As a Taiwanese who marries a Singaporean, I feel it’s my responsibility to introduce the beauty of Taiwan to my husband. Except for places people usually go like Alishan (阿里山, A-Li-Shan) and Sun Moon Lake (日月潭, Ri-Yue-Tan), Makauy Ecological Park (馬告生態園區, Ma-Gao-Sheng-Tai-YuanQu) is a place that on the top of my to-visit list. And let me tell you why and how to get there.
Introduction To Makauy Ecological Park
Makauy Ecological Park (Official site here) is situated in Yilan County, Taiwan which contains 3 zones: Cilan (棲蘭, Qi-Lan), Mingchi (明池, Ming-Chi), and Divine Trees Garden (神木園, Shen-Mu-Yuan). Each zone is quite different with its unique selling points and offers distinct experiences within Makauy Ecological Park, allowing visitors to appreciate the natural landscapes, diverse flora and fauna, and ancient trees of the region.
Cilan (棲蘭, Qi-Lan)
Cilan is located on the conjunction of 3 rivers (蘭陽溪, 多望溪, and 田古爾溪) which makes visitors can explore the diverse flora and fauna of the region through walking trails, observation decks, and guided tours. It provides opportunities to learn about the local ecology and wildlife conservation efforts.
If you visit during April to June like me, you can see people grow watermelons on Lanyang River (蘭陽溪, Lan-Yang Xi). The tourguide said the river is also flowing underground so that’s why the watermelon can be planted on the river.
Watermelon plantation on Lanyang River.
The walking trails in Cilan is not tough so you can just enjoy the fresh air and try to explore the creatures along the way.
Walking trails in Cilan.
Mingchi (明池, Ming-Chi)
Mingchi is famous by the scenic lake surrounded by lush vegetation in the mountain. The altitude is about 1,150 to 1,700 meter high. It offers a tranquil setting for visitors to enjoy the beauty of nature, take leisurely walks, and appreciate the serene atmosphere. And you can also see creatures like black swans, birds, butterflies, and more. It’s an ideal place if you want to escape from the hot weather.
Mingchi in fog.
Once a year, there is a special show performed in the lake. I’ve visited the show 池中劍II-英雄會 (Chi-Zhong-Jian-Er-Ying-Xiong-Hui) in April 2023. Stunning view with percussion music and dance gave me a very refreshing experience and I enjoyed it! Below is the recording during encore. If you are interested, you can check the official website here.
Divine Trees Garden (神木園, Shen-Mu-Yuan)
The Divine Trees Garden is the largest divine trees garden in Asia. Attitude is around 1,600 meter high. Nearly 100 divine trees including Benihi and Hinoki have grown in this area over a thousand year. All of those divine trees are the survivors from the felling activities in Taiwan history. This means those tree are either in a wild shape (ie. not straight) or hallow inside. Each divine trees is named from all the Ancient Sages based on the tree’s “attitude” and shape. Virtual tour is available here.
Divine Trees Garden Map, screenshot from official site
No 5. Divine Trees, 司馬遷 (Sī-Ma-Qian).
Walking trail in Divine Trees Garden.
Bear-like trunk in Divine Trees Garden.
Why Should / Shouldn’t You Visit Makauy Ecological Park
For people who fit the below criteria, you can consider visiting Makauy Ecological Park:
- You like natural views with a light-medium level of hiking experience.
- You have already been to Taiwan several times and want to explore other parts of Taiwan.
- You plan to go mountains but don’t want to drive.
- You have sufficient time on your Taiwan trip since it takes time to get there. (A 2-day itinerary is preferred.)
- You are ok to travel with a small group as Divine Trees Garden is a restricted area that you can only visit there by joining the tour group.
- You can compromise yourself to be in a lesser clean place. It’s not saying the place is dirty, but in the reserved area (ie. Divine Trees Garden), there is a chance you need to flush your human waste with a water scoop.
