TAIPEI #15 (2019 SPRING)
Flower Viewing in Taipei: Three Routes Recommended for Couples, Friends, and Families
WORDS BY Jenna Lynn Cody
PHOTOS BY Taiwan Scene, Department of Information and Tourism, Taipei City Government
Taiwan may have blazing hot summers, but its mild weather in other seasons allows flowers to bloom year-round. From January through the spring, there are many places to see flowers in Taipei, and flower festivals abound. In January and February, plum blossoms can be seen along the western path near the rose garden at the CKS Shilin Residence Park ( 士林官邸公園 ), located in the Taipei City district for which it is named, and in nearby Zhicheng Park ( 志成公園 ). Soon after, cherry blossoms begin to emerge on Yangmingshan ( 陽明山 ), and are a popular attraction for late winter travelers and day- trippers. Pink and white azaleas spring forth in March across southern Taipei, especially around 228 Peace Park (228 和平公園 ) and National Taiwan University (NTU). From April to June, calla lilies and hydrangeas take their turns to appear on Yangmingshan.
Many of these gorgeous blooms can be visited one after the other as a day trip. Below are some popular routes for flower viewing in the spring.
A ROMANTIC JOURNEY FOR COUPLES: VIEWING AZALEAS
Azaleas represent joy, love, and passion in Taiwanese culture. In Taiwan, azaleas bloom in late winter and early spring in an explosion of pink, purple and white, although pink is the most popular color. Rather than travel all the way to the outskirts of Taipei to view these ethereal blossoms, visitors can see them on display in the very heart of the city. In recent years, the Taipei City Government has held azalea activities in conjunction with picnics and concerts in Daan Park and at National Taiwan University during azalea season.
This year, the Taipei Azalea Festival (台北杜鵑花季) is going to be held from March 14 to April 7. Daan Park (大安森林公園), a sprawling 26-hectare green space in the centrally located Daan District, is the perfect place for a spring picnic, and an optimum location for azalea viewing. Since there are various YouBike stations scattered around the park, including the one next to the Daan Park MRT Station (捷運大安森林公園站), it's quick and convenient to hop on a bicycle there and take a ride over to the NTU (National Taiwan University) campus, another prime spot for flower fanatics. The distance from the southern end of Daan Park to the university grounds is about a kilometer, as the crow flies. Take this as an opportunity to see a bit of the city on your way to the historic educational institution, where many of Taiwan’s brightest minds have been inspired by the natural beauty, including the azaleas, that abounds amid the Japanese-style buildings.
Morning Hearts and Flowers at National Taiwan University
There is a unique custom among students at National Taiwan University: when the azalea blooms fall, lovers will use the wilted blossoms to spell out names, short messages and form hearts on the grass. Stay for 1-1.5 hours, and if enough blossoms have fallen, perhaps create a heart yourselves.
👉 Start your journey from MRT Gongguan Station ( 捷運公館站 ) Exit 2 - walk or rent a YouBike to ride across the campus.
Lunchtime A Romantic Picnic in Daan Park
Enjoy the azaleas blooming there, and have a romantic picnic in the park. If picnics aren't your thing, nearby Yongkang Street ( 永康街 ) has several lunch options, many of them quite famous. You can easily spend up to two hours in the neighborhood just walking around and eating.
👉 The southern end of Daan Park is a short walk or YouBike from National Taiwan University, or you can take the MRT to Daan Park Station to the north.
Afternoon 228 Peace Park
Azaleas bloom in many parks in Taipei, and 228 Peace Park is no exception. Enjoy the azaleas here, and visit the Taipei 228 Memorial Museum ( 臺北二二八紀念館 ) for a potent reminder of Taiwan's traumatic historical event, the 228 incident, showing how people in Taiwan transform tragedy into hope, love and resilience.
👉 Take the MRT to NTU Hospital Station ( 捷運台大醫院站 ) Exit 4, or hop on a YouBike (there’s a YouBike station at that exit).
WHEN TO GO
Taipei Azalea Festival will be held from March 14 to April 7, and you can go anytime from mid-March to May.
NTU → Daan Park → 228 Peace Park
HIKING WITH FRIENDS: VIEWING CALLA LILIES
If you visit Taipei in the spring, you're likely to see families, friends and lovers on the MRT holding armfuls of elegant calla lilies. They are likely coming from Yangmingshan, specifically Zhuzihu (竹子湖), literally "bamboo lake". Although there is no lake here - the area is named for a lake whose waters receded long ago, leaving behind fertile soil perfect for flowers - the sea of calla lilies rustling in the cool mountain breeze is reason enough to come. These are meaningful flowers to see with friends, as calla lilies represent the vitality of youth. It's highly recommended to take a hiking trip to Yangmingshan with friends and make calla lily bouquets as a tribute to friendship.
