, the dates for these spring tours in Korea is incredibly limited. Most run for just a few short weeks, so catch them while you can.

korea in march | gwangyang maehwa village

Plum blossoms bloom in March in Korea at Gwangyang Maehwa Village.

Spring Tours from Seoul

Spring Tours from Busan

Jinhae cherry blossom festival in korea | Gyeonghwa Station

Jinhae is the cherry blossom festival you’ll want to go to ⓒ Lim Bo-hyeok, Korea Tourism Organization

Korea in March | Best Festivals and Events

Festivals start to ramp up in South Korea in March. It starts with the first spring flower festivals down in Jeollanam-do, and continues into April and May, with a host of cherry blossom, nature, and cultural festivals.

You’ll need a ton of energy to get to all the glorious spring events in Korea, but it’s so worth it.

korea in march | hwangnyongwon gyeongju

Cherry blossoms festivals take over Korea in March and April © Kim Hoyeol, Korea Tourism Organization

Visiting Korea at another time of the year? Learn about weather and festivals for other months in Korea, in the following detailed guides.

lotus lantern parade in seoul

The Lotus Lantern Festival is one of Korea’s best and biggest events in springtime.

Jeju Hueree Apricot Flower Festival | 제주 휴애리 매화축제

Festival Dates: TBA for 2024,  but February 24th – March 24th last year

Address: 256, Sinryedong-ro, Namwon-eup, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do | 제주특별자치도 서귀포시 남원읍 신례동로 256 (남원읍)

Apricot flowers and plum blossoms are different names for the same bloom. They’re both referred to as maehwa. Every March in South Korea, you can celebrate their delicate beauty at Hueree Natural Park on Jeju Island.

march in south korea | maehwa plum blossoms

Apricot flowers and plum blossoms are both maehwa.

Hueree Natural Park is located at the base of Hallasan Mountain, so you can enjoy majestic views while breathing in the sweet, fragrant scent of these gorgeous flowers.

HUEREE NATURAL PARK DISCOUNTED TICKETS  |  Hueree is one of Jeju’s most beautiful parks, with seasonal festivals, hands-on activities, and even a hot spring to soak your feet in! Check into here.

Gwangyang Maehwa Plum Blossom Festival | 광양매화축제

Festival Dates: March 8th – 17th, 2024

Address: 1563-1, Seomjingangmaehwa-ro, Gwangyang-si, Jeollanam-do | 전라남도 광양시 다압면 섬진강매화로 1563-1

Plum blossoms are often mistaken for cherry blossoms, but plum blossoms (or maehwa) bloom weeks earlier than their more famous cousins. Their appearance in Korea in March, is one of the first signs of spring in Korea.

korea in march | plum blossoms in gwangyang maehwa village

All the pink at Gwangyang Maehwa Village.

The Gwangyang Maehwa Plum Blossom festival is definitely the place to check out these gorgeous blooms. There’s 200,000 square metres of plum trees near the Seomjin River, in an area known as Maehwa Village (매화마을) in Gwangyang. Be sure to try maesil (plum) ice cream and alcohol.

* Plum blossoms are uniformly round on each petal, while cherry blossoms have a small split on the end of each petal.

korea in march | jeonju hanok village

Jeonju Hanok Village is worth a visit!

GETTING TO GWANGYANG  |  It’s pretty difficult and time-consuming to get to Gwangyang Maehwa Village using public transport, so your best option is definitely to drive yourself (like we did), or join a tour. This one includes a stop at the lovely Jeonju Hanok Village. Get full details here.

Gurye Sansuyu Festival | 구례산수유꽃축제

Festival Dates: March 9th – 17th, 2024

Address: 1019-36 Jwasa-ri, Sandong-myeon, Gurye, Jeollanam-do, South Korea

Bright, yellow sansuyu are another one of the flowers that blooms in South Korea in March. Celebrate the growth of these vivid blooms at the base of Jirisan Mountain in Gurye at the Sansuyu Festival, with experiential activities and traditional folk performances.

march in south korea | sansuyu in gurye

Vivid, yellow sansuyu makes me feel so optimistic.

If you have time, make a detour to visit Hwaeomsa Temple to see a historic and beautiful plum tree that’s been designated as a natural monument by the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) of South Korea.

south korea in march | hwaeosma temple gurye

Hwaeomsa’s plum tree is Natural Monument No. 485.

EARLY SPRING FESTIVALS IN JEOLLANAM-DO  |  Plum blossoms in Gwangyang Maehwa Village and Sansuyu in Gurye Village are the first places to greet spring flowers in Korea. I’ve been to both villages and they are absolutely stunning. Due to their rural locations however, public transport is quite challenging. If you plan to go, it’s easier to join a group tour from Seoul or Busan. Get full details here.

