Taiwan is synonymous with night markets and street food. Everyone knows about them and many people make a point to visit at least one on every return trip to the island. But did you know that Taiwan is known for its creative parks as well?
I had never heard of creative parks until our first trip to Taiwan four years ago. We visited two in Taipei – Huashan 1914 Creative Park and Songshan Cultural and Creative Park – and became enamored with the whole concept of it. It’s an interesting idea, which as far as I know, is unique to Taiwan. We recently spent two weeks in the country and made it a point to explore as many as we could on this trip, visiting creative parks and museums in Taipei, Taichung, Tainan, Kaohsiung, and Hualien.
If you’re looking to have a feast for your eyes as well as your stomach, then here are nine creative parks and museums you can visit in Taiwan.
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GUIDE TABLE OF CONTENTS
WHAT IS A CREATIVE PARK?
Good question. I found myself asking this very same question the first time I read about creative parks in Taiwan. I had never heard of anything like them before so the concept was a little hard to grasp. Is it a museum? A gallery? A product design store? As it turns out, it’s all of the above, and more.
Taiwan’s creative parks are basically arts and design venues. They’re like museums or galleries that are less formal and more urban and gritty in feel. They feature rotating exhibits in various creative fields like photography, illustration, film, animation, product design, and furniture design, perhaps even music and performance art.
Every creative park we visited in Taiwan had at least one store selling fun and unique products created by local designers. Most had restaurants and cafes, some featured large permanent murals and installations. But at their core, creative parks are abandoned industrial structures like tobacco factories and wineries that have been repurposed into modern multi-purpose creative spaces. This juxtaposition between old and new is what makes them interesting and unique.
If you like art but find the traditional museum or gallery environment to be too stuffy, then you’re going to love Taiwan’s creative parks. It’s like what a museum would be if it were left in the hands of a skateboarding social media savvy graffiti artist.
1. Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Huashan 1914 Creative Park is one of the biggest and most interesting creative parks we’ve visited in Taiwan. It’s located in Zhongzheng District in Taipei, and boasts multiple exhibit spaces, shops, and cafes within the park grounds. But aside from what’s on display there, one of the things I found most interesting about this creative park is the space itself. It used to be a winery during Japanese rule, producing sake and ginseng wines, as well as breeding moth orchids of all things. You’ll recognize it by its distinctive chimney towering from the winery’s old boiler room.
Pros: One of the bigger creative parks, interesting space, more shops and cafes
Cons: Can get crowded
FabCafe is one of several cafes you’ll find at Huashan 1914 Creative Park.
When we were there in 2014, one of the exhibits was a retrospective on Hong Kong and Taiwanese animation.
Taiwan is known for producing cutesy products like these cartoonish USB flash drives.
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Address: No. 1, Section 1, Bade Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100
Tel: +886 2 2358 1914
YouTube: Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Email: [email protected]
Operating Hours: 9:30AM-9PM, daily
How to Get There: Take the MRT to Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station (Blue/Orange Line, Exit 1). Walk straight on Zhongxiao E Road past Jinshan North Road. The park’s entrance will be on your right.
2. Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Taipei
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is a great little museum in Taipei. The space isn’t that big but the exhibits on display that day were interesting. I find that to be the case with most MOCA museums around the world. If contemporary art is your thing, then be sure to make a quick trip here.
Pros: Interesting exhibits, cool space
Cons: Not as big
On display today were photographs by Steve McCurry, an American photographer whose most famous photo is of the Afghan Girl with the piercing green eyes. It made the cover of National Geographic in June of 1985 and became “the most recognized photograph” in the magazine’s long and storied history.
Apart from the Afghan Girl, I wasn’t familiar with Steve’s work so it was a treat to see more of his photographs today. Every photograph was gorgeous but this was easily my favorite piece from the exhibit. It depicts women caught in a desert storm in Rajasthan, India. Stunning!
Ren’s favorite room in any museum or creative park, the gift shop. 😆
Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Taipei
Address: No. 39, Chang’an West Road, Datong District, Taipei City, Taiwan 103
Tel: +886 2 2552 3721
YouTube: MOCA Taipei
Email: [email protected]
Operating Hours: 10AM-6PM, Tues-Sun (closed Mondays)
Admission: NTD 50
How to Get There: Take the MRT to Zhongshan Station (Red Line, Exit 1). Walk straight along the park and make a right on Chang’an West Road. The MOCA building will be on your right.
