When is the Best Time to Visit South Korea?
The best time to visit South Korea depends largely on what you want to do. South Korea’s four distinct seasons cater to all types of traveller, offering different perks year-round. If you’re going for the cherry blossoms, then late March to mid-April is the time to visit. For colourful autumn leaves and traditional festivals, September to November is a great time to go. The best time to enjoy South Korea’s snow is from December to February, particularly if you’re a winter sports enthusiast. South Korea’s monsoon season lasts from July to August, so it’s best to avoid travelling there during those months.
The best time of year to visit South Korea
Many travellers looking to experience Asia’s cherry blossom think of Japan; however, South Korea is a great alternative. The best time to catch a glimpse of these beautiful Spring colours is from the end of March to mid-April. 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.
Autumn colours: September to November
Outside of “sakura” season, Autumn is the best time to visit South Korea. The leaves change 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.
When not to go to South Korea
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.
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.
Avoid the crowds
Weather still tends to be mild in June, particularly in South Korea’s coastal towns such as Busan and Jindo. South Korea’s coastline can become overrun with tourists in July and August, so visiting in June is a great way to avoid the crowds, especially as Spring comes to an end and the rainfall is still yet to come. Although the weather is unlikely to be inclement, evenings can still be cool so it’s worth packing a light jacket.