Silvergrass, a Sea of Flowers, and Hot Springs: A Private Guided Tour of Taipei
For our last day in Taipei, we wanted to do something special. We got in touch with My Taiwan Tour and at first they suggested their Ultimate Day Tour, which covers all the “must-see” sites in the city, including the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, the National Palace Museum, Taipei 101, and the Shilin Night Market. It would have been perfect for our first day in Taipei but as it was going to be our last day, we didn’t want to go back to places we’d already visited. The great thing about MyTaiwanTour is that they will work with you to come up with a customized itinerary if none of their current offerings are what you’re looking for exactly. In the end, we agreed on a 4-hour Private Guided Tour to cap our Taipei long weekend.
Yangminshan National Park
Our first stop was Taipei’s national park for a bit of hiking and cool air. We had a specific trail in mind: the Qingtiangang area, which is popular among locals in autumn for its profusion of silvergrass. Taipei is subtropical so it doesn’t have quite the color change in fall that temperate countries have and whatever turning does happen usually occurs much later in the year. (We were there in October.) Instead, the most visible sign of the subtle shift in season is the blooming of the silvergrass carpeting Taipei’s mountains.
We didn’t get to hike an entire trail at Qingtiangang because of time constraints — it was only a 4-hour tour — but I did love it there. The wide green open spaces traversed mostly by locals were a welcome contrast to the tourist-filled destinations of the days before. Ria and Ellan grabbed a coffee and a seat and chose to just chill while Hershe and I scrambled up the nearest hill with our awesome tour guide Kelly.
Guandu Flower Festival
While browsing Instagram for inspiration prior to our trip, I noticed a bunch of posts featuring flower fields that were tagged #Beitou. They caught my eye because, as far as I knew, the Beitou area isn’t really known for flowers. It turns out the Taipei government had transformed several empty plots of land in Beitou into a field of flowers for the Guandu Flower Festival. Since we were going to be in Beitou anyway, we made sure to stop by.
I’m going to be honest and say that this was probably my least favorite part of the tour…and I was the one who insisted on it so I only have myself to blame. The flowers were beautiful but there were so many people taking pictures with the flowers — can’t blame them, we were doing the same thing — that the experience ended up feeling quite artificial. Then again, you know, sometimes when you travel, you’re curious about something and you pursue it and it ends up, well, not quite how you expected. And that’s fine — that’s part of the learning experience of travel. What I’ve learned from this one is that places set up specifically to be Instagrammable are not going to be as satisfying for me as places that are beautiful in an untamed and natural way. So…you know…that’ll be something to keep in mind when I plan future trips.
That said, what doesn’t do it for me might be absolutely perfect for other people. If you’re in Taiwan and you want to take photos in a sea of flowers, you definitely don’t have to go out of Taipei for that. The Guandu Flower Festival in Beitou is easily accessible and features a rotation of flowers that are sure to be pretty and double-tappable.
Beitou Thermal Valley
Our last stop looked like this:
If you can’t tell from that billowing steam, the waters at “Hell Valley” were too hot to dip even a toe in so we only took a quick look and didn’t stay long.
Hot Spring Experience at Marshal Zen Garden
Our hot spring session wasn’t strictly part of our half-day private guided tour but My Taiwan Tour graciously booked our rooms for us and Kelly and Tom dropped us off at Beitou MRT station where we could take the resort shuttle to Marshal Zen. There are a lot of hot spring resorts in Beitou and I asked for personal recommendations from April of My Taiwan Tour (who handled our bookings) but we chose Marshal Zen Garden for the fascinating history associated with it. More on that in another post but here are a few pics from the resort:
We’d like to thank My Taiwan Tour for a wonderful last day in Taipei. For bookings or inquiries, you can get in touch with them at:
- Website: www.mytaiwantour.com
- Phone: +886 2 2365 3881
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org