When is the Best Time to Visit South Korea?
Published on: October 11th, 2018
Last modified: July 27th, 2023
The best time to visit South Korea for the cherry blossoms is between late March to mid-April. From September to November, colourful autumn leaves and traditional festivals await. The best time to travel to South Korea for the snow is from December to February.
A snowy getaway in the mountains, an island escape in Jeju, or a trip to capture the Sakura season in Seoul — the best time to visit South Korea depends entirely on what you want to do when you arrive.
South Korea’s four distinct seasons cater to all types of traveller, offering different perks year-round. Keep in mind that monsoon season typically runs from July to August; this is also when there are fewer crowds at most sightseeing spots.
The Top Things to do in South Korea
Whether you are in search of cutting-edge culture, outdoor adventure, big city life or an escape from it, South Korea is truly a destination that has it all. Here’s when to visit South Korea to enjoy your favourite activities and events.
See the Cherry Blossoms
The best time to see cherry blossoms in South Korea is during the spring months from the end of March to mid-April. Many travellers looking to experience Asia’s cherry blossom think of Japan; however, South Korea is a great alternative. For the best cherry blossom views, visit Seoul’s Yeouido Spring Flower Festival or Busan’s Jinhae Gunhangje Cherry Blossom Festival. On Jeju Island, Seongeup Folk Village showcases the pastel colours in an authentic and charming way.
See the Autumn Leaves
September to November is the best time to visit South Korea to see autumn leaves. The leaves change in colour, with stunning shades of orange and red appearing all over the country. In September, chilly autumnal temperatures can follow some of the hottest days of the year, so it's worth packing a few extra layers. October has nearly perfect weather and is a great time to enjoy the array of reds, oranges and yellows appearing across South Korea. In November, festivals such as the Seoul Lantern Festival and Seoul Kimchi Festival complement mild temperatures and natural beauty.
December to February is South Korea’s winter, which is cold but cosy. This is the best time to visit South Korea if you are looking enjoy some winter sports, such as skiing and snowboarding. Cooler temperatures also mean that points of interest will be far less crowded than usual. If you need to escape the cold for a while, head to one of South Korea’s many jjimjilbangs - traditional Korean spas complete with saunas and thermal baths.
Festivals and culture
As well as being the best time of year for South Korea’s cherry blossom, many exciting festivals take place between March and May. In March, Jeju Fire Festival celebrates the arrival of Spring. Farmers on Jeju Island set their pastures alight to kill old grass and eliminate pests before cattle and horses start grazing again. Daljip, or moon houses, are also burned to help fulfil villagers’ prayers for good fortune. The fascinating Jindo Miracle Sea Road Festival occurs between the end of April and early May. During this time, an incredible natural phenomenon allows festival-goers to walk straight through the middle of the parted Jindo Sea.
Where to Stay in South Korea
Park Hyatt SeoulIn Seoul’s exclusive Gangnam District, the Park Hyatt’s towering glass structure encloses a thoroughly modern and understatedly elegant city hotel. It has an unmistakably Korean soul, littered as it is with select Korean antiques and works by local artists. There are a grand total of 185 guestrooms including 38 suites, the generous space maximised by the floor to ceiling windows and incredible city views in every room. Bathrooms don’t scrimp on size either with deep soaking baths and a rain shower. A particular highlight of the hotel is the 24th floor infinity pool with expansive vistas best at sunset. There’s also a modern fitness studio and spa. The Park Hyatt Seoul has three dining options; Cornerstone, an open kitchen restaurant specializing in grilled meats and seafood prepared in wood-burning ovens, the 24th floor Lounge’s Korean dishes and light snacks, and the Timber House, with its three bars (Sake/Soju/Sushi, Whisky and Cocktails) and exquisite Japanese cuisine.
Hilton GyeongjuHilton Gyeongju is located by Lake Bomun, surrounded by mountains but just 20 minutes from downtown. There are 330 rooms and suites, spacious and bright with large windows and marble bathrooms. Most come with a balcony overlooking the lake. Guests are spoiled for choice when it comes to eating and drinking with six restaurants and bars on site. Enjoy Italian cuisine at Da Vinci which overlooks the hotel gardens, sushi and Japanese cuisine at Genji, or Cantonese and Sichuan at Silkroad. There is also a cocktail lounge on the 9th floor, a lobby lounge and a poolside bar. When you’re not out exploring, take some time to enjoy the fitness room, swimming pool, jogging track and bikes that are available for guests to use.
Shilla JejuShilla Jeju is a resort hotel located on the island of Jeju, just 50 minutes from the airport. There are 429 bright and spacious rooms with mountain or ocean views. Decor is simple but elegant, with light colours and splashes pf pastel. There are several restaurants to choose from, serving everything from Korean and Japanese to Mediterranean. There are also three bars as well as a pastry boutique. There are two outdoor swimming pools with cabanas – one for adults and one for families – as well as one indoor pool. For those that like to stay active while on holiday, there is a fitness centre and tennis courts, while those looking to unwind will find all they need at the Guerlain spa.
What season to avoid?
In July, rainy season means that the whole of South Korea feels uncomfortably damp and muggy. August brings scorching temperatures alongside torrential rains. It’s also the holiday season for most Korean schools and universities, meaning it can get extremely crowded. South Korea experiences one to three typhoons per year, with most of them passing over the country in August, so this time of year is best avoided.
Seollal (Lunar New Year) and Chuseok
South Korea’s lunar new year, Seollal, is celebrated at some point in either January or February. Chuseok, a Korean harvest festival, falls between September and October. During both festivals, many South Koreans go home to see their families, making travelling around the country quite difficult. Many attractions are also closed during these times, so Seoul becomes quite quiet. As both celebrations depend on the lunar calendar, their dates change slightly each year. It’s a good idea to check whether your planned travel dates coincide with either festival before you book your trip.