Korea is a country of four VERY different seasons. With weather varying from -20 – 40 degrees throughout the year, it is important to plan your visit ahead.
One of the most common questions that I receive about Korea is ‘when is the best time to visit Korea?’. This post is here to help with deciding when you should visit Korea. While the information in this post is relevant to all of South Korea, it is specifically targeted at Seoul.
With that being said, let’s get straight into it.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Times To Visit Seoul
- 2 Times to Avoid
- 3 Best Seasons to Visit Seoul
- 3.1 Spring
- 3.2 Summer
- 3.3 Fall
- 3.4 Winter
- 4 When is the Best Time To Visit Seoul?
Best Times To Visit Seoul
Naksan Park in spring.
Korea Cherry Blossoms and Spring Foliage
Witnessing the spectacular cherry blossoms can be rather difficult due to the short period that they are in full bloom. Usually, they will be spectacular for about 5 days after the first bloom.
Unfortunately, this period is also very hard to predict. Usually, cherry blossom season begins at around March 20th and finishes in mid-April. The cherry blossom season begins in the south and gradually works up towards Seoul.
The official cherry blossom schedule is usually only released a few weeks prior. This is due to the unpredictability of the weather. You can get an idea about what the schedule usually looks like from the 2019 Cherry Blossom Forecast.
The cherry blossom season can last for about a week. However, if the weather is bad, it can be significantly shorter. Both rain and wind will damage the blossoms and sometimes the best viewing period will only last a few days.
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Korea Fall Foliage
If you are looking for the mildest weather and the most beautiful nature, then fall is the best time to visit South Korea.
The Korea fall foliage season begins at the end of September and continues through the whole month of October. Generally, Seoul foliage is at its peak in the second half of October.
Not only is this season spectacular due to the stunning colours and nature, but it is also a great time to do outdoor activities. The weather isn’t too hot or too cold, and this makes it ideal for exploring Korea.
Best Summer and Winter Months to Visit Seoul
Summer in Korea is also beautiful! Especially at Seoul Forest.
While spring and fall tend to be most people’s preferred time to visit, summer and winter also have their appeal.
If you want to experience the summer activities in South Korea, the best time tends to be late May and June. Summer temperatures usually peak in July, and the summer weather is far more pleasant in the earlier half of the season.
If, on the other hand, you want to experience the Korean winter, consider visiting in December. Visiting in December means you get to experience winter without having the extreme dryness of February.
Usually, the first snowfall is in late November/early December. This makes late December and early January a great time to experience the winter activities and attractions of Korea.
Times to Avoid
Winter in Korea can be stunning. It can also be incredibly cold and dry.
You can have an amazing time in Korea no matter when you visit. Just keep in mind that these times are often avoided by travellers due to the unpleasant weather conditions. In the case of Chuseok and Seollal, you may find that a lot of activities and locations are closed for the holiday.
Chuseok is a Korean holiday which lasts for 3 days (although it is usually joined with a weekend, making the celebration 5 days long). This holiday usually occurs at the end of September/start of October.
Dates: 2020 – September 30th to October 4th. 2021 – September 18th to September 22nd. Updated dates can be found here.
Reasons to avoid Chuseok: Chuseok is Korea’s largest national holiday and it is a time when families reconnect. While some stores and attractions will remain open, a large amount will be closed. It is a very peaceful time and the cities will be very quiet for a few days.
However, if you have plans during Chuseok you may find them interrupted. Many national attractions will remain open, and some will offer free admission for the period of the holiday. This includes palaces and national museums among other attractions. However, many private stores and businesses will be closed.
If you expect to travel within Korea during this event, expect to pay astronomical prices for transport. Especially if you haven’t booked months in advance.
Seollal is another holiday similar to Chuseok. The event represents the lunar new year and usually takes place in late January or early February.
Dates: 2020: January 24th – January 26th. 2021: February 12th to February 14th. Updated dates can be found here.
Reasons to avoid Seollal: Seollal is much like Chuseok in that many places will be closed. While the event isn’t as major as Chuseok, you may still find that it interrupts your plans.
During Seollal many privately owned businesses and attractions will be closed. The whole city of Seoul will also become very quiet as families visit their homes. While it can be a great time to look around in peace, make sure that the attractions you want to visit operate through the holiday.
As with Chuseok, make sure to book any domestic trips that you want to take months in advance. Transport costs will skyrocket for the Seollal period.
