So, the Lunar New Year holiday is in the past and people all over Taiwan are getting back into the daily grind. But, it’s not all doom and gloom. After a chilly couple of months, by Taiwanese standards at least, spring is in the air at last, and in Taiwan, that means one thing. The blossom and spring flowers are on their way.
There is unquestionably something special about seeing an abundance of spring flowers. Maybe it is the fact that most Taiwanese people live in hugely over-developed urban areas with very few green and natural spaces. Maybe it is the bright and vivid colors which contrast so strikingly with the omnipresent concrete and plain-tiled facades of buildings. Whatever it is, Taiwan’s spring floral displays attract countless locals and overseas visitors alike. They are definitely worth making a trip for. And to help you find some good ones, here is my pick of the Best places in Taiwan to see Spring Flowers:
- Yangmingshan Flower Festival - 陽明山花季
Yangmingshan. (Wikimedia Commons image)
For those of you living in Taipei, there is really no excuse to not make the trip to the stunning Yangmingshan Flower Festival. It is one of the most beautiful displays of cherry blossom on the island, and also one of the most popular. Big crowds will be heading up Yangmingshan from now until the end of the festival on March 25.
It is worth the slog as you can enjoy not just the cherry blossom but also peach blossoms, azalea, camellia, wild peony and more besides. The whole national park comes alive with flowers and the insects and birds inevitably follow. There are lots of events and activities put on for visitors, but for my money, the beauty of the flowers justifies the trip on their own.
- Wuling Farm - 武陵農場
Wuling Farm. (Image from flickr user Jerry Lai)
Wuling Farm, which is located high in the high in the Central Mountain range in Shei-Pa National Park (雪霸國家公園), is a little further off the beaten track but offers an equally famous and popular cherry blossom display. There are various different varieties of cherry blossom to enjoy and visitors can either explore the site themselves or join one of the guided tours.
Getting to Wuling Farm is best done from Yilan (宜蘭), even though it technically sits in Taichung County. From the west coast, there is a long and treacherous journey through the mountains, but from Yilan, the fairly straightforward drive takes about two hours. And the rewards when getting there make this seem well worth the effort. If you want to visit, you’d better move fast, flowering season at Wuling Farm starts to wind down at the end of February.
- Smangus - 司馬庫斯
Smangus. (David Spencer)
Located in the mountains of Hsinchu County, Smangus is home to one of Taiwan’s most remote indigenous tribes and also one of the country’s best spring floral displays. This site has been open for tourists to visit for just over twenty years now and as well as its affordable accommodations, it is the stunning scenery that draws visitors from across the country.
There are numerous hikes on the ancient trails, and an impressive waterfall. But at this time of year, it is the cherry blossoms and other spring flowers that really pulls the crowd in. What makes Smangus different to some other destinations on this list is that the floral display is almost entirely natural with visitors just walking into the surrounding woods to enjoy it. Visiting Smangus requires a car and a willingness to brave a drive through the winding mountain roads. But it is well worth the effort this time of year.
- Alishan - 阿里山
Alishan. (Wikimedia Commons image)
Alishan is a great place to visit to enjoy the natural scenery at any time of the year, but in March the focus is on its stunning spring flower displays. Again, cherry blossoms dominate, with mountain cherry, cherry and plenty more varieties besides visible. The altitude here means the flowering season is a little later than elsewhere on the island, but that also means big crowds.
If you are heading to Alishan to see the cherry blossom, then checkout the Alishan Plum garden, the police station, and San Dai Mou (三代木)as well as the famous Cherry Blossom road. Other floral displays can be seen too, with the Magnolia garden a favorite of mine. Like Yangminshan, there will be bumper crowds and traffic restrictions in place, but nowhere in Taiwan does natural beauty better than Alishan.
- Daxueshan National Forest Recreation Area - 大雪山國家公園
Duexueshan. (Wikimedia Commons image)
Daxueshan, or the Great Snowy Mountain, is situated in Hopin township of Taichung County and is home to a huge national forest and some of Taiwan’s most spectacular natural flower displays. In February, it is the cherry blossoms which really impresses, as with so many other places, but in March people continue to visit Daxueshan for the stunning display of azaleas.
There are a number of different varieties and colors present which makes for a bright and colorful displays when placed against the green forest and mountain backdrops. There are plenty of hiking routes to take where you can enjoy both the cherry blossom azaleas, and while Daxueshan is still a fair drive up into the mountains, the road is wider and easier to drive than some other mountain destinations.
- Chiang Kai-Shek Shilin Residence - 士林官邸
(Image from Shilin Official Residence Facebook fan page)
The issue of transitional justice may be clouding the future of some of Taiwan’s tourist destinations linked with the country’s former military dictator, but his former residence in Taipei City's Shilin District, is now as well known for its status as an ecological garden as its historical links. Close to the entrance can be found the rose garden, which was a favorite spot of his wife’s at this residence.
In spring, as the roses bloom it is a truly special place especially if this coincides with the blossoms on the white cherry trees which stand close by. And there are plenty more flowers around the gardens to enjoy too. The Chiang Kai-Shek Shilin Residence is a popular tourist destination year round, but for fans of flowers, right now is the best time to pay a visit to see its annual Tulip festival.