I finally did it. I’ve finally visited the mecca of spring festivals in Korea — the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival. Here’s what to expect if you go and tips for getting there!
I’ve put off going to Jinhae for SO long. Because it’s the most popular cherry blossom festival in Korea, I’ve heard mild horror stories about how crowded it is on the weekends. And since I could really only ever go on the weekend, I kind of wrote it off altogether. I almost didn’t even go during my current trip because it was a bit of a mission to get there from Suncheon, and I’d cut Busan, the closest big city, out of my itinerary.
However, as I was talking with my friends about thinking of going, my friend, Lisa, said she didn’t have to work past noon on Monday and could drive! So, once she was done work, I met up with her and off we went!
For us, from Suncheon, it was a 2-ish hour drive, and just getting into Jinhae was beautiful. There were so many blossoms just lining the highway… it was as magical as you can get.
I will say that, yes, even on a Monday afternoon, it got pretty crowded in all the popular areas. However, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was anticipating! I still think it’ll be torture trying to go on a weekend, so if you can swing it, definitely plan for a weekday excursion.
Why is Jinhae so Famous for its Cherry Blossoms?
I couldn’t actually find a definitive answer, so I’m going to make an educated guess. Obviously, the type of cherry blossoms that Jinhae is famous for, the Yoshino cherry trees, were initially planted by the Japanese during occupation.
Because Jinhae was considered an important port for the Japanese navy, I imagine the had a particularly strong presence there, hence the abundance of cherry trees vs. other places around the coast. That’s just a guess though. If anyone is a Changwon or cherry blossom expert, feel free to correct me!
Today Jinhae is actually considered a neighborhood of Changwon, after it merged with Changwon and Masan in 2010. While the Japanese Navy, obviously, does not have a presence in Korea, the city has become the main base for the ROK Navy.
The festival, while famous for cherry blossoms, is actually meant to celebrate the Korean military and Admiral Yi Sun Shin (up there with King Sejong in Korean history fame). The official name is “진해궁항제,” which translates to Jinhae Naval Base Festival!
The festival itself is held for a little over a week with lots of different events and performances around Jinhae, many of them related to Korea’s military.
Main Places to See the Blossoms in Jinhae
The main blossom points in Jinhae are actually a bit spread apart — as in you can’t necessarily walk everywhere quickly. For example, the two famous sites — the stream and the train station — sit 3km away from each other! Here’s a quick breakdown:
Jungwon Intersection (중원로터리)
Our GPS actually took us to this intersection area, and, miraculously, we found really good parking near a church! This area is where the main performance events are held, like the opening ceremony, and you can find a bunch of tents with the normal Korean festival offerings. We got lunch here at one of the tents and just got a nice big plate of pork BBQ. I also got a hotteok after.
If it’s your first time at a festival in Korea, you’ll enjoy walking around and seeing the different tents, but if it’s not your first festival, then it’s pretty much the same thing you’d seen anywhere else.
Yeojwa Stream (여좌천)
We then walked over and picked up a map from somewhere Bukwon Intersection before walking over to the famous stream. The reason it’s famous? It was the setting for the 2002 drama “Romance (로망스),” where the two leads Kim Chaewon and Choi Kwanwoo first meet. I looked up the synopsis of the drama, and it winds up being a teacher-student relationship, sooo…. probably going to skip it.
Honestly, the stream is beautiful, but it’s also very crowded. I’m not crazy about the light decorations they have in the stream, and the umbrella decorations must have been further down than we walked because I didn’t see them.
I actually liked walking to the stream because the whole city was covered in cherry trees, and it was super quiet!
Oh also, I highly recommend getting cherry blossom ice cream. Plenty of the shops sell them, and I got mine for like 3,000 KRW. Yes, it was a bit chilly out, but it was worth it.
Jehwangsan Park (제황산궁원)
From the steam, we walked over to the Jehwangsan Park to climb up to the observatory. Pro tip! Don’t go to the front of the mountain with the monorail, but go behind and follow a path called the “Owl Road.” There’s still a fun, colorful staircase there, but it’s much quieter.
