Update: due to illness of one of the intended hike leaders, the third option within this hike (see below) may not be available.
This Sunday (22nd January) we have our annual trip to see the sakura or wild Himalayan cherry (Prunus cerasoides) blossom at Ban Hmong Khun Chang Khian and the University’s agricultural research gardens nearby. Reconnoiterers in the first week of January discovered a few blooms already out on a few trees, but many branches were bare and budding, so we hope our timing will prove accurate for a good display. There appears to be no magic formula for predicting the blossoming period each season.
The proposed route will commence at the foot of the steps leading up to Wat Prathat Doi Suthep, after driving and or riding a songthaew (red truck, cost about 40 baht) from the meeting point near the Arboretum at the bottom of the mountain. Then we hike mainly north, later north-west towards the destination. It will take 2-3 hours to get to the sakura at the top, mainly through forest, but on fairly decent tracks. The vertical ascent will be approximately 300metres.
Hikers will be asked to choose between three options. The first is to hike only from Wat Doi Suthep to the sakura site near the top of Doi Pui. We will hire one or two songthaews (red trucks) to pick us up there at 1pm. The cost will be about 200 baht, depending on the ratio of passengers to songthaews. The songthaews will take about one hour to drive back to the Arboretum. The second option is simply to retrace the path down to Wat Doi Suthep. From there, if you did not drive up in a private car, you can easily find a place in one of the many songthaews which take people to and from the Wat. The third option, for anyone who wishes to return to the Arboretum by foot, will be an additional 10km hike option, resulting in a total distance of 20 kilometers, plus 1 kilometer of vertical descent. This is evidently a relatively strenuous option! This may mean a return to the Arboretum after 4pm. We need folk to have made up their minds when we assemble first thing to assess songthaew return journey numbers.
At the top, the (temporary) restaurant and some of the best blossoms are to be found at the Agriculture Research Station about half a kilometre to the west of Ban Hmong Khun Chang Khian village – not just Sakura but apple blossom too – and it is this location that provides good views of the cherry blossom away among woodland to the west. If the blossom is out, this restaurant may well be very popular! We therefore advise everyone to bring sandwiches, snacks and drink as a contingency.
Quiz Time: During the non-flowering period, there is a very easy way to identify a sakura tree. The leaders will see if anyone knows the answer at the meeting point!
Hike leaders: Michael M and Peter D
If you want to join make sure you have read all the general and specific advice on this website. If you are still sure the hike is for you, just turn up at the meeting place on the day and on time. We cannot accommodate commercial groups, or people who really want to do their own thing.
Meeting point: As mentioned above, we will meet at 07:45 in the car park of the Huay Kaeow Arboretum (also known as the exercise park). Head straight out from the moat 3.5 km towards Doi Suthep on Huay Kaeow Road. The arboretum is on the left after the front entrance to Chiang Mai University and just before the entrance to the Zoo. The car park of the arboretum is at the end of the park near the zoo.
You are advised to bring:
- 1-2 litres of water
- Strong hiking footwear
- Jacket or pullover, especially if the weather seems cool. (Two years ago many people got very cold at the top)
- Insect repellant, sunblock etc if you are sensitive
- Money for transport, meals, drinks