Hanami your way around Asia

As winter turns to spring, cherry blossom fever strikes again. No need to FOMO over the epic cherry blossom posts that’ll be going up on Instagram – whether you’re headed to Japan, Korea, Taiwan or even Thailand, we’ve got you covered. Give these stunning spots your best shot!

Thailand

Many might be surprised, but tropical Thailand has some spectacular spots for cherry blossom viewing – mainly in the cooler Northern Thailand highlands. The season typically runs from late December to February, when the temperatures drop in the mountainous areas and the Himalayan cherry blossoms – which the locals sometimes call “Tiger Queens” – start to bloom.

Before you get started on your cherry blossom adventure around Thailand, here are some essentials to get you set up:

1. Doi Ang Khang (Chiang Mai)

Doi Ang Khang cherry blossoms

Image Credit: @prntchspy65 on Instagram

The mountainous regions in Northern Thailand hide some amazing cherry blossom spots – with Doi Ang Khang being one that you can’t miss. About a three-and-a-half-hour drive out from Chiang Mai, this mountain region boasts some breathtaking landscapes and sights. When the cherry blossom season rolls around, the Pha Hom Pok National Park and Royal Angkhang Station Project transforms into a patchwork of pinks and greens.

Best time to visit: January to February

2. Khun Chang Khian Highland Agriculture Research Station (Chiang Mai)

 Baan Khun Chang Kian cherry trees

Image Credit: @choeybaby on Instagram

Cherry Blossoms in Baan Khun Chang Kian

Image Credit: @nickjakelski on Instagram

cherry blossoms frame the sky in chiang mai

Image Credit: @novikresna on Instagram

It’s hard not to fall for the magic of the Khun Chang Khian Highland Agriculture Research Station, with its surreal mix of lush tropical greenery and delicate cherry blossom beauty. The hill tribe village is only a short 28km from Chiang Mai’s old town, and is accessible by a narrow road flanked by nature and scenic views.

Located up in the Doi Suthep mountain, the cool climate is a welcome break from the typically sweltering temperatures in other parts of Thailand – and creates the conditions needed for the Himalayan cherry blossoms to thrive. The cherry blossoms bloom at a slightly different time each year – it’s best check before you make the trip, to avoid disappointment.

Best time to visit: January to February

3. Khun Wang Royal Agricultural Research Centre (Doi Inthanon National Park)

Cherry blossoms on Doi Inthanon

Image Credit: @repeacediary on Instagram

Located on the slopes of Thailand’s highest mountain, the Khun Wang Royal Agricultural Research Centre has gathered a good deal of buzz for being one of the best spots in Thailand for cherry blossom viewing. Commissioned by the King in 1980, the decorative gardens in the research centre are filled with Himalayan cherry blossom trees, which come into full bloom around January to February.

The cherry blossom season in this part of the Doi Inthanon National Park has begun already, so plan a trip quick before the blossoms fall.

Best time to visit: January to February

Japan

When it comes to cherry blossom viewing in Asia, Japan is a cornerstone destination not to be missed. To maximise your hanami experience and make your Japan vacay much easier:

NOTE: Word from the Japan Meteorological Corporation says that the sakura season is coming earlier to Japan this year – with 22 March and 27 March being the predicted sakura blossoming start date in Tokyo and Osaka, respectively.

1. Meguro River (Tokyo)

Falling petals at the Meguro River
Sakura blossoms meguro river

Image Credit: @merawee on Instagram

The Meguro River, which runs through the Tokyo metropolis, is an arresting sight in spring. Over 800 sakura trees line both sides of the quiet river, with the falling petals creating a tapestry of pale pink and white along the walkways. During the sakura season, stalls are set up along the riverwalk that sell seasonal snacks and drinks.

The closest station is Nakameguro, and it can get pretty crowded during the blooming season. If you want to avoid the crowds, come down early in the morning, or make the trip at night – the river takes on a different kind of beauty once dusk falls and the lights along the river light up.

Best time to visit: Late March to Early April

2. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden (Tokyo)

Cherry blossoms in Shinjuku Gyoen

Image Credit: @cony_viajando on Instagram

A stroll around the city-center Shinjuku Gyoen National Gardens is a welcome respite at any time of the year, but the garden’s beauty truly reaches its peak in the springtime. The vast park spans almost 60 hectares, and is home to about 1,000 sakura trees, making it a prime location for cherry blossom viewing.

In addition to the sakura in bloom, explore the winding paths, curated gardens and various lakes that make up this tranquil space. It’s only about 15 minutes from the hectic Shinjuku station, so slot in a visit for a break from the hustle of Tokyo.

