Baishawan Visitor Center won the "Muse Design Awards 2023" Silver Award

Northguan National Scenic Area Administration seeks to integrate local natural landscape, cultural and historical stories into a display area at Baishawan Visitor Center. This employs interactive multimedia, showcasing the highlights along the Crown Coast, and received the "Muse Design Awards 2023, Interior Design - Service Centers Silver Award, once again bringing Taiwan to the attention of the world.

Every year about 1 million tourists visit Baishawan and it used to be a favorite recreation spot for international independent travelers. In order to improve the recreational facilities and service quality in the Baishawan Scenic Area, the Northguan National Scenic Area Administration upgraded Baishawan Visitor Center buildings in 2020, which were officially opened on November 5, 2022.

MUSE Design Awards

The Guguan Visitor Center's Transformation into the Guguan Museum Wins an American Design Award

The Tri-Mountain National Scenic Area's Guguan Visitor Center was transformed into the Guguan Museum last year. The new facility integrates natural ecology and artistic aesthetics. In 2022, the Center received a Silver Award in the Landscape category of the US-based MUSE Design Awards. Travelers are invited to visit Guguan to experience the museum's charms. The museum currently has a special program where visitors can design their own backpacks using silk prints, and bring them home.

The Guguan area has a unique beauty, and is well known for its combination of mountains, mists, rich ecological resources, hot spring foods and aboriginal culture.

The museum project was spurred on by the "PLUS 19 Taiwan Hot Spring Village" program, an initiative of the Tourism Bureau of the Ministry of Transportation & Communications. Its objectives include providing a showcase as well as context related to the area's tourism resources. The program also involved redesign of routes/signage, as well as things to see and do within the museum for visitors of all ages. Rest areas are available where visitors can enjoy a book and explore the Guguan hot spring area. The interior space of the visitor center was completely redesigned, as were the surrounding trails and associated facilities.

The MUSE Design Awards is an international design competition organized by the International Awards Associate (IAA). Its 10 design categories include architecture, as well as interior and landscape design. The new museum provides visitors with innovative design concepts and visual perspectives, while also highlighting key elements of Taiwan's hot spring culture. Its creative design stood out from thousands of entries from around the world, resulting in the Silver Award. This recognition will be of great help in promoting tourism to the "mountain city" of Guguan and its surrounding area.


     Guguan Museum - Exterior                  Exhibition Visitors


       Guguan Museum - Interior         Guguan Museum Exhibition Hall


- Photo provided by the Tri-Mountain National Scenic Area Administration


[Culture & History]A Cultural Treasure-House

Old Culture Meets New Culture Sightseeing Attractions in Tainan



Tainan City, born four centuries ago, is Taiwan's most illustrious repository of important heritage sites. Here is a quartet of attractions that have been born – perhaps "reborn" is the better word – within the past two decades, historical sites that have been revivified and now serve a dual role as heritage learning centers and hubs for artistic endeavor.

For travelers with a thirst for historical sites, and especially those keen on Taiwan history, the city of Tainan is nirvana. It's also ground zero for Taiwan history, the first place of Han Chinese settlement and the island's capital for over 200 years. Here we escort you on a special journey to large-scale heritage sites that have been revivified, under government oversight, to serve both as showcases of the island's historical story and creative nodes promoting the cultural arts. We spend time at two sugar refinery complexes and a waterworks complex, and amongst the vestiges of an inland port.


           Old banyan tree                                    Bookstore


Ten Drum Culture Village

The Taiwan landscape is dotted with old, historically invaluable sugar-refinery complexes, built by the Japanese when they ruled as Taiwan's colonial overlords 1895~1945, that after being abandoned for a time have been rescued and resuscitated – renovated and put to use as time machines for history aficionados while also serving as bases for artists, cultural-arts troupes, and cultural-creative enterprises. What is today named the Ten Drum Culture Village, built as the Rende Sugar Factory, is the largest, most intact, and both the most comprehensively and most innovatively renovated and re-missioned. It's located in the south of Tainan's urban center.

