For you expats or foreigners who have never left Taipei, Miaoli is a large rural county in central Taiwan. For years I myself never visited, because I didn't know what was there and had no reason to go. It turns out there are quite a few attractions here in this secret paradise.
Below I will list out some of the best places in Miaoli that I have visited. I will be sure to update this blog as I visit more places later.
How to get around in Miaoli?
As always, we recommend renting a scooter as the best way to see Taiwan. However, you can also a great deal of Miaoli by taking the train, inter city bus, or local bus. Getting around in a car is also a convenient option as there is plenty of parking pretty much everywhere in this less crowded county.
You can see a map of all the places that we will visit in this blog below:
The Miaoli Hakka Roundhouse is an exhibition center focused on local Hakka culture, as well as a tourist center, performance hall, and DIY art center. It was completed in 2014 and was built to resemble the Tulou Roundouses in Fujian, China. Taiwan has no historical roundhouses. Even if it is not historically accurate, it is a beautiful building with some very educational exhibitions on Hakka culture.
The Hakka people are a subgroup of Han Chinese that migrated from North Central China to southern China to avoid social unrest, occupying now what is Fujian, Guangdong, and Taiwan. These moves were aided by "guest household" policies during at different times, such as under the Kangxi Emperor.
The Hakka people have a distinctive culture and language differing than that of their neighbors, because they came from a different part of China when cultures in the north and south were very divergent.
Roundhouses first appeared in China during the late Ming Dynasty (late 1500s). The were built round to match the many round hills in Fujian province. The Hakka people specialized in creating roundhouses, because it helped to centralize the community, create an easy defense against bandits and invaders, and save precious farmland. There are over 3000 roundhouses in Fujian, that attract over 4 million visitors a year. In 2008, the tulou roundhouses in Fujian became a UNESCO world heritage site.
During the cold war, the US mistook these roundhouses for nuclear missile silos.
Hakka people started moving to Taiwan in the late Ming Dynasty, along with Koxinga and other Ming loyalists.
Although there are no historical roundhouses in Taiwan, there are still many square Tulou (土樓) that served similar purposes as roundhouses.
The Miaoli Hakka Roundhouse was built in 2014 at a cost of 130 million NT. It was built to resemble the Tulou Roundhouses in Fujian, China. It is 3,400 square meters and has four stories.
After its construction, some people criticized the building for not being related to Taiwan Hakka culture. However, the government leaders defended the decision saying represented a fusion of Hakka culture which is a worldwide heritage, and that it was meant to increase tourism in the area.
9 AM to 5 PM, closed Mondays.
How to get there:
By train/HSR: Take the TRA Train to Fengfu Station, or take the HSR to Miali Station. The roundhouse is within walking distance.
By car: Drive to the HSR station in Miaoli. There is paid parking across the street from the roundhouse.
Please see below:
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living and working in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.