Cherry Blossoms at Tamsui Tien Yuan Temple (淡水天元宮)
It’s cherry blossom seasons again! Every year around mid-February and mid-March, the cherry blossoms in Northern Taiwan are at their best.
During these months, many people would take their families up to Yangmingshan on the weekends to admire the beauty of the blooming sakura.
However, with the added convenience of flower season shuttles and the fame of Taipei’s Yangmingshan Flower Festival, traveling to and from Yangmingshan has become a torture – even on weekdays.
So I was looking around for a great place to take pictures of cherry blossoms in Taipei, and one of my photographer friends told me to give Tamsui’s Tien Yuan Shrine a try.
Frankly, I’ve never heard of the place before and wasn’t quite sure if I want to go. However, after looking through some of the photos on several local blogs, I decided to give it a shot.
My friend told me to go on a weekday, as holidays and weekends could be disasterous. I took his advice and took Monday off (Hey, Monday was the first day without overcast – the past few weeks were disasters for outdoor photographers with the rain and overcast).
Anyways, the first part of the trip was easy. Since the MRT runs all the way to Tamsui, all you have to do is use your EasyCard and avoid all the hassle of transferring on buses.
Once I arrived at MRT Tamsui Station, I went looking for the Bei-zhuang Line Bus (For those who wants to give Tien Yuan Temple a shot – remember the bus stop is right across the MRT station and behind the main street – there’s a ticket station and people lining up for the bus).
Unfortunately, the fare is NT$21. So you have the option of purchasing a ticket directly from the counter, or use the EasyCard on the bus and deposit NT$6 to make up for the difference.
Well, I did mention today was Monday, so I didn’t expect to see a lot of people. Boy was I wrong – the bus was packed like rush hour traffic. With my camera equipment on me, I was still crunched like a sardine on the bus…
The trip from the MRT station took about 30 minute. The entrance to the temple is on the mountain and next to a small lane (look for the 7-Eleven – it’s the only notable landmark).
TY Temple consists of a temple complex at the entrance way and a 5-story tower (or 6?) in the back area. Moving around will require you to do some climbing. In addition to the cherry blossom trees, I seriously suggest visitors to climb the tower. The view from the top floor on a clear day is amazing (there’s also an elevator for those who aren’t in for climbing stairs).
(A view of the main tower)
Even though it was a weekday, tourists from all across the island were there to admire the cherry blossoms. I notice old people and families with kids, as well as a fair share of photographers (amateurs and professionals).
It’s a pity that many of the cherry blossoms are wilting already, but I still managed to capture the remaining trees on my camera.
However, getting back to the MRT station was a pain, as bus comes every 30 minutes. It was 2:30pm and I had to wait another 30 minutes because the line was so long. With a serious congestion for downhill traffic, the return trip took me 45 minutes.
Is the trip worth it? I think it’s definitely a ‘Thumbs-up’. Hopefully, next year’s flower will encounter better weather, creating a more vibrant Sakura hotspots.
(Hard to believe that this picture wasn’t taken in Japan)
By the way, for those who prefer taxies, there are a lot of taxies outside the MRT Station and TY Temple offering a ride for NT$50 (the catch is they’ll wait for 4 passengers before they leave).
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