You don’t have to travel far to experience cherry blossom season. Each year during December to January, the highlands of northern Thailand – where the weather is cold and the region is swept by the chill breeze of winter – transform into a fervent pink forest.
Witness as the wild Himalayan cherry trees dot the city in pink, imbuing a sense of romance befitting the season. Known locally as the “Tiger Queen” or Nang Phaya Sua Kroang, here are the best places to catch the blooming pink petals and other interesting sights for your next Instagram tryst.
Khun Chang Khian Highland Agriculture Research Centre, Chiang Mai
High up in the Doi Suthep mountain of Chiang Mai lies a research centre run by the University of Chiang Mai’s Faculty of Agriculture, which planted the blossom trees in an effort to promote tourism in the area.
Drawing locals and foreign tourists alike, visitors can make your way up the unpaved and narrow roads by riding the songthaew – a red taxi truck commonly found in the province. The journey usually takes about 40 minutes from the base, but be mentally prepared for heavy traffic come peak holiday period.
Once on top, take in the breathtaking hues and sip a cup of locally grown coffee, as you mingle with the ethnic Hmong who call the hill home. Warm yourself with a piping bowl of noodle soup and local delicacies such as sai-ua (northern Thai sausages) and steaming purple sweet potatoes.
Khun Wang Royal Agricultural Research Centre, Chiang Mai
At an elevation of 1,400m, this royal agricultural centre in Doi Inthanon National Park is arguably one of the most scenic places to view the cherry blossoms.
Walk under canopies of the stunning pink shade, and take dreamy travel shots against the beautiful background to feed the wanderlust to your social media followers. The park is also home to a variety of fruits like strawberries and pears, which you can pick from the research garden.
Phum Lom Lo, Loei
More than 100,000 wild Himalayan cherry trees line this former cabbage plantation site in Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park in Loei. The cherry trees were planted by the Hmong farmers in 2010, when park authorities took over the land from agriculture use.
Just like bees to the blossom, the pilot project began to bloom and sees a flurry of visitors every Jan and Feb without fail. With a temperature that rarely hovers above 10°C, you could also experience winter-like weather closer to home.
Doi Chang, Chiang Rai
Come December, the hills of coffee producing Doi Chang region come to life with pastel-coloured dreams that last until mid-January. Over 500,000 blooming cherry trees rain petals down the streets of this outskirt Chiang Rai district.
Interestingly, the flowers here were grown by the Chiang Rai Highland Agricultural Extension Centre for experimental purposes, as well as to attract visitors.
What’s a trip to a coffee region without sampling its finest offering? With cool weather all around, it’s the perfect temperature to enjoy a cup of freshly brewed coffee with a sight of beautiful flowers.
Doi Mae Salong, Chiang Rai
Located deep in the heart of Chiang Rai, this hilltop village is home to the ethnic Chinese minorities in Thailand, due to its proximity to the border.
Although fleeting, the cherry blossoms are widely celebrated here as part of the culture along with oolong tea – the village’s main income production. The Doi Mae Salong Tea and Sakura Festival falls from Dec 28 to Jan 2 with plenty of cultural activities and ethnic performances lined up.