Visiting Korea in May | Weather, What to Wear + Best Spring Festivals [UPDATED 2023]
All the freshness and cherry blossoms of Korea in April might be finished, but Korea in May is the true height of spring. Warm sunshine and bright flowers paint the country in a rainbow of kaleidoscopic colour that’s just as stunning as all that pink.
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- what the weather is like during May in Korea
- the Seoul weather in May and other major cities and tourist hotspots, including Busan, Sokcho, and Jeju
- the best spring festivals to attend around the country in May
- what to wear and the best things to pack for a successful trip to Korea in May
In this guide
- 1 Visiting Korea in May
- 2 Korea in May | Weather
- 3 Planning a trip to Korea?
- 4 Korea in May | Air Quality
- 5 Limited Edition Spring Tours in Korea
- 6 Korea in May | Best Festivals and Events
- 6.1 Gyeongbokgung at Night | 경복궁 야간 특별관람
- 6.2 Garden of Morning Calm Spring Holic Festival | 아침고요 봄꽃 축제
- 6.3 Royal Culture Festival | 궁중문화축전
- 6.4 Boseong Green Tea Festival | 보성다향대축제
- 6.5 Hapcheon Hwangmaesan Royal Azalea Festival | 황매산군립공원
- 6.6 Seoul Festa 2023 | 서울페스타 2023
- 6.7 Damyang Bamboo Festival | 담양대나무축제
- 6.8 Wonju Hanji Festival | 원주한지문화제
- 6.9 Gyejoksan Mountain Barefoot Festival | 계족산 맨발축제
- 6.10 The Color Run Korea
- 6.11 Seoul Rose Festival | 서울장미축제
- 6.12 Eumseong Pumba Festival | 음성 품바축제
- 6.13 Seoul Lotus Lantern Festival | 연등회
- 6.14 Haeundae Sand Festival | 해운대 모래축제
- 6.15 Seoul Drum Festival | 연등회
- 6.16 Pohang International Fire and Light Festival | 포항국제불빛축제
- 6.17 Chuncheon Mime Festival | 춘천마임축제
- 7 Korea in May | What to Wear
- 8 Visiting Korea in May | Packing List
Visiting Korea in May
Some would say that May is the absolute best time of the year to visit Korea. The heaving crowds from peak cherry blossom season have left, and summer vacations haven’t started yet, so booking tours and accommodation in Seoul is much simpler.
There’s also plenty to keep you entertained, with some of the year’s best festivals occurring in the month of May. I’ll cover these a bit later on in this guide.
The May weather in Korea is pretty much ideal. So whether you choose to hike up Bukhansan, or take a leisurely stroll around Seokchon Lake Park, this is definitely the month to get outdoors and explore the delights of nature.
Korea in May | Weather
The warming trend of spring continues in Korea during May, with daytime temperatures reaching as high as the mid-20s°C | high 60s°F by the end of the month. May (along with October) is one of the best months to visit Korea climate-wise, with ideal temperatures, little humidity, and long, sunny days.
In May, average daily temperatures in Korea range from 13°C | 55°F to 23°C | 73°F across the country. There’s some humidity, but the gross mugginess brought by summer monsoons have yet to hit the Peninsula, and it’s a very pleasant time to be in Korea.
Korea in May | Seoul Weather
Seoul in May is pretty indicative of the weather all over the country. The average temperature increases 6°C from April, up to 17°C | 63°F. Highs can reach up to 25°C | 77°F by the end of the month. You can expect an extra 60 to 90 minutes of daylight in Korea in May, with many of those hours filled with blue skies and bright sunshine.
The Seoul weather in May has increasing humidity, but it still doesn’t feel overly humid or uncomfortable yet. There are about 6 days of rain (mostly concentrated at the end of the month), totalling approximately 100-mm, on average.
Planning a trip to Korea?
Connect with other travellers | Ask and get answers to all your travel questions | Learn about all the best things to do in Korea | Join our Korea Travel Planning + Guide Facebook Group now.
