Saturday, June 11, 2016

Yangmingshan National Park, a Must Visit Place in Taipei (Taipei Trip Day 4)

We visited Yehliu Geopark the day before and we thought that was the most beautiful place near Taipei. Well, that's before we visited Yangmingshan National Park (阳明山国家公园).

Fifth day in Taipei. We left our hotel at around 8:15 am and reached the park 90 minutes later. The park can be reached through public transports. First, take MRT to Jiantan (剑潭) MRT Station. Then go to the bus stop locates at the same building with MRT station. Take the bus no. R5 and it will bring us right to the Yangmingshan Bus Station. From there, we can continue our trip around the park with the park's shuttle bus.

The entrance to all attractions in Yangmingshan National Park was free. What we need to pay were the bus tickets (including park's shuttle bus), food, drinks, and souvenirs. The shuttle buses were operating with 10 - 20 minutes frequency, and the fare could be paid conveniently with Easy Card. However, at some popular spots, we were at risk of not able to squeeze into the shuttle bus. The shuttle bus required NTD 15 per trip per pax regardless the distance, even for the trip from the park down to the MRT station. One of the visitor in the bus joked that she wanted to get another round trip, just to enjoy the low fare.

Some important information about the shuttle bus. We found that Yangmingshan Bus Station was the first stop of the shuttle bus, and the stop at Yangming Tourism Information Center was the second. So, to avoid dissapointment of not able to get onto a crowded bus, we shall try to hoop onto the shuttle bus at the first stop. The shuttle bus is going around the park in clock wise direction. So if we missed one site behind, we need to go a whole way round the park to get there. 

Day trip ticket was available, but it would not worth the money paid if we planned to stop at 2 to 3 sites only. Last but not least, always tell the driver where we want to go. The drivers know the best place to stop. For example, there are three stops along Zhuzi Hu (竹子湖) area. The third stop which is next to the police station is the one that closest to the flower gardens. During our visit, the driver would make announcement once the bus reached the stop. A few drivers were very humourous, and tended to joke a lot. But there was one problem- the drivers spoke in Mandarin only.

All right, now back to Yangmingshan Bus Station. We queued for 20 minutes for the park's shuttle bus, squeezed into it, and squeezed out at the bus stop near Zhuzi Hu Police Station. We went to the paddy museum to get some information there. It was the blossom season for calla lily, and the flowers at Dinghu (顶湖) or the Upper Lake was the most beautiful one. There is a main road lead to Dinghu, but we recommend to take alternative garden's path, which offers nicer view and relaxing atmosphere. The path from the Paddy Museum to Dinghu took us around 15 minutes.

Yangmingshan Bus Station is the first stop for the park's shuttle bus (upper left). We could see people queued for the shuttle bus (upper right). The bigger bus which has plenty of space cannot be used in the park due to the narrow road (lower right). The shuttle bus is small and is always packed with visitors in weekends.

Bus stop nearby Zhuzi Hu Police Station is the one closest to Dinghu (upper left). There was a signage showing the direction of Zhuzi Hu, but it was in Mandarin (upper right). The Paddy Museum is around 50 meters from the police station (lower right). The staff there was very helpful. They gave us the map and showed us the way to Dinghu. The was a signage showing the direction of "the path to see flowers" right after the museum. 

The pathway to Dinghu was well shaded by trees (upper left) with well constructed walking path (upper right). With beautiful surrounding, we enjoyed the walk very much (lower right). We could recognize Dinghu by the patches of calla lily gardens.

We paid NT 100 each to enter one of the gardens there. It was really exciting to see so many calla lilies blooming around.

More calla lilies.

We could see Xiaoyoukeng (小油坑) from the garden. It looks near but it is actually 20-minute bus trip away from Zhuzi Hu.

Dinghu is a beautiful country side.

Most calla lilies are white, but some have different colours.

