Qingtiangang in Yangmingshan National Park is a large grassland that lays on top of an old lava terrace. It is famous for the water buffalo that congregate here to graze, and is one of the most popular areas in the park. Besides enjoying views of wild water buffalo, there are also many hiking trails and historic trails nearby. Overall it is a family friendly destinations and one of the most popular attractions in Taipei City.
Qingtiangang, literally meaning "Hill Holding up Heaven" gets its name from the KMT Qingtian garrison that once guarded the hills and grasslands here. Officially it lies in Shilin District of Taipei, but parts of the grassland also lie in Jinshan District of New Taipei. The grassland lies 770 meters above sea level.
The area known as Yangmingshan now was formed by volcanoes about 700,000 years ago, forming many mountains about 1000 meters or less in northwestern Taiwan. The park still features active volcanoes, vents, and hot springs.
The original name of the area was Caoshan (grass mountain 草山). During the Qing Dynasty, the area was used to harvest sulfur, and many of the hills were burned to help catch sulfur thieves, Qingtiangang likely being one of these areas.
Sulfur mining at Dayoukeng Crater in Yangmingshan National Park started in the Qing Dynasty by a British mining company who first obtained the rights to mine here in 1897. Currently you can find lots of old mining equipment that were abandoned here. The Yulu Old Trail was built near Dayoukeng to transport mining materials, and extended over to Qingtiangang. Mining sulfur ended with the formation of Yangmingshan National Park.
In 1927 during the Japanese era, Yangmingshan was made as the first national park in Taiwan, then known as Datunshan National Park Association.
The area around Qingtiangang to Lengshuikeng was made into a ranch for water buffalo, and grass from Japan was planted here for them to graze.
In 1950 after the ROC took Taiwan, Chiang Kai-shek renamed the park after the philosopher Wang Yangming, and called the area Yangmingshan.
The KMT kept the ranch at Qingtiangang and continued to maintain it. They also built bunkers here and kept a garrison of troops.
In 1985, after resolving many land disputes, Yangmingshan National Park was officially designated as a national park in the ROC era.
In2018, a mother died after being pushed over by a water buffalo at Qingtiangang. In 2020, the family was awarded NT$3.96 million from the park and wooden fences were built around the grasslands shortly after.
The water buffalo at Qingtiangang are actually closely watched and cared for. Although they roam free around Yangmingshan, they are watched over by the Agricultural Associations of Jinshan, Shilin, Yangmingshan, and Beitou, and well as the national park management.
In the winter of 2020 which was unusually wet, tens of cows began to die of malnutrition, therefore the park took steps to supplement the diet of the remaining cattle. Many cows were brought to lower eve lavations for rehabilitation before being released back to Yangmingshan.
Due to its easy accessibility and nearby attractions such as Lengshuikeng and Qixingshan, it is a popular stop in Yangmingshan and has a parking lots and a visitor's center. In addition, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Taipei City.
The visitor's center is open from 9 AM to 4:30 PM.
(car parking 30-50 NT， scooter parking 20 NT)
How to get there:
By Car/Scooter: From Taipei, take provincial highway 2A north to the Zhuzihu Lookout. Keep right until you reach the turnoff the the Qingtiangang parking lot. Car parking is limited on weekends and the number of cars allowed up the mountain is also limited. There is also paid scooter parking.
On weekends this place can be the most popular place in the park, and cars can be backed up for up to an hour or more, so consider taking a scooter or bus.
By Bus: From Beitou MRT Station, Take Little Bus 9 (小9) to Qingtiangang Station (擎天崗).
Please see below:
Tainan Snake King Zoo (aka World Snake King Educational Farm 台南市世界蛇王教育農場) is a private zoo in Guiren District of Tainan with many rare and exotic reptiles, birds, and big cats, and others. There is also a restaurant inside that specializes in snake and alligator meat. Despite accusations of maltreatment, the zoo is still legally operating and accepting visitors daily. You could say that the Mr. Huang, the Snake King Zoo owner is the “Tiger King" of Taiwan. And yes there is a tiger.
The farm is now for sale, so come and see the Snake King Zoo before it's gone!
The Snake King Zoo is 23 years old.
At the time of its creation, then president Lee Teng-Hui was pushing for alligator farming in Tainan, which is how the farm started. At that time, there was no animal protection laws, and no regulations on how big cages should be. However the zoo has improved conditions for the animals overtime.
Over its history, it has raised over 5000 alligators.
Recently the zoo has been caught up in accusations of maltreatment of its animals, however after inspection from the EPA no illegal activities were found, and the zoo took measures to improve the quality of care for its animals.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, local tourism in Taiwan boomed, but in the summer of 2020 the Snake King Zoo only saw a few visitors per day (compared to hundreds of visitors per day in its prime).
