The North wind brings with it not only refreshing relief from the tropical heat but also provides the right conditions for many plants to blossom, especially the wild Himalayan cherry trees (Prunus Cerasoides), known as the “Sakura of Thailand”. The wild Himalayan cherry blossoms, known locally as Nang Phaya Sua Kroang or ‘Tiger Queen’ are in full bloom in the highlands in January. One of the best provinces to catch sight of the pink blossoms is Chiang Mai, since there are many areas to enjoy this natural beauty. The following places are especially attractive, as the pink blossoms blanket entire valleys.
Khun Chang Khian
Khun Chang Khian Highland Agriculture Research Centre is the site nearest to Chiang Mai city and is on the same route that leads to Phra That Doi Suthep. You can take a red pick-up taxi, easily found on Chiang Mai’s roads, up to Khun Chang Khian. Although there are not very many cherry trees here, this does not compromise the beauty and charm of the wild blossoms.
The Royal Agricultural Research Centre at Khun Wang is located on the flanks of Doi Inthanon mountain. The research centre grows temperate vegetables and fruits, such as plum, Asian pear, peach, avocado, grape, cabbage, cherry tomato, Japanese radish and baby carrot. The wild Himalayan cherry blossoms can be seen everywhere around the research centre but the most picturesque spot is along the path from the coffee plot to Armenia Garden. The branches of the trees on both sides arch over the path, creating a tunnel of pink blossoms with bright blue sky in the background. The place is popular among visitors who come to admire the blossoms during middle and late January.
Khun Mae Ya
Khun Mae Ya is under the supervision of the Watershed Management Unit, meaning it is quite a distance from the city and more difficult to reach, lying 60km from Mae Malai. From the entrance of the watershed management unit a high 4X4 truck is required to tackle the 8km dirt track. Once you get there and see the enchanting fresh, pink blossoms covering the whole mountain, you will know that it was really worth the effort. The thick pink blossoms that carpet the whole mountain give Khun Mae Ya its nickname: Pink Mountain.
Doi Mae Taman
Doi Mae Taman, or San Pa Kia, in Amphoe Chiang Dao is located in Mae Taman Watershed Management Unit. Though the road that leads up to Doi Mae Taman is rough, it is really worth visiting since you can enjoy the Nang Phaya Sua Kroang in full bloom. Chiang Dao mountain stands majestically in the background, making the pink blossoms here even more memorable.