Attractions

Alishan, Cherry Blossom in Taiwan

It may take some efforts for you to arrive at Alishan (阿里山), but you will not regret for the efforts made.

There are five wonders in Alishan, if you can see all these five in one trip, then it is amazing.

  • Forest railway
  • Forest full of giant trees
  • Sunrise
  • Cloud Sea
  • Sunset Glow

But no matter how many times it take you to completely experiencing and seeing all of them, all the beauty of Alishan in different time of the day, in different seasons are greatness of the nature and possibilities of human beings.

Alishan is not the name of a single mountain, but a ridge of Yushan (玉山). The name, Alishan, appeared in Taiwan choreography in 1696 for the first time. However, the origin of this name has already lost its trace in history. Alishan National Forest Recreation Area located between Chiayi (嘉義) and Nantou (南投), covers a total area of 1,400 hectares with the main recreation site locating at about 2,000 to 2,700 meters above sea level. Alishan is world famous for its five wonders, eights sights, and enriched forestry.

The amazing eight sights that you should not miss while planning your trip to Alishan:

  • Tahsan (塔山奇岩): composed by a large number of odd-shaped rocks, Tashan is one of the most impressive landscapes in Alishan
  • Xianglin Arch Bridge (香林拱橋): surrounded by greenwood and clear water, Xianglin arch bridge is full of zen ambience
  • No. 28 Giant Tree (28號巨木): as the head among the giant trees, No. 28 is a cypress tree that has already more than 2,000 years old
  • Shunyi Waterfall (神怡流瀑): the running water embraces the towering trees
  • Alishan sacred tree (阿里山神木遺跡): as a spiritual symbol in Alishan, the sacred tree was discovered in 1906 and was cut and laid in 1998 after serious damaged by a lightening strike
  • Ciyun Temple Scenery (慈雲觀景): a place for visitors to view the cloud sea, the red cloud before sunset while overlooking tribes and Tashan at the same time
  • Shuishan Giant Tree (水山巨木): standing erect for around 2,700 years, it presents amazing burls
  • Mt. Ogassawara (小笠原山): it provides a destination for visitors to appreciate the five wonders as well as stars while overlooking magnificent landscapes of Yushan and the central mountain range.

One of the best season to visit Alishan is during March when the cherry blossom season brings all colors of beauty to this well preserved natural wonderland.

Every spring the annual Alishan cherry blossom season begins and the beautiful sight should not be missed. Alishan Forest Recreation Area has a large number of Yoshino cherry trees, followed in number by Formosan cherry trees;theare also 1000 Yaebenishidare (double-blossom dropping cherry tree ) cherry trees, Alishan is simply the best place to see cherry blossoms in Taiwan.


Yangmingshan National Park

Taiwan island was created because of the massive collision of Eurasian continent plate and Philippines oceanic plate millions of years ago. Therefore, volcanic terrains are not hard to find in many places in Taiwan. And for most visitors, Taipei is a must visit city when planning the trip to Taiwan. If your time is really limited, but still want to see more than only city views, Yangmingshan is for sure a place that you might want to put into your itinerary since it is also known as the back garden of Taipei city.

Yangmingshan National Park as we know it today covers mountainous areas in the Taipei City districts of Shilin and Beitou, and in the New Taipei City districts of Tamsui, Sanzhi, Shimen, Jinshan and Wanli. The park's eastern boundary lies east of Mt. Huangtsui and Mt. Wuchih, and it extends westward as far as the western foothills of Mt. Hunglu and Mt. Miantian. To the north it includes Mt. Zhuzi and Tudigong Ridge, while its southern boundary stretches from the southern foothills of Mt. Shamao eastward to Pingdeng Village and Shuangxi. It covers a total area of 11,338 hectares with elevations of between 200 and 1120 meters above sea level. Yangmingshan also used to be known as Tsaoshan (Grass Mountain), a term which embraced the whole area of Mt. Datun, Mt. Qxing and Mt. Shamao with its grassy slopes.

What to see in Nature?

There are currently some 1,359 species of plants in the park, growing in water plant and land plant propagation environments.

Yangmingshan is home to a large number of birds of around 123 different species, and its accessibility has made it one of northern Taiwan's top bird- watching haunts. 

It is also home to no less than 53 species of reptiles, of which the Sauter's ground snake, red back pine root snake, common scaled water snake and flower snake are the most common. 

Animals such as the Formosan rock-monkey (macaque), Formosan boar, Formosan hare, red-bellied squirrel, Formosan gem-faced civet, Formosan blind mole, spinous country-rat and Taiwan bandicoot rat are often to be seen in the park's conservation zones.

What to see in Scenic Spots?

Yangmingshuwu - Formerly known as the Zhongxing Guesthouse, Yangmingshuwu was built during 1969 and 1970. It was originally used by former President Chiang Kai-shek for receiving foreign guests and as a summer home. Today, it is an important cultural and historical site in Yangmingshan National Park which features both natural and human history, making it an intellectually and emotionally resonant recreational site. Tourist information and guided tours are available.

