The best time to visit South Korea

Cherry Blossoms in Busan city - South Korea - On The Go Tours
Cherry blossoms decorate the walkways of Busan city in South Korea

Seasons and Weather

South Korea’s climate is typically temperate with four distinct seasons. There is never a bad time to visit South Korea but travellers should time their visit according to what they want to see and do during their trip. The seasons in South Korea are divided into spring, summer, autumn and winter, each bringing with it its own benefits and challenges.


During the spring, which falls between April and June, the country is painted pink by the abundant cherry blossoms that decorate South Korea’s green spaces. The weather during this season is the least likely to be inclement, making it one of the more popular, albeit crowded, times of the year to visit South Korea - expect mostly sunny days.


Summers in South Korea are generally warm but often see monsoon rains from July to August, making the whole country almost intolerably muggy. If you don’t want to find yourself perpetually damp then this time of the year is best avoided. By June the average temperature is 22°C with July and August experiencing the highest rainfall of the year.


Once the rains have passed, however, the country is bathed in the most stunning shades of orange and red as the autumn leaves start to bloom. With mild temperatures, low rainfall and a wealth of unadulterated natural beauty, autumn (September to November) is a close rival to spring with regards to being the best period to visit South Korea.


Finally, we come to the cold but curiously delightful season that is winter, falling between December and March. While being cold is never the best thing in the world, there is a certain charm about wrapping up warm and walking through crisp, white snow. Transport still runs like clockwork in South Korea and many points of interest are likely to be far less congested than usual so if you want to avoid the crowds, winter isn’t such a bad time to visit. This is also the perfect time to go to South Korea if skiing, snowboarding or any other snow-related activity is on the agenda.

Climate | Seoul

Temp Min °C-9-7-25111621221570-7
Temp Max °C03817222729312619113
Rainfall (mm)3120387681130376267119414625

Climate | Jeju Island

Temp Min °C34610141923242015105
Temp Max °C8913182225293026211611
Rainfall (mm)6562899097181240283222806248
Revellers getting messy at the popular Boryeong Mud Festival

Festivals and Events

Encompassing everything we know and love about the Far East, festivals in South Korea delicately mingle religion, culture and cuisine, invariably offering spectators an event to remember. Always characterised by elaborate dress, bright and dazzling colours, music, dancing, food and high spirits, there is little not to enjoy when it comes to South Korean festivals. Here are some of our favourites to whet your appetite.


Chuseok is known as the Korean Thanksgiving and falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. Originally, the festival was for the people to give thanks to their ancestors for a plentiful harvest. Nowadays it is celebrated by exchanging gifts as the women of each family prepare a variety of special dishes, most of which include the newly harvested rice, for which Koreans are so thankful. Songpyeon, a cake made from ground rice and stuffed with red beans, chestnuts and sesame seeds, is a traditional dish eaten during this festival.

BIFF (Busan International Film Festival)

One of Asia’s biggest and most influential films festivals, BIFF aims to showcase and promote the work of up and coming directors, particularly from Asia, and screen some of the newest and hottest films around. The festival takes place at the Busan Cinema Centre and includes a number of different talks and masterclasses in addition to showing films from a variety of different genres and styles. Awards are given out in various categories, such as the two best feature films, best actor and actress, the film that gained the most acclaim from the audience and the best world documentary film. Prizes are all in cash as a way to help film-makers with their next projects.

FIFA U-20 World Cup

Everyone goes wild when the World Cup takes place but since 2002, when they played host to this global phenomenon, South Korea has remained relatively quiet on the football front. In 2017, however, prepare to see the stadiums ignite once more as football fans flock here for the biennial world youth championship that is the FIFA under 20s World Cup. Qualifying teams are decided by smaller tournaments, such as UEFA, which separate the wheat from the chaff. If you weren’t able to get to Rio in 2014 but still want to see some world class football, it’s time to book a flight to South Korea.

Ultra Korea Music Festival

Seoul welcomes to the stage some of the hottest artists and DJs in the world during the Ultra Korea Music Festival. Past performers of this global music extravaganza have included Deadmau5, Chase & Status, Afrojack, Armin van Buuren and Avicii. The vibe at the festival is always electric, and not just because of the electronic beats coming from the gigantic speakers at the front. Hundreds of thousands of music lovers make their way to the capital for this event as they pay homage to some of their best loved rhythm-makers.

Gangneung Dano Festival

The Dano festival is celebrated across both North and South Korea but the Gangneung branch has gained special recognition by spectators and UNESCO who designated it one of the “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”. Traditionally, during this festival, women would wash their hair with water that has been boiled with sweet flag (a wetland plant) while men engaged in wrestling matches. Blue and red traditional clothes are also worn for the duration of the festival and music, singing and wine all make generous appearances.

Boryeong Mud Festival

Each year, the muddy shores of Boryeong see an influx of visitors as hordes of locals and foreigners head to the Mud Festival for the chance to blow off some steam while they get their hands dirty (literally). Mud sliding, mud massages and mud wrestling are just some of the messy events that take place during this unique festival. The mud itself is sought after for its curative properties and whilst celebrating, men and women cake themselves in it with the hopes that their skin will be all the better for it afterwards.

2016/17 Calendar

To help plan your visit to South Korea, here's an overview of the festivals and events taking place in 2016/17. This is by no means an exhaustive list so if you are thinking of heading to South Korea outside of these dates and want to know what's on, check out a more comprehensive list here.

September 14th- 16th - Chuseok (Nationwide)
October 6th- 15th - BIFF (Busan)
May 20th- June 11th 2017 - FIFA U-20 World Cup (Nationwide)
June (dates TBC) 2017 - Ultra Korea Music Festival (Seoul)
June (dates TBC) 2017 - Gangneung Dano Festival (Gangneung)
July (dates TBC) 2017 - Boryeong Mud Festival (Boryeong)

There's also a number of national holidays in South Korea and on these dates many businesses and some tourist sites will close for the day so plan your visit accordingly.

Further reading for planning your trip to South Korea

For further information to help plan your trip to South Korea, see the following:

Top Travel Tips - covering everything from money to health, food to shopping
Tourist Visas - know what visa you need prior to travel
South Korea's UNESCO Sites - the country's most impressive World Heritage sites

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