Best Places to See Fall Foliage in Korea

Of all the seasons to visit this country, autumn is number one. Once you’ve read through this list of places to see fall foliage in Korea, you’ll see why.

This list is long for a good reason. Autumn in Korea is incredibly enchanting. After a painfully humid summer where everyone is hugging their aircon or quietly melting with their iced Americanos in hand, fall signals a cooling down. The country turns a little more golden as the sunlight softens; the trees change into bursts of reds, oranges, and yellows, and everyone lingers a little longer after work or school.

Even more than the cherry blossoms, it’s my favorite time of year. Since I haven’t even begun to cover all the places to see fall foliage in Korea myself, I thought I’d ask my friends over at CGSCreative, Bobo + Chichiand Hedgers Abroad to share their favorite fall foliage locations as well. Read on to see if you’ve been to any of these beautiful areas.

tips for autumn in korea travel

When to Go

Peak season is October, though it starts earlier in the north and finishes later in the southern regions. If you want to stay up to date, KWeather puts out its own predictions in early September, and Korea’s main English tourist site translates this into English. For 2017 dates, check here.

From personal experience, those exact dates are going to be packed, so try to go a little earlier (if you go too late, you might just find bare branches and early winter weather). Your best bet is to travel on the weekdays when everyone is at school or work!

Travel Insurance

Since most of these places are going to require a little (or a lot of) hiking, it’s always a good idea to have some travel insurance just in case you manage to break or twist something. Check with your health insurance at home in case they have travel options, but if they don’t, you can always get rates from World Nomads.

Rent a Car

While it’s pretty easy to get around via intercity and local buses, if you really want total freedom, rent a car. This way you don’t have to worry about catching the last bus back from more remote locations, and you have the freedom of going earlier or later than most tours go.

We really liked our experience with renting from Sixt in Jeju, so check them out for mainland Korea. Better yet, try and get an electric car, they’re amazing!

OR Go with a Group

If you’d rather not deal with the headache of planning and want a set itinerary, take a look at Trazy’s different offerings for fall foliage tours:

best places to see fall foliage in korea

andong-roxy

Andoe Hahoe Folk Village

안동 하회마을

Located along Hwasun mountain, Andong’s Hahoe Folk Village is a uniquely Korean way of seeing the fall leaves. An important setting from the Joseon dynasty, it’s one of the best places to experience Korea’s traditional architecture. If you can, head there around the famous Mask Festival in late September… Read More at CityGirlSearching

Get There: go to Andong Express Bus Terminal + take bus #46 to the village.

One of the things you have to take advantage of in Korea is the mountains, and hiking Jirisan is one of the best ways to do it.

Baemsagol Valley in Jirisan

뱀사골

Last October Maggie and I decided to hike Baemsagol to take in the leaves, and it was absolutely stunning. The nine-hour hike is still one of the hardest I’ve done, but it was worth it for the gorgeous views. It is possible to stop earlier, so the course isn’t quite so long… Read More

Get There: go to Namwon Intercity Bus Terminal, take the bus to Baemsagol

CHECK HERE FOR A DAY TOUR TO BAEMSAGOL

bukhansan4

Bukhansan National Park

북한산국립공원

The iconic national park north of Seoul comes alive in fall. With the beautifully contrasting colors of the turning leaves and the powerful stone outcroppings that Bukhansan is known for; this park is a wonderland that begs a visit before the colds of winter set in. This national park is well known for its beauty, so be prepared to have company in the most trafficked (about 5 million visitors each year) National Park in the world…Read More at Hedgers Abroad

Get There: use subway line #3 and go to Gupalbal Station (구파발역), Exit 1. take bus #704 to Bukhansanseong Fortress (북한산성).

Changdeokgung Palace

창덕궁과 후원

“One of our favorite spots during the fall in Seoul is the secret garden of Changdeokgung Palace. The garden turns into a fall foliage wonderland when all the trees change colors. The most beautiful spot to enjoy them would be the small pond where all the trees and their leaves are reflected like a mirror on the water… Read More at Bobo + Chichi

Get There: use subway line 3 to go to Anguk Station (안국역), exit 3. walk straight to entrance

CHECK OUT CHANGDEOKGUNG TOURS HERE AND HERE

Another entry in our hiking in Korea experiences. Here we have the beautiful Daedunsan, famous for both its 81 meter high suspension bridge.

