Taiwan – Gardens, History, Culture & Food

We are working on a date for this tour and if you are interested send me an email at donna@icangarden.com

Taiwan, an island 180 km east of China, also known as Isla Formosa, is a travel destination that is still so underrated. Like many other travel destinations, Taiwan has a lot to offer the world, starting from its nature to its people. This Beautiful Island’ is a laid back, sub-tropical island full of history, wonderful people and landscapes of such beauty, you will be amazed. This tour will just touch the surface of so many experiences you will enjoy, leaving you happy that you came…. With its unique blend of Chinese culture threaded with Japanese and American influence, you’re guaranteed to be surprised and delighted at every turn.

Taiwan has amazing food. The Taiwanese love to eat, and they especially love to eat out, so there are restaurants, snack stalls, and food markets everywhere. Taiwanese cuisine is a rich mixture of different regional mainland Chinese, indigenous aboriginal, and Japanese cuisines with just a touch European influence.

The most important thing about Taiwan is that you do not need a Visa to visit. I have been to Taiwan a few times and can truthfully say that it is very different from China…it has a very distinctive Japanese vibe to it because of them being here. It is a country with really nice happy people and I expect it is because the country is so green and naturally landscaped. It truly is…a country of contrasts, shrines as thick as convenience stores and adorned with floral motifs, colour every where you look and to soften the effect, green from little home gardens to the trees and tea farms…Spring is a beautiful time to visit as there will be cherry blossoms, peach blossoms, hydrangeas, azaleas, camellias and many others in bloom.

Tainan City, a city located in the southwest coast of Taiwan, is one of the most historical cities in Taiwan. From 1683 to 1883, during the Qing dynasty, Tainan was the capital city of the island nation before it moved to Taipei. Nowadays, the city is mainly known for its old alleys, museums, and temples, making it one of the go-to historical cities in Taiwan. Tainan is, indeed, the perfect city for a traveler who is looking for history in Taiwan. The city is replete with historical sights, from Dutch Forts and centuries-old temples to Japanese-eraHayashi Department Store and 321 Art Alley Settlement – once a military housing turned artist’s village. As if that weren’t enough, Tainan is also widely considered the culinary capital of Taiwan, with some of the best street eats to find in Taiwan.

Kaohsiung, the largest city and port in Southern Taiwan, has been called the “street art capital of Taiwan.” The city government not only permits but encourages street art in particular areas. Reflections of Kaohsiung’s history and tradition can be seen on murals, cheeky paintings on dustbins, and even the characteristic Taiwanese love for cute cartoon characters. So whip out your camera and strike a pose while appreciating the vibrancy and spirit of Kaohsiung’s very own art scene.

Things to try…

The red bean cake is a popular delicacy in Taiwan and was brought over by the Japanese. Originally, this cake is made from a mixture similar to a waffle mix and filled with red beans. However, some vendors modify their cakes and fill them with chocolate, vanilla cream, ice cream, etc. Different from other sweets and cakes in general, the red bean cake is best enjoyed when it’s warm.

Ice cream that is very famous among Taiwanese is not your typical ice cream; it is shaved ice cream. Shaved ice cream has quite the reputation in Taiwan, the best places to get a taste would be in the southern cities such as Kaohsiung… I had mango shaved ice with big pieces of fresh mango and condensed milk…also fantastic to try is Bubble Tea.

You might be brave and try the stinky tofu, I tried the deep fried…not bad once you get past the smell of it. Stinky tofu is probably one of the most famous delicacies in Taiwan. It is basically tofu that has been fermented long enough that it produces a certain odor.

And don’t forget the tea!

The best Taiwanese teas are like fine wines – smooth, complex, and flavourful with varied aromas and flavour profiles. Taiwanese tea can be sweet, roasted, floral, nutty, or grassy. They can have notes of honey, tobacco, fruit, or cream. They can be fresh, light and refreshing or deep, robust, and grounding. Tea is also very easy to find in Taiwan. The Taiwanese love iced tea, and although some are better than others, there are ice tea shops on almost every corner.

Many Taiwanese teas have been transplanted from China, but with a new terroir, they take on new characteristics, and some varieties have been developed only in Taiwan. Typically, they are named after the place where they are grown, for example, Alishan High Mountain tea comes from the area around Ali Mountain, but in some cases when seedlings from the original place are grown elsewhere they may still be given that name…. there are many to choose from.