Due to lack of income and pressure from constant debt, the zoo owner Mr. Huang (80 years old) announced in August 2020 that thezoo was for sale at a price of 160 million NT.
The zoo also includes a museum and restaurant that sells snake and alligator meat.
The zoo is still operating as normal but it seems its days are numbered.
8:30 AM to 5:00 PM every day.
100 NT (previously 200 NT) per person
How to get there:
By car/scooter: From Tainan HSR station, drive north on provincial highway 39, then take a left on Dade Road, and another left on Tainan City Highway 177. The Snake Zoo will be on your left, and there is parking available on site.
By bus: From Tainan HSR station, take the R3 shuttle north to Guiren District Office stop, then walk north about 20 minutes (or take a taxi) to the zoo.
Please see below:
The Songbo Temple Trail runs through the forest that goes from Ershui Village in Changhua County up the mountain to Songbo Temple in Nantou County. Along this trail one can spot lots of Formosan Macaques which are indigenous to Taiwan. If you come, you can enjoy a sure sighting of monkeys, but for your safety do not feed them or get close to them.
The Songbo Temple that overlooks Ershui Village, sitting on the edge of Nantou County, had its beginnings in the year1657 during the Dutch rule of Taiwan. The first temple structure (Shoutian Temple 受天宮 on the site was completed in 1745 during the Qing Dynasty, and has been renovated until this day. The temple is dedicated to the Zhenwu Emporer. I assume that the trail to the temple as existed since historical times.
1.4KM one way, about 250 meters of elevation gain.
Plan about 3 hours for this hike, or more if you stop for a while to look at Monkeys.
How to get there:
By Car/Scooter: From Ershui, cross to the west side of the tracks and north to Fengbai Raod (豐柏路) until you reach the trail entrance at Fengbo Plaza (豐柏廣場).
By Train: Take the TRA to Ershui station. From there, walk (1.5KM, 20 minutes) or take a taxi to the trail entrance at Fengbo Plaza (豐柏廣場).
Please see below:
Daqiu Island is a small island in Matsu (Lienchiang County), Taiwan that is home to hundreds of wild Sika Deer, and is a "deer watching paradise.“ Once home to a small village, then ROC military base, this island is now home to only one man that takes care of the hundreds of deer on the small island. It is a worth while day trip for anyone visiting the Matsu Islands.
Thousands of years ago, stone aged peoples once inhabited the Matsu Islands, including Daqiu Island itself. These stone aged people later disappeared.
The Matsu islands were inhabited again around theSong Dynasty (990 - 1200 AD) by Chinese Fisherman, the descendants of whom still inhabit the islands today.
Daqiu Island literally means "Big Hill" in Chinese. This is because the entire island is one big hill.
Around 200 years ago, these fisherman started to inhabit Daqiu Island. At its height in 1970, the island had 45 households and 280 inhabitants.
Due to poor quality of life, over fishing, and inconvenient transportation, most the of the inhabitants slowly moved to other islands in Mastu or Taiwan.
In 1990, the last family on the island, surnamed Chen, moved off the island, leaving only soldiers and a military base as inhabitants.
In 1996, the military base on Daqiu Island closed down, leaving it an uninhibited ghost island.
In 2009, one man decided to move back to the island and start a tourist business based on the deer living on the island.
Currently there are regular ferry boats to Daqiu from Nangan during the summer, but in winter the boats must be chartered.
Why are there Sika Deer on Daqiu Island?
Sika Deer were originally raised in Matsu during the Chinese Civil War (1950-1970s) as a food supply for soldiers to eat. However the soldiers did not like deer meat that much, and as tensions with China eased, the practice was discontinued. The 13 deer that remained were sent to Daqiu Island in 1981 and left to become wild. Now there are around 200 deer living on the island.
When to go:
We recommend going In Spring to early Summer (April to June). If you go earlier it will not be so hot during the day, and you will be able to see the Blue Tear phosphorescent microbes in the water at night all around Matsu.
In the winter it is cold and windy, so we do not recommend going then.
How to get there:
Public Ferry from Nangan Fu'Ao Harbor (福澳港) (April to October):
350 NT round trip per person （Stops at Baisha Harbor in Nangan)
Nangan departure times: 9:50 AM, 1:30 PM, Daqiu departure times: 12:10 Noon, 3:40 PM
Trip takes about 20 minutes.
Public Ferry from Beigan Qiaozi Harbor (橋仔港) (May to October):
300 NT round trip per person
Beigan departure times: 8:30 AM, 2:30 PM, Daqiu departure times: 10:30 AM, 4:30 PM
Trip takes about 10 minutes.
Chartered ferries: Around 300 NT per round trip.
Ask your hostel in Beigan (like we did) or try the following phone numbers (in Chinese):龍福號娛樂漁船：馬祖北竿鄉塘岐村273-8號
Please see below:
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling 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.