Of all the seasons to visit this country, autumn is number one. Once you’ve read through this list of places to see fall foliage in Korea, you’ll see why.
This list is long for a good reason. Autumn in Korea is incredibly enchanting. After a painfully humid summer where everyone is hugging their aircon or quietly melting with their iced Americanos in hand, fall signals a cooling down. The country turns a little more golden as the sunlight softens; the trees change into bursts of reds, oranges, and yellows, and everyone lingers a little longer after work or school.
Even more than the cherry blossoms, it’s my favorite time of year. Since I haven’t even begun to cover all the places to see fall foliage in Korea myself, I thought I’d ask my friends over at CGSCreative, Bobo + Chichi, and Hedgers Abroad to share their favorite fall foliage locations as well. Read on to see if you’ve been to any of these beautiful areas.
Tips for Autumn in Korea Travel
When to Go
Peak season is October, though it starts earlier in the north and finishes later in the southern regions. If you want to stay up to date, KWeather puts out its own predictions in early September, and Korea’s main English tourist site translates this into English. For 2017 dates, check here.
From personal experience, those exact dates are going to be packed, so try to go a little earlier (if you go too late, you might just find bare branches and early winter weather). Your best bet is to travel on the weekdays when everyone is at school or work!
Since most of these places are going to require a little (or a lot of) hiking, it’s always a good idea to have some travel insurance just in case you manage to break or twist something. Check with your health insurance at home in case they have travel options, but if they don’t, you can always get rates from World Nomads.
Rent a Car
While it’s pretty easy to get around via intercity and local buses, if you really want total freedom, rent a car. This way you don’t have to worry about catching the last bus back from more remote locations, and you have the freedom of going earlier or later than most tours go.
We really liked our experience with renting from Sixt in Jeju, so check them out for mainland Korea. Better yet, try and get an electric car, they’re amazing!
OR Go with a Group
If you’d rather not deal with the headache of planning and want a set itinerary, take a look at Trazy’s different offerings for fall foliage tours:
- Tours from Busan – This tour is great if you’re looking to visit Jirisan, Juwangsan, or Gayasan + Cheongdo. Check the dates and prices here.
- Tours from Seoul – Check out these tours if you want to visit Odaesan, Seoraksan, Songnisan, Daedunsan, Deogyusan, or Naejangsan. Dates and prices here.
- Day Tours around and near Seoul – If you want to see a few spots in and near Seoul, take a look at the different options in this tour. Dates and prices here.
Best Places to See Fall Foliage in Korea
Andoe Hahoe Folk Village
Located along Hwasun mountain, Andong’s Hahoe Folk Village is a uniquely Korean way of seeing the fall leaves. An important setting from the Joseon dynasty, it’s one of the best places to experience Korea’s traditional architecture. If you can, head there around the famous Mask Festival in late September… Read More at CityGirlSearching
Get There: go to Andong Express Bus Terminal + take bus #46 to the village.
Baemsagol Valley in Jirisan
Last October Maggie and I decided to hike Baemsagol to take in the leaves, and it was absolutely stunning. The nine-hour hike is still one of the hardest I’ve done, but it was worth it for the gorgeous views. It is possible to stop earlier, so the course isn’t quite so long… Read More
Get There: go to Namwon Intercity Bus Terminal, take the bus to Baemsagol
Bukhansan National Park
The iconic national park north of Seoul comes alive in fall. With the beautifully contrasting colors of the turning leaves and the powerful stone outcroppings that Bukhansan is known for; this park is a wonderland that begs a visit before the colds of winter set in. This national park is well known for its beauty, so be prepared to have company in the most trafficked (about 5 million visitors each year) National Park in the world…Read More at Hedgers Abroad
Get There: use subway line #3 and go to Gupalbal Station (구파발역), Exit 1. take bus #704 to Bukhansanseong Fortress (북한산성).