And the famous pineapple cake…you will love this if you like shortbread as the wonderful not too sweet pineapple filling is surrounded by such a lovely shortbread like pastry…we will be making a stop on our last day in Taipei so that we can pick some up to take home at the most famous place where all Taiwanese go to get them. Last time there we stood in a line waiting to get ours and one of the fellows I was with bought 48 boxes to take home to the U.S. for his special friends….

Please click on each day to bring up the itinerary for that day

Day 1 - Thursday. Day of Arrival into Taipei

Arrive into Taipei and make your way to our hotel where you will have the rest of the day at leisure until the tour begins tomorrow. If you would like to be met and transferred to the hotel, we can find out what the cost will be. There are many ways to get to the hotel from the airport…. https://www.taipei-airport.com/transport.php

Your hotel in Taipei is the Sonnien Hotel. Please Note that Check in is from 3 pm on. If you are arriving on a very early flight you might want to consider booking a pre tour night.

Sonnien is a one of a kind hotel where the beauty of Oriental aesthetic is combined with the modern simplicity style of the West. All eighty-nine guest rooms are decorated with warm colors and soft lighting. In addition, we have painstakingly chosen the reputable Slumberland bed range for its renowned quality and comfort. Your Standard Double or twin sharing room includes free wifi, hairdryer, fridge, 110v outlets, safe. http://www.sonnien-hotel.com/en/

Day 2 - CKS Memorial Hall, Taipei 101, Tao Zhu Yin Yuan and Dihua Street

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall was built to celebrate the long-serving first president of Taiwan, Chiang Kai-Shek. Construction on the hall started in 1976, a year after President Chiang passed away. Designed by C.C. Yang, this historic landmark was opened in 1980 as a feature of a national park and assembling area. Originally intended as a memorial, it has become so much more in the decades since. The octagon-shaped white building rises 76 meters and is covered with blue tiles and red accents, echoing the flag of the Republic of China. The eight sides represent the Chinese cultural symbolism of the number eight which is traditionally associated with fortune and wealth. The two sets of 89 steps represent Chiang’s age of death and lead up to main hall housing a large bronze statue of Chiang protected by military personnel which change hourly. Besides the main hall, the large complex includes the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial ParkNational Concert Hall and the National Theater.

Towering above the city like the gigantic bamboo stalk it was designed to resemble, Taipei 101 is impossible to miss. At 508m, Taipei 101 held the title of ‘world’s tallest building’ for a number of years. Until 2011 it held the title of the world’s tallest green building. The pressure-controlled lift up is quite a rush; at 1010m per minute it takes a mere 40 seconds to get from ground level to the 89th-floor observation deck. Observation decks are on the 88th and 89th floors, with an outdoor deck on the 91st floor opened on some occasions, weather permitting. Don’t miss the massive gold-coloured iron wind damper that keeps the tower stable through typhoons and earthquakes. (For those into Starbucks, the highest Starbucks in the world is in this building on the 35th floor. You must book a least a day in advance. The view is spectacular and time limited there is 90 minutes. Call +886 2 8101 0701 to reserve)(there is also another Starbucks on the ground floor)

As Asian cities battle air pollution, eco-friendly solutions are on the rise – and this twisted skyscraper in Taiwan is one of them! Paris-based architect Vincent Callebaut wants his buildings to be more than your average tower block. His vision is ambitious: create an energy-saving, carbon-absorbing civilization to fight global warming. “I want to give hope for a better tomorrow,” he says. One of his eco-friendly ideas is taking root right now in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital city. When Agora Garden is completed, the residential complex will be covered in 23,000 trees and shrubs on the ground and on the balconies and more. While Callebaut likens the building to an urban forest, its appearance is actually modeled after a strand of DNA — a double helix twisting 90-degrees from base to top.  We will do a photo stop only…


…and just in case you didn’t know Vincent Callebaut is also one of the architects who has submitted a new roof design for Notre Dame….he is definitely passionate  https://www.dezeen.com/2019/05/09/notre-dame-roof-vincent-callebaut-energy-food-farm/

