The annual cherry blossom season has got somewhat of a maverick reputation – overwhelmingly beautiful but tragically fleeting, she comes and goes as she pleases. But wait, here’s some good news – other than the revered hot spots of Japan, there are also other equally impressive destinations across the globe to seeing this pink and white darling! So put some spring in your step as we show you all the cherry blossoms of the world in full bloom.



THAILAND

Cherry blossoms are often associated with the coming of spring, but in Chiang Mai, it comes as a winter surprise. Between January and February each year, in-the-know locals and travellers alike escape from the hot central plains to cool Chiang Mai to meet the stunning wild Himalayan cherry blossoms at Khun Chang Kian. Lining the entire stretch of a one-lane road and the surrounding valleys, the sea of pink here may still be understated in reputation, but its attractiveness is by no means underwhelming. Time your trip together with a cultural immersion at a Hmong hill tribe village and a pilgrimage to sacred Wat Phra That Doi Suthep close by. Beauty for the eyes, soul and spirit all in one day trip – what can be better than that?

TAIWAN

Famous across Asia and the rest of the world as a treasure island of splendid nature parks and sustainable ecological tourism, Taiwan punches above its weight when it comes to the sport of cherry blossom viewing too. Taipei’s Yangmingshan opens the season sometimes as early as January all the way till March with different varieties of cherry trees taking their turns to bloom. Nantou’s Sun Moon Lake follows through with a celebration of Taiwan’s largest cherry blossom festival at Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village in late January. When February comes around, Taichung’s Wuling Farm then takes over the baton and puts on a pretty pink coat. But perhaps the most iconic of all is travelling on an old-school train through hues of pink and white across the mountainous terrain of Alishan in early March, in which you will be transported straight into the classic scene of a Chinese watercolour painting.

JAPAN

Home to the sakura, Japan is synonymous with the very idea of cherry blossoms but equally so for its cultural importance as for its resplendent beauty. Esteemed by the locals, the instantaneous bloom heralding the end of winter symbolises hope and optimism while its sudden demise highlights the transience of mortality serving as a humble reminder that life is precious. Join in this annual ritual at some of the country’s most iconic hot spots such as Mount Yoshino in Nara and Philosopher’s Walk in Kyoto, or revel late into the evening for a taste of Hanami at night with ancient castles guest starring as dramatic backgrounds in Nagano and Kanagawa. If the peak months of March and April can’t be fitted into your schedule, be pleasantly surprised that Okinawa flourishes in January and Hokkaido welcomes this extravaganza in the beginning of May.

SOUTH KOREA

Most South Koreans anticipate the start of spring with a great deal of fervency and who can blame them after going through a long and frigid winter. Usually towards the end of March or the start of April each year, cherry blossoms light and warm up the country with a dusting of vivid colours across its varied landscape. The majestic King Cherry Trees, standing tall and proud in their native Jeju, open the ceremony with a regal display. Yeouido brims day and night with its eye-catching spectacle of over 1,400 cherry trees in full bloom amid the stunning metropolis of Seoul. Hwagae beckons lovebirds with its four-kilometre boulevard romantically embraced by a canopy of pink and white. And Jinghae, possibly South Korea’s cherry blossom trump card, pulls out all the stops in which eager punters can expect to encounter ravishing pink and white petals at every turn, and above all, at idyllic Gyeonghwa Station where dazzling rows of trees form glorious archways along the railway tracks.

CHINA

In China, cherry blossoms take on an equally important albeit different significance. Symbolising beauty, gentleness, elegance and love, they connote culturally the importance of these characteristics in the middle kingdom. While the pale pink blooms of the Japanese varieties are widespread, wild varieties with deep pink blossoms that are nearly red in colour are the most appreciated. Popular Wuhan University is probably the hot favourite in any list with its sprawling blooming campus. The capital Beijing and the bright shining metropolis of Shanghai attract many to their ample bosoms while Qingdao and Nanjing are notable cities if you wish to meander away from the more obvious destinations. For a true-blue insider experience, head deep into the far southwest of the country, and swap the peak season of April for a winter surprise as pink blossoms brighten the lush green tea plantations of Wuliang Mountain in Yunnan at the start of December.

USA

If you are looking for a good dose of festive spirit together with your cherry blossom viewing, no one does it better than the Americans. The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. from March to April features more than 3,000 blossoms serving as a backdrop for a citywide festival of funfair, revelry, cultural events and entertainment. Over the other side of the country in the Pacific Northwest, Portland offers a cool city experience in which art fairs and farmer markets at Tom McCall Waterfront Park bustle together with the city’s kooky food and beverage establishments to welcome in the season of fresh rain and flowers.


CANADA

Perhaps the Canadian city with the mildest temper in terms of weather, outdoorsy Vancouver certainly knows how to serve up a heart-warming plate of cherry blossoms with a sprinkling of petals on a bed of gorgeous Mother Nature as a base. Vancouverites spring to life on the sight of 40,000 cherry trees glittering with pink and white blooms in and around the city every April. Queen Elizabeth Park, Stanley Park and VanDusen Botanical Garden are splendid garden affairs while cool urban dwellers head straight for the beachside neighbourhood of Kitsilano to marvel at the flowers and partake in the energetic vibe of the neighbourhood bursting at the seams with quirky shops and buzzing eateries.

GERMANY

Bonn, in Germany’s west, contributes to the calendar from the European front. Not exactly a festival like many others in this guide, Heerstrasse in the Altstadt (Old Town) turn into a radiant pink tunnel without too much pomp. However, travellers in the know have been flocking to this central residential area filled with quaint cafes, artists’ workshops and Art Nouveau-style houses for the most perfect spot to catch the spectacular view every year. Staying sprouted for around 20 days from the middle of April, you can waltz through the canopy of pink during the daytime, saunter into the evening with street lamps and lighted windows lending cosy illumination or traipse along a blanket of pink silk when the petals drop all over the cobblestone street at the end of the season.

DENMARK

If you are a die-hard Europhile also wanting a piece of the cherry blossom action, don’t fret as Copenhagen throws a 2-day sakura party in homage to Japan with cultural events such as tea ceremonies, martial arts and Japanese crafts demonstrations every late April. Originally gifted by Hiroshima, 200 beautiful cherry trees were planted in Langelinie Park, which is also famed for the Little Mermaid statue, to honour the bicentennial of Danish storyteller Hans Christian Andersen in 2005. There is no better pairing of paradise when you are strolling down the Danish capital’s famed fairy-tale streetscapes with a magical splattering of pink and white adding more fantasy to your dream Nordic vacation.

BRAZIL

Curitiba, in Brazil’s southern region, is home to a large community of Japanese-Brazilians and the largest collection of sakura trees in the whole of South America. Places you can walk around in the city to marvel at them are plenty – the more popular ones include the Japanese Garden, Anita Garibaldi Street, Tangua Park and the Botanical Garden. Experience the infectious energy as you join the locals in their festivities – take in the beauty of life, head down to the beach for some surf, sun, sand, sea and samba, and drink into the evening with your new found friends and fellow travellers. And did we mention all these happen in July? So if you can’t get away during the first half of the year, this is the perfect destination to get into the act.


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