The most beautiful cherry blossom spots in Asia
Are you looking for the best cherry blossom spots in Asia? If so, get ready for some serious travel inspiration!
In this guide we set out the best cherry blossom spots in Asia, as recommended by world travellers. We cover everything from the classic spots in Kyoto and Gyeongju to lesser-known destinations such as Ban Khun Chang Khian and Alishan. Read all about our favourite cherry blossom spots in Asia below!
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Where are the Best Cherry Blossom Spots in Asia?
The eclectic capital city of South Korea, Seoul is a weird and wonderful mix of old and new. With centuries-old palaces, sublime gardens, bustling streets lined with high-tech and skyscrapers, cool pop culture and delicious food – the city has something for everyone.
Besides all these great visual delights, there is yet another reason to add Seoul to your destination hit-list – between late March and mid April the city turns into a wonderland filled with the most beautiful pink and white cherry blossoms. So, if you want to experience Seoul at its prettiest, visiting here during springtime is an absolute must!
Cherry blossoms can be seen throughout most parts of the city, but for the best scenes don’t miss strolling through the magnificent gardens at one (or all) of the five palaces. At Gyeongbokgung Palace (the first and largest of the royal palaces), you can catch a glimpse into royal culture before ducking into the National Palace Museum and the National Folk Museum of Korea which are also housed on the grounds. Changgyeonggung is yet another excellent choice and if you do visit here, don’t forget to take the Secret Garden tour.
Beyond the palaces, don’t miss strolling through the hidden alleyways of Insa-dong, where cherry blossom trees and hanok (traditional Korean houses) give great aesthetic pleasure. Finally head over to Seokchon Lake where 1,000 cherry blossom trees line the park and Lotte World Tower creates a powerful backdrop.
Seoul is well-known as one of the best cherry blossom spots in Asia, so it’s best to book flights and accommodation a few months in advance. If it’s your first visit here, be sure to also check out these handy tips for visiting Seoul during cherry blossom season.
By Marie from Be Marie Korea // INSTAGRAM
The cherry blossom season is a huge thing in South Korea, it starts late march and lasts about 2 or 3 weeks depending on the place. There are many parks and locations in Seoul that are stunning during this season, but if you want to see the crème de la crème and enjoy the full cherry blossom experience, make your way to Gyeongju. The ancient Silla capital with many historic sites over 2000 years old. During the cherry blossom season the city organizes a yearly cherry blossom festival and cherry blossom marathon. The festival runs for 4 days and loads of events and performances happen all around the city. The marathon takes place just outside the city at Bomun lake on the main road which is surrounded with loads of beautiful cherry blossom trees.
Getting from Seoul to Gyeongju is easily accessible by KTX train or express. The travel time difference between those two options is quite significant but so it the cost difference. Other things to do in Gyeongju are the Tumuli park, Bulguksa Temple, Seokuram Grotto, Cheomsondae Observatory and many more.
Kyeryongsan Cherry Blossoms Festival
One great Korean cherry blossom festival is at Kyeryongsan national park, just west of the city of Daejeon. This takes place around Donghaksa Temple – the first in Korean history to accept female monks.
Locals gather there to celebrate the cherry blossoms at the turn of spring (usually late February). At this time, the trees on the side of the road turn a fluffy pinkish white, and a cushion of petals gathers below.
To celebrate the start of hiking season, the locals proceed in droves to climb Donghaksa mountain (about 1000 meters of ascent). But there are other hiking trails if you want to avoid the crowds. The celebrations go on well into the night, with stalls serving beer and soju. Food is a little more expensive than the norm, but you can still find relatively cheap street food if you’re on a budget. If you’re feeling brave, you can find boiled silkworm pupae or green sea snails – both local delicacies. Toasted chestnuts is another.
Kyeryongsan national park is accessible with regular buses running from Daejeon bus station. There’s a youth hostel at the park called Kyeryongsan Gapsa, where you can sleep on padded quilts on the floor, Korean style, in either dorms or private rooms.
Also Read: The Best Islands to Visit in Asia
By Delilah from Fleurdelilah // INSTAGRAM
With countless cherry blossom trees throughout the city, Tokyo is one of the best cherry blossom spots in Asia — if not the world! For a few fleeting weeks, the Japan capital is covered in sakura (cherry blossoms).
But what makes the cherry blossoms in Tokyo some of the best aren’t just the views (which are breathtaking), but the culture surrounding it. As the sakura begin to bloom, everyone prepares for hanami, or cherry blossom viewing. Groups of classmates, colleagues, family, and friends gather under the trees to celebrate with food and drinks. Festivities start early in the morning and last till late in the night.
Most visitors go to Yoyogi or Ueno Park to see the cherry blossoms. These spots have free entry but are also quite crowded. As a long-time Tokyoite, I’ve found the most stunning cherry blossoms are in traditional Japanese gardens. Here are my favorite places to see cherry blossoms in Tokyo.
Springtime is one of the city’s busiest seasons so book early and expect higher prices for flights and hotels. People from around the world flock to Japan to view the pink and white blossoms. If you’re visiting Tokyo and want to see cherry blossoms in full bloom, target to be in the city at the end of March or the first week of April. Visit any later and, while you will see some, you’ll miss the full effect.
