Korea is a stunningly beautiful country any time of the year, but the best time to see it is during autumn. Rich golds, dazzling reds, burning oranges, and lush greens paint the forests, mountains, pathways, parks, and palaces in Seoul and Korea during this spectacular season. That’s why it’s definitely my favourite time of year in Korea and one where I can’t stay in. You’ve just got to go out and embrace the gorgeous nature, it calls to you!
If you want to know where to see autumn leaves in Korea, then you’ve come to the right place. With more than 70% of the country covered in mountains and forests, there are so many places to see Korea’s fall foliage. You don’t need to worry about getting dirty as you can see autumn leaves in Korea without even leaving the main tourist areas.
Seoul’s stunning royal palaces, public parks, and many small mountains are just some of my favourite spots when I’m in the capital. Of course, nothing can beat the magnificence of Jirisan National Park for the title of most incredible autumn leaves in Korea. Read on to find out more about all these places.
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Guide To Seeing Autumn Leaves In Korea & Seoul
This guide will help you find out where the best places are to see autumn leaves in Korea. Furthermore, it’ll offer advice about when to travel to see the best autumn foliage, and how to get there. If you’re in Seoul, then you have loads of incredible opportunities to see autumn leaves in Seoul’s palaces and parks. However, the best views are definitely further out in the national parks and natural beauty spots spread across Korea.
Make sure you don’t miss the chance to see some of the absolutely incredible fall foliage in Korea by figuring out the best place to visit that will make up part of your perfect itinerary for Korea. In case you haven’t figured out where to go in Korea yet, I have some really detailed and easy to follow itineraries for Korea you’ll definitely want to check out:
Why Autumn Is The Best Season To Visit Korea
I love living in Korea but there are definitely good and bad times to be travelling in this country. Summer is hot and winter is cold. Spring is a wonderful time to travel, but the best time is definitely autumn.
There is an abundance of natural beauty after the rainy season in June and nature gives one final spectacular show as it starts to die off. The colours of the ginkgo and maple trees are incredible – deep golds, bold reds, fiery oranges. Also, this is the time to catch the tall pampas grass (reeds) blowing in the wind along the rivers and atop the hills.
If you can’t make it in autumn, or want to see Korea in other seasons, too. Then be sure to check out my other seasonal guides for Korea to get some inspiration.
When To See Autumn Leaves In Korea
The wave of autumn leaves in Korea begins in the north and then spreads south , starting as early as late September in Seoraksan. The end of the wave is around mid October in the north and mid November in the south.
Take a look at the forecast for when the autumn leaves in Korea will start to appear to help you figure out where to go and when.
How To See The Autumn Leaves In Korea
You can see autumn foliage wherever you go in Korea, but to get the best views you might want to get out of the big cities.
This can be difficult as a tourist who doesn’t speak the local language or know their way around. Therefore, I’ve listed four tips that will help you figure out how best to see the autumn leaves in Korea.
1: Book A Tour
There are many tour operators in Korea that will provide tours from Seoul or other cities to the many national parks. One day tours can be popular at this time of the year, so it’s probably best to book in advance.
2: Join A Hiking Group
Unsure about how to hike the paths alone, why not join the Seoul Hiking & Nature Group? This group is run for all people who want to experience hiking in Korea. The leader of this group speaks good English and organises regular hikes in Seoul and other areas.
From one day hikes to weekends away in the mountains, you should find something to suit your timetable. It’s also a great way to meet other locals, expats, and tourists with a passion for hiking.
3: Book A Temple Stay
Imagine waking up with the sunrise, joining in with buddhist ceremonies, and then going hiking in the cool morning through a national park. This is the kind of unbelievable experience you can get with a Korean Buddhist Temple Stay in Korea. I’ve done this twice now and each time was amazing.
The Temples are mostly situated in national parks and give you a chance to stay overnight in the most idyllic of settings. Learn about Korean Buddhism, experience life as a monk, and see incredible autumn foliage at the same time.
If you’d like to know more about doing a temple stay in Korea, then be sure to check out my detailed guide:
4: Get There With Public Transport
Hiking is something of a national pastime in Korea and that means that transport options to the best spots are plentiful. Not only that, Korea has a great public transport system and getting around the country, even as a tourist, is not that hard.
Transport and Map applications make it easy to navigate your way around. Furthermore, some of the best places to visit are within big cities like Seoul and have subway access.
Map Locations Of Where To See Autumn Leaves In Korea
Use the map below to help you plan where to see autumn leaves in Korea.
Please note: you’ll need to use Google Maps to open this map.
