Korea Cherry Blossom Season Guide 2020 - Best Places to Visit in Korea

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Korea Cherry Blossom Season Guide 2020 - Best Places to Visit in Korea

by Holxo Travel Specialist

KOREA
CHERRY BLOSSOM

When you think of cherry blossoms, the first thing that springs to mind is Japan’s cherry blossom season. But every spring, cherry blossoms bloom in South Korea too. Cherry blossom season in Korea is when the streets and the entire place erupts in gorgeous cherry blossoms to create a breathtaking sight and a memorable spring holiday.

As we approach spring 2020, it’s sakura season in Korea and it’s time to plan and get your South Korea itinerary ready. Combine your dream trip to the city with the sakura pink craze!

Overview of the cherry blossom season in Korea

Although associated with Japan where the flower is fondly known as sakura, it’s also found in abundance in South Korea. Cherry blossom in Korea is called beot-kkot and like Japan, they’re found everywhere around the country.

Unlike in Japan, the cherry blossom in Korea is a slightly different species. A particular variety known as the ‘king cherry’ originates from Jeju Island and due to its warmer climate, it’s the first place this tree occurred. The king cherry’s flowers are distinctively bigger and pinker.

The other more common variety Yoshino Cherry Blossoms are easier to see and more common.

While you can head to Jeju Island in late March, there are plenty of opportunities to catch some of the best cherry blossoms in Korea on the mainland.

Cherry blossom forecast in Korea
Cherry blossom forecast in Korea (Credit: Kweather)

Where to see Cherry Blossom In Korea

First up, Seoul. Seoul is a must in your South Korea itinerary; it’s a hip city and offers a tonne of attractions to keep you on your feet all day long. Apart from cherry blossoms, if you’re interested in other activities, places to visit and Seoul Attractions, this South Korea blog from our fellow travel specialist is super helpful.

Those looking for the best tourist places in Korea for viewing cherry blossoms, you’re in the right place. Here are a couple of the most popular cherry blossom festivals in Seoul:

1. Cherry Blossom Festival at Yeouido

Located alongside the Han River, Yeouido Park is one of the best and most popular spots to celebrate this springtime phenomenon. It’s also one of the places to visit in Seoul for one of the biggest cherry blossom festivals. If you visit at the right time, you will be able to witness over 1,400 cherry trees in full bloom along the stretch that nearly 6km. There are plenty of spots for admiring the pretty flowers.

While the full bloom cherry trees fringe the street, the main street is brimming with food vendors, street performers and other forms of entertainment. Grab some of the tasty food and have a picnic under the blossoms and by the river - it’s idyllic.

Yeouido
Yeouido

2. Cherry Blossom Festival at Seokchon Lake

The second and one of the other favourite places to visit in Seoul during the cherry blossom season in Korea is Seokchon Lake. You’ll fall in love with the lake during springtime as the lake is said to be the most attractive at this time. Thousands of cherry blossom trees line the beautiful lakeside to present a magnificent sight that will last in your memory forever!

Spend your day strolling on the footpath amidst the pink blossoms and enjoy the bustling activities that surround you. Once you get your sakura fix, you can visit the famous Lotte World that’s nearby for your daily dose of adrenaline.

It’s a great festival for aspiring photographers as well. Not only do the blossoms that reflect in the water provide a once in a lifetime photo opportunity, but it’s also a memorable sight and experience.

Seokchon Lake
Seokchon Lake

3. Gyeongbukgung Palace

The palace alone is one of the most iconic Seoul Attractions; combine that with the cherry blossoms in Korea and you’ve got yourself an unparalleled combination. Of course, it’s a great spot to visit during any season but cherry blossom season takes the palace to a whole new level! While there isn’t an abundance of trees, but the trees with a background of the traditional building and palace makes a beautiful and charming combination.

Did you know that you can enter for free if you’re clad in the traditional dress, the hanbok? Ensure you rent some at rental stores nearby for free entrance to the palace.

Gyeongbukgung Palace
Gyeongbukgung Palace

#HolxoTip: Other Seoul Attractions that should be a part of your itinerary and are beautiful both during and after cherry blossom season are Changgyeonggung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, Unhyeongung Palace, and Deoksugung Palace.

Other places to catch some of the best cherry blossoms in Korea

1. Nami Island, Chuncheon

If you’ve watched the much-loved K-Drama series, Winter Sonata then you will instantly relate to this place. The area was one of the filming locations for the drama. Those who haven’t, fear not. The breathtaking scenery and the place, in general, will make you feel at home.

Whether you’re here with your family during cherry blossom in Korea or your partner, there’s always some room for love on this island.

Did you know that this island’s electrical wires are all underground to ensure visitors have the best possible views of the cherry blossom trees?

While on this half-moon shaped island, you can catch the blossoms in full bloom or head to the family-friendly theme park for a fun time.