Cutting through Datong District is one of Taipei’s historic and gorgeous neighborhoods. Dihua Street offers visitors a glimpse of mid-19th century Taipei as well as the city’s thriving artistic side. Running between Nanjing West Road and Minquan West Road, the street is known as being the heart of Dadaocheng, the oldest still-surviving neighborhood in Taipei, and also for its traditional medicinal tea, sundries, fabric and tailor shops. But there is still more to explore along Dihua Street with its historic architecture, art galleries and contemporary craft shops. Pay special attention to the buildings and you can even spot some great examples of Qing dynasty and Japanese colonial architecture, which are pretty uncommon.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

Day 3 - Shilin Residence, Grand Hotel, Yangmingshan National Park Flower Clock & Guangfu Building Garden 91

The former residence of Chiang Kai-shek and his wife Soong Mei-ling, the Shilin Official Residence is a designated historical site open to the public as a museum celebrating their accomplishments as well as their contributions to the growth of Taiwan in the modern era. Besides the main residence, other buildings within the compound include the guesthouse, Victory Chapel, Ciyun Pavilion, and numerous gardens. The garden is full of wisteria, cherry blossoms, chrysanthemums and roses favored by the couple. Flowers bloom according to season and make for a stunning view throughout much of the year. Victory Chapel was completed in 1949, and was used as the place of worship (they were both devout Christians). Besides the President and first lady, General Chang Hsueh-liang, General Ho Ying-chin (and their wives), as well as United States Presidents Eisenhower and (then VP) Nixon attended services at this chapel. On display is Soong Mei-ling’s large clothing and accessory collection (she was very highly regarded politically, American-educated, and well known for her strengths in soft diplomacy, and also comparable in fashion sense to American first lady Jackie O), including various western-influenced pieces and also Chinese-influenced pieces such as qipao and access to her painting room (Madame Chiang’s Studio) where President Chiang often composed poetry to accompany her paintings.

We will make a photo stop here just so you can see this remarkable building…. I have seen it twice now and cannot explain just how gorgeous it is with those vermilion red columns, you must see it. Taipei Grand Hotel (also designed by C.C. Yang), a 14-story palace-like building established by Madam Chiang, Soong Mei-ling. It is one of the worlds tallest Chinese classical buildings at 285 feet high and was built to accommodate foreign guests. Since 1952, the Grand Hotel has been standing midway up Yuanshan, a towering building with red columns, gilded tiles and a magnificent, grandiose, regal, classic presence, a must-visit great gem of Chinese culture.

Yangming Park is one of the first stops that visitors often make while exploring Yangmingshan. The park contains a Chinese-style garden with elegant buildings, pavilions kiosks, streams, fountains and ponds for visitors to relax and enjoy the cooler climate. Some unique flora within and around the park include cherry blossoms, azaleas, camellias, peach blossoms, thorn apples, and plum blossoms, changing with the seasons. From December through April, the landscape is adorned with native cherry, plum, camellia, peach, and azaleas, and this time period is known as the flower festival. The Flower Clock is a large garden artwork nearby the western entrance to the park. A symbol of Yangmingshan National Park, the Xinhai-Guangfu Building is cozily nestled in thick woods. This sumptuously decorated, two-story Chinoiserie structure was completed in 1971 to mark the 60th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution. Located at the geological center of Yangmingshan National Park, this building offers a spectacular view of the Taipei Basin in the distance. A pond in front of the building, observable from the second-floor veranda, is a children’s favorite as they are allowed to feed the varicolored carp in it. Adding quaint and solemnly elegant appeal to Gaungfu Building are exquisite carvings, paintings and numerous other typical Chinese architectural details that subtly make references to literature classics. When the flowers are in full bloom, the building becomes an island in a sea of cherry blossom petals. So just indulge yourself in this phenomenon by lingering around the circuitous corridors while appreciating the interplay between blossoms and the elusive mountain mist.


Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

Day 4 - National Palace Museum, Jianguo Flower Market and In Blooom

This extraordinary collection of historic art treasures, fascinating for its depth and breadth, has miraculously escaped destruction over hundreds of years. Some pieces date back to the tenth century. The National Palace Museum (NPM) houses a magnificent collection of precious Chinese artifacts and serves the role of protecting human and art histories. The NPM’s artifact collection comprises items inherited from the Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing courts. When the construction of the Museum in Waishuanxi, Taipei, was completed in August 1965, President Chiang Kai-shek inscribed the name of the museum as “Chung-shan Po-wu-yuan” on a tablet above the door in honor of the nation’s founding father, Dr. Sun Yat-sen. The Museum was officially inaugurated on November 12 of that year. The construction of the Zhishan Garden, which lies to the left of the Museum, began in 1984. A fine example of traditional Chinese landscaping, the garden’s picturesque pavilions and terraces, small bridges, ponds and winding paths offer a relaxing atmosphere. The beams and pillars of the pavilions are carved with couplets in elegant calligraphy that uplift the spirit. The land on the right side of the Museum grounds was turned into the Zhide Garden with winding bridges over ponds and small pavilions. https://www.npm.gov.tw/en/ 

One of Taipei’s largest outdoor flower markets, stretching a full city block between Ren’Ai and Xinyi Roads, the Jianguo Holiday Flower market sells anything and everything related to flowers and gardening. The market is especially well known as a place where merchants and growers can directly exhibit their goods to consumers, offering a massive variety of goods at over 200 stalls. Located in a repurposed parking garage, the market is shielded from adverse weather while still keeping an open-air atmosphere for patrons to enjoy. Make sure you have plenty of room in your camera or phone for photos!

In Blooom – A quick stop to a shop that is run by women, all into the environment, teaching others to not use disposable items, to consciously reduce the amount of garbage produced by oneself and to cherish energy, save water and electricity.  The designs they create in fabrics and other products inspire environmental thinking. https://www.inblooom.com/

Breakfast and Lunch included with dinner on own

Day 5 - Taipei Botanical Garden, Jiufen Old Village and Shifen Old Street

The Taipei Botanical Garden was first built as a nursery (Taipei Nursery) in 1896 during the Japanese colonial period. It was later expanded and renamed Taipei Botanical Garden in 1921 and became the first botanical garden in Taiwan. The garden was reassigned to be under the management of Taiwan Forestry Research Institute after WWII. The Garden occupies 8.2 hectares which contains the gardens of Gymnosperms, Ferns, Taxonomic Garden, Ethno-plants, Aquatic plants, Lotus pond, Taiwan Indigenous Plant Display Area and other theme exhibition sites with a collection of more than 2,000 plant species. It has become one of the most important institutes for research and educational resources for plants in Taiwan. Taipei Botanical Garden also happens to be an unearthed cultural relic of the old Taipei Lake. Around 4,500 years ago, the lake became habitable land, and human activities started to take place in the area. The abundant cultural remnants left behind makes the botanical garden an important archeological site in Taiwan. It is a quiet peaceful garden in the middle of Taipei, ideal for a stroll while looking at the many different plants. Many places to sit with lots of shade. Signs and information boards around the park are both in English and Chinese characters. A Japanese house and garden that had been recreated had many of the design features found in traditional Japanese houses and a lovely little raked stone garden at the back. https://tpbg.tfri.gov.tw/en/Introduction.php

We will then visit JiuFen Old Village in Pingxi…where you will enjoy a glimpse of Taiwan in the olden days. It is full of things to photograph and also full of delicious snacks that the locals love and shops to wander including some delightful old teahouses with iconic red lanterns. Also here is a special shop that sells filtered coffee and apparently it is very very good. Another thing to try are the taro balls, It is a very different area compared to modern Taipei. Founded during the Qing Dynasty, this small town was a relatively isolated village until the discovery of gold during the Japanese occupation in 1893, quickly developing the town due to the gold rush. Many buildings in the town remain unchanged to this day, reflecting the Japanese influence on both architecture and culture on the island. With an unmatched old town atmosphere and seaside flair, Jiufen is a must see spot when visiting northern Taiwan. No matter which way you choose to enjoy it, you’ll be sure to come away from Jiufen with some of the most memorable photos of your trip to Taiwan.