If you say NO to most of the points above, you can discontinue reading this article. And maybe, just recommend this place to your friends who probably would be interested. 🙂
Recommended Itinerary Including Transport and Hotel
Basically, it’s pretty convenient to plan the trip since there are hotels in both Cilan (Chilan Hotel) and Mingchi (Ming Chi Shan Zhuang). And they also provide shuttle bus services from/to Taipei and Yilan. You can book accommodation and transportation together. And below is my typical itinerary.
- Day 1
- 8:45: Arrive at Taipei Main Station East 3 Gate and report to the staff with an orange vest and a Cilan sign in hand.
- 9:00~11:00*: Bus from Taipei to Cilan
- Rest in the cafe and have some food there.
- 12:00~13:00*: Bus from Cilan to Mingchi
- Check-in Ming Chi Shan Zhuang (My friend recommends the Family Room because it’s made with wood but I usually take the smaller room since it’s cheaper). Remember to check with the front desk for any events to join. Or you can just walk around Mingchi.
- There is 1 restaurant in Mingchi so can just eat dinner there.
- Day 2
- 7:30~13:00*: Divine Trees Garden including transportation. Lunch in Divine Trees Garden (preorder required) and shuttle back to Cilan.
- Walking around Cilan.
- 16:00~18:30*: Shuttle back to Taipei.
*Arrival time is an approximate estimation.
Ways To Book Your Trip
You can book Chilan Hotel and Ming Chi Shan Zhuang via websites like booking.com. And contact them to book your shuttle and Divine Trees Garden tour (first-time slot group is suggested) with lunch. Or you can book everything via the official website. When using the official site, you can select Chinese and use Google translate cause I realise the Chinese version contains the most accurate information. The shuttle and Divine Trees Garden tour can be booked as add-ons after you selected your room. For the Divine Trees Garden tour, insurance is required so you need to give them your passport number if you don’t have Taiwan ID Number.
Things To Bring If You Visit Makauy Ecological Park
Because Makauy is located in the mountain so the temperature is lower than in city areas and there is a higher chance of rain and fog, especially in the afternoon. So travelling with a jacket, umbrella/raincoat is highly recommended.
Carsick medicine if you get carsick easily.
Wet wipe if you like to clean your hands regularly.
Snacks are optional unless you have a specific taste. You can buy snacks in the mountain but the selection is limited.
Your photo will be like ink wash painting when it’s foggy.
Cheat Sheet You May Need When Asking Questions
For those who don’t know Chinese, I listed some sentences that you may need. Hope it can make your trip lesser hassle.
- Is this the shuttle to Cilan / Mingchi?
請問是往棲蘭 / 明池的車嗎？
Qǐng wèn shì wǎng qī lán / míng chí de chē ma?
- When will the shuttle leave?
Qǐng wèn jǐ diǎn fā chē?
- Where should I wait for the shuttle to Cilan / Mingchi / Divine Trees Garden / Taipei / Yilan?
請問往棲蘭 / 明池 / 神木園 / 台北 / 宜蘭的車在哪裡等？
Qǐng wèn wǎng qī lán / míng chí / shén mù yuán / tái běi / yí lán de chē zài nǎ lǐ děng?
- Where is the restaurant?
Qǐng wèn cān tīng zài nǎ lǐ?
- Is there any tour or event today / tomorrow here?
請問園區今天 / 明天有什麼導覽或活動嗎？
Qǐng wèn yuán qū jīn tiān / míng tiān yǒu shé me dǎo lǎn huò huó dòng ma?
- Hi, I want to collect my bento.
Nǐ hǎo, wǒ yào lǐng biàn dang.
Finally, this is the end of the article, no matter where you plan to go for your next trip. Bon voyage!
Hi! I am Wang wang, a Taiwanese girl living in Tokyo. I stayed in Singapore prior to Tokyo. This is the place for me to share my working and life experiences!
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