Taipei, a metropolis of 6 million people, is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Public space is very precious and rare, but in recent years the city government spent a lot of efforts in making Taipei greener. The biggest parks in Taipei are stretched along the Xindian and Keelung rivers, but they are not an integral part of urban neighborhoods. They are intended for recreational activities such as cycling, but they would rarely be a meeting point or a place to rest for the nearby residents. Today I would like to introduce to you a list of beautiful urban parks in Taipei. These parks are not only Taipei’s green lungs, a lot of them bear historic significance and could be very interesting to foreign visitors as well. They offer a peek into the common people’s daily lives as well as an opportunity to take a break from sightseeing. All of them are very well accessible by the Taipei MRT, it just takes a little walking to get there.
1. Daan Park | 大安森林公園
Daan Park is the biggest park inside the city proper, deeply integrated in the heart of Taipei. It’s surrounded by some of the most populous neighborhoods and therefore the perfect getaway for the locals, who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the capital without the need to go too far. The park is like a different universe all together and has a very unique atmosphere: You will feel like you are not in the city, but somewhere in nature. Daan Park is a must see, if you travel to Taipei. To visit the park, exit at Daan MRT Station and walk westwards along the Xinyi Road, 10 minutes and you are there.
2. 228 Peace Memorial Park | 二二八和平紀念公園
This is one of the oldest and historically most significant parks in Taipei City. It was established by the Japanese colonialists a century ago. The park is not as big as the one in Daan, but no other park is located that deeply in the historic center of the city. There are several significant historic sites found in and around the park: The Office of the President, the Bank of Taiwan, the Guest House, the old NTU Hospital, a 228 Monument and the National Taiwan Museum. The park, which used to be known as Taihoku Park before 1945 and New Taipei Park after, got its current name in the late 1990s, when Taiwan’s government decided to commemorate the 228 Massacre from 1947. To visit the park, go out at the NTU Hospital Station Exit 1 and you are there.
3. Taipei Botanical Garden | 台北植物園
Taipei’s Botanical Garden is probably my favorite park in the city. The various gardens offer hundreds of different species of local and foreign plants, you can spend hours discovering them. Some of the most interesting buildings in the park are the green house and the administrative Yamen, a more than a century old structure from the Qing Dynasty, which is very well preserved. There are also a lot of academic institutions in the area, such as the Nanhai Academy and National Museum of History. To visit the park, go out at Xiaonanmen MRT Station Exit 3, 3 minutes and you will be there.
4. Zhongzheng Memorial Park, Liberty Square | 中正紀念公園
Liberty Square is Taipei’s biggest square, famous for its neo-classical Chinese landmark buildings such as the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and the National Concert and Theater. But the square is also home to a very lovely park with nicely cut bushes and well maintained patches named Zhongzheng Memorial Park. The two ponds on every side are offering a great background for pre-wedding photos, so you can be sure, that you will see a lot of brides and grooms in the area during the weekend. Visiting Liberty Square is a must for every traveler to Taipei and if you are there, don’t forget to walk around this lovely park as well. To visit the square, go out at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall MRT Station Exit 5.
5. Sun-yat Sen Memorial Hall Park | 國父紀念館公園
Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall is one of the most famous landmarks in Taipei. It's dedicated to Sun Yat-sen, who is today known as the "Father of the Republic of China", the official name of the country, that is commonly referred to as Taiwan. The neo-classical Chinese building is surrounded by a small park full of statues of Dr. Sun. The park can be found close to Sun Yat-sen MRT Station Exit 4.
6. The Youth Park | 青年公園
The Youth Park is Wanhua’s biggest park. It’s located in its southern part, close to the Xindian river. There is a big pond with a fountain in the center of the park, dividing it in two parts. The upper part is full of trees and benches, intended for people to rest. The lower part is opener, with green meadows, that attract young and old. I saw some sitting and having a picnic, while some others were practicing taichi. The most interesting part is the Nine Curves Bridge in the middle of the pond, that offers some great views. To visit the park, go out at Wanhua Station and walk southwards, you'll reach the park in 15 minutes.
7. Yuanshan Park | 圓山公園
Yuanshan Park is the oldest park in Taipei, it was established in 1897 during the Japanese occupation. It's located between the current Rinzai Zen Temple and the Zhongshan Stadium, which dates back to 1923. The park used to house the first Taipei Zoo, which was later moved to today's location in Muzha. In 2010 the park was the prime venue for the Taipei International Flora Exposition. The park looks very modern today with lots of patches and bushes and lawns. It's part of the greater Zhongshan park area, the Meishu and Xinsheng park are right next to it. To find the park, go out at the Yuanshan MRT Station, it's right next to Exit 1.
8. Xinsheng Park | 新生公園
Xinsheng park is located close to the Zhongshan Meishu park, but it’s much bigger. The park together with Lin An Tai Historic House and the Dajia Riverside Park forms a huge green area in northern Taipei between the Keelung river and the Songshan Airport. It’s mostly a very wide park with meadows, patches and bushes. It’s very well maintained and a good place for jogging in the afternoon or taichi in the morning. To visit the park, go out at Zhongshan Elementary School MRT Station Exit 4 and turn left, walk northwards for about 10 minutes and you will be there.
9. Zhongshan Meishu Park | 中山美術公園
The Meishu Park is located right between the Yuanshan Park and the Xinsheng Park. It's a probably Taipei's most modern park and laid out opposite the Museum of Fine Arts and close to the Taipei Story house. I like the park a lot, because it's very different. To visit the park, go out at Yuanshan MRT Station Exit 1 and walk through the Yuanshan Park. It would take you about 10 minutes and you will be there.