With the fee paid, we were allowed to pick 8 white flowers per person from the garden without extra charge. The one with red colour required extra NT 10 (upper left). We still had long way to go, so we picked only 8 instead of 16 flowers from the garden. The owner of the garden generously gave us NT 100 food coupon for 8 unused quota. We used the coupon at the food stalls in front of the garden (upper right). The meat balls and the fried sweet potatoes were really nice (lower right). We stayed at Dinghu for one hour before moving to our next stop- Xiaoyoukeng.
 
·         Xiaoyoukeng (小油坑) is around 20 minutes away from Zhuzi Hu by bus. Our advice- don’t try to walk, although it looks near on map. Xiaoyoukeng can be literally translated as "Little Oil Pit". It is a volcanic pit by the side of Qixingshan (七星山), or the "Seven Stars Mountain". The shuttle bus brought us to the bus stop of Xiaoyoukeng. We took another 3 minutes walk down the walkway to the observatory platform some 50 meters away from the pit. We could see the steam gushing out from the rocks with sulfur, but couldn't feel the heat due to the strong wind. 

Xiaoyoukeng from the observatory platform.

The observatory platform brought us close to the pit.

Closer look on the pit.

Beautiful green scenery around Xiaoyoukeng.

We roamed around Xiaoyoukeng for 30 minutes. The bus stop is nearby the pit and the tourist information center (upper left), so we can actually rest at the tourist information center while waiting for the bus. The path to Qixingshan is just beside the bus stop (upper right). There is a canteen for us to take a break (lower right). But the choice of food and drinks were limited.

Qingtiangang was our third stop in Yangmingshan National Park. It is a beautiful grassland, 20 minutes by bus from Xiaoyoukeng. It was a place for tea plantation and farmlands. In 1930s, Qingtiangang was transformed into cattle farms but the operation stopped many years ago due to the low market demand on traditional cattle farming industry. Now, cattle still roaming around the area, not because of the meat, but to serve tourism purposes. Mesmerized by the scenery, we stayed there longer than expected.


Once get off the bus, we climbed to the entrance to Qingtiangang, where clean grassland and strong wind awaited.

Endless grassland at Qingtiangang. This photo was taken from trail nearby the entrance.

Looking back after some 5-minute walk from the entrance. There were a few black cows grazing on the grassland.


Closer look on one of the cows.

Obviously there were more human beings than cows. Visitors were sitting on western-facing slope, awaiting for the sunset.

There were some old buildings abandoned by the farmers (upper left), and the bunkers abandoned by the garrison soldiers (upper right). We couldn't get any information regarding the bunker at the site. Some said it was left by Japanese after their defeat in World War 2. We went back to the tourist information center (lower right) to wait for the bus. The queue was long but manageable, and would be longer when the sunset worshippers came down from the hill.

We had a few options to go back to MRT station, and the fastest one (to beat the long queue) was by taking a mini bus no. 15 (小15) from Qingtiangan straight to Shilin (士林) MRT Station. It was far more convenient than taking the park's shuttle bus back to Yangmingshan Bus Station, then took another bus back to Jiantan MRT Station. It took us around 15 minutes to wait for the bus, and another 1 hour on the road to Shilin MRT Station.

Yangmingshan National Park is a must visit place in Taipei. Visiting 2 to 3 sites in the park was just nice for a day trip (with 1 – 2 hours allocated to each site). We would recommend Zhuzi Hu, Xiaoyoukeng, and Qingtiangang. By the way, most of the signages were written in traditional Chinese characters only. It was all right for us as we could understand both simplified and traditional Chinese. But for those who cannot, extra homework is required.

Our bus took one hour to reach Shilin MRT Station. From there, we decided to go to Gugong Museum (故宫博物院), or the National Palace Museum before visiting Shilin Night Market.

More about our experience in Taipei, please read out posts:


15 comments:

  1. Beautiful photos! I scrolled down to see them all. Thank you so much for sharing this lovely tour.

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    1. Most welcome Linda. Wish you will be there in future!

