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East Coast Scenic Rail Journey
To be picked up (07:30-08:30) at your hotel lobby in Taipei City, we will drive (3.5 hours approx.) to Xitou Forest Recreation Area, which is located in Nantou county in central Taiwan. It is embraced by mountains from three sides and its sea level of major area is 800-2000 m. Generally speaking, the feature of the forest here is beautiful and tidy. Having a lunch when arrival, then here you can visit the unique pure ginkgo forest, the rare plant of redwood, the divine tree 46 meter high and 16 meter broad and with an age approaching 3,000, birds observing footpath. Buildings in Xitou are made of wood and have a smell of natural harmony. Later on, after hiking & relaxing, our accommodation & dinner is at Sun Moon Lake (about 1-1.5 hour away from Xitou only). Take a rest within astonishing well-known lake views at night.
Hotel: Sun Moon Lake Hotel 4*
Sun Moon Lake, which is located in the middle of Taiwan and situated 762 meters above sea level in the lofty mountains of Central Taiwan. First stop is the famous Wenwu Temple, also known as Literature-Warrior Temple, dedicated to the Military Saint of Guangong. The Xuanzang Temple (Holy Monk Shrine), the place said to be housing the relics of the eminent monk Xuanzang, who contributed greatly to Chinese culture and the spread of Buddhism in China.; and CiEn Pagoda, erected by Chiang Kai-Shek (former president) to commemorate his mother. Ita Thao is the origin of Thao people and continues to convey the history of this aboriginal tribe in Taiwan. Xiangshan Visitor Center will be the last stop at Sun Moon Lake. Afternoon, 2 hours (approx.) from Sun Moon Lake, Qingjing Farm (foggy eden) widely known as the Alps of Taiwan (altitude 1748m above the sea level), is a place where “elevates” you away from the busy city life. Surround yourself by fresh and crisp air, lush forests, and flocks of sheep on the grasslands. And enjoy a night in tranquil Qingjing under the starry sky. When the sun breaks through the clouds, put on your shoes and get on the roof of the island!
Hotel: Ming Ging Farm or Ren’ai Township
After a good night sleep, this morning we will have a tour to Hehuan Mountain Forest Recreation Area. (40 min by drive approx.).The peaks with a narrow and winding paved road along the mountain ridge, that connects the west coast to the east coast. This area is also a popular hot spot for climbers, botanists and geologists from overseas, to experience the amazing change of the natural environment from the low-elevation to the top. We will first stop (20 min estimated) by Wuling, the highest point of Taiwan’s Highway System located at an altitude of 3,275 meters above sea level, where you can have a splendid view of the mountain landscapes. Then we will take a short walk to Mt. Shimen Trail, the easiest hike out of the high altitude Hehuans mountain range. From the mountain trail, it only takes about half an hour to reach the peak, the rooftop of this island. Take a deep breath, admire the magnificent creation of the Mother Earth. After that, we will drive back to Taipei (4.5 hours approx.)
Guests will need to meet the guide at MRT Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station (BL14 /O07), Exit 2 08:00am. Meet your tour guide and driver in the morning, relax and enjoy a scenic drive along the mountain road to Pinglin, a rural district that is famous for growing Wenshan Pouchong Tea. The tour starts with a visit to the local tea factory, where you will learn about the cultivation and making of Taiwanese Tea. The tea farmer will also teach you how to properly brew Taiwanese tea and the tips of tea appreciation. After that, take a short ride to Shiding District and visit the famous Thousand Island Lake. The catchment area of Feitsui Reservoir surrounded by hills creates this unique scenery—a lake with thousands of islands. The natural terrain and climate make the surrounding area of Feitsui Reservoir an ideal farmland for tea-growing; the noted tea plantation Bagua Tea Garden is located in this area, too. From the top of the hill, the neatly planted rows of tea look just like the symbols of Eight Trigrams.
Then depart to Shenkeng District and visit the famous Tofu Street—Shenkeng Old Street. It’s one of the locals’ favorite for a weekend break, and also well-known for the smelly and delicious “Stinky Tofu”. If you are afraid to have a bite, try some Tofu Ice Cream!
Before the end of the tour, head back to Taipei City and take a relaxing hike along Elephant Mountain Hiking Trail. This mountain looks like an elephant’s head from a distance, hence the name. It is also a popular photo stop for a panoramic view of Taipei City, where you can even have a magnificent view of the entire building of Taipei 101. After the tour, you may choose to disembark at Xinyi Shopping District (Taipei 101) or at MRT Zhongxiao XInsheng Station.
Guests will need to meet the guide at MRT Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station (BL14 /O07), Exit 2 08:00am. Meet your tour guide and driver in the morning before your Yangmingshan day tour, then take a 30-40 min ride to the nearest national park in Taipei.
On the way to Yangmingshan National Park you will stop-by at Taipei Public Library Beitou Branch. Located in Beitou Park and near Beitou Hot Spring Museum, this beautiful library was selected by famous travel website as one of the 10 Coolest Examples of “Green Buildings.” A famous online culture magazine also recognized it as one of The 25 Most Beautiful Public Libraries in the World.
The next stop on your Yangmingshan tour package is Beitou Hot Spring Museum was built during the Japanese colonial era. The Tudor-style building has a brick and wood facade and black tile roof, with its the 1st level consisting with a small bath and a large bath. The 2nd level is consisted with a huge Tatami lobby and a balcony with a special exhibition area that has early Taiwanese film documents displayed. This is a good spot to learn about Beitou’s rich hot spring culture and history.
Geothermal Valley, the next destination on your Yangmingshan day trip, is not far away from the library. It is one of the sources of sulfur that supply this area’s hot spring. Because of the high temperature, the sulfuric steam fog rises from the pool’s surface; hence it is also called Hell Valley or Ghost Lake.
Your Yangmingshan National Park tour continues with a visit to the Yangmingshan Flower Clock—the centerpiece of the national park, which is near the bus station and visitor information center. The flower plants change by season, where visitors can enjoy the bloom all year round.
You will then visit Yangming Shu-Wu Mansion, also known as Zhongxing Guesthouse. It is the summer residence of the late president Chiang Kai-shek for reception of important foreign guests. Today the mansion has become an important site for Taiwan’s history and natural environments.
Home to Yangmingshan’s Calla Lillies and Hydrangea, Zhuzihu is a farming area hidden away in the mountains. Originally a lava-dammed lake created by the surrounding volcanoes, the area’s unique geology became suitable for farming. Besides the seasonal flowers, Zhuzihu is also well-known for the mountain vegetable cuisine. Don’t miss the chance to try the local treats there!
After that, you will visit the most popular spot in this national park—Xiaoyoukeng (literally means “little oil pit”). This tourist attraction is a post-volcanic geological landscape area, where you can see and smell the steam coming from its cracks and feel the breath of a dormant volcano.
Then you will visit Qingtiangang, a lava terrace formed when the lava flowed north after the eruption. The terrace was once a ranch for water buffalos grazing during the period under Japanese rules; even today you can still find those naturally bred water buffaloes there.
The last stop on your Yangmingshan day trip is Lengshuikeng (literally means “cold water pit”), a barrier lake formed by the volcanic lava flowing down from the mountain. The hot spring water is colder than the other areas (around 40 degrees Celsius), hence its name.
Before your Yangmingshan day tour comes to an end, you will enjoy a hot spring foot bath that gives relief to your aching feet and release the tension of your muscles. Then, after the Yangmingshan National Park tour, you may choose to disembark at Shilin Night Market and enjoy the local street foods or drop off at the MRT Zhogxiao Xinsheng Station.