So you’re going to Taiwan and of course, it’s all about the food. But what if you want to relax and spend some time outdoors? Here are the best places I found during my recent visit to Taiwan:
This was the official residence of President Chiang Kai-Shek and Soong Mei-ling, his third wife. Now it’s a historical site and museum open for tours which I highly recommend. But it’s the gardens and grounds that I spent the most time enjoying. Walk around the lily-pad covered lake and rose garden and you’ll be sure to see plenty of butterflies, birds, insects, and even turtles! Amusing topiary shrubs such as a giraffe playing the piano will be sure to delight you.
This is a beautiful must-see for anyone who enjoys botanical gardens. For animal lovers, there are many squirrels (who are surprisingly loud!) and turtles relaxing in the lake. The garden is quite large at 8.2 hectares. There is a wide variety of plants, over 2,000 different species. You can also explore the Guest House of Imperial Envoys in the back. During the Japanese colonial period, the building was used as the first ceremony for Japanese ruling. Later it was used as the Taiwan Governor-General’s office.
This technically is not in Taichung but Nantou County. But if you’re visiting Taichung, you must do a day trip to Sun Moon Lake which is about an hour and a half drive by car. It’s the biggest lake in Taiwan and offers plenty of activities: biking, hiking, boating, and sightseeing. CNN rated it one of the top most scenic cycling routes in the world! There are temples to see, a pagoda, pierside villages, and even a gondola that you can ride up to the top of the mountain for a spectacular view of the lake.
This is a destination on its own but the fact that it sits right behind one of the most visited museums in Taiwan should not be overlooked. Make a day or morning of it. Tour the museum with the whole family and then relax in the botanical garden. Or take a power walk in the morning through the grounds like many tourists and locals alike do. The garden is about 4.5 hectares and has many beautiful plants, wildlife, and shady resting areas. I didn’t get a chance to check out the greenhouse but I hear there’s a waterfall inside!
We went here on the last day of my trip. It was about 45 minutes by car from Taichung, depending what time you leave. It was super windy the day we were there. The wind was literally pushing us! It’s a beautiful stretch of wetlands on the south end of the Dajia River. I wanted to see birds but I think the wind blew them all away! There’s also a lovely boardwalk where people stroll to admire the horizon. If it’s low tide, you can explore the wetlands barefoot. There’s a small visitor center to purchase snacks and souvenirs.