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Visiting the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival

Korea Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival
Written by Duke Stewart

Last Updated: 2/27/17

If you think that Korea’s Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival is just another celebration, think again. It’s an awesome experience and worth your time. Lots of people go from Seoul to Jinhae but we left from Gwangju. Here’s the day as it unfolded.

Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival Map (Source Unknown)

Visiting the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival

For once, we put our fates in someone else’s hands. I guess stepping onto a plane or train does the same but for Jinhae’s Cherry Blossom Festival, we’re hooking up with a local tour group to witness one of Korea’s 50 Beautiful Places to see. The main decision to join is a curiosity to see the man responsible in action. Pedro Kim of Lonely Korea has a great reputation for delivering solid travel experiences but also, getting back home from such a busy place might’ve proven troublesome. This is going to be a safe bet.

Prior Reservations

Normally we never take tours and to be frank, I don’t like them. Ok, not all but those groups whose sole motive is to storm upon tourist destinations throughout the world and fill them to the brim with people are generally unaware of anything; other than the location of the flag-bearing leader. THAT, to me, is the enemy of all things sane and right in this life.

Above the 1-year stairs at Korea's Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival

Pedro’s the Man

This was different. Aside from the ride to Jinhae, we were free to go anywhere. One person who came with our group even arranged for separate transportation back home with friends. I love having that freedom to just choose my tour without worrying about the market-researched stops that would fit best with 100+ strangers.

Other than the short stops off the highway to and from Jinhae, this journey was our own and absolutely MY style. I’d wanted to do a trip with Pedro for quite a long time and can see why his trips fill up so quickly. We chatted for a bit on the bus and I came away feeling there’s no corner of the country nor uncovered gem that Pedro hasn’t seen. And though he’s quite the traveler, Mr. Lonely Korea is still modest about it all. I’d absolutely go on another trip with him in a heartbeat.

The Food

Yeojwacheon Stream at the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival in South Korea

Words can’t describe just how much food surrounds this festival. It’s overwhelming to see such variety when we come from a suburb that doesn’t offer as much western stuff! This is the real deal. In Jinhae, a scene bordering on food porn dominates the stage. I’m too frazzled to take a picture of the stuff that gets devoured by us.

Seemingly everywhere one can find whole pigs roasting over open flame, Turkish kebab stands, and one particular spot where my friend and I completely double-take upon hearing shouts of  “we’ve got hamburgers, real american beer here!” from an actual American guy and his friends. Each little alley leads to a new discovery and I start to feel like it’s paradise.

Sights

Taken near the ROK Naval Academy in Jinhae, South Korea

Sure, the blossoms are on their way out as early as the previous Friday. It’s practically impossible to time these flower festivals without luck and a more flexible schedule but still, this was a worthwhile trip. Yeojwacheon stream is hectic but full of beautiful sights. Seeing things from above the 1-year stairs (365 steps to the top) offers a necessary and gorgeous 360 view of the entire festival.

The People are Happy

Korea, The Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival

It can be easy to forget just how jolly Koreans become during festival time. Despite the enormous crowds and occasional elbows from old ladies, people are generally happy and friendly to interact with during a festival. Most of these events are usually meant to preserve past ideals and memories and in Jinhae’s case, the Cherry Blossom Festival coincides with parades that recognize the famous Admiral Yi Sun Shin and his victory over Japanese invaders nearly 500 years ago. Music is booming and people laughing all over the place.

I Want More

Cherry Blossoms in Jinhae, South Korea

People just seem to be in good spirits at these events and happiness is contagious. I want more festivals and for them to happen more than once or twice a year. That’s one of the many reasons traveling around this country is required for those of us living here. Seeing smiles on people’s faces are what make life in Korea worth trying, and visiting the various cities and events help one find them. If you’re traveling to Korea and want to see a good time away from Seoul, the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival should be your first choice.

Cherry Blossoms and People in Jinhae, South Korea

As for me on this day, I’d been needing a recharge of my love for this country after the dreary winter months and a vacation away to greener pastures. Seeing flowers start to bloom was the beginning and this festival brought it out in full force. Spring in Korea is about many things but for me, it’s about renewal of my love for living here. Thank you, Jinhae, for giving me a reboot. 

Getting to the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival

Courtesy of Korea Tourism

From Seoul’s Nambu Bus Terminal, you can take an intercity bus to Jinhae (진해) and after arriving, walk about 30 meters ahead towards Jungwondong-ro (중원동로) and turn right there. Walk about another 400 meters and stay left at the fork in the road. Walk another 200 meters and you’ll arrive at the festival venue.

