Most people have seen gorgeous photos of the cherry tree blossoms in Japan and Washington D.C. Far fewer have heard about the flowering cherry trees in Thailand. I was among the ignorant, until a year of not being able to travel internationally due to COVID-19 forced me to explore more of my adopted home here in Thailand. Every December and January, when chilly temperatures blanket the northern mountains, the Wild Himalayan Cherry Trees of Thailand exuberantly burst into bloom. This year I joined a group of Thai friends for a trip to the top of Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in the country, to see the spectacle for myself.
We left before dawn on a chilly morning in late January. COVID meant fewer people were being allowed into the National Park and we didn’t want to risk being denied entry. Our destination was the Khun Wang Royal Agricultural Research Station near the top of Doi Inthanon National Park, in Chiang Mai Province. I’m not a morning person, but the two-hour drive up Doi Inthanon mountain made me forgive my companions for insisting we leave so early. Wisps of morning fog drifted up and out of the lush green jungle as we ascended. The sun burst over the mountaintop, transforming millions of dewdrops into sparkling diamonds.
At the Research Station we queued to have our temperatures taken and sign in with the Thai Chana app that alerts people if they have been to an area where a COVID case has occurred. Once those formalities were complete, we were free to roam. We began at the formal gardens, where manicured flower beds were planted with everything from purple and white ornamental cabbages to flaming red Poinsettias. On the horizon, a few blooming Wild Himalayan Cherry trees peeked through the forest green to flaunt their pink headdresses.
We removed our masks long enough to have a group photo taken but didn’t dawdle long in the gardens, as each group is allowed only an hour-long visit. Down a steep hill and up another we found what we had come for: cherry flowers in hues ranging from the most delicate pink to peach to sizzling hot pink. In awe of the spectacle, we spent more than our allotted hour. We posed and snapped photos of one another beneath the natural cathedral of arched boughs, heavily laden with pink blossoms.
No one hurried us; I’m sure we could have stayed as long as we wanted. But my friends had a more stops planned and soon we were on the road again. After a leisurely lunch at the famous Royal Project Inthanon Restaurant, we followed a narrow, curvy road to Princess Sirindhorn Palace, high atop Doi Inthanon. Palace, in this case, is a bit of a misnomer. It’s actually a log cabin, but an extremely large and luxurious one. When the Princess is in residence, it is closed to the public. But when she is away, visitors are free to wander the gorgeous flower gardens and take photos at a panoramic viewpoint that provides sweeping views down the mountain.
My first trip to Thailand was nearly 19 years ago. Over the ensuing years, I visited many times, and eventually began spending winters here. I moved here permanently 3.5 years ago. Yet in all that time I had no idea that Thailand had its very own Wild Himalayan Cherry Blossom season. As horrible as COVID-19 has been, it has allowed me to see parts of Thailand that I might never had seen if I hadn’t been forced to examine my own backyard.
24 thoughts on “The Cherry Tree Blossoms of Thailand”
Very nice pictures! May I ask when is the latest month that I can still see the cherry blossoms and is it easy to self-drive to the park from the city? Thanks. =)
Hi Lee. The cherry trees generally bloom in January and February, but there’s no hard and fast date. The blooms depend upon temperature and rainfall, etc., which are different every year. However, if you go at the end of January or early February, I think you’d be assured of seeing some very vivid displays. As for getting there, yes, it’s easy to drive there from the city. Plenty of parking, but be sure to bring your proof of Covid vaccination.
All the photos are incredible, Barbara. Keep up the awesome work.
Thank you so much Anukrati! Glad you enjoyed the photos.
Dear Barbs, beautiful pictures of the cherry blossoms, great information about this Himalayan place. By the way, loved your checkered tops.
Thanks Fe – the checkered top was my latest bargain $6 USD at the Mall.
Thank you for sharing, such a beautiful place. I look forward to reading your posts. I’m living through your eyes. 🙂
Thanks so much Joy. Glad I could bring a little more “joy” into your life.
I so enjoyed reading this post. It certainly brings a spark to my day. Seeing blossoms in January would be awesome. I’m glad yo7 are sharing your adventures in Thailand.
Thanks Irene. I love that we have year round flowers here in Thailand.
Beautiful! Is there no “winter” in terms of freezing temperatures in Thailand?
It looks like so many different flowers are thriving in Dec/Jan.
Hi Margaret. We have three seasons: summer, winter, and rainy. But it never gets down to freezing, not even on top of the highest mountain (which isn’t very high). And we have flowers year round. Different ones bloom at different times of the year. It’s one of the wonderful things about Thailand.
I love that you share your adventures. Thank you.
Thanks so much Sherry. I really keep doing it because of comments like yours because I’m well past retirement age LOL
Love yr photography and looking at the places you visit. Thanks for letting me come along. Neil
Thank you for being a fan and follower, Neil. This blog wouldn’t work without people like you 🙂
Barbara the colors are vibrantly beautiful.
I thought so to M.J. And we were there slightly after the peak – I can’t even imagine what it must have looked like at the peak.
I had no idea that Thailand had cherry blossom. It must be extra special in the winter.
I didn’t either, Anne. I have my Thai friends to thank for letting me tag along. I never would have known about it without them.
Love this, Barbara! Great pics! You look awesome too!
Thanks Crystal. I thought the same – not a bad photo of me. I’m usually less than photogenic LOL.
If I haven’t said this before, I really like your photography. It never fails to produce an emotion in me. I really loved the picture of the formal gardens you visited. I spent a few minutes looking at it, feeling the emotions, unable to stop looking at it. I really loved it. I’m glad you had that trip and saw this garden. You look good, healthy and happy. Thank you for sharing the details of your life in Thailand. It cheers me up.
You may have said it before, Charlie, but it’s always good to hear it again. Thank you so much. Comments like yours keep me going.