Traditional Chinese temples; magical hot springs; and a breathtaking mountain terrain – that’s Taiwan in a nutshell for you. And come spring, if your bucket list has sakura viewing right on top, then Taiwan is exactly where you should head to – undoubtedly. The season for sakura in Taiwan is spread over three months and it also turns out to be quite a budget trip. So if you are keen to go sakura spotting only at the best places (who really isn’t?), here is a list of the ideal locations in Taiwan to witness the glorious pink and white blooms along with the best time to be there.
1. Taipei City
When: Mid-February onwards
Walking through the streets of Taipei is like visiting cities from two different eras. Old temples and colonial buildings are juxtaposed against towering skyscrapers and rail networks that connect the city. Add to this a canopy of cherry blossoms that erupt in the beginning of each year, blanketing the city’s green areas in delightful shades of pink. A vision for the memory books! Within Taipei, your best bet to witness the picturesque cherry blossoms in their full glory is at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, the Bihu Park, and the Songzhih Park.
Step out of Taipei and there is the Wulai Hot Springs and Yangmingshan National Park. Wulai is about 30 kilometres from Taipei and a popular spot for hot spring tourism and hiking. Wulai Old Street is lined with food hawkers and rows of cherry blossom trees in early March – it can become quite a ‘complete’ trip! You can also plan a visit to the scenic Wulai Waterfall that contrasts with the delicate blooms and creates a picturesque sight.
A must visit is also the Yangmingshan Flower Festival which is on until March 19, 2017 at the Yangmingshan National Park. Aptly called ‘Taipei’s back garden’, Yangmingshan – which is a convenient 20 kilometres from the capital city – has a large number of flowering cherry blossom trees, making for a fruitful day trip!
Another beautiful cherry blossom viewpoint is Wu’s Ancestral Shrine on the Beitou hillside. The shrine is surrounded by a host of cherry blossom trees and can be viewed comfortably from the Chinese style pavilion.
2. New Taipei City
When: Mid-February to mid-March
New Taipei City is definitely on your itinerary if sakura viewing is what you’ve planned for during your trip. The city has multiple locations for cherry blossom viewing. With over 15,000 cherry blossom trees – more than 10,000 of which are located in Zhonghe District – getting awesome views is just a matter of planning your days well.
A New Taipei City cherry blossom tour would include Sanzhi and the Cherry Blossom Avenue in Shuangzi. Another popular spot is the Tianyuan Temple in Tamsui District. The temple has a brilliant view of a forest of about 30 cherry blossom trees in which each blossom is in colours ranging from white to pink and deep red. It is conveniently close to Taipei and a perfect spot for keen shutterbugs. Be warned, though, that in season the place is over run by tourists and photographers.
A lesser-known spot, the North Sea Jishi Temple, is also a good place to get some great pictures, albeit in relative peace. There is a sea of cherry blossom trees right next to the temple that is the main attraction here – serving as the perfect background to the Buddhist deity that the temple is dedicated to!
3. Taichung City
When: Early March
The greater Taichung area in central Taiwan is one of the country’s most popular spots for sakura viewing. The area gets overrun by the pink wonder with thousands of buds exploding into full bloom after Chinese New Year.
The best place in Taichung City for your cherry blossom experience is The Wuling Farm. You can book yourself into a camping site or a hotel, but remember, there is a cap on the number of visitors allowed into the area during the season, so you need to book your spot in advance. If hiking is on the cards, Snow Mountain, Taiwan’s second highest peak is close to Wuling Farm. Another Taichung City cherry blossom viewing location is Dongshi Forest Park.
When: Early-March to mid-April
A beautiful – make that gorgeous – sakura viewing destination is the Alishan Forest Recreational Area in Chiayi County. It also hosts one of the most popular festivals in Taiwan – The Alishan Cherry Blossom Festival – that is usually held between mid-March and mid-April.
Set at an altitude of over 2,000 metres, it is one of the latest blooming areas in the country with more than 19,000 cherry trees making it a fantastic sight. Two popular viewing spots are the Alishan Youth Activity Centre and Zhaoping Park. Alishan is also known for its Sea of Clouds, Giant Forest, and Forest Railway. It usually witnesses massive crowds, so like The Wuling Farm, it limits the number of people that can visit per day. Alishan gives you great sakura shooting ops, so keep those batteries charged!
5. Yilan County
When: Late-February to mid-March
Yilan County is all about flowers, butterflies, themed gardens, pretty hiking trails, and blooming cherry blossoms. Ren Shan Park and Fushan Park are popular haunts for photographers looking for the faultless sakura shot, given how partial nature has been to these places! So get there in time to ensure that the best spot is yours.
Traveling to Taiwan, Japan or South Korea to witness the sakura miracle this spring? Use promocode SAKURA17 and get 8% OFF on your HomeAway booking. Promocode valid till March 31st, 2017 only.
All the dates are based on previous years’ estimates. It is advised to check official information from the Taiwan Meteorological Administration for accurate dates for 2017.
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