Dear GoMad Nomad,
Recently Korea has become of interest to me. With all the Korean restaurants around in Los Angeles (and I assume the rest of the US), it got me fixated on traveling to Korea. There must be other things to see there besides just eating great food, right? I’ve made up my mind I’m going, I’m just mostly wondering when to visit Korea?
Looking forward to your response. Thanks!
Marcy from Southern California
Thanks for your question. You know we have been taking travelers on small group tours in countries like Malaysia and Peru and after receiving your question it made me think: why not put together a small group tour of Korea? After all, we are living here and Seoul is my wife’s hometown. I’ll get to your question right away, but here’s more info on the small group tour to Korea that your question helped inspired us to create.
When to Visit Korea
Korea is a wonderful example of a place with four distinct seasons. Your decision when to visit Korea will definitely impact your experience there. Winter (December-February) is cold and occasionally snowy. Spring (March-May) sees warm days and cool nights. Summer (June-August) can be brutally hot and humid with potentially heavy rain. Autumn (September – November) can be cool or warm.
Unless you really enjoy cold weather or are going to ski or snowboard in the mountains, I might avoid Korea in the winter. However, if you’re just going to Seoul, there are plenty of insightful museums that could shelter you from the cold, as well as teach you a thing or two about Korean history and culture. Plus, if you get lucky, snow on Gyeongbokgung Palace makes a beautiful photo. Read: What to do in Seoul in Winter
If you don’t mind the heat, and some heavy rain, summer can be an OK time to visit. Similarly to the winter, you could duck indoors to eat or visit museums during the heat of the day. Then enjoy the rest of the day visiting temples, palaces, historic sights, or hiking in the mountains.
Spring and Autumn
Spring or fall can be an outstanding time to visit. Temperatures are more moderate and you can witness the changing seasons, but you’ll have to bring clothing for both the warm days and cool nights. The flowers and blossoms are blooming in spring and come with a little rain and the fall foliage is really celebrated in South Korea. Take a trip out to Jirisan or Seoraksan National Park to see some of the country’s most striking mountains in all the colors that fall brings.
Many would agree that mid-September to mid-November is the all-around best time to visit. In addition to that, April and May would be excellent times as well. There are also many festivals in the spring and fall.
Keep in mind that temperatures and climate vary from the north of South Korea to the far south. Jeju Island, off the south coast, is a vacationland when summer stretches at least two months more than the rest of the country. You may find beach-worthy weather in May or September, and it can be pleasant traveling there most of the year as long as you don’t have expectations for laying on the beach. Read: When to visit Jeju Island
And by the way, Marcy, there are lots of cool things to see and do in Korea besides tasting its wonderful cuisine. Just take a look at our Korea archive. And consider joining us in May!