Didn’t think that Taipei can still surprise me after 3 years, but it did. It still has that magic that happens every so often, when I just let myself explore it. So what the heck am I talking about? It’s the grassy seas of Qingtiangang.
When friends ask me what it’s like, my default answer’s always “like New Zealand” even though the closest thing I’ve been to New Zealand is that rolling hills I often saw on boxes of Anchor milk. 😛 Anyway, Qingtiangang is an underrated foreign tourist spot, yet very popular among locals. And it’s not difficult to understand why. I got chills, of the kilig kind, soon as I got off the bus when I first went here. It’s nothing like I’ve witnessed before. It’s one of those natural landscapes that can’t be unseen from your mind.
Going here, from Taipei, is super easy. You can ride a cab or take a car going up, but the twists and turns of Taiwan’s mountainous roads are a challenge to behold. So I would suggest going totally local and just board a bus off the Jiantan MRT station.
Take the MRT to Jiantan station then get off at Exit 1. Upon exit from the station, turn left and find a column of bus stop posts.
Walk ahead and find one that’s got 15. Wait by the stop, but if it’s a weekend there would most likely be a long line so just ask and line up like everybody else. The bus will arrive displaying S15 on its front LED light sign and it’s bound to be a small bus. In Taiwan, small buses mean you’d most likely go through a series of steep winding roads up an asphalt mountainside. So carsick people, beware.
As you board the bus, tap your EasyCard once before proceeding to find a seat. The ride lasts for about 45-50 minutes, and you don’t need to worry about missing your stop. The last stop is where you need to get off for Qingtiangang. Before going down the bus, make sure you tap your EasyCard again on the card scanner.
Once there, you’d immediately find the Qingtiangang Visitor Center where there are historical bits about how the entire area came to be.
Apparently, it was a valley formed by some volcanic eruption yeaaaars ago. Then history happened (military bases, aboriginal settlers, economic growth) and the place now also offers itself as a grazing area for cattles that cannot be touched. I repeat, please respect the cattles and let them go along their chill, just-gonna-traipse-through these-cords kinda life. Photos are acceptable though.
As you go up to Qingtiangang, you will find a small wooden gate that you just go through. Thereafter a path of stones becomes visible you must traverse yonder whilst soothing thy thirst for sights to behold. I almost imagined Bilbo Baggins wandering free across the grassy seas.
If you’re here for a limited amount of time, I suggest that you stick with the stony circular path. There are several trails that will lead you from Qingtiangang to other mountains that are part of Yangmingshan park. Actually, Yangminshan park is not the park in the boxed sense. It’s literally a mountain of parks. So if you’re visiting without a local (or me haha), better stick to one path and just enjoy the scene because I’m sure there’s plenty of positive juju enough for you to absorb just by walking along this basic path.
Qingtiangang is open daily, from 9AM to 5PM. If you’re boarding the bus back to Taipei, I’d suggest you leave around 4PM. You can definitely bring some food up, have a nice cozy picnic, don’t forget water as well, but just clean up after and make sure you leave nothing but footprints.
I think I’ll be back here again. It’s so worth it. And by then, hopefully, I’d get to check out those unknown trails beyond.