Each year from December to February, across northern Thailand, the Wild Himalayan Cherry Tree, puts on a magnificent display of cherry blossoms that turn the mountains and valleys an enchanting pastel pink.
Among the best places to see this glorious annual spectacle are San Pa Kia, Doi Inthanon, Doi Khun Mae Ya, Doi Ang Khang, Doi Luang Chiang Dao, Doi Suthep and Khun Chang Kean, all of which are easily accessible from Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.
Near to Chiang Mai
You can see the cherry blossoms on the top of Doi Suthep in the gardens of the Khun Chang Khian Highland Agriculture Research Centre and the bumpy songthaew (a truck-taxi) ride to the top of the mountain is rewarded with spectacular views as you breathe in the cool, clear mountain air.
While you revel in the pinkness of your surroundings you might also want to visit the Hmong village located in the area, where you can pick your basket of fresh strawberries and try some of the excellent local coffee.
The cherry trees on Doi Khun Mae Ya were planted after a devastating fire and the mainly cherry and pine tree forest is today a much-visited spot perfect for camping. It is a little remote and takes a good three hours by car from Chiang Mai airport, but once there, with your tent pitched and food in the pot, you can sit back and watch the sun set over the pink-clad slopes and prepare to gaze up at the heavens to a sky littered with stars.
For anyone missing the chill of wintery climes a visit to Ang Khang Agricultural Station, at an altitude of 1,400 metres, will be just the ticket. With a mild year-round climate, night-time temperatures can drop to as low as -3 degrees centigrade, making layered clothing a must.
This is one of Thailand’s most beautiful and well-maintained garden parks, stretching over more than 300,000 hectares. And, in the chill of dawn’s early embrace, in such a gorgeously serene and romantic setting as you gaze out over the valleys and peaks, Shakespeare’s words from Romeo and Juliet come to mind - Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain-tops.