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  >  Asia   >  Visiting Korea in May | Weather, What to Wear + Best Spring Festivals [2022]
korea in may | Photo Cafe Graphy Garden

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.

korea in may | Photo Cafe Graphy Garden

May brings flowers and sunshine to Korea.

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

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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.

korea in may | biking next to the Han River

May is the ideal time for outdoor activities in Korea

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 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.

korea in may | sunset on the han river

The weather is pretty much perfect in May.

In May, average daily temperatures in Korea range from 13 to 23°C 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. Highs can reach up to 25°C by the end of the month. You can expect an extra 60-90 minutes of daylight in Korea in May, with many of those hours filled with blue skies and bright sunshine.

girls wearing hanbok near gyeongbokgung

May is the perfect month to rent a hanbok in Seoul and tour palaces comfortably.

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.

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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 – 22°C. In Busan, the Korea weather in May is relatively rainy, with an average of 9 days of rain per month, totalling approximately 157mm of precipitation.

busan | gamcheon culture village

Take a stroll around colourful Gamcheon Culture Village during May in Korea

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 – 17°C. 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 – 22°C, with 10 days of rain, totalling around 100mm of precipitation.

korea in may | jeju island

May is a gorgeous time of year to visit Jeju Island.

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.

TIP  |  Public transit on Jeju Island is not as efficient as in Seoul. Distances are long, and it’s a lot slower. If you don’t have a car, it’s best to join a tour with transport to make the most of your time. Divided into an East and South Routes, this tour stops at top UNESCO sites on Jeju Island and includes transport between all locations. Check availability of East and South Route tours 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.

yellow dust korea weather in april

Yellow dust and pollution can be an unfortunate part of visiting Korea in May.

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.

Masks have been an unfortunate part of life for too long now.

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.

Yeon Deung Hoe Lotus Lantern Festival | 연등회

Festival Dates: April 29th – May 15th, 2022

Address: 55, Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 종로구 우정국로 55

Yeon Deung Hoe is a centuries old event that celebrates the day of Buddha’s birth. In 2022, the Eoulim Madang (Buddhist cheer rally), Lotus Lantern Parade, and post-parade party take place on Saturday, April 30th.

lotus lantern festival in seoul | yeondeunghoe

The Lotus Lantern Parade takes over the streets of Seoul for a night.

On May 1st, 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 Cheonggyecheon Stream until May 15th.

korea in may | bongeunsa temple

Lanterns will be on display at Bongeunsa, Jogyesa, and Cheonggyecheon Stream until May 15th.

TIP  |  Discover Seoul on foot! Walk around Gwanghwamun Plaza, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Jogyesa Temple, Insadong, and other historic hotspots with an english speaking guide. Check availability and join a historic walking tour of Seoul.

Gyeongbokgung at Night | 경복궁 야간 특별관람

Dates: April 1st – May 29th, 2022

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 100). Cost: 3,000 won.

korea in may | renting a men's hanbok in seoul

May is a comfortable time to rent a hanbok and visit Gyeongbokgung Palace.

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 Flower Festival | 아침고요수목원 봄나들 축제

Festival Dates: April 16th – May 22nd, 2022

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.

korea in may | garden of morning calm

Spring at the Garden of Morning Calm © Live Studio, Korea Tourism Organization

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!

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 | 계족산 맨발축제

Festival Dates: May 10th – 22nd, 2022

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.

korea in may | royal culture festival

Admissions into all palaces will be free on May 10th.

On the opening day of the festival, all palaces will be free to enter. And for the first time ever, Cheong Wa Dae – the Presidential Residence – will be fully open to the public, as the new government starts its term.

Find more details here.

Gyejoksan Mountain Barefoot Festival | 계족산 맨발축제

Festival Dates: Cancelled for 2022, 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.

korea in may | gyejoksan red clay trail

Get healthy on the Gyejoksan Red Clay Trail © IR Studio, Korea Tourism Organization

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. Unfortunately, in 2022, the festival is cancelled, but the site is still open for visitors who wish to visit.

Damyang Bamboo Festival | 담양대나무축제

Festival Dates: TBA for 2022, but usually takes place in the first week of May

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, there’s an annual bamboo festival to attend.

korea in may | damyang bamboo forest

Juknokwon Bamboo Garden in Damyang is a little slice of heaven

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.

Hapcheon Hwangmaesan Royal Azalea Festival | 황매산군립공원

Festival Dates: Cancelled for 2022, but usually the first 2 weeks of May

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.

korea in may | hapcheon azalea festival

Dawn is one of the most beautiful times to see the azaleas on Hwangmaesan © Choi Soo-jin, Korea Travel 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.

Festival organizers have cancelled the event for 2022, but have stated that the mountain is open and that projected blooming dates are April 30th to May 10th.

Boseong Green Tea Festival | 보성다향대축제

Festival Dates: TBA for 2022, dates vary in May

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.

boseong green tea field in spring

Boseong is a peaceful place to spend a spring day © Yu Ji-hun, Korea Tourism Organization

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.

Chuncheon Mime Festival | 춘천마임축제

Festival Dates: May 22nd – May 29th, 2022

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.

the pinwheel tunnel at gangchon rail bike

Ride along abandoned trail tracks and tunnels on the Gangchon Rail Bike.

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.

Seoul Rose Festival | 서울장미축제

Festival Dates: May 5th – 22nd, 2022

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.

korea in may | seoul rose festival

This tunnel of roses is breathtaking © Seoul Metropolitan Government/Penta Press

Past year’s festivities have included fireworks, a hanbok flash mob, and jazz concert, but it’s anyone’s guess as to what will actually be happening in our current pandemic era. There definitely seems to be a festival happening this year though, so keep checking their website for updated info, closer to the festival date (only in Korean so far).

Seoul Drum Festival | 연등회

Festival Dates: Moved to June 17th – 18th, 2022

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!

traditional korean drumming

Enjoy traditional AND modern drumming at the festival © National Gugak Center, Korea Tourism Organization

In its 24th 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.

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.

korea weather in may | what to wear

By the end of May, it’s warm enough to wear shorts and t-shirts

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

1
It's cooler at the beginning of May in Korea than at the end, so prepare accordingly. If you're visiting in the last week of May, expect some rain.
2
Koreans generally dress quite well. You'll stand out quite a bit if you're wearing a ``typical backpacker`` look.
3
It's best to dress on the conservative side, if you don't want to draw unwelcome attention. For women, a low neckline will attract eyes, but a super short skirt won't (go figure).
korea in may | Dulegil Trail

May is the perfect month for hiking the many Dulegil around Korea.

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
  • sunglasses
  • 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!)
korea in may | flowers by the hangang

May in Korea is full of flowers

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Korea in May: Essential Info and FAQs

1
Is May a good time to visit Korea? Warm temperatures, less tourists, and spring flowers make May one of the very best months of the year to visit Korea.
2
Is May cold in Korea? Average daily temperatures in Korea range from 13 to 23°C in May. It can feel a little chilly at night. at the beginning of the month, but you'll be in shorts by the end.
3
Is Korea hot in May? In Korea in May, temperatures and humidity get progressively higher over the course of the month. It's generally a very comfortable month climate-wise but can begin to feel hot at the end of the month.
4
What to do in Korea in May? There are various flower and nature festivals to go to all over Korea in May. Outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and picnicking are also very popular.

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

Comments:

  • May 4, 2022

    So many things happening in Korea in May! The Lotus Lantern Parade, The Garden of Morning Calm Spring Flower Festival, the Royal Culture Festival, and the Damyang Bamboo Festival look good to enjoy.

    reply...

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