Landscape photography in Taiwan.

Photograhpy is very populair in Taiwan. This beautiful island has a lot to offer for landscape photographers.
Because my ex wife is Taiwanese i've  already been a couple times to Taiwan.
On the internet there is not much English information to find about photography in Taiwan, so there comes the idea to write some articles about landscape photography in Taiwan.
I am going to write some information about the different areas in Taiwan i've been to, and for al that locations i write some more detailed information including maps.
I hope if you plan to travel to Taiwan for landscape photography this information can help a bit to make your plans.

Laomei green reef at the north coast of Taiwan


First a little bit more general information about Taiwan.

CLIMATE:

Taiwan has a warm tropical climate, during summertime from june to september the temperature is many times higher than 30 degrees but also very high humidity. But there is a big difference between the north and south on the island. The south is normally much warmer then the north of Taiwan.
Wintertime from november to march the temperatures are much more cooler. Temperatures can change also very quikly. It can be 7 degrees, but also 25. For landscape photographers wintertime is for sure the best time to visit Taiwan, many times there is also some foggy conditions
If you go in to the mountains in wintertime, above 2000 meter there is also a chance on snow!!

SLEEPING AND EATING:

Taiwan have a lot of hotels en B&B's. If you want a good place to sleep with a clean room and breakfast you pay around 50 euro/night. 
Normally what i do is planning al the locations i want to visit and photograph, and from there i go book the B&B's/hotels. There wil be always a place in 20-30 min drive.
Taiwan is really famous for it's food. Everywhere you can eat some delicious Taiwanese food. A tip is to go to a nightmarket for your dinner, a real experience to do. The choice of food there is incredible.

TRAVEL TAIWAN:

Arrive Taiwan most likely is in Taipei, from there you can start your trip.
Other option is to start your trip in the south part of Taiwan. From Taipei it is easy to take the high speed train to Tainan or Kaohsiung and from there you go back to the north.
The best way to travel around in Taiwan is to rent a car.
The last time we rent a car for 22 days. The car can fit 4 people and luggage.  Including insurance we paid around 900 euro.
Driving in Taiwan is very easy, only if you go inside the big city's it's a little bit more difficult if you are not used to drive between a lot of scooters.
Taking the puplic transport is also possible. Almost every place in Taiwan you can come by taking the train and/or bus, at the location you just rent a scooter. This option is of course much cheaper.

LANQUAGE

In Taiwan they speak Mandarin Chinese.
In the city's people speak good to little bit English, but outside the city's most people don't speak any English.
For restaurants ans supermarkets it's not a big problem, you just point what you want to have. Luckily nowedays we have google translate, so most of times you can use this for communication.

Tip is to buy a prepaid phonecard when you arrive taiwan, for 20-30 euro you buy a 1 month card with a good 4G internet connection.

WHY TAIWAN IS GOOD FOR LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY:

Simply because the many different kind of landscapes you can take there.
Taiwan have big mountains, beautiful old forests, a really stunning coastline, lots of waterfalls and even a small desert.

Taiwan is also a great country if you like to to street-photography, wildlife/macro and architecture.

Every article i am going to write is about a different area.

 

English is not my native language, so if there are some grammatical mistakes in the articles my excuse for that.
 

 

Nantou area

Nantou area is quite a big area where you can easily stay 2 weeks and still not see everything.
Nantou is a nice place if you like to shoot waterfalls, beautiful mountain views and lakes.
The places i am going to write some more information are:
1. Sun Moon Lake
2. Dream Valley Waterfall
3. Jinlongshan sunrise viewpoint
4. Sun Link Sea Forest Recreation Area
5. Hehuan Mountain
Above 5 places i've been, but there are so many more great places to photograph in Nantou.
I hope in the future i can make this list a little bit bigger.

1. Sun Moon Lake
This lake is really in the middle of Taiwan, this beautiful lake is surrounded by mountains.
There are 2 small city's at the lake where you can find B&B's and hotels.
At the lake you can take photo's during sunrise and sunset, in the morning many times there is fog over the water, specially in wintertime.
Best is to discover the lake during daytime and plan your locations for the sunset and sunrise shoots.

