Spring is a popular season in Korea. Plenty of tourists travel to North East Asia to view the Cherry Blossoms, which bloom in Korea and Japan during the month of April. The season begins in March and ends around May, as the temperatures warm up for Summer in June. Spring is also a season for harvesting. It is common to see countryside farmers planting rice and potatoes, as well as sowing seeds and pruning trees. In this blog I will offer a variety of ways you and your friends can enjoy the comfortable spring weather while living and teaching in Korea.
Koreans are an active population that love being on the move. In the Spring you will spot plenty of families enjoying picnics in the park; children out on their bicycles, and crowds of hiking groups heading straight for the mountains. There is plenty to do and see in Korea as it is a desirable time to travel to the countryside. A moderate dry climate is perfect for sightseeing and outdoor activities. If you want to just relax you can also just grab your sandals, a picnic basket and a bottle of wine and enjoy the spring weather in a park.
Have a Picnic Under the Cherry Blossoms
A popular choice is having a picnic under the blooming Cherry Blossoms. Obviously, you need to watch the Cherry Blossom forecast to know when the flowers will be in full bloom. It is possible to miss it as the flowers only hang around for about 2-3 Weeks in April. Sometimes even shorter, depending on the unforeseeable weather like rain and wind. Also, every year the period changes depending on when Winter ended, so it is important to pay attention to websites like Visit Korea or Seoulistic to know the forecast dates.
Popular places to go in Seoul would be Olympic Park, the Han River, Seokchon Lake, Seoul Forest and Children’s Grand Park. If you do not have blankets, then any convenient store will have a tarp that you could buy to lay down on. Remember to take a cooler with your picnic food and a book to read. Also, have a water bottle – almost every park in Korea has a fountain that is safe to drink from.
Go Biking on a Trail
Cycling has become one of the fastest growing activities in Korea for keeping fit. If you are an avid cyclist, then you would know that Koreans are serious about cycling, with most being fully equipped from head to toe in the trendiest gear. Buying an expensive bicycle is no surprise to Seoulites who often have the hippest European wheels that exceed the term ‘leisurely cyclist’.
Not only is cycling a popular mode of transport in the Spring and Summer months, it is also a much-loved activity that the country enjoys partaking in. It is common to see whole families cycling along the biking trails, enjoying their outing. Also, groups of adult cyclists enjoy biking together between cities, stopping along the way to enjoy some sightseeing and eat delicious food together. It is even usual to see men drinking beer while they are on a cycling trip.
Popular biking trails to check out are the Ara Trail, the Bukhangang Trail, Namhangang Trail, Saejae Bicycle Path, Nakdonggang Trail, Geumgang River, and the Yeongsangang Trail.
Stroll at a Countryside Festival
From strawberries to green tea, Spring time in Korea has some great festivals! A popular activity to do in the Spring is to visit a festival. Koreans and tourists alike, hop on trains and buses to experience Korean culture and enjoy the great weather, all over the countryside. Stylishly, Koreans stroll through the festivals in their themed spring dresses and cherry blossom hair clips; while snapping away selfie shots as they meander through all the various choices to sample and enjoy.
Korean festivals have plenty of activities to do and it depends on the theme you choose. Your choices could be a Cherry Blossom Festival, a Tulip Festival, a Strawberry Festival, a Green Tea Festival, the Jeju Fire Festival and a Lotus Lantern Festival.
A lot of these festivals are outside of the city. It is recommended to plan the festival around a weekend getaway. That way you get to travel and sight-see as well as enjoy some culture at a uniquely designed festival.
Hike like a Korean and drink Makoli
Koreans are serious about hiking! They will out-dress you and out-hike you. Koreans flock to the mountains especially in the Spring because of the favored weather conditions. There are plenty of mountains to hike from the South to the North of the peninsula, ranging from easy to difficult courses. Popular mountains to hike would be Mt. Sorak, Mt. Jiri and Mt. Halla. In Seoul, Mt. Bukak and Mt. Acha are two of the preferred hiking trails to venture.
To hike like a Korean you need to embrace the sport like the people do. You should equip yourself with a hiking stick, hiking clothes and a backpack filled with picnic goodies such as boiled eggs, ramen and a bottle of makoli. Yes, Koreans drink when hiking. It is common to see groups of hikers picnicking while enjoying some iced Makoli (rice beer) and fried pajeon (fried pancake).
If you do not have a cooler then it is recommended to take some cash with you and enjoy the many mountainside eating stalls. These stalls consist of minimal goods with a few garden tables and cooled beverages. Usually, an elderly Korean will be selling these products, and sometimes there might even be ice-cream or blended fruit juice.
Sit Outdoors on a Cafe Terrace
Spring is also a time when café terraces open up and one can enjoy some sunshine and iced Americanos. Seoul is known for its outdoor café terraces which can be located all over the city. Seokchon Lake, HBC and Samcheongdong districts have plenty of outdoor cafes to enjoy.
Spring is also a time to start sampling the famous Korean dessert Bingsu. Bingsu is a blend of delicious ice-cream and toppings on top of a mountain of shaved ice. It is very tasty and will often include rice cake, red beans and condense milk.
It is no surprise that Tijana Huysamen, a South African born Capetownian, avid traveler and travel journalist, fell in love with South Korea and its people. After Tijana arrived in South Korea in 2010, she had the opportunity to live in the heart of the Korean countryside. During her time spent in Chungnam province she learned to speak Korean, prepare Korean food and experience the humble nature of the countryside people. After a year break in New York, Tijana jumped at the opportunity to return to Korea again, and is currently working at the CDI Jamsil Branch, in Jamsil, Seoul. Read Tijana’s Aclipse blog to gain a unique perspective on Korea and her shared experiences and adventures both in a major city and in the countryside. Follow Tijana on Twitter @TeeAnni or email [email protected] to request more information on teaching in Korea!