Korea in May | Travel Essentials
Hotels and Other Accommodation
Travel Insurance for South Korea
Wifi, SIM Cards, and Portable Wifi
Airport Transfers and Luggage Delivery
Money-Saving Transit and Transport Passes
Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tours
Day Tours and Discounted Admission Tickets
Korea Weather in May | Busan
Busan is located on the southeastern coast of Korea, so it’s slightly warmer than Seoul in May. It has average daily temperatures of 15°C | 59°F to 22°C | 72°F. In Busan, the Korea weather in May is relatively rainy, with an average of 9 days of rain per month, totalling approximately 157-mm of precipitation.
TIP | Short on time? Explore the best attractions in Busan with this jampacked tour to the Busan Skywalk, Gamcheon Culture Village, Songdo Cable Car, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, and more. Lunch and transport included. Check availability of this day tour to all the Busan hotspots here.
Korea Weather in May | Sokcho (East Coast)
The Korea weather in May on the East Coast beaches is typically a bit cooler than in the interior. Sokcho in May has average daily temperatures ranging from 12°C | 54°F to 17°C | 63°F. In my experience. it can feel pretty chilly, especially with those sea breezes, so be prepared with some heavier weight clothing.
There’s more days of rain in Sokcho in May, but less overall precipitation relative to Seoul and Busan. There’s still plenty of sunshine to enjoy.
Korea Weather in May | Jeju Island
Jeju has a temperate humid climate, but in May, temperatures are not much different than in Seoul. Averages range from 14°C | 57°F to 22°C |72°F, with 10 days of rain, totalling around 100-mm of precipitation.
Overall though, May is an absolutely wonderful time to visit Jeju Island. Nature is at its most verdant, and the Korea weather in May on Jeju is perfect for the many outdoor activities available on the island.
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 full details and availability of rental cars on Jeju Island here.
Korea in May | Air Quality
In Korea in May, there are fewer bad air days compared to April, but it’s still a depressing factor.
As spring begins in Korea, windstorms originating in the Gobi Desert, travel across China and land squarely on top of the ROK, in the form of yellow dust. Called “hwangsa,” in Korean, it colours the sky, in a murky yellowish fog. And it’s full of ultrafine and fine dust pollution.
If you’re visiting Korea in May, be sure to equip yourself with some kind of air pollution mask, and allergy meds if you need them. There’s no need to prepare too many masks in advance. You can pick up high-quality disposable air pollution masks in any pharmacy, convenience store or Daiso in Korea for as low as 500 won each.
The Korean equivalent of an N95 mask is called KF94. If that feels too hot and heavy for the Korea weather in May, you can get a KF80 mask instead. This will factor out 80% of pollutants, so it’s not perfect, but it’s still better than nothing.
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 most spring tours in Korea is incredibly limited. Most run for just a few short weeks, so catch them while you can.
Spring Tours from Seoul
- Ganghwa Island Cherry Blossom & Luge Ride Experience | April 9th – 17th, 2023
- Eden Cherry Blossom Festival + Alpaca World + Nami Island | April 11th – 18th, 2023
- Goryeosan Mountain Azalea Festival + Oepo Port Seafood Market | April 14th – 22nd, 2023
- Taean Tulip Festival + Strawberry Picking Experience | April 14th – May 7th, 2023
- Pink King Cherry Blossom Tour from Seoul | April 15th – April 30th, 2023
- Seoul Festa K-pop Concert & Everland | April 30th, 2023
- Jarasum Flower Festival + Nami Island & Sheep Ranch | May 26th – 31st, 2023
- Goseokjeong Flower Fields + Herb Island Night Tour | May 20th – June 30th, 2023
Spring Tours from Busan
- Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival Tour from Seoul or Busan | March 27th – April 6th, 2023
- Chasing Cherry Blossoms in Busan | March 27th – April 12th, 2023
- Cherry Blossom Hunting Tour from Busan | March 24th – April 9th, 2023
- Gyeongju Cherry Blossom Festival from Busan | March 27th – April 8th, 2023
- KING Cherry Blossom Hunting Tour from Busan | April 17th – April 30th, 2023
Korea in May | Best Festivals and Events
From bamboo and green tea, to roses and drums, May is a wonderful month for festivals in Korea.
