Central Taiwan- Miaoli、Taichung、Changhua、Nantou、Yushan National Park
Sanyi in Miaoli is famous for woodcarving: there are hundreds of boutiques offering a wide range of woodcarvings from sculptures to furniture. The SanyiWoodcarvingMuseum carries five thematic exhibitions: a general introduction to woodcarving, statue making in China, woodcarving arts in Taiwan, the transformation and future of the woodcarving industry, and the woodcarving classroom, where visitors can try their hand at this ancient craft.
The verdant Lion’s HeadMountain is another tourist attraction in Miaoli. About 500 meters above sea level with spectacular views, it is often regarded as one of the top ten attractions in Taiwan. The mountain is dotted with many temples, most of which are built against the rocky mountain walls. The oldest of these is the 100-year-old YuanguangTemple at LionRockCave. Because of its high density of temples, Lion’s HeadMountain attracts a large number of worshippers every year, and has become one of Taiwan’s major religious centers.
Taichung is the third largest city in Taiwan, and the largest city in the center of the island. It is modern with many fashionable department stores and shopping malls such as Sogo, TigerCity, and Jhongyou, as well as KTVs, movie theaters and fine restaurants in the downtown area. Jingming First Street is a well-planned shopping area where fashion boutiques, restaurants, and teahouses line both sides of a pedestrian area, providing visitors with a great shopping experience and a place for relaxation. The National Museum of Natural Science in Taichung is Taiwan’s first science museum, with exhibitions on astrology, biology, mathematics, and physics, all presented in an interactive and straightforward manner so that all members of the family can easily understand some of the mysteries of science.
The Dakeng Forest Recreation Area to the east of TaichungCity is a famous scenic spot in Taiwan. There are eight trails for hikers, birdwatchers and nature lovers. TaichungCounty holds such attractions as Guguan Hot Spring, the Dongshih Forest Recreation Area, LishanMountain where highland vegetables and fruits are grown, and Wuling Farm. If you’ve had enough of the bustle of the city, these quiet places just a short journey away will restore you with the healing power of natural scenery and fresh air.
JhenlanTemple in Dajia, TaichungCounty is one of the major temples devoted to the worship of the goddess Mazu. The annual pilgrimage of the Dajia Mazu has become the highlight of Taiwan’s religious calendar, attracting tens of thousands of Mazu devotees and foreign tourists from around the world. The temple itself, with its beautiful sculptures and paintings, is a work of art. Thousands of Taiwanese flock to the temple every day to worship Mazu with incense and supplications. A visit to the temple offers tourists an unforgettable experience of Taiwan.
The famous statue of Buddha on BaguaMountain can be seen from a distance on the highway as you approach Changhua. The Buddha sits on a gigantic lotus, and visitors can climb up inside to the top of the Buddha to look over BaguaMountain and ChanghuaCity.
Tianwei in ChanghuaCounty is also known as the Garden of Taiwan. At night the flower farms on both sides of the highway are ablaze with light as the flower farmers simulate sunlight to encourage the growth of the flowers. The massive fields of shining lights in the night make for quite a spectacular sight.
Changhua’s Lugang was once Taiwan’s second largest city. In the 17th century, the Dutch used Lugang as the main port for shipping goods from Taiwan. In 1784, Lugang was designated the main port between central Taiwan and southeast China. Nowadays it’s easy to see how important this port city once was. Visitors can still see traces of its past glory in the remaining old buildings and temples, or at the Lugang Folk Arts Museum. Lugang’s TianhouTemple (Queen of Heaven Temple) attracts many adherents daily. The architecture of the temple is stunning, and it is one of the best representatives of traditional Taiwanese folk architecture. LongshanTemple, dedicated mainly to the goddess Guanyin, is another famous temple in Lugang. The temple dates from the Cing dynasty, and is wonderfully preserved and decorated with Chinese paintings, woodcarvings, stonecarvings, figurines, and other superb examples of Cing artwork.
Nantou is the only county with no coastline in Taiwan, and boasts some of the most spectacular and lovely mountain and forest scenery on the island. SunMoonLake, Sitou, Wushe, Lushan Hot Spring, Cingjing Farm, HehuanMountain, the Aowanda Forest Recreation Area and Jiji are just some of the spectacular attractions that have won the hearts of visitors.
Puli in NantouCounty is Taiwan’s geographical center. The weather is mild throughout the year, and Puli is best known for its great mountain scenery, fresh waters and wines. The area is home to The Puli Winery, whose Wanshou Wine was made by appointment of the Emperor of Japan during colonial times. Other famous wines made here include Jieshou Shaosing Wine and Ailan White Wine. Along with the wine, several local delicacies have also become famous: Shaosing chicken wings, Shaosing popsicles and Shaosing rice cakes. The WineCultureMuseum at the winery has a fascinating exhibition of the history of wine in Taiwan.
In recent years, the Chungtai Chan Monastery in Puli has become a world-famous Buddhist religious center. The architecture of the temple itself is a perfect fusion of elements from East and West. Here tourists can experience fully the serenity of Buddhist life.