The observatory itself is worth climbing to the top floor. You’ll get the prettiest views of the whole city and out to sea from Sokcheon Port. It’s also a bit of a museum, and climbing up you can see some of the history of the area.
Gyeonghwa Station (경화역)
Gyeonghwa Station is a former train station and currently the other most famous spot for seeing Jinhae’s blossoms. They have it set up with Mugunghwa-style train and everyone gathers on the train tracks to take pictures. It was actually nice to see that in front of the train, people were lined up to take photos with it instead of the usual chaos!
We actually drove over on our way out of the city and back to Suncheon. I believe there’s a shuttle bus you can take or, of course, you can walk the 3km. It was a cute area, and I swear it attracted all the couples who all somehow knew the exact, cutesy poses to do!
Other Cherry Blossom Spots
I mean, there are apparently like hundreds of cherry trees in this one area, so even though we only hit the major spots, there are still more!
- Janboksan Sculpture Park
- Jinhae NFRDI Environment Eco-Park
- Jinhae Navy Base Command
- Naval Academy
- Anmin Hill
- Naval Education and Training
I highly recommend picking up a map when you go, because it’ll outline the main spots for both the blossoms and the naval part of the festival. There was even a lovely woman who spoke English and could help with specific questions.
How to Visit Jinhae
- Korean Name: 진해군항제
- Address: 경상남도 창원시 진해구 통신동
- English Address: Tongsin-dong, Jinhae-gu, Changwon-si, Gyeongsangnam-do
- Phone: 055-225-2341, 6 or 1899-1111
- For Traffic Info: 055-225-4291, 6
Tours that Go to Jinhae
From Seoul Tour
If you don’t mind spending an absurd amount of time in the bus, then you may want to just do a tour straight from Seoul. You’ll hit the main two spots — Yeojwa Stream and Gyeonghwa stream. Check for dates availability on Trazy or Klook
From Busan Tour
Busan Daejeo Ecological Park & Jinhae Tour
Instead of just going to Jinhae, you’ll also go to the Daejeo Ecological Park in the morning, which has a large canola garden to walk around and its own cherry blossom tunnel. Check rates & availability on Klook or Trazy
Evening Tour from Busan
If you’d rather experience the festival at night, you might like this tour instead. It still leaves around 1pm, so you have the afternoon, but it doesn’t depart for Busan until 9pm, so you have plenty of time to enjoy the light shows! Check here for prices & availability
How to Get to Jinhae
Seoul to Jinhae
To get to Jinhae from Seoul, you’ll need to use Seoul’s Nambu Bus Terminal. It’s probably about a 4+ hour bus ride.
Alternatively, you could take a train to Changwon Station and then switch over and take a local bus or a taxi to Jinhae. Check Lets Korail for train times.
Busan to Jinhae
Busan is much closer than Seoul. It’s only an hour away, and you can get them from the Busan Seobu Terminal.
From Jinhae Terminal
From Jinhae Terminal it’s a bit of a walk to the Jungwon Intersection where we drove to. I posted the map below, but I highly recommend downloading KakaoMap to lead you (don’t rely on Google Maps).
Where to Stay in Jinhae
I, of course, didn’t stay in Jinhae and went back to Suncheon, but if you want to stay overnight, there are a few places you can choose from. Both French Code Hotel and Hotel On are in the neighborhood. Most hotels that come up might be in Changwon in general, not specifically Jinhae, so just be careful when booking.
You can also, of course, try Airbnb. This place is only a 10-minute walk from the stream.
Other Places to Visit Nearby
Of course! I’d actually probably stay here instead of directly in Jinhae and just take a bus over. You can see all the fun things to do in Busan here.
Jinju’s biggest claim to fame is its light festival. I’ve never been, so I honestly don’t have much more to recommend!
And there you have it! My quick, little guide to the famous Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival that’s really a naval festival! Let me know if you have any questions or have been yourself.