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Where To See Autumn Leaves In Seoul & Nearby
You don’t have to travel far from Seoul to see beautiful autumn leaves in Korea. You’ll see them while doing regular sightseeing, such as the N Seoul Tower or Seoul’s major palaces. Furthermore, great sights are only a short trip from the capital and well worth the travel.
The best time to see autumn leaves in Seoul is from mid – late October.
1: Namsan Tower (N Seoul Tower)
This unmissable tower in the heart of Seoul is a great place to hike and see autumn leaves. The walk up to the N Seoul Tower takes about an hour and during that time you can pass by lots of big, leafy trees. You can hike from south of Myeongdong Station all the way to the top.
For those who want an easier trip to the top, why not ride the Namsan Cable Car? For less than 10,000 won you can ride up and back again and enjoy all the beautiful views across the city. Find out more about how to visit N Seoul Tower and hike Namsan Mountain.
2: Seoul Forest
Seoul Forest is a lovely place to wander around any time of year, even more so during autumn. With sycamore trees producing leaves the size of dinner plates and bigger, you’ll find some unique autumn foliage here. As well as autumn leaves, you will also find a petting zoo, deer, playgrounds and lots more. A great place for families.
There are four sections to this park, including the Culture & Art Park, Educational Experience Park, Eco-forest Park, and Riverside Park along the Hangang River. You can gain access to the park from Seoul Forest Station.
3: Secret Garden (Inside Changdeokgung Palace)
Located inside Changedeokgung Palace (one of Seoul’s top palaces) is the Secret Garden. This stunning garden showcases some of the finest fall foliage in the city. There’s a beautiful pond where you can see the golden autumn leaves reflected in the water.
Entry to the garden is limited each day, therefore get there early to book tickets and avoid disappointment. Furthermore, why not try wearing hanbok to really set the mood for some great pictures.
4: Gwanaksan Mountain
Located in the heart of the downtown Seoul area, close to Seoul National University, is Gwanaksan Mountain. This popular hiking area provides peaceful tree-lined streets and leaves you with a view overlooking the modern Gangnam area.
It’s a great site and, above all, it’ll give you a chance to hike without leaving the city. Take some time out to visit Yeonjuam Hermitage, a temple located on the side of the mountain. With easy access from Gwacheon Station. Find out more about hiking Gwanaksan Mountain.
5: Bukhansan National Park
Bukhansan National Park is much larger than Gwanaksan Mountain and therefore provides even better options for hiking. There are several routes for hiking the mountain, with each one providing stunning views of northern Seoul and autumn’s splendour.
Hikes will take the best part of 3-5 hours to get to the top and back. The weather is cool at this time of year, so it’s not too strenuous. If you’re only staying in Seoul, then this is probably the best place to see autumn leaves in Korea.
Find out how to hike Bukhansan Mountain.
6: Nami Island
Nami Island is famed for its natural beauty all year round, but even more so in autumn. With tree-lined streets of giant metasequoia and golden gingkos, this is one of the most pleasant places to see autumn leaves in Korea.
Known as a family-friendly eco-park, as well as a romantic day-trip spot, there’s something for everyone here. You can combine a day trip to Nami Island with the Garden of Morning Calm for a perfect day of fall foliage viewing.
7: Garden Of Morning Calm
Located close to Nami Island, this scultpured garden provides dozens of pathways through hundreds of beautiful plants, trees, and bushes. The Garden of Morning Calm also holds regular flower festivals throughout the year. This includes the gorgeous Maple Tree Festival, the definitive tree for autumn with its green to gold to deep red leaves, often at the same time.
How To Get To The Garden of Morning Calm:
You can get to the Garden of Morning Calm by public transport by taking a train to Cheongpyeong Station or Cheongpyeong Terminal and then taking the free shuttle bus. Alternatively, you can take a tour from Seoul which also includes nearby attractions, including Petite France, Nami Island, and the Gangchon Rail Bike.
8: Asan Gingko Tree Road
There are two trees that are perfect for seeing autumn leaves in Korea, they are the maple and gingko. The Asan Gingko Tree Road specialises in the latter and is the best place to see this gorgeous golden cascade of colours. Imgaine yourself strolling down the beautiful, tree-lined streets of Asan Gingko Tree Road, with a carpet of golden leaves below, and lemony clouds above.
Gingko trees are famous for their copious leaves and creating a golden carpet all around. In short, it really is magical and worth the trip. The best time to see these trees is around the end of October or start of November.
