While you’d be hard-pressed to find Koreans ready to sing Japan’s praises, you’ll also be hard-pressed to find any Korean that doesn’t perk up at the thought of cherry blossoms. While Japan’s legacy in Korea is tense, to say the least, its tradition of sakura is one that is actually still enjoyed and welcomed today. Cherry blossoms signal an end to Korea’s bitter winter and a start to spring and all its connotations of renewal, love, and magic.
Winter in Korea can be rough. Most people will tell you it’s their least favorite time of the year. Truthfully, unless it snows, the country turns pretty dull. No one is spending a lot of time outside, everyone is bundled in their neutral colored coats both inside and outside, and the skies are gray more than they’re blue. Plus, with it getting dark earlier, most people are working while it’s still light out.
However, once spring arrives, there’s this sudden energy in the air. Suddenly Korea comes to life once again, and suddenly the sidewalks are filled with students and workers lingering on their breaks instead of rushing for the closest building. The cherry blossoms represent the beginning of this season, and Koreans are rightfully excited by their arrival. I thought I’d enlist in the help of some friends to put together a list of some of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Korea. Read on to see where to plan your next trip!
Where to See Cherry Blossoms in Korea
Enrogel Teapot Café (Jeongeup)
While I visited Enrogel Teapot Café during late fall, it’s actually at its most beautiful during cherry blossom season. The café takes “off the beaten path” to new levels, so you might want to have a car if you’re planning on visiting. I had to take an hour bus to Gwangju followed by a 30-minute taxi ride just to get to the café, whereas Roxy was only a 40-minute drive away. It’s buried away in the countryside, with very little surrounding it. The cherry blossom road complements the whimsical teapot architecture perfectly, so it will definitely be one of the quirkier places you’ll visit in the country. See more photos at CityGirl Searching
Read More: 10 Quirky Things to Do in Seoul
While not technically a cherry blossom festival, the maehwa (매화) or apricot blossom deserves just as much love. It’s one of the earliest signs of spring flowers on mainland Korea, and Koreans will visit in huge crowds to delight over all the white and pink along the Seomjin river. Getting to Seomjin village, where the festival is held, can be a bit tricky. While the Hedgers drove, Roxy and her husband used public transportation when they went. Aim to get to Gwangyang Bus Terminal (광양버스터미널) or Hadong Station (하동역). Then you’ll take a shuttle bus or taxi to the festival grounds.
Nearly two years later, and this is still one of my favorite photos and memories from Korea. I still can’t believe I almost didn’t go out of sheer laziness and not wanting to wake up early! I went with friends, and while we met a ton of traffic, we overall enjoyed our trip. I mean with 2.5 miles of cherry blossoms, it’s hard not to enjoy. The nice part, as well, is that the traffic is largely hidden from the blossoms, so for photographers, you aren’t competing with a bunch of cars and people crowding the view.
Read More: Hwagae Cherry Blossom Festival
Considering the Jinhae Festival (진해군항제) is the most famous Korean blossom festival in the whole country, expect both incredible beauty and incredible crowds (over 2 million of them). You’ve probably seen either the train tracks of Gyeonghwa Station (경화역) or at Yeojwacheon Stream (여좌천-벚꽃명소), though there are a number of other places to see them in Jinhae. Nicole visited with a tour group last year and while she loved the blossoms, she said the crowds were intense.
To get there, you’ll want to take a bus to Jinhae Bus Terminal (진해버스터미널).
Considering I called this beautiful place home for two years, I’m a little biased. And it was pretty easy for me to enjoy the blossom on my own, whether between switching schools, early on a weekend, or before classes. If you ask a local where they think the best cherry blossoms are found, they’ll tell you Namwon is definitely better than Jinhae. ;) Simply take a bus into Namwon Bus Terminal (Namwon Station is actually a little outside of the main part of town) and find your way to the river. There you’ll be able to enjoy the blossoms lining the river. I recommend crossing to the side with the Chunhyang Amusement Park and climbing around the different trails to get even better views.
Read More: Postcards from Spring in Namwon
Seokchon Lake (Seoul)
I’ve actually never properly made it up to Seoul in time to see the cherry blossoms! March and April were always such busy times getting back into the school year, and with Namwon so easily accessible, I never quite made the trek up north. Megan and Scott managed to visit two of the really beautiful spots in the city to see them. Seokchon Lake (석천호수) has the unique distinction of being right next to Lotte World. A trail wraps around the whole area, so you can get almost a circular view of the blossoms. To get there, head for Jamsil Station (잠실역) on the subway and use Exit 2 or 3. Read more on Bobo + Chichi
With over a thousand trees along the Han river, Yeongdeungpo Yeouido Spring Flower Festival (영등포 여의도 봄꽃축제) is another place in Seoul that’s perfect for seeing all the blossoms. While there you can get views of the city and a number of other spring flowers Korea is famous for. Read More on Bobo + Chichi
“Each area of Korea starts blooming at a different time, and the southern coastal city of Yeosu is one of the first places to see blossoms on the mainland as they start opening in late March and early April. If you need to escape from Korea’s dull winter blues, you should consider making a trip down south to enjoy some of the earliest spring weather. Yeosu has flowers blooming year round, but the city really shows off during the springtime. The cherry blossoms here are also a shade of light pink, whereas, in Seoul, the flowers are white. These flowers are more reminiscent of the cherry blossoms in Japan and their color will leave you utterly speechless.” – Stephanie, Read more about spring flowers in Yeosu here
More Tips on Seeing the Cherry Blossoms in Korea
- The best time to visit Korea for the cherry blossoms will be around mid-March through mid-April, though with the unseasonably warm winter, it may be a week or so early.
- Get to any of these places early. If possible, stay over the night before, wake up at the crack of dawn, and then go out to explore. Koreans love cherry blossoms, and I haven’t heard of a single place on the weekend that isn’t packed from morning to afternoon. Ideally, if you’re traveling, aim for early morning during the week before or after the festival period to avoid crowds.
- It’s still pretty chilly in Korea, so be sure to stay warm!
And there you have it! Some of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Korea (I also bet you can’t count how many times I probably said “cherry blossoms” in this post!). While I still think fall is my favorite time of year, it only barely comes ahead of cherry blossom season. There’s just something so refreshing about seeing everyone outside and having fun.
Where do you plan on seeing cherry blossoms this year?
Thank you to these lovely contributors! Do check out their wonderful blogs and social media for more.
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