Visiting Korea at another time of the year? Learn about the weather and festivals for each month in the following detailed guides.
- Korea in January: The Coldest Month of the Year
- Korea in February: The End of Winter
- Korea in April: Chasing Cherry Blossoms
- Korea in June: The Best Month of Summer
- Korea in July: The Peak of Summer
- Korea in August: Summer Vacation for EVERYONE!
- Korea in September: Autumn Relief
- Korea in October: Full on Fall Foliage
- Korea in November: Autumn to Winter Transition
- Korea in December: Christmas Lights Galore
Gyeongbokgung at Night | 경복궁 야간 특별관람
Dates: April 5th – May 31st, 2023
Address: 161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 종로구 사직로 161 (세종로)
Twice a year, Gyeongbokgung Palace is brilliantly lit and opened for night viewing. It’s open from 7:00 to 9:30PM, every day except Monday and Tuesday.
Get tickets in advance online (Korean), or grab them on-site (for foreigners only – limited to 200). Cost: 3,000 won.
Of course, you can skip the ticketing process entirely, and walk straight into Gyeongbokgung for free, if you’re wearing a hanbok. It’s actually the perfect time to try it out, since the Korea weather in May isn’t too hot or cold.
Garden of Morning Calm Spring Holic Festival | 아침고요 봄꽃 축제
Festival Dates: April 16th – May 31st, 2023
Address: 432, Sumogwon-ro, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do | 경기도 가평군 상면 수목원로 432 (상면)
The Garden of Morning Calm is famous for its winter lighting festival, but in spring, you can see thousands of azalea, magnolia, forsythia, and cherry blossoms displayed in perfect harmony across the huge 330,000㎡ arboretum.
In combination with Nami Island and the Gangchon Rail Bike, the Garden of Morning Calm is one of the most popular day tours from Seoul, with good reason. I’ve visited these places multiple times myself, and they are definitely worth the trip – especially in Korea in May, since the weather is pretty much perfect.
TIP | If you don’t have a car, the easiest and most convenient way to see the Garden of Morning Calm and other nearby locations is on an all-inclusive tour. Customize a day trip, including round-trip transport, to the Garden of Morning Calm and surrounding area here.
Royal Culture Festival | 궁중문화축전
Festival Dates: April 29th – Mary 7th, 2023
Address: Gyeongbok, Changdeok, Deoksu, Changgyeong and Gyeonghui Palaces, Jongmyo, and Cheong Wa Dae
If you haven’t had a chance to visit any of Seoul’s 5 Joseon Dynasty palaces yet, the Royal Culture Festival is a good time to do it. Korea’s rich cultural heritage will be highlighted with performances, rituals, and moonlight tours at these venues for a few weeks in May.
On the opening day of the festival, all palaces will be free to enter. Stop by Cheong Wa Dae – the Presidential Residence – which has been fully open to the public since last year.
Find more details here.
Boseong Green Tea Festival | 보성다향대축제
Festival Dates: April 29th – May 7th, 2023
Address: 775, Nokcha-ro, Boseong-gun, Jeollanam-do | 전라남도 보성군 보성읍 녹차로 775
Boseong not only accounts for over 50% of Korea’s green tea production, it’s also an incredibly picturesque place to spend a warm, spring day. For a week in May in Korea, you can try various tea-related experience programs at its annual green tea festival.
Try picking tea leaves, indulge in some green tea ice cream, or stroll through the symmetrical bushes of the plantation, breathing in the fragrant air.
PRIVATE TOUR TO BOSEONG GREEN TEA PLANATION & SUNCHEON | Visit the peaceful Boseong Green Tea Fields, and the stunning Suncheon Bay Wetland Reserve on this private van tour for up to 7 people. Get more details here.
Hapcheon Hwangmaesan Royal Azalea Festival | 황매산군립공원
Festival Dates: April 29th – May 14th, 2023
Address: 4, Hwangmaesangongwon-gil, Hapcheon-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do | 경상남도 합천군 가회면 황매산공원길 4
Move over cherry blossoms. You’ve got some competition. The azalea habitat in Hwangmaesan County Park is the biggest and most breathtaking in Korea.