Xiaoyoukeng - A post-volcanic geological landscape area and located on Mt. Qixing's northwestern foot, it is approximately 805 meters above sea level and is famed for the fumaroles, sulfur crystals, hot springs and spectacular 'landslide terrain' formed by post-volcanic activity. The hiking trail next to the Xiaoyoukeng parking lot offers access to Mt. Qixing, from which it takes about an hour to reach the summit. At 1,120 meters above sea level, it is Taipei City's highest peak. Taking the East Peak path when descending leads to Qixing Park, Menghuan Pond, and Lengshuikeng, offering a bird's-eye view of Mt. Shamao and downtown Taipei.

Erziping - This area is in the volcanic dip between Mt. Datun's main peak and Mt. Erzi, which boasts a lush forest and a variety of vegetation, made possible by its temperate weather, in between the sub-tropical and temperate zones. The trail here is even and flat surrounded by wide open spaces with three ponds in the middle. 

Datun Nature Park - Located at the northwest foot of Mt. Datun and about 800 meters above sea level, here is known for its warm-temperate climate, broad-leaved forest, and volcanic cone. The Datun Visitor Center hosts an exhibition hall dedicated to early human activity in the Yangmingshan area, in particular the local indigo industry, so you can understand more about the history of this wonderful place.

Lengshuikeng - The Lengshuikeng region, cold water pit in Chinese meaning, is a low-lying depression which was created when the lava from Mt. Qixing and Mt. Qigu formed a barrage. Water then accumulated, turning the area into a lake, which eventually leaked out and dried up to expose the lake bottom and form today's landscape.

Qingtiangang - This area is a lava terrace formed when the lava from Mt. Zhugao flowed north after its eruption, and because of its flat terrain, a ranch was established and the area was used as a pasture for grazing cattle during the Japanese ruling period. The big grassland is the place most people would visit and taking panorama photos. 

Longfenggu - This valley is about 1 km long and 80-200 meters wide and has many volcanic fumaroles and artificial geothermal hot springs, which are the source of the Beitou Hot Springs. White smoke fills the area with plumes of slowly rising from the valley to form a magnificent view.


Taichung - Home of Bubble & Pearl Milk Tea

Chun Shu Tang, as we believe, is the first tea shop that invented bubble tea and creation of pearl milk tea. Therefore, it is a must to visit the very first shop of Chun Shu Tang during our biking tour of Taichung City. 

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During the 90s, there were tea shops almost everywhere in Taiwan and people enjoyed hanging out in the tea shop with a cold drink to simply chill our with friends, playing cards, or dating for the young couples. 

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The most important innovation of this bubble tea is that it has transformed an ancient tea drinking habit from hot to cold beverage which indeed attracts more people to appreciate tea. And the hand shake process of the iced tea, forming a layer of bubbles, makes the tea flavor released more quickly and taste more enjoyable. The milk tea, and the pearl and later boba (bigger size pearl) give more options to your tea drinking experiences (now way too much!!)

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After gaining its market in Taiwan, business people just have to spread the good things across the world, and it does make a great success all over the world. Just look at this photo which shows you the countries that have already selling bubble tea, but still nothing compares to its origin.

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Come to join our cycling trip in Taichung, and let us buy you a fresh made bubble tea from the first tea shop who invented this wonderful drink!

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Find out more about iBike Taichung City Tour

Keep in touch with Biking Taiwan for more fun tour on two wheels in Taiwan!


Recommendation of another article about Bubble Tea Origin by Erin De Santiago -

The Origin of Bubble Tea in Taiwan

When you’re traveling in Taiwan, especially through Taipei, it might feel like there’s a bubble tea shop on nearly every corner. And, in many neighborhoods, that isn’t far from reality. Next to convenience stores on nearly every corner, bubble tea shops are everywhere. Taiwanese, and many of us who have moved to Taiwan, are obsessed with bubble tea, and not because it’s trendy around the world, but because Taiwan is credited with originating this refreshing drink.

If you head south of Taipei to the city of Taichung, you’ll find Chun Shu Tang, the shop where bubble tea is believed to have been invented. Liu Han-Chieh developed the idea of serving Chinese tea cold after a visit to Japan where he tasted cold coffee. His product manager, Lin Hsiu Hui, decided to pour her sweetened tapioca pudding balls into her Assam tea. That random, spur of the moment decision back in the late 1980’s, turned into a cultural phenomenon that spread around the globe.

So, what sets the seemingly endless stores of bubble tea apart in Taipei? Quality, of course. Everyone has their favorite vendor or chain, and you can absolutely taste a difference in the various teas. Some brands don’t cook the tapioca balls the right amount of time or the quality of the tea is not as good as other vendors.

Chun Shu Tang relies on its expertise and commitment to quality, which keeps their locations bustling. They continue to shake all their teas by hand versus blending. They use high-quality ingredients and rely on the fundamental aspects of the drink — the tea itself. In addition to hand blending, they use a refractometer to test the sweetness, allowing them to cater specifically to their customers’ needs. Visit one of their locations to learn more about Chinese tea or participate in a real tea ceremony — something I highly recommend on your Taiwan travels.

