Nantou – Cingjing Farm, Starry Minsu Review, Small Swiss Garden| Taiwan Day 7

Heading to Taiwan? I went on a 10 day trip in March 2013! For more reviews and useful tips, read here: Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 8Day 9 & Day 10

Day 7 – Heading towards a Cingjing Minsu

This was the best day of our Taiwan trip as we were headed for Cingjing (清境) at Nantou (南投)! It’s going to be an image heavy post because the scenery was just too beautiful!

Travel from Taichung to Nantou (Cingjing)

Damaged Luggage Top Handle Jetstar Taiwan Taipei

Remember my luggage from Day 1 of the trip? The top handle broke after we arrived in Taiwan and collected the luggage at the airport.

Damaged Luggage Side Handle

Now, even the side handle had to forsake us! This happened when the taxi driver was lifting the luggage into the boot of his vehicle after we checked out of Tomato Rooms. I was left with just the retractable top handle and that’s it. Prayed so hard that it would last till the end of our trip. Sigh…

Taichung HSR Nantou Bus Counter

Credit: TravelerFolio.com

We took the cab from Tomato Rooms to Taichung HSR Station. It should be around NT$250 (≈S$11). At Taichung HSR Station, we purchased bus tickets to Cingjing Farm (清境農場). For NT$250 (≈S$11) per pax, we got the return bus tickets to Cingjing Farm and an entrance ticket to Green Green Grassland (青青草原). You can purchase the tickets at the Nantou bus (南投客運) counter as shown in image above.

Nantou Cingjing Farm Bus Schedule

Click to view image in full size

This is the bus schedule for the trips to and fro Cingjing Farm. Plan your itinerary accordingly and try to be there early to queue for the bus. If the luggage compartment of the bus is full, you’ll have to wait for the next bus. The bus can get crowded so be at the front of the line in order to get a seat. You wouldn’t want to be standing for the entire journey; it’s a two hour bus ride! Also, please *ahem* clear your bladder before you board the bus. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 😉

Nantou Bus Cingjing Scenery

The view up the mountain to Cingjing was beautiful. However, the road was narrow and steep, making it challenging for a full loaded bus. There was this time when our bus was manoeuvring a narrow right turn uphill and suddenly, the bus e-brake as the driver didn’t (and couldn’t) see a truck in front right after the turn. The next thing we knew, the bus stalled and started to roll downhill! My heart jumped into my throat and the entire bus of passengers fell silent immediately as we were all completely shocked.

Fortunately, the driver was experienced and quick witted. He pulled the handbrake within a split second, waited for the vehicle behind to clear some space in between (in case we roll back again) before reigniting the engine. We managed to manoeuvre up the turn successfully this time round and I swear everyone heaved a sigh of relief. The bus was full and even the standing passengers were packed like sardines, so can you imagine how scary it was? I’m so thankful we’re all safe and sound.

Cingjing Margaret's Garden Hazy Cafe

Passed by the Margaret’s Garden Hazy Cafe (瑪格麗特花園 / 紫屋餐廳). The place is purple in colour all over and I really wanted to pay a visit but it was out of the way. If you’re travelling in a larger group of four and above, you can hire a driver and it will be more convenient for you to stop and visit places like this along the way.

Cingjing Old England

Cingjing Scenery

Cingjing Old England Manor

We also passed by the Old England Manor and unfortunately, it was out of the way too. You can actually stay at the Old England Hotel which I believe would be a fantastic place with a fantastic price of course.

Carin At Cingjing Songgang Stop

OOTD: Navy knit top from Hollyhoque, Red jeans from Zara, Shoes from Ximending

Finally arrived! It was about 1pm in the afternoon when we arrived and the weather was bright and sunny like Singapore. We alighted at Songgang (松崗) which is the terminal stop as we had arranged for someone from Cingjing Starry Minsu (觀星園) to pick us up so we could unload our luggages at the minsu before exploring Cingjing. I’ll leave the review of Starry Minsu till the last part, so please read on! 🙂

Cingjing Farm

After leaving our luggages at Starry Minsu, the driver drove us to 7-11 to pick up a quick bite before dropping us off at Green Green Grassland. We used the entrance tickets included in the bus package.