July and Early August
July and August bring a lot of rain to the peninsula.
Not only are July and August the peaks of summer, but they are the beginning of the monsoon season. Not only are the temperatures often unpleasant (up to 40 degrees), but it is also incredibly muggy and at times, very very wet.
While the monsoon season continues throughout August, it is generally at its worst in the first half of the month.
Reasons to avoid July and August: Not only are these to hottest months in the year, but the rain can also ruin plans very easily. July and August are best spent enjoying the beaches in Korea along with festivals like the Boryeong Mud Festival.
However, for normal tourist activities such as visiting the palaces, this is a very unpleasant time. If you are visiting Busan or a coastal city, you will have a much better time in these months. Make sure to avoid visiting Seoul in late July and early August if you can help it.
Late January and Early February
Korea in winter is beautiful. Unfortunately, it’s also very chilly!
Likewise to July and August being the peak of summer, January and February are the peak of winter. Throughout these months the weather is often -10 and sometimes as low as -20. While this might not seem low for some people, it is also extremely dry.
This can make doing any outdoor activities unpleasant and can make a trip to Korea rather limiting.
Reasons to avoid early January and February: While the weather won’t seem cold for everyone, the dryness makes spending time outdoors quite unpleasant. If you want to experience winter in Korea, then December is your best choice.
December and early January are usually also the best times to see snow in Korea. While snow is rather unpredictable and big snowfalls only occur once or twice every winter, these months are your best bet.
Best Seasons to Visit Seoul
Wondering what season is the best to visit Seoul? You’ve come to the right place!
In this section, I will go over the weather in each season as well as the activities and highlights of each of the four seasons.
In Korea, there are four very distinct seasons – each of which lasts for around three months.
Namsan Park in Spring
Spring is a very popular time to visit Seoul as it is the cherry blossom season. Not only that, but it also has some of the mildest weather of the Seoul seasons.
Temperature: Spring in Seoul begins in March and continues until late May. March weather usually has highs between 10 and 15 degrees and lows down to 0 degrees. In April, the weather will warm up a bit with temperatures widely ranging from 15-28 degrees highs and 5-12 lows. In May, the highs are usually within the ’20s and the lows will be in the mid-teens.
The best time to visit Seoul in spring depends on what kind of climate you prefer. March can still be a bit cold for some people, and many prefer April and May.
Generally, weather in spring is calm with no major standout features. The biggest weather element is yellow-dust. In spring the dust blows from eastern China over South Korea and it can make a fine-dust mask necessary at times. The good news is that usually there will also be some clear days.
If you are on a short term visit then the dust won’t have serious effects (which you can read more about here – Seoul Fine Dust). However, it may limit visibility and will make some attractions such as Namsan Tower and Lotte Tower a bit less breathtaking. Considering that the dust makes it harder to breathe though must mean that it IS breathtaking?
While the daytime weather in Seoul in spring is very mild, it is worth noting that the nights can still be cold. Especially in March! If you plan to do activities at night, make sure to pack some warm clothes.
What to Wear in Seoul Spring
In spring you want to make sure to pack for two different types of weather. Make sure to bring T-shirts and cooler clothing for the warmer days. However, make sure to also bring a light jacket, light jersey, and other light (but warm) clothing for the colder days.
Spring is often still too cold to wear open footwear, so make sure that you bring some closed footwear and have socks.
Popular Spring Activities
Seoul Forest right at the end of spring.
Spring brings life to Korea, and especially to Seoul. If you want to experience the many fantastic gardens that Seoul has to offer then spring is the time to visit. The cherry blossom season begins in mid-march and ends in mid-April. Seoul is usually towards the end of the season due to being located further north.
Spring is also a fantastic time to take day trips outside of Seoul. If you enjoy hiking, then you are in luck! There are many fantastic hikes within a few hours of Seoul – and even a few within the city!
There are a lot of festivals in spring and most of them are related to the cherry blossoms. Since they are the main attraction of the season, you will find no lack of tours that will take you to stunning locations around the city.
Still not sure what to do in spring? Check out these fantastic spring tours! Mt. Goryeosan Azalea Festival (day trip from Seoul). Taean Tulip Festival (day trip from Seoul). Seoul Vicinity Tour (Nami Island, Petite France, and more!). Seoraksan National Park Tour.
Why Should You Visit Seoul in Spring?
