Like Gwangju, I never would have known about Jinhae if wasn’t for my interest in K-pop. As the hometown of GOT7’s Park Jinyoung, I was looking for an excuse to visit, and the famous Cherry Blossom Festival was the perfect one.
As the largest cherry blossom festival South Korea, the otherwise small city turns into one of the premiere tourist destinations for at least two weeks during the spring. And even though peak bloom already passed in the southern parts of the country, I was excited to go to Jinhae for the final day of the festival.
Timing of the festival can be a little tricky because it depends on when the blossoms are expected to reach peak bloom…in 2017, it ran April 1-10. Throughout the festival period, there are cultural events and military performances. This is also the one time of year the public can visit the Naval Academy and Base Headquarters, but the blossoms at Yeojwacheon Stream and Gyeonghwa Station are the highlight attractions.
Even though the blossoms were nearly finished, it was still full of people admiring and taking pictures of the ones that were left. And as was the case during most of my stay in Korea, I was one of the few people walking solo among a sea of couples.
One of the best things about attending a festival in any country is the street food! While I was walking along the stream, I saw a small booth with a cluster of people in front of it. When I got closer, I saw that it was selling fresh grapefruit juice and fried ice cream in the shape of a cherry blossom!
The woman handed me my ice cream in a small paper cup, and with a big smile, told me to “take a big bite.”
So I did.
It was delicious. Even though it was just vanilla, the contrasting cold from the ice cream, and the heat from being freshly fried, was the perfect combination. This was probably one of my favorite things I’d eaten during my trip!
Once I’d finished my stroll along the stream and took as many photos as I could, it was time to head to Jehwangsan Park to enjoy the view of Jinhae from the observation tower.
The observation tower itself is free, but if you want to take the tram up, it’s 2,000 won one way, or 4,000 won for a round trip. Otherwise, you can take the hike up 365 steps for free.
I learned my lesson in Kyoto a few years ago about attempting hundreds of stairs, so I opted to take the tram up, then walked down, which was easy.
Because of my own exhaustion and desire to see a few things in Busan before sunset, I skipped Gyeonghwa Station, and headed back to the bus station sometime in the late afternoon. If I ever get the chance to go back to Jinhae for the festival, I am definitely not skipping it again!
Getting to Jinhae from Busan
Take a bus from the Busan West (Seo-Busan or Busan Seobu) bus terminal. The closest subway station to the bus terminal is Sasang. Once you arrive at Sasang station you can just follow the signs in the underground to the bus terminal.
You want to get the bus that takes you to Jinhaehwi Bus Terminal (진해시외 버스터미널). You can only purchase a one-way ticket, which costs 5,100 won. The trip was a non-stop, about an hour each way.
Once you get dropped off at the bus station, cross the street to the 7-11, walk straight until you hit an intersection, where you will see vendors and tents on the left across the street. The festival is impossible to miss!
If you walk through the festival area, there is an information booth, where you can ask where to find whatever it is you’re looking for. They also have maps/guides in several languages, including English. Or, just do what I did and follow the crowd of couples…you’ll almost certainly make it to Yeojwacheon Stream!
Where is your favorite place to see the cherry blossoms?