As mentioned in the first part of my blog here, there are more nature in feels if you try to explore outside Taipei. I'll be sharing here how-tos for Jiufen, Shifen, Yehliu Geopark, Houli Flower Farm and Rainbow Village in this post. To have a preview of these places, you can watch them here in this video:
1. Shifen Old Street. If you see photos of flying lanterns on a train railways, this is where you can do that. Basically, the lanterns can be bought for 150-200 NTD (depends if you like it single- or multi-colored as colors correspond to different kinds of wishes). This place is an hour away from Taipei by Klook shuttle but you can commute by local train and drop off at Pingxi station (haven't tried this commute option though I've been here twice).
PS: Klook tour bus always arrive on time at meet-up point so don't get late. Tourist guides were nice, too.
2. Jiufen Old Street. Jiufen is best known as the inspiration for Miyazaki's Spirited Away. If you happen to pass by the SkyLine Teahouse's facade, that's it. Most of the people who tries to capture the facade will to the restaurant's balcony on the opposite side of the teahouse. In the old street, you can see variety of souvenirs (name stamp and wolf brush included!) and street foods. Random cats and dogs also stay on side streets most of the time so prepare to take pictures of them, too!
3. Yehliu Geopark. Basically, it's a rock formation site/cape but can still enjoy a view of the sea. The time we went weather was bright and sunny but I kind of wished for a little breeze to take the heat away. If you are planning to visit this place, keep in mind that it is all outdoors so wear a sun block beforehand and always (!!!) follow signs. If it says "don't go beyond this rock", just don't! It's not always always "a nice travel photo for the 'gram". It's safety > IG photo, please. Admission is NTD 80.
How to get there: Through Klook here (usually a tour with Jiufen + Shifen already).
4. Rainbow Village. This village is basically an work of art of "Grandpa Rainbow" (real name: Huang Yung-Fu), a former soldier. He painted the whole village years ago to brighten up the place and to keep the old village from being demolished. I was wishing I could do this, too, perhaps in a small village anywhere in the Philippines. He painted really in right colors and drew different adorable animals, flowers, people so I'm pretty sure, this needs an obligatory photo in your feed.
How to get there: We planned a Taichung Day tour (including Houli Flower farm) so we got a Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) ticket from Taipei Main Station. Better to book in advance through Klook (Php 989 one-way to Taichung and a lot cheaper than buying the THSR counter which is NTD 700) and claim ticket at Taipei Main Station + choose a time slot for you to get into reserved seats. THSR is one of the fastest bullet trains in the world so dropping off to Taichung Station only takes about 40 mins.
Dropping off from the THSR-Taichung Station will take you to TRA-Xinwuri Station. Go to the bus station to ride Bus No. 56 (be sure to tap EasyCard for the fare) and will drop you off in Rainbow Village. You can tell the driver to drop you off in the village but make sure you have a screenshot of the Chinese characters of Rainbow Village's name and address. People in Taichung don't speak English but they are very helpful in giving directions.
6. Houli Flower Farm. Locally known as Zhong She Flower Market, it is a wide open space of different flowers. The most popular spot is the piano in the midst of lavender field wherein you can "pretend play" piano. So if you're into flowers like me, I bet you'll spend a whole afternoon here. Well, we actually devoted half of the day here since we had lunch here as well. They offer unli barbecue (in which we know better as samgyeoupsal since they have soup, pork, chicken, mushrooms, beef--anything that can be grilled! It has a time limit of 2hrs so it's enough for us to fill out tummies already. This DIY cooking lunch is NTD 350 which already includes a free admission to the flower farm. If you don't have plans of eating here, entrance is NTD 120.
How to get there: If you went to Rainbow Village earlier of the day, you can take a bus (no. 27 or 56) or cab going back to Xinwuri Station. On Xinwuri Station, ride Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) dropping off Tai'an Station (NTD 46 on your EasyCard). After alighting from the station, you can walk 1.6 kms for 20 mins to the farm or take a cab for NTD 150 (for 2 pax).
Some cab drivers offered a ride from Rainbow Village already directly to the flower farm but we declined because it's NTD 800 for just the two of us. We're glad we declined since we had lesser expenses taking the bus and train instead.
If you have a week-long stay in Taiwan anytime soon in your future travel, don't forget to include these spots! I swear our 6-day stay wasn't enough since we were not able to visit Cat Village at Ruifang. :( By the time I'll go back, I'll plan itineraries that would include bus and local trains most of the time (and hope I won't get lost). :)
Again, if you're planning to visit Taipei only, here's a post about the must-see spots in this link.
Feel free to comment down your suggestions and experiences as well! Xie Xie :)