Shifen Old Street is a bustling hub for those eager to get a glimpse of an old railroad town which still retains the charm of yesteryear. Originally built to transport coal, the Shifen Old Street stop has now become one of the most popular on the Pingxi rail-line. It is easy to see why so many are drawn here – local food, souvenir shops and puffing trains add to the charm of this little gem, as well as make it a fantastic place for photography.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Included

Day 6 - Rainbow Village, Chungshe Flower Market & Lavender Cottage

Rainbow Village Taichung easily tops the list of most “Instagrammable” places in Taichung, and it is quickly becoming one of the hottest new things to do on a visit to Taiwan. Huang Yong-fu, the “Rainbow Grandpa” Huang’s artwork has been called a kind of surrealism, with elements of humour, childishness, and love. He is also obviously an animal lover. He has even been called the Hayao Miyazaki of Taiwan. You can read much more on this here…https://www.nickkembel.com/rainbow-village-taichung-taiwan/

Located in the Houli District of Taichung, Chungshe Tourism Flower Market covers a vast area of six hectares with landscapes that change throughout the four seasons. No matter what time of the year, a feast for the eyes will always be guaranteed at Chungshe Tourism Flower Market. In this breathtaking garden that has a zesty European flair, you will be amazed by myriads of flowers from tulips, sunflowers to lavender and cosmos flowers. To make sure your visit is an educational one, all the flowers here are identified with signs which provide visitors with information about their names and functions.

Once upon a time, two coffee-loving, herb-loving young women loved to draw and record their feelings in music as they travelled. Tired after working for years in the huge cities of Taipei and Kaohsiung, they decided to quit their jobs and start new lives as farmers. They bought a hill in the middle of nowhere, where even a cell phone signal was hard to come by. And there they toiled growing lavender, their dream of a hillside coffee shop surrounded by lavender always in the front of their minds. After years of hard work, the dream was realized. And thus, Lavender Cottage was born. While this is no Provence, Lavender Cottage is one of the coziest, cute and relaxing little places you can find in Taichung. Somehow, the purple decorations dotted around the pretty little garden make the grass seem even greener. When you’re done, the little market selling lavender products, such as soap and bath products, are a wonderful reminder of your  visit. http://pinoytraveljunkie.com/lavender-cottage-taichung/

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Included

NOTE: Last night in this hotel

Day 7 - Anping Tree House, Anping Old Fort, Chihkanlou and Guoxingye Shrine.

We have a busy day today as we head from Taipei to Tainan….

Natural and man made wonders join forces in Anping Treehouse, which is located in an old trading hub. When the warehouse closed in the 1940’s, a huge Banyan tree literally swallowed it, making it look like a place you only see in fairy tales. You can explore the site on foot, and you will surely be astounded by how the tree managed to grow. There’s also a skywalk, which will give you a bird’s-eye view of the treehouse. It’s the perfect opportunity to take photos. Behind it is an ecological pond.

When anyone in Taiwan mentions Tainan, the image of the famous fort at Anping always comes to mind. Anping Old Fort is one of the most historical forts in Taiwan – the fort was built by the Dutch from 1624 to 1634 and was originally named Fort Zeelandia, but was later renamed as Anping Old Fort in 1662. Nowadays Anping Old Fort functions as a museum where travelers can learn a little more about Taiwan’s history. Around the fort is Anping Old Street, a historical street where handmade products and food are sold.

Chihkan Tower on Minzu Road was built in 1653 by the Dutch, and served as their administration center until 1662. Fort Provintia (meaning eternity) was the original name, but after the Dutch colonial period, it was changed to Chihkan to honor the aboriginal village that originally stood there. Outside, you will see statues depicting the surrender of the Dutch to Koxinga, a commander of the Ming Dynasty. Inside, there are relics dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. You can also drop by the shrine dedicated to the god of examinations, Lord Kuixing. The tower’s brilliant mix of Dutch and Chinese architectural styles is enough to make your visit memorable. In front of Chikanlou(Chihkanlou)there are nine sets of stone turtles carrying plates. There were made in Qing Dynasty and were removed from elsewhere to be located here.

The Koxinga Shrine, surrounded by trees, is the only Fujianese style shrine in Taiwan. This is the shrine built in memory of the work and achievement of Cheng Cheng Kung, the pioneer of Taiwan and national hero.  For a shrine to a war hero, the Zheng Chengong Shrine is amazingly serene. It is flanked by a lovely garden and plum trees (one of which was reportedly planted by Zheng Chengong himself) grow in the back of the main hall. The shrine is itself a great museum with tons of information on the man and the founding of the city. Many of the plaques are even written in proper English, which goes to show the dedication put forth by the government. The shrine has been converted several times with changes in style appealing to Taiwan’s various occupiers. He is the one figure in Taiwanese history that was venerated by all of Taiwan’s rulers. Although he was their sworn enemy, when the Qing finally took Taiwan they still honored his achievements. The Japanese favored his Japanese heritage, and he was of course loved by the KMT whose retreat to Taiwan is a near re-enactment of his legacy.