The celebrated Ten Drum Art Percussion Group is a performance and educational troupe that combines traditional drumming with modern theatrical elements. It has become an intrinsic part of Taiwan's modern urban culture, and has performed around the globe. The troupe has three aims in managing the old 5ha Rende refinery complex: presentation of the troupe and its music, preservation of the history of Taiwan's sugar industry, and creation of an ecological attraction. The grounds are gracefully landscaped, bright with floral colors and busy with beauteous butterflies. The village is meant as a full-day attraction for entire families, with something for everyone, as we’ll see. Your ticket brings you free access to everything inside, save for your food, beverages, and retail purchases.


          Old factory machinery             Entrance to the Sugar Magic bar

The menu of attractions is far too long to fully address here, so a highlights menu instead:

One large, airy old plant contains the percussion troupe's state-of-the-art performance theater. Shows are presented daily.
A second large plant is divided into four floors. On the first is a high-ceiling bar, and on the second a pretty-as-a-picture bookstore stocking Chinese-language titles. The third level has a mini archery range (kid-oriented, with soft arrows) amidst the cacophony of pipes, machinery, and other clangy metal things. The fourth is lined with new-painted distillation vats; you can write wishes and blessings on small wooden tablets, Japanese style, place them on a long string, and they'll eventually be "absorbed" into the vat. At this plant you can even get up outside on the roof's catwalk, presenting rousing views.

Directly behind the second plant is a line of three monstrous multi-story-high distillation towers. Today, inside one is a swank café, inside another a tall many-turn tube slide, and in the last a small museum exploring the troupe's history and the refinery's history, with a focus on the Japanese families whose lives revolved around the complex.

Elsewhere, get up to fun things like going right inside the cleaned-up interior of the 67m-high smokestack, doing some free-falling and ziplining (zipline launch-point just below the catwalk on the second plant), and both learning about Ten Drum's drums and drumming yourself, with a Ten Drum expert as your instructor.

Ten Drum Culture Village (Rende Sugar Factory)

Add: No. 326, Sec. 2, Wenhua Rd., Rende District, Tainan City
Hours: 9:30am~5pm (daily)
Tickets: NT$449 (adults)
Website (Chinese)


   Ten Drum percussion group                 Inside the smokestack


Other Recommended Places

The Tainan Shan-Shang Garden and Old Waterworks Museum is in the countryside northeast of the city's urban core. This heritage attraction provides a fascinating look into the systematic development work of the Japanese when they controlled Taiwan. This well-preserved complex took water from the Zengwen River and purified it before sending it on to Tainan City via what is now called the Old Tainan Watercourse, using a gravity water-supply system.

The Filter Room/Watercourse Office features red brick and a wooden roof. Inside the Filter Room are 14 complete sets of British-made fast-filtering machinery. The Pump Exhaust Room, built in the same style with extra-high ceiling, has an array of original large machinery, including four pumps and a skid crane. The Purification Pond, on a high hill reached via a grand staircase of 180 steep steps, is fronted by a fortress-like building built of natural stone and stone-imitation material.

Among the garden area's artistic attractions are selected large-scale installations from the annual Yuguang Island Art Festival (see accompanying article).

Tainan Shan-Shang Garden and Old Waterworks Museum

Tel: (06) 578-1900
Add: No. 16, Shanshang, Shanshang Borough, Shanshang District, Tainan City
Hours: 9:30am~5:30pm (daily)
Tickets: NT$100 (adults)


   Old red brick stone building                          Filter Room

The old farming-center town of Madou is north of the city's urban core. Located alongside the Zengwen River, "Madou" is a Chinese rendering of the name of the original indigenous village that stood here. In days of yore sailing craft could make it to the Taiwan Strait from this area, and the busy local port sent such items as sugarcane sugar and deer leather for transport abroad. The port was also an arrival point for Han Chinese immigrants from mainland China. Silting eventually choked off the port.

The Madou Old Port Cultural Park celebrates these glory days with high-quality displays along with such vestiges of the port of old as traces of the old wharves, rivercraft moorings, viaducts, and old river channel. The attractive on-site museum, an enticing work of modern abstract art, is entitled the Daofeng Inland Sea Story House, an indication of the local environment's friendliness to sailing craft centuries back. Exhibits showcasing Taiwan artists are also staged here.

Madou Old Port Cultural Park

Tel: (06) 571-8088
Add: No. 87-30, Nanshi, Nanshi Borough, Madou District, Tainan City
Hours: 9am~5pm (closed on Mon. & Tue.)


