Best Time to Visit Korea: When to Go & Weather Guide

Planning the ultimate South Korea itinerary? As with any destination in East Asia, choosing the best time to visit Korea is a must.

Acing when to go to South Korea can spell the difference between a epic trip and a, well, not-so fantastic one. Choose right and you could spend your days marvelling at cherry blossoms or fall colours. Choose wrong and you could be in for a miserable vacation sweating under sheets of rain.

Not sure when to travel to South Korea? Plan your trip with this complete South Korea weather guide. Discover the best months to visit Korea and what to expect, where to go, and what to wear in Korea by season and by month…

When to go to Korea: A weather overview

Like much of the region, South Korea sports a temperate four-season climate. It ensures a wide variation throughout the year. Unless you’re from a near-perfect tropical destination, South Korea is a year-round destination. Each season offers a different set of perks.

In general, South Korea’s climate is characterized by hot & humid summers and chilly winters. Neither is an ideal time to visit, nor are they complete no-gos.

Falling between the extremes of summer and winter, spring and autumn are the two best seasons to visit Korea. In both, you’re greeted by comfortable mild to warm temperatures and relatively dry conditions. The differences are especially striking when compared to the hot & wet summer.

Mountains in Spring

There are some other bonuses to travelling to Korea in spring and autumn, too.

The middle to the end of April sees the cherry blossoms emerging throughout South Korea. This stunning scene throughout the peninsula catches Korea at its most beautiful. It’s the perfect time to visit the country. Likewise, the autumn months between September and November witness the eruption of Korea’s fall colours.

Autumn is one of the best seasons of the year to launch your South Korea itinerary. Temperatures are still comfortable and the rainfall dips from the muggy summer months. 

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Seasons in South Korea

Spring

When is spring in Korea? Spring in South Korea is from mid-March until June.

What to expect in spring: With another year of cold temperatures behind it, Korea springs back to life from its winter slumber in spring. Throughout the country, cherry blossoms and flowers bloom, re-colouring the pale outdoor spaces. In general, spring in Korea is much drier than summer, and, naturally, milder than winter. As as such, a great season and one of the best times to travel around South Korea.

What to wear in spring: In spring, the temperatures are improving in Korea from the lows of winter. You’ll still need to carry along some warmer outerwear in your travel backpack to deal with the inevitable cooler temperatures. I’d recommend packing a warm fleece jacket or sweater as a base. Throw in an ultralight waterproof jacket or softshell jacket as a waterproof outer layer. For tackling the hiking trails in Korea, bring along a solid pair of waterproof hiking shoes.

Summer

When is summer in Korea? Summer in South Korea is from July until August.

What to expect in summer: As expected, summers in Korea are hot and muggy. Summer sees plenty of rainfall throughout the peninsula. July and August are the wettest months of the year in Korea thanks to the East Asian monsoon. As luck would have it, the typhoons that slam Japan, Taiwan, and China every year in late summer to early autumn often pass Korea by.

What to wear in summer: In the dead heat of summer in Korea you’re going to want to keep it light. Stick to lightweight quick-dry fabrics whether you’re wearing pants or shorts. You’ll want to keep a travel umbrella and lightweight waterproof jacket handy for the inevitable downpours. Waterproof shoes aren’t a bad idea to add your packing list for Korea either.

Sunset in Pohang

Autumn

When is autumn in Korea? Autumn in South Korea is from September to November.

What to expect in autumn: With the muggy days of summer gone, autumn is one of the most pleasant times of year to visit South Korea. During autumn in Korea, the temperatures are still warm and mild. Rainfall is limited. Along with the sunny days, you’re treated to the stunning fall foliage that envelops Korea in a blaze of crimson and orange hues.

What to wear in autumn: With the cooler weather, you’ll need to think about bringing along extra layers. A warm base layer, such as fleece, with a rain jacket or softshell as an outer layer should suffice in most situations. As this is one of the best seasons for hiking in Korea, be sure to carry a pair of sturdy hiking shoes to take on the trails.

Winter

When is winter in Korea? Winter in South Korea is from December to mid-March.

What to expect in winter: It’s hard to give winter a thumbs up over the milder days of spring or autumn. But winter in South Korea is, truthfully, not so bad for visitors. Temperatures are indeed cold but hardly miserable compared to the annual winter hell I endure in Canada. One bonus to travelling to South Korea in winter is that the crowds are smaller. Along with it, you should find some excellent airfare deals and cheaper accommodations. As the 2018 Winter Olympics should remind us, winter is also the best time of year to visit Korea for hitting the ski slopes for a dose of winter fun.

