The Yangmingshan National Park of Taiwan is situated just between the reaches of Taipei and New Taipei, which makes it a very popular spot for tourists and locals alike. Despite the National Park being relatively close to the Country’s capital, it was able to maintain its flawless condition over the decades. The National park boasts hotsprings, fumaroles, nature trails, flower fields, mountains, and stunning sceneries that might have been mistaken to be taken out from a fantasy movie. Truly, one has never seen Taiwan without visiting the famous park. Now, on with the list!
1) Scenic hiking trails
Hiking mount Qixing is one of the most popular activities of the park. There are numerous trails stretching out throughout the whole park, allowing hikers to have wider options on which trail to pursue (most of which meeting at a common point leading to the summit of the mountain). There are signboards provided at regular intervals, so visitors could maximize their time and use it to visit nearby attractions. The photo below is just a usual scenery you’d stumble into if you fancied a hike in the park.
The temperature here is colder compared to that of Taipei. For me, that is a huge plus if you went here for the hike. Even a whole day of hiking would not wear you as much, as the breeze here is fresh and cool. Add the relaxing sceneries and you’ll be surprised of how fast time flies in this park.
2) Beds of Calla Lilies
Calla Lilies are very much abundant in Yangmingshan, and a particularly common sight too. Still, my eyes never grew tired of staring at its beauty. Fields of Calla Lilies bring about a certain charm that calms the spirit. Some locals allow tourists to pluck the flowers, for a small fee of course.
The flower fields are not limited to Calla Lilies. Popular flowers of the park include Camellia, Peony and if you are lucky enough to be in its season, Cherry Blossoms. It was unfortunate though, because we went here at around mid December 2017. The Cherry Blossoms here bloom at around March to April. So, if you plan on seeing a lush collection of fully bloomed sakuras, make sure to get a flight hitting the months of March or April.
3) Limited cars and modern establishments
With a whopping size of 43.78 square miles for a national park, you will never explore the whole park in a single day. To somehow offset this, the government has provided a shuttle which goes around the park. The shuttle is the only official ride for tourists and it stops at ideal points of interest throughout the park. The last stop located at its entrance. I’m not sure if public vehicles entering the park is regulated but there are very, very few that we stumbled upon during our stay here.
Hiking is also an option, but it would naturally take a longer time to explore the park. As for us during our travel here, we tried a bit of both methods of exploring the park. Initially, we rode the shuttle to a random stop across Yangmingshan, then hiked our way down the mountain.
4) Foggy mountains and fresh air
Make sure you are properly geared up before you visit the park. Whatever it is you are planning here to do, wear thick clothing or jackets to ward off the cold. Temperature here can shoot down up to 10°c on a pleasant day. It may not be as cold as some of the countries up north, but its still considerably cold comparing to the comfortable temperature of 21-24°c.
There are a number of observatory decks that you will encounter if you stick to the roadside while exploring the park. The photo below is taken from one of the observatory decks beside the road. It is more magnificent when seen upclose as the fog is blown by the strong wind on the mountain, giving off an impression that the fog is slowly eating up the settlement below.
5) Authentic and organic mountain food
After a few hours of walking, we stumbled upon a charming, little restaurant. Located beside a field of Calla Lilies, the restaurant will surely please the stomach as well as the eyes of its customers. The locals eating here are regular customers from what I have observed. Every now and then, some customers would start a casual conversation with the owner (a sign that the restaurant is an established one, earning the trust and loyalty of the locals of Yangmingshan).
The restaurant is small, but not the collection of dishes its menu offers. It is complete with a selection of local favorites as well as some foreign dishes. It even serves some unusual dishes like stir fried wild boar. Ordering can be quite a pain for tourists, though. There are no english translations provided below each dish in the menu. Instead, the waitress will hand you over an extra sheet of paper listed with the english version of their menu. To order, you must carefully count the number of your desired dish in the english menu, and match it to its counterpart on the other menu. The photo below is an example of the “exam” before eating. Can you spot the stir fried wild boar in the menu?
The park is situated along a system of dormant volcanoes (Datun or Tatun Volcano Group) which resulted to the natural creation of fumaroles, hot springs and sulfur vents. We managed to get close to the sulfur vents and fumaroles. A word of caution for those people sensitive to strong odour: the sulfur vent emits a very foul odour (similar to that of a rotten egg) and a dense smoke. Also, never attempt to touch the steam coming from the fumaroles unless you want to get your hand cooked.
7) Bamboo Forests
Good news to bamboo forest lovers: there is a particular trail in Yangmingshan fully surrounded by bamboos. Along the trail, you will also encounter a couple of hot springs which is totally free of charge if you wanted to dip and have a quick break from all the hiking.
As the day ended, we alloted the remaining time to go to wherever our feet took us. The sceneries remained consistently beautiful. It never failed to impress us at the very last moment. It was sad to leave the park who has still much to offer us. But, the feeling of happiness and good memories of the park still prevailed in our hearts as we rode the final shuttle bus going back to the park entrance.
– Train from hotel to Jiantan station may vary depending on your location in Taipei.
-15NT (.52$) Bus from Jiantan to Yangmingshan
-60NT (2.064$) For bus 108 in Yangmigshan. This is also optional if you wanted to cover more area in a short span of time.
-200NT (6.88$) Food allowance.
How to get here from Taipei:
– Take the MRT and alight at Jiantan station.
– Leave at exit #1 and search for the bus station.
-Board R5 or S15 or S17 bus. All of which will have a stop near Yangmingshan station. This serves as the base of the mountain and the place from which you can start the exploration of the park.
-Board bus #108 (optional). This bus will take you to points of interest located throughout the park.
Sometimes, getting lost amid the company of mother nature can be an eye opener. For years men have tried to prove itself greater than nature itself, but to little avail. The Yangmingshan National Park proved to me that no man-made structure would ever equal the natural beauty of the earth – from the creatures that roam it, to the trees that hold it. Get lost in nature too, and you will come to appreciate more its taken-for-granted beauty. Happy traveling guys!