Chinese New Year is the most important time of the year for Taiwanese people. Taking place from the last to the fifth day of the lunar calendar, it tends to fall in late January/early February. There are formalities to be observed over the period. Ancestors must be prayed for and offered sacrifices, red envelopes filled with money must be given to family, Spring Couplets must be hung on front doors, houses must be thoroughly cleaned, fish must be prepared and friends and family must be visited. It is a busy time for everyone! But, given it is the only extended holiday in Taiwan’s yearlong calendar, locals still find the time to go out and enjoy themselves by visiting attraction sites all over the country…. The result? Heavy traffic jams and huge crowds almost everywhere!
So, Chinese New Year is not the best time to visit Taiwan. In fact, while shops and restaurants tend to remain open (except on the first and last day), the period is a very inconvenient time to visit and should be avoided if possible. Nevertheless, if you are in Taiwan over the Chinese New Year period, there are still some places that make for great New Year destinations to beat the crowds and have a memorable experience. Check out our ideas about the best places to head this Chinese New Year. Also take note of where absolutely NOT to go below!
Where to go:
Most people who come to Changhua either make a visit to the Great Buddha Statue of Baguashan or visit Lukang. But at Chinese New Year, these sites are, of course, both packed with holiday revellers. Nevertheless, other Changhua destinations can offer an uncrowded atmosphere free of traffic jams. In Changhua, you will find delicious meatballs (肉圓), braised pork belly rice (焢肉飯), and unique cafés to visit, suitable for those who are interested in food culture, but not particularly outdoorsy. Changhua Rail Roundhouse, situated not far from TRA Changhua Station, is particularly recommended. While you might find it difficult to find a carpark, it is worth the effort to watch the delight of the young and young at heart when they see trains speeding into the platform.
Otherwise, if you are privy to the taste of Lukang’s oyster omelette, then you might like to go fishing for fresh oysters yourself while in Changhua. Although at Chinese New Year there will probably be traffic jams to and from Wanggong Fishing Harbor, if you are feeling energetic, you might like to stop the car and wander down the coastline. Playing in the sand, watching the sunset and lighthouses, and finally returning to eat some gourmet seafood cuisine is a wonderful way to spend the New Year.
Changhua also has the world’s only temple structure made of glass, a Baroque-style mansion and a primary school which looks like one you might see in a fairy-tale, which can all feature in your Chinese New Year trip to Changhua.
Taoyuan does not have many resources for tourism, meaning that it is a great choice for a visit at Chinese New Year because you are very unlikely to find traffic jams to slow you up here. But although they are not well advertised, there are still some wonderful places to visit in Taoyuan that really suit a Chinese New Year trip. Xiaowulai Waterfall is one good choice, as gazing upon the powerful water rushing to the ground somehow feels an appropriate way to welcome in the New Year. Surrounding trails are also a great way to pass a day and a great way to escape the madness that otherwise is Chinese New Year. If you prefer café culture, make your way to downtown Taoyuan where you can enjoy afternoon tea, Japanese style buildings and shopping bazaars.
Over the last five years, Nantou’s Cingjing Farm has been packed full of cars and tourists at every holiday available. And if it happens to snow on Hehuanshan that year, you can bet the area will be busy enough to ruin your fun. Fortunately there are many other ranches available to explore in Taiwan. One of these of course is Miaoli’s Flying Cow Ranch, where it is easy to park and accommodation is available. As well as being able to feed sheep and rabbits, milk cows and watch groups of ducks parade to and fro, you can also bring your children here to participate in DIY workshops. The big grass areas here are also great for allowing children to explore to their heart’s content. Have a leisurely day in Miaoli, and beat the crowds while you’re at it!
Of course, there are also hot springs, wood carvings, old streets, black bean tofu and Cape Hope to be seen here. And the Chungshe Tourism Flower Market, Shenxiangu Waterfall, and even chocolate or soap DIY workshops make Miaoli a great destination for those with a range of interests.
East Rift Valley is a wonderful place to spend Chinese New Year because it is relatively uncrowded all year round. One of the most famous places here, is Liushidanshan, where it is possible to see beautiful flowering lilies during the correct season. However, if it not the right time for the flowers, camping here, and enjoying the rustic experience of cooking up a good meal under the stars waiting or for the sunrise can make for a memorable Chinese New Year.
But the east of Taiwan is famous not just for its beautiful landscapes. The region is also rich in Aboriginal culture and agricultural life, meaning that visits to numerous settlements can feature in your Chinese New Year planning. Of particular interest is Fenglin’s Tobacco Barn House Village, where you can still see where tobacco is grown, and where houses have been specially designed to flavour it, before it is transported to the factory to manufacture cigarettes.
There are some other treasures awaiting you in the East. Why not make your way to the famous Lintienshan, the picturesque Yunshanshui, or Fuyuan Butterfly Valley. Or if you want to pick clams and strawberries, Taiwan’s east is waiting for you!
Where not to go:
- Cingjing Farm: It must be the picture-perfect scenery of Cingjing Farm that makes it so crowded at Chinese New Year. Recommended any other time, but not now!
- Sun Moon Lake: As they also celebrate Chinese New Year, people from China love to come to Sun Moon Lake during their holiday. Too many people – avoid!
- Jiufen: Jiufen is always crowded, but at Chinese New Year it is even more so. You might find your whole holiday has been spent in a grid-locked crowd if you come here!
- Yilan: Very close to Taipei, Yilan only takes one hour to reach by car. Families especially love to stay at B&Bs in Yilan, meaning it can often be booked up well in advance over Chinese New Year.
- Tamsui: Tamsui is convenient to reach if travelling by MRT from Taipei, meaning it is super busy at Chinese New Year.
- Hualien City: Most tourists stay in Hualien City when travelling to eastern Taiwan over Chinese New Year. To make it even worse, many Hualien people who work in Taipei, Taichung, or Kaohsiung go home during this time, meaning it can be super busy.
- Kenting: In order to avoid the colder weather in the north, many young people now come to Kenting to celebrate Chinese New Year.
- Major night markets: such as Fengji Night Market, Raohe Street Night Market, Tainan Flower Night Market and Liuhe Tourist Night Market are all to avoided.
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