What to wear in winter: With the colder temperatures of winter in Korea, you’ll want to dress in layers. A warm hardshell coat with knitted toque and a pair of warm gloves will do the trick for the outdoors. In snowy conditions, lined waterproof boots are a must for South Korea. They’ll keep your feet dry and protected from the cold.

South Korea Weather By Month

January

Overview of weather in Korea in January: Despite the cooler temperatures, January isn’t such a bad month to travel around South Korea. January is one of the driest months of the year. Frequent sunny skies make a great case to tough out the sub-zero temperatures. January is a great month to spend time enjoying the outdoors with minimal tourist crowds.

Where to go in January: Korea’s winter sports season starts to ramp up into January. This is your big opportunity to hit the slopes in Korea at the ski resorts in Gangwon-do and Gyeonggi-do. In January, head to Jeju Island for the Hallasan Snowflake Festival. At this celebration, you’ll combine climbing Hallasan with experiencing unique folk performances.

City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Rainfall
Seoul 1ºC / 34ºF -9ºC / 16ºF -4ºC / 25ºF 21 mm
Busan 7ºC / 45ºF -1ºC / 30ºF 3ºC / 37ºF 30 mm
Jeju 8ºC / 46ºF 6ºC / 43ºF 6ºC / 43ºF 22 mm

February

Overview of weather in Korea in February: The Korean winter starts to show signs of relief into February. Temperatures increase ever so slightly from the January lows as does precipitation.

Where to go in February: The Korean Lunar New Year (Seollal) usually falls between late-January and mid-February. This is not a fantastic period to travel in Korea. It’s one of the country’s high seasons—with the prices and inconveniences to reflect it. Outside of the holiday, February is a great month to enjoy the outdoors and winter sports under milder conditions.

City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Rainfall
Seoul 4ºC / 39ºF -7ºC / 19ºF -2ºC / 28ºF 25 mm
Busan 9ºC / 48ºF 1ºC / 34ºF 5ºC / 41ºF 50 mm
Jeju 9ºC / 48ºF 7ºC / 45ºF 7ºC / 45ºF 24 mm

Winter @ Gyeongbokgung Palace

March

Overview of weather in Korea in March: Winter is still in session in Korea into the first days of March. The temperatures are still crisp throughout the country. They often sit in the single digits and may even drop below zero in the north of the country including Seoul. The cold snap doesn’t last long though. The end of March ushers in beautiful changes around South Korea. Finally, the cherry blossoms and flowers begin to emerge from their winter slumber.

Where to go in March: With its milder weather, late March is a great month to travel throughout the peninsula. It’s a fine time to dig into the best things to do in Seoul and the best things to do in Jeju Island. Or watch spring make a grand entrance in Korea at the Gwangyang International Maehwa Festival in Jeollanam-do. Here, you’ll get to experience the sweet scents of apricot blossoms and sample tasty local southern Korean seafood. Even more out of the ordinary is the Bullfighting Festival in Cheongdo, south of Daegu. At this popular festival, you can enjoy a rodeo and a calf beauty contest. Yee haw!

City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Rainfall
Seoul 9ºC / 48ºF -2ºC / 28ºF 4ºC / 39ºF 48 mm
Busan 13ºC / 55ºF 5ºC / 41ºF 9ºC / 48ºF 90 mm
Jeju 12ºC / 54ºF 9ºC / 48ºF 9ºC / 48ºF 46 mm

April

Overview of weather in Korea in April: April is one of the best months to visit Korea. In April, the cherry blossoms make their quick appearance throughout the country. The weather during April warms up quickly, bringing with it a little more rain than March. The only big negative to travelling in April is the possibility of nasty yellow dust storms. These inconvenient storms originate in the Gobi Desert and blanket much of East Asia.

Where to go in April: With the cherry blossoms out in early April and the milder weather, much of Korea is at your disposal. Several cherry blossom festivals pop up throughout the country. The most popular include the Jeju Cherry Blossom Festival and the Jinhae Gunhangje Festival, the biggest in the country.

City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Rainfall
Seoul 17ºC / 63ºF 5ºC / 41ºF 11ºC / 52ºF 95 mm
Busan 18ºC / 64ºF 10ºC / 50ºF 14ºC / 57ºF 140 mm
Jeju 17ºC / 63ºF 14ºC / 57ºF 14ºC / 57ºF 77 mm

Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul

May

Overview of weather in Korea in May: By May, the spring is out in full force. Throughout South Korea, the flowers are in full bloom. At every turn, you’ll enjoy unforgettably beautiful scenes. Meanwhile, average temperatures in May rise into the high teens. Highs start reaching into the twenties. May is the last relatively dry month before the monsoon season wreaks havoc on the Korean peninsula. 