By James from Travel Collecting // PINTEREST
In and around Osaka, Japan are some of the best places to see cherry blossoms. It is difficult to predict exactly when the best time to see them is, as it can vary slightly each year, but early April is when the blossoms are most often at their peak.
Osaka-jo Castle is one of the best places to see them – the gardens in front of the castle are crammed with pink trees, and the castle makes a beautiful backdrop. Do what the locals do, and have a picnic under the trees (a hanami). Drinking sake or beer (or soda) and eating obento lunch boxes is a tradition at this time of year.
Another great spot to view the cherry blossoms (sakura) is the Osaka Mint. The trees there are a different variety that bloom a little later (usually mid-April), so this is a good choice if you miss the others. The gardens are open extra long hours at peak blossom viewing time.
My third choice is Shukugawa Park just outside Osaka (about 20 minutes by train; take the JR Kobe line to Sakura Shukugawa Station). A river is lined with sakura trees on both sides, and stalls are set up selling food, sake and more. This is full of local Japanese having hanami and enjoying the trees. It’s my favorite place to experience the cherry blossoms like a local.
Osaka is well served by Kansai International Airport. Cherry blossom season is popular, so I’d recommend booking early.
By Chloe from Chloe’s Travelogue // INSTAGRAM
A few years ago, I got lucky to enjoy cherry blossoms (sakura) in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and many places in between. Among all beauties, Kyoto is my ultimate favorite place for Hanami. Why? Kyoto is exquisitely beautiful with its historic streets and architecture regardless. But imagine fully bloomed sakura decorating this classic city, creating a magnificent sight you will never forget.
The Philosopher’s Path is a great spot to enjoy cherry blossoms in the daylight. This stone-paved trail near Ginkakuji Temple is lined with 500 sakura trees along the canal. When the sakura is in full bloom, the area completely turns blush pink. The sight of petals raining over the breeze and coloring the ground pink is absolutely gorgeous.
Although Sakura is omnipresent in Kyoto, the best place to see cherry blossoms, in my opinion, is the city’s most celebrated Kiyomizu-dera temple at night. During the Hanami season, sakura trees are beautifully illuminated along the romantic stroll up the hill. The view overlooking the city of Kyoto and illuminated sakura on top of the temple would take your breath away.
Kiyomizu-dera re-opens at 6 p.m. for Sakura Special Night Illumination on March 8-17 and March 29-April 7, 2019. Admission tickets (¥400) can be purchased at the door until 9 p.m.
Tip for your Japan travel planning: Sakura in Kyoto starts to bloom a few days later than Tokyo.
Also Read: The Best Cities to have a Layover in Asia
By Nick Kembel from Spiritual Travels // INSTAGRAM
One of the classic postcard images of Taiwan is of a red locomotive chugging through a tunnel of cherry blossom trees. This quintessential scene can be observed in Alishan, Taiwan’s most famous mountain resort.
The small gauge Alishan railway was first built when Taiwan was a Japanese colony to log forests of enormous cypress trees in the 2500-meter mountainous area. When logging came to an end, the trains began transporting tourist rather than trees. Besides cherry blossoms, people flock to Alishan for its famed high mountain oolong teas, misty forest trails, and sunrises over seas of clouds.
There are nearly 20,000 cherry blossom trees in the national scenic area. They belong to the Yoshino variety, which is whiter than cherry blossoms found elsewhere in Taiwan. The best time to visit if you want to see them bloom
Also note that the upper portion of the popular Alishan train line from Chiayi City to Alishan has been out of order since it was damaged by a typhoon in 2009, so you have to take a bus for the second half of the journey. Trains still run throughout the scenic area though, where most of the cherry blossoms can be seen.
Ban Khun Chang Khian
By Katie Diederichs from Two Wandering Soles // INSTAGRAM
While Thailand is likely not the first place you think of for spotting cherry blossoms, it is possible to see these famous pink flowers in this tropical country. Nestled in the forests of the Doi Suthep Mountain, lies Ban Khun Chang Khian, a Hmong village that turns pink each year from late December to early February.
Being that it’s not far from the city of Chiang Mai, a visit to this village makes a great day trip if you happen to be visiting at the right season. You can hire a driver or join a hiking group to catch sight of these blossoming beauties.
The best part of this cherry blossom experience is that it’s still relatively unknown. In Japan and Korea, you’ll be hard-pressed to see Sakura flowers without crowds of others looking to do the same. But you can have the beautiful cherry blossoms mostly to yourself in this highland oasis in northern Thailand.
Be sure to wander around the neighboring Hmong village to get a taste of life outside the city. Stop at one of the rustic coffee shops to support the locals and be sure to bring your camera so you can prove that Japan is not the only place to glimpse cherry blossoms!
Have you travelled to any of these destinations during spring? Where are your favourite cherry blossom spots in Asia? If you have any other suggestions for great cherry blossom spots in Asia to add to this list, let us know in the comments below!
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