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Seeing Cherry Blossoms in Korea: One Spring Day in Jinhae

Seeing Cherry Blossoms in Korea: One Spring Day in Jinhae

It was barely 7am as we stood yawning at the bus stop with bleary eyes and mussed-up hair, waiting for the bus that would take us from Busan to our dream destination. I was knackered, having slept only five or so hours each night for the past week as we rushed through Seoul’s markets and palaces and the DMZ.

But it was the right day; it was the final day. I had traveled here just for this, the quintessential experience of spring in Korea. As the bus trundled along, the streets acquired gradients of green, soft yellow, and white. Eventually, the roads were lined entirely with pink trees as we arrived…in Jinhae.

The Jinhae Gunhangje (진해 군항제) festival

The Jinhae Gunhangje has, in recent years, grown to become Korea’s biggest spring festival. The name of the festival, which began in 1952 as a memorial event for 16th-century war hero Admiral Yi Sun-shin, actually means “Naval Port Festival”. However, it’s typically marketed to tourists as the “Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival”. Because…

Jinhae - cherry blossom street
Cherry blossoms as far as the eye can see.

Jinhae is often considered the best place to view cherry blossoms in Korea, and the Jinhae Gunhangje is held from 1-10 April annually – when the cherry trees are most likely to be in bloom.

A little history about cherry blossoms in Korea

Cherry blossoms (벚꽃, beotkkot) have traditionally been associated with Japan, where they’re known as sakura. However, Korean historians claim that Korea has its own native species of cherry tree and that the Japanese, during their occupation of Korea, razed most of them to plant their own trees.

Studies conducted on cherry trees in various parts of South Korea showed that the trees planted in most places, including Jinhae, are of the Japanese native Yoshino cherry species. Jeju Island, however, is home to an endangered species of Korean native cherry tree known as the King cherry. Confused yet? Don’t be – just be mesmerized by the blooms!

Yeojwa Stream, Jinhae. Photo by Avalyn!
We spent an hour strolling along the quiet boardwalk, mesmerized.

Things to do in Jinhae

People flock from all parts of South Korea to see the entire city draped in soft pink snow. Luckily, at 8am in the morning, we were virtually alone and free to go ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the scenery like the ignorant tourists that we were.

The views are stunning – especially at the landmark Yeojwa stream (여좌천, yeojwacheon).

Cherry blossoms in Korea - around Jinhae
Translating the festival food stall signs: bibimbap, seafood pancake, beef soup with rice…*drools*

Sadly, we only had two hours and barely got to know this place, for we had to catch a bus back to Seoul and onto our flight home. Yes, we spent a day’s time journeying south and back, just for a glimpse of the city of cherry blossoms in all its glory – and it was worth it.


Getting to Jinhae

Because Jinhae city is not served by Korea’s rail network, it requires slightly more travel time and patience. To get from Seoul to Jinhae, your most straightforward option is a 4.5-hour intercity bus ride from Seoul Nambu (South Seoul) terminal. Tickets cost KRW 26,100 for adults and you can purchase them online from the TxBus website.

Find more tips for traveling from Seoul to other parts of South Korea within this guide.

Bus ticket from Busan to Jinhae, Korea

Alternatively (and I’d recommend this), consider making Jinhae a day trip from Busan. From Busan to Jinhae, you can take an intercity bus from Busan Seobu (West Busan) Bus Terminal to Jinhae Intercity Bus Terminal; the ride takes only around 45 minutes. This route is active as of 2017 (price is now KRW 5,100) but tickets are not available on the TxBus site yet.

Would you travel to Jinhae to view the cherry blossoms during spring in Korea? What are your other favorite spring destinations in Korea?

13 Comments

  1. Rowena
    9 months ago

    Love that Korea’s cherry blossoms are getting some love. Thanks for sharing the history about the different species, too. I love when travel guides are interwoven with history.

  2. ARI
    9 months ago

    I have been meaning to see cherry blossoms in Spring for the longest time, all blooming and fragrant. I have always had my eyes set on Japan, but now I’ve seen photos recently of China and now here, South Korea that have me really thinking otherwise. Great photos and something to look forward to!

    • Brooke
      8 months ago

      I’d love to see the cherry blossoms in Japan too, just because it’s such a huge deal to locals. I saw them in Taiwan but they don’t get special treatment there, they’re just roadside trees.

  3. 9 months ago

    Wow! The cherry blossoms are so beautiful. I would love to see them up close, I haven’t been to Asia at this time of year and I think I need to!

    • Brooke
      8 months ago

      You should, there’s lots going on in spring and the weather is lovely in most places 🙂

  4. Omg this is sooo pretty! I would love to visit this place to see the city wearing its spring coat with cherry blossom.

  5. 9 months ago

    Very pretty! And wow, you spent so much time commuting just for these views, really admirable. The memories are for ever though! I did see cherry blossoms in Seoul when I was there few years back, though they pale in comparison to what your post showed me.

    • Brooke
      8 months ago

      Thank you! I think you’ve commuted a lot more on your day trips from Tokyo/Kyoto etc 😛

  6. 9 months ago

    This is so beautiful!! I’ve always heard about the cherry blossoms in Japan, but looks like Korea has some worth visiting as well!

  7. 9 months ago

    I visited Korea for the first time last August and saw how many cherry trees they have! Definitely coming back for more! Still remember how we were driving in Busan to Haeundae side from the temple and taxi driver told us that the whole road ahead of us is just cherry trees. I am still amazed that Korea is not well know for this experience, as your pictures suggest it is stunning in spring!

    • Brooke
      9 months ago

      I guess most people would still prefer to view the cherry blossoms in their “origin” Japan! It’s not nearly as maniacal in Korea, that’s for sure.

  8. 9 months ago

    So stunning! Very interesting back story with Japan there. Either way, I love all cherry blossoms. I’ve never heard of Jinhae before until now. You are so well traveled! 😀

    • Brooke
      9 months ago

      Thanks, Jinhae’s much more well-known now compared to when I went 😛 I still need to see the sakura in Japan!

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