10. Lin An Tai Park | 林安泰公園
The Lin An Tai Park is located inside the old Lin An Tai Residence. The house was moved to this location close to Xinsheng Park from the Daan District and rebuilt in the 1980s. The beautiful garden is full of pavilions surrounding a lotus pond - it's a Fujianese style garden, one of the best you can find inside the city proper. To find Lin An Tai, go to Yuanshan MRT Station Exit 1 and walk through the Yuanshan Park. It will take you around 20 minutes to reach there.
11. Linsen Park | 林森公園
The Linsen Park is a lovely small park in Taipei’s Zhongshan district, offering the locals a a piece of nature in a heavily urbanized area. It’s quite spacious and full with benches and trees, that offer shade to the ones that need a break. The area used to be a cemetery during the Japanese occupation. One of the interesting spots of the park is an area with a big statue of a warrior on a horse: It’s a depiction of Yue Fei, a Chinese general from the 12th century. To visit the park, go out at Zhongshan MRT Station Exit 4 and walk westwards for about 15 minutes.
12. Rongxing Park | 榮星公園
Rongxing Park is next to Daan Forrest Park and the 228 Peace Memorial Park one of the biggest parks in Taipei, which is wholly surrounded by residential buildings. It’s located in Western Zhongshan District, close to the very popular Xingtian Temple. To find the park, go out at Xingtian Temple MRT Station Exit 3, walk towards the temple and then turn right. It will take you about 15 min to reach the beautiful park.
13. Bihu Park | 碧湖公園
The Bihu Park is one of the two biggest parks in Neihu District, the north-western part of the city. The park is know because of its big lake and the wonderful views surrounding it. There is a Chinese pavilion placed on the water with a curvy bridge connecting it with the shore. You can find them at the lake’s northwestern part. The park is basically one with nature, almost fully immersed in the surrounding nature, despite some residential areas in its peripherals. You can see aplenty of birds and other animals, if you love pure nature, Bihu Park will be your perfect getaway. To find the park, go out at Wende MRT Station Exit 2 and walk right into a small side lane. You’ll reach the park in 5 minutes.
14. Dahu Park | 大湖公園
Dahu Park is the second biggest park in Neihu and it's famous for its beautiful Moon bridge over the lake. The park came to international fame when newspapers like the Daily Mail shared some beautiful photos of the the park taken by a Taiwanese photographer - you can see the article here. To find the park, go out at Dahu Park MRT Station, the park is found right at the backside of the station.
15. Zhongzheng Park, Yangmingshan | 中正公園, 陽明山
Zhongzheng Park, named after former president Chiang Kai-shek, is one of the most popular spots on top of Taipei's Yangmingshan Mountain. The park is interesting, because it’s been laid out on a small slope and offers some great views. You will see a lot of Chinese-styled pavilions and a statue of Wang Yangming, the Medieval scholar, who was the inspiration for the naming of the mountain. To visit the park, take the bus 206 at the back of the Taipei Main Station, that goes up all the way to Yangmingshan.
16. Beitou Park | 北投公園
The Beitou Park is a small park located 5 minutes away from the Xinbeitou MRT Station. The area is known for hot springs and it's one of prime tourist spots in the city. The park is stretched along the Beitou Stream and incorporates the famous Beitou Library and the Beitou Hot Spring Museum.
17. Shilin Official Residence Park | 士林官邸公園
The former residence of Chiang Kai-shek in Shilin is located very close to the Jiantan mountain. The small flat land right underneath was a perfect spot for a lovely garden, which is today a bridge between the densely populated district and the beautiful nature of the surrounding hills. The former president’s wife Soong May-ling spent a lot of time maintaining this lovely garden. The highlights of the garden are the “The face of Mother Earth” statue as well as a green house with a beautiful orchid collection. To find the garden, go to Shilin MRT Station Exit 2 and walk westwards about 10 minutes.
18. 823 Memorial Park | 八二三砲戰紀念公園
The 823 Memorial Park in Zhonghe is dedicated to the victims of the 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis, whern PR China attacked the island of Kinmen (Quemoy), which is part of ROC (Taiwan). The island was shelled with heavy artillery on August 23, 1958 and the crisis lasted about a half a year. A large monument dedicated to the victims of that crisis is located in the middle of the park, you can read more about it here and here. There is a big National Taiwan Library building in the middle of the park. To visit the park, go out at Yongan Market MRT Station and cross the street and walk through a small lane for about 3 minutes.
19. Chih Shan Gardens | 至善園,
Indigenous People's Park | 原住民文化主題公園
These two parks are located underneath the impressive National Palace Museum.
20. Beian Park | 北安公園
This is a small park located right below the famous Grand Hotel, one of Taipei's landmarks. To find it, go out at Jiantan MRT Station Exit 2 and walk southwards.
21. Jieshou Park | 介壽公園
This is a small but well maintained park located right next to the 228 Piece Memorial Park and the Office of the President at the famous Ketagalan Boulevard. A bronze statue of Lin Sen, the chairman of the National Government of the ROC from 1931 until 1943, is the park's most notable sight. To find the park, go out at NTU Hospital MRT Station Exit 1 and walk around 3 minutes straight until you reach the big crossing - you will see it on the other side of the road.
There are a few more parks found in Taipei and its suburbs and I will add them here in the future once I pay them a visit. A version of this post will be published on TaipeiTravel.net.
[My TAIPEI TRAVEL page][All photos by MKL, 2011/12]