Hotel : The Place Hotel, Tainan

Located off An Ping Chenghuan Temple, the property is set near Chihkan Tower, A fortress, a tower and a museum are just a short stroll away. Your Double or twin sharing room includes tea & Coffee making tray, hair dryer, mini fridge, bottled water, safe. There is a coffee shop and gift/newsstand in lobby. Also has a fitness center. You will need an electrical adaptor for your phone etc. Free wifi


NOTE: One night in this hotel

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Included

Day 8 - Fo Guang Shan Buddha Monastery, Dome of Light, Dragon & Tiger Pagodas, Shabby Garden & Liu He Night Market

Today after breakfast we leave Tainan to head to Kaohsiung… lots to see today!

The famous Fo Guang Shan in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, is an attraction that combines travel and a learning experience. This is a perfect site for travelers to learn and experience Buddhist culture while enjoying beautiful landscapes and architecture. Built in 1967, Fo Guang Shan is the biggest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan and was founded by Hsing Yun, a Chinese Buddhist monk. Fo Guang Shan covers an area of more than 30 hectares (74.13 acres), which includes shrines, university buildings, and also a cemetery. Apart from the monastery, there is also the Buddha Memorial Center. The most famous icon of the Buddha Memorial Center is the gigantic Buddha Statue with the height of around 108 meters (354.3 feet).

Inside the MRT station on Formosa Boulevard in Kaohsiung is a breathtaking ceiling made of stained glass that makes the daily commute feel like a trip to Paris’ prized chapels. Designed by an Italian artist, its 4500 panels are divided into four colours which symbolise the co-existence of the world’s first elements: water, earth, fire and light. Called the ‘Dome of Light’ designed by Narcissus Quagliata. It is 30 metres in diameter and covers an area of 2,180 square metres and is the largest illuminated art-glass dome in the world. Quagliata is perhaps the artist most responsible for the use of fused glass as an art form in large installations. Born in Rome in 1942, Quagliata has been working with glass for over 40 years. His work has been shown in New York’s Metropolitan Museum and the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery. We will make a stop here so you can photo the beauty of this masterpiece….meet the creator here… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0HWdZBTbQU

Lotus Pond is an artificial lake and a popular destination also located at Zuoying District. Established in 1951, Lotus Pond is well known for its many lotus plants and temples, including the Spring and Autumn Pavilions, Dragon and Tiger Pagodas and the Confucian Temple.

Shabby Garden is a sweet little flower and accessory shop loaded with all kinds of goodies. We will spend a bit of time here oohing and ahhing over plants and perhaps even take home some unique garden accessory. They only have a facebook page but you can click on the photos there to see the kinds of things they have. https://www.facebook.com/shabbychicgarden/

We will stop at the Former British Consulate at Shiziwan Bay for sunset view…

Sitting 70 meters (229 feet) above the Kaohsiung Port and Sizihwan is the historical building of the British Consulate at Takao. This building was built on the peak of Shaochuantou and towers above the view of Sizihwan and the Kaohsiung Port. The British Consulate was built after the Treaty of Peking which took place in 1860 and enforced the local government to open ports for foreign trade at several cities including Takao, the city now known as Kaohsiung. In 1867, this building was granted to Britain as their consulate. However, in 1909, the Japanese government took over all foreign consulates in Taiwan and converted this particular building into an ocean observatory in 1931. Since then, the building has experienced a few major destructions, including a bombing in World War 2 and a typhoon in 1977.

Then we end our day at the Liu He Night Market  …During the day, Liuhe 2nd Road will look like any other road in Kaohsiung. However, the road is closed off after 6 PM and it transforms into the famous Liu He Night Market. The night market runs for 3 blocks straight and is filled with numerous food stalls…

Hotel : Howard Plaza Hotel, Kaohsiung

Your room includes safe, bar fridge, free wifi.


