From The Straits Times    |

Hipster holidays are gaining in popularity with more and more Millennials opting to veer off the beaten track and explore places that aren’t your usual touristy sites. Here are some scenic places to check out that are not on the usual tourist belt:

Songshan Culture and Creative Park

Constructed in 1937 as a tobacco factory under the Japanese government, the defunct buildings and warehouses now house various boutiques, shops and galleries. The space is primarily used to promote and develop the cultural and creative industry, with a focus on Taiwanese talent and locally made merchandise.

What I liked

– The building still retains most of its original architectural design and aesthetic. Much of the interiors are actually left in a careworn state – unpainted walls, cracked cement floors and rusted steel structures. The space pays homage to its past with beautiful vintage furniture and furnishings, with modern updates and sleek industrial decor accents.

– Couples will love to shoot along the moody but beautifully lit passageways that run throughout the buildings. The outside walls, with its cement and steel structures, make for dramatic backdrops that are edgy and very fashion-forward.

– But the truly beautiful space at this creative park is the gorgeous Art Deco-themed garden in the middle of the complex. This lush and green tropical haven is crisscrossed with mottled cement pathways and littered with statues of sea creatures, creating a whimsical backdrop for your pictures. The grand fountain the middle of the garden adds an old-world elegance to the entire scene.

-There are a few cafes around the park that are full of rustic charm – one even has an alfresco outdoor deck facing a lotus-filled pond. Perfect for casual, romantic pictures.

NOTE: For a great shopping and dining experience, check out the new Eslite store just next to the park. The multi-level store stocks up on the latest fashion and lifestyle products designed and made in Taiwan. I loved the pottery and carpentry workspaces located within the store where you can pick up a few new skills. The basement is filled with yummy cafes and restaurants too!

#taipei #exploretaipei #songshanculturalpark#culture #classic #modern#difference #square

A photo posted by @yesonmind on

Huashan 1914 Creative Park 

Yet another series of derelict buildings refurbished as a hotspot for creative talents. This former Sake factory, built in 1941, features a host of outdoor pubs and cafes, along with intimate boutiques and shops and spacious gallery spaces for art exhibitions, plays and performances. The moss-clad walls and beautiful cement architecture make every spot a great angle for photos.
What I liked

– The quieter second floor which offers an overall view of the park but is also great for picture taking. The open balconies and platforms have views of open skies, greenery and the building structure around.

– The open passageways around the buildings have peeling painted walls and metal Art Deco pillars and structures lining the entire way. Beautiful for moody romantic pictures with a old world retro vibe. There are quite a few modern cafes with al fresco areas that are great for wedding pictures too. Make sure you are there on a sunny day with lots of natural light.

– The buildings’ moss-covered walls give a very European, aged look to the structures and make for pretty picture backdrops.

– Depending on when you go, there may be quirky and arty installations and performances in the open spaces around the buildings – these make for fun wedding photo backdrops too.

Note: The shopping here is eclectic and loads of fun. Think pasar malam but hipster style! There are tons of outdoor tented booths selling a wide variety of merchandise from handmade soaps to pretty illustrated notebooks and cards, and handcrafted jewellery.


Taipei National University of the Arts

I happened to go for a choir festival at the Taipei National University of the Arts and was amazed by the gorgeous buildings and gardens there. Sited at a hill slope, the sprawling campus overlooks the beautiful Kuanda Plain; you can even view Taipei city from certain vantage points around the campus.

What I liked

地靈人傑小妖山 #taipei #beitou #guandu #tnua #university #artschool #memories #collegelife

A photo posted by Evan P.Y. Sung (@sungevan) on

– The place offers so many spots for great wedding pictures: serene gardens dotted with arty sculptures (the Sculpture park), grand neo-classic Chinese style buildings, lotus ponds and pretty cafes (Lotus Pond Stage), and even a Forest Theatre set amongst trees!

– The area where the Lotus Pond stage is situated at offers amazing views of Taipei City and it is best to be there at sunset. The nearby buildings’ open balconies and platforms are also great for picture taking, particularly the grand facades and staircases.

-The sculptures and statues at Sculpture park range from the whimsical and classical to modernist – take your pick! The rolling green lawns and towering trees also make for beautiful natural backdrops

NOTE: The public is able to visit and roam around the campus on the weekend when I was there, but you may have to check if you need permission for taking wedding pictures there. It’s best to hire a mini bus to bring you around the campus as it’s quite a distance from one scenic spot to another.

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