SunMoonLake is the biggest lake in Taiwan. The lake is encircled by layers of mountains shrouded in clouds and mists. The green waters reflect their surroundings perfectly, and the effect is poetic and calming, like a Chinese painting come to life. Many hotels dot the lakeshore, among them Taiwan’s premier 5-star hotel, The Lalu. A major swimming event is held at the lake annually, when 10,000 people swim across the lake. The event has become a major tourist attraction, with lake-side concerts, theater performances, firework shows and lasers. There are many other famous attractions around the lake, such as WunwuTemple which overlooks the whole of SunMoonLake, and the Thao tribe’s cultural village: RihyueVillage (Sun and MoonVillage). The Thao hold great celebrations at the village around the time of the Moon Festival (September) every year.
The Sitou Forest Recreation Area is best known for its lush bamboo forests. Further into the mountains after Sitou is the Shanlinsi Forest Recreation Area, which is about 1,600 meters above sea level. The weather in both Sitou and Shanlinsi is very mild and cool, making them ideal places for a summer getaway.
Located near Puli is the City of the Cherry Blossoms, called Wushe. It is best to visit Wushe at the beginning of Spring when the cherries are in full bloom, displaying their pink blossoms against the lush green mountains in the background. The water in the nearby Lushan Hot Spring is high in natural alkaline sodium bicarbonate, and is believed to be beneficial to one’s health.
Every Autumn and Winter, the Aowanda Forest Recreation Area in RenaiTown is covered with the bright red colors of maple trees. HueisunForest, in addition to its thick vegetation, is blessed with waterfalls, creeks and gorges, in which rich and precious fauna thrive.
Cingjing Farm is located en route from Wushe to HehuanMountain. Because of its rainy, mild climate, it is an ideal place for growing highland vegetables and fruits. The farm also has free-range cows and sheep wandering through the high grasslands. HehuanMountain is part of the central dividing mountain range that forms the spine of the island, with rivers running off it to the east and the west. In addition to its rich animal and forest life, HehuanMountain also boasts wonderful mountain scenery. If you continue on the Wushe-HehuanMountain route, you will reach Kenanguan (KenanPass), on the ridge of the Central Mountain Range. Because of its remote location, the strong prevailing winds and difficult weather, the gate is also known as Gueimenguan which means “The Gate to the Underworld”.
The Jiji Railroad runs from Changhua into NantouCounty. The total length of the railroad is about 30 kilometers. It was originally built for the construction of a power plant. However, it was later developed into a tourist attraction to take advantage of the beautiful scenery along the route. Jiji Station is one of the best maintained train stations in Taiwan. Although it was severely damaged in the Sept. 21 earthquake in 1999, its original form has now been restored. Near the station stands the MingsinAcademy, which was built in the late Cing Dynasty. Other attractions along the Jiji Railroad include: the Snake Kiln near Shueili Station, which is named after its shape and is one of the few remaining kilns of this type, reminiscent of the early days of Taiwan’s ceramics industry.At Longcyuan Station you can see FusingTemple, the famous Green Tunnel and the hundred-year-old Tiansing Kiln. Taking a train along the Jiji Railroad is really like taking a trip back in time, back to old rural Taiwan.
YushanNational Park (MountJade)
YushanNational Park is spread over Nantou, Chiayi, Kaohsiung and HualienCounties. The backbone of the area is the Yushan Mountain Range, which connects with the Central Mountain Range in the north. Views from the park are characterized by layer upon layer of mountains ascending into the sky. At a height of 3,952 meters, Yushan (MountJade) is the highest peak in Northeast Asia.
Due to its altitude, the climate in Yushan National Park ranges from sub-tropical to alpine as you ascend; the flora and fauna alters accordingly, making Yushan one of the best areas in Taiwan for spotting a wide range of animals and plants. Taiwan’s precious indigenous animals, such as the Formosan Black Bear, the Formosan Serow, the White-faced Flying Squirrel, the Formosan Sambar, the Formosan Barking Deer, the Formosan Salamander and wild boar can all be found here if you just keep still and wait long enough.
There are four visitor centers in YushanNational Park: Shueili, Tataka, Meishan and Nanan Walami. Both Shueili and Tataka are located in Nantou County, and nearby attractions include the Central Cross-Island Highway, Dongpu Hot Spring, Caihong Waterfall (Rainbow Waterfall), and Yunlong Waterfall. Meishan is located in Kaohsiung County; famous attractions in the area are Jhongjhihguan, Guanshan Trail, Tianchih, Daguan-Yakou Tunnel, Kuaigu (Valley of Taiwan False Red Cypress), the Bunun Culture Exhibition Hall, and Meishan Indigenous Botanical Park.
The NananWalamiVisitorCenter is in Hualien, with attractions such as Nanan Waterfall, Shanfong Waterfall, Jiasin, LakuLakuRiver, and the KesipalaMonument, erected in memory of the Bunun tribe warriors who rose up against the Japanese during the colonial occupation period. For visitors who wish to go sightseeing, hiking, and mountain-climbing in Yushan, note that a permit may be required for certain areas due to the risks posed by the changeable weather. It’s best to contact the Division of Park Recreation and Tourism, Yushan National Park Headquarters, for related information when you are planning the trip.