In fact, the pink azaleas on Hwangmaesan Mountain are so incredibly gorgeous that they’re included on CNN’s list of “50 Beautiful Places to Visit in Korea,” and were voted one of the top 100 destinations for 2021-2022 by the Korean Tourism Organization.
Despite being near the top of an 1108-metre mountain, Hwangmaesan County Park is very accessible. It’s an easy hike up to the peak, or you can simply drive up to the fields instead. There’s parking nearby.
Seoul Festa 2023 | 서울페스타 2023
Festival Dates: April 29th – May 7th, 2023
Address: Various locations around Seoul, including Jamsil, Gwanghwamun, and the Hangang | 잠실, 광화문, 한강
In its second year, Seoul Festa is already turning into one of the city’s biggest festivals. This is your chance to “feel the real Seoul,” with a number of incredible events spread across the city at iconic locations like Gwanghwamun Square and the Hangang River.
Events kick off with a massive K-pop concert at Jamsil Sports Complex, featuring performers like Oh My Girl, iKon, Ive, Ateez, Enhyphen, and many more.
Main events mostly happen during May in South Korea. They include the Seoul Culture Square at Gwanghwamun, and the Seoul Bridge Taste Market on Jamsu Bridge, but there are SO many other things happening, from Taekwondo demonstrations to busking to a circus. And definitely don’t miss the nightly Han River drone light show at the Ttukseom Hangang Park Waterfront Stage!
Check their website for full event listings and locations here.
Damyang Bamboo Festival | 담양대나무축제
Festival Dates: May 3rd – 7th, 2023
Address: 119, Jungnogwon-ro, Damyang-gun, Jeollanam-do | 전라남도 담양군 담양읍 죽녹원로 119 (담양읍)
Juknokwon Bamboo Garden in Damyang is worthy of a visit any time of the year, but at the beginning of May in Korea, there’s an annual bamboo festival to attend.
At the festival, breathe in super-rich oxygenated air on a bamboo forest tour, enjoy some of Damyang’s local delicacies, or try catching fish with a basket made of bamboo.
PRIVATE TOUR TO DAMYANG BAMBOO FOREST | Traveling with a group? This private van tour for up to 8 people takes you from the busy streets of Seoul to the peace and serenity of Korea’s biggest bamboo forest. Check full details here.
Wonju Hanji Festival | 원주한지문화제
Festival Dates: May 5th – 14th, 2023
Address: 151, Hanjigongwon-gil, Wonju-si, Gangwon-do | 강원도 원주시 한지공원길 151
Hanji is a traditional Korean paper, handmade from the inner bark of the paper mulberry. Strong, flexible, and incredibly durable, it’s used to make everything from lanterns to books to string.
At the Wonju Hanji Festival, you can enjoy hanji in all its beautiful iterations by wondering inside a hanji paper forest, admiring thousands of glowing hanji lanterns, or signing up for traditional hanji craft experience programs.
Get more details on their website (Korean only).
WONJU SOGEUMSAN SUSPENSION BRIDGE | Sogeumsan is the longest and largest pedestrian bridge in Korea, and a location for “It’s Okay to Not be Okay.”. It stretches 200-metres, and hangs at a height of 100 metres-high. Walk in mid-air, and on glass-bottomed floors, as you admire the stunning landscapes all around you. Check full details here.
Gyejoksan Mountain Barefoot Festival | 계족산 맨발축제
Festival Dates: Cancelled for 2023, but usually takes place in the first week of May
Address: San 85, Jang-dong, Daedeok-gu, Daejeon | 대전광역시 대덕구 장동 산85
Walking barefoot along Gyejoksan Red Clay Trail is thought to have positive health and stress relieving effects. Whether this true or not, you’re sure to enjoy the squelch of mud between your toes as you stroll along Korea’s first eco-healing barefoot walking trail, breathing in the scent of fresh pine needles.
