South Korea became a top destination for experiencing the breathtaking beauty of fall foliage in Asia. The autumn season typically spans from late September to mid November. In this comprehensive guide, I will cover everything from the best times to visit and weather conditions to essential preparations, top spots in Seoul and beyond, and the stunning fall flowers and trees that grace the country.
When to Witness Fall Foliage
Fall foliage in South Korea typically occurs between late September and mid November. The exact timing varies each year, depending on the weather conditions, region and altitude. The vibrant colors begin to manifest in higher altitudes and gradually descend to lower elevations as the season progresses. To ensure the best experience, it’s advisable to plan your visit during end-October, when the foliage reaches its peak brilliance in many areas.
Weather and Fine Dust
Before embarking on your fall foliage adventure, it’s crucial to be prepared for South Korea’s autumn weather and be aware of the potential presence of fine dust particles in the air. During the fall season, South Korea experiences still warm to quite chilly temperatures. Average daytime temperatures range from 15°C to 20°C (59°F to 68°F) while nights tend to be a bit colder, so packing layers is a wise choice.
One important aspect to note is fine dust, often referred to as “yellow dust” or “Hwangsa.” This is a common meteorological phenomenon in South Korea, particularly during the fall and spring months. Fine dust can affect air quality and visibility, so it’s advisable to check air quality forecasts and wear a mask or opt for indoor activities.
What to Bring and Prepare
To make the most of your fall foliage experience in South Korea, here’s a checklist of items to bring and preparations to make:
Korean Public Holidays in Fall
South Korea has two public holidays during the fall season, which can affect travel plans and the availability of accommodations. Two major holidays to be aware of are Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving Day) and Hangeul Day.
- Chuseok: Chuseok usually falls in late September or early October. It’s a time when Koreans gather with family and engage in ancestral rites. Many businesses may close during this period, and transportation may be crowded. Check my Chuseok Guide >here.
- Hangeul Day: Celebrated on October 9th, Hangul Day commemorates the creation of the Korean script, Hangeul. It’s a national holiday, and some attractions and businesses may close for the day.
10 Best Fall Foliage & Autumn Flower Spots in Seoul
Here some of the best locations to witness the vibrant colors of the season in the heart of South Korea’s capital:
Located around the Mountain and N Seoul Tower, Namsan Park offers stunning views of the city surrounded by colorful foliage. Visitors can also take the Namsan Cable Car or hike up to N Seoul Tower for even more breathtaking vistas of Seoul’s fall foliage. Buy tickets for the Tower & Cable Car >here.
The nearest subway station is Myeongdong Station (Line 4).
Address: 231, Samil-daero, Jung-gu, Seoul
The palace grounds of Seoul’s 5 Main Palaces are even more picturesque when surrounded by autumn leaves. Don’t miss the Guard Changing Ceremony at Gyeongbokgung Palace My Top recommendation is the Secret Garden of Changdeokgung Palace!
Nearest subway station is Anguk Station (Line 3).
Address: 99, Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Bukhansan National Park
This famous park right behind Gyeongbokgung and the Blue House boasts hiking trails and panoramic views of Seoul’s autumn landscape. The most popular trail, Baegundae Peak, offers a challenging hike rewarded with stunning views at the summit.
Nearest subway station is Gupabal Station (Line 3).
Address: San 1-1, Jeongneung-dong, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul
A modern park with various sculptures and gardens, perfect for leisurely strolls among autumn colors – especially famous: the Cosmo Fields. Olympic Park also hosts various cultural events and outdoor concerts, making it a vibrant hub for entertainment during fall.
Nearest subway station is Olympic Park Station (Line 5).
Address: 88, Oryun-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul
A peaceful oasis within the bustling city, offering tranquil walks through wooded areas and great picnic spots. Seoul Forest includes a deer park inside the Eco Forest where visitors can get up close with these gentle creatures, adding a unique touch to your visit. You can also book a tour in combination with other hotspots >here.
