Famous for its Hakka influence and “Tong Hua” (桐花) blossom season, MiaoLi (苗栗) County is a relatively easy 2-hour drive south of Taipei. It could be enjoyed as a Taipei Day Trip, but travelling independently by car over 1-2 days is a better way to experience the area.
By Stuart Hill
Like so many places worth visiting in Taiwan, MiaoLi County is best tackled by car. Though public transport will get you to the center of various towns and along main sections of the highway, MiaoLi’s more interesting highlights — both natural and man-made — are tucked away in valleys and on top of hills, and often with several kilometers of potentially steep and winding roads between them.
Why is MiaoLi Famous?
Like nearby HsinChu County, MiaoLi has a large population of Hakka residents. Local restaurants, language, and cultural festivals reflect this influence.
While MiaoLi county is reportedly the site that petroleum was first discovered in Taiwan — and there is a museum near HouLong River run by China Petroleum Corp should you want to learn more — the area’s source of camphor and its suitability for various cold-climate fruits support significant industries even today.
MiaoLi was also a key stop on Taiwan’s old railway network, ruins of which offer one of the county’s key historical points of interest.
Annual festivals are held to celebrate various cultural and rural events, including peach, plum, red dates and strawberry festivals, New Year celebrations, and the “TongHua” blossom season in spring (April-May).
What are the Driving Conditions?
From Taipei you can get to MiaoLi County via highways 1 or 3. Watch for the turn off after HsinChu.
Like other locations outside Taiwan’s main cities, the streets of MiaoLi’s towns and villages can be narrow. As you move further away from developed areas into farmland and forested mountains, expect winding, single-lane roads and tracks. Be prepared for poorly lit mountain areas, which it is recommended you avoid at night. As you head into smaller townships and farming communities, many roads seem little more than driveways.
As with all of Taiwan’s mountainous areas, pay particular attention to rock slides and other debris that can result from intense rains or earthquakes.
Some Places to Visit and Stay:
YUN JING HU (勻淨湖) — THE LAKE HOUSE
SHIANSHAN SHIANTSAU (仙山仙草 “xian shan, xian cao”)
SKY CASTLE （天空之城）– City in the Sky, Sky City?
KENG-TAO YUAN ART GALLERY AND RESTAURANT (耕陶源）
LONG-TENG BROKEN BRIDGE (龍騰斷橋)
MAPLE MAP CAFE (馬拉邦山)
- MiaoLi County on Wikipedia
- MiaoLi Cultural and Tourism Net
- MiaoLi County Community
- Keng-Tao Yuan Art Gallery
- The Lake House (Yu Jing Hu)
- Maple Map Cafe