Cingjing Green Green Grassland

Cingjing Green Green Grassland Panoramic View

The view was breathtaking. It was also very hot and sunny so please bring your sunglasses.

Cingjing Farm Sheep Shearing Show Seats

Every Sunday, there will be sheep shearing show at Cingjing Farm. We made it in time for the show at 2.30pm. We were lucky as we didn’t know about the show beforehand and happened to be there on a Sunday to catch it. Do be there early if you want to get seats, but you’ll be baking under the scorching sun though. You can also just sit on the grass!

Cingjing Farm Sheep Shearing Show

Cingjing Farm Sheep Show Shepherd

Cingjing Farm Shearing Sheep Fur

The performer (shepherd) is a New Zealander who can speak Mandarin with a mix of Hokkien. I guess he has repeated the show countless times and hence, he spoke very fast (memorised lines) and was breathless most of the time, making it difficult for me to make out what he was saying.

Cingjing Farm Show Sheepdog

Snapped a good shot of the sheepdog in action! The dog was smart and obedient. It herded the sheep around with ease and followed the shepherd’s whistling commands.

Cingjing Farm Collect Sheep Fur

We were allowed to pick up the sheep’s fur as memento after the shearing show. Can you spot me? You can clean the fur by washing and then air drying it.

Cingjing Farm Flock of Sheep

Cingjing Farm White Horse

Cingjing Farm Carin With White Horse

My 白马王子 (prince charming) and I haha. You can pay a small fee to ride on the horses but I didn’t. Just sneaked a picture for keepsake will do.

Marble Bottle Drink

Marcus bought this bottle drink with a marble at the top that you have to pop before drinking. Apparently it’s our childhood thing? I have no memory of it and neither do I fancy fizzy drinks. Yes, I don’t consume carbonated drinks. Do you?

Cingjing Green Green Grassland Flowers

Cingjing Green Green Grassland Windmill

We took the path down to explore the other parts of Cingjing. There’s a lot of walking to do so please be in comfortable footwear. For those with infants, I would suggest leaving your pram behind as there are rocky steps here and there so it’s not pram friendly. The pram would end up being an additional baggage instead.

Cingjing Long Flight of Stairs

Carin On Cingjing Long Stairs

While on the path down, we also had to conquer almost 500 steps of stairs! Thank goodness we were descending! This is also why I encourage families to leave your prams behind, unless you’re hiring a driver to drive you from places to places and you won’t have to do this massive amount of walking.

Small Swiss Garden

Carin At Cingjing Carton King

Carin at Cingjing Small Swiss Garden

After 40 minutes of walking, we finally arrived at Small Swiss Garden (小瑞士花園)! *Phew* We already walked faster than average and surpassed several groups because we wanted to finish exploring the area before the driver from Starry Minsu picked us up at 5.30pm.

I shall let the photos do the talking for now…

Cingjing Small Swiss Garden Pigeon

Cingjing Small Swiss Garden Flowers

Carin and Marcus at Cingjing Small Swiss Garden Flowers

Cingjing Small Swiss Garden Display

Cingjing Small Swiss Garden Cinderella

Cingjing Small Swiss Garden Cow

Small Swiss Garden is a quieter place than Cingjing Farm. The entrance fee is NT120 (≈S$5) per pax. With the Youth Travel Card I’ve mentioned previously, we paid only NT90 (≈S$4) per pax. YAY to more savings!

Cingjing Small Swiss Garden LOVE

Cingjing Small Swiss Garden Lake

Cingjing Small Swiss Garden Ducks

Carin With Cingjing Small Swiss Garden Duck

Carin On Cingjing Small Swiss Garden Wooden Bridge

Carin and Marcus On Cingjing Small Swiss Garden Wooden Bridge

It should take you no more than an hour to finish touring the Small Swiss Garden. After this, we took a walk at Carton King as we still had some time.

Starry Minsu

The driver of Starry Minsu came to pick us up at 5.30pm. Actually, I think he’s the son of the minsu’s owner, Mr. Lee (李大哥).