Entrance to the Madou Old Port Cultural Park 

The Tsung Yeh Arts and Cultural Center is immediately south of the Madou Old Port Cultural Park. This is another heritage complex that dates to the Japanese era, site of a Japanese-operated sugar refinery. After the plant was demolished in 1998, calls went out to preserve the rest of the site. Today visitors can tour the Red Brick Office, Wooden Official Residence, Wooden Guest House, Red-Brick Dining Hall, Japanese Garden, an old sugarcane-transport narrow-gauge locomotive, and century-old camphor trees. This is now also a center for traditional crafts, with a craft center, special exhibitions, and workshops.

Tsung Yeh Arts and Cultural Center

Tel: (06) 571-8088
Add: No. 5, Zongye, Nanshi Borough, Madou District, Tainan City
Hours: 9am~5pm (closed on Mon. & Tue.)


Public art on the grounds of the center         Dining Hall


English and Chinese:

Old Tainan Watercourse 原臺南水道
Ten Drum Art Percussion Group 十鼓擊樂團
Yuguang Island Art Festival 漁光島藝術節
Zengwen River 曾文溪

[Taiwan Tourism Events]Springtime!

Exciting Events and HappeningsBecause of the ongoing pandemic, festivals and events might be cancelled or postponed; please check official websites for confirmation.

April 25 ~ June 30 / Penghu County

Each year in spring and early summer, the Penghu International Fireworks Festival gives travelers an additional incentive to visit the beautiful Penghu archipelago before the hot summer months begin. The venue is the harbor of Magong, Penghu's only city. The reflections of the colorful fireworks on the waters of the harbor and the picturesque pedestrian Xiying Rainbow Bridge, plus live musical performances, make this evening extravaganza a highly memorable and romantic event. Shows take place Mondays and Thursdays. In addition, there will be one-off shows on Qimei Island (May 28), Wang'an Island (June 11), and Jibei Island (June 25).

April 22 ~ May 2 / Keelung City

Dark, wet, industrial…this was the image of Keelung City in the past. In recent times this harbor city to the northeast of Taipei City has been changing. In the same vein as its larger counterpart in the south, Kaohsiung, the city is slowly reimagining itself as a center of culture, modernity, and refinement. Public art is a unique way to beautify a cityscape and open visitors' eyes to lesser-known corners of an urban environment. Keelung Ciao, first held in 2015, has gradually been introducing art into Keelung, and by doing so introducing Keelung to visiting art lovers. The creations by local and foreign artists, sometimes placed in unusual spaces like on board a ship or inside an old shipyard, encourage you to explore and discover this history-rich city and its harbor area.

March ~ June / Taipei City

The residents of Taipei are blessed for having a magnificent national park right at their doorstep. In less than an hour you can get from the city center to the breezy mountains and deep forests of Yangmingshan by public transport and find yourself embraced by pristine nature. Part of the park is an agricultural area named Zhuzihu, sitting in the shadows of towering Mt. Datun. During spring and early summer two types of flowers, in succession, draw droves of visitors up to the fields of the area. First to bloom is the pure-white calla lily, and later comes the hydrangea, sporting shades of purple, blue, and pink. Part of the Zhuzihu experience is picking calla lilies yourself and sitting down in one of the restaurants to enjoy healthful meals made with local produce.

April 8~17 / Pingtung City

Dapeng Bay is a large lagoon in southwest Taiwan, just to the southeast of the harbor town of Donggang. Sheltered from the waters of the Taiwan Strait by a narrow strip of land, the lagoon is protected from the sea, but still windy enough to be excellent for watersports like sailing and windsurfing. This festival highlights all the many fun things you can do on and around the bay. There are, for example, sailboat regattas, yachting, SUP fun, and mangrove-forest kayaking. Cultural events take place around Binwan Wharf on the south bank of the lagoon.

April ~ May / Around Taiwan

The Hakka people in Taiwan, a Han Chinese minority group that immigrated to the island starting in the mid-17th century and often settled in hilly regions, especially those of northwest Taiwan, planted a large number of tung trees for commercial purposes during the Japanese colonial era (1895~1945). Today, the trees grow in the wild and, to the delight of hikers, bloom profusively in April and May, their snow-white blossoms covering tree branches and carpeting hiking trails. During the tung blossom season, numerous cultural events are held in celebration by Hakka communities in locations close to the forests.

