Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in Korea

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Finally winter is over and we can all start enjoying the Korean outdoors again. One of the events that marks this changing of the seasons is the spectacular cherry blossoms. There aren’t that many countries in the world where you can see the cherry blossoms, and they only last a few days so if you want to see the cherry blossoms in Korea, you need to plan ahead.

The cherry blossom is usually associated with Japan, where it is known as sakura. In Korea, it is called beot-kkot (벗꽃). In fact most of the cherry trees in Korea are believed to be a slightly different species of tree than those in Japan. The Korean cherry tree, known as the ‘king cherry’ originated from Jeju Island, which is also the first place that the cherry blossom occurs in due to its slightly warmer climate.

Finally winter is over and we can all start enjoying the Korean outdoors again. One of the events that marks this changing of the seasons is the spectacular cherry blossoms. There aren’t that many countries in the world where you can see the cherry blossoms, and they only last a few days so if you want to see the cherry blossoms in Korea, you need to plan ahead.

The cherry blossom is usually associated with Japan, where it is known as sakura. In Korea, it is called beot-kkot (벗꽃). In fact most of the cherry trees in Korea are believed to be a slightly different species of tree than those in Japan. The Korean cherry tree, known as the ‘king cherry’ originated from Jeju Island, which is also the first place that the cherry blossom occurs in due to its slightly warmer climate.

Cherry blossoms in Jeju Island

Cherry blossoms in Jeju Island

The blossoming starts on Jeju Island in late March, but although some die-hard cherry blossom pilgrims might make the trip to Jeju to see the first blossoms of the year, it might be better to save your trip to Jeju for another time and experience one of the many cherry blossom festivals on the mainland instead.

Jinhae

One of the most famous places to see the cherry blossoms in Korea is the small city of Jinhae on Korea’s south coast. Otherwise known for its Naval Academy, once a year, in the first week of April, Jinhae plays host to thousands of tourists all coming to see the cherry blossoms. During this time the naval base, usually restricted, is opened to the public and you can learn about Admiral Lee Sun-Shin and see a replica of one of his famous Turtle Ships. The city also puts on many cultural events and opens a special market.

Admiral Lee recommends you see the cherry blossoms in Jinhae!

Admiral Lee recommends you see the cherry blossoms in Jinhae!

But the main attraction is of course the white and soft pink petals that people have travelled from around the country to see. If you are planning on visiting Jinhae, try to book some accommodation in advance. If all the direct buses from Seoul are booked, you might be able to take a bus to nearby Changwon before taking a short inter-city bus from there.

Jinhae Cherry Blossoms

Jinhae Cherry Blossoms

Gyeongju

If you miss your chance in Jinhae, then you could visit Gyeongju on the following weekend. With its traditional buildings and ancient tombs, Gyeongju might well be one of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Korea. After-all, you are going to want to take some gorgeous photos, and what better background to have than some old hanok houses or mountainside. Gyeongju has not one but three cherry blossom festivals around the city. There is even a cherry blossom marathon for those who like to enjoy the beauty of nature whilst experiencing fatigue and physical pain.

Gyeongju is a great place for riding a bike

Gyeongju is a great place for riding a bike

For the less masochistic cherry blossom observer, why not rent a bike and cycle around the city enjoying its historical sites as well as the cherry blossoms. Bomun lake and Dongbu historical complex, both a short bus ride (or long but scenic cycle ride) from the city center, have festivals with performances and exhibitions to enjoy. If you prefer to stay in the downtown area, you can see the cherry blossoms in Heungmu Park instead.

Seoul

For those in the capital who wish to see the cherry blossom but don’t fancy the effort of a five hour coach journey to the south coast, there are plenty of places around Seoul to see the cherry blossoms. The most well-known is the Yeouido Cherry Blossom festival, which with the recent opening of the subway line 9 extension is more accessible than ever. The cherry blossoms in Korea hit Seoul from mid to late April depending on the weather, and on the weekends during this period Yeouido Hangang Park will become very crowded. If you wish to enjoy the Cherry Blossoms without the crowds, why not give Yeouido a miss and visit one of the many other spots in Seoul to see the cherry blossoms.

In the East of Seoul, Seokchon Lake is an easily accessible place to see the Cherry blossoms and take pictures of their reflections, and the nearby Lotte World Mall can be used as an incentive to drag along any of your friends who are less enthusiastic at seeing the cherry blossoms.

In the North of Seoul, Kyunghee University’s cherry blossoms are certainly underrated. The mock medieval style university halls make a stylish backdrop to the white flower petals.

Cherry Blossoms at KyungHee University

Cherry Blossoms at KyungHee University

For those of you who are looking to see the Cherry Blossoms without the noise of the city as a backdrop, Seoul Grand Park in Gwacheon, and Seoul Forest could be the places for you. The large lake in Seoul Grand Park has many cherry blossom trees surrounding it, and the site also has a zoo, an amusement park, and a modern art museum so there is something other than the Cherry Blossoms for you to enjoy after making the trip. As the zoo invariably attracts families, those of you looking to avoid children at the weekend might consider Seoul Forest a better option. The large park isn’t usually that busy, and will certainly be quieter than Yeouido. Bring a mat and some snacks and you could have a lovely picnic under the cherry blossoms.

For the budding photographer, the cherry blossoms are the perfect chance to visit one of Seoul’s palaces. Although you could get some great pictures at Gyeongbokgung or Changdeokgung. The best palace to see the cherry blossoms is the lesser known Changgyeonggung. Hidden away behind Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung palace is best reached by taking a bus or subway to Hyehwa station. The Japanese planted cherry trees in Changgyeonggung palace during the period of Japanese rule, and as a result this palace has more of the trees than the other palaces in Seoul. The nearby Daehangno area is also a great place to eat or grab a coffee after seeing the Cherry blossom.

Of course there are many other places to see the cherry blossoms in Korea, almost every town or city will most likely have some cherry blossoms. Which places near you are the best for seeing the cherry blossom?



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