KUALA LUMPUR – Spring is upon us and it’s THE most exciting time of the year as seasons transition, trees bloom and the landscapes emerge from the winter.
We have all experienced travel moments that were so perfect, we could have stayed in them forever. And what probably made the moment even more memorable was the fact that it felt like it ended too soon. The Japanese have a word that encompasses the lingering feeling that you didn’t quite take in enough before it was gone: wabi-sabi.
Wabi-sabi is a concept that centers on the idea of impermanence and imperfection. It acknowledges that “nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect” and makes a good introduction to the feeling one has and experience during the cherry blossom – or as it’s known in Japan as the sakura season in Japan. If catching the Sakura is on your travel wish-list, then it is absolutely important to know the exact timing for the exact location to capture those Insta-worthy photos set against the backdrop of the sakura in full bloom.
So, to make sure that you’re in the right place at the right time, with just a fraction of a cost, the team at Expedia has curated a list of 7 beautiful sakura spots around the world you didn’t know existed and won’t want to miss.
1. Gardens by The Bay, Singapore (Bloom Forecast: 9 to 31 March 2019)
Did you know that Singapore has a massive 101 hectares? Since 2016, the famed Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay has been holding annual sakura festivals to the delight of both locals and visitors. With over 20 varieties of cherry blossoms on showcase, taking a stroll through this year’s Sakura Matsuri Floral Display is the closest experience you can get to visiting the Land of the Rising Sun. Check out the dramatic row of Torii gates lined up beneath a breath-taking canopy of pink and white cherry blossoms, or cross the traditional wooden bridge to peek through the marumado windows, which frames the scene for that perfect Instagram photo.
- How to get there: If you live in Singapore, Gardens by the Bay is accessible by car or by MRT via CE1/DT16 Bayfront Station.
- Best flight deals: Cheap flights from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore from RM215
- Recommended hotel: Hotel G Singapore
- What else to do: As a showpiece for horticulture and garden artistry, there is plenty to see and do at Gardens by the Bay. Spend up to a day here visiting the Cloud Forest, Supertree Grove, Dragonfly and Kingfisher Lakes, Heritage Gardens and the new Serene Garden, or take your kids to the Children’s Garden for a splashing good time!
Alishan Forest Recreation Area, Chiayi, Taiwan (Bloom Forecast: 9 March to 10 April 2019)
One of the best places to view cherry blossoms in Taiwan is the Alishan Forest Recreation Area located in Chiayi. With over 19,000 cherry trees in bloom, including the pink-white Kuril Cherry, Wusheh Cherry, Somei-Yoshino Cherry and Oshima Cherry, the beautiful sea of flowers will form a dreamlike backdrop for stunning photos to be taken effortlessly. Be sure to head there early in the morning to avoid the crowd, and as for those with time to spare, it is recommended that you plan a stay overnight in Alishan for a more complete scenic experience.
- How to get there: From Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport, transfer to Chiayi Station via Taiwan High Speed Rail (HSR) and take the bus to Alishan. The journey from Taipei to Alishan via HSR and bus will take around 4 hours.
- Best flight deals: Cheap flights from Kuala Lumpur to Taipei from RM501
- Recommended hotel: Hotel Discover
- What else to do: Hop onto the Alishan Forest Railway and travel along the Alishan Highway to take in the beautiful landscape in this scenic area.
Yuantouzhu, Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, China (Bloom Forecast: Mid-March to late April 2019)
Yuantouzhu, also known as “Turtle Head Island”, is a peninsula lying on the northwestern shore of the Taihu Lake in Wuxi, which is an hour and a half away from Shanghai via bullet train. Here, a breathtaking display of cherry blossoms along the shores of the lake is set against a backdrop of classic Jiangnan-style architecture, creating a stunning site for Insta-worthy photography. Be sure to take a stroll along the famed Changchun Bridge or take a hike down the Cherry Valley for some of the most breathtaking views of the cherry blossom blooms.
- How to get there: From Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport, transfer to bullet train to Wuxi, and take a bus to Yuantouzhu.
- Best flight deals: Cheap flights from Kuala Lumpur to Wuxi for from RM854
- Recommended hotel: Hotel Wuxi
- What to do: After admiring the beautiful Yuantouzhu scenery, take some time to check out Wuxi’s famous giant bronze Buddha statue located nearby at Mount Lingshan Scenic Area.
Mount Yoshino, Nara Prefecture, Kansai, Japan (Bloom Forecast: 26 March to 10 April 2019)
Every year, Mount Yoshino transforms into a sea of pink at the turn of spring as countless Sakura trees begin to bloom all over the mountain. Due to the elevation, the blooming season is spread over a longer period of time across the lower, middle and upper sections of the mountain. For a more spectacular view of the blooms, hike up to the observatories near the town at the mountain’s top during sunset. You may be a little tired after the long hike, but you will surely not regret the experience!
