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A Tourist’s Guide to the International Flora Expo in Taipei! January 13, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Taiwan, Travel.
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Most people probably haven’t heard of the International Flora Expo, which is fair enough.  Neither had I.  But it’s a big deal in Taipei at the moment, which is hosting this massive event from 6 November 2010 to 25 April 2011.

I was in Taiwan in November this year and had an opportunity to check it out.  For tourists or those passing through without days to spare, I hope this will provide a brief guide on how to get there, where to go and what to see.

In short (10 things you should know):

1. Plan your trip — know what you want to see and the order you want to see them.

2. There are four parks in total, all connected by walkways and bridges.

3. The only MRT station that gets you right to the entrance is Yuanshan (on the red line).

4. All other entrances are connected by special buses to various MRt stations.

5. Opening hours are 9am to 10pm, 7 days a week.

6. Lots of different types of tickets, from full day (NT300) to after 5pm entry tickets (NT150), three day passes (NT600) to unlimited passes (NT2500 – valid for entire duration of expo) — best to use your MRT card if you have one.

7. You can get a stamp, leave and come back in any time during the day.

8. Be prepared to line up if you want to go inside the pavilions or watch the special exhibits.

9. If you don’t want to line up then the best park is ‘Fine Arts’.

10. If you are prepared to line up for hours then the best park is Xinsheng.

(For the full guide, click on ‘more…’)

Overview

The 2010 Taipei International Flora Exposition (the full name) is huge, or at least it appears so on the map.  It is in fact so big that there are four different parks (Yuanshan, Fine Arts, Xinsheng and Dajia) and five different gates, and each gate has a different bus stop or MRT station to get you to and from the venue.

The other thing you need to know is that the place is extraordinarily crowded.  Expect to line up at the entrance if you go in the morning and don’t expect to get a ticket (more on this later) to see one of the special exhibits inside the pavilions, and during peak hours expect to line up for at least an hour or two to get into some of the other pavilion halls.  That was at least my experience when I went on a Monday, and it was the second or third week after it had opened.  I don’t dare think about what it’s like on the weekends.

Therefore, if you want to avoid the crowds, you should consider going on a weekday, and if you don’t mind not seeing some of the exhibits, go in the afternoon.  One ticket can allow you multiple entries, so you can do what we did and go in the morning, head out for lunch, then come back at night or late in the afternoon.

What each park has to offer

As noted above, there are four separate parks to the expo, but they are all connected via walkways.  Note, however, that it can take 5-10 minutes to walk from one park to another.  Set out below is what you can expect to see at each park, and what my thoughts are.  Note that I wasn’t willing to line up for hours so I didn’t enter most of the pavilions, and hence this is more of a quick guide for those who don’t have the time to spend all day and night there (or go multiple days).

NOTE — Getting into the Exhibits: Some of the exhibits used a ticketing system whereby you have to first go to the pavilion and pick up a ticket, which will tell you what time to come back to see the exhibit.  There’s only a limited number of tickets per day.  From what I hear people line up hours before the park opens and rush in to get tickets, which are gone before most people even get in.

The walk-through exhibits, which are limited for crowd control purposes, just require you to line up, like Disneyland.  Some exhibits were said to take almost three hours to get into.  Good luck.

1. Yuanshan Park Area

This is the biggest park, but it’s also very spaced out.  The main feature is probably the ‘Flower Landscape’, which is a sea of flowers in the middle of the park.  I would advise checking it out during the day, because at night the scant lights don’t do it justice.

In terms of exhibitions there is the EXPO Dome, which is a big exhibition area that focuses on competitions.  I went to see this at night time when it wasn’t as crowded and got to take some good photos.  There is the popular Celebrity’s House, which is an exhibit of the pride of Taiwan, the late Teresa Teng. Others include the Pavilion of Culture (with traditional Chinese architecture) and the EXPO Theatre, which shows (in IMAX 3D technology) the effects of natural disasters.

