It's that time of the year again when people are flying out to relish the magical cherry blossoms of Japan. But in case you still didn't know, Asia still has two equally charming contenders for sakura viewing: South Korea and Taiwan.
Just like Japan, both South Korea and Taiwan have their own cherry blossom festival that they celebrate during spring when the seasonal flowers are in full bloom.
In Japan, this tradition is called "hanami," which translates to "flower viewing" and would last only for two weeks in various parts of the country. According to travel app Klook, Japan cherry blossoms are expected to fully bloom this year starting on March 29 in Tokyo, April 2 in Fukuoka, April 4 in Osaka and Kyoto up until May 2 in Sapporo.
Some of the best places to visit for a memorable hanami experience are the 8 Ponds of Oshino Hakkai near Mount Fuji and Fukiware-no-taki Waterfalls in Gunma Prefecture.
Over in South Korea, cherry blossoms are predicted to start blooming on the following dates:
- Seongwipo, Jeju Island: March 21
- Jeonju: March 22
- Busan, Yeosu, and Gwangsu: March 24
- Pohang: March 25
- Daegu: March 26
- Cheongju and Daejeon: March 27
- Seoul: March 28
- Gangneung: March 31
- Incheon: April 3
- Chungcheong Province: April 5
The country holds several cherry blossom festivals throughout the country, with the one in Jinghae being the biggest and most popular one.
It runs for 10 days—beginning at the end of March and ending in early April—and boasts over 300,000 cherry blossom trees in full bloom.
If you're traveling to the city any time soon, make sure to drop by the railroad near Gyeonghwa Station where you would find an 800-meter cherry blossom tunnel perfect for your K-drama-inspired photos.
Another must-visit spot during the pink season is Yeouido Park in Seoul where the cherry blossoms come with a backdrop of the Han River. If you're up for a more scenic experience, you can also enjoy sakura viewing while on a river cruise.
Meanwhile, the golden city of Gyeongju offers a breathtaking view of cherry blossoms at the Geyongju Historic UNESCO area and near Bomun Lake. It is also famous for the Gyeongju Cherry Blossom Marathon, which provides over a thousand runners a five-kilometer scenic view of South Korea's sakura.
Cherry blossom fans who couldn't wait until May for sakura viewing can opt to fly to Taiwan as early as January.
The cherry blossoms in Taiwan bloom at the start of the year and last for a good four months, giving both locals and tourists until April to appreciate the season.
This year, the blossoms have already unveiled themselves during the later part of January in Taipei and Nantou. Here's when they are expected to last:
- Taipei: Late January to April
- Nantou: Late January to March
- Kaohsiung: February
- Taoyuan and Taichung: February to mid-March
- Taitung: February to March
- Hsinchu: Late February to April
- Chiayi and Pingtung: Mic-March to mid-April
A popular attraction for cherry blossom viewing is the Xiong Glamping resort in Hsinchu, Lala Mountain Loving Farm in Taoyuan, MaKau Ecological Park in Yilan, as well as Yangmingshan National Park and LOHAS Park in Taipei.