How To Get To Asan Gingko Tree Road:
To get to Asan, take the KTX from Seoul Station (40 minutes) or on Subway Line 1 (over 2 hours), then take a taxi from Asan Station to Asan Gingko Tree Road (oonheng namu gil – 은행나무길).
Where To See Autumn Leaves In Korea’s National Parks
Korea is blessed with a large number of national parks spreading from the northern border all the way down to Jeju Island in the south. Furthermore, the timing of the autumn leaves arriving is spread out over several weeks, giving a long window to catch them whenever you arrive.
This list starts with Seoraksan National Park, the northernmost park on the list. After that, each park is further south, ending with Hallsan National Park on Jeju Island. Subsequently, times to see the leaves are estimates and may change with the climate for the year.
9: Seoraksan National Park: Early – Mid October
A great day trip from Seoul, Seoraksan is one of the most convenient national parks to see beautiful fall foliage. Situated near the northeastern coast, this is also one of the first places to see the autumn leaves in Korea.
This national park is packed full with stunning rocky peaks, the most important Buddhist temple in Korea, and plenty of ways to explore it all. There’s a large range of trails for all levels and seeing it all from the bottom is worth the trip alone.
If you want to explore the mountain range without getting too sweaty, then take the Seorak Cable Car. Local guides can help you navigate through the park and will point out all the beauty and wonders that can be found here.
10: Odaesan National Park: Early – Mid October
Odaesan National Park is great for those who want an easier experience but with all the stunning autumn views you’d expect from a national park. What makes this special is the 10 km path from the entrance of the park to the hiking path.
This route, known as Seonjae-gil Road, is a ‘peaceful breath of fresh air, a place for meditation and reconnecting with nature’. The start location – Woljeongsa Temple – also includes another treat, a fir tree lined street. Fans of K-drama may recognise it from the hit show ‘Goblin: The Great and Lonely God’.
Find out more about how to travel to Odaesan.
11: Gyeryeongsan National Park: Mid – Late October
This is located next to the city that I live in, Daejeon. Therefore, I know that the leaves here are some of the best and this is one of the best mountain ranges in Korea. For those who don’t want to hike, you can explore the beautiful surroundings of Donghaksa Temple and the river.
There are multiple paths up into the rocky mountain tops, offering views over this small national park. The hike to the top only takes a couple of hours. Furthermore, you’ll pass by Buddhist temples, pagodas, a waterfall and plenty of autumn leaves. Sample some delicious Korean pancake and rice wine after you hike, just like the locals.
Find out more about Gyeryongsan and hiking options.
12: Daedunsan Provincial Park: Mid – Late October
Another favourite of mine located south of Daejeon is the Daedunsan Provincial Park. Although not as big as Gyeryongsan, this park is probably the better of the two places to find autumn foliage. Indeed, it might be one of the best places to see autumn leaves in Korea.
What makes Daedunsan Mountain so well known is the unique path to the top. You can skip most of the hike by taking the cable car, then braving the elements as you walk over the Geumgang Gureum Suspension Bridge.
The best part yet is just before the peak, where you can climb a near vertical ladder over a sheer drop to another peak. Known as the Cloud Bridge, this is not for faint-hearted people, but provides amazing views.
I hike here every autumn to see the fall foliage and every time its breathtaking. Therefore, I’d definitely recommend it if you’re passing through Daejeon.
13: Naejangsan National Park: Late October – Mid November
Rated as the best place to see autumn leaves in Korea, Naejeangsan National Park is a long way from Seoul, but well worth the trip. Naejang, meaning ‘many secrets’, is packed full of delightful presents. These include the stunning green to red colours of the many maple trees, as well as the iconic Uhwajeong Pavilion.
The Uhwajeong Pavilion is located inside a crystalline lake which reflects the warm foliage magnificently. Besides this, you will also find several waterfalls, wonderful Buddhist temples, and hundreds of different plants and animals.
The best way to get to Naejangsan is by booking a day trip from Seoul. Alternatively, take the KTX from Seoul Station to Jeong-eup Station and transfer to a local bus for Naejangsan National Park. Find out more about getting to Naejangsan and exploring the area.
14: Jirisan National Park: Early – Late October
The largest national park in Korea is also one of the best at this time of the year. The first place I went hiking, as well as one of the best, you won’t be disappointed here. Packed full of maple trees and other fall foliage, Jirisan National Park is great for all levels of hikers & trekkers.
There are many easy courses that anyone can walk, including a 16-stage loop all around the national park. Nature lovers can see lots of wild animals, including the last 50 or so remaining Asiatic black bears in Korea. Also there are deer, wild boars, and plenty of squirrels, and, of course, the autumn leaves.