Cingjing Starry Minsu

Cingjing Starry Minsu View

Starry Minsu is apparently the highest minsu in Cingjing and naturally, the view is awesome. The short ride up to Starry Minsu was quite dangerous as well. The vehicle had to manoeuvre several sharp and steep turns up the hill, and we were just inches away from the edge. Not a very safe ride especially on a rainy day. I guess that’s the price you have to pay for the magnificent view?

Cingjing Starry Minsu Room View

Cingjing Starry Minsu Room Panoramic View

We were allocated to Room 2, which is in an isolated container building a short walk away from the main building. Mrs. Lee commented that the room has the best view in the entire Starry Minsu, and I agree with her too! We opened up our door to cooling wind and oversaw the entire Cingjing area every morning!

Cingjing Starry Minsu Room Bench

Carin At Cingjing Starry Minsu Room Balcony

There’s a bench outside our room where we could sit down and enjoy the weather and tranquility. At night, you can also sit there for star gazing.

Cingjing Starry Minsu Room

Cingjing Starry Minsu Heated Bed

The room is simple but cosy. It can get pretty cold at night (think 12°C), so it was really shiok to snuggle up in the heated bed. Turn on the heated bed a few hours before you tuck in to give it time to warm up.

Cingjing Starry Minsu Steamboat Ingredients

Cingjing Starry Minsu Steamboat Dinner

Steamboat dinner is included for our stay at Starry Minsu. It is the best thing you can have for dinner in the chilly weather! Dinner is served punctually at 6pm every evening. Sliced meat is included. Such simple fare, yet it can be so fulfilling.

We paid NT1,980 (≈S$87) per night. Breakfast is also included. I think it’s a really good deal. The owners, Mr. and Mrs. Lee were very friendly and hospitable. We felt so welcomed! It felt like we were staying at their home (which is true) and were very comfortable in the warm and cosy environment. If you are looking for a review of a Cingjing minsu, I would strongly recommend Starry Minsu! *thumbs up* We made reservation for the room two months in advance, and I would encourage you to book early too to avoid disappointment. 😉

UPDATE (Nov 2013):
I’ve received several queries on how to book a room at Starry Minsu so here it is!
• Go to their website here: http://starry.nantou.com.tw/?ptype=hotel
• Choose the type of room that you want and click on “我要預約”. It will bring you to a booking form which you can complete and submit to Starry Minsu.

I have also received news that the free steamboat is no longer included. The steamboat is now chargeable and prices are stated here. Not to worry, complimentary breakfast is still provided. Hope this helps!

UPDATE (Dec 2014):
As I have had many requests for my itinerary, I’ve decided to create a download link for it below. Feel free to download and subscribe to receive updates! 🙂
Carin’s Taiwan Itinerary

Carin Poo

Hello! I grew up reading blogs, and now, blogging lets me share the love around. I offer a glimpse into my simple life, and maybe you can find a different perspective of the things I enjoy. My cat says Hi! :)

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  • Lydia Lin

    Thank u for writing up on this as I’m going to visit cingjing this year end!

    • Hi Lydia! Enjoy your trip and I suggest to pack some warm clothes as it may be cold there. Thank you for reading! 🙂

      • fishwong

        Hi, this is prefect for my trip early next year. may i have a copy of the itinerary and please email to wongwanda@yahoo.com, tks

        • Hi Fish, I’ve sent it! 🙂

  • Hello dear! Sorry for the late reply. I’ve been having problems receiving comment notifications. Shoes are from Ximending night market. There’s leopard preens at the back though haha. Yes, I have itinerary in Excel format if you’re going again. Go explore the other parts of Taiwan! 🙂

  • Hello! So sorry for the late reply. I’ve been having problems receiving comment notifications.

    You can go to their website here: http://starry.nantou.com.tw/?ptype=hotel

    Choose the type of room that you want and click on “我要預約”. It will bring you to a booking form which you can complete and submit to Starry Minsu. The pick up service is free of charge.

