Where To Travel During Lunar New Year? 5 Alternative Escapes

Where To Travel During Lunar New Year? 5 Alternative Escapes
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What you need to know

Here are five alternatives to Taiwan’s major travel destinations you should visit during the Lunar New Year holiday.

Lunar New Year, the only seven-day public holiday in the Taiwanese calendar, offers ample opportunity to get out and explore. But with a small but persistent trickle of Covid-19 cases, the question of how to travel responsibly over the holidays remains highly relevant. 

As a vaccine rollout is unlikely before the second half of this year, travelers still need to avoid crowds and tourist hot spots during their vacation if they do not want to stay at home.

Thankfully, whether you’re looking to steal away for some well-earned beach time or escape to the mountains for a few blissful days, Taiwan offers plenty of breathing space to any traveler who is willing to stray a little further off the beaten track.

Here are five smart alternatives to Taiwan’s major travel destinations:

Rather than Kenting, visit Douli

About an hour’s drive up from Taitung along a ribbony, ocean-hugging highway, Douli (都歷) is an ideal base to explore Taiwan’s unspoiled southeast coast. Most visitors find a reason to linger longer than planned at its mirror-like black sand beach, which at high tide makes for some excellent photo ops. 

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Taiwan’s southeastern coast facing the Pacific Ocean

A short walk up from the sea is the Amis Folk Center, where you can learn about Taiwan’s largest indigenous group. Check online ahead of visiting for scheduled performances of traditional songs and instruments.

Instead of Sun Moon Lake, check out Chiaming Lake

While Sun Moon Lake typically bustles with tourists throughout the Lunar New Year holiday, Chiaming Lake (嘉明湖) is gloriously desolate. Its remote location makes it a remarkable site for stargazing on clear nights.

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Chiaming Lake, located in Haiduan, Taitung

Sitting at an elevation of 3,310 meters, this motionless mountain lake is known as the “Angel’s Teardrop” for its oval shape and deep sapphire hue. You’ll need a decent level of physical fitness to get there as the only way to reach the site is a three-day hike through Taitung’s mountainous interior. A permit is required for the hike, so the hiking trail is never crowded. Travelers need to reserve a campsite or cabin before their trip. 

Skip Shifen Waterfall and hike Sandiaoling

The hiking trail to the Shifen Waterfall, which features a series of suspension bridges and viewing platforms, is impressive, but often crowded over the holiday week. Thankfully, you won’t have to travel far to take afar less crowded trail to a breathtaking series of cascades. 

Two stops further from Shifen Station along the Pingxi Line, Sandiaoling (三貂嶺) is a quiet mountain trail that connects not one, but three waterfalls. It’s a fairly easy 2.5-kilometer trail from Sandiaoling Station to the last of the falls. From there, it joins the Chailiao Historic Trail, a six kilometer route through hilly woodlands to Houtong, famous for its cat village, which houses a huge feline population.

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A waterfall in Sandiaoling, New Taipei
Avoid Alishan and head for Wujie Taixing Tea Garden

With its terraced tea plantations and photogenic sunrises, Alishan is on everyone’s radar. Unfortunately, that’s precisely why Lunar New Year is not the time to visit — unless jostling shoulder to shoulder with daytrippers is your idea of a great getaway.

Instead, equally astounding vistas can be found in Taiwan’s central Nantou County, where Wujie Taixing Tea Garden (武界台興茶園)’s tightly raked terraces hug the hillside above a swirling sea of clouds. The site is easily accessible from the town of Puli, making it an excellent holiday base to explore the Central Mountain Range. Nestling among the mountains are the bucolic Cingjing Farm and Guanyin Waterfall, a 400-meter cascade that tumbles into a large pool in the valley behind a Buddhist temple.

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An oolong tea garden in Wujie, Nantou

Leave out Tainan and make it to Meinong

Taiwan’s former capital heaves with holiday visitors over the long break, but it isn’t the only place to soak up the island’s historic heritage. An hour’s drive out of Kaohsiung, Meinong (美濃)’s elegant courtyard houses hark back to its days of glory during the 18th century as a cultural center of Taiwan’s Hakka people. 

Guanshan Temple, with its ornate swallowtail roof, is a noteworthy stop for architecture buffs, but the old town’s warren of old streets, pottery shops, and studios hawking intricate paper parasols are more than enough to enjoy a lazy couple of days. For a few quiet hours, stop by the Meinong Shuangxi Tree Garden Trail, a Japanese era botanical site filled with exotic species from Asia, Australasia, and South America.

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Meinong, Kaohsiung

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TNL Editor: Bryan Chou (@thenewslensintl)

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