Tell me in one: An idyllic lavender farm in Hsinchu that provides all the charms of country living: delicious organic food, stunning river valley vistas, and way for one to leave behind the cares of the city, tucked in amongst the fields and trees.
Perfect for: A 1-2 day romantic getaway, nature-lovers feeling choked by the city, those interested in Taiwan’s interpretation of LOHAS (lifestyles of health and sustainability)
By a stroke of good luck (and some determined e-mailing), I spent a good half of this summer living the idyllic country life on a farm outside of Stockholm, Sweden. Transitioning back into Taipei city life from that was …not idyllic. The traffic! The crowds! The dust! Lack of rustic wooden furniture and organic vegetable casseroles! Days where my biggest trouble is finding the perfect spot to sit overlooking the fields? Where my only angst-worthy thought is the realization that I’ve been eating entirely too much ice cream? Did I have to give that up now that I’d returned to Taiwan? Were my friends & family doomed to the fate of an entire semester of me complaining about all the things I’ve just mentioned?
A trip I took with my family during the Moon Festival holiday weekend remedied all of this. We’d been meaning to check out Lavender Cottage 薰衣草森林 (although I’ve always heard it referred to as 薰衣草花園) for a while, but I read a few English articles on it & it didn’t seem that appealing; just some kind of fake-y farm-y over-touristed attraction in Hsinchu for snap-happy Taiwanese couples. However, my mom had read something about it & was keen on going, so we decided to give it an hour or two before heading over to check-in at our hot springs hotel next door.
We ended up staying for around 4 hours, and my sister & I begged to go back the next day. It was that incredible. Lavender Cottage was started entirely from scratch by a pair of friends who’d gotten sick of the corporate life in Taipei. Inspired by thoughts of fresh, organic vegetables and simple living, they’d come out to the country and bought a hill-side plot of land overlooking the river.
I immediately began to scheme with my best friend regarding my new future, which now involved buying an undeveloped plot of land somewhere and turning it in a flower farm where our families could live in white-washed farmhouses side-by-side; our children running around in the colorful, sweet-smelling fields. We planned out a beautiful glass-greenhouse and our very own organic restaurant. In ten years, you are totally welcome to come visit. I know it’s somewhat trendy now to “get sick” of your city life and move out to pastoral paradise (New Yorkers to the Hudson River Valley, everyone else to Portland), but who cares? I’ll follow the crowd–if they’re heading towards places as beautiful as Lavender Cottage, that is.
Lavender Cottage now consists of a large restaurant, a few swathes of lavender plots, a gift shop and a few other small houses with food + handicrafts–all pristinely integrated into the surrounding nature. It’s a rather small plot of land, but because of its remote location, it never feels crowded. You can amble down one of the several path winding through the property and enjoy the scenery (stunning, stunning location over the river valley) before heading down to the restaurant. It was quite busy when we were there (since it was a national holiday) so we had to take a number, but we waited only a few minutes before we were led to the third floor with its huge glass windows looking over the tops of all the trees! What a lunch-time.
We had a relaxing lunch on the third floor of the restaurant: perfect weather, sunshine flooding in; fresh + organic food–what could be better? A jug of ice-cold lavender fruit tea to share, a roast chicken (around $550NT), guava salad, and gloves for tearing that delicious organic carcass part into pieces suitable for consumption.
Afterwards, we lounged on the patio outside and took a post-lunch snooze. Perfection. Woke up only when it was too hot, so we decided to get some rose and lavender ice cream at the ice cream shop attached to the restaurant. Bliss. I still think about that lavender ice cream. I feel that we didn’t have enough time together.
I can’t think of many places like this in Taiwan, if at all–so even though it’s a hassle to get there, a visit is definitely worth it. I can’t think of a better example of the slow food, LOHAS movement that’s gaining steam in Taipei: it’s a place where you enter feeling anxious, stressed & worried with the burdens of your city life–and come out in a relaxed state; mind serene (and stomach full of lavender ice cream!)
Sadly, they don’t have any lodging on site, but right next door is the famous 會來溫泉，a sprawling complex of 10 or so hot spring tubs and pools; tucked right alongside a river! The lodging associated with the hot springs is sub-par (and quite expensive!), but might be an option if you want to do a Lavender Cottage/hot springs trip all in one go, as we did. Although, in my personal opinion, I’d choose Lavender Cottage over hot springs anytime.
Wait for news of my flower farm, y’all.
Lavender Cottage 薰衣草森林
(Note: This is the actual farm location; the 薰衣草森林 brand has several stores throughout Taiwan that sell products from the farm, including one in Eslite Spectrum!)
Hours: Mon-Fri 10:30am-6:30pm
Admission: $200, but $100 is counted as credit towards the purchase of food + drink inside
Note: Lavender Cottage also has a branch in Taichung. This post is about the one in Hsinchu.