Where to go in May: May is a great month to be outside in South Korea. Whether your plans include hiking up Hallasan in Jeju or hiking in Seoul at Bukhansan, you’ll love it. Or, perhaps, the weather of May will mean simply enjoying beautiful sights in your favourite Korean city. Tea lovers should beeline south to Jeollanam-do, Korea’s main tea-growing region. Sip to your heart’s content at the Boseong Tea Festival.

City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Rainfall
Seoul 22ºC / 72ºF 11ºC / 52ºF 17ºC / 63ºF 83 mm
Busan 22ºC / 72ºF 14ºC / 57ºF 18ºC / 64ºF 180 mm
Jeju 21ºC / 70ºF 18ºC / 64ºF 18ºC / 64ºF 102 mm

June

Overview of weather in Korea in June: Throughout Korea, the temperatures steadily rise into June. The beginning of the month is, like May, generally pleasant for travelling. The one exception is the increasing rainfall. By the end of June, the wet weather starts to take its toll as South Korea heads towards the rainy monsoon season.

Where to go in June: With comfortably warm temperatures, June is another great month for outdoor activities in Korea such as hiking. For something a little out of the ordinary, head to the port city of Gangneung for the Dano Festival. This festival features interesting folk performances unique to the Gangwon-do region. It normally takes place in either early June or late May.

City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Rainfall
Seoul 26ºC / 79ºF 16ºC / 61ºF 21ºC / 70ºF 151 mm
Busan 24ºC / 75ºF 18ºC / 64ºF 21ºC / 70ºF 220 mm
Jeju 28ºC / 82ºF 21ºC / 70ºF 21ºC / 70ºF 133 mm

Night @ Yeoido in Seoul

July

Overview of weather in Korea in July: Despite the warmer temperatures, July isn’t a fantastic month for travelling around Korea. The first true summer month brings with it uncomfortably hot temperatures and sticky humidity. July is the wettest month of the year in Korea. The heavy rain is brought on by the East Asian Monsoon that drenches the peninsula thoroughly. The end of the month also marks the beginning of the region’s typhoon season. Unlike Japan or Taiwan though, most of South Korea tends to escape the most brutal of its wrath.

Where to go in July: July is one of the worst months to travel to Korea. It’s hard to recommend too many places to visit around the country. One interesting event to consider that’s in line with the miserable weather is the Boryeong Mud Festival on the east coast. More or less, it’s an excuse to get dirty and have a little fun on the beach.

City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Rainfall
Seoul 27ºC / 81ºF 20ºC / 68ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 385 mm
Busan 27ºC / 81ºF 22ºC / 72ºF 25ºC / 77ºF 300 mm
Jeju 28ºC / 82ºF 26ºC / 79ºF 26ºC / 79ºF 328 mm

August

Overview of weather in Korea in August: Like July, it’s best to avoid travelling around Korea in August if possible. August is the second wettest month of the year and similarly as hot and sticky as its summer companion.

Where to go in August: With the hot and humid weather of August, you won’t want to spend your entire holiday outside. If you must travel to Korea in August, stick to bigger cities like Busan and Seoul. At least then, you’ll be to duck in and out of air-conditioned museums, restaurants, and malls to keep your sanity. The Ginseng Festival in Geumsan is another interesting option for this sub-optimal travel month.

City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Rainfall
Seoul 28ºC / 82ºF 20ºC / 68ºF 24ºC / 75ºF 283 mm
Busan 29ºC / 84ºF 23ºC / 73ºF 26ºC / 79ºF 290 mm
Jeju 29ºC / 84ºF 27ºC / 81ºF 27ºC / 81ºF 248 mm

Autumn in Insadong

September

Overview of weather in Korea in September: With the monsoons and typhoons breaking away, September is the start of something good in South Korea. Temperatures into the first month of fall stay warm. Rainfall also dips from its height in July.

Where to go in September: In September, the outdoors once again begin to beckon. As the temperatures dip to more comfortable levels and the rain peters off, it’s a great time to be outside. The biggest Korean holiday of the year, The Harvest Moon Festival (Chuseok), usually falls somewhere between late September and early October. (2021: September 20-22; 2022: September 9-12). You’ll want to avoid travelling around Korea during Chuseok. The country all but shuts down in observation.

City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Rainfall
Seoul 24ºC / 75ºF 14ºC / 57ºF 19ºC / 66ºF 159 mm
Busan 26ºC / 79ºF 19ºC / 66ºF 23ºC / 73ºF 190 mm
Jeju 25ºC / 77ºF 23ºC / 73ºF 23ºC / 73ºF 138 mm

October

Overview of weather in Korea in October: The first true signs of autumn in Korea begin to roll in come October. There’s a marked drop in temperature from September. It’s still mild though, and far drier in October than in the previous months. Overall, October might be the best time to visit Korea. And it’s not just for the weather. By the end of October, the fall foliage is usually out in full force around South Korea.