The overall size of the calla lily fields during peak season is about 10 hectares, and the lilies there comprise approximately 90 percent of Taiwan's total output. The best way to take it all in is to go for a nice, leisurely hike or bike ride through the area, and there are several hikes and cycling routes suitable for all fitness levels. A good starting point for many of these sojourns is the Zhuzihu Police Station. From there, Zhuzihu Road (竹子湖路), aka Calla Lily Boulevard (海芋大道), passes by many of the calla lily fields, and though the climb can be strenuous at times, the views are well worth the effort.
Morning Shuicheliao Trail(水車寮步道)
The entrance is located next to Hutian Bridge ( 湖田橋 ) near Hutian elementary school ( 湖田國小 ). Unlike other hiking trails, Shuicheliao Trail was built by the residents for the local rice milling industry and rice transportation. Nowadays, the rice fields have been transformed into flower gardens, making the former rice road the most popular flower trail in spring. It's recommended to spend 1 hour on the trail.
👉 Take Bus 128 or S8 at Shipai Station, or take Bus 129 or S9 at Beitou Station and get off at the the Hutian Bridge School stop. Please note that Bus 128 & 129 only departs on weekends during flower season.
Several trails run through fields of gorgeous calla lilies. There are more restaurants and places to have afternoon tea in a scenic setting where friends can enjoy a good time and recover from the fatigue of the morning hike. You can easily spend another hour or two here. It takes 15 minutes walk from Shuicheliao trail to Zhuzihu.
Afternoon Calla Lily Farms in Zhuzihu Area
Calla lily farms in the Zhuzihu area are often decorated to demonstrate the year’s theme and the owner’s taste and creativity. Tourists can enter the private calla lily gardens to collect flowers, but usually there is an NT$100 admission fee. The Calla lily farms are just a few minutes walk away from Zhuzihu.
WHEN TO GO
The 2019 Calla Lily Festival will be held from March 29 to April 28. Weekdays will be less crowded.
Shuicheliao Trail → Zhuzihu → Calla lily farms
A FAMILY FLOWER OUTING: VIEWING HYDRANGEAS
Following the end of the calla lily season in late- May, hydrangeas are welcomed in the Zhuzihu area. Hydrangeas are regarded as a symbol of hope and an auspicious flower for families. They are also symbolically connected with gratitude and the desire to understand others. Hydrangeas usually bloom from the plum rain season (from mid-May to mid-June in Taiwan) to early summer. At that time, the clefts in the mountainside are blanketed with pale blues and purples.
Yangmingshan is the most popular place for hydrangea viewing, suitable for everyone from children to elders. Parents won't have to worry about spending time and energy to move around, as navigating the mountain is quite convenient. Photo buffs will find ample opportunity to take stunning pictures of the surrounding landscape during hydrangea season, while families revel in the chance to pick their own bouquet in designated areas for a small fee. These routes are suitable for families with children.
Head to Zhuzihu, stay for 1-1.5 hours and enjoy the scenery there. The surrounding mountains make it easy to forget that you’re less than an hour away from the center of a major Asian metropolis. There are several easy paths suitable for children.
👉 Take the MRT to Shipai Station and transfer to Bus 128 or S8, or head to Beitou Station and then take Bus 129 or S9 to the Zhuzihu stop. Please note that Bus 128 & 129 only departs on weekends during flower season.
Lunchtime Wild Herb Potherb Cuisine Restaurants in Zhuzihu
There are restaurants serving healthy meals throughout the area. Yangmingshan is famous for Wild Herb Potherb cuisine. Many tourists come to Yangmingshan to enjoy wild vegetable dishes, such as wild vegetable ramen, wild vegetable hot pots, and stir-fried vegetable dishes.
Afternoon Hydrangea Fields in Zhuzihu Area
The hydrangea fields are popular with couples and families, and have plenty of flat walking paths nearby where children can play and enjoy the hydrangeas and other flowers. You may see couples taking wedding photos, which are almost a must for any local couple getting married here. The fields are a three-minute walk from the Zhuzihu stop if you wish to head directly here. The hydrangea fields are around 15 minutes walk away from Zhuzihu.
WHEN TO GO Mid-May to the end of June or early July
ROUTE Zhuzihu → Wild Herb Potherb cuisine restaurants → Hydrangea fields