In Korea in May, there’s a Gyejoksan Mountain Barefoot Festival, where participants are encouraged to take off their shoes and run or walk barefoot along the 14.5-km trail. In 2022, the festival was cancelled, but the site was still open for visitors who wished to visit. Check if this is the case in 2023, before making a trip there.
The Color Run Korea
Festival Dates: May 13th, 2023
Address: 350, Central-ro, Yeonsu-gu, Incheon | 인천광역시 연수구 센트럴로 350 달빛축제공원
Also known as “The Happiest 5K on the Planet,” the Color Run is the largest running festival in the world,. Over 6 million runners from more than 35 countries have participated so far.
Aside from the running and color bombs, there are photo zones, live entertainment, food trucks, and an after party. This event DOES sell out, so be sure to check their website for upcoming dates.
Seoul Rose Festival | 서울장미축제
Festival Dates: May 13th – 28th, 2023
Address: 332, Jungnangcheon-ro, Jungnang-gu, Seoul |서울특별시 중랑구 중랑천로 332 (묵동,묵동한국아파트)
The most breathtaking thing to see at the Seoul Rose Festival is undoubtedly the 5.15-km long tunnel made up of literally thousands of roses, but you can also enjoy romantic photo zones, a flower market, and various rose-themed activities and performances.
Past year’s festivities have included fireworks, a hanbok flash mob, and jazz concert. There’s definitely a full-scale festival happening in Korea in May, so keep checking their website for updated info (only in Korean so far).
Eumseong Pumba Festival | 음성 품바축제
Festival Dates: May 17th – 23rd, 2023
Address: 28, Seolseonggongwon-gil, Eumseong-gun, Chungcheongbuk-do | 충청북도 음성군 음성읍 설성공원길 28
Every September in Korea, Eumseong County is taken over by hilarious street singers (pumba) from all over the country.
Before Korea became the economic powerhouse it is today, pumba wandered markets, streets, and villages, entertaining the public in search of food, money, or whatever else they needed. Today, pumba don’t beg for food or money, but instead sing at special events and festivals.
At the Eumseong Pumba Festival, there are both free and paid Pumba performances, a National Pumba King Contest, and parade. Check full festival details here (Korean only).
Seoul Lotus Lantern Festival | 연등회
Festival Dates: May 19th – 21st, 2023
Address: 55, Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 종로구 우정국로 55
Seoul’s YeonDeungHoe or Lotus Lantern Festival is a centuries old event that celebrates the day of Buddha’s birth. In 2023, the Eoulim Madang (Buddhist cheer rally), Lotus Lantern Parade, and post-parade party take place on Saturday, May 20th.
There are a number of separate events to attend during the festival, including a lighting ceremony, cultural performances, traditional lantern exhibition, and lantern making experiences.
The highlight is undoubtedly the Lotus Lantern Parade, where literally thousands of Buddhists carry lovely glowing lanterns, along a route that starts at Heunginjimun Gate and ends at Jogyesa Temple. It starts at 7:00PM, but I suggest arriving a bit earlier to get a good spot on the parade route.
On May 21st, you can participate in cultural events like lantern making, and watch traditional performances, while eating favourful temple cuisine. All events will be held on the street directly in front of Jogyesa Temple.
If you can’t make it to Yeon Deung Hoe on either of those days, you can still see traditional lanterns colourfully displayed at Jogyesa Temple, Bongeunsa, and Gwanghwamun Square for another few weeks.
HISTORIC WALKING TOUR OF SEOUL | Discover Seoul on foot! Walk around Gwanghwamun Plaza, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Jogyesa Temple, Insadong, and other historic hotspots with an english speaking guide. Check details here.
Haeundae Sand Festival | 해운대 모래축제
Festival Dates: May 19th – 22nd, 2023
Address: U-dong, Haeundae-gu, Busan | 부산광역시 해운대구 우동
During May in Korea, large-scale sand sculptures take over Haeundae Beach in Busan. Be amazed by the fine detail and artistry of these fleeting pieces of art, and take part in experiential programs like sand-boarding or a sand treasure hunt at the festival.
