Fushoushan Farm (福壽山農場) apple picking - How to go, tips and tricks [Travel in Taiwan 181001: Lishan (梨山) Scenic Area] | Travel in Asia

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Fushoushan Farm (福壽山農場) apple picking - How to go, tips and tricks [Travel in Taiwan 181001: Lishan (梨山) Scenic Area]

#5yearsinTaiwan


Every autumn season on October and November, Taiwan's luscious and sweet apples are ripe for picking.  One place comes to the mind of the Taiwanese if they thought of grabbing apples with their own hands.  Fushoushan Farm!  Located at an altitude of 2,500 meters, its location makes it perfect to grow a variety of apples from those with a green tone to fruits with a sparkling red color.   I know you are excited to see this place, but visiting Fushoushan Farm is not as easy as what you think of.  So I made a comprehensive guide to help tourists reach this place in Taiwan easier and uncover its greatest secrets.

1. How to go to Fushoushan Farm?

There are buses going to Lishan Scenic Area and all of them are designed to take passengers back to the city the following day.  The terminal of these buses will be at Lishan Scenic Area which is still four to five kilometers away from the apple orchard.  Once at Lishan, your luck and charisma will determine your fate here, if you can find someone to take you to Fushoushan Farm for free.   I was able to hitch a ride and see the apple farm, thanks to the kindness of a farmer.




Most people who booked their hotel in Lishan Guest House or in any other hotels will usually arrange a private car that will take them to Fushoushan Farm.  Unless you hired a van, then you can visit the recreational farm at ease but it will be more expensive.

If you are planning to do a one-day tour in Fushoushan Farm, then you will end up spending most of your time traveling in a car or a tour bus. It is better to stay in one of the hotels in Lishan Scenic Area or the Fushoushan Farm to maximize your visit.

The common wandering technique in Lishan Scenic Area/Fushoushan Farