If there is one day that I like the most on our recent Taipei media familiarisation trip, it has to be day 2 where we got the chance to explore the nature side of Taipei. If on the first day we were introduced to the modern side of Taipei with its skyscrapers and modern and traditional city landscapes, the next day is all about greenery, hot springs and fresh natural air!
Located just 45 minutes away from the city, our first destination for the day was Yangmingshan National Park.
Yangmingshan provides a contrast environment to the city’s modern settings with its scenic grassland hiking trails and beautiful flowers especially during the cherry blossom season.
A popular area within this national park is Qingtiangang Grassland known for its wide, grassy meadows and occasionally buffaloes which make a perfect setting for awesome travel photos.
A bit of info on Qingtiangang grassland.
With little time allocated for this rather large area, we do not really get the chance to explore much but still it was a nice 45-minute walk admiring the greenery.
Mt Zhugao can easily be reached within minutes of casual walking on the trail.
For more adventurous visitors, plenty of trails can be explored from Qiantiangang such as the one that connects to Juanxi waterfall. But for those who are not too keen on exploring, the area around Qingtiangang is scenic enough for plenty of photo opportunities.
Perferct place to do the signature “jump shots” pose too.
Oh yes, people were looking at us and probably wondering what on earth were we trying to do jumping around multiple times 😛
After Qintiangang, we were introduced to another interesting area within Yangmingshan National Park which is Xiaoyoukeng.
Xiaoyoukeng is well-known for its fumaroles, sulfur crystals, hot springs and unique terrain formed by post-volcanic activities.
I remember coming out from the bus to a strong “”rotten egg” kind of smell. It was so strong that I could not get too close to the action. The intense smell of sulfur along with the geothermal heat and seeing bubbling puddles by the side of footpath are part of the experience of visiting Xiaoyoukeng.
Also in the same area is a small education centre and souvenir shop with some nice outdoor seating for you to enjoy the view. Also the start of bamboo trail is also here so you can actually venture even further which I did for 10 minutes before making a u-turn to catch our bus.
Next on the “must-see” list for this side of Taipei is Beitou District.
A countryside resort town in the mountains with obvious traditional Japanese influence, Beitou is famous for its hot springs, bath houses, public parks and a beautiful public library. At one point, I really thought I was in Japan as almost everything reminded me of our previous Kyoto trip. The bath houses, the buildings and even the very down to earth locals.
Beitou’s Thermal Valley is one of the sources supplying the area’s hot springs.
The sulfuric steam at Thermal Valley has the highest temperatures of any in the Datunshan volcano group and was once upon a time considered one of the “12 great sights of Taiwan” during the Period of Japanese Occupation. Even during winter it is sizzling hot!
Oh yes, if you are into PokemonGo, Beitou is the place for you. I was amazed by the number of people outside Beitou’s famous Public Library. No they were not queuing to get some books but to catch some rare Pokemons.
Is it worth spending a day exploring these areas? A definite yes.
I would even stay one night in Beitou and enjoy this beautiful district in the morning before the crowd comes in. Similarly for Yangmingshan National Park, I can imagine that this place would be even nicer during autumn which I plan to one day spend a full day exploring its trails.
Next up: Shopping in Taipei!