The Cherry Tree Blossoms of Thailand

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.

Cherry tree blossoms overhang the path at the Royal Agricultural Research Center
Flower-decked boughs of a Wild Himalayan Cherry Tree overhang the path at the Royal Agricultural Research Center

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.

Formal gardens at the Royal Agricultural Research Center in Doi Inthanon National Park in northern Thailand
Formal gardens at the Royal Agricultural Research Center in Doi Inthanon National Park in northern Thailand
Ornamental Cabbage flowers at Royal Agricultural Reasearch Center at Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand
Ornamental Cabbage flowers at Royal Agricultural Reasearch Center at Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand
Cherry tree blossoms burst onto the scene during December and January in Doi Inthanon National Park near Chiang Mai, Thailand
Cherry tree blossoms burst onto the scene during December and January in Doi Inthanon National Park near Chiang Mai, Thailand
Drying sunflowers and fields of yellow flowers mingle with flowering cherry trees
Drying sunflowers and fields of yellow flowers mingle with flowering cherry trees

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.

Photo opp for our group at the formal gardens of the Royal Agricultural Research Center in Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand
Photo opp for our group at the formal gardens of the Royal Agricultural Research Center in Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand
Pathway at the Royal Agricultural Research Center in Doi Inthanon National Park leads through the cherry tree blossoms
Pathway at the Royal Agricultural Research Center in Doi Inthanon National Park leads through the cherry tree blossoms
Crystal clear blue skies peek through Cherry tree blossoms
Crystal clear blue skies peek through pink blooms of the Wild Himalayan Cherry trees
Branches of the Wild Himalayan Cherry trees are heavy with cherry tree blossoms in December and January
Branches of the Wild Himalayan Cherry trees are heavy with blooms in December and January
Close-up of Wild Himalayan Cherry Tree blossoms
Close-up of Wild Himalayan Cherry Tree blossoms
Boughs heavily laden with cherry tree blossoms create a natural arched cathedral
Boughs heavily laden with cherry tree blossoms create a natural arched cathedral
Strolling along a path beneath cherry tree blossoms at the Royal Agricultural Research Center
Strolling along a path beneath cherry trees in full bloom at the Royal Agricultural Research Center

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.

Honey bee hovers over pistils of a ruby red flower at Princess Sirindhorn Palace in Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand
Honey bee hovers over pistils of a ruby red flower at Princess Sirindhorn Palace in Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand
Royal purple flowers at Princess Sirindhorn Palace in Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand
Royal purple flowers at Princess Sirindhorn Palace in Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand
Posing in front of the manicured flower beds at Princess Sirindhorn Palace in Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand
Posing in front of the manicured flower beds at Princess Sirindhorn Palace in Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand

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.

Pink is not the only color on display, other flowers bloom beneath the flowering cherry trees
Pink is not the only color on display during cherry blossom season

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.

The Cherry Tree Blossoms of ThailandThe Cherry Tree Blossoms of Thailand

22 thoughts on “The Cherry Tree Blossoms of Thailand”

  1. Dear Barbs, beautiful pictures of the cherry blossoms, great information about this Himalayan place. By the way, loved your checkered tops.

    Reply
  2. Thank you for sharing, such a beautiful place. I look forward to reading your posts. I’m living through your eyes. šŸ™‚

    Reply
  3. I so enjoyed reading this post. It certainly brings a spark to my day. Seeing blossoms in January would be awesome. Iā€™m glad yo7 are sharing your adventures in Thailand.

    Reply
  4. Beautiful! Is there no “winter” in terms of freezing temperatures in Thailand?
    It looks like so many different flowers are thriving in Dec/Jan.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  5. Hi, Barbara:

    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.
    Respectfully,
    Charlie

    Reply

Leave a Comment