Where to go in October: There’s hardly a better month to hit up national parks than October. With the fall colours emblazoning South Korea in rich red, yellow, and orange hues, it’s impossible to not get floored by the scenery. Places like Seoraksan, Hallasan or Bukhansan are at their finest. Besides hiking in the national parks, consider heading down to the cultural gem of Andong. In early October, its annual Mask Dance Festival beckons. At this cultural festival, you’ll find traditional folk performances. Foodies, on the other hand, will love Gwangju’s Kimchi Festival, a celebration of the country’s national dish.

City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Rainfall
Seoul 18ºC / 64ºF 7ºC / 45ºF 13ºC / 55ºF 52 mm
Busan 22ºC / 72ºF 14ºC / 57ºF 18ºC / 64ºF 60 mm
Jeju 21ºC / 70ºF 18ºC / 64ºF 18ºC / 64ºF 49 mm

Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon

November

Overview of weather in Korea in November: Although it’s a tad chillier than October, November is still a good month to visit Korea. In early November, the autumn colours are still out throughout the country. They paint beautiful scenes wherever you go. The peak viewing time won’t last long though. Not long into November, the leaves start to fall in preparation for a long winter ahead. Another bonus to travelling in November is that it’s among the driest months of the year in South Korea.

Where to go in November: Even with the colder temperatures, much of Korea is at your disposal. Hikers will love plying through trails in the top Korean national parks under the beauty of the fall colours.

City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Rainfall
Seoul 10ºC / 50ºF -1ºC / 30ºF 5ºC / 41ºF 46 mm
Busan 16ºC / 61ºF 8ºC / 46ºF 12ºC / 54ºF 50 mm
Jeju 16ºC / 61ºF 13ºC / 55ºF 13ºC / 55ºF 53 mm

December

Overview of weather in Korea in December: The first official month of winter in Korea hits swiftly as we leave behind the brilliant autumn travel season. As long as you’re well prepared, winter in Korea isn’t such a bad thing. December sees cooler temperatures than November. It’s still sunny and dry though. You’ll still find plenty of opportunities to take on outdoor activities.

Where to go in December: Even with the above-freezing highs in December, the winter sports season in Korea propels forward. December is a great time to visit Seoul as ice rinks begin to open up around the city. For more action-packed adventures, head to the ski resorts of Gangwon-do. You’ll enjoy carving the pistes before the height of the ski season hits later on in winter. One of the weirder festivals in December is the Pyeongchang Trout Festival. At this festival, you’ll get to test your fishing abilities and enjoy other fun winter activities like ATVing and sledding.

City Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Temp Rainfall
Seoul 3ºC / 37ºF -7ºC / 19ºF -2ºC / 28ºF 25 mm
Busan 10ºC / 50ºF 2ºC / 36ºF 6ºC / 43ºF 30 mm
Jeju 10ºC / 50ºF 8ºC / 46ºF 8ºC / 45ºF 25 mm

The verdict: When is the best time to visit Korea?

The best month to visit Korea is April or October.

Why visit in April?

Patient travellers waiting for the long Korean winter to be over can breathe a sigh of relief when the warmer days of April approach.

It’s not just that April brings with it better temperatures and relatively dry conditions. The main reason that April is the best time to go to Korea is that it’s simply beautiful.

Cherry Blossoms @ Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul

By the time April rolls along, the cherry blossoms are in bloom throughout Korea. In its blanket of delicate pink blossoms, you’ll see the country is at its most aesthetically pleasing. It’s a must-have experience!

Why visit in October?

Along with April, the best time to travel to South Korea is October.

After an unpleasant summer monsoon season, late September to October brings much needed relief. By October, temperatures cool down but remain quite pleasant. It’s also one of the drier months of the year, so spending your days outdoors is hardly a challenge.

Autumn in Yeouido Park

But, like April, the real reason to visit Korea in November is to catch the scenery at its finest. Towards the middle and end of the month the leaves begin to erupt into crimson & golden shades. They’ll take your breath away!

Nearly anywhere you go, you’ll be greeted with a surreal scene that’ll put the rest of the year to shame. Head for the temples of Gyeongju or the mountains of Gangwon-do. Seeing them set to a colourful fall backdrop will be among the best experiences you’ll have on your visit to South Korea.

Ryan O'Rourke

Ryan O'Rourke is a Canadian traveller, food & drink aficionado, and the founder & editor of Treksplorer. Join Ryan as he explores the world two to three weeks at a time from his home base of Canada with Treksplorer's independent and unsponsored mid-range luxury travel guides including itineraries, things to do, where to stay, when to visit, and hiking & walking trails.

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