3. National Taiwan Museum
Established in 1908, the National Taiwan Museum is the oldest museum in Taiwan and the only non-art museum on this list. It’s comprised of five departments — anthropology, earth sciences, zoology, botany, and education – and holds exhibits featuring Taiwan’s indigenous animals and plants, as well as its cultural artifacts.
Pros: Nice space
Cons: Exhibits geared more for children
The National Taiwan Museum may be the oldest in the country but it doesn’t feel that way inside. It’s well-maintained and a joy to go through.
Pretty much all of the exhibits are related to Taiwan’s fauna and flora so it’s a great place to visit with kids.
Here’s a fun exhibit showcasing seeds in the form of large cushions.
National Taiwan Museum
Address: No. 2, Xiangyang Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100
Tel: +886 2 2382 2566
Flickr: NTM Museum
Operating Hours: 9:30AM-5PM, Tues-Sun (closed Mondays)
Admission: NTD 30
How to Get There: Take the MRT to NTU Hospital Station (Red Line, Exit 4). Follow the signs to the museum.
4. Songshan Cultural and Creative Park
Like Huashan 1914 Creative Park, Songshan Cultural and Creative Park was one of the biggest ones we visited in Taiwan. It’s even bigger than Huashan and occupies a former tobacco factory established during Japanese rule. When we visited in 2014, there was a big furniture design exhibit at the park’s main space, as well as an outdoor bazaar offering products created by local designers.
Pros: One of the bigger creative parks, interesting exhibits, more shops and cafes
Cons: Can get crowded
Among all the creative park shops we visited, I think Songshan Cultural and Creative Park offered the most interesting range of products.
Check out these cute rolls of Washi tape.
The Taiwan Design Museum is located within Songshan Cultural and Creative Park. Based on size alone, I think Songshan Cultural and Creative Park is the one to go to if you had time for just one creative park in Taiwan.
Songshan Cultural and Creative Park
Address: No. 133, Guangfu South Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110
Tel: +886 2 2765 1388
Email: [email protected]
Operating Hours: 9AM-6PM, daily
How to Get There: Take the MRT to Taipei City Hall Station (Blue Line, Exit 1). Walk straight along Zhongxiao East Road past Keelung Road. Make a right into Lane 553, Section 4. Follow the signs to the park, the entrances to which will be on your left.
5. Caowu Square
Caowu Square isn’t really a creative park or museum, but a large retail space showcasing products created mostly by Taichung-based designers. There are several restaurants here as well, including a place to rent segways and bikes for use around Calligraphy Greenway park. It’s a pleasant space and a must-visit in Taichung.
Pros: Fun space, big shop with interesting items for sale
Cons: Not much other than the shop, items for sale are expensive
You’ll find a wide range of interesting products at Caowu Square, from household wares to bikes to personal effects, all of which are unique and well-designed.
Cute line of wooden products
I visited Taichung on a blogger trip in 2017 and we got to play around with the segways for a few minutes.
Address: No. 534, Yingcai Road, West District, Taichung City, Taiwan 403
Tel: +886 4 2302 1232
Operating Hours: 4PM-1:30AM, daily
How to Get There: Caowu Square is located around the middle of Calligraphy Greenway. There’s no metro system in Taichung so the easiest way to get there is by Uber or taxi. If you’d prefer to take the bus, then I suggest downloading the Google Maps app (iOS | Android). It’ll tell you how to go to Caowu Square from wherever you are.
6. National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts
This is a great fine arts museum located at the southern end of Calligraphy Greenway in Taichung. It’s a large facility with four floors of exhibit space. When we were there in March 2018, the entire first floor and garden were dedicated to the gigantic sculptures, wood carvings, and paintings of Taiwanese artist A-Sun Wu. It’s an interesting museum with lots to see so be sure to visit if you’ll be spending any time in Taichung. Admission to the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts is free.
Pros: Big space, interesting exhibits, free admission
Cons: Nothing really
The monumental works of A-Sun Wu. Incredible how all these mammoth works were produced by one man. The sculptures and wood carvings on display in front of the museum were a few stories tall!
As described, the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts is big so you can easily spend a couple of hours here. When we were there, on the second floor were interesting digital exhibits while the third floor galleries showcased more traditional art like paintings and sketches. Off of the main building was a basement level structure with an avante-garde exhibit I didn’t quite understand.
To the side of the museum building is this vine-covered sculpture where you can pose like a gangsta for Instagram.