Nearest subway station is Olympic Park Station (Line 5).
Address: 88, Oryun-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul
Known as the “Sky Park,” it offers sweeping views and vibrant fall colors. It’s the Go-To-Spot to see Silver Grass (Eulalia). Visitors can take a scenic walk along the Sky Path to fully immerse themselves in the beauty of the silver grass fields. You can also book a tour in combination with other hotspots >here.
Nearest subway station is World Cup Stadium Station (Line 6)
Address: 95, Haneulgongwon-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Seolleung & Jeongneung Royal Tombs
This UNESCO World Heritage site is the final resting places of two Joseon Dynasty monarchs, King Seongjong and King Jungjong, offering great nature combined with some historical insights. The royal tombs are known for their serene atmosphere, making it a peaceful escape in the heart of the city.
Nearest subway station is Seolleung Station (Line 2).
Address: 1, Seolleung-ro 100-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Gyeongguii Line Forest Park
A revitalized urban oasis, transformed from an old railway line into a lush green space, perfect for leisurely strolls and outdoor activities. The park features various art installations and sculptures and the Book Street, adding an artistic touch to your nature walk.
I recommend walking from Gongdeok Station (Line 5 and Line 6) to Hongdae.
Address: 175-21, Seonyu-ro, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul
Known for its great hiking trail, a scenic part of the Seoul City Wall and panoramic views of Seoul, Inwangsan provides a captivating blend of nature and urban exploration. The Beom Rock close to the peak, the Inwangsa Temple and the Suseongdong Valley are must visits to include in your hike.
Nearest subway station is Dongnimmun Station (Line 3).
Address: 90, Jahamun-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Ewha Woman’s University
The campus is renowned for its autumn beauty, especially the iconic Stairs at Ewha Campus Complex. Visitors can explore the unique architecture of the campus, including the Ewha Womans University Museum and the ECC Art Center, which often host exhibitions and cultural events.
Nearest subway station is Ewha Womans University Station (Line 2).
Address: 52, Ewhayeodae-gil, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul
10 Non Hiking Fall Foliage Spots Outside Seoul
I always recommend travelers to leave the city – especially during Fall Foliage that is a MUST! Here some great spots to visit during Fall Foliage outside of Seoul, that are perfect for everyone and don’t require long Hikes.
Nami Island is a picturesque oasis known for its tree-lined paths, where vibrant autumn leaves create a stunning canopy, making it a top destination for fall foliage enthusiasts.
Garden of Morning Calm
The Garden of Morning Calm is a tranquil haven for nature lovers, where colorful foliage mingles with meticulously landscaped gardens, creating a serene autumn escape.
Hwadam Forest is a lush woodland where you can immerse yourself in the vibrant colors of autumn, with its diverse flora and serene hiking trails.
Experience the stunning “Cheongpung Cultural Heritage Complex” amidst autumn hues in Jecheon, a perfect blend of cultural heritage and natural beauty.
Hongcheon offers a scenic escape during the fall season, with its rolling hills and forests bathed in autumnal hues, inviting travelers to explore its enchanting landscapes.
Nari Park and Dumulmeori present a captivating combination of riverside beauty and woodland charm, enhanced by the vibrant colors of fall.
The ancient city of Gyeongju becomes even more charming in the fall, with its historic sites adorned in fall colors and the serene beauty of Bomun Lake.
Suwon’s urban charm meets nature’s beauty in the fall, with the city providing a vibrant backdrop to explore its historic sites and parks.
The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) offers a unique perspective on fall foliage, where nature flourishes amid the historic tensions of this border region.
A UNESCO World Heritage site that comes alive in the fall, Andong Hahoe Folk Village allows you to step back in time and experience traditional Korean culture amidst autumn’s beauty.
