This article first appeared on Skyscanner’s When and where to see cherry blossoms in Korea during Sakura season
Korea's cherry blossom season is simply magical, with myriads of fragrant pink and white flowers bursting into bloom across the country. But these delicate blossoms aren't in full bloom for very long, so planning is everything.
Check out Skyscanner's handy guide to all things pink: whether you want to know the best time to visit for sakura season, or the top places to see cherry blossoms in Korea, we've got you covered.
1. 2017 cherry blossom forecast for South Korea
If you want to catch South Korea's cherry blossom season, it's usually a safe bet to travel there between late March and mid-April. However, since cherry trees bloom at different times depending on the region, take a look at these estimated dates below to help you plan your itinerary.
The Korean Meteorological Administration will only release its official cherry blossom forecast for 2017 around early March, so keep checking this space for updates. For now, here were the cherry blossom dates for 2016:
2. Best places to see cherry blossoms in Korea
2a. Best places to see cherry blossoms in Seoul
Yeouido Spring Flower Festival
The small island of Yeouido, located on the Han river, is one of Seoul's most popular spots for enjoying sakura season. Every year, the Yeouido Spring Flower Festival attracts scores of tourists and locals alike, thanks to its stunning pink canopies of cherry blossoms and its lively atmosphere. With over 1,600 cherry blossom trees dotted across the island, Yeouido is truly a sakura paradise.
Yeouiseo-ro Street, which turns into a pedestrian promenade during the festival, is an ideal place to take a stroll, get your portrait drawn, or grab a bite from one of the many street vendors. Make sure to stick around until nightfall, when the sparkling lights dancing among the petals will take your breath away.
How to get there: Take Seoul Subway Line 5 to Yeouinaru Station (Exit 1), or Subway Line 9 to National Assembly Station (Exit 6). Basic fare is $1.50 (KRW 1,350) for adults and $0.50 (KRW 450) for children.
Website: Click here
Seokchon Lake Cherry Blossom Festival
It's hard to think of a more beautiful backdrop for a cherry blossom festival than Seokchon Lake in Seoul. All around the lake, you'll find hundreds of trees elegantly draped in pale pink blossoms, their sweet scent wafting through the spring air.
And while you could probably spend hours just soaking up the stunning scenery, there are also plenty of activities to enjoy - from face painting to drawing contests. Once you've had your fill of cherry blossoms, you can even plan a trip to the nearby Lotte World amusement park for some quality time with the kids.
When: early April
How to get there: Take Seoul Subway Line 2 to Jamsil Station (Exit 2). Basic fare is $1.50 (KRW 1,350) for adults and $0.50 (KRW 450) for children.
Website: Click here
2b. Best places to see cherry blossoms in Busan
Jinhae Gunhangje Cherry Blossom Festival
If you're obsessed with cherry blossoms, then the lovely port city of Jinhae should be your first stop. Located just one hour away from Busan by bus, Jinhae is home to the biggest cherry blossom festival in South Korea. This otherwise sleepy town goes all out for the 10 days of festivities, which include a military band parade and sakura-inspired street food.
Although you can expect to encounter ravishing pink and white petals at every turn, there are two viewing spots in Jinhae you really shouldn't miss. At Gyeonghwa train station, the pristine rows of trees along the tracks form glorious archways ablaze with colour, while the cherry blossoms lining Yeojwacheon stream are a pure vision of loveliness. Even after 10 days of basking in this ethereal beauty, you'll still want more.
When: 2017 dates to be confirmed (was previously held on 1 to 10 April 2016)
How to get there: Take a bus from Seobu Terminal in Busan. The bus ride from Busan to Jinhae is 45 min - 1 hour, and costs $6 (KRW 5,100) for a one-way trip.
Website: Click here
Gyeongju Cherry Blossom Marathon
If you want to experience Korea's sakura season in a totally unique way, check out the Gyeongju Cherry Blossom Marathon. (Check their website for the exact 2017 date; in 2016 it was held on April 9).
Nervous about running a full marathon? Don't worry, there are 3 other categories to choose from: half-marathon, 10 km and 5 km. Expect lots of pink balloons, confetti, and even fireworks! In between the bracing spring air and the gorgeous backdrop of cherry blossoms in full bloom, this is one race you won't want to miss.
When: 2017 date to be confirmed (previously held on April 9, 2016)
Registration Fees: $35 (KRW 30,000) for full/half marathon and 10km; $23 (KRW 20,000) for 5km
How to get there: Take an express bus from Busan Central Bus Terminal. The bus ride from Busan to Gyeongju is 50 min - 1 hour, and costs $5.50 (KRW 4,800) for a one-way trip.
Website: Cherry Marathon
2c. Best places to see cherry blossoms in Jeju Island
Jeju Cherry Blossom Festival
The idyllic island of Jeju is at its most irresistible in the springtime, when the majestic King Cherry Trees burst into glorious bloom and unfold their silky petals. Jeju's cherry blossoms are often considered to be the most magnificent ones in South Korea, so come prepared to snap a lot of Instagram-worthy photos.
During the festival, you can also enjoy outdoor music concerts and the yearly wild spring flower exhibition. Head to Seogwipo's downtown area and Jeju Sports Complex, since they are both prime spots for cherry blossom viewing. Just keep in mind that the sakura flowers are only in full bloom for 2 or 3 days, so you'll want to check the official forecast and plan your trip accordingly.
When: late March
How to get there: From Jeju International Airport, take the Airport Limousine bus (route 600) to Seogwipo. Journey time is around 1 hour, and costs $5.80 (KRW 5,000) for a one-way trip.
Website: Click here