National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts
Address: No. 2, Section 1, Wuquan West Road, West District, Taichung City, Taiwan 403
Tel: +886 4 2372 3552
Operating Hours: 9AM-6PM, Tues-Sun (closed Mondays)
Email: [email protected]
How to Get There: The National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts is at the southernmost end of Calligraphy Greenway. There’s no metro system in Taichung so the easiest way to get there is by Uber or taxi. If you’d prefer to take the bus, then I suggest downloading the Google Maps app (iOS | Android). It’ll tell you how to go to the museum from wherever you are.
7. Blueprint Culture and Creative Park
For posting pictures on Instagram, Blueprint Culture and Creative Park in Tainan was by far the best. It was the smallest creative park we visited but it’s loaded with fun murals and spots for great photo ops. Blueprint Culture and Creative Park is a relatively new creative park that’s been open for a little over two years.
Pros: Plenty of photo ops, best murals
Cons: Harder to get to, expensive shops
Blueprint Culture and Creative Park is comprised of two distinct sections – one with blueprint-style setups like this one hence the park’s name.
The second section has these rows of interesting boutiques, on the walls of which are these large colorful murals. If I remember correctly, there were seven murals in all and about ten boutiques.
Being relatively new at just two years old, the murals at Blueprint Culture and Creative Park still look fresh and vibrant.
Blueprint Culture and Creative Park
Address: Lane 689, Section 1, Ximen Road, South District, Tainan City, Taiwan 702
Tel: +886 6 222 7195
Operating Hours: 2-9PM, Wed-Mon (closed Tuesdays)
How to Get There: There’s no metro system or Uber in Tainan so the easiest way to get to Blueprint Culture and Creative Park is by taxi. It cost us NTD 145 from Anping Old Street. If you’d prefer to take the bus, then I suggest downloading the Google Maps app (iOS | Android). It’ll tell you how to go to the art park from wherever you are.
8. Pier-2 Art Center
Pier-2 Art Center is a large, wide open creative park comprised of several structures in Kaohsiung. It’s located next to the pier and boasts the biggest murals and installation pieces. There were a few cafes and shops here as well. Unlike the other creative parks we visited, this one didn’t seem to have any clear boundaries. Apart from the murals on the sides of buildings and warehouses, it was hard to tell where the park started and ended.
Pros: Wide open space, large murals
Cons: Not much else to do
Large fun sculptures at Pier-2 Art Center
This mural of a train station was massive!
As was this giant robot sculpture. BIG is the name of the game at Pier-2 Art Center.
Pier-2 Art Center
Address: No. 1, Dayong Road, Yancheng District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan 803
Tel: +886 7 521 4899
Email: [email protected]
Operating Hours: 10AM-6PM, Mon-Thurs | 10AM-8PM, Fri-Sun
How to Get There: Take the MRT to Yanchengpu Station (Orange Line, Exit 1). Walk straight towards the water on Dayong Road until you reach the park.
9. Hualien Cultural and Creative Industries Park
Among all the creative parks we visited, Hualien Cultural and Creative Industries Park was probably the least interesting. The large industrial space was cool but there wasn’t as much to see and do here. The products sold at the shops weren’t as interesting or unique either. Nonetheless, it’s a photogenic industrial space that makes for good pictures.
Pros: Wide open space
Cons: One of the least interesting creative parks
I love the gritty abandoned look of these creative parks. It makes you feel like you’re the last person on earth.
There were a lot of families just sitting outside and enjoying the day in Hualien. Plenty of dogs too!
One of a few shops at Hualien Cultural and Creative Industries Park
Hualien Cultural and Creative Industries Park
Address: No.144, Zhonghua Road, Hualien City, Hualien City 970, Taiwan
Tel: +886 3 831 3777
Email: [email protected]
Operating Hours: 9AM-9PM, daily
How to Get There: Walk towards the water along Zhongshan Road. Make a right on Suhua Highway. Walk straight and you’ll see the park on your right.
Creative parks don’t get as much attention as night markets in Taiwan, which is understandable. Not everyone is as into art as they are with Taiwanese food, but if you have the time, then you should definitely check one out. They’re fun and unconventional and probably unlike anything you’ve ever seen. To me, they seem as unique to Taiwan as night markets, offering an interesting glimpse into Taiwanese creative culture.
Interestingly, I knew a few Taiwanese students back in art school and they all shared a similar cutesy style in their work. I didn’t understand why at the time, until I visited Taiwan and its creative parks. Based on what I’ve seen here, it appears to be a cultural thing.