When it comes to scenic wedding locales, Asia’s best-kept secret may lie somewhere along Taiwan’s northern coast. Every month, hundreds of couples from Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia tie the knot in Taipei, many staging their wedding photography against northern Taiwan’s scenic settings. The area, with its wind-etched landscapes and panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, is so popular for wedding photography that the “happiness coast” recently introduced a wedding plaza in Shihmen Township, specifically to meet the growing demand for oceanfront wedding photography.
Although, the wedding plaza is often promoted as the best place for romantic photography, northern Taiwan has plenty of distinct landscapes where clients can discover their own Kodak moment.
Yangmingshan National Park
Just 30 minutes from Taipei, Yangmingshan National Park is one of the nation’s six national parks, and the only one in northern Taiwan. Its seismically turbulent history means that there are plenty of hot springs, thermal vents, craters and crater lakes within its confines. The park’s volcanic soil nourishes a rich and varied plant life and the area is particularly photo worthy in springtime when azaleas and cherry blossoms blanket the mountainside.
Photo Op: Datun Nature Park is a volcanic basin rich with rhododendrons and azaleas. Wooden boardwalks cross the park, and the talented photographer should be able to capture some of the varied birds and butterflies that make their home here.
Where to Stay: The only full-service hotel in the park, the Landis Resort Yangmingshan, provides hot-spring baths in each of its 47 bedrooms. Complete wedding packages are available, but the resort also specializes in romantic hideaways for two. Couples short on time can also book private use of a hot spring for an afternoon soak.
Beitou Hot Springs
Taiwan’s hot springs are located at Beitou Hot Springs, nicknamed “Witch Soup” by its original inhabitants because of its steamy locales. The area’s Hokuto stones are reportedly slightly radioactive, giving them excellent therapeutic properties. One of the most famous attractions in the park is Geothermal Valley, also known as Hell Valley, where the water reaches up to 121 degrees Fahrenheit. Beitou is part of Taipei City and can easily be reached by a 30-minute MRT (metro) ride from downtown.
Photo Op: The Taiwan Folk Art Museum is one of the largest Japanese-style wooden buildings in Taiwan. Once a home for Kamikaze pilots and other Japanese military, the restored museum offers a tranquil, outdoor setting, perfect for bridal photography.
Where to Stay: The intricately-designed SweetMe Hot Springs Resort, features architectural detail more in tune with a museum than a hotel. Perfect for jet-lagged honeymooners, the hotel has both public and private hot-spring baths; its three-story spa offers body, face and foot massages.
Northern Taiwan’s coastline, which stretches for more than 62 miles, may be most famous for its unique rock formations formed by years of wind and sea erosion. The most popular and most scenic area is Yeliou Geo Park, where a cape stretches over 1,000 miles into the sea. Dotted with fantastically-shaped rocks, the whole park feels like a setting for a science fiction movie. The ocean contains colorful coral and a diverse marine life. Adjacent to the cape is Ocean World, Taiwan’s first ocean center, which allows guests to explore the ocean’s ecology.
Photo Op: The most famous rock in the area is the Queen’s Head Rock, named for its resemblance to an Egyptian queen. Although the rock is an area icon, there are plenty of bridges, beaches and rock formations that set the stage for a scenic wedding montage.
Where to Stay: The stunning Howard Beach Resort Pacific Green Bay has 241 guestrooms, all with oceanfront views. The hotel features a long sandy beach, and its facilities are all designed to integrate with its natural resources. Green Bay is northern Taiwan’s most popular site for aviation activities; hangliding and parasailing are especially popular.
Located on Taiwan’s northeast coast, Yilan County is a one-hour train ride away from Taipei. The area is home to both mountainous and coastal vistas. Its topography includes sand dunes, rocky sea plateaus and river ecology. Yilan’s Fulong Beach was the first beach in Taiwan developed for surfing and it continues to attract both domestic and international surfers. The county is home to many soft-adventure activities, ranging from bird watching to hiking to whale watching.
Photo Op: Fushan Botanical Garden, a branch of the Taiwan Forestry Research Institute, is the largest botanical park in Taiwan. There are more than 12 miles of self-guided trails with interpretive plaques for visitors who want to get a better understanding of Yilan County’s rich flora. In order to preserve the natural ecology within the gardens — which is, after all, what keeps many guests coming back — the park is limited to 300 visitors per day, each of whom must complete an application before arrival.
Where to Stay: The Hotel Royal Chiao Hsi is conveniently set in the midst of Yilan’s natural attractions and provides both mountain and ocean views. The hotel is styled after a traditional Japanese hot spring. Brave first-time visitors will dip their feet into the hot spring populated with special fish that come to eat away at the cuticles and other imperfections on the feet.