    Hope this helps and thank you for reading! 🙂

    • Shu Hui

      Hi Carin, thank you for your sharing! Can i ask, do you have to inform the person (after placing a booking with them) to fetch you from the Song gang stop to the Minsu? Thanks alot in advance!

      • Hi Shu Hui! Yes, you’ll have to liaise with Starry Minsu for the pick up. You have to plan ahead which bus timing you will take and let them know your approximate arrival time at Song Gang stop. Hope this helps! 🙂

  • Chua Pei San

    hi, may i know if i want to go cingjing farm by taking nantou bus at Taichung HSR, can i buy the ticket earlier 1 day before i go to cingjing farm? becoz i afraid i might not be able to be there early to buy 10.20am bus ticket.
    Nantou bus from taichung HSR to cingjing is direct bus or need to change another bus at half way??

    • Hi Pei San! I’m not sure if you can purchase the bus tickets one day earlier. If you happen to be at Taichung HSR the day before, you can go to the counter and enquire first. The counter is at the HSR basement.

      It’s a direct bus, though it will make a quick stop at Puli Station to pick up more passengers. Hope this helps and thank you for reading! 🙂

      • Chua Pei San

        thank you so much for the info.

  • SHHHHHHHHH

    The price seems much higher now… Nv mention free steamboat too..

    • Hello there! Yes, it seems from their website that the steamboat is now chargeable. Only free breakfast is provided. What a pity!

      The price of a room for two has increased by about NT220 (≈S$10). I’m not sure how’s the new room rate as compared with other minsu, but I sure miss the place! 😉

  • Felicia

    Hi, your Taiwan trip looked awsesome, can I have your excel format? Thanks

    • Hi Felicia, I’ve sent you my itinerary via email! 🙂

  • Sylvia Lim

    Hi! Lovely post 🙂 May i ask which stop is the green green grassland nearest to if i take a bus from taichung HSR?

    • Hi Sylvia! You can alight at Songgang (松崗) stop. Hope this helps and thanks for reading! 🙂

  • Shihui Chan

    Hi! Your itinerary seems super interesting!! Can i have your excel format? 🙂

    • Hi Shihui, I’ve sent you the itinerary via email. Hope you’ve received it! 🙂

  • xiongo

    hi Carin, can i have you excel too? thank u!!

    • Hi Xiongo, I’ve sent you the itinerary via email. Hope you’ve received it! 🙂

  • Carina

    Hi Carin
    Can share your excel itinerary for your taiwan trip, I am planning to go in Aug, thanks. Carina

    • Hi Carina, I’ve sent you the itinerary via email. Enjoy your trip next month! 🙂

  • Adrian

    Hi,

    do you mind sharing with me your itinerary? Please email me @ ntuseol@gmail.com

    Thanks.

    • Hi Adrian, I’ve sent you the itinerary via email. Hope you’ve received it!

  • Kim Lim

    Hi Carin

    Can you give me a copy of your itinerary.
    My email is kimlim555@hotmail.com

    Tks.

    • Hi Kim Lim, I’ve emailed you the itinerary. Hope you’ve received it! 🙂

  • Angela Wee

    Hi, how about the payment? As I ever seen people mentioned that payment can made when check out, thks

    • Hi Angela, I paid via PayPal before the trip. Not sure about payment upon checkout, but you can drop them an email to enquire! 🙂

  • plaingina

    hi carin, can you please share your itinenary with me? planning a trip there end of the year. plaingina@yahoo.com

    • Hi Gina, you’ve got mail! Definitely a good idea to start planning early 🙂

  • Iainrick

    Hi! Can i have your itinerary?? iainrickhu@live.com.sg!