Near the Dome there are various food stalls, so it’s probably the best park to go to if you want to eat there.  However, unless you have tickets to see some of the special exhibits or don’t mind lining up, there’s not a whole lot at this park to see apart from the Flower Landscape.

2. Fine Arts Park Area

This was my favourite park because you can see a lot of stuff just walking around and don’t have to line up.  Right next to the Yuanshan park, Fine Arts’ main attraction is the Global Garden Area, which features 34 garden exhibits from 23 countries, from India to Thailand to the Netherlands to the USA.  Many of them are highly creative and fun to take photos with.  Definitely worth checking out if you want to see something good without lining up all day.

Apart from that there is the Taipei Story House, a historical site with over 700 antique treasures; the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, which apparently has some special exhibits that require additional ticket purchases; the Pavilion of Aroma of Flowers, really just toilets and a souvenir shop; and the EXPO Hall, a uniquely designed energy conservation hall that occasionally has live performances by famous artists.

3. Xinsheng Park Area

Many of the popular exhibits are located here, the you have to be patient because they are usually jam packed with people.  There’s the Pavilion of Dreams, which I didn’t get to see but is apparently sensational as it utilises technology to simulate blooming flowers and is an aural delight with hundreds of speakers.  Another popular one is the Pavilion of Angel Life, an environmentally friendly building designed to inspire conservation.  Right next to that is the Pavilion of Future, which is essentially a greenhouse.

On the other side, the Pavilion of Regimen features 100 year old trees, and Palace of Floral Teas allows you to sample tea refreshments in a historical setting.  Lots of food stalls in that area near the Fujian Style Garden too.

Oh, and there’s also a Garden Maze in the middle, which is not really much of a maze because it is so short you can see right over it.  The Serenity Garden is serene because there is basically nothing there.

4. Dajia Park Area

This one is a little futher away and hence less crowded.  There is a Garden Competition Area which has a few nice flowers and a Children’s World for those with kids.  Apart from that there’s not a lot — Sea of Flowers, EXPO Arena and the Eco Theatre (Wish Fountain).  If you are thinking of skipping one of the parks then this is it.

Here are the photos:

How to get there

Plenty of options, but it depends on where you want to start first.

The most direct and convenient way is to just catch the MRT red line to Yuanshan station and walk a few hundred steps to the main entrance.  It’s got the biggest ticket office and it’s the biggest park, so it makes sense to start from there.  If you are coming from the other side of town you can also take an Expo Bus from either Songshan Airport station or Zhongshan Jr High School station on the brown line.

There are also various taxi ranks — your taxi driver should know how to get there, but you should probably know which park/gate/road you want to get to just in case.

Ticket prices

If you have an MRT EasyCard, that’s probably the easiest because you can just swipe it at the entrance without having to line up to buy an entry ticket.  General admission is NT300.  Entry after 1pm is NT200.  Entry after 5pm is NT150.  A three-day ticket costs NT600.  Remember you can get a stamp when exiting and come back during the same day.

Check out the full price list here.

If you only have one day…

I would recommend the following:

  • Start early and catch the MRT to Yuanshan station and go in via Gate 1 of the Yuanshan Park Area.
  • Go get tickets for the Celebrity House if you can, otherwise check out the EXPO Dome and the Flower Landscape and walk around the open area.
  • Use the pedestrian overpass to cross into the Fine Arts Park Area and check out the Global Garden Area.
  • Head out somewhere for lunch if every meal in Taiwan is important to you (as it was for me), otherwise just dine at one of the many food stalls available.
  • Come back when you feel like it for the Xinsheng Park Area and check out the three Pavilions (Future, Dreams and Angel Life) if the lines are not too long.
  • If you still have time then walk up to the Dajia Park Area.

Lastly, it might help if before you go you download the ‘Expo Folder’ from here (two big PDFs) — that’s got a big map and lots of info on everything.  Alternatively, you can check out the ‘ebook’, which also contains a lot of detailed information (get that here).

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Comments»

1. Ernie - March 19, 2011

This is a great resource. Thanks so much! I’m going tomorrow.


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