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Taiwan’s Unique Seasonal Beauty

2021/05/09
In the subtropics, the natural landscapes change with the seasons in Taiwan. In each of the four seasons, there are unique vistas to see as you explore Taiwan. 

Scenery Only Seen in Spring
 
  • Observation of Cherry Blossoms (From January to April)
As the weather begins to warm up in spring, the romantic season of cherry blossoms starts in Taiwan. The secret lands of cherry blossoms range from the north to the south. We strongly recommend the cherry blossom festival in Nantou Aowanda National Forest Recreation Area and the Chiayi National Forest Recreation Area.

cherry blossom

The Cherry Blossom Festival in Aowanda starts in January, and the blossoms usually last for about two months. There are more than a thousand ornamental cherry trees grown in the area, including three major species, the pink single-petalled Taiwan Cherry which is the earliest to bloom, the bright-red Formosa Sakura which blooms in February, and Taiwan’s endemic species, the low-profile and unique Wusheh Cherry, which has white single-petalled flowers rather than the usual pink or red cherry blossoms. There are also various mountain birds which can be seen throughout the area. Surrounded by an abundance of beautiful natural landscapes, you can slow down, and either sit, stand, or lie on the ground to take in the beauty of the blossoms on this short, healing journey.

There are different species of cherry trees in Alishan, including Taiwan Cherry that blooms in February, as well as the Formosa Sakura, Wusheh Cherry and Japanese Showa cherry that bloom one after another. Of all the species, the most prolific are the light-pink single-petalled Yoshino Cherry trees. The Yoshino Cherry in front of the Alishan Station is given the name King Cherry Blossom, and is the must-see attraction in the recreation area. The entire blooming period can last until early April; visitors can see different species and colors at different times, including Taiwan Pleione Formosana, which blooms at the same time as the cherry trees. Spring is a season of color in Alishan, when a ride on the small train through the cherry blossom garden is a romantic experience that can’t be missed. 

cherry blossom festival in Nantou Aowanda National Forest Recreation Area   cherry blossom festival in Nantou Aowanda National Forest Recreation Area
 
  • Hehuanshan High-Altitude Azaleas (April to May)
Hehuanshan is at an altitude of over 3,000m. During April and May, the mountain awakes in the spring when the snow starts to melt. At this time, different azaleas bloom in white, carmine rose and pink; this beautiful display announces that spring has arrived. Taiwan’s endemic species, the Yushan Rhododendron, blooms the earliest; the color changes from pink to a lighter color as the blooms mature. A little later, the Red-hairy Rhododendron blooms. Although the dark pink petals are smaller than those of the Yushan Rhododendron, the sea of Red-hairy Rhododendrons is still a beautiful sight. These Azaleas can only be seen in spring and the best places to see them are the four scenic attractions of Xiaoqilai, Hehuan East Peak, Hehuan Main Peak and Shimenshan. During the flowering season, the Mt. Hehuan Service Station has active live streaming of high-altitude flowers. Visitors can check the real-time image of blossoms ahead of their travel schedule.

Rhododendron pseudochrysanthum Hayata   Rhododendron rubropilosum in Hehuanshan National Forest Recreation Area
 
Scenery Only Seen in Summer:
 
  • Firefly Festival (March to September) 
The seasonal changes of spring and summer are when the fireflies swarm. They can be seen in mountain forests or near rivers. The top three most-visited firefly-watching spots are the Chiayi Alishan area, Pingtung Kenting Sheding Park and Hualien Guangfu Danongdafu Forest Park. 

Besides its world-famous sunrise, sunset, sea of clouds and small train, Alishan is also home to abundant and diverse ecosystems. Accounting for two-thirds of the insects in Taiwan, about 42 different species of fireflies can be seen from the end of spring until the early winter. The distribution ranges from the lower altitudes to intermediate altitudes, Taiwan’s best place to easily observe fireflies. Every year starting from April, several communities jointly promote the Firefly Festival, including Taixing, Ruili, Ruifeng, Fenqihu, Lijia, Leye, and Chashan. A selection of guided firefly tours and programs are available at night.

Danongdafu Forest Park is the spot to see fireflies everywhere at the earliest time of the year

Take the firefly-watching tour in southern Taiwan, Sheding Nature Park, near Kenting National Forest Recreation Area. It has a diverse natural ecosystem and unique coral reef terrain. Particularly the Luciola substriata can be seen here; it is one of Taiwan’s three aquatic firefly species, which breathe and walk differently from the terrestrial firefly. For this very rare firefly, the conversation of its habitat is very important. Also, the weather in Hengchun Peninsula is hotter, and so visitors have longer hours than any other place in Taiwan to observe fireflies. Every year from April to September, the largest number of fireflies swarm here; the park is one of “Taiwan’s top 10 firefly-watching spots”. 

In eastern Taiwan, the Danongdafu Forest Park is the spot to see fireflies everywhere at the earliest time of the year; it also has the largest coverage and is the most convenient spot to observe fireflies. Every year from the middle of March to the middle of April is when the biggest number of fireflies swarm. Besides the firefly-watching programs, visitors can take a relaxing ride along Taiwan’s longest forest bike path during the daytime, or can enjoy forest bathing and listen to the sounds of birds and insects. During the nighttime, they can lie on the grass and look at the starry sky or watch the flying fluorescent lights in the Totoro Tunnel, a happy experience of being surrounded by fireflies. 

Danongdafu Forest Park is the spot to see fireflies everywhere at the earliest time of the year   firefly

Scenery Only Seen in Winter:
 
  • Hengchun Gray-faced Buzzards (October)
If you love nature and wildlife, you must see the migration of the Gray-faced Buzzard. It is one of Taiwan’s most spectacular wildlife scenes.

During autumn and winter when the slope wind blows, the Hengchun Peninsula at the southernmost end of Taiwan is the most important stopover and habitat of Asian wild birds escaping the northern winter weather. Early October is the peak season when more than a hundred thousand Gray-faced Buzzards pass by the Hengchun Peninsula. The spectacular scenes of Gray-faced Buzzards hovering together in the sky attract birdwatchers from across Taiwan and around the world. The best spot to observe Gray-faced Buzzards is Lide Village in Manzhou Township, Pingtung County. Every year when Gray-faced Buzzards arrive, the Lide Community will set up telescopes and provide guided commentaries to the public free of charge.

A local tour guide will take you to a secluded private location in the Lide Community, where you can watch the Gray-faced Buzzards hovering above in the sky 〈Photo provider-Roger Rao〉   Each year in October you can admire hundreds of these spectacular flying buzzards hovering in the sky 〈Photo provider-Roger Rao〉
 
  • Aowanda Red Maple Leaves (November to December)
Aowanda National Forest Recreation Area is one of Taiwan’s most renowned maple tree scenic attractions. Every year in November and December, the maple leaves turn red. The Formosan Sweet Gum and Green Maple are the most prolific species in the area. The maple leaves turn bright yellow in early winter. When the weather gets colder and the rainfall is sufficient, the leaves turn red. Such romantic and poetic scenery is worth waiting for. Besides maple leaves, there are also different species of variegatum in the area, such as the Subcostate Crape Myrtle and Chinese Cork Oak, which decorate the land with their beautiful colors in the cold winter.

Enjoy the uniquely beautiful scenery featuring forest, red maples