- How to get there: From Osaka’s Kansai International Airport, take a 90-minute express train from Osaka Abenobashi Station (next to Tennoji Station) to Yoshino Station, and transfer to a shuttle bus to Mount Hoshino.
- Best flight deals: Cheap flights from Kuala Lumpur to Osaka from RM821
- Recommended hotel: Ryokan Kato, Yoshino
- What else to do: Take a hike to the Yoshimizu Shrine for beautiful views of the cherry blossom-covered mountainside or visit the shops and cafes in the Shimo Senbon lower area, where there is plenty to see.
Ly Thai To Park, Hanoi, Vietnam (Bloom Forecast: 29 to 31 March 2019)
Each year, Vietnam holds a beautiful cherry blossom festival in Hanoi to celebrate the arrival of spring, as well as its 46-year-long friendship with Japan. For flower lovers, you’ll be in for a treat! Expect Ly Thai To Park to turn into a sea of colour from 29 to 31 March, not only will Japanese cherry blossoms be on display, but local Vietnamese flowers such as orchids, lilies and poinsettias will be on showcase too. Be sure to find that perfect spot adjacent to the famous Hoan Kiem Lake and take part in the traditional Japanese games and activities for the full experience.
- How to get there: Take a flight to Noi Bai International Airport, and with taxis being super affordable, you can simply hop onto a cab there!
- Best flight deals: Cheap flights from Kuala Lumpur to Hanoi from RM300
- Recommended hotel: O’Gallery Premier Hotel & Spa
- What else to do: Head over for a traditional puppet show at the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre or explore Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
Jinhae Gunhangjie Cherry Blossom Festival, Busan, South Korea (Bloom Forecast: 1 to 10 April 2019)
Popular with locals and visitors, the Jinhae Gunhangie Cherry Blossom Festival is the largest annual festival in South Korea. Every year when spring comes around, both sides of the Kyeong-Wha station will be lined with cherry blossoms in full bloom, while the fallen flower petals paint the street into a beautiful shade of pink. With the spring celebrations lasting 10 full days, cherry blossom lovers can enjoy the wide range of performances and activities, while couples can head to the iconic romance bridge to capture that picture-perfect moment with pink cherry blossoms all around!
- How to get there: From Busan’s Gimhae International Airport, transfer to Jinhae via bus or subway.
- Best flight deals: Cheap flights from Kuala Lumpur to Busan from RM630
- Recommended hotel: Paradise Hotel, Busan
- What else to do: Nature lovers can visit the Jangyu Daecheong Valley, located at the base of the Bulmosan Mountain. This location is popular for nature hikes, with waterfalls, bridges and recreation parks along the streams as you head towards the Jangyuam Hermitage.
Juknokwon Bamboo Forest, Gwangju, South Korea (Bloom Forecast: 9 to 15 April 2019)
If you’re looking for a dramatically different cherry blossom experience, head to the Gwangju’s Juknokwon Bamboo Forest. Set aside time to wander at your own leisurely pace through the tranquil forest, where bursts of the gorgeous cherry blossoms are juxtaposed against the tall imposing bamboo trees, forming a magnificent view that is super impressive to behold.
- How to get there: From Seoul’s Incheon International Airport, take a 4-hour bus to Damyang Bus Terminal, and transfer to the Bongsan-Damyang and get off at Juknokwon Bus Stop.
- Best flight deals: Cheap flights from Kuala Lumpur to Gwanju from RM 5,080
- Recommended hotel: Madrid Hotel, Gwangju
- What else to do: Head down to Sajik Park for a picnic lunch or take some time to explore the Samjicheon Village, nicknamed “Slow City” in Damyang, where you can find well-preserved traditional hanok houses and a 3.6km-long stonewall that meander around the town.
If you haven’t planned your spring 2019 travel yet, you’ll be glad to know that it’s still not too late to do so! Expedia Group and the Airlines Reporting Corporation’s (ARC) 2019 Travel Pricing Outlook Report recently released five of the best-kept travel booking secrets to help you save more on your travels this year. Hence, don’t forget to:
- Book your flights at least three weeks ahead of travel, and on a Sunday
- Book hotels on a Friday night
- Time your departure flight for a Thursday or Friday
- Extend short, weekday-only trips to include a Saturday night stay
- Book your air tickets and accommodation as a package for up to 15% savings
Need more Spring travel inspiration, click here for more travel ideas, destinations and everything you need to know about the Cherry Blossoms. Happy planning!