Tucked away in a mountainous foresty area of Taichung is a European-themed manor called XinShe Castle. Stepping into its grounds almost feels like stepping into a completely different country. Much like Qingjing Farm, its picturesque expanse of land is PERFECT for appreciating the beautiful autumn colors in peace. As you can see, even though we came here during the Christmas holidays, the place isn’t crowded. You can take photos and stroll around to your heart’s content!
Much like all the places we visited in Taiwan, we only explored this place briefly before moving on to our hotel for the night in Taichung. My brother and I managed to check out the Feng Chia Night Market after dinner, but not before we grabbed some dessert at the famed Miyahara Eye Hospital. More on that later. Watch this video first to get a sense of what I’m walking about:
XinShe Castle 新社莊園
If you look around at the mountainous terrain where XinShe Castle is located, it makes sense that they would build something like this here. The medieval mansion is the perfect piece to complete the picture! I haven’t been able to find much information on the background of this place, but one thing I am sure of: I had tons of fun walking through the little stretch of wood on the grounds!
The entrance to the XinShe Resort, as they call it, is TWD 250. I think they have these packages where you also get a food & souvenir stub, but we only wanted to take a look around so we skipped that part. Though it is called a “resort”, there isn’t a place of lodging here. All the buildings you see are mostly restaurants and souvenir stores, with the biggest building called the Wine Chateau. Of course, it only makes sense that the European-themed XinShe Castle would have a winery!
Though the Wine Chateau is considered to represent XinShe Castle the most, all the other buildings here are also made of redstone bricks, giving off a delicate southern European vibe. Think chateaus in Tuscany! Right behind this building is a set of Roman pillars, a small castle tower, and a fountain. The building below is called The Hexagon Restaurant, serving up French cuisine.
Apart from the mansions, XinShe Castle also has a Maple Tree Forest and a Japanese Cherry Forest. There is even a Secret Garden I was not able to visit. I wasn’t a particular fan of the waterfall area, but the pond was quite relaxing. Not sure if the girl in the photo below bought the fish food inside the resort, but I was happy enough watching all the fishies swim towards glorious sustenance as if they haven’t eaten in days.
The more I walked around, the more I was convinced that XinShe Castle would be an incredible place for wedding shoots. I personally like QingJing Farm more, but this place brings a different feel. Almost like a Romeo-Juliet fairytale romance type of thing.
Miyahara Eye Hospital 宮原眼科
We stopped by Miyahara Eye Hospital for some ice cream upon my Dad’s insistence, and I wasn’t complaining because I’ve never been here before. It’s such a weird name for a place selling ice cream and chocolates, but there’s a real history to this place that the government is trying to preserve.
The building used to be an actual eye clinic with a pharmacy, built by a Japanese optometrist by the name of… Any guesses? Miyahara! Now, it’s a super fancy store selling expensive chocolates and pastries and cookies.
Even if you’re not inclined to buy anything, I still suggest you go inside because the interiors of Miyahara are a sight to behold. I LOVE the library concept and how everything feels old but new at the same time, if that makes sense. I’m not sure how to explain it. Certain details look extra vintage, but the place is impeccable and polished so you know it was a deliberate touch. Nicely done!
Have you ever seen a more photogenic piece of white chocolate, dotted with all those giant pieces of dried fruit?
So now we go to the ice cream parlour, and oh boy was there ever a line! I can’t remember the last time I saw a line this long just for ice cream, but I have read that some people line up for at least 45 minutes here. My Dad was missing their ice cream so much he braved the line!
While queueing, you already get a piece of paper enumerating all the different ice cream flavors and toppings you can choose from. You have to be smart and pick whilst waiting so you don’t hold up the line when it’s your turn at the counter. Their most basic combination is two scoops of ice cream and three types of toppings.
My Dad bought two sets, one with a blueberry sorbet and rum raisin ice cream, topped with some biscuits and a pineapple cake.
The other one had some actual rum raisins as a topping, plus a piece of cheesecake, but a combo of strawberry ice cream and lemon sorbet.
My verdict? The ice cream is pretty good. The pastries topping the ice cream are pretty good as well. You can tell that everything, including the cone, is of premium quality, thus the price tag. But would I line up 45 minutes for it? I’d rather come back when it’s less busy. Because of the time my Dad spent in line we had to eat our ice creams on our tour bus or else we’ll be late for our dinner reservation. (Yep, we had ice cream before dinner lol.)
Besides ice creams, Miyahara also sell milk teas and popular Taiwanese gourmet pastry.
Feng Chia Night Market 逢甲夜市
My brother (in the yellow coat) and I decided to check out Feng Chia Market because it was less than a 10-minute walk from our hotel. It’s located close to Feng Chia University, and just like most night markets in Taiwan, it has an equal amount of food and clothing shops to check out. There was this chicken shop in one of the quiet back alleys that surprisingly had a line. Intrigued, we decided to try out the juicy grilled chicken as an evening snack!
I don’t have too many photos from this place because my brother and I ended up hunting for 86 Shops in one of the many alleys of the market, but suffice it to say one night isn’t enough to explore what Feng Chia has to offer!
Going deeper into the belly of the market, we discovered that there are even more interesting food stalls. Unfortunately we already had our fill and could not try any of the baked potatoes topped with cheese (and even noodles) anymore! Definitely do not miss this stop if you find yourself in Taichung!
Visit XinShe Castle!
Visit FengChia Market!
Visit Miyahara Ice Cream Shop!