As April rolls around and the chilly, clouded Northwest peaks receive the first rays of sunlight, these dubbed ‘empress of mountain flowers’ are awoken in all their glory after a long winter retreat.
Compared to the fragile and modest beauty of its sister flora, the mountain ebony, R. simsii exhibits a buoyant gleam with hints of vigorous dominance.
Rich in colors and shades, the petals simultaneously burst onto the scene every time they bloom, as if lighting up the horizon above Fansipan’s majestic summit.
Patches of green along Hoang Lien Son ranges from 2,000 meters upwards are woven in a splendid brocade, a scene that beckons selfie diehards so hard they could drop everything to get there.
Hanging above the tree lines are flower blankets in pink, white and purple like floating clouds, with flares of red here and there.
R. simsii is an inherent aspect of Hoang Lien forests, home to the widest variety of flowers in Vietnam.
The R. trees in these forests are mostly hundreds of years old. Some grow on craggy cliffs, their trunks shaggy and moss-filled, looking like giant bonsai trees amidst the mountains.
Most rhododendrons grow at altitudes of 2,200m, and looks the most splendid when viewed from inside Fansipan cable cars, or from the mountain top temple Kim Son Bao Thang Tu.
The alluring blossoms cradle the foot of Bodhisattva’s statue, and ancient R. simsii trees cast their shades along the peaceful Arhat winding mountain road.
Every year during their blooming season, R. simsii create a super dope floral backdrop that has become an indispensable check-in point for selfie pros.
From April when they first bloom, R. simsii on the Fansipans continue to flourish until July, just in time to experience cool summer breezes atop the ‘Roof of Indochina’, with many unique activities like ‘cloud chasing’, temple pilgrimage or other events that screams Northwest mountainous culture.
Until then, hopeful tourists still have plenty of time to plan for a vacation right after the current Covid-19 pandemic ends.
What’s most important for the time being is to take in the immense positive energy of these empress flowers, and patiently await the moment you conquer those mountain ranges, when you can immerse yourself in the glory of the mountains, white clouds, and the beautiful flower paradise.