Located in northwestern Taichung City, Houli District is a rural district known for its large flower farm & railway cultural park. Who doesn’t love beautiful things? 😉 So naturally I had to check out the Zhongshe Flower Market, a large flower market that spans across 6 hectares of land. This is the place for travellers who wish to immerse themselves in the fascinating sight of beautiful flowers, & also the only place in central Taiwan to be able to grow tulips successfully at low sea levels. Even if you aren’t a flower lover, I’m sure you will agree no one rejects pretty sights. 😛 Moreover, the flower market is open all year round, featuring different types of flowers as the season changes. Hence there is always something different to look forward to for your next visit. 🙂
In addition, although I have sort of become a railway fan convert, the railway cultural park near Tai’an Station in Houli District was not the first thing that brought me to explore around Tai’an. It was because I accidentally discovered that we would still be in time before the 2018 Tai’an Cherry Blossom Festival is over (the festival period was from 24 February to 18 March 2018). Apparently, this festival is 1 of the prime districts in Taichung City to view cherry blossoms. Being an avid fan of spring season & cherry blossoms, of course this is a must-visit in Taichung too! So in this article, I will share more about my day trip to explore this rural district in the outskirts of Taichung, including how to get there without hiring a private car. 🙂
How To Get There 交通指南
For those who don’t mind spending more on transport so you can check in more sights in a day, it’s easy to just hire a private driver to bring you in & around Taichung. It takes about 40 to 55 min to travel from Fengjia in Xitun District or Taichung Station if you drive to Zhongshe Flower Market up north. But as I mentioned in earlier article, if you don’t mind going on a more leisurely pace to enjoy Taichung, you can make use of its extensive public transport network & save some money to spend on other parts of your travel (click here to read more about how to travel in Taichung City on a budget). That was exactly what we did throughout the 3-night stay in Taichung, see below for the detailed directions. 🙂
1. Took a 20-25 min bus (free) ride from Xitun District’s Shin Kong Mitsukoshi / Top City Dept. Store bus stop to Taichung Station.
1. 从西屯区的新光/ 大远百公车站搭乘大概20到25分钟的公车（免费）到台中火车站。
2. Thereafter, got on the 4-stop 22-min train ride to Houli Station (also the terminal station for the Xinying-Houli line we took) that cost only 31 TWD (~S$1.40) each. It is slightly cheaper (think 2 or 3 TWD cheaper) if you tap in & out with the Easy Card.
3. Outside Houli Station, grab a taxi to head directly to Zhongshe Flower Market, which is just a short drive about 10 min away for 200 TWD (~S$9) per taxi. Note that in general, the taxis here do not run by meter. We were a bit concerned if we would have difficulty getting out of the flower market & checked with the taxi driver while on the way. He said there should be many taxis available just outside the market so it shouldn’t be of concern.
4. After we were done with the flower market tour, we got a taxi at its entrance again. This time, it was to Taian Police Station, where the Cherry Blossom Festival was. Again, it was a quick drive around 10 min for 200 TWD (~S$9) too.
5. We took a leisurely stroll to the nearest Tai’an Station from the railway cultural park area to return to city area (Taichung Station) so that we could also explore the quaint village along the way. Note that there are fewer trains that ply Tai’an Station, which is 1 stop north of Houli Station, hence the wait for the next train out may be longer than you hope for. Be patient. 😉 Our wait for the train was almost 1 hour but the ride back (5 stops) took only 26 min, & cost 34 TWD each (~S$1.55). 😅 If you think you will die if you wait so long, then do your homework before heading there by checking the train schedules & plan your time ahead. 🙂
5. 到了泰安，我们都是用步行的方式游览景区。之后，再徒步到最近的泰安火车站（大概也要20分钟的路程）搭乘火车回台中火车站。这里先提醒你，比起后里火车站，以北的泰安火车站的列车班次不多，所以可能得花上更长的时间等候列车到来。我们等了将近一小时才得以坐上火车会台中，但乘车时间其实只需26分钟（34台币，五个站）。😅 因此，如果你没什么耐性，请先做好功课，查一查台铁时刻表，安排行程才不必等太久。😜
The total transport cost spent for the whole day trip for 2 persons was only 530 TWD (~S$23.90), versus at least 3,000 TWD for a private car hire (sits up to 4) for 8 hours. I’m sure I don’t need to spell out the cost difference, but you decide for yourself if you want to go budget like us, visiting only a few sights & travel like a local, or pack in as many sights as possible to make your money worth. 😉
Our Flowery Experience In Zhongshe Flower Market & Tai’an 中社觀光花市与泰安的赏花之旅
I think it’s a no-brainer what you can expect to see in a vast flower market & cherry blossom festival haha. What else but colourful sight of pretty flowers in season? 🤣 But before I bring you on a fascinating photo tour of the various kinds of lovely flowers in bloom, do note that you will need to pay admission fee at Zhongshe Flower Market, while it was free admission at the Cherry Blossom Festival in Tai’an. 😉
There are 2 sections in Zhongshe Flower Market. Upon entering, you will see the BBQ restaurant area on the left & flowering equipment/ bonsai etc on the right. If you decide to enjoy a BBQ meal before entering the flower viewing area, you will not need to pay to enter the exhibition area. Otherwise, you will need to pay 150 TWD (~S$6.75) per adult (including children above age of 12) & half price for children between the ages of 3 & 12, senior citizens above 65 years old & the disabled. Buy your tickets at the ticket booth then present it to the staff manning the exhibition area entrance. Now it’s time for cam-whoring! 😁 I took a short video of the exhibition compounds & posted on my IG on the day of visit, see below:
We spent about 1.5 hours here going through every corner of the exhibition to take photos to our hearts’ content. 😛 How long you take to complete the tour depends on how detailed you wanna be, but I guess half a day should be sufficient, even on weekends when more visitors are expected. So, let’s move on to the next attraction at Tai’an, where the fascinating cherry blossoms were!
In case you are wondering where to cure your hunger pangs in between the 2 sites, other than the BBQ area at Zhongshe where you can enjoy a BBQ feast, you can also have a simple meal at the street food stalls located along the street at Tai’an Police Station. That was what we did. Therefore, you can walk around the village, starting from the carpark next to the police station, to view the alluring cherry blossoms. See below for a photo tour of the village.
Because the next train out to Taichung Station would only come about 50 min later, there was a lot of time to laze around & enjoy the tranquil countryside views along the high-rise platform at the station. So happy to catch sight of a patch of pink cherry blossoms at the platform! If you visit Taichung in spring, Tai’an is certainly a place not to be missed!
Post Trip Thoughts 后里区一日游的感想
Maybe you wanna ask, there is also another district famous for viewing lovely flowers in Taichung – Xinshe, so what made me decide to choose Houli over Xinshe? Well, indeed, Xinshe was in my consideration prior to the trip too. The famous castle & beautiful lavender cottage had got me in a slight dilemma then. But not only was it further than Houli in terms of travelling time by public transport, I reckon that it would be more worthwhile to visit Xinshe in November/ December when the annual Xinshe Flower Exhibition will be held. Furthermore, it’s spring time in March, I should grab the opportunity to view the charming cherry blossoms in 1 of the best sites in Taichung.
After making this day trip to Houli, I must say I didn’t regret my decision to visit Houli. It was truly a beautiful spring day out surrounded by flowers, & it’s not difficult to do so on your own without hiring a private driver. Try it should you visit Taichung in spring next time! 🙂