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All across Taiwan, Dahu (大湖) is practically synonymous with strawberries. Every December to April, plump, juicy, bright red strawberries from Dahu township in Miaoli County make their appearance in fruit markets around the country, with the best ones fetching high prices.
But for the best Taiwanese strawberry experience, nothing beats going right to the heartland of strawberry farming in Taiwan. On weekends in winter, droves of domestic tourists descend on Dahu’s many U-pick strawberry farms. And no visit is complete without a stop at the Dahu Wineland Resort, where you can taste all kinds of strawberry flavored Taiwanese foods and drinks, from wine and beer to noodles and even sausages.
I first visited Dahu on assignment for Travel in Taiwan magazine, and more recently I went again with my parents and my two kids. Our kids really loved picking strawberries, so if you’re traveling in Taiwan with kids, definitely consider adding it to your travel itinerary. After our strawberry experience, we also loved spending the night in a hot spring hotel at Tai’an, only 20 minutes away from Dahu.
In this article I’m going to describe everything you need to know about visiting a Dahu strawberry farm and the Dahu Wineland Resort, as well as other strawberry farms in Taiwan, including Neihu strawberry farms in Taipei.
If driving, you can easily combine a trip to Dahu with lovely Tai’an hot spring or Lion’s Head Mountain and Nanzhuang Old Street. You can find other off-the-beaten-track ideas in the area in my guide to best things to do in Miaoli County. There are also plenty of fun things to do just across the county border in Taichung!
When is the Taiwan Strawberry Season?
The strawberry season in Taiwan lasts from December to April, with January and February being the peak months. This season coincides with winter in Taiwan, when the climatic conditions for growing strawberries are perfect in Dahu and a few other places in Northern Taiwan.
Because winter can be a little chilly in Taiwan, it’s also the perfect time for visiting nearby Tai’an hot spring, just like we did when we visited. I’ll recommend some good hotels in the “where to stay” section below!
Why Are There So Many Strawberry Farms in Dahu?
Strawberries are not actually native to Taiwan. Strawberry seedlings were first imported from Japan in the 1930s, but the fruit didn’t really catch on until Marshall strawberries were brought in from the US in the 1950s. In the early days of strawberry production, farmers found that Dahu provided the perfect conditions needed for growing them: acidic soil rich in organic material, cool climate, sufficient drainage, and a drop in daytime-to-nighttime temperatures.
In the 1970s, farmers began selling their strawberries along Provincial Highway 3, which runs past Dahu. Demand across Taiwan rose quickly, and to keep up with it, farmers started allowing passersby to pick their own. Thus U-pick was born in Taiwan! These days, U-pick strawberry farms in Miaoli are so popular that the highway can get totally jammed with traffic on weekends in strawberry season.
You can learn much more about the history of strawberry farming in Miaoli and Taiwan at the Dahu Wineland Resort’s strawberry museum (see below).
How to Get to Dahu for Picking Strawberries
Dahu Township is located in between Tai’an and Zhuolan townships in southern Miaoli, with the border with Taichung City a short distance to the south.
By car, Dahu is a 1.5 to 2-hour drive from Taipei, depending on the traffic. You’ll get off Provincial Highway 1 in Gongguan Township, then take Highway 72 and merge onto Provincial Highway 3. From central Taichung City, you can drive there in about an hour.
By public transportation, first get to Miaoli Station by bus or regular (TRA) train. Then hop on bus 5656 for 50 minutes (or more with traffic jams) to Activity Center stop (活動中心) for Dahu Wineland Resort in the Dahu town center, or continue on to Shuitouliao Bridge stop (水頭寮橋) for Tricycle Strawberry Fields, the strawberry farm I will introduce below.
The bus departs regularly throughout the day. If you click on the above link, the left side of the table shows Miaoli (苗栗) to Dahu (大湖), while the right side shows Dahu coming back to Miaoli. The first table is for weekdays (平日), while you can scroll down to the second table for weekends and holidays (假日).
Note: if you take the HSR to Miaoli HSR Station, you’ll have to hop in a taxi or take a local bus to reach Miaoli Train Station in the city center. The HSR station is located across the river just out of town, but there are no buses to Dahu from there.
Where to Stay in Dahu
While it’s possible to visit Dahu as a day trip from Taipei or day trip from Taichung, it’s more relaxing to spend the night in the area. Cai Mei Hotel is the top rated hotel right in Dahu town, while Ci Meng Rou Resort even has a small pool overlooking strawberry fields.
Since you are probably visiting in winter, I would actually recommend staying in nearby Tai’an hot spring if you are driving. Tai’an is one of my favorite hot springs in Taiwan. We love staying at the very friendly, family-run King’s Resort & Spa (pictured above). It’s a really quiet spot with beautiful views of the mountains around town.
It’s a 25-minute drive from Dahu to Tai’an hot spring. See here for my detailed guide to Tai’an Hot Spring.
Where to find U-Pick Strawberry Farms in Dahu
You won’t be asking this question as you drive into Dahu. The entire area seems to be nothing but strawberry farms.
If you’re arriving by public transportation, you can just get off at Activity Center stop for visiting Dahu Wineland Resort, then you can get to multiple small U-Pick strawberry farms if you walk either north or south of town, and there are even some right in town. Highway 3 is pretty much lined with them all the way through town.
There is even the option to pick your own strawberries inside Dahu Wineland Resort, so you can go there and kill two birds with one stone.
