I 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 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 2019 spring 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.

2024 Dates: March 22nd – April 1st

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 they 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!

Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival

Jinhae Today

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 Go During the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival

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/Rotary (중원로터리)

Our GPS actually took us to this intersection area, and, miraculously, we found really good parking near a church. This is where the main performance events, like the opening ceremony, are held and you can find a bunch of tents with the normal Korean festival offerings. We got lunch at one of the tents here which comprised of a nice, big plate of pork BBQ. I also got a hotteok after, of course.

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 near 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, 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 a fun, colorful staircase there, and 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 to go for the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival. 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 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.

Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival

How to Visit Jinhae

Quick Information

  • 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

How to Get to Jinhae

Seoul to Jinhae

The easiest, of course, is to book an all day tour.

To DIY it, you have two options for getting to Jinhae from Seoul.

By bus, you’ll need to use Seoul’s Nambu Bus Terminal. It’s probably about a 4+ hour bus ride.

With the train, you could go to Changwon Station and then switch over and take a local bus or a taxi to Jinhae. Check Korail for train times.

Busan to Jinhae

Busan is much closer than Seoul. It’s only an hour away using Busan Seobu Terminal. (You can also book this tour.)

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).

Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival Map

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. Just make sure you’re picking the Jinhae area and not over in Changwon.

Here are some hotels that have a nice location:

Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival

Other Places to Visit Nearby

BUSAN

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.

Tongyeong

Tongyeong is another port city, and a little ways away from Changwon. It’s a good base to explore some smaller islands near Korea, though don’t go during the first long summer weekend like I did

JINJU

Jinju’s biggest claim to fame is its light festival. I’ve never been, so I honestly don’t have much more to recommend.

Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival FAQ

Where is the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival?

It’s allll the way down south in Korea, somewhat near Busan.

What is Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival?

It’s the largest and most popular cherry blossom festival in Korea. Technically, it’s not even for the blossoms but for the Korean military!

When is Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival?

Typically the last week of March or the first week of April. It changes every year depending on the forecast, though.

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.

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A guide to visiting the Jinhae cherry blossom festival in Korea

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9 Comments

  1. hi! Thanks a lot for the info! Do you think the cherry blossom will still be there next week, on the 5th of April? Or the end of the festival is the end of it? Thanks!

  2. Hi there – great info, as we will go next year. Hoping to drive from Busan and wondered if you provide details of where you parked for Gyeonghwa Station? Did you have to pay for parking and if so, how much was it? Where you parked for the Yeojwa Stream, was it on street parking (not sure if that is a thing in SK) or a paid parking lot?
    Thanks in advance

    1. For Gyeonghwa Station I’m not 100% sure. I feel like we pulled off on the side of the road (it was towards the evening so the main crowd was clearing out) and were only there for maybe 15 minutes tops. There’s definitely street parking but they might also have a more organized parking system by now.

  3. Your blog was really helpful and informative – I love those little tidbits that give us ways to avoid tracersing the traditional tourist path and finding the back tracks to access focal points in Jinhae. I am thinking to visit South Korea in mid April 2024, which means I will miss the actual festival itself, (unless I juggle my 3 weeks in Japan to slot it in mid trip and make the trip over to SK and then return to Japan) but will it really matter if I miss the festival itself? (I guess one positive will be that I dodge the crowds which is a huge plus for me as I don’t cope well with them).
    Your thoughts and advice on this will be gratefully appreciated!

    1. Hi Jill! Thanks for your lovely comment!! It’s honestly SO hard to predict the cherry blossom blooms because it depends on the winter preceding them and if it rains or is windy. (For example, when I got to Jeju like March 30th this year, the cherry blossoms were in BLOOM. Then 2 days later it was really windy so a good chunk started falling, and then a bad thunderstorm hit the next day and they were gone all in a 4-5 day span). I would say usually the last few days of March and first few days of April is a safe bet. By mid-April they’re mostly going to be gone unless things are delayed next year.

      I wouldn’t change around my schedule to stress about it too much – Japan is also going to be absolutely FILLED with cherry blossoms this time of year too, so you should see them plenty!

  4. Thanks for a great blog of the cherry blossoms! My wife and 17yo son had an amazing visit to Gyeongwha station,
    Jehwangsan Park, and Yeojwacheon Romance Bridge. Thanks for putting the hangul for the locations as it really helps. Keep up the good work of helping people enjoy this beautiful country.

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