Alternative Countries to Japan for some Cherry Blossom lovin’ (and where you should stay to catch them!)

Nothing quite evokes romance as the transient yet spectacular sight of the sakura blooms. During the spring period from mid-March to mid-April, delicate cherry blossoms transform cityscapes into an ethereal fairyland of shades of pink and a sprinkling of white.

Every year, millions of tourists clamour to Japan to catch a fleeting sight of these beautiful cherry blossoms that bloom only once a year. However, unbeknownst to most people, Japan is not the only country to fulfill your cherry blossom-viewing desires. Here’s a short list that you could either explore visiting as an alternative (minus the immense crowd!) or alter your itinerary should you be visiting that country coincidentally during that period!

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KOREA – JEJU

Jeonnong-ro at night. Image source: https://www.facebook.com/visitjeju.en/

From mid-March onwards, the scenic island of Jeju will take your breath away when its majestic King Cherry Trees burst into glory. Characterised by luxurious silky petals in the softest hue of pastel pink, Jeju’s cherry blossoms are considered to be the best in South Korea. Head to Jeju for an unforgettable cherry blossom escapade and flood your social media feeds with the most incredible pictures!

The bloom forecast this year is estimated to be around the 3rd week of March. These alluring blossoms can be found everywhere on this idyllic island and this makes finding accommodation quite a breeze.

Built beside the sea, the Ocean Suites Jeju Hotel makes a fantastic choice for travellers looking for some much-needed relaxation. With room rates starting from an affordable $88 per night, you can happily put the cost savings into the freshest seafood sold at the nearby nostalgic Seomun Market. This charming hotel is a short driving distance from Jeju International Airport and within walking distance of the beach.

The famed Jeonnong-ro Cherry Blossom Street is just a short walk away. Framed by spectacular century-old cherry blossom trees in the most romantic shade of blush pink, this scene changes to one of dazzling beauty at night when the blossoms get illuminated by lights.

For a more indulgent experience, try the neighbouring resort-style Ramada Plaza Jeju that is built to resemble a luxury cruise ship. Wake up in plush rooms (from $165 per night) with views that open up to sweeping views of the ocean or the mountain.

Image source: @jejukctravel

Another viewing spot that you have to visit is Noksan-ro. Rated one of the top 100 most beautiful roads in Korea, a landscape of light pink cherry blossoms and bright yellow canola flowers blooming side by side leaves visitors pretty much spellbound. Set against the majestic backdrop of Gasiri Power Plant’s wind turbines, it is an unforgettable sight unique to Jeju island.

At $87 a night, the grand Seogwipo KAL Hotel is a steal for travellers who want to experience the cherry blossom festivities and also indulge in facilities such as their indoor and outdoor swimming pools. In the day, one can easily take 35min drive to reach the legendary Noksan-ro and head back to enjoy the boisterous celebrations taking place along Seogwipo’s main streets.

 

TAIWAN

NANTOU

Your heart will skip a beat at the wondrous sight of Taiwan’s vibrant pink cherry blossoms! Since 2001, the largest cherry blossom events in Taiwan take place around the picture-perfect Sun Moon Lake vicinity in Nantou, particularly at the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village and the National Chi Nan University.

All the way from late February to mid of March, this area plays host to throngs of crowds coming to appreciate the blooming of countless Taiwan Cherry Blossom Trees and Japan Double-Flowered Cherry Blossom Trees.

Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village. Image source: https://www.facebook.com/facv.nine/

The festival is the most lively at Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village. Besides being awestruck by thousands of the pinkest cherry blossoms, visitors will also be treated to Taiko drum, dance and cultural performances daily!

Stay at the upscale The Richforest Hotel – Sun Moon Lake to be in close proximity to the not-to-be-missed festive activities held at Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village. This lavish hotel sits magnificently beside the scenic Sun Moon Lake and is a convenient 20min drive away. With exquisite cypress wood paneling and plush interiors, you will be pleasantly surprised that room rates start from just $130 per night.

Alternatively, the adjacent 5-star The Crystal Resort Sun Moon Lake makes the perfect intimate getaway with your partner. Making clever use of glass, guests will be enraptured by views of the surrounding lake and the mountains. Good news is that a night here goes for only $165!

Do not forget to also check out the captivating grounds of the National Chi Nan University when you are around Sun Moon Lake. Located further up north, this sprawling campus covers mountains, grasslands, plantations and the most vivid blossoms.

 

TAIPEI

If you are time-strapped, head to the annual Yangmingshan Flower Festival held at Yangmingshan National Park instead. This impressive park is easily accessible from downtown Taipei city and is a favorite destination for nature lovers, hikers, day-trippers and wedding couples. Countless Showa Cherry and Yoshino Cherry blossom trees paint the mountain in shades of blush-pink during spring, creating the most remarkable photo moments.

Yangmingshan National Park. Image source: https://www.facebook.com/ymsflower/

City dwellers looking to escape urban life can try staying at the Spa Spring Resort Taipei that comes with an outdoor hot spring pool and a pampering spa centre. Guests can look forward to an oasis built just on the outskirts of Taipei city. Their elegantly-furnished rooms come with breakfast and will only set you back by $112 a night – what a steal indeed! The bonus is that guests can hop on the local shuttle bus and reach Yangmingshan easily.

 

AMERICA – WASHINGTON, D.C

If you are not aware of Washington’s renowned National Cherry Blossom Festival, it is time you note it down in your travel must-go list. In 1912, Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo gifted 3000 cherry blossom trees to Washington, D.C, as a pledge of friendship and between the two countries. And, the rest is history.

From quiet beginnings to becoming one of the nation’s biggest springtime celebration, millions of people flock here to witness the dramatic flowering of the dreamy Yoshino Cherry trees. Another species, the Kwanzan Cherry characterised by a deeper hue of pink petals, blooms an estimated two weeks after the Yoshino trees. This creates a second opportunity to catch a glimpse of the stunning blossoms.

Image source: @hello.deborah

Blooming season can happen between mid-March all to way to early April and the best viewing spots are found around the Tidal Basin, which include the grounds of the Washington Monument and the nearby Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. To best capture the blossoming phenomenal, take a leisure stroll around the Tidal Basin because every turn presents a different kind of beauty.

There are many hotels available around this area, considering that numerous major attractions and iconic landmarks are found here. For refined travellers, the uber chic Capitol Skyline Hotel is a good bet. Pamper yourself with sophisticated rooms and a great location for $288 a night. Situated in the heart of Washington DC’s hottest new neighborhood, this fancy hotel also boasts an award-winning, olympic-sized rooftop pool with chill-out lounge music and lounge cabanas.

As you plan your cherry blossom vacation, take note that cherry blossoms are well-known to be fickle. It is hard even for the experts to predict specific blooming dates and planning your trip can get tricky. In order to have a higher chance of catching the blossoms, a good piece of advice is to stay for a longer period of time.

Remember to book hotels through ChangiHotels.com for the lowest price guarantee! For a limited period, there is $30 discount off all hotel bookings. Have a magical cherry blossom affair!

Read also about these 6 Things Every Traveller Should Do in Kaohsiung, 6 Must-Have English Apps For Your Korea Holiday and Going To The United States For A Holiday? Here’s A Quick Breakdown Of What You Can or Can’t Get Through Customs.