Spring inspires hope; a sense of renewal. The universal sign that the hardships of winter are over and fun summer times are on the way! It's a silent change. Spring seems to creep slowly out of the darkness before suddenly bursting into full color in a way that only nature can. Green returns to the trees, and the birds come back with it.
Now if you're like most people I know, you have been stuck inside all winter. The weather is getting warmer and you're probably looking for an excuse to get outside! It's the beginning of the year so you have some new vacation time. What better way to use it than to head out to a festival centered around begin outside!
If you're a photographer, romantic, nature lover or just someone looking to get out of the office for a few days then I have to suggest going to a see a cherry blossom festival. And if you're going to see a cherry blossom festival then Korea has what you're looking for!
Now I will admit that the planning for this sort of trip can be a bit difficult. I have submitted several request letters, but nature still refuses to make the trees bloom on a schedule. How are we supposed to book our flights? But at the same time that's part of what makes seeing the cherry blossoms so special. The idea that you can plan all you want, but ultimately it's up to nature!
So where are the cherry blossoms?
Jinhae is about an hour outside of Busan, South Korea. It's part of a larger city called Changwon so it's relatively easy to get to by bus. However it but still has that wonderful small town feel. The streets of Jinhae are lined with cherry trees on both sides just about everywhere. All of which makes Jinhae one of the best places to be in early spring.
Jess and I were already in Changwon, so we wereable to take the blue city buses to Jinhae for 1,200 won ($1.05). If you're flying in for the festival you can take the KTX train from Seoul, which takes about 3 hours. (be sure to book that in advance) There are also intercity buses from Busan which take about an hour. There are buses that come from Seoul as well if you have a little extra time in your schedule and you would like to save some money. The KTX train is the quickest way, but also the most expensive. After you arrive in Changwon you can take the same blue city bus that we took.
As our bus crept closer to the center of Jinhae, the traffic got worse until finally coming to a complete stop. It became pretty clear that the bus was not going anywhere anytime soon. Weighting our options we decided to get off and walk the rest of the way. Just over 1 million people a year attend the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival. I was honestly a little surprised we made it as far as we did before having to set out on foot.
On our way downtown we past beautiful picture opportunities left and right. It's a wonder anyone ever gets anywhere. We couldn't go more than ten feet before stumbling across another perfect spot to take a picture. Talk about Instagram heaven!
Is this the festival? Or is it over there?
If you come to Jinhae to see the blossoms you are not going to want to miss the downtown area. All of the food vendors will set up downtown along with a few stages featuring some great music. But don't be afraid to venture out a little! Jinhae has so many streets and parks packed full of cherry trees in bloom. The town itself becomes the festival rather than one specific area.
We smiled as we strolled through the crowd and took dozens of pictures of the little pink flowers. I don't recall how much space was left on the camera’s memory card when we started, but it’s safe to say it was full by the time we were done.
You'll certainly find plenty of professional photographers at the festival. I laughed at one point and told Jess that we had probably passed $10,000.00 worth of camera equipment in the last 2 minutes of walking. She looked at me as if I was crazy. Jess pointed at a photographer with a particularly huge lens saying, “Ron that guy’s one lens is probably worth that much!”
Was it worth it?
Even though the crowds were intense, we could not have asked for a better day. The weather was perfect and surprisingly warm considering it was only February. We ate some delicious street food and even met up with some friends of ours after awhile.
When you're dealing with spring time then you know that it doesn't take long for the wind and the rain to pick up. Before you know it all those beautiful little flowers will be gone. However brief it may be, the trees put on a spectacular show. So take the chance and book a flight! See what nature has in store for you. Even if the flowers don't cooperate at least you will get to experience everything else that Korea has to offer!
Have you been to the cherry blossom festival in Korea or Japan? Leave a comment below and tell us about it!