Sunrise at Sun Moon Lake

 

Sunrise at Sun Moon Lake

2. Dream Valley waterfall ( also known a Menggu Falls )
This waterfall is not super big, but the location inside a small valley makes this a really good waterfall to photogaph.
A good place to take a hotel or B&B around Puli city, from there it's only 25 min drive to the waterfall.
In the late morning and begin afternoon the sun is shining straight on the waterfall so the light is very harsh. So best is to go when it's cloudy or early morning/late afternoon.
The road to the waterfall is easy and finally you can not drive further, there you just park your car, and then it's only 5 min walk.

Dream Valley waterfall in late afternoon.

 

Dream Valley waterfall few hours after sunrise.

3. Jinlongshan sunrise viewpoint
This is a viewpoint with platforms to view the sunrise coming from behind the mountains.
Specially in wintertime there is a big chance you got a lot of fog between the smaller mountains in the foreground getting different layers of mountains.
This place can be reached also from Puli city, but also Sun Moon Lake is not to far away from here.
What i dit was take the sunrise photo's at Jinlongshan and then drive to the Dream Valley Waterfall.
This place is perfect for some more telephoto work, i used my 70-200 here mostly.
 

Jinlongshan sunrise

 

Jinlongshan sunrise

4. Sun Link Sea Forest Recreation Area
This is a beautiful place situated at a elevation of 1600-1800 meter.
Most interesting things to see here are: Songlong waterfall, Wanyou Forest, Qinglong waterfalls, and more beautiful old forests if you just walk around there.
If you are also a wildlife photographer don't forget to take your big telephoto lens. I was suprised about how close the birds here come to you. And you see lot of beautiful kind of birds.
When we were there we really got a lot of rain, so the only thing we can go to are the Songlong waterfall and Wanyou forest.
Wanyou forest is quite special, this are dead trees standing most of time in the water, if you lucky and get some foggy conditions it's like a fairtytale overthere.
There is another waterfall called Qinglong waterfall, also beatiful but we didn't have time to go beacuase it was 24hr raining.
Best place to stay is just in the recreation area itself, there are few hotels where you can stay.
In the recration area it's not allowed to drive with your own car. So for the Songlong waterfall you can take bus, every 30 minutes a bus drives to the waterfall and back starting from 8 Am to 17 Pm, pick up is just in front of the hotels.
Singlong waterfall you can reach by car and have a little walk.
For the Wanyou forest you drive just 15 min outside the park. The road up to the forest is extreme steep and it's impossible to drive up with your own rental car.
At the begin of the road there are small 4X4 minibus they wil drive you up to there.

Songlong Waterfall

 

Songlong Waterfall

Wanyou Forest

 

Wanyou forest.

5. Hehuan Mountain
Hehuan mountain is a easy accesible mountain at 3400 mtr high.
With car you can drive almost to te top, and from there you have many good hikes to look the great views.
In summertime this is also a nice place to go beacause of the high altitude the temperature is much cooler then ground level. In summertime this is also a great place if you like to do some milkyway and star photography.
You can come here for both sunrise and sunset.
A good place to overnight is Chingjing Village, from there it's a 30 to 40 min drive to the top of the mountain.

 

Sunrise from Mt Hehuan

Milkyway on top of Mt Hehuan. ( It was full moon, so not perfect conditions for starphotography )

 

Sunrise from Mt Hehuan.

Tainan area

Tainan is a city in the south-west of Taiwan.
Around the city there are some nice places to visit for landscape photography.
Most interesting places are: Oyster racks, Tainan Desert and Erliao.
Another thing to visit are the salt pans, but i did nog go there yet.
The best place to take a hotel is a little bit on the outside of the city. From there it is more easy to drive to the places you want to visit, but also easy if you like to see Tainan centrum.
Tip is to visit the nightmarket in Tainan City.

1. The oysterfields on the westcoast of Taiwan.
One hour drive from Tainan city is Qigu lagoon. This lagoon is full of big fields with oyster racks.
At sunset the racks are a beautiful foreground for taking a nice image.
When we were there the sunset was not spectaculair, but with a long exposure i think i  still got a nice photo.
Best lens to take here is a normal zoomlens. If you shoot fullframe a 24-70 for example wil do the job.

 

Oyster racks west coast Tainan.

 

 

2. Tainan desert.
Very close to the oysterfields there is Tainan desert.
Actually it is not really a desert, but more like sand dunes. Beacause on this part of the coast there is always strong wind the sand creates beautiful patterns.
Be aware that the strong wind the sand always blowing around, so make sure you already have the good lens on the camera, changing lenses is almost impossible.
I take my shots there with a ultra wide angle, but with a mid zoom lens you also can do there.
Best time to go is also around sunset.
 

