Located in the outskirts of Taichung, Gaomei Wetlands, officially Gaomei Wetland Preservation Area, is 1 of the most popular & well preserved wetland habitats in Taiwan. The expansive piece of wetland, covering an area of 1,500 acres, is situated on the south of Dajia River’s mouth in Qingshui district, boasts a rich variety of wetland ecology including mudskippers, fiddler crabs & migratory birds. No doubt, the wetland environment (or mangrove forest) is nothing new to Singaporeans, as we have Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in northwestern part of the island. But Gaomei Wetlands is about 3 times the size of Sungei Buloh, & it is also a place where visitors can enjoy cool breeze, beautiful sunset whilst admiring the scenic windmilled landscape.
Despite it being a famous attraction with numerous visitors, I thought it was still worthwhile checking out since we would be in Taichung during weekdays. Moreover, the preservation area is so big, I reckon the crowds would still be bearable? 😅 Hence, I searched online for directions to go there on our own, & most suggested to book a day tour or hire a driver given it is up north & far from Taichung City. Fortunately, later on, I found out that since last April, a few public buses have been introduced to bring visitors to Gaomei Wetlands. That definitely helps to bring the cost of visiting this outskirt attraction down!
How To Get There 交通指南
There are several ways to get to Gaomei Wetlands using train and/or public bus, & it also depends on where you are going from. I shall focus on the routes I took for your reference. 😉
We visited the wetlands after exploring Dadu district’s unique railway stations in southwestern Taichung that day. Hence decided to take a train from Chenggong Station to Qingshui Station as it would be faster compared to taking bus #309 from Taichung Station. The train ride took us only about 30 min & we reached Qingshui Station before 2pm. You can check the train schedule & ticket price via Taiwan Railways official website to plan ahead.
Being in the suburbs, Qingshui Station is not big like those in the city, so there is only 1 entrance/ exit. If you are thinking of saving all the way, you can transfer to bus #178 or #179 at the Family Mart bus stop just a short walk in front of the station (as pictured above). Do take note that as the buses do not operate at frequent intervals, it is best to plan ahead to make sure you do not miss the bus (for route information & bus schedule in Chinese, click here for bus #178 & here for bus #179). Unfortunately, we missed the 2 pm bus & the next bus would only arrive 40 min later. Thus we decided to share a cab with 2 other travellers who were also heading to Gaomei, at 250 TWD (~S$11.30) for 4 pax.
To get out of Gaomei Wetlands, there is bus #309 that goes to Taichung Station via Tung Hai University & Shin Kong Mitsukoshi / Top City Dept. Store. Thus it was convenient for us to get back to Xitun district directly via the 1-hour bus ride from the bus stop opposite Gaomei Bridge (think it’s called Gaomei Wetlands – Sanshun Road). Best of all it only cost 32 TWD per pax (~S$1.45) when we used the Easy Card! 🙂 From October to March, the last bus out from its terminal station Wuxi Fishing Port is at 6.30 pm, which is only 3 stops away from Gaomei. Click here for more details of the bus route & schedule in Chinese. If you wish to know more about other public transport options to & fro Gaomei, check out the official Gaomei Wetlands traffic information page.
What To See & Do In Gaomei Wetlands 到高美湿地有什么可玩、可看？
As mentioned above, Gaomei is a well preserved wetland habitat, so you can expect to see a diverse range of wetland ecology, such as crustaceans, fish & birds. The taxi driver dropped us off along the road where Gaomei Sea Wall is. This is where a handful of convenience stores, food stalls & restaurants are located, & of course, the all-time important washrooms in case you need them.
Walk up the short flight of stairs along the sea wall to get on the 800-metre wooden boardwalk, the gateway to exploring rich wildlife in the delicate sedge grassland.
As we strolled along the boardwalk, we saw lots of little creatures in the mud, particularly the fiddler crabs that are distinctive due to the extreme size difference between the left and right claws in males & their constant fiddling of the claws to ward off enemies or to attract the opposite gender. I remember I missed them when I joined the St. John Island’s tour with my friend last Oct. So finally I get to see these interesting crustaceans, so many of them!
In addition, we also saw a handful of birds, namely egrets & black-faced spoonbills, leisurely hunting for food in the muddy tidal flat.
Even if you aren’t exactly a wildlife fan, you can simply take a relaxing stroll along the elegant boardwalk on the wetland, & simply enjoy the cool breeze out here. It was a pity that we visited on a very cloudy day, otherwise I believe this site would be even more scenic for picture-perfect shots.
It started to drizzle as we reached the end of the 800-metre long boardwalk. While a gloomy grey sky certainly didn’t add much vibrancy to my photos, I thought the above sight of a couple sitting on the edge of the boardwalk, with the powerful windmills set in the background, sharing a small umbrella was pretty romantic. 😉 On the other side, out in the muddy wetland, there were even a few groups of visitors who took off their footwear to have fun & get wet in the damp soil. In fact, some were dressed in graduation gowns! What a way to capture unforgettable memories of graduation moments with your BFFs. 😉
走到近木栈道的尾端时，开始下起细雨。乌云密布的天空真的没有为所拍的照片增添太多色彩…… 不过，上图无意中拍到的景象我自己还蛮喜欢的。天空飘着细雨的这一刻，一对小情侣坐在木栈道的梯级上共撑一把伞，又有灰蒙蒙的天空及风车为背景，有种浪漫的氛围。😊 在湿地的另一端，有不少游人脱鞋，赤脚踩在泥巴上拍照留念。我们也看到一些游人穿着毕业袍，应该是与死党一起拍毕业照吧！这样的合照方式想必会很难忘，为毕业篇章留下美好的回忆！
& then there is also the iconic Gaomei Lighthouse on the other end of the nature reserve that you can snap away too. Opened on 1 May 1967, the lighthouse has been around even before Taichung Port was constructed. The construction of the port disrupted the pattern of the coastal streams at this site, which used to be a beach resort during the Japanese Occupation, leading to a muddy wetland thereafter.
If you are in Taichung for a longer period & have a flexible schedule to visit Gaomei, make sure you check the weather information prior to making your way down. Otherwise, just count on your lucky stars like we did that the weather would be bright & sunny, so that you can take awesome photos & catch the beautiful sunset that many visitors have raved about. Since we didn’t have that luck, we decided not to wait till the actual sunset time in the evening to return back to city area. As we made our way out along the road to the bus stop near the bridge, we caught glimpses of the shy Mr. Sun hiding behind the clouds from us. 😦
The Gaomei Wetlands Bridge is right at the entrance where a long row of wind turbines can be spotted. Somehow, the wind turbines made me feel that I am away in some ang-moh country rather than Taiwan hehe. I reckon it would be quite a beautiful sight on a bright & sunny day… The bus stop to board #309 towards Taichung Station is just across the road from the start of the above bridge too.
Hope you will have better luck compared to me in chasing after the beautiful sunset at Gaomei Wetlands. Enjoy the constant cool breeze & rich biodiversity too!