Winter's cold winds will pass and soon, warmer temperatures will usher in everyone's favourite season - spring (or mine at least). Flowers will soon be in bloom which only means ONE thing - cherry blossoms! But while everyone around you is planning to tick off their bucket list by spotting cherry blossoms in Japan, maybe you're looking for somewhere not so predictable.
Well, if you're looking for alternatives to spot cherry blossoms, here are 10 spots other than Japan where you can catch those them in full bloom. Plus, travelling to these places is also less likely to burn a hole in your pocket. Ready to feast your eyes?
P.S. The dates provided here are from 2022's forecast. 2023's dates can be up to a week before or after these, so make sure to look out for the official forecasts!
1. Yeouido Park, Seoul
Yeouido Park is THE place to be if you're in the South Korean capital during the cherry blossoms season. Every year, the park hosts the Yeouido Spring Flower Festival. Be prepared to get awed by the sight of more than 1,600 King cherry trees dotting the park and its surroundings!
Credit: Cuti.my on Facebook
If you're feeling romantic, you might want to take a stroll along the nearby Han River to replicate a scene out of a Korean drama. Other than cherry blossoms, other flowers like azaleas and forsythias will also be in bloom.
While watching the sakuras, you might even be lucky enough to catch cultural street performances (even fireworks!) or feel like having your portrait drawn. Make sure to stop by Myeongdong's Kampungku Mart before that to stock up on some snacks!
Note: The cherry blossom season in Seoul in 2022 was between 28 March to 4 April.
2. Gyeonghwa Station, Jinhae
At first mention, Jinhae might not ring a bell to most travellers but did you know that this Southern city just outside of Busan holds the largest cherry blossoms festival in South Korea? With nearly 350,000 cherry trees littered around the city, Jinhae is said to have one of the biggest concentrations of cherry blossom trees in the world.
#HHWT Tip: To get to Jinhae, you can take a bus from Busan which runs every 15 minutes from Busan's Seobu terminal. Each trip costs KRW5,100 and will take around 1 hour.
The best place to spot the lovely flowers is Gyeonghwa Station. Once a functioning railway station, you can now walk along the train tracks at Gyeonghwa and soak in the beauty of thousands of neatly lined cherry trees. The spot has also been listed on CNN's 50 Beautiful Places to Visit in Korea. Time to get your cameras out for that perfect insta-worthy shot!
Credit: Merlin Hoo on Facebook
If you're feeling lazy to walk, you can also choose to enjoy the view by hopping on a slow-moving train. Another spot worth visiting is the Romance Bridge over Yeojwacheon Stream.
Note: The cherry blossom season in Busan in 2022 was between 23-26 March.
3. Bomun Lake, Gyeongju
With a history of nearly 1,000 years, Gyeongju is most commonly known as the ancient capital of South Korea but the city is known for its blooming sakuras too.
One place to head to for your cherry blossom chase would be Bomun Lake which transforms into a postcard perfect backdrop in spring. What's interesting about this place is that the fun doesn't stop when the sun sets. At night, some trees around the lake are illuminated with multi-colour lighting and there is a light show which is projected on the Bomun Lake bridge - definitely a spectacular sight to behold.
#HHWT Tip: Don't forget to bring a mat for a picnic while taking in the lake's picturesque views.
If you feel like doing something healthy, why not sign up for the Gyeongju Cherry Blossom Marathon? The marathon is held right in the middle of blooming season. Imagine running through a sea of falling petals. I'm sure running a marathon doesn't get any better than this! Registration for the marathon usually begins mid-December, and ends in early March. Not sure what to do in Gyeongju? Check out this 4D3N Muslim-Friendly Itinerary to explore Gyeongju and Busan!
Note: The cherry blossom season in Gyeongju in 2022 was between 25 March - 16 April.
4. Jeju Island
Ah Jeju, the Hawaii of South Korea is always associated with idyllic beaches and volcanic landscapes but come spring, the whole island turns into a spectacle of colours. This is the place to be if you want to catch the first sakura blooms of the season. Jeju might be packed with local tourists who want to catch the first blooms of spring so do plan your trip early!
Head over to the Jeju Cherry Blossoms Festival to catch majestic King Cherry trees in their glorious blooms. The island's cherry blossoms are considered to be the most magnificent ones in South Korea. You definitely won't want to miss them.
We know that the peak of cherry blossoms might be hard to catch as they only last 2-3 days. But fret not, if you can't make it in time for cherry blossoms, you can witness Canola blossoms in mid-April instead. Even better, when planning your trip to South Korea, you can combine a visit to both Jeju and Seoul with this 5D4N itinerary to enjoy the cherry blossoms twice!
Note: The cherry blossom season in Jeju in 2022 was between 18-24 March.
5. Yuyuantan Park, Beijing
Home to more than 2,000 cherry blossom trees, Yuyuantan Park thrives with colour in spring. With over 30 varieties, this means that you can witness varying degrees of cherry blossom colours - from white, light pink to crimson hues. Fun fact: The sakuras were given by Japan in 1973 as a diplomatic gift representing peaceful ties between the two nations.
The best part - there are two periods you can witness cherry blossoms. The early cherry blossoms will bloom in early March while the late cherry blossoms will bloom from mid-to-late March to mid April. That should help you plan your trip! The admission fee during cherry blossom season is RMB10 per person and the park is typically open from 6AM to 8.30PM so you can visit throughout the day.