Spring is the best season to visit Seoul if you want to experience the outdoor spaces around the city. The country will begin to bloom and the cherry blossom season begins.
Spring is the best season if you like hiking and want to experience some of the mountains around Korea.
Summer is a great time to get out of Seoul and visit Hajodae!
Summer in Seoul can be HOT. It’s a fantastic time to visit, but make sure that you pack some cool clothes and your swimsuit!
Summer in Seoul begins in June and continues throughout July and August. The peak is usually found in late July and early August before temperatures begin to drop again in September.
Temperature: Temperatures in June will begin to reach the ‘30s with lows in the high-teens. For many people, June is the ideal summer month. In July, temperatures will begin to reach the mid-‘30s with lows in the low twenties. Finally, in August, temperatures will often be in the mid-’30s with some days reaching as high as 40 degrees. Lows will be in the mid-twenties.
Throughout July is the Korean rainy season. While the temperatures are at their peak at this time, so is the rain. As such, it is vital to remember a raincoat and to take an umbrella with you when you go out.
This also means that July is very humid. If you are planning to visit in July or August make sure to bring light clothes that allow air to pass through to keep you cool.
What to Wear in Seoul Summer
If you are planning to visit Seoul in the summer then make sure to pack cool clothes! Any clothes that allow air to pass through are ideal as you will sweat lots.
Open footwear is ideal in summer as having the most ventilation possible is needed.
If you plan to visit beaches or waterparks then make sure to also bring swimwear and any other equipment you might need for swimming.
Korea is a conservative country and wearing revealing clothing was generally something that was better avoided. However, this is gradually changing and these days clothing is becoming less conservative. With that being said, it’s something to keep in mind.
The same goes for swimwear. Many people advise against wearing just a bikini. However, when visiting Surfyy Beach and Boryeong this year bikinis were very common amongst the swimmers. As such, this is slowly becoming less of an issue and if you wear a bikini in Korea today, you will most likely be fine.
Finally, make sure to bring an insulated water bottle. These bottles are cheap and will help you keep your water cool no matter how warm it is outside.
Popular Summer Activities
With the summer hitting Seoul, it is the best time to get out and see the beaches around the city. A short two-hour bus ride will take you to some of the most pristine and fun beaches on the peninsula.
Not only this but escaping from the city means that the temperatures will be a few degrees lower.
Hajodae Beach and Sokcho are both fantastic beaches that are located close to Seoul and are very clean and fun.
Summer is also a great time to do indoor activities around the city. You will often find yourself wanting to browse stores just to get out of the heat! As such, this makes summer in Seoul a great time to explore the inside areas of the city.
From DDP to museums and art galleries, to exploring the cafe culture of Seoul. Even if you stay indoors, there is a lot to do!
The Boryeong Mud Festival is one of the summer’s many fantastic events!
Summer also has some great festivals related to keeping cool in the heat. The Boryeong Mud Festival is a very popular festival that takes place a few hours south of Seoul. The Sinchon Water Gun Festival is an event that takes place within Seoul and will help you keep cool!
There are a lot more festivals that take place in the summer. Check them out here – Korea Summer Festivals.
Another popular Korean summer activity is to visit waterparks located near Seoul. These waterparks are essentially theme parks that are full of activities to keep you cool. The two most popular (and closest to Seoul) are Ocean World and Caribbean Bay.
Still not sure what to do in summer? Why not go ice skating to cool off? Or try some Korean food with the Seoul Night Food Tour. If you are more adventurous, why not try the DMZ Tour with White Water Rafting? (summer exclusive event)
Why Should You Visit Seoul in Summer?
Summer in Seoul is very hot and humid, and this makes it a great time to get out of the city and to explore the nearby beaches and coastal areas.
If you want to experience the coastal areas of Korea and the many festivals, then summer is the best time to visit.
Fall colours in the Korean countryside.
Along with spring, fall is also a very popular time to visit Seoul. Fall lasts from September to November and begins quite warm before the temperature begins to drop.
Temperature: September sees highs around 30 degrees and lows around 20. October’s temperature begins to drop and 20 becomes the average high and 10 the average low. Finally, in November the highs drop to 10-15 degrees and the lows will occasionally drop below 0.
If you are visiting in fall then I would recommend October. October is a beautiful month as you can see the fall foliage in Seoul. I would put October and April as the best months to visit South Korea and Seoul.
There are a lot of different parks in Seoul and they are stunning in fall. World Cup Stadium, in particular, becomes a fantastic place to visit in fall.
