Many consider Korea in the spring to be its most beautiful season, with mild weather and flowers bursting into bloom across the country. After the cold winter, and before the humid heat of summer, Korean springs welcome all with an air of excitement and possibility. Warmer and longer days feature temperatures ranging from 45-65°F and can close in on 70°F in May.
The season is most famously marked by the breathtaking cherry blossoms that sweep across the country, turning parks and streets into picturesque canvases of pink and white. This natural spectacle is celebrated with cherry blossom festivals in various cities, offering an enchanting experience for visitors.
Springtime in Korea is not just about scenic beauty; it’s a season rich with cultural significance and festivities. Traditional events and festivals are abundant, providing a deep dive into Korean heritage and customs. The spring season is less crowded compared to other peak times, allowing for a more relaxed and enjoyable travel experience.
Along with blooming flowers, new seasonal dishes appear on menus across the country. Some popular spring dishes like naengmyeon (cold buckwheat noodles) make a comeback and bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes) are especially good with fresh seasonal ingredients. Here are some of the best things to do in Korea during the spring season:
1. Cherry Blossom Viewing
One of the most popular things to do in Korea in the spring, whether you are a tourist or a native, is to go see the cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms are called beotkkot 벚꽃, and the large beautiful blossoms that are prized in Korea are different from the ones that are found in North America and Europe.
Cherry blossoms bloom all over Korea starting in late March in the southern areas and early April in the northern areas. Here are some of the best places to catch the blooms listed from South to North:
- Jeju Cherry Blossom Festiva (March 31 – April 2): Jeju Island is famous for its natural beauty, and the cherry blossom festival takes place in Jeju City. The festival includes a variety of events, which feature traditional performances and exhibitions.
- Jinhae Gunhangje Festival (March 24 – April 6): This festival takes place in Jinhae, a city located in the southern part of South Korea. The festival is famous for its beautiful cherry blossom trees and attracts millions of visitors every year.
- Gyeonghwa Station, aka Cherry Blossom Road, is a small railway station in Jinhae that is currently out of service and only runs during the Jinhae festival period. It is one of the most beautiful cherry blossom viewing sites in Korea and has been listed on CNN’s 50 Beautiful Places to Visit in Korea. There are rows of cherry trees along the abandoned railroad, creating an amazing view for visitors.
- Gyeongju Cherry Blossom Marathon (April 1): Gyeongju is a historic city in South Korea, and an annual marathon takes place during cherry blossom season. Runners and spectators can enjoy the beautiful cherry blossoms while participating in the race.
- Yeouido Spring Flower Festival (April 4 – April 9): This festival takes place in Seoul, specifically in Yeouido Park. The park is famous for its beautiful cherry blossom trees and hosts a variety of events, including concerts, art exhibitions, and food markets.
- Namsan Park (Early April): Located in the heart of Seoul, Namsan Park is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. The park is famous for its beautiful cherry blossom trees and provides stunning views of the city.
2. Eat Lots of Strawberries
Strawberry season typically runs from January through April, with the peak season being in March. During this time, you’ll see strawberries everywhere you turn and strawberry farms across the country open their doors to visitors who want to pick their own strawberries or simply enjoy the fresh fruit, already picked. The Nonsan Strawberry Festival in Chuncheongnam-do is a 25-year-old annual event that takes place from March 8-12, 2023.
Many upscale hotels will offer a strawberry buffet showcasing a bounty of strawberry delicacies. In fact, the competition among hotels to have the best strawberry themed events can become quite fierce, especially with the rise of social media influencers who post pictures of the best assortments and displays.
Strawberries are one of the most beloved fruits in Korea, and they are enjoyed in a variety of ways, from eating them fresh to using them in desserts and drinks.
In addition to eating strawberries on their own, they are also used in a variety of desserts and baked goods. Strawberry cakes and tarts are especially popular and can be found in many cafes and bakeries in spring months. Korean-style strawberry shortcake, which is made with fluffy sponge cake, fresh whipped cream, and sliced strawberries, is a particular favorite.
Strawberry bingsu, a popular Korean shaved ice dessert, is also a must-try during the spring season. This refreshing treat features a bed of shaved ice topped with fresh strawberries, condensed milk, and sometimes other fruits or toppings like mochi or red bean paste.
