Farm-stays in Taiwan were never really on my vacation radar, until I learned more about it – here’s what you need to see
For most people, vacations usually take place in another city, such as Bangkok, or at the beach, such as in Bali. Another travel option that’s great for young families, couples or the elderly is a farm-stay. Taiwan has many to offer.
Generations of families have been farming in Taiwan since the emperors ruled China. Over the years, however, the glitz of city life has lured many of the younger generations away from the farms.
Recently, they have returned, not as farmers but entrepreneurs, transforming farms into farm-stays. They have taken their parents’ knowledge of the land and tradition and modernised the farm-stay to suit city dwellers.
The service standards are top-notch, the accommodations are tastefully rustic, and the marketing is as savvy as any modern hotel chain.
Farm-stays across Taiwan
There are over 200 Leisure Farms across most of Taiwan’s districts. We sampled a few on the western coast of Taiwan to get a sense of the variety.
We found profoundly heart-warming people, fantastic food, and refreshingly-clean air in relaxing natural settings.
Here are just some examples of what you can experience.
Breath of Fresh Air at Sheipa Leisure Farm
Located adjacent to a national park, 1,923m above sea level, the weather at this farm is always cool and the air, fresh. It is said, “Every breath of Sheiba air you breathe extends your life an extra day.” With that type of promise, no wonder it’s a favourite among urbanites escaping from the city smog.
And, you’ll need lungfuls of fresh air for hiking in the national park, picking blueberries and kiwis and, not forgetting, strolling in the fabulous gardens filled with hydrangeas and prune trees. Early risers can see the sunrise above the cloud banks in the valley.
Family Value at Nan Yuan Garden
For families with young kids, this is the perfect place. Stay in Canadian camphor log cabins, visit the private zoo, pet farm animals, have water cannon fights on man-made moats, or participate in many of the D-I-Y workshops.
This place has been around for over 20 years, so expect the facilities to be somewhat dated.
Formerly a traditional farm, Da-Keng, with the help of the owner’s three young daughters, is now a sophisticated hospitality establishment with rustic charm. It’s still a farm but it only grows organic items that they serve in their restaurant.
Their signature items include sweet and succulent bamboo shoot, bananas, mangoes, and farm-raised pigs and chicken roasted on the premise. For activities, there are zip lines, hot springs and vigorous hiking trails within the acreage. It’s a great place for families with pre-teens.
Designed by the owner’s eldest son, this eco-friendly resort offers Balinese-style villas, as well as stylish and sophisticated tentage rooms with wooden bathtubs for its guests.
The second son, a trained chef, prides himself on fusing traditional southern Taiwanese cooking with a Western twist.
If you enjoy aromatherapy, then this place is for you. Three daughters run this family farm, which specialises in growing flowers and plants for their essential oils.
Tour their museum filled with antique equipment used for extraction in the good old days. The modern rooms are tastefully-decorated with wooden twigs and vines for a fairy tale gazebo feeling.
Leisure Farm – What’s that?
Leisure Farms aren’t strictly farms, which guests stay in. Some are simply restaurants, which grow and serve their own produce, while others provide full hospitality services.
Most of them have evolved from a traditional farming business into a tourism business, providing guests with fresh air, fresh food and a fantastic break from the city.
Feast your eyes on these
Staying on a leisure farm may be new and exciting but it’s their food that’s king. For many of the dishes served at the leisure farms, the ingredients are literally grown in their backyard! It can’t get fresher than that.
While most leisure farms have accommodation, others are only restaurants with adjoining farms. Nonetheless, they offer a tantalising taste adventure for anyone experiencing farm-stays in Taiwan.
There are simply too many great ingredients to name. So let your eyes be the judge!
Xun Zhi Yuan Garden Leisure Farm
Specialises in growing organic herbs and spices, which they add to their traditional and Western cuisine.
Matige Clam Farm and Restaurant
Serves farm-fresh succulent clams and manufactures the most fragrant bee hoon I’ve ever eaten!
Lim’s Historic Home
Specialises in Hakka Maioli cuisine using lotus and lilies.
This trip to the Taiwan farm-stays was made possible thanks to CTC Travel and China Airlines. You can contact CTC Travel (www.ctc.com.sg) for a selection of free and easy farm-stay options in Taiwan.
By Frank Young