April 29, 2010
Daan Forest Park
Taipei is a bustling, modern and vibrant city that truly never sleeps, and while these are all attributes that make Taipei an interesting place to visit, it can be a bit overwhelming. So if you need a break from the hustle and bustle of Taipei but you don’t the energy or time to venture out of the city, there is a haven in the middle of the city called Daan Forest Park.
New York has Central Park, London has Hyde Park, and Taipei has Daan Forest Park. Daan is relatively new having only been established in 1994, so the “Forest” in the title might be a little overstated. However, the newer trees have now grown to the extent that they provide a good degree of shade, and you are allowed to sit on the grass making it a very pleasant place to enjoy a picnic*, read a book, write postcards and generally wind down.
If you fancy something a bit more energetic, this is probably the best place to go for a run in Taipei City. Of course there are footpaths throughout the park so you can always take a leisurely stroll.
The park covers 26 hectares and is surrounded by Xinyi Road to the north, Hoping East Road to the south, Hsinsheng South Road to the west and Jianguo South Road to the east with entrances on all sides. The closest MRT station at the moment is Daan Station, but a new station is being built that will be right by the park.
Towards the north west corner of the park is an “ecological pond” which has a variety of birds, turtles (including some monsters) and fish. I’ve yet to see the fabled crocodile, but I haven’t given up (rumours have it a pet crocodile was released into the lake a few years back).
There seems to be a thriving population of squirrels in the park as well, although how on earth they got there I don’t know. There is a small outdoor cafe near the pond with toasted sandwich (one choice) and various drinks with tables and umbrellas although I expect there is quite a wait for seats during the weekend.
There is an interesting mix of trees, from firs to palms to pretty leafy ones (botany is not my strong point) depending on which area of the park you are in. Personally I like the pretty leafy ones which are nearer to the Hoping side of the park. There’s also a bamboo area towards the north end.
The park is well signposted in English so it is easy to get around. There is a nice amphitheater where you can watch concerts from local bands to the symphony orchestra. It’s a bit hit and miss as to what’s on and when, but if you do catch an event as the sun is going down, it’s really quite special.
There is also underground parking should you be driving. The public toilets are clean, as you would expect from a park in Taiwan, and include changing facilities for babies. If you have older children, there’s also a large playground area to let the kids blow off steam.
If you are feeling hungry, there some options for an evening meal. The Taiwanese restaurant I wrote about before is at number 37 Xinyi Road across from the park. There are also a fun couple of places to eat near the corner of Xinsheng South Road and Xinyi Road across from the park. These are Taiwanese “beer house” style and if the weather is good they open the roof (pull pack the covering at least). More on these places in a future post.
So enjoy a bit of Taiwanese style park life, and I’ll see you under the leafy trees!
*If you are craving a sandwich, there’s a well-known American franchise store very close to the corner of Hoping East and Hsinhseng South Roads.
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