April ~ May / Around Taiwan

The Hakka people in Taiwan, a Han Chinese minority group that immigrated to the island starting in the mid-17th century and often settled in hilly regions, especially those of northwest Taiwan, planted a large number of tung trees for commercial purposes during the Japanese colonial era (1895~1945). Today, the trees grow in the wild and, to the delight of hikers, bloom profusively in April and May, their snow-white blossoms covering tree branches and carpeting hiking trails. During the tung blossom season, numerous cultural events are held in celebration by Hakka communities in locations close to the forests.



[Taiwan Tourism Events]A NEW YEAR!

Exciting Events and Happenings

Because of the ongoing pandemic, festivals and events might be cancelled or postponed; please check official websites for confirmation.


Song-jiang Battle Array in Neimen, Kaohsiung 高雄內門宋江陣
February ~ March / Kaohsiung City

Not much of interest to tourists goes on in Kaohsiung's quiet rural district of Neimen for most of the year, but there is one exception, the annual Song-Jiang Battle Array event. This week-long festival, a mix of religious rituals and sports-like competition, brings together groups of young performers from around Taiwan, who converge on Neimen to show off their troupe-array martial-arts skills and compete against each other. The festival is a fantastic spectacle, packed with exciting and at times highly acrobatic performances that are accompanied by the sound of drums and other traditional instruments.

Taiwan Lantern Festival in Kaohsiung 台灣燈會在高雄
February 15 ~ February 28 / Kaohsiung City

It's been 20 years since the last time the city of Kaohsiung hosted the Taiwan Lantern Festival, which alternates between different cities and counties each year. This year's venue will be split into two areas, the Love River (incl. the Kaohsiung Music Center) and the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts (Weiwuying). This grand festival of colorful lights uses state-of-the-art technology to create displays on the ground, water, and sky and is expected to attract more than 12 million visitors.

Wuling Farm Sakura Season 武陵農場櫻花季
February 12~28 / Taichung city

Wuling Farm, located in the northeastern corner of Taichung City at an elevation of 1,740~2,000 meters above sea level, is a popular high-mountain recreational farm. During the summer, many visitors come here to escape the stifling heat in the low-lying regions of the island, and in winter many are drawn by the wonderful tableaux of blooming cherry trees. The planting of cherry trees started in 1993, and now, almost 20 years later, there are more than 16,000 of them, dotting the hills in pastel hues of pink and crimson in January and February.

Bombing the Dragon in Miaoli 苗栗火旁龍系列活動
February 5~17 / Miaoli City

The "bombing of the dragon" is one of the big events in Taiwan during the Lantern Festival period. It takes place in front of Yuqing Temple in Miaoli City, and is widely known as one of the most important celebrations by the local Hakka communities. The paper dragons used during the event are created before the Lunar New Year. On the 9th day of the new year they are "brought to life" in a grand "eye-opening" ceremony, during which visitors can walk under them to be blessed by their spirits. On the day of the festival the dragons are paraded to the temple square and elaborate dragon dancing begins with teams competing against each other. The teams then head out to perform in front of shops as firecrackers are set off, with shop owners hoping to receive blessings. On the 17th day the dragons are burned and sent to the heavens.

Baiming Festival in Matsu 馬祖擺暝文化祭
February 13 ~ March 1 / Lienchiang County (Matsu)

During the winter months it can get quite cold on the islands of Matsu, located within sight of mainland China's Fujian coast. But there is one good excuse you can make for paying the islands a visit in February, the Baiming Festival. This islander version of the Lantern Festival is held throughout Taiwan two weeks after the Lunar New Year and is listed as one of Taiwan's 21 important folk customs. During the weeks-long event, the islanders make offerings to the deities and decorate their houses with elaborate lantern arrangements. Statues of local gods are carried through villages in sedan chairs with stops made along the way at temples. While the scale of the activities is much smaller than with some of the Lantern Festival events on Taiwan's mainland, the festival gives you an excellent taste of the local culture and beliefs, instilling warmth in your heart during the chilly winter weather.