10 Best Autumn Hikes Outside of Seoul
Of course the most beautiful Fall Foliage can be seen in the untouched nature of various mountains in South Korea. Here the 10 best Hikes for Fall Foliage. But even here a little secret: the guided tours I linked here usually offer easy hikes or beautiful photospots even in walking distance from the Parking lot.
Seoraksan, Sokcho (>Guided Tour)
Naejangsan, Jeongeup (>Guided Tour)
Daedunsan, Daejeon (>Guided Tour)
Jirisan, Hadong (>Guided Tour)
Sobaeksan, Danyang (>Guided Tour)
Hallasan, Jeju (>Guided Tour)
Jaeyaksan, Miryang (>Guided Tour)
Palgongsan, Yeongcheon (>Guided Tour)
10 Fall Festivals in South Korea
Fall is a great time for different kind of Festivals in Korea – from music, Culture, Art, Fireworks, Food or in general Fall Foliage or Fall Flower Festivals.
Korean Fall Foliage Tree Species
As the season progresses, different trees undergo their own unique transformations, creating a stunning tapestry of colors. Here’s a list of some of the prominent tree species and their changing hues during the fall:
Ginkgo Trees (은행나무 – Eunhaeng Namu)
- Appearance: Ginkgo trees feature distinct fan-shaped leaves that turn a brilliant golden-yellow in the fall.
- Timing: Ginkgo leaves typically start turning golden in late September, marking the beginning of the fall foliage season.
Maple Trees (단풍나무 – Danpung Namu)
- Appearance: Maple trees showcase a wide range of autumn colors, from fiery reds to bright oranges.
- Timing: Maple trees usually begin to change colors in early to mid-October, depending on the region and altitude.
Oak Trees (떡갈 나무 – Ddeokgal Namu)
- Appearance: Oak trees have rich green leaves that transform into a deep red or russet hue in the fall.
- Timing: Oak leaves tend to change colors in mid to late October, creating a captivating contrast with evergreen trees.
Zelkova Trees (느티 나무 – Neuti Name)
- Appearance: Zelkova trees boast deep green foliage that gradually transitions to shades of orange and red.
- Timing: Zelkova trees typically change colors from late October to early November.
Persimmon Trees (감 나무 – Gam Namu)
- Appearance: Persimmon trees, known for their delicious fruits, also offer a delightful display of orange and yellow leaves in the fall.
- Timing: The leaves of persimmon trees typically change colors in late November to early December.
Fall Flowers in South Korea
While the focus of autumn in South Korea is typically on the vibrant tree foliage, the season also brings forth beautiful fall flowers:
Hibiscus (무궁화 – Mugunghwa)
August – End September
The national flower of South Korea, the Hibiscus blooms from summer through early autumn, with its vibrant red petals adding a splash of color to the landscape
Buckwheat (메밀 – Memil)
Buckwheat flowers usually bloom in late August to early September, marking the late summer to early autumn season.
Cosmos (코스모스 – Koseumoseu)
September – October
Cosmos flowers bloom in South Korea from late summer to early autumn, blanketing fields and gardens with their vibrant pink, white, and purple petals.
Muhly (뮬리 – Myulli)
September – early November
Muhly grass, also known as Pink Muhly, exhibits its stunning pink plumes in the fall, creating a dreamy and romantic atmosphere in gardens and landscapes.
Chrysanthemum (국화 – Gukhwa)
September – November
Chrysanthemums & Asters are synonymous with autumn in South Korea, and they bloom in various colors from early autumn through late fall, often featured in cultural celebrations like Chuseok.
Silver Grass (억새풀 – Oeksaepul)
October – early November
Silver Grass blooms in late summer to early autumn, typically from late August to September, adorning fields and hillsides with its silvery plumes.
With this guide you got the right information you need to find the best spots and festivals to deep dive into the beauty of autumn in this captivating country. Whether you explore the bustling streets of Seoul, venture into Korea’s national parks, or simply savor the fall flowers, I hope your journey through South Korea’s autumn will be an unforgettable experience.