If you can’t make it to Busan for the actual festival dates, don’t worry! Sand sculptures will be on display until June 6th. That is, unless it gets washed away by a typhoon or unexpected rainfall…
BUSAN HAEUNDAE X the SKY ADMISSION TICKET | Enjoy a breathtaking view of Busan’s skyline and Haeundae Beach on the 100th floor of Korea’s second tallest building. Don’t forget to grab a coffee at the highest Starbucks in the world! Check info here.
Seoul Drum Festival | 연등회
Festival Dates: May 26th – 27th, 2023
Address: Nodeul Island | 445, Yangnyeong-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Taking place over an exciting 2 days during the month of May in Korea, the Seoul Drum Festival fills the streets of the city with percussive beats and dynamic rhythms. Best of all, this is a FREE event that anyone can enjoy!
In its 25th year, you’ll be treated to performances and competitions from amateur and professional percussionists from all over the world. Details are still forthcoming, but it looks like there’s definitely a festival happening this year. Check their website for full details.
NANTA SHOW IN SEOUL | Nanta is a non-verbal performance featuring acrobatics, comedy, and percussion, set in one crazy kitchen. Korea’s longest running performance is a total blast. Don’t miss it! Get discounted tickets here.
Pohang International Fire and Light Festival | 포항국제불빛축제
Festival Dates: May 26th – 28th, 2023
Address: Haedo-dong, Nam-gu, Pohang-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do | 경상북도 포항시 남구 해도동
A spectacular fireworks display will light up the sky above Pohang in Korea in September. When you’re not being wowed by the teams from South Korea, Sweden, Italy, and the Philippines competing for the title of best fireworks, you can enjoy a dance party with DJ, busking, a parade and much more.
Best of all, it’s all free!
Check out more details here.
Chuncheon Mime Festival | 춘천마임축제
Festival Dates: May 28th – June 4th, 2023
Address: Various locations around Chuncheon-si, Gangwon-do | 강원도 춘천시 전역
The Chuncheon Mime Festival is set to take over the city of Chuncheon in the last week of May. This is just one of 3 major mime festivals in the world, attracting performers from mime troupes from all over the world.
At the festival, you’ll see innovative non-verbal mime and street performances that even non-Korean speakers can enjoy.
If you’re looking for more to do in the area, you could combine a visit to the Mime Festival with a visit to the nearby Nami Island or Gangchon Rail Bike, which are 2 of the most popular day trips from Seoul.
Korea in May | What to Wear
To best deal with Korea’s weather in May at the beginning of the month, jeans, leggings, skirts, and long-sleeved shirts, tees, or lighter weight sweaters work well. Bring along a hoodie, cardigan or light jacket for cooler evening temperatures.
By the end of the month (or even earlier), it’s warm enough for shorts and t-shirts for those used to cooler temperatures. Travellers from tropical climates might still find it a bit chilly, especially at night.
There is some precipitation, but it’s not really enough to worry about, unless you’re visiting in the very last week of May. This is when the bulk of rainfall happens as we head into summer monsoon season, so it’s helpful to have waterproof shoes or quick-dry clothing. I wouldn’t recommend wearing a raincoat at the end of May in Korea, as it could be hot and uncomfortable.
Tips for What to Wear in Korea in May
Visiting Korea in May | Packing List
Here’s a rough guideline of items to pack for the Korea weather in May.
Korea in May | Bring from Home
- travel documents: passport, itineraries, hotel reservations, plane tickets, travel visas, insurance
- adaptor / plug
- t-shirts, lightweight sweaters, hoodies, cardigans
- jeans, trousers, leggings
- shorts, capris
- skirts or dresses
- light jacket, wind breaker or waterproof shell
- deodorant, feminine hygiene items
- comfortable running shoes or sandals for lots of walking (water resistant shoes are good at this time of year)
- 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 masks
- skincare products like sunscreen (high quality and cheap in Korea!)
Did this article help you? Writers (and moms especially) need caffeine!
Help support my small business with a cup of coffee.
Korea in May: Essential Info and FAQs
All ready for the perfect trip to Korea in May? What have you got planned?