 

Tainan Desert

 

3. Erliao
On the east side of Tainan city there is Chaoshan moonworld also called badlands.
This is a very special kind of landscape. This area have small mountains made from mud pushed up from deep underground.
The rain and streams giving a lot of erosion so the shapes are spectaculair.
The only plant what can grow on the steep mountains is bamboo.
There is a special platform to view and photograph the sunrise over this landscape. Many times there is a lot of fog in the valley making it even better.
Lenses i used here is my mid zoom but mostly i take the shots with my 70-200.
After taken the sunrise shot you can drive through the park and find yourself more interesting places to take photo's.
There is also another higher place to take photo's from this landscape. The place is a restaurant called 308. This is also the height of this lookout point. Here you can take photo's during sunset, or also in the morning with the light more from behind you. When we were there it was to foggy, the landscape we even could not see.

View from Erliao platform.

View from Erliao platform during sunset with the light more from the side.

 

Taiwan North Coast.

The North coast of Taiwan is really stunning.
Here you find beautiful rock formations, beaches and big waves.
If you like taking seascapes this is the place to be.

But the north coast of Taiwan also have mountains, waterfalls and of course the big city of Taipei.

The only problem there can be is the weather, i've been 3 times to the north of taiwan, and only 1 time we got good weather for photography. It can happen it rains for 3 days on a row.
If you want to photography the complete north coast of Taiwan you  better stay on different places, drive from west to east over the coastal way takes to long time, so better stay on 2 or 3 different places and go from there to the locations.

I did'nt been yet to the most east part of the North Coast so i hope in future i can bring here a update for this article.
I wil guide the locations from west to east, starting with Laomei green reef.
 

1.
Laomei green reef.

Laomei reef is located in the Shimen District.
Here you find rocks with beautiful leading lines to the ocean and the sunrise.
In begin of year the stones are covered with vibrant green algae, from may the temperature gets to warm and the algae wil disapear. But also without the algae the rocks are stil very beautiful. ( See photo's with and without )

The most important thing to know is the tide. On high tide the stones are completely under water. From our experience the best time to go is around 30 min to 1 hour after high tide. The waves are still coming over the rocks and with a little bit longer exposure you can create beautiful waveaction over the rocks.
So here you wil need to do some planning to have a good tide on the time around sunrise. Online you can find find tidal information.
Best lens to take is a wide angle, and dont forget to bring some neutral density filters to slow down the shutterspeed.
We stayed in the nice coastal place Jinshan, good place for eating seafood!!
From Jinshan to the Laomei green reef is 20 to 25 min drive.
 

Laomei reef without algae

 

Laomei reef with algae, but also better sunrise colors.

2. Twin candle sticks.

Twin candle sticks are 2 beautiful rocks a little bit out of the coast
They are located very close to Jinshan city. From the city it's a 10 minutes drive to the entrance and parking place of Jinshan Shitoushan Park. From the parking to the rocks it's a 15 min nice walk.
The end of the walking path leads to a small pagode on top of the cliffs looking over the ocean, from here you already got a great view over the ocean and candlesticks.
But better is to go down to sealevel. There are 2 options:
1: There is a walking path from the pagode down what gives you beautiful rocks in the foreground.
2: You go down to the small beach where you also can find very nice foreground elements. The way down to the beach is not a foodpath, you need to go down holding a rope, not difficult but little bit heavy go back up.
Best time is to go at sunrise if you want some nice colors in the sky.

 

Twin Candle Sticks

 

3. Taipei City

When you are in the North of Taiwan big chance you wil visit 1 or 2 days Taipei City.
Taipei is really a big city, but it's very organised and traveling in the city is very easy with subway.
We go Taipei from Jinshan city with bus because driving in Taipei we don't like to do. Taking the bus is very cheap and from Jinshan it takes around 1 hour.
There are many things to do in Taipei:  Big shopping malls, beautiful temples, nightmarkets, and of course the great 101 builing.
A must thing to do is go to the top of 101 building to look the great views over the city.
A beautiful place to look the sunset and blue hour over the city skyline including 101 building is Elephant mountain.
You need to take the subway to Xiangshan station and from there walk to the stairway of Elephant Mountain. From there it's a 20 min to 30 min walk to the top.


