March madness a floral bonanza in Vietnam
For those fond of flowers, March could just be the most beautiful time of the year to visit Vietnam.
Although different varieties bloom throughout the year in different parts of the country, March is extra special. Here’s why.
White sua tree
Photo by VnExpress/Vy An
White sua flowers (Dalbergia tonkinensis), a species of legume, is considered a typical symbol of March. It blooms in profusion in Hanoi at this time, especially on Tran Hung Dao and Thanh Nien streets, on the banks of the Giang Vo Lake and in the Thong Nhat Park.
However, it is threatened by habitat loss and overexploitation for timber.
Photo by VnExpres/Vu Minh Quan
The kapok trees, believed by many Vietnamese to be favored by ghosts, are an amazing sight in many northern delta villages at this time of the year, because they are often planted to line rice fields or at village entrances.
The sight of these red flowers signals the end of cold days and the start of summer.
Photo by VnExpress/Hachi8
March is also the month when the enticing fragrance of the grapefruit flower pervades many Hanoi streets as vendors arrive with baskets laden with these flowers. Grapefruit trees that grow abundantly in northern Vietnam blossom in February and March and their flowers are brought to markets in the capital city.
The flowers, which can be made into a fragranced oil or squeezed into mixed juice drinks, sell for around VND300,000 ($13) a kilo. They are brought home for decoration, and added to tea or a kudzu drink.
Photo by VnExpress/Bui Cat
From early January until March, tens of thousands of cherry blossom trees are in full bloom with pinkish white flowers, creating scenes of great beauty in Da Lat, already known as the City of Flowers.
A drive along the Tuyen Lam Lake at this time of the year is something to remember forever.
Photo by VnExpress/Giang Trinh
White and purple Chinaberry flowers are also a March attraction in Hanoi. Old timers still remember these blooms on Hoang Hoa Tham Street and the area around Tay Ho District, but they can only be found in the suburbs of the capital city for now. They wither fast, so pick up your camera and go!
Photo by VnExpress/Sach Nguyen
Van Gogh or not, the sunflower cannot but cheer the most dour soul. Vietnam’s biggest sunflower field, stretching 60 hectares, in Nghia Dan District in the central province of Nghe An. These golden flowers are in season until March.
Visitors to the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, home to the famous resort town of Da Lat, will also be hooked by the the same golden green fields. Just go along the Prenn Pass to Duc Trong District, turn left at Fi Nom T-junction into Bong Lai Village and the flowers are around seven kilometers ahead.
Photo by Shutterstock/anhminh
Coffee flowers only bloom for a couple of days, so not everyone gets the chance to see them before they turn into coffee cherries, and in turn, one or two coffee beans.
The Central Highlands towns of Pleiku and Buon Ma Thuot, the capital of Dak Lak Province, are the two coffee kingdoms in the region. In March, one can run into a forest of white coffee flowers here.
Photo by VnExpress/Cao Anh Tuan
March is the best time of the year to go to northwestern provinces like Dien Bien and Son La, where the beautiful Bauhinia season peaks, decorating the entire region with white and pink colors. They also bloom on major streets in the capital city, and a section of Kim Ma Street gets a beauty fix at this time.
This flower has great value for the Thai ethnic minority people in the northern highlands.
Photo by VnExpress/Hachi8
The peak mustard season is at the end of the year, but if you miss that, visit Moc Chau Plateau in the northern highlands province of Son La in March. The plateau is famous for flowers all year round, but the white mustard flower reigns this month.
Local ethnic minority people grow white mustard for essential oil, and the best places to enjoy their beauty are the vast white fields of Ba Phach and Ang villages.
Photo by VnExpress/Tung Duong
Buckwheat flowers are a fall specialty in the northern province of Ha Giang, charming travelers far and wide every October and November, but in March, these tiny pink blossoms adds extra charm to the poetic and romantic landscape in places like Moc Chau and Da Lat.
People can wander about in the buckwheat fields in Da Lat for free. In Moc Chau, an entrance fee of around half a dollar is typical.