[HSINCHU]A Hakka Country Living Museum



A Hakka Country Living Museum

The hill country of northwest Taiwan is Hakka country. The Hakka are a Han Chinese minority people with a distinctive culture, deep-rooted traditions, and especially close-knit communities. These are often farming communities, and in this article you'll be visiting three old, thriving Hakka settlements in hilly Hsinchu County – two towns and one village – that are close to each other and form a true living museum.

The term "Hakka" means "guest people." Throughout the history of the China mainland and then Taiwan (up to the 20th century), the story of the Hakka has been forced large-scale migration and forced movement from better agricultural lands onto more marginal lands, often in the hills. Before making the leap to Taiwan in large numbers starting in the 1600s, Hakka had settled in concentration in China's southeast Guangdong province and to a lesser degree in adjoining Fujian province, both ruggedly hilly/mountainous.

In this article we're visiting three places located close to each other in Hsinchu County, in the rolling-hill region southeast of fast-expanding Hsinchu City, which sits on the coast. Each developed as a market and supply center for the Hakka farmers pulling wealth from the region's rich farmland, well-supplied with nutritious waters from the mountains in clear view to the east.
Each has its own distinctive charms. As with other Hakka towns and villages around the island, coordinated efforts have been made by locals, in official positions and in a private capacity, to beautify their districts to attract tourists. You'll see by the numbers of tourists meandering the old commercial streets, especially on weekends/holidays, that these endeavors have met with great success.


Far the largest and busiest of our destinations today, Zhudong sits beside the same river that flows past Hsinchu City out to the sea. Just upriver, the broad, fertile valley narrows dramatically and you instantly find yourself in gorge-and-mountain country. "Zhudong" means "east of Hsinchu"; the zhu and chu in the names is the same character, meaning "bamboo," reference to the thick thorny-bamboo walls that once surrounded the city.
This town's heart is Zhudong Market, Taiwan's largest traditional Hakka market, centered on Donglin Road. With a history of over 60 years (during which older, smaller markets were gradually eliminated), it has about 500 sellers and offers a cornucopia of Hakka-specific agri-products and prepared foods. The rest of this article could be filled up naming these, but here are two to specially look for: the unique Hakka preserved vegetables called fucai and a delicious savory dish featuring broad, flat, chewy rice noodles called bantiao.

Incongruously, standing conspicuously among all the colorful vendors and hubbub is a large church, on Donglin Road. You can't miss the Zhudong Catholic Church – on the façade at one end is a large artwork rendering of a dove of peace, on the other a two-story-high depiction of Christ the Savior with arms raised high. The modified Gothic-style facility, built in 1954 by a Spanish Jesuit priest, was the first large church built in the Hsinchu region after the Nationalist government (and many missionaries) evacuated to Taiwan in the 1940s.

Mitaimu is another Hakka rice-noodle specialty – short noodles, thicker than spaghetti, which have a wonderfully pliant mouthfeel. A few blocks from the market is one of Zhudong's most popular sellers, Meilan A-yi, a cute and cozy eatery with a shopfront adorned with atmospheric farmhouse-style touches such as squat wooden stools, a low wooden bench, and a burlap sack. In summer, mitaimu ice is especially popular – a dish of ice, rice noodles, small tapioca balls, mung beans, jelly, and a sweet syrup. A beverage version is also served. In winter, it's hot stir-fried mitaimu, served with minced pork, chopped spring onion, bean sprout, and a broth that at Meilan A-yi is especially rich, deep, and flavorful, verging on gravy.

Meilan A-yi(美蘭阿姨)
Add: No. 59, Sanmin Street, Zhudong Township, Hsinchu County
Tel: +886-936-080-704


The town of Beipu is a short drive southwest of Zhudong. Provincial Highway 3 runs through Zhudong, and runs along the west side of Beipu. This old, winding, very scenic route runs primarily through Taiwan's west-side hill country all the way to the deep south.