Best time to visit: Late March to Early April

3. Kajo Park (Yamagata)

Cherry blossoms outside Yamagata castle

Image Credit: Raita Futo for Flickr

Kajo Park sakura
Kajo park sakura

Image Credit: Foomio for Flickr

Built on the site where the old Yamagata Castle used to stand, Kajo Park in the Yamagata prefecture houses 1,500 somei yoshino sakura trees, which are deemed an important Natural Monument by Japan. The spacious park has many paths winding through the sakura trees that are dotted with benches, where you can relax and enjoy the blossoms overhead. If you’re looking for a less-crowded hanami spot away from the big cities, consider putting Kajo Castle near the top of your list.

Best time to visit: Mid to Late April

4. Yamazaki River (Nagoya)

Sakura from the Yamazaki River bridge

Image Credit: @bluesnow_aom on Instagram

Yamazaki River in Nagoya has been considered one of the top 100 places in Japan for hanami. And once you’ve made the trip yourself, there’s no question about it. Hundreds of sakura trees line the sides of the river for over a kilometre, making a stroll down the Yamazaki River one to remember. Take photos from the bridge that links its banks, or even climb the steps down to the riverbank for a closer glimpse of its clear waters.

Best time to visit: Early April

5. Osaka Mint Bureau (Osaka)

Sakura in the Osaka Mint

Image Credit: @tokico_k_official on Instagram

Image Credit: @dusty_pixels on Instagram

The Osaka Mint Bureau grounds are typically closed to the public, with the exception of one week in spring, when the 400-odd cherry trees come into bloom. Don’t worry if you’re only able to make a trip to Japan at the tail-end of sakura season – you might still be able to catch some in full bloom.

The Osaka Mint is particularly well-known for its yaezakura variety of cherry blossoms, which bloom later and contain more petals than the more common somei yoshino blossoms found around Japan. You can find over a hundred different cherry varieties on the grounds. After sunset, the cherry blossom path is lit with paper lanterns so that visitors can enjoy the illuminated cherry blossoms at night.

Best time to visit: End March to Mid-April (dates are typically announced here around mid-March)

6. Nishi Park (Fukuoka)

Falling sakura in Nishi Park

Image Credit: @michicusa on Instagram

If you’re in Fukuoka during sakura season, Nishi Park is not to be missed. Tucked in the middle of a residential district, this peaceful oasis is transformed with plumes of pinks once the cherry blossom trees come into bloom. Food stalls line the path from the entrance to the Terumo Shrine in the middle of the park, with many families setting up camp under the shade of the sakura. At night, spotlights illuminate the sakura blossoms at some parts of the park, printing the dark canvas overhead with a lattice of pink.

Best time to visit: Late March to Early April

Korea

Next door to Japan, Korea is another hot cherry blossom destination. Make your Korea cherry blossom hunt hassle-free with:

1. Yeojwacheon @ Jinhae Gunhangje Cherry Blossom Festival (Jinhae)

Yeojwacheon cherry blossom walkway

Image Credit: @rachelenroute on Instagram

Jinhae Gunhangje festival
Yeojwacheon Stream cherry blossoms

Don’t miss out on the Jinhae Gunhangje Cherry Blossom Festival if you’re in Korea in the springtime. The annual festival attracts over 2 million visitors each year, with breathtaking cherry blossom sights and a multitude of fringe activities. Head to the Romance Bridge on the Yeojwacheon Stream to find one of the festival’s most picturesque spots and walk down the nearby cherry blossom road, which is flanked by lines of pink and white cherry blossom trees on both sides. Revisit the area at night for the Yeojwacheon Starlight Festival, as lasers and spotlights transform the stream.

Best time to visit: Late March to Early April (Official festival dates for 2019 are 1-10 April)

2. Gyeonghwa Rail Station @ Jinhae Gunhangje Cherry Blossom Festival (Jinhae)

Gyeonghwa Rail train under the cherry blossoms
Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival

The Gyeonghwa Rail Station in Jinhae is another must-go spot if you’re in Jinhae during spring. When in full bloom, the cherry blossom trees that line the railway tracks create a tunnel of pink and white petals that stretch across the blue skies. Snap a photo under this postcard-perfect canopy, and pose with the iconic red and blue train.

Best time to visit: Late March to Early April

3. Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace cherry blossoms

Image Credit: @pacgoingplaces on Instagram

Gyeongbokgung Palace is extremely popular as a photo op destination, with many visitors opting for hanbok rental experiences. The sprawling grounds taken on a different ambience as the cherry blossom season starts, and the trees that come into bloom. Get decked out in a traditional hanbok of your choice, and capture your moments in the picturesque palace. The combination of cherry blossoms and traditional Korean architecture makes for a stunning backdrop.