 

Taipei Skyline just after sunset

 

3. Badouzi coast park

Badouzi coast park is also a really stunning place to photograph. Here you wil find beautiful rocks in the foreground with the waves rolling over it, and in the background you get some mountains. Not many place's you wil find seascapes with mountains in the background.
This park is located little bit east from Keelung city, this was also the place we stay to sleep. Keelung is a nice city with a lot of hotels around the harbour.
From Keelung city to Badouzi park is around 25 min drive.
Here also the best time to go is around sunrise.
 

Badouzi coast Long Exposure at sunrise.

 

Badouzi coast park

4. Golden Waterfall

The Golden Waterfall is quite special. In early times this area had a lot of gold mines. From the mines there were coming a lot of different minerals and metals stick on the rocks. This gives a beautiful golden glow on the rocks, very unique.
The waterfall is easy accesible from Keelung, around 30 min drive, and from the carpark you already see the waterfall.
You can take photo's from the complete waterfall, but i like here to take some more detail shots with more mm's,  a 70-200 for example.

Golden Waterfall

 

5. Nanya Rock Formations

Here you wil find rocks eroded rocks with beautiful textures and paterns what gives a great foreground.
This place is also on the east side from Keelung, with car it's around 30 min drive from Keelung.
Here best time to photograph is also at sunrise.

 

Nanya Rock Formations and a really amzing sunrise.

 

6. Shifen and Wanggu waterfalls

These 2 waterfalls are very close to each other.
The Shifen waterfall is i think the most visited waterfall in Taiwan, they also call him the Little Niagara of Taiwan. It's not a very high waterfall, but the wide and the amount of water makes him beautiful. Arriving the Shifen waterfall you find a lot of parking place's.  there a signs how to walk to the waterfalls, depending where you park it's maximum 30 min walk.
Wanngu waterfall is a very small waterfall, but the location inside the forest makes you feel you are in paradise. The other good thing is that not many people visit this waterfall, so big chance you wil be there alone.
At Wanggu waterfall there is no parkingplace, but at the begin of the trail ( see map ) there are places you can leave your car. From here you walk in 10 to 15 minutes to the waterfall.
From Keelung to the waterfalls is around 30-40 min drive.
 

Shifen Waterfall

 

Wanggu waterfall

 

This were the locations we been to for photography, but the north coast have a lot more to offer, just drive around the coastal way and you will see a lot of opportunitys to photograph.
A beautiful place also to go look is Yehliu Geopark, here you find also beautiful eroded rocks, and one looks like a head calling queens head. Only this park you need to pay entrance and is not open during the sunrise or sunset.
Another nice place to look is Jiufen Old street, it's a little bit touristic, but a nice place to look and eat.

Alishan area

Alishan is a beautiful mountain area in the centre of Taiwan.
The highest peaks are around 2600 meter.
The most interesting things for landscape photography are the stunning mountain views with if  you are lucky cloud inversions. Also have beautiful old forests many times in fog.
Alishan is also in summertime a good place to go, beacause of the higher altitude the temperature are much more nice here. In summertime it's also a good place for astrophotography.
I've been there 2 times now, and we stayed in a little village close to Fenqi Hu. ( see the map )
Already there you have great views over the mountains, just on walking distance from your hotel/B&B.
 

 

Nightview just from the terrace of our B&B.

Panorama close to our B&B

Great sunset and cloudinversion from our B&B

The most famous place is Alishan national forest recreation area. Here you can go to in the early morning for a sunrise shoot, but beware of a lot of other tourists. For me it is the reason not to go there. For sunrise there is more choice to go.
The park is a good place to go for forest photography. This i a old forest on a altitude of 2400 mtr with huge cypress tree's more then 2000 year old.
There are a few hiking trails through the forest, and if the clouds roll in to the mountains it's really like a fairytale there.
From our place were we sleep it's a 40 min drive.
 

Alishan "fairytale" forest

 

Alishan forest

Another beautiful place to go is Xiding.
Here you have also beautiful view's over the mountains. At sunset you have the sun straight in front of you, but also in the morning you can take very good pictures, special in wintertime the sun position is also good for sunrise.
You can drive your car straight to the place where you can take photo's, so good for the more lazy people LOL.
In Alishan you can use al kind of lenses, but also don't forget to use a little bit your telezoom to capture the beautiful details from the mountains.

Detail shot with the 70-200 from Xiding at sunrise.

 

A wider view from Xiding at sunrise.