[UPDATED 24th March 2022]This is a translation of an article written by Tiara. You can also read this article in Bahasa Indonesia.
While we're patiently waiting for Japan and Korea to reopen its borders to international travellers, we can't help but dream of the beautiful cherry blossom season we can only admire from afar - for now. However, did you know that the 'local cherry blossoms' are just as beautiful? In Southeast Asia, we have pretty Tecoma, Konjil, Balayong, and Chompoo Pantip trees that recreates the cherry blossom season in Japan and Korea. To see it for yourself, check out these scenic places in Southeast Asia to experience 'cherry blossom season'!
1. Cibodas, IndonesiaCredit: @dikkisgetaway for Instagram
You can enjoy the beauty of the local cherry blossoms at Cibodas Botanical Garden twice a year. Come between February and March or July and August to enjoy a scenic picnic under the cherry blossom trees. You can also plan a staycation in Puncak with your family before having a picnic at Cibodas Botanical Garden.
2. Sumba Timur, Indonesia
Who would have thought that you could see cherry blossoms on Sumba Island? Come to Maudolung Village, Hambapraing Village, East Sumba. The locals would refer to this local cherry blossom by the name 'konjil'. These pink flowers usually bloom in early October and wither at the end of the month.
3. Kedah, Malaysia
Every February to April, the locals in Kedah can enjoy the sight of blooming 'cherry blossoms', namely the Tecoma tree. This hanami-like view is even more beautiful along Jalan Kuala Kedah and Jalan Langgar.
4. Penang, Malaysia
Some streets in Penang are decorated with Tecoma trees, and that gives locals and visitors another thing to do in Penang, also known as the street food capital of Malaysia. Every year, these 'cherry blossoms' will bloom from February to April. So make sure to plan your trip accordingly and enjoy the view.
5. Palawan, Philippines
Not only famous for its stunning beaches, you can also spot beautiful 'cherry blossoms' in Palawan. Here, the 'cherry blossoms' are called Balayong or Palawan Cherry. The good news is, the local government has recently made the effort to cultivate this tree to recreate a cherry blossom garden in Palawan!
6. Nakhon Pathom, Thailand
Besides shopping and visiting the temples, there are many things to do in Thailand. Make a quick stop at Kasetsart University where you'll spot hundreds of Chompoo Pantip trees that are similar to cherry blossoms. This tree only blooms once a year, from March to April. The falling flower petals will remind you of hanami in Tokyo's Ueno Park!
7. Da Lat, Vietnam
Known as the City of Flowers, Da Lat has thousands of cherry trees that bloom at the start of the year. Unlike the Japanese cherry blossoms, the Vietnamese cherry blossoms are a little darker in color. When the height of spring arrives, the city is adorned with a pretty pink hue around its parks and cities.
8. Gardens By The Bay, SingaporeCredit: @alwaysinsearchof for Instagram
If you're from Singapore and you're not keen on travelling just yet, you'll be glad to know that we have our very own sakura too! From now to April 3, you’ll definitely feel like it’s springtime in Japan as you walk through the torii gates at the Flower Dome, and feast your eyes with beautiful hanami (flower viewing) of sakura and momo (peach blossoms)! You can also enjoy a display of koinobori (Japanese carp streamers) and gawk over elegant Japanese red-crowned cranes (tancho) gracing the Flower Field 😍Credit: @sharkenthellama for Instagram
It gets even better: Tokidoki characters such as Donutella, Sandy and others are spread all over, so try to spot them among the landscape! There are also other Japanese-inspired installations perfect for photo opportunities such as the traditional round Japanese windows, or marumado, often found in temples, and rickshaws. Be right back, we need to double-check if we are somehow in Japan now.
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If you're planning to experience the cherry blossom season in Japan and South Korea once the situation gets better, stay inspired with our recommended reads below!