Bonus Tip: Traffic is a nightmare getting into the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival so I’d recommend you take the train in and avoid all the gridlock that happens in this small town that usually doesn’t handle so many cars. The scenery is beautiful from the train and it’s much easier than driving/riding on four wheels. Trust me!

About the author

Duke Stewart

As a recovering Expat, I write about Life through Travel and want you there with me through captivating stories followed by guides on how to do the same. My work has been featured in various magazines throughout Korea and in online publications including the awesome Hipmunk.com. I am also a nerd and love to point out a situation's similarities to any of my favorite movies, books, or tv shows. You've been warned:) Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for daily updates.

23 Comments

  • Jinhae’s Cherry Blossom Festival… WOW!!! ….. I really enjoyed the way you have told us about your travel experience and I loved all the pictures… It is always so nice being close to nature. It seems a blanket of flowers have wrapped whole city. It’s such a great post. I always like festivals as people are happy and we can enjoy variety of food.
    thank you for sharing.

    • Wow! Thank you for the super nice comment. I really appreciate it. Yes, these festivals are always such a treat and though we didn’t make it to Jinhae during peak time, it was lovely. The blossoms’ arrival here is always such a fun time because it seems to brighten everyone’s moods 1000x.

  • Beautiful place to be during the festival. I was in DC last April during the cherry blossom festival and in one day..a storm stripped everything! Wow.. was it a disappointment for thousands of travelers heading into town.

    • That’s too bad. Something similar happened in our town and when we visited the festival in Jinhae, the blossoms were clearly past peak but it was still worth the trip. I love visiting DC when the cherry blossoms are in. Definitely worth a revisit. Thanks for the comment!

  • Awesome photos! I didn’t realize that the Cherry Blossoms have such a short life, though. I skipped the local festival here, thinking I’d still have a few weeks and now they’re gone! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Great post! We also have never been big on tour groups, for the same reasons as you. We like our freedom. I’ve heard good things about Pedro and Lonely Korea, but we’ve had a few bad experiences with another group. I’m not sure if it was the organizers fault or the fault of our peers, though. haha.

    We were going to go on this same Jinhae trip, but something else came up that weekend! I also though it’d be good trip to go with a group because the festival is so popular, and itd be hard to get in and out alone.

    Some great pictures, we hope to make it to Jinhae next year!!

    • Thanks for the post and the tweet. I had low expectations for Jinhae because large festivals like that are just too overwhelming. But this was a good experience and although the flowers weren’t perfect, this was a great getaway from our small town.

  • Duke, great insight into the Cherry Blossom festival and wonderful pictures. I have not gone beyond Seoul and Busan but this trip looks well worthwhile

  • Spring is by far my second favorite season. I’m not usually sold on cherry blossoms, but this year was a little more special. I can’t say why, but it was. Like you, my wife and I don’t really like tours; however, the expat groups in Korea are usually really good at putting together some great programs.

  • What a nice article! I love going to festivals because, as you said, people are happy there and the food tends to be great. I haven’t been to Korea but it sounds interesting. Now and then a tour can be a good idea.

  • This Seems Awesome! Thanks for sharing. I love when people are in good spirits to. It feels good to be around the positive energy.

    All the best, crystal Ross

    • Thanks for the comment! Festivals are one of the many reasons I love living here and when they seemingly go away in winter, I get sad. Looking forward to more and more during spring and summer!

  • I actually didn’t go to any festivals. I didn’t really know they lasted for such a short tome to be honest.

    I did manage to get a cool video of some all lit up at night which I’m happy about. They make me happy too 🙂

  • I hear you about needing a recharge after the winter months. Even though this winter was pretty mild, it drained me pretty well.

    “We’ve got hamburgers, real American beer here!” would’ve made me do a triple take. I miss quality micro-brews!

  • Nice post! I love the Korean cheer and festival spirit as well. Great post! We were in Gyeongju for their Cherry Blossom Festival this year. Maybe we will have to check out Jinhae next year. We have heard lots of great things about Pedro’s trips as well. Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for the information and lovely photos too!

    • Thanks for the comment. It was really convenient for us considering getting in out of Jinhae by car is a nightmare. We had a pretty rogue bus driver who helped cut our time down, thankfully. Otherwise, we might still be in Jinhae:)

  • So beautiful! I have great memories of my time during last year’s cherry blossoms festival in Jinhae… and it seems that you have too.

    Happy travels in Korea!

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