“One of our favorite spots during the fall in Seoul is the secret garden of Changdeokgung Palace. The garden turns into a fall foliage wonderland when all the trees change colors. The most beautiful spot to enjoy them would be the small pond where all the trees and their leaves are reflected like a mirror on the water… Read More at Bobo + Chichi
Get There: use subway line 3 to go to Anguk Station (안국역), exit 3. walk straight to entrance
Famous for its high suspension bridge, I went with some friends in unfortunately foggy weather last November to catch the last of the leaves. It’s beautiful even in the clouds, and you’re sure to catch some gorgeous colors… Read More
Get There: from Jeonju Intercity Bus Terminal, take a bus to Daedunsan (대둔산)
Nestled at the foot of the Jiri Mountain Range and the most popular entrance to Jirisan National Park, Gurye is surrounded by mountainous beauty on all sides. At summer’s end, this sleepy town comes alive with vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds. While Gurye might not be the most populated or well-appointed city in South Korea, people looking to escape the bigger cities to a more natural setting need look no further. For those unwilling to embark on one of Gurye’s lovely valley hikes, check out Saseong Hermitage on Osan Mountain for dramatic architecture amidst the lovely trees or just relax by the river that runs through these stunning mountains…Read More at Hedgers Abroad
Get There: head to Gurye Bus Terminal and take a bus to Hwaeomsa (화엄사)
I first heard of Naejangsan when Roxy posted about it last year. Naejangsan is considered the best mountain in the country to see autumn’s colors, and it didn’t disappoint even in bad weather. While I only saw a little, Elissa did the full hike the year before and Roxy had some more time to explore the different areas (you can see her post here)… Read More
Get there: go to Jeongeup Bus Terminal, take a taxi to Naejangsan Park for about 10,000 KRW
Arguably the most underrated time of year to visit this couple’s paradise just outside of Seoul. The island is beautifully landscaped with rows of trees that turn to beautiful yellow, orange, and red in the autumn. We enjoy spending a few hours here than exploring the rest of the beautiful places in the Chuncheon area as well… Read More at Bobo + Chichi
Get There: Use the ITX-Cheongchun train via the subway to go to Gapyeong Station (가평역). From there, taxi to the Namiseom parking lot + take a ferry. If you’re staying near Insadong, it might be easier to just book a shuttle to and from.
I can’t talk about fall foliage in Korea and not mention my hometown of two years, could I? Last year I took my camera with me to school so I could take a long way home. I walked through Gwanghallu and by the river to take in all the colors at golden hour. Unfortunately, I also lost all these photos in my laptop crash this year… Hoping to recreate some photos when the weather clears up before I leave!
Seoraksan National Park
Seoraksan National Park is one of those places that’s magical every season. The dramatic ridgeline here is even more incredible looking with the colors of fall foliage. Not only is this a beautiful time of year to visit, but one of the most comfortable temperatures to climb the mountains… Read More at Bobo + Chichi
Get There: Take a bus to Sokcho Bus Terminal. From there take bus #7 or 7-1 to Sogongwon (소공원)
Seonunsan National Park
Home to a 1,500-year-old temple, Seonunsan park is a little more off the beaten path! Near Gochang, you’ll have a better chance of viewing the fall leaves with fewer crowds. There are also a variety of hikes from as short as 3 hours to as long as 10 to better enjoy the scenery… Read More at CityGirlSearching
Get There: go to Gochang Intercity Bus Terminal, take a bus to Seonunsa (선운사)
순천Once a small and unassuming city on South Korea’s southern coast, Suncheon has taken great strides to cultivate its natural beauty into a tourist destination. It has plentiful opportunities to enjoy nature this coming fall. The Suncheon Bay, the Philosopher’s hike from Seonam Temple to Songgwang Temple, the Suncheon Bay Garden, and the Naganeupseong Folk Village are all wonderful places to experience this underrated city’s natural beauty… Read More at Hedgers Abroad