Best time to visit: Mid-April

4. Samnak Park (Busan)

Picnic under the Samnak Park cherry blossoms

For a perfect picnic location in Busan, head to Samnak Ecological Park during cherry blossom season. Over a thousand cherry blossom trees line long walkway along the Nakdonggang river, and is considered one of the most beautiful cherry blossom viewing spots in the region. Find a grassy patch under the shade, set up your picnic mat, and enjoy your lunch in the fresh spring air.

Best time to visit: Late March to Early April

Taiwan

Taiwan is another terrific destination for a variety of cherry blossom viewing spots. To kickstart your Taiwan cherry blossom tripping, here are some essentials to consider:

1. Yangmingshan National Park

Yangmingshan cherry blossoms
Yangmingshan cherry blossoms

Quoted to be “Taipei’s backyard garden”, Yangmingshan is a staple day trip destination for every nature lover visiting Taipei. The annual Yangmingshan Flower Festival heralds the blooming of the Double Cherry, Showa Cherry and Yoshino Cherry trees, which blossomed between late February and early March last year.

The cherry blossom phase of the festival typically ends in late March, so be sure to schedule your trip so that it coincides with this magical period.

Best time to visit: Late February – Late March

2. Wuji Tianyuan Temple (New Taipei City)

cherry blossoms in the wuji tianyuan temple

Image Credit: @yumao0427 on Instagram

Cherry trees outside the Wuji Tianyuan Temple

Image Credit: @gossip_men_king on Instagram

Wuji Tianyuan Temple in the Tamsui region is one of Taiwan’s best-kept secrets for cherry blossom viewing. If you manage to visit during the right season, the bus journey out from the Tamsui Metro will be well-worth it – with Yoshino cherry trees in full blossom all around the Temple complex. Climb the five-story Tiantan (Altar of Heaven), where you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the petal-strewn walkways and a close-up glimpse of the cherry blossoms at branch-level.

Best time to visit: February to March

3. Alishan (Chiayi)

Alishan cherry blossom sites
Alishan Cherry Blossom shelters

Image Credit: 張 婉君 for Flickr

Alishan, in the Chiayi region, is fabled for being a picturesque natural paradise. Aside from the famous sunrises and the Alishan Forest Train, cherry blossom viewing is something you can’t miss out on if you’re going to be in the region during the right season. The park has 3,000 cherry trees in about 30 different varieties – resulting in a longer-than-usual cherry blossom season due to the different times at which the different species bloom.

Best time to visit: Mid-January to April

4. Wuling Farm (Taichung)

Wuling Farm cherry blossom close up
Wuling Farm cherry blossoms

Image Credit: chifei for Flickr

Wuling Farm cherry blossom path

Many say that Wuling Farm is one of the best places for cherry blossom viewing in Taiwan. There are over 700 hectares of landscape to take in, interspersed with panoramic views, hiking trails, picnic spots and scenic peaks. There are almost 40,000 cherry blossom trees in the entire park, which transforms into a pink-hued haven for visitors.

For 2019, the official period for cherry blossom viewing in Wuling Farm is from 7 Feb to 27 Feb. Make sure you plan your trip properly, as only a limited number of people are allowed into the venue each day to view the flowers. There are even a surprising number of dedicated fans who decide to “glamp” in Wuling Farm, in order to make the most out of their journey out.

Best time to visit: February

5. Sun Moon Lake

Sun Moon Lake cherry blossoms
Sun Moon Lake cherry blossom festival activities

Probably the most famous lake in Taiwan, this lake region is the main feature of the Sun Moon Lake Cherry Blossom Festival. During cherry blossom season, the lake’s still blue waters are fringed by hundreds of blooming cherry blossom trees, transforming Sun Moon Lake into a tapestry of greens, blues and pinks. Head down to the Formosa Aboriginal Culture Village for activities like the First Night Cherry Blossom Appreciation and cherry blossom tea parties, or just stroll under the canopy of pink petals that border the lake.

Best time to visit: Late February to Early March

Start spring with your cherry blossom adventure

Pack your camera, grab your bags and set off on a cherry blossom hunt you’ll remember for seasons to come! Let all your wildest cherry blossoms dream come true with Klook! From 18 February 2019 to 30 April 2019, get RM55 off with a purchase on our web or app! Want to double up on your savings? When you purchase on the Klook mobile app, you can get RM110 off for your activities in a single booking. Find out more info at the Klook #MYSakuraFever page!