Jindo Miracle Sea Road Festival | 진도 신비의 바닷길

Festival Dates: March 11th – 13th, 2024

Address: Modo-ri, Jindo-gun, Jeollanam-do | 온라인개최

This March in South Korea – a miracle occurs in Jindo. The Yellow Sea parts in true Moses style, and forms a 3-km long pathway between Jindo Island and Modo Island.

Korea in March | jindo miracle sea festival in spring

This March in South Korea, the sea miraculously parts in Jindo © Korea Tourism Organization

Walk through the sea between these 2 islands, searching for abandoned clams, shells, and abalone. This is a one-of-a-kind natural event that you won’t regret attending.

Nonsan Strawberry Festival | 논산딸기축제

Festival Dates: March 21st -24th, 2024

Address: 110 , Cheyuk-ro, Nonsan-si, Chungcheongnam-do | 충청남도 논산시 체육로 110 육상보조경기장,종합운동장,화장실

The Nonsan Strawberry Festival is your chance to head into the not very touristed Chungcheongnam-do Province for wonderfully sweet Korean strawberries. With rich soil and clean air, this region is the largest producer of strawberries in Korea.

At Nonsan Strawberry Festival, pick your own strawberries, visit the strawberry dessert cafe, take a  helicopter ride, or enjoy special performances. Strawberry season is nearing its end in March in Korea, so be sure to pick up a few packs before heading home. Get more details here (Korean only).

STRAWBERRY PICKING NEAR SEOUL  |  Try searching for strawberry farms in Pocheon or Gwangju if you want to do it independently. Otherwise, join a day tour that includes stops at popular places like Nami Island, and the Gangchon Rail Bike, along with a strawberry picking experience. Check into here.

Jeju Fire Festival | 제주들불축제

Festival Dates: Cancelled for 2024

Address: San 59-8, Bongseong-ri, Jeju-si, Jeju-do | 제주 제주시 애월읍 봉성리 산59-8

In South Korea in March, the dramatic Jeju Fire Festival lights up the night sky with red flames and fireworks, when huge bonfire structures called daljip (moon houses) are set aflame. It was believed that these fires would bring good fortune, protection from evil and a bountiful harvest.

korea in march | jeju fire festival

The dramatic Jeju Fire Festival lights up Korea in March © Jeong Sung-joo, Korea Tourism Organization

The event is held at the Saebyeoloreum Volcanic Cone in Jeju. It’s been a few years since this festival was held in full, so this year’s event promises to be a doozy, with food trucks, torch shows, and performances.

DISCOUNTED TICKETS TO AQUA PLANET JEJU  |  Aqua Planet Jeju is the largest aquarium in Asia, with over 48,000 animals from 500 different species to see. This is a perfect activity for families, with tons of fun experiential zones, and even a synchronized swimming performance. Check details here.

Daegu E-World Blossom Picnic | 이월드

Festival Dates: TBA for 2024, but March 18th – April 9th last year

Address: 200, Duryugongwon-ro, Dalseo-gu, Daegu | 대구광역시 달서구 두류공원로 200 (두류동)

korea in march | cherry blossoms in daegu

Daegu has many wonderful places to see cherry blossoms.

Cherry blossoms bloom early at E-World in Daegu. Check them out around the 83 Tower, and be sure to look out for the red double decker buses and merry-go-round for gorgeous spring pics. Check their website for full details.

Jinhae Gunhangje Cherry Blossom Festival | 진해군항제

Festival Dates: TBA for 2024, but March 25th – April 3rd last year

Address: Gyeongsangnam-do, Changwon-si, Jinhae-gu, Tongsin-dong | 경상남도 창원시 진해구 통신동

Many travellers visit Korea in spring, with the sole intention of attending the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival, and this year, they’re in luck. After 4 long years of cancellations, the Jinhae Gunhangje Festival is back in Korea in March, with expanded venues and events.

march in south korea | jinhae gunhangje cherry blossom festival gyeonghwa station

Jinhae Gunhangje is the must-see cherry blossom festival in Korea in March.

Gaze at pale pink petals as they drift sentimentally down onto the train tracks of Gyeonghwa Station, or snap a pic at one of the most iconic spots to see cherry blossoms in Korea – the tunnel of cherry trees atop Jinhae’s Yeojwacheon Stream.

JINHAE CHERRY BLOSSOM TOUR FROM SEOUL OR BUSAN |  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 getting there independently using public transit. Get more info here.

Eungbongsan Mountain Forsythia Festival | 응봉산 개나리축제

Festival Dates: TBA for 2024, but March 25th last year

Address: 1540, Geumho-dong 4-ga, Seongdong-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 성동구 금호동4가 1540 (일대)

During March in South Korea, Eungbongsan Mountain is coloured with bright, yellow forsythia flowers. After hiking through a flower-lined trail, you can enjoy views over the Han River and see Palgakjeong Pavilion at the peak.

korea in march | Eungbongsan Mountain forsythia

Eungbongsan is covered in yellow forsythia in March.

