Best Destinations for Autumn (Japan and Seoul)

Best Destinations for Autumn (Japan and Seoul)

Some travel destinations are best explored during a particular season, when the blossoming of flowers or pleasant temperatures highlight the country’s already-exciting attractions. The vibrant autumn season is a particularly popular time to visit both Japan and Seoul. Let’s look in more detail at why autumn is a beautiful time to visit Japan or Seoul and help you choose between these two fascinating options.

What does the autumn season offer in Japan?

It would be an understatement to say that Japan’s autumn foliage is globally famous. Autumn is one of the best times of year to visit Japan, particularly if you love being surrounded by colourful trees. Japan’s autumn usually starts in the country’s northernmost Prefecture, Hokkaido, around mid-September.

Hokkaido bridge in the fall over a stream

Many travelers prefer to wait until the autumn colours spread down to the Kanto region during the second half of November, in order to combine foliage-viewing with trips to some of Japan’s most famous cities, like Tokyo and Kyoto. Unlike spring’s cherry blossoms which only bloom for about a week, the autumn leaf season in Japan typically lasts for a few weeks, making it easier to catch the colours at their fullest.

Deer at Todai-ji Temple grounds in Nara, Japan

In some places, such as Nara, the foliage season stretches into early December, allowing visitors to see the famous Todaiji and Kofukuji temples surrounded by bright orange and red leaves.

What does the autumn season offer in Seoul?

South Korea is among the world’s top travel destinations, attracting tourists across its four seasons. The extreme weather makes the monsoon and summer seasons the least popular times to travel. During autumn, which lasts from September to November, the weather is perfect for outdoor exploration, making this season the ideal time to visit South Korea. The skies remain clear and there is minimal precipitation, providing excellent conditions for enjoying the country’s biking and hiking trails.

Beautiful autumn scenery at Nami Island, South Korea

Beautiful autumn scenery at Nami Island, South Korea

Seoul has a large concentration of maple and Gingko trees and, in the autumn, their leaves spread across the streets, adding vivid shades of crimson and yellow to the cityscape. From Seoul, it’s also easy to take a day-trip to Seoraksan, one of the most famous places in the country to enjoy the colours of autumn. If Seoraksan is too far away, you can also consider Nami Island, our favorite location for autumn colors! (The street lined with yellow-leaved Gingko trees is a popular favorite of photographers and couples)

Autumn is among the happiest seasons for the South Korean people as well. During this time of year, the farmers start collecting their bountiful harvest and the markets are flooded with ripe apples, jujubes, and pears.

NAMI ISLAND,KOREA (credt Calvin Chan)

Nami Island. Photo Credit: Calvin Chan

This harvest season is also associated with many celebrations across the surrounding rural areas, which provide a wonderful opportunity to better understand Korean history and arts. You’ll have a difficult time choosing between the exciting festivals taking place in the country’s different regions, with festivities ranging from ginseng tasting to musical drums. Foodies will be particularly interested in the Kimchi Festival in Gwangju, which takes place in October. Some of the other popular autumn festivals celebrated in and around Seoul include:

– Millennial Anniversary of Tripitaka
– Pyeongchang Hyoseok Festiva
– Suwon Hwaseong Festival
– Chungju Martial Arts Festival
– Wonju Hanji Festival
– Andong Maskdance Festival

Making a Decision

Many of Japan’s best autumn leaf-viewing spots are found in unspoiled, rural areas, making Japan an excellent choice if you enjoy getting off-the-beaten path and exploring pristine countryside.  Japan’s efficient public transit system makes it easy to explore the country’s lesser known hubs of natural beauty. However, if you’re curious about local cultures, you may enjoy the combination of autumn colours and lively festivals that Seoul offers.

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