Nami Island
Nami Island During Autumn

2. Gyeongpo Cherry Blossom Festival, Gangneung

Gangneung is a very popular spot to watch the sunrise and sunset as well as enjoy the warm and balmy weather at Gyeongpo Beach.

Located on the country’s east coast, Gangneung's appeal lies towards the sea. While taking a dip in the warm and azure waters and enjoying the sunny weather and the gorgeous stretch of sand are one of the most preferred activities, come spring during cherry blossom season in Korea, head to Gyeongpodae Pavilion where around a path of 4.3km you will find trees in full bloom, which creates a stunning sight.

There are endless other activities, things to do and place to see in the area including enjoying fresh seafood on the beach, exploring a coffee museum and zip lining in the mountains close by!

Gyeongpodae Pavilion
Gyeongpodae Pavilion

3. Jeju Island

Owing to its location, Jeju is the first place in Korea to see cherry blossom every year. It’s a popular spot for its many specialties. While you can celebrate at several places, a famous spot is Noksanro where you can catch the king. Cherry blossoms in full bloom along with bright yellow canola flowers.

The home to the elusive King Cherry Tree, Jeju is away from the bustling city. The species found here is one of the rarest and distinct species of cherry blossom, which makes it an absolute treat for visitors to witness in person.

There are plenty of spots all around the island to catch the cherry blossoms however, some of the best tourist places in Korea for viewing include downtown Seogwipo and the Jeju Sports Complex.

Remember that the trees bloom only for about 2-3 days you have to keep your eyes peeled to the forecast dates.

If your South Korea itinerary doesn’t permit you to catch the flower in full bloom, you can still enjoy all that Jeju Island has to offer and other stunning views. If you’ve travelled as far as Jeju, might as well make the journey an indulgent one. If you’re a foodie or not, the unique food culture is a must-try. Adventure junkies can hike to the highest mountain in Korea, Hallasan. You can also pamper yourself with skincare products that contain rich volcanic clay.

Jeju Island
Jeju Island

4. Jinhae Gunhangje Cherry Blossom Festival

Jinhae is one of Busan’s famous places where hordes of tourists and locals gather around during the month of April for the popular cherry blossom festival. Otherwise a sleepy town, Jinhae comes alive during the 10-day festival where the walkways to the tunnels are drowned in a sea of pinkish-white petals of over 300,000 trees alongside the numerous museums, food carts, and musical performances.

Although at every turn you can expect to encounter white and pink petals, the two primary viewing spots during the cherry blossom season in Korea are Gyeonghwa train station and Yeojwacheon stream.

For a sight straight out a K-drama, head to Yeojwacheon stream; it’s what dreams are made of! At Gyeonghwa train station, the glorious archways are set ablaze with hues of pink with rows of cherry blossom trees.

Jinhae
Jinhae

A few things to keep in mind about cherry blossom season in Korea

  • Unlike other flowers, cherry blossoms bloom for a relatively short time. After the first blossoms, they reach full bloom within a week. A week later, the peak bloom ends and the blossoms begin falling from the trees. The weather has a strong impact on blossoms; the sunnier, the better, while rain and strong wind can impact blossoming and cut it shorter. Even in the same city, trees bloom at their own pace. Those in shadowy places bloom several days later as compared to ones in a sunny place.        
  • There is no fixed time during spring that the flowers bloom. Every year, the time of bloom varies based on several factors like weather. The Korean Meteorological Administration will only release its official cherry blossom forecast for 2020 around early March. A safe time to plan your travel will be between late March and mid-April.
  • During this time, there are plenty of foods and drinks that come in sakura flavours and available only at this time. From cherry blossom themed doughnuts to cupcakes to cakes and cocktails, there’s a huge variety of things to try. Grab them and try them! Not just on trees and food, you’ll find adornments on clothes and souvenirs of the sakura blossom. During this season, sakura is the theme for everything!   
  • A plethora of tourists flocks to the country at this time of the year. It will be crowded. Pick the spots and the time for viewing accordingly and make any reservations, if needed, in advance. It’s best to visit during the early morning as you can avoid huge crowds. Evenings are the worst with everyone and anyone there, making it difficult to walk around in peace or even click some good photos.

Make the best of cherry blossom season in Korea

South Korea, the land that’s popular due to its reverential K-dramas is also known for its panoramic mountain views, tranquillity and scenic natural landscape including the sought-after cherry blossoms.

Since the cherry blossom season in Korea is celebrated only for a short period, during the time, it’s all fun and fervour! All through the festivities, you will be the streets lined with small markets and booths selling local food and the likes while revellers leisurely amble under the trees and take a multitude of photos of the cherry blossom trees.

The cheerful and festive atmosphere spreads a contagious joy across the whole of South Korea which makes it the perfect time to plan an unforgettable South Korea itinerary.

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