by Nam Huong & Trung Hieu
"We don't divide the seasons into spring, summer, autumn and winter. Rather, we think of time in terms of when flowers bloom," says Dieu Linh, a "professional" flower traveller from Ha Noi.
Among young people like Linh, flower travelling has become a popular pursuit. In the spring, she and her fellows go to Mount Fansipan to see plum and peach blossoms and azaleas. In October, they follow the tam giac mach – a mountainous flower that blooms on the rocky Dong Van highlands in the northernmost province of Ha Giang as well as in Lao Cai and Cao Bang, featuring three colours in turn.
"Mustard greens flowers and wild sunflowers look most beautiful in the winter; wild flowers and poinsettias make winter less cold. In spring, apricots and plums cover the forest in white," Linh says.
Although Linh has been to Moc Chau many times, she still enjoys returning every November to enjoy poinsettias, wild sunflowers and cabbage flowers and after the Lunar New Year to see the plum flower.
"Normally, at the end of September, our group makes plans to visit Moc Chau for the flower blooming season," she says. "We travel by motorbike so we can get close to the most beautiful flower fields."
Flower travelling is growing so popular that tour companies now offer specialised seasonal "flower tours". Pham Thuy Huyen, a tour operator, says such trips mainly seek to attract young people – especially those passionate about photography.
The mustard greens flower and tam giac mach season in the Northwest region coincide with the wedding season in October and November, so this tour attracts many couples, she says.
Minh Thu, a newly married young woman, says that honeymoon tours to watch the wild sunflowers and mustard greens flowers in Moc Chau or tam giac mach in the northernmost province of Ha Giang can compete with any visit to Sa Pa (Lao Cai Province) or Ha Long Bay.
"My husband and I experienced the picturesque beauty of the tam giac mach fields and the dream-like white mustard flower fields – great scenery for the wedding photos of any young couple," she says.
Many companies offer these tours at reasonable prices – for example, VND1.5 – 2 million per client – since young flower enthusiasts are often on a limited budget.
The tours also offer a chance to get close to the people of a region as well as the natural environment.
"In addition to exploring the colourful landscape of the flowers, we also have more opportunities to study indigenous people's lives," says Hanh Nga from Cau Giay District, Ha Noi.
While many young people are content with simply driving around to look at flowers, some long for adventures in more isolated regions. Many new trips offer them the opportunity to climb Mount Fansipan to look at azaleas or hike in the Central Highlands to see coffee blossoms.
Lan Anh, a backpacker recalling a visit to Hoang Lien National Park in Sa Pa, says that while azaleas bloom almost all year round, the most beautiful ones bloom in the early spring.
"That's one of my best memories," she says. "Flower colours make the difficult mountain journey feel poetic. Experiencing the flowering season in the high mountains makes us love the country even more." — VNS