The variety of bubble teas available may be overwhelming if you’re never had one before. The most traditional is a regular Assam tea with tapioca bubbles. However, you can do fruit teas or green teas. Add tapioca balls, or fruit puree, jelly cubes, red beans, or a variety of other ingredients, which will vary by location and vendor. Moderating your sugar intake? Ask for full sugar, half sugar, or no sugar. Personally, I usually go for the standard bubble tea, but if I deviate, it’s usually for a passion fruit tea with puree and flavored jelly.

What’s your favorite variety of Taiwanese bubble tea? 

 

iBike Taichung (4) - Biking Taiwan tour in Taichung

National Museum of Natural Science in Taichung City, Taiwan

As one of the most heavily attended museums in Taiwan, and one of the most attended venues in Taichung, the Museum is in the distinguished company of the National Palace Museum in Taipei and the National Science and Technology Museum in Kaohsiung.

Across 9 exquisite hectares, the Museum is a five-venue complex housing the Space IMAX Theater, Science Center, Life Science Hall, Human Cultures Hall (the original Chinese Science Hall), and Global Environment Hall, plus the 4.5-hectare Botanical Garden, the 5-hectare 921 Earthquake Education Museum at Wufong, the 33-hectare Fonghuanggu Ecology Education Park at Lugu, and the 2.6-hectare Chelungpu Fault Preservation Education Park at Chusan. Over 50 permanent exhibit areas covering subjects on astronomy, space science, paleontology, ecology, gems and minerals, human cultures, tropical plants, and geology, the Museum is a place filled with hand-on exhibits that delights children and adults of all ages. As a matter of fact, the Museum is a major science learning center with over half a million school children visiting annually. In addition, rotating special exhibits are a constant occurrence to the Museum.

We will stop at this wonderful museum for about 45 minutes, so visitors could enjoy and relax a bit after first cycling hour. 

Find out more  about iBike Taichung City Tour

iBike Taichung (3) - Biking Taiwan tour in Taichung

Wenxin (Forest) Park in Taichung, Taiwan

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Taiwan is a small island but with high density of population living in the cities. Therefore, most parks you can find in the city are small in size and not to mention with special function within them. Biking lanes are especially rare (hard) to find. Most parks do not allow people to ride bicycles in the park!

But Wenxin Forest Park is the special one. Although it is only 8.86 hectares in size, it does create a two-way bike lanes for people to enjoy biking. You can see many people bring their kids to this park and enjoy quality family time together in the day time. And it is very close to Ikea which people can easily go shopping or simply relax afterward.

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Another special function about Wenxin Forest Park is the Fulfillment Amphitheater located inside. This is a large-scale outdoor theater which can accommodate 6000+ people with seats and up to 15000 including the surrounding green grass areas. Since 2006, a wide variety of artistic and cultural events have been held here. It provides not only a venue for top-quality cultural and recreational activities in Taichung, but has also helped to encourage the general public's participation in arts and cultural events.  

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Wenxin Forest Park is another point of our biking tour in Taichung City, and we invite you to enjoy and explore this city by cycling with the public sharing system, iBike.

Find out more  about iBike Taichung City Tour

iBike Taichung (2) - Biking Taiwan tour in Taichung

National Taichung Theatre in Taichung, Taiwan

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National Taichung Theater (NTT) is located in a commercial district in Taichung City, carries high expectations from local art communities. As a new cradle for the performing arts in Taiwan, the NTT will serve as the only national-level performing arts center in central Taiwan, and it seeks to bring programs of quality and diversity from all over the world, leading to a new and positive impact on local artists and audiences.

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The National Taichung Theater is not just a building that houses the opera. The entire architecture itself is an opera. One can feel the flow of air, sound and light not only in the foyer, but within the restaurant, sky garden and everywhere else in the building. One feels overwhelmed by the grandeur of a cosmic brilliance coming out of the architecture.

--Toyo Ito, Architect

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National Taichung Theatre is the second point of our biking tour in Taichung City, and we invite you to enjoy and explore this city by cycling with the public sharing system, iBike. 

Find out more  about iBike Taichung City Tour 

iBike Taichung (1) - Biking Taiwan tour in Taichung

Maple Valley Park (Maple Garden) in Taichung, Taiwan

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No matter which season it is, walking in the Maple Valley Park is a visual enjoyment! Located next to Taiwan Boulevard in Taichung City, Maple Valley Park is a unique U-shaped recreational greenland for the city residents. It has an area of 3 hectares, and contains a lake, red trees, green grass, and observatory bridge. It is a great place for talking a walk, going on a date, and exercising. During the day, there is comforting greenness, and at night, it is filled with sleepless lighting. It has rapidly become one of the most famous scenic spots in Taichung.

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Maple Valley Park was actually existed from a beautiful mistake, and now not only serving as a park but also functioning as a unique large detention pond for Taichung city to prevent flooding in case of heavy rainfalls.

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Maple Valley Park is the start point of our biking tour in Taichung City, and we invite you to enjoy and explore this city by cycling with the public sharing system, iBike. 

Find out more  about iBike Taichung City Tour