What to Wear in Seoul Fall
Earlier fall (September) is still quite warm and you can easily get away with bringing the same clothes that are needed in spring.
This means a light jacket and sweater, closed in shoes and also a set of long pants (or two). But also remember that September can be quite warm, so it’s also worth bringing some summer clothes.
In the second half of fall, you will want to bring warmer clothes. Make sure to bring some thermal underclothes as well as a warm hat, and a scarf.
If you bring a few thermal underclothes then you shouldn’t need a heavy jacket in fall.
Popular Fall Activities
Fall sunset at Haneul Garden.
Similar to spring, many of the fall activities in Seoul are related to nature. Since the indoor activities are unaffected by the weather, I would recommend visiting in the season that has the outdoor activities that you want to witness.
Seoul and the area around the city have a multitude of stunning places to view fall foliage.
Fall is also one of the best times to experience Korean culture and participate in a temple stay. Not only this, but it’s also one of the best times to explore the palaces in Seoul and take Hanbok photos.
Fall in Korea is also the time of the Cheonggycheon Lantern Festival. Cheonggyecheon itself is a place that should be visited, and the festival makes it even more beautiful!
There are also a lot of fall festivals around the peninsula.
Why Should You Visit Seoul in Fall?
If you love fall foliage then Seoul is a fantastic place to visit during the fall. There are many stunning gardens and parks which become even more beautiful in this season.
Visiting in fall is also a great time to visit to avoid the extreme hot and cold temperatures of winter and summer.
Gyeongbokgung Palace in winter is an entirely different place!
Finally, we come to winter. Winter in Seoul can become very cold and dry. With that being said, some unique activities make winter an attractive time to visit!
Many people visit Seoul expecting to see snow. While snow can be seen sometimes, snowfall in Seoul is quite rare and usually only happens two or three times every winter. If seeing snow is your main intention, you are better off leaving the city.
Winter in Seoul begins in December and ends in February. Typically late January and early February are the coldest months.
Temperature: In December, high temperatures average about 7 degrees. Lows will fall to the low minuses (0 to -5). In January, high temperatures will drop to 0 degrees and lows will fall even further to -10. February has very similar temperatures to January, except that the second half of the month will begin to warm again.
Something else to note is that Christmas in Korea is a couples day, rather than a family day. You will find that most stores and attractions remain open (it’s not a public holiday in Korea). If you do visit around Christmas, expect to see a lot of couples.
What to Wear in Seoul Winter
The Seoul Winter can be very cold and as such, it is important to pack warm clothes.
If you are visiting Seoul in the winter make sure to bring a heavy jacket (such as a ski jacket), as well as some heavy sweaters and warm underclothes.
You will also be wanting to bring warm gloves, socks, and warm headwear. If possible, also try and bring warm shoes that are waterproof. While this isn’t essential, it will be far more pleasant without wet feet!
An insulated water bottle is also great in winter. These bottles are cheap and will help you keep your drink warm no matter how cold it is outside.
Popular Winter Activities
Bukhansan Mountain in winter.
Winter in Seoul has a few unique activities with sledging and ice-skating activities popping up over the city. Skiing is also very popular, and a few venues can be found a few hours outside of the city.
Many visitors love to experience warming Korean cuisine in winter, and this is also one of my favourite activities. From street vendors to restaurants, there is a lot of food to eat!
Everland (a theme park near Seoul) has ice skating and sledging in winter and attracts a lot of people. If you are more interested in skiing, then Vivaldi Park has you covered.
Due to the weather, winter is also a great time to explore the inside areas of Seoul. This means museums, shopping, and even experiencing the cafe culture of Seoul!
Why Should You Visit Seoul in Winter?
Most people tend to avoid visiting in the Korean winter. However, there are still a few aspects that make it appealing.
If you enjoy winter sports or plan to spend most of your time inside then winter is ideal.
Winter also provides a unique view of many of the Seoul attractions. Visiting the palaces is a completely different feeling in winter. Hiking is also fantastic!
When is the Best Time To Visit Seoul?
If you just want the quick answer, here it is: Seoul is fantastic at all times of the year. However, April and October are the best months to visit. More broadly, fall and spring are the two most popular times to visit Seoul and for good reason.
Unless you have a particular reason for wanting to visit in summer or winter, I would stick to this general advice.
If you have a favourite time to visit Seoul I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment down below!