Full bloom Wild Himalayan cherry blossoms

The pink glory of wild Himalayan cherry blossoms is a sight to behold in Phu Lom Lo, Loei

Seven years ago no one would have ever thought that mountain grasslands without a single tree at Phu Lom Lo in Loei would one day be a popular tourist destination.

Last year, from December to February, about 80,000 visitors traveled to Phu Lom Lo to see the pink flower blossoms of the wild Himalayan cherry trees, known in Thai as phaya suea khrong, which dotted the hills as far as the eyes could see.

“We are ethnic Hmong who grow cabbages for a living. We never imagined that we would open our village to welcome tourists,” said Poh Wachirawongworakul, president of the Community Based Tourism Club of Ban Rong Kla, the gateway to Phu Lom Lo.

Their lives changed after a project to reforest the mountains was initiated by a former chief of Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park. The park covers 191,875 rai (30,700 hectares) in Dan Sai district of Loei and Nakhon Thai district of Phitsanulok where Ban Rong Kla is located.

The now-retired chief chose to grow wild Himalayan cherry trees, like he did in Chiang Mai. “While planting cabbages, we also grew and took care phaya suea khrong trees. We planted about 300,000 seedlings in the total area of 1,200 rai in 2009,” he said.

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