Find Asia's Best Flowers and Foliage
Missed the sakura blossoms this year? Relax: There’s still plenty of time to get your floral fix all through the year. Recharge your flower power at these beautiful destinations in Asia.
July-August: Lavender in Japan
A mere two-hour drive from Tokyo is a region completely dedicated to fragrant, beautiful lavender—the Tambara Lavender Park. Nestled at 1,350 meters above ground level in the Kanto region, this park is home to over 50,000 lavender flowers. Hop on the gondola lift at the entrance ($61 for a round trip) and drink in the bird’s eye view of flower carpets below. Climb up the Grand Observation Deck for an unobstructed view of Rainbow Field, where bright orange daylilies and golden sunflowers paint the field in stripes. On your way out, pick up a bunch of lavender goods such as fragrant soaps and fabric softeners—the anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties of lavender oils make them the perfect natural beauty product. Don’t miss the lavender soft-serve ice cream, available at kiosks around the park. This year, the park’s open from June 25 to September 4, but we suggest visiting during mid-July to mid-August when these purple spikes blossom in full bloom. And if you’re lucky, you might even be able to make yourself a simple bouquet or hair wreath at the lavender picking experience, which is limited to 20 people per day. $75 admission fee. Tambara Kogen, Numata City, Gunma Prefecture, (+81) 278-23-9311.
November: Chrysanthemums in Taiwan
White chrysanthemums may be bad luck according to Chinese tradition, but that doesn’t stop us from falling in love with these cute pom-pom petals found throughout Miaoli County in western Taiwan. Head to Jiuhu Farm in Tongluo township for your dose of chrysanthemum this winter. Cram your Instagram feed with these adorable white spheres, which from afar look just like thousands of fluffy bunny tails bobbing on the hillside. Not only will they look Insta-glamorous on your feed, this popular houseplant can also help remove toxins such as ammonia and benzene from the air. In Chinese medicine, they’re even said to have therapeutic effects on sore throats and the flu.
Catch the Chrysanthemum Morifolium Festival around mid-November, where you can watch farmers harvest the flowers, or handpick some for yourself. Grab a bag of dried flowers to take home and tank up on chrysanthemum tea. 15-1 Jiuhu Village, Tongluo Township, Miaoli County 366, Taiwan, (+886) 3-798-3711.
December: Sunflowers in Thailand
If you’ve been to Bangkok so many times that temples, malls and street food sound like one big humdrum itinerary to you, stray from the Big Mango this winter and go on a flower stalking expedition in Thailand’s sunflower fields in Lopburi province. A three-hour train ride north of Bangkok, Lopburi is littered with shrines that date back to prehistoric times, free-roaming monkeys, and a throng of sweeping sunflower fields.
Join the locals for a picnic next to a field of tall stalks and shop for locally grown products like sunflower oils and seeds at the farmers’ stalls that have sprung up around the fringes of the fields. Greek mythology has it that a water nymph’s unrequited love for the sun god Apollo turned her into a sunflower and morphed her golden locks into the yellow petals, explaining why the plant symbolizes adoration.
Plan your trip in December when the flowers come into a delicious honey yellow bloom and the weather cools down a bit. Around this time of year, Thailand State Railways (www.railway.co.th) offers a Sunflower Train ($60) that makes a trip to the fields on weekends and public holidays, but you’ll have to rise early as it departs from Bangkok at 6:40am. Phatthana Nikom, Lopburi 15140, Thailand.
October-November: Fall Foliage in Korea
Not a flower person? Fulfil your fall foliage fantasies instead at Namiseom, better known as Nami Island, half an hour from Chuncheon City near Seoul.
Originally formed in 1944 by the rising waters of the North Han River, Nami Island rose to stardom after the filming of the drama “Winter Sonata” in 2002. While it takes about three hours to explore the whole island on foot, here are a few checkpoints for those seeking the autumn hue: Saunter along the popular Metasequoia Lane and relive the heartbreaking love story between Bae Yong-joon and Choi Ji-woo beneath a crimson umbrage; or jump on a bike and ride off to White Birch Lane, where the pale towering trunks explode into fireworks of fiery red above your head.
Sign up for a day tour from mid-October to mid-November with travelfever.com ($668), which takes you to Nami Island, the fairytale-like Petite France village and Gangchon Rail Park where you can pedal on a bright red four-seater cart along old train tracks following the North Han River. Nami Island, 1, Namiseom-gil, Namsan-myeon, Chuncheon City, Gangwon-do, Korea, (+82) 31-580-8114.