It’s easy to access Eungbongsan Mountain from Seoul Forest (which is covered in cherry blossoms) so this is a great hike for families. We hiked to the peak when my daughter was 6, and I’m sad / proud to say she got up the mountain much faster than I did.

korea in march | Palgakjeong Pavilion Eungbongsan Mountain

You can enjoy views from Palgakjeong Pavilion at the top of Eungbongsan Mountain.

Korea in March | What to Wear

Korea’s weather in March is quite varied – both by temperature and geography. At the beginning of the month, you’ll likely need warmer coats, layers of clothing, and maybe even gloves and a hat if you’re prone to feeling cold. This is also the case, if you’re planning to visit areas of Gangwon-do or the East Coast.

korea in march | what to wear

It can still be cold enough in some parts of Korea in March for a winter coat.

By the end of the month, it warms up significantly. You’ll still need long-sleeved shirts, pants, and sweaters, but you’ll probably be okay without a jacket during daylight hours, unless you’re from a hot country.

It’s a good idea to have layers on hand though, in case the weather takes a strange turn. March in South Korea is a shoulder month between winter and spring, so this is a definite possibility.

korea in march | iljasan park

The Korea weather in March is a mixed bag.

I’d bring along at least a light jacket for colder evening temperatures. It can feel downright chilly after the sun has gone down, especially if it’s windy.

You will log a ton of steps while exploring Seoul, so comfortable shoes for lots of walking are a MUST when visiting Korea. Blistered feet on a trip here would be a real bummer.

korea in march | Hanyangdoseong Seoul City Wall Trails

A trip to Seoul always entails a lot of walking © Lee Bumsu, Korea Tourism Organization

Tips for What to Wear in Korea in March

1
It's colder at the beginning of March in South Korea than at the end, so prepare accordingly. If you're visiting in the first few weeks of March, you'll need a warm coat for the night time hours.
2
The Korea weather in March changes quite a bit - even over the course of a single day - so it's wise to prepare with multiple weights and layers of clothing.
3
It can take some time for heating to be turned off in Korea in March, so it can feel very, very hot indoors - almost suffocating. Look out for lockers in subway stations and inside malls to stash your coats while you wander around.
Korea in March | Seosan Haemieupseong Fortress

The Korea weather in March is mostly very good.

Visiting Korea in March | Packing List

Here’s a rough guideline of items to pack for the Korea weather in March.

Bring from Home

  • travel documents – passport, itineraries, hotel reservations, plane tickets, travel visas, insurance
  • adaptors / plugs
  • reusable air pollution mask – Vogmask or similar
  • t-shirts and long-sleeved shirts
  • jeans, trousers or long pants of some kind
  • sweaters, hoodies, cardigans
  • skirts or dresses with leggings or tights
  • light jacket, windbreaker or waterproof shell | warmer coat if you’re visiting at the beginning of the month or plan on skiing
  • sunglasses
  • deodorant, feminine hygiene items
  • comfortable shoes for lots of walking
  • any special medications you need
  • allergy medications if you’re sensitive to pollen and dust

Buy in Korea

  • umbrella if it rains
  • disposable air pollution / medical masks
  • batteries / charging cables (super cheap at Daiso)
  • skincare products like sunscreen (high quality and cheap in Korea!)
  • eyeglasses and contact lenses can be purchased just by walking into a store (a free eye test will be provided)
  • birth control can be purchased over the counter, without a prescription (but all brands may not be available)
march in south korea | musinsa terrace cafe

There’s plenty of sunshine to enjoy in Korea in March.

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Korea in March: Essential Info and FAQs

1
Is March a good time to visit Korea? March in South Korea is a wonderful time to visit - particularly in the latter half of the month, when spring flowers and cherry blossoms turn the country into a pretty paradise.
2
Is it cold in Korea in March? Average daily temperatures in Korea in March range from 1°C | 35°F to 13°C | 55°F. Some areas, especially in Gangwon-do Province are very cold, and even get snowfall at the beginning of the month!
3
Is Korea hot in March? South Korea in March is definitely not hot. Though it can feel quite warm by the end of the month, average high temperatures only reach 13°C | 55°F.
4
What is there to do in Korea in March? Spring festivals start to ramp up in mid-March in Korea, with cherry blossom and other flowers in full bloom. The Jinhae Gunhangje Cherry Blossom Festival is the biggest one, but there are plenty of others. It's also a good time for outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and picnicking - especially at the end of the month.

All ready for the perfect trip to Korea in March? What have you got planned?

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