A word of caution: always call the local TAT office before making your travel plans. A flower expected to blossom in October could just as easily bloom in November on a particular year, due to climactic variations, inconvenient truths or just the fact that flowers are notoriously fickle. Also, do not pick the flowers!
Nang Phaya Sua Krong
Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Nan
Cherry blossoms are stunningly beautiful but a trip to Japan is extremely pricey, you never know exactly when they’re going to bloom, and they last only a week. So head to Northern Thailand instead, where you can witness a myriad soft pink flowers bloom after the nang phaya sua krong trees shed their leaves. Also called Thai sakura, the flowers appear mid-winter, in the high hills 1,000-2,000 meters above sea level. The top spots are Doi Inthanon in Chiang Mai, Khun Mae Ya near Pai in Mae Hong Son and Khun Sathan in Nan. The flowers bloom at different times at different locations so you can actually follow the Thai sakura trail for two to four weeks—and then they’re gone!
Doi Inthanon National Park, 053-286-728/9; Khun Mae Ya Office, 053-217-453; Khun Sathan National Park, 054-701-121, 054-731-585
When the month of love arrives, this indigenous pink flower blossoms at Doi Phuka National Park in Nan Province. Originally found in Southern China and Northern Vietnam as well, it has all but disappeared there due to destruction of its natural habitat. The Department of National Parks has been trying to breed chumphu phuka at Khun Sathan National Park but so far, the original site is still second to none. The flowers will last for around a month.
Doi Phuka National Park, 054-701-111, 054-731-362
Roughly during the same period as phaya sua khrong, delicate white flowers named dok siew also flower on several hills in Northern provinces. The most popular spot to catch them is at Pah Mieng Village, Pan District, Lampang, where the Dok Siew Blossom Festival is organized every year in Feb. For the ninth year, the 2011 event allows you to roam among these white flowers until Feb 21.
Despite the rain, there’s still a good reason to head to Nam Nao National Park. Orchid lovers will have a chance to see the delicate euang bussarakham wild orchids, whose stem can reach lengths of up to two meters.
TAT Phitsanulok, 055-252-742/3, 055-259-907.
Isaan is at its most beautiful after a few months of rain, when the rice fields turn bright green. And the rainy season is also a good time to to see krajiew flowers in full bloom in Chaiyaphum. You’re most likely to find the Siamese tulip (as it’s also known) during Jun-Aug, in an area of roughly one sq kilometer in Pah Hin Ngam National Park, where the pink and purple flowers grow atop lush, green grass.
Pah Hin Ngam National Park, 044-890-105.
The hot, desert area at the Pha Taem cliff offers Thailand’s easternmost view, making it where the sun first rises on the kingdom. Every year, at the end of the rainy season, its slightly lunar landscape is briefly overrun by a carnival of wild flowers, ranging from soi suwan and thip kesorn to dusita and nok noi. To actually make it to Pha Taem, you need to drive the last 10km off-road, on a rock plateau, so make sure you go by 4x4. If you don’t, you may have to go back to the village and beg the village chief for a ride—there is no shuttle service where the road ends. That being said, the flowers are all over the place, not just on the cliff.
TAT Ubon Ratchathani, 045-437-770, 045-250-714, www.tatubon.org.
This one of the most popular flower spots for Bangkokians, as it’s only a two-hour drive from Bangkok. From late Oct until Dec, fields of bright yellow sunflowers carpet Lopburi’s countryside. The most popular route is along Road No. 3017 and 2089 (map available at www.tat7.com). Too lazy to drive? Just take a special train trip organized by State Railway of Thailand every year during sunflower season (prices TBA). If not taking a regular train, prices start from B44.
TAT Lopburi 036-422-768/9, ww.tat7.com
Bua Tong (Mexican Sunflowers)
Mae Hong Son
Its Thai name may translate to “lotus flower,” but bua tong looks more like a sunflower to us. Every winter, around Nov-Dec, the fields of Thung Bua Tong Forest Park at Doi Mar Ou Kor will be covered with these yellow flowers. Originally from Mexico, they only blossom in cool-weather, at altitudes of 800 meters and higher.
Thung Bua Tong Forest Park, 053-612-078.