Xinhua National Forest Arboretum
Xinhua National Forest Arboretum (Xīnhuà Guójiā Zhíwù Yuán 新化國家植物園)
One of the quickest ways to get out into the forest and get some fresh air is to head out Xinhua (usually spelled Shinhua or Sinhua) Township and explore some of its nearby natural areas. Some of the surrounding land is designated as part of the Siraya National Scenic Area which preserves various wooded areas and farmland that used to make up the habitat of the Siraya plains aborigines. The Hutoupi Reservoir is part of this national scenic area, and right next to it is the Xinhua National Forest Arboretum, where you can really get up close and personal with nature and get some exercise too.
This park is also known the Xinhua Botanical Garden or the National Zhong Xing University Tree Farm. Both names make it sound like a place to bring grandma so she can sniff the flowers, but the arboretum is a somewhat large area with various walking trails that ramble through the hills. The trails are well-marked and the main trail has both stone and wooden footpaths, but the paths take you through lush, natural forest that is not just a walk in the park. It’s a really diversified forest with bamboo, ficus trees, breadfruit trees, and various other beautiful flora. Additionally, you may see any number of bird species, lizards, butterflies and other insects. There are warnings on the trail to beware of poisonous snakes, poisonous wasps, and poisonous centipedes so be careful in treading off the paths. The main trail is two or three kilometers long and should take about an hour or so if you move at a leisurely pace. It wanders up and down through the hills and is moderately strenuous so it’s a good idea to bring along some water.
Facilities in the park include a restaurant and a hotel for those who want to get more of a retreat experience from this natural scenic area. The park also has an outlet of National Zhong Xing University which uses the park as its experimental forest project. For more information see the park’s Chinese-only website.
To get there, follow highway 20 to Xinhua. When you get to Zhongzheng Road in Xinhua, turn right and follow this street. This street is Xinhua Old Street and it’s not a bad place to stop off and have a look around. As the old buildings wane you’ll see a police station on the corner of Zhongzheng and Zhongxing Roads. Turn left and follow Zhongxing Road. Look for signs for Hutoupi Reservoir and Xinhua National Forest Arboretum (actually, I believe the signs call it the Sinhua Botanical Garden). Follow the signs until you get there. It’s down a small road on the left side of the highway.
Hours: Daily 5:30AM ~ 6:30PM (or sunrise to sunset)
Admission: Adults NT$100; Concession NT$80, however if you’re a resident of Tainan City or County and have ID (ARC included), then the cost is only NT$35 for adults.
Phone: (06) 5901063
Location: No. 76 Zhiyi Likoubei, Xinhua Township, Tainan County (台南縣新化鎮知義里口埤76號)