In recent years, Seoul has made a name for itself on the global stage as the high-tech, fashion forward capital of South Korea. The city is blooming with life and its more than 10 million inhabitants are constantly on the move. But thanks to all of the colorful flora popping up about town right now, it’s time that residents and visitors stop and smell the roses, cherry blossoms and azaleas.
Though the Hangang Yeouido Spring Flower Festival ended on April 18, the street behind the National Assembly Building, well known as Yunjungno, is still lined with 1,400-plus Korean cherry trees. This is the most famous cherry blossom street in Seoul. And while you’re there to admire the clouds of pink, don’t forget to walk along nearby Hangang (Han River). The park on both sides of the river is one of Seoul’s most nature-friendly areas.
A Seoul favorite, Namsan offers a brilliant spring flower scene. The peak and the N Seoul Tower (formally known as Namsan Tower) atop it have always been icons of the city. The surrounding Namsan Park is filled with life in all seasons. In spring, the whole area is full of yellow (forsythia), pink (azalea) and a host of other blooms in a variety of hues. You can participate in the Million People Walking Festival of Namsan on May 12, which includes a 2.3- or 4.7-mile stroll —all while enjoying the nature and festive atmosphere. Namsan offers the best panoramic view of downtown Seoul’s skyline, day and night. Make sure your itinerary for Namsan Park includes stops to Namsangol Hanok Village (built to resemble a Korean folk village) and Myeongdong shopping district, an area with stores ranging from souvenir stops to a Club Monaco shop.
Cheonggyecheon is also thriving with colors right now. The 5.2-mile-long park, extending from the Jongno district to Dongdaemun, is filled with budding magnolias and royal azaleas. This park itself is a restoration project of the stream that existed here in the mid 20th century. City officials decided to bring the waterway back as a part of the venture to make Seoul more nature-friendly. Now the vibrant area works as one of the main locations for various festivals in Seoul. According to the Korea Tourism Board, Cheonggyecheon is the “Best Place to See Exotic Flowers” and the “Best Place for Walking and Exercise” in the country. You can access the park anywhere in between Jongno and Dongdaemun. Jongno is a lively neighborhood with street food stalls, movie theaters, jewelry and antique shopping and historic sites. The main royal palace of Korea, Gyeongbokgung (Gyeongbok Palace) is in walking distance.
Photo courtesy of Juno Kim