"Beipu" literally means "north flat land." The word pu means "open flat land/plain," usually beside a body of water and developed by settlers. The town sits on a low plateau, with the village of Nanpu or "south flat land" on a low plateau immediately south. Beipu possesses a large number of official national heritage sites and old family-run shops, teahouses, eateries, and other enterprises, especially "on" Beipu Old Street – the term in fact refers to the old commercial district.
The town and surrounding area are known for a number of agri-products, most notably tea, rice/rice noodles, and dried persimmons. Visit the two-story Guangfu Teahouse, a big and wonderfully rambling old wood-and-red-brick place stuffed with antique and retro treasures that has teas, sweet treats, and hot foods (numerous Hakka-cuisine dishes). The guang and fu in the name refer to the aforementioned ancestral areas of Hakka and Holo Taiwanese pioneers, Guangfu and Fujian provinces.
Another special and very popular Guangfu Teahouse offering is a leicha experience, also offered at a number of other Beipu locations, in which you grind your own Hakka leicha or "thunder tea" with a traditional mortar and pestle. The "thunder" refers to the booming sounds the grinding makes. This is not the tea you are used to – de rigeuer ingredients include dried tea leaves and roasted peanuts, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds. The end result is very filling, and a great example of the emphasis on hearty nutrition in traditional Hakka fare because of the need for replenishment after heavy manual labor.

Guangfu Teahouse(廣福茶坊)
Add: No. 10, Neighborhood 2, Beipu Village, Beipu Township, Hsinchu County
Tel: +886-3-580-4543

Lord Jiang's Persimmon Cake is one of Beipu's most charming shops. Beipu's winds are perfect for natural drying, and the townsfolk craft sweet, lightly gooey, pleasantly chewy dried persimmon in splendid variety. Lord Jiang's is enthusiastically liberal in providing samples, and sells attractively packaged gift sets.

Lord Jiang's Persimmon Cake(姜太公柿餅)
Add: No. 24 Miaoqian St., Beipu Twp.
Tel: +886-954-079-958


Provincial Highway 3 curves around Nanpu, to its west. Beipu and Nanpu are within close, unobstructed sight of each other, separated by a depression with a stream and irrigation channels running through it. Every inch of this depression has been developed, covered with neatly sculpted rice paddies, fruit orchards, and vegetable plots, providing gorgeous photos with Van Gogh-like colors whenever the varied crops collectively approach harvest time. The effect is heightened by a bright-red steel-girder bridge (Nanpu Bridge) spanning the stream on the narrow road connecting the settlements.
Nanpu is officially a village, but its residences are quite spread out. Locals use the term Nanpu Community. You'll find numerous traditional-architecture residences here, as well as such other country delights as a heritage wooden water wheel (dating to 1845) and wooden clothes-washing pavilions on the irrigation channels.
Jinjian Hall is a century-old Hakka courtyard-style residence that today serves as an exhibition hall filled with homestead and agricultural implements teaching visitors about the traditional way of life in a farming village.

The BK Fun Bakery is about as rustic as you can get. It's in a well-aged red-brick farmhouse almost hidden away in trees, farm-use paraphernalia all around its entrance area. A large stack of firewood lines the shady entrance path, used inside in the large Roman (also called "black") oven hand-built by the owners. The aromas inside are heavenly. The specialty is eco-friendly dense European-style breads; specially recommended are those featuring Taiwan-theme ingredients, such as longan and pineapple.

BK Fun Bakery(BK坊窯烤麵包)
Add: No. 30, Neighborhood 3, Nanpu Village, Beipu Township, Hsinchu County
Tel: +886-932-133-564

The homey HuKu PuKu café, run by a young local lady, is in a small cabin with a gurgling irrigation channel and wooden water wheel on one side and a landscaped, frog-busy irrigation pond on the other. On the menu are teas, coffees, smoothies, and other beverages, as well as eco-friendly Western-style foods such as homemade brownies, cookies, and cakes. From the café you can enjoy a great view into the aforementioned farm-field-carpeted depression.

HuKu PuKu(樂田園)
Add: No. 1-7, Neighborhood 1, Nanpu Village, Beipu Township, Hsinchu County
Tel: +886-988-986-862


English and Chinese:

bantiao 粄條
Beipu 北埔
Beipu Old Street 北埔老街
Donglin Road 東林路
fucai 福菜
Hsinchu 新竹
Jinjian Hall 金鑑堂
leicha 擂茶
mitaimu 米苔目
Miaoqian St. 廟前街
Nanpu (Community) 南埔(社區)
Zhudong 竹東
Zhudong Catholic Church 竹東天主堂
Zhudong Market 竹東市場