Safely see all the blossoms spring has to offer
Although major cherry blossom festivals all across the country have been canceled, there are still ways to enjoy the spring flowers in a safer environment. One option is to enjoy the blossoms that line roads in the country from a car. But it is important to check ahead of time to make sure the roads famous for their arches of flowers are still open, as some have been closed to avoid crowds from gathering during the coronavirus pandemic.
Gangneung in Gwangwon, known for its cherry blossoms around Gyeongpodae, is only allowing cars to drive through the area this year and has restricted people from walking or parking their vehicles. Yeongam in South Jeolla has also blocked off most of its streets, except the 100-ri Cherry Blossom street. Cars can cruise along the road but are forbidden from parking.
If you don't have access to a car, don't worry. Many of the regional governments of areas that draw crowds during the spring have set up cameras to live stream the flowers. It is expected that the Seoul Metropolitan area will reach peak bloom this weekend.
Songpa District is live streaming the area around Seokchon Lake, known for its cherry blossoms, on its YouTube channel Songpa TV. The trails around the lakes have been closed, except for in the early morning for those needing to commute to work.
The district office will also be flying drones to show different views of the lake covered with flowers and residents will participate by introducing their favorite spots around the lake.
Another cherry blossom hotspot, Seoul National Cemetery, will also stream floral scenes online and has closed its doors to general visitors. Those wishing to pay their respects to those buried in the cemetery will need to make a reservation in advance.
Incheon has closed both Incheon Grand Park and Wolmi Park, major cherry blossom destinations among those in the area, and will instead show off the spring scenes through the city's official YouTube.
Such walks will take place on April 1 and 2, April 5 and 6, and April 7 and 8. What date you are assigned will depend on when you sign up. Applicants can check if they have been selected on the website. You will need to enter your personal information to apply and that will be checked on the day of the visit if you are selected.
With limited options available, some local hotels that have a view of cherry blossoms are putting together special packages. The Marriott Executive Apartments located in Yeouido, offers a view of the streets below covered with flowers. It joined hands with the recently opened The Hyundai Seoul to provide gift vouchers to use at the mall for those staying at the hotel. The package starts from 219,000 won and is available until April 30th.
Rolling Hills hotel in Gyeonggi’s Hwaseong offers a staycation filled with flowers as the hotel has a garden filled with fifty different types of flowers and trees. The package starts from 200,000 won ($193) and available until May 31.
Although cherry blossom are most prevalent, keep you eyes open for other spring blooms such as white-colored plum flowers and yellow sansuyu flowers which grow on trees along with red berries called cornelian cherries.
BY LEE SUN-MIN [email@example.com]