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    2. Beautiful photos, beautiful places, and beautiful blog.

      Thankyou.

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  2. Hi, awesome blog! How long did it take for you to explore all these?
    Can you recommend a good time to visit? Thanks alot!

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    1. Dear Christian,

      Good day! We only took a day trip at YangMingShan National Park. We reached the park entrance around 9:30 am, and left with the mini bus around 5 pm. We would recommend to visit the park as early as possible.
      We can't really advise on the best season to visit the park, but it maybe better for us to visit it during spring and early summer. It will get rainy with typhoons in Taiwan from June to October, and very foggy during winter.

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    2. These guys are informative! I enjoyed reading their blog. And, my goodness, look at these photos! Super beautiful.

      From Malaysia.

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  3. Hi, really thanks for your detail information about yangmingshan attraction areas. I actually can not really read chinese words. :)

    I plan to travel to Yangmingshan with RED5 bus from Jiantan station and continue with 108 shuttle bus. So basically my route starts from Jiantan MRT take bus Red5 - Yangmingshan bus stop - Yangmingshan Flower Clock - Zhuzihu - Qingtiangang - back to Jiantan MRT by bus S15(like what you took).

    - Does yangmingshan bus stop is the last stop of Red5 bus? So, i just need to go down when the bus reached the last stop isn't it?
    - Do you know which 108 bus stop to see Yangmingshan Flower Clock?
    - Is there any bus number instead of 108 from Yangmingshan flower clock to Zhuzihu?
    - Actually, how long should i spend in Yangmingshan if my route plan is Yangmingshan flower clock , Zhuzihu , Qingtiangang ?
    - About the 108 shuttle bus fare , you did mention it is 15NTD per trip regardless the distance. So means, if visiting 3 places , i need to pay 45NTD ?

    Hope to hear from you soon!

    Regards,
    Lee

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    1. - Btw, does the bus stop of 小15 at Qingtiangang can be easily found? where is the bus stop exactly?

      - Does 108 bus stop from Zhuzihu police station to Qingtiangang located at the opposite direction of the 108 bus stop coming from Yangmingshan bus station?

      Really thanks ya :D

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    2. Dear Nathania, good day. To our best knowledge:
      1. Yes, red 5 last station is the Yangmingshan station, or called terminal 260.
      2. We didn't visit the flower clock. You should be able to reach there by foot from Yangmingshan Station, or from the 2nd car park station. You can seek advice from park personnel once you reach the Yangmingshan station.
      3. As far as we knew, 108 is the sole transit bus available in the park.
      4. We would advise a 6 - 8 hours tour, as you might add in more sites into your itinerary once you are there.
      5. Yes, NTD45 for 3 stops. Not worth buying one day pass if we planned to visit 3 sites.
      6. The bus stop at Qingtiangang is located right in front of the tourist info center. We won't miss it. The bus station is shared by both 108 and small 15.
      7. Yes, the bus station is located opposite of the police station.

      Do contact us if you need more information.

      Regards.

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    3. Sorry for jumping in. I would like to take the same route as yours for my visit in early March. Please share information with me if you make a visit before me. Many thanks

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  4. Thanks for your beautiful blog, very helpful. Your one day trip in Yangmingshan sounds perfect based on all information i have gathered from different sources. I would do the same for my trip this March. The only thing I am wondering if there is any specific place in Yangmingshan to watch Cherry Blossom or we can see it all the way. I really dont want to miss it.

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    Replies
    1. Oh, i've read somewhere said around flower clock

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    2. Dear Hien Bui, good day! The source from Taipei Government stated the cherry blossom is around January 30 to March 20 for 2017. The location is at YangMing Park (Flower Clock). Have fun! Do share your photos with us.

      http://english.gov.taipei/ct.asp?xItem=155914429&ctNode=8557&mp=100002

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  5. Thank you. Will share for sure. Happy Valentine's Day

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