2. Visit a Traditional Village
Spring is a great time to visit Korea’s traditional villages, such as Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul or Jeonju Hanok Village in Jeonju. Hahoe and Yangdong, in Gyeongsangbuk-do, are two UNESCO cultural heritage villages that offer a glimpse into South Korea’s past.
These villages offer a glimpse into Korea’s rich history and culture, and are particularly picturesque during the spring with their blooming flowers and trees.
3. Korea in Spring is Perfect for Hiking
Korea is known for its mountainous terrain and beautiful landscapes, and hiking is a favorite Korean pastime. Two-thirds of its citizens own a pair of hiking boots and tackle a mountain at least once a year, according to The Economist. Here are some of the best places to hike in Korea:
- Seoraksan National Park: Seoraksan is the highest mountain in the Taebaek mountain range and is famous for its stunning scenery, including deep valleys, waterfalls, and rock formations. The park has many trails for all levels of hiking expertise.
- Bukhansan National Park: Bukhansan is located in Seoul and is a popular hiking destination for locals and tourists. The park has many trails ranging from easy to challenging, and the views from the summit are breathtaking.
- Jirisan National Park: Jirisan is Korea’s largest national park and is located in the southern part of the country. The park has many hiking trails that lead through forests, valleys, and peaks, and the views of the surrounding countryside are spectacular.
- Hallasan National Park: Hallasan is located on Jeju Island and is Korea’s highest mountain. The park has many hiking trails that lead through forests and volcanic landscapes, and the views from the summit are stunning.
- Namsan Park: Namsan is located in the heart of Seoul and is a popular with locals and tourists alike. The park has many trails that lead to the summit of Namsan Mountain, where visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the city.
4. Visit a Temple
Korea has many beautiful temples that are worth visiting, and spring is a great time to do so. Many temples are surrounded by gorgeous cherry blossoms and other spring flowers, making for a truly magical experience.
Korean temple food has become very popular in recent years. Don’t miss an opportunity to try the delicious vegetarian fare that is offered at many temples throughout Korea. Here are some of the best temples to visit in Korea:
- Jogyesa Temple: Located in the heart of Seoul, Jogyesa Temple is one of the most well-known temples in Korea. It is the headquarters of the Jogye Order, the largest Buddhist branch in Korea, and is famous for its colorful lantern festival held in May.
- Bulguksa Temple: Located in Gyeongju, Bulguksa Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Korea’s most famous temples. The temple was built in the 8th century and is renowned for its beautiful architecture and gorgeous natural surroundings.
- Haeinsa Temple: Located in the foothills of Mount Gayasan, Haeinsa Temple is one of the most important temples in Korea. It is home to the Tripitaka Koreana, a collection of Buddhist scriptures carved on wooden blocks that date back to the 13th century.
- Beopjusa Temple: Located in Songnisan National Park, Beopjusa Temple is one of the oldest and most beautiful temples in Korea. It was built in the 7th century and is famous for its beautiful bell pavilion and stunning natural beauty.
- Tongdosa Temple: Located in the mountains near the city of Busan, Tongdosa Temple is one of Korea’s most important temples. It is renowned for its many relics and treasures, including a pagoda that dates back to the 9th century.
5. The Jeju Food and Wine Festival
Spring is also a great time to enjoy Korea’s delicious native food at one of the many culinary celebrations that take place throughout the country. The Jeju Food and Wine Festival is an annual event that takes place on Jeju Island. The festival is typically held in late May or early June and lasts for several days.
The celebration showcases the unique flavors of Jeju Island, which is known for its fresh seafood, organic produce, and artisanal products. Visitors can enjoy a variety of food and wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, and workshops led by local chefs and producers.
In addition to the food and wine, the festival also features cultural performances, art exhibitions, and other entertainment. There are also opportunities to participate in outdoor activities, such as hiking and cycling, as participants explore the natural beauty of Jeju Island.
The Jeju Food and Wine Festival attracts both locals and tourists from around the world, and is a great way to experience the rich culinary and cultural traditions of Jeju Island. Whether you’re a food lover, a wine enthusiast, or simply looking for a fun and unique experience, the Jeju Food and Wine Festival is definitely worth checking out.
These are just a few of the many things to do in Korea in spring. From outdoor activities to cultural experiences, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Korea during this fabulous season of renewal.