With a temperate continental climate, Seoul is known for its biting winters and blistering summers.
In between are the long-awaited but all-too-fleeting pockets of perfectly enjoyable weather, perhaps the best moments to visit. Even so, every season in South Korea’s capital offers something worth traveling for – with excitement in the calendar all year long – which might make for a difficult decision when it comes to planning your trip.
Customarily, summer brings the most international visitors to Seoul, further congesting an already packed city. Yet in recent years, spring and fall – with fetching foliage and ideal weather – have caught on as in-demand times to visit, too.
As you make your own plans, here’s our guide to the best times to visit Seoul.
Unquestionably the most agreeable seasons in Seoul, spring and fall are also the best times to soak up the city’s great outdoors, from the natural wonders of its national and city parks to the back-alley treasures of its traditional villages, temples, markets and street-food stalls. A prized spot, the Han River is where visitors can paddle around on swan boats or have a chimaek picnic of fried chicken and beer (chimaek is a slang portmanteau that combines “chicken” with the Korean word for beer, maekju).
Every March, the Seoul Marathon welcomes some 35,000 runners, from expert to amateur. Unlike some other races, anyone who signs up ahead of time is qualified to participate. April arguably presents Seoul’s loveliest face, when spring bursts forth in a palette of pinks and whites and the cherry blossom trees bloom in cotton-candy swirls. Two favorite viewing spots are Yeouido Park and Namsan Park, where spectators stroll down petal-lined paths and picnic beneath flowering canopies.
Fall heralds the arrival of favorite annual traditions. South Korea’s fall harvest holiday, Chuseok, generally takes place in September: get into the harvest spirit by observing the ceremonial ritual of Sajik Daeje, a 50-minute procession that winds its way through the city near Gyeongbokgung station, paying homage to the ancient gods of earth and grain.
The crisp, dry weather continues through November and the temperature drops considerably, making this month a less expensive time to visit than September and October. The most notable happening this month might be the Seoul Lantern Festival, which sets Cheong-gye-cheon ablaze with paper lanterns and LED sculptures.
While June can be pleasant, July and August bring unbearable heat and humidity, along with heavy rains that can last all day. Luckily, Seoul has plenty of things to do for keeping dry and cool inside. Go museum or gallery hopping, experience South Korea’s quirky cafe culture or get lost in Asia’s largest underground
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South Korea has an incredible range of experiences for a country of its size – an eclectic nightlife in the capital that never sleeps, trekking through the mountains followed by forest bathing, and a delicious and varied cuisine that will keep you coming back for more.
Though it may be fun-size compared to its neighbors China and Russia, South Korea more than holds its own when it comes to incredible landscapes, cultural attractions and a dazzling food and nightlife scene.
Japan, slightly smaller geographically than California, boasts a much wider array of activities and attractions than most countries its size. Technically a volcanic archipelago consisting of four main islands, almost four-fifths of Japan is covered with mountains. The Japanese Alps run down the center of the largest island, Honshu. The highest peak and Japan's most famous mountain is Mount Fuji, a cone-shaped volcano considered sacred by many Japanese.
South Korea's cost of living is on the rise, but it's definitely still possible to visit on a budget. Between its vast and affordable transit system, wide range of dining options and abundance of low-cost activities and attractions, South Korea can prove a relatively inexpensive travel destination.
A commercial jet in Belgrade, Serbia, struck a set of runway lights during take-off on Sunday, which punched a hole into its fuselage that forced an emergency landing an hour later, local media reported.
Forget Paris in spring: Rome is both warmer and cooler in the first few months of the year. The locals are in their winter black rollneck jumpers, accessorised with equally noir-ish sunglasses. With an average of 17C by March, it’s warm enough to sit outside cafés and bars, but not hot enough to fall foul of the “no shorts” rule enforced in Rome’s oldest churches.
No matter where your good times happen – raucous nightclubs, ancient mountain hermitages, packed baseball stadiums, boundary-pushing museums and galleries – the chances are you'll find something to love in South Korea. There's no such thing as a bad time to visit, but some planning can take your trip to another level and create lasting memories.
South Korea might not leap out as the obvious place for a road trip. The country's superb public transportation means a private vehicle is rarely necessary, and the traffic in Seoul can make you question the point of the open road when you spend so much time at a standstill.
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