NOTE: One night in this hotel

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Included

Day 9 - HSR to Taipei, Bagua Tea Plantation and ChiaTe Bakery

This morning we head back to Taipei on their High Speed Rail. This is a fantastic way to travel as you will discover. It will take us just 90 minutes to make this journey at speeds of up to 300 kph and a very comfortable and very clean ride. Once back we have a visit to Bagua Tea Plantation in New Taipei City…

Terraced tea fields …endless views of them, nestled in the green mountains and forests about an hour outside of Taipei. The Pinglin area is surrounded by verdant mountains and forests and is renowned for its many tea plantations, the most well known being the Bagua Tea Plantation. This area is the main growing region for the popular Pouchon, or Baozhong, oolong tea, spring tea—the most important economic resource in the region. More than 80% of the local residents are part of the tea industry. Harvesting season is April/May. This remarkable landscape also affords you some pretty spectacular photos. Take a look at this very soothing video on the tea plantation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdyvQx6U4eI

-Despite all the varieties available, all true teas are brewed from cured leaves of the same plant, Camellia sinensis. Tea originated in Southwestern China, becoming a popular recreational drink during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-904), then spread to other parts of Asia. Tea didn’t become big in England until the British began cultivating it in India in the 17th century. The two main varieties of tea are Camellia sinensis var. sinensis (Chinese tea) and Camellia sinensis var. assamica (Indian tea).

Our last stop on the tour is to ChiaTe Bakery to pick up pineapple cakes to take home…this is the premier pineapple cake bakery and where the locals buy…the buttery pastry wraps around the tropical, sweet filing, making a melt-in-the mouth delight. They were traditionally eaten for ceremonies like weddings and engagement parties because ‘pineapple’ in Taiwanese Hokkien sounds similar to the phrase ‘to come forth, prosperous and thriving’ (i.e. we hope you’ll have lots of children). But when Taiwan’s huge pineapple production shifted to more domestic consumption, bakeries wanted to get in on the trend and started making pineapple cakes in their masses. The ChiaTe Bakery makes some of the best pineapple cakes around and it’s got an interesting history as well.

The owner, Chen Tang-peng, (yes, another woman who was passionate enough to start her own business) grew up watching local boys bringing cakes and bread back to her village after work. Although she was part of a fishing family, she was enticed by the sweet-smelling fragrance of freshly-baked goods and started an apprenticeship as a baker. She moved to Taipei when she was 18 and opened ChiaTe Bakery when she was only 26. Word spread quickly about the delicious ChiaTe pineapple pastry and the small business became one of the most successful bakeries in Taipei. This reputation only improved when she won first place in a prestigious pineapple cake competition. The ratio of pastry to filling is simply perfect. The tropical pineapple adds a nice tanginess, a tart flavour that lasts long afterwards and leaves you wanting more. If you’re actually not a big fan of pineapple then you can try similar cakes in strawberry, melon or even prune flavour to get a hint of what everyone’s talking about. The nougat biscuits are great! ….p.s. if you want more, you can also pick these up at the airport…

We will then head back to the first hotel that we stayed at, the Sonnien, for our last night of the tour.

Hotel: Sonnien Hotel, Taipei

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

Day 10 - Day of Departure

After breakfast this morning make your way to the Taoyuan airport for your flight home…


9 Nights Accommodation 4 Star Hotels

9 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 7 Dinners

Visits to all noted as per each day itinerary

Fully Guided

Coach and Driver

High Speed Rail Ticket

Tips and Gratuities

Incredible Memories…

Not Included:

Flights, insurance, meals and drinks not noted, items of a personal nature and extra hotel charges such as luggage porterage and daily maid servicing.


Land package in TBC per person for Twin sharing or Double

For those wanting their own room please add in TBC to above price

We can arrange pre or post tour nights as well – please let me know if you want pre or post tour nights

Twin, Double or Single room in TBC per room per night inclusive of Breakfast.

Tour is priced in USD.. please convert into your own currency.

Tour is priced in the currency we pay our suppliers at destination. Due to exchange rate volatility, we only convert to Canadian dollars at time of final payment at the prevailing exchange rates at that time. Your final payment will be in Canadian Dollars.

Note: Minimum of 10 must be registered for this tour to run, so please do not book your air until you are notified that we have reached this.

Email: donna@icangarden.com

Tour is subject to changes in itinerary but not in dates

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