If, however, you prefer to get a little out of town for more of a countryside feel, then there are numerous strawberry farms located 1 to 5 km south of town on Highway 3. Just type strawberry farm (草莓園) into GoogleMaps to see them all.
Both times I went to Dahu, I went to Tricycle Strawberry Fields (三輪車草莓園). It is 3 km south of the town center, a five-minute drive, 40-minute walk, or quick hop on bus 5656.
Also, you don’t have to pick strawberries yourself. They are sold from tons of stands along the highway, too.
Our Experience Visiting Tricycle Strawberry Fields
When I went to Dahu to write an article for Travel in Taiwan magazine, our trip planner chose Tricycle Strawberry Fields (三輪車草莓園) of all the strawberry fields around town. I’m not sure how she narrowed it down to this one, but we had an enjoyable experience, so I took my family to the same farm again when we traveled to Dahu. There are loads of other similar ones in the area.
The strawberry farm is named after the tricycle which the current owner’s father used to use to drive into town to sell his strawberries. The original tricycle is now on display. When I interviewed him, the owner, Rao Ming-Lin, told me that the strawberry variety he grows, called Taoyuan-1, are large, heart-shaped, with juicy flesh and a sweet and sour taste.
Upon arrival, we were given baskets and scissors for picking. If the soil is muddy, the farmer may ask visitors to wear boots, which are provided, and they give you plastic bags to put over your feet if you find that icky.
Our kids had a great time picking strawberries! They loved being outside, carrying their baskets, finding the best strawberries, and using the scissors to cut them. Like many Taiwanese, we are city slickers, so it’s lots of fun to get out on a farm and do something like this. And this is exactly why leisure farms are such a popular phenomenon in Taiwan.
After picking, we returned to the office, where they weighed our strawberries and put them in boxes to go. The current price (subject to change) is TWD350 per jin. A jin (斤), or tai jin (台斤), is a traditional unit equivalent to 600 grams. While this is a reasonable price, don’t expect them to be crazy cheap compared to fruit markets in the city. You’re also paying for the fun experience!
Like most strawberry farms in town, they also sell locally made strawberry beer, jam, and other goodies.
Just as a heads up, the farm is quite strict about not tasting while you pick. They reminded us not to let our kids do so. Please listen, and help these farmers to make a living in their short growing season!
Dahu Wineland Resort
If you’re looking for the epicenter…the Shangri La…the Mecca of strawberry culture in Taiwan, that would be the Dahu Wineland Resort! Think of this place as a full-on strawberry theme park (minus the rides).
The large tourist center is dedicated entirely to one thing, and that is of course the strawberry. To find it, watch out for the towering 30-foot strawberry out front. Can’t miss it!
Entrance is free, and inside you’ll find dozens of food stands selling every kind of food imaginable with strawberries. We saw strawberry cakes, cookies, steamed buns, shaved ice, popcorn, omelets, noodles, sausages, and even fried fish with strawberry sauce.
And if that all sounds like too much strawberry to you, well, they have some non-strawberry foods, too. But not many.
For booze lovers, you can cross the inner courtyard to the building at the back, where you can sample various strawberry-infused wines and beer. Unlike fake-tasting strawberry wine and beer common elsewhere, this stuff tastes like the real thing. The wine comes in strengths of 6.5%, 11%, and 16%, and don’t be afraid to ask for a try first!
Our favorite part of our visit was grabbing a few cool strawberry beers (and strawberry ice creams for the kids) and sitting on the large wooden patio behind the winery, looking over a large strawberry field. This is where you can also pick your own strawberries, if you don’t plan to visit one of the many other farms in or around town.
If that isn’t enough strawberry for you, head to the gift shop to buy all kinds of strawberry-themed souvenirs. You can also visit the Strawberry Culture Museum on the third floor to learn more than you ever wanted to know about strawberry cultivation in Dahu, Miaoli, and Taiwan. There’s also an observation deck on the fifth floor.
Other Strawberry Farms in Taiwan
While Dahu is truly the center of strawberry farming in Taiwan, you can find the odd strawberry farm in other counties of Northern Taiwan, including Yilan, Hsinchu, and Taoyuan City. Just click on any of the above in GoogleMaps then search “草莓園” to find them.
But the biggest collection of strawberry farms outside of Dahu is actually right in Taipei City! These farms are located around three kilometers north of Neihu MRT station on Bishan Road (碧山路), in the hills above Neihu.
From Neihu Station, you can take mini bus S2 (小2) to Sightseeing Strawberry Park 2 (觀光草莓園二) or Strawberry Sightseeing Park 1 (觀光草莓園). It will reach them in that order.
Near stop 2, you can try 貴月農場無毒草莓園 or 內湖草莓園. Near Park 1, there’s 莓圃休閒農園. There are also restaurants and DIY activities besides strawberry picking available on site.
Before the strawberry farms, the same bus also passes Baishihu Suspension Bridge (白石湖吊橋) and Bishanyan Kaizhang Shengwang Temple (山巖開漳聖王廟). For both of these, you can get off at stop Bishanyan (Baishihu Suspension Bridge) (碧山巖(白石湖吊橋)).
In this way, you can make a full day trip of your strawberry picking experience! Just heads up that you’ll need to climb a tall staircase to reach Bishan Temple. The temple has amazing views of Taipei. Read more about it in my guide to the best temples in Taipei.