For those of you with a sweet tooth, good news for you. The park will be selling an array of cherry blossom-related snacks such as cherry blossom-flavoured ice cream, egg tarts and even preserved cherry blossoms. Do note that we are unable to confirm if there will be any halal-certified items. Do look out for vegetarian options, and we recommend you dine at your own discretion. Or you can head to these 8 halal eateries in Beijing for a great meal after you've seen the flowers!
#HHWT Tip: Do check the air quality index (AQI) before catching the cherry trees as you won't want to make a wasted trip!
6. Gucun Park, Shanghai
China's largest city is usually seen as a fast-paced concrete jungle but cherry blossom sightings are not uncommon. The most well-known place to spot cherry blossoms is undoubtedly Gucun Park. Every spring, the park becomes the centre of attraction for the Shanghai Cherry Blossoms Festival.
Immerse yourself in the 12,000 cherry trees scattered all over the park. Some of them are more than half a century old! After you're done taking in the sights and snapping countless selfies with the cherry blossoms, you can also watch various cultural activities like traditional Chinese operas and martial arts performances. There will also be rides for kids so you can have a fun-filled day out with your family.
Though the festival is from mid-March and lasts for a month, you might want to check the cherry blossom forecast as cherry blossoms in Shanghai might start blooming in early March. The park can get super busy during the festival, so be prepared for a large crowd. We recommend heading there early on a weekday if you want to have some quiet time to admire the blossoms. If you're new to Shanghai, you should check out these 9 Awesome Experiences Every First Timer To Shanghai Must Try!
Note: Entry to the park during festival will cost you RMB20 and a passport or ID card is required for verification.
7. Turtle Head Isle, Wuxi
If you're feeling more adventurous, take the road less travelled and head to Turtle Head Isle (or Yuantouzhu) in Wuxi, located about a 3-hour drive from Shanghai.
Marvel at the beauty of hundreds of blossoming cherry trees alongside ancient temples and bridges. Walking through the area makes you feel as though you're travelling back in time or stepping into the set of a Chinese period drama. It's definitely an experience you won't want to miss!☺️
The best time to see cherry blossoms at Yuantouzhu is from late March to late April during the cherry blossom festival. There will be crowds during the festival period so do plan your time wisely. We recommend going in the early morning or evening!
8. Alishan National Scenic Area
With its high mountains and lush greenery, Alishan is Taiwan's most visited national park and you'd be pleased to know that it turns into a cherry blossom haven during sakura season. That makes the park even more beautiful than it already is! Located 2,500-metres above sea level, the weather in Alishan during spring would be perfect for sighting cherry blossoms.
Credit: Jocelin Babybbt on Facebook
If you're worried about not having enough time to catch the perfect cherry blossom bloom, don't worry as there are three different flower types which bloom at different times - the Taiwanese Sakura (late Jan - Mar), Yoshino Cherries (mid-Mar - late Apr), Double-Layer Sakura (Feb - Mar). Our 4D3N Muslim-friendly Alishan itinerary will be just what you need to uncover this beautiful and scenic region of Taiwan.
Credit: Kenny Ljv on Facebook
To prevent overcrowding in the park, there is an admission control by the authorities so you're expected to wait some time before entering the park. But don't worry, it will all be worth it when you get treated to the priceless views. The entrance fee to the scenic area is NTD$300.
#HHWT Tip: While you're admiring the charming sights at Alishan, don't forget to visit the park's famed forest railway.
9. Yangmingshan National Park
If you're looking to see cherry blossoms nearer to Taipei, Yangmingshan National Park would be JUST the place for you. The annual flower festival will not leave you disappointed. The park is one of the earliest places to experience cherry blossoms in Taiwan - as early as February and it will last till early March. Most of the sakuras here are planted along hiking and biking trails, so you can be assured that you won't miss that perfect instaworthy shot!
Other than spotting cherry blossoms, there are other activities you can do in Yangmingshan. Rejuvenate your senses at a natural hot spring (private ones available!) or experience the wonders of a sulphur lake. Did you know that the park is also home to Taiwan's largest volcano?
The best part about Yangmingshan is its close proximity to Taipei and that means you can visit the park as a day trip from Taipei itself! It's easy to get to Yangmingshan as there are buses headed there from various MRT stations in Taipei. Once you've admired the blossoms, you can just head back to the city to explore its Muslim-friendly restaurants and recharge with a delicious meal.
P.S. Don't forget to pick up some Muslim-friendly iconic Taiwanese snacks during your trip!
10. Wuling Farm
If you want to experience cherry blossoms in a well-preserved natural setting, head over to Wuling Farm.
Though not as well-known as Alishan or Yangmingshan, Wuling is a world of its own. Lose yourself in nature and watch the cherry blossoms come to life amid the stunning mountainous backdrop at Wuling (yes, mountains!) That makes your cherry blossom chase even more memorable. It's no wonder that it's commonly known by locals as one of the best places to admire Taiwan's natural beauty!
The cherry blossom blooming season for Wuling usually starts in February and lasts till the first week of March. So, do plan your trip wisely. The admission fee for Wuling is NTD160 in the peak season (summer and winter) and NTD130 in the off-peak season.
#HHWT Tip: Wuling is about a 3-hour drive from Taipei and it might be quite a hassle to get to the farm by public transport. We recommend getting a driver or guide to help you get there.
There you have it - 10 alternative spots other than Japan for your cherry blossom chase. Now you can go and tell your friends that the cherry blossom experience doesn't need to be in Japan!