There’s more to Taiwan than the bustling capital, Taipei. Get out into the countryside – home to misty mountains in Yushan National Park, atmospheric tea houses and sub-tropical jungles – and get stuck into the rural life at a farm stay, harvesting your own organic dinner or feeding friendly goats. Whether you’re looking for a down-to-earth guesthouse where you can get your hands dirty in Chishang, or a glam pad that simply lets you soak up the bucolic atmosphere, here are the best farm stays in Taiwan.
The clue is in the name: this farm stay on the west coast of Taiwan lets you get up close and personal with cows, whether it be feeding baby calves, assisting with milking or just devouring all kinds of creamy treats – think yoghurt, milky egg tarts and milk cookies. The bright rooms, dressed in warm woods and whites, come in a range of sizes, the largest easily sleeping six. Got picky eaters in tow? They’ll surely be happy with dinner: an epic barbecue feast.
Just because you’re staying by a farm, doesn’t mean you need to go all Old McDonald. A spectacular home ringed by hills, Jing Shuhu B&B shows that you can get bucolic vibes along with swish design. Floor-to-ceiling windows sprawling over multiple floors; mid-century, modern-style furniture; statement light fixtures; a grand piano – they all add a cool, contemporary feel that wouldn’t look out of place in a big city. And yet, step out the front door and it’s nothing but rural bliss, with trails through rice fields for daily strolls.
The lakeside setting is a major selling point: rise in the early morning to sip tea on your private balcony and watch local birds glide across the waters. It’s not the only simple pleasure of a visit to this Yunshanshui homestay. Pod chairs hanging from the bedroom ceilings – where you can curl up with a book and, again, that view – are another perk. Visit in autumn when the trees that line the lake turn a blazing, photogenic orange.
From the outside, you’d never think you were in Taiwan – the half-timbered frame of this manor in Cingjing looks like it’s been plucked from the heart of Bavaria. Inside keeps up the look, with beamed ceilings, tiled floors and a giant, brick-style oven. But the one thing that won’t fool you is the surrounds: up in these mountains, the lush flora and fauna is definitely Taiwanese. Be sure to visit nearby waterfall Guanyin and popular Qingjing Farm, home to fluffy sheep.
It’s all about living the slow life at this Taitung B&B. Set on Taiwan’s eastern coast, near forests and hot springs, you can watch the sun rise outside your bedroom window, then enjoy a lazy brekkie of fruit, sausages, toast and tea at one of the wooden breakfast room tables. The annual summer hot-air-balloon festival is prime time for a visit, when you can catch sight of balloons in their masses, floating above the B&B and the surrounding farmers’ fields.
This is an updated version of an article originally by Ciaran McEneaney.