Jirisan is best accessed from Busan or other southern cities, or by car from Seoul. You can book lodges to stay overnight, but it will be extremely busy during autumn,
Find out more about how to get to Jirisan.
15: Hallasan National Park – Jeju: Mid October – Early November
Hallasan volcano, rising up out of the ocean to create Jeju Island, provides an incredible hiking experience. This is also one of the last places to see the autumn leaves in Korea.
Don’t worry, though, you won’t have to climb the highest mountain in Korea to see the fall foliage. Shorter routes around the base of the mountain will give you great views of autumn’s splendour. These include Eorimok Trail and the Yeongsil Trail.
Wherever you go, however, make sure to start hiking early as the trails start turning people away after 12.30 pm. Find out more about the different routes around Hallasan.
Seeing Autumn Leaves In Korea FAQs
Finally, here’s a few FAQs about where to see autumn leaves in Korea or Seoul, in case the above information didn’t cover enough for you.
Where can I see autumn leaves in Korea?
Korea’s National Parks
The best places to see autumn leaves in Korea are without a doubt in Korea’s national parks. There are national parks spread across the country, as well as dozens of smaller areas of natural beauty where you can see fall foliage. The top 3 spots for seeing autumn leaves in Korea are Jirisan National Park, Seoraksan National Park, and Daedunsan Provincial Park. Asan Gingko Tree Road is also a very popular tourist attraction during this season.
Where can I see autumn leaves in Seoul?
Changdeokgung Palace & many parks
You can find autumn leaves in Seoul very easily as there are many green areas throughout the city. Some of the most popular spots are in the royal palaces in the heart of Seoul, especially Changdeokgung Palace. Seoul has many other places to experience fall foliage, including Seoul Zoo, Seoul Forest, along the banks of the Han River, and Namsan Tower.
What is there to do in Seoul in Autumn?
Autumn Festivals & Fall Foliage Spotting
There are many autumn festivals in Seoul that coincide with the major holiday of the season, which is called Chuseok in Korea. When the autumn leaves appear, many people go hiking in national parks and walking in nature. Autumn is cool and has low levels of pollution, making it a great time to get outside and enjoy nature’s blessings. The evenings are still warm in early autumn, so many people in Seoul visit night markets in various locations, too.
What should I wear to see autumn leaves in Korea?
A jacket and good shoes
Autumn leaves start falling in late September and the weather cools significantly after the hot summer. You’ll need at least a light jacket and something appropriate to cover your legs and arms. If you want to see autumn leaves in Seoul, you should be fine with regular shoes for walking around a city. However, if you want to see Korea’s fall foliage in the national parks, then you should wear training or hiking shoes that are comfortable in rough terrain.
How cold is autumn in Korea?
10-20 degrees Celsius (depending on the month)
Autumn in Korea starts in September and is still warm and humid. However, the temperature drops quickly and by mid-October it can be windy and cold enough for a jacket. By November the temperature drops further and starts to get below zero as Korea approaches winter. During peak autumn season time (October), temperatures are around 10-15 degrees Celsius during the day. There can be typhoons during this season, so be careful as there can be strong winds and heavy rains for brief periods. Otherwise, the weather is mostly calm and sunny.
When can I see autumn leaves in Seoul?
The best time to see autumn leaves in Seoul is around mid-October as the trees start to change colour. The autumn leaves in Seoul should stay for several weeks and reach their peak around the end of October. Places close to Seoul, such as Seoraksan National Park, usually peak before Seoul. If you’re visiting Korea in September or early-October, this is one of the earliest places to see fall foliage in Korea.
When can I see Autumn Leaves In Korea?
Late-September to early-November.
Autumn leaves in Korea first appear at the end of September in the north-east of Korea, before moving down through the country and reaching Jeju Island around mid-October. The start date is not the same as the peak date, which is when the autumn leaves will be most colourful. If you want the best views of autumn leaves in Korea, then arrive 2 weeks after the start of the change. For Seoul, that’s around mid-October. Further south in Korea, including Jirisan National Park and Jeju Island, that’s towards the end of October.
Can I see autumn leaves in Korea during November?
Yes, in certain places.
The autumn leaves in Seoul and in the northern part of Korea typically end in October, but there are still many places to see autumn leaves in Korea in November. There are several national parks in the south of the country, including the awesome Jirisan National Park, Naejangsang National Park, and Hallasan National Park on Jeju Island. These should all still have autumn leaves on their trees by early-mid November. The last time you’ll see autumn leaves in Korea is the middle of November. After that, the weather drops quickly and winter in Korea begins.
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