Daedunsan

대둔산

Famous for its high suspension bridge, I went with some friends in unfortunately foggy weather last November to catch the last of the leaves. It’s beautiful even in the clouds, and you’re sure to catch some gorgeous colors… Read More

Get There: from Jeonju Intercity Bus Terminal, take a bus to Daedunsan (대둔산)  

CHECK HERE FOR A DAY TOUR TO DAEDUNSAN

gurye2

Gurye

구례

Nestled at the foot of the Jiri Mountain Range and the most popular entrance to Jirisan National Park, Gurye is surrounded by mountainous beauty on all sides. At summer’s end, this sleepy town comes alive with vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds. While Gurye might not be the most populated or well-appointed city in South Korea, people looking to escape the bigger cities to a more natural setting need look no further. For those unwilling to embark on one of Gurye’s lovely valley hikes, check out Saseong Hermitage on Osan Mountain for dramatic architecture amidst the lovely trees or just relax by the river that runs through these stunning mountains…Read More at Hedgers Abroad

Get There: head to Gurye Bus Terminal and take a bus to Hwaeomsa (화엄사)

Check out one of the best places to see fall foliage and enjoy fresh air in Korea.... Naejangsan! Near Jeonju, it's well worth the visit rain or shine.

Naejangsan

 내장산

I first heard of Naejangsan when Roxy posted about it last year. Naejangsan is considered the best mountain in the country to see autumn’s colors, and it didn’t disappoint even in bad weather. While I only saw a little, Elissa did the full hike the year before and Roxy had some more time to explore the different areas (you can see her post here)… Read More

Get there: go to Jeongeup Bus Terminal, take a taxi to Naejangsan Park for about 10,000 KRW

CHECK HERE FOR A DAY TOUR TO NAEJANGSAN

nami-island

Nami Island

남이섬 종합휴양지

Arguably the most underrated time of year to visit this couple’s paradise just outside of Seoul. The island is beautifully landscaped with rows of trees that turn to beautiful yellow, orange, and red in the autumn. We enjoy spending a few hours here than exploring the rest of the beautiful places in the Chuncheon area as well… Read More at Bobo + Chichi

Get There: Use the ITX-Cheongchun train via the subway to go to Gapyeong Station (가평역).  From there, taxi to the Namiseom parking lot + take a ferry. If you’re staying near Insadong, it might be easier to just book a shuttle to and from.

CHECK OUT NAMI ISLAND DAY TRIPS

namwon-fall

Namwon

남원

I can’t talk about fall foliage in Korea and not mention my hometown of two years, could I? Last year I took my camera with me to school so I could take a long way home. I walked through Gwanghallu and by the river to take in all the colors at golden hour. Unfortunately, I also lost all these photos in my laptop crash this year… Hoping to recreate some photos when the weather clears up before I leave!

seoraksan1

Seoraksan National Park

설악산국립공원

Seoraksan National Park is one of those places that’s magical every season. The dramatic ridgeline here is even more incredible looking with the colors of fall foliage. Not only is this a beautiful time of year to visit, but one of the most comfortable temperatures to climb the mountains… Read More at Bobo + Chichi

Get There: Take a bus to Sokcho Bus Terminal. From there take bus #7 or 7-1 to Sogongwon  (소공원)

CHECK HERE FOR A DAY TOUR TO SEORAKSAN

seonunsan-park-cgscreative-1

Seonunsan National Park

선운산도립공원

Home to a 1,500-year-old temple, Seonunsan park is a little more off the beaten path! Near Gochang, you’ll have a better chance of viewing the fall leaves with fewer crowds. There are also a variety of hikes from as short as 3 hours to as long as 10 to better enjoy the scenery… Read More at CityGirlSearching

Get There: go to Gochang Intercity Bus Terminal, take a bus to Seonunsa (선운사)

suncheon1

Suncheon

순천

Once a small and unassuming city on South Korea’s southern coast, Suncheon has taken great strides to cultivate its natural beauty into a tourist destination. It has plentiful opportunities to enjoy nature this coming fall. The Suncheon Bay, the Philosopher’s hike from Seonam Temple to Songgwang Temple, the Garden Expo, and the Naganeupseong Folk Village are all wonderful places to experience this underrated city’s natural beauty… Read More at Hedgers Abroad

Get there: take a bus to Suncheon Bus Terminal or a train to Suncheon Station  

Do you have any places to see fall foliage in Korea to add to this list? Let us know below!