    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Iainrick, I’ve sent you the itinerary. Hope you got it! 🙂

  • kelvin

    hi carin, please send me your itinery to zh0u.l0ng.com

    • Hi Kelvin, I’ve sent it! 🙂

  • fishwong

    Hi, this is prefect for my trip early next year. may i have a copy of the itinerary and please email to wongwanda@yahoo.com, tks

  • melody

    Hi can I have a copy of the itinerary too (: mpeixiu88@gmail.com

    • Hi Melody, you’ve got mail! 🙂

  • fang yang sim

    Hi Carin
    Can share your excel itinerary for your taiwan trip, I am planning to go in Feb next year, thanks.
    simfangyang@gmail.com

    • Hi Fang Yang, you’ve got mail! 🙂

  • William Kiong

    Hi Carin, can I have a copy of the itinerary too?? william_kiong@yahoo.com 🙂

    • Hi William, you’ve got mail! 🙂

  • Cindi

    Hi , please share your excel itinerary to cindi1984@gmail.com. Thanks

  • Hi Carine, I didn’t go to Xitou forest recreation area. It’s best for you to research prior your trip on what buses to take, etc. If you are travelling in a group of 4 or bigger, it might also be more worth it to hire a driver to bring you around instead. 🙂

  • Nick

    Hi Carin,

    Your posts on Cingjing were really informative. However, could u clarify on Nan Tou bus rates from Taichung HSR Station to Cingjing farm? It was stated that you had purchased return bus tickets and an entrance ticket to Green Green Grassland “for NT$250 per pax”.

    I went to the website http://www.ntbus.com.tw/en-p-4.html and it showed that the NT250 package was for a round-trip bus ticket from Puli – Songgang.

    Your route would cost NT$600.

    Did the price increase that much or was I mistaken?

    Thank you in advance! Crossing my fingers that you would be able to see this post and help!

    • Hi Nick, sorry for the delay as I’m just back from a long holiday. Yes, it seems the price has increased because on this page (http://www.ntbus.com.tw/en-cjfm.html), the price of a one way bus ticket is already NT$256. 🙂

  • Vivian

    Hi Carin. Your blog was very informative and thanks for sharing. By the way I like to know the driver who take you around Small swiss cottage, carton king and old england is chargeable by Starry Minsu? If so, how much is it?

    Sorry I got one more question. I saw in Starry Minsu they need to remit deposit to their account? How does the payment work?

    • Hi Vivian, we didn’t hire a driver to go around Cingjing so I can’t advise you on the price. We went by foot. Small Swiss Cottage and Carton King are walkable distance but Old England is slightly out of the way and we didn’t go there.

      The deposit can be paid via PayPal. Starry Minsu will issue you an invoice via PayPal and you can pay with credit card as per usual online purchases. Hope this helps! 🙂

  • Hui Peng

    Hi Carin! Was researching on Tai Chung and chanced upon your blog. Just want to say thank you for sharing this! Your post is very informative and helped me alot in planning for my upcoming trip. Have a great day 🙂

  • Maggie

    Hi Carin, hope you could share a copy of the itinerary! maggie_chng@hotmail.com

  • Wenhao Sun

    Hi Carin! May I check with you if you walked all the way from cingjing farm to little swiss garden? My friends and I are planning for a trip to cingjing but we are not planning to hire a private driver.

    • Hi Wenhao, yes we walked from Cingjing Farm to Little Swiss Garden. 🙂

      • Wenhao Sun

        Do you think that it’d be rush for my friends and I to travel from Taipei early in the morning by speed train and bus to cingjing and leave for Taipei at night? Do you think we’ll miss out a lot if travel around cingjing without a private driver?

        • Yes, I think it’s rushed because speed train plus bus to Cingjing would take you probably half a day. Bear in mind that Cingjing Farm and Little Swiss Garden needs to be visited in the day before sunset, so you need to start your trip to Cingjing early.

          If your group are all able-bodied then no need to hire a private driver. You won’t miss out much, at most just brisk walk haha.

  • Very awesome blog post! I am looking at places to visit in that area and you gave me some insight! Thank you for the pics and awesome blog post, Miss Carin!

    • Thanks Kelly! Taiwan is a lovely place and I hope you’ll enjoy your trip. 🙂

  • Check Taipei’s mrt transport site. Take to site and then walk or take a cab. Will save you $ too!

  • Xin Hui

    Hi Carin! Would it be the same if I booked through Agoda instead of through their minsu website?(: All in chinese, abit difficult ah.

    • Hi Xin Hui, sure I think it would be the same. 🙂