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19 Comments

  1. Natalia
    March 23, 2017 / 3:06 am

    Hi, Samantha! If I go to South Korea in October, will I see all those autumn scenes or will it be something closer to winter? Thank you.

    • March 24, 2017 / 9:34 am

      Hi Natalia! Your best bet is late October/early November for the fall leaves :). Early October will be a bit too soon and later November tends to get a few rain storms that strip away the leaves quickly.

  2. October 5, 2016 / 11:54 pm

    I’ve never seen the natural wonders of Korea before. What lovely fall colors and that secret garden is a treasure.

  3. October 5, 2016 / 9:59 pm

    So excited for Fall! Can’t wait for the colors to start changing where I am. I think Bukhansan looks particularly worth a visit. Hope to make it to Korea one day.

  4. October 3, 2016 / 7:45 pm

    You really found some beautiful spots. I love Fall and I miss watching the leaves change. Maybe a trip to Korea is in order!

  5. October 3, 2016 / 7:45 am

    Awesome! My friend is exploring Korea right now, so I’ve just shared this article with him – perhaps he can snag some beautiful photos, like the ones you have shared here. :)

  6. October 2, 2016 / 11:42 pm

    All of these areas look so beautiful! I think the one I would most want to see first would be BUKHANSAN NATIONAL PARK!

  7. October 2, 2016 / 9:42 pm

    Fall is my favorite season. I didn’t realize you could see such vibrant color changes in Korea. Your pictures are stunning. It would be a wonderful time to visit for sure.

  8. Lesley
    October 2, 2016 / 9:33 pm

    Wow! The contrasting colors of Bukhansan National Park are unbelievable and reminded me of home – Nova Scotia, Canada. The reds of Daedunsan are my favorite though.

  9. October 2, 2016 / 3:47 pm

    The colors of the Bukhansan National Park are really vibrant! I love how to rock faces poke out of the trees. This post really makes me appreciate Korea in the Fall and inspires me to check out more of my hometown this season.

  10. October 2, 2016 / 12:35 pm

    Korea has been on my “places to visit” list for a while now and I think I’m finally going to book my trip next year. First up will definitely be Changdeokgung Palace!

  11. October 2, 2016 / 11:27 am

    When I lived in Korea I used to love the fall. It seems to last at least a month longer than here in Canada and it’s beyond beautiful. This is a great reminder of how lovely it is. Thanks for posting.

  12. October 1, 2016 / 10:45 pm

    Awesome fall colours Samantha. I’ve visited South Korea in spring and in fall and I definitely prefer fall. It’s a short season but worth planning your trip around.

  13. October 1, 2016 / 6:41 am

    Im such a fan of Fall leaves as we just don’t get them in Australia! So beautiful

  14. October 1, 2016 / 6:37 am

    Wow, this is so inspiring. I miss having as many trees around me and I’d really love to see this in Korea. BUKHANSAN looks amazing!

  15. September 30, 2016 / 10:25 pm

    I have not been to Korea but we are planning to visit there next year on winter. But the color hues during fall is lovely. The color blending of the trees looks really stunning.

  16. September 30, 2016 / 10:17 pm

    Wow! Korea and its strong foliage game- so beautiful, especially Bukhansan National Park, The colorful shrubs and trees look like a paint palette! If I ever go to S Korea I’ll make sure I go in the fall to catch this beautiful sight :)

  17. September 30, 2016 / 9:47 pm

    These are absolute gorgeous fall colors everywhere. Wish I was going to be there during that time. I’d definitely go to Bukhansan National Park!

  18. September 30, 2016 / 9:13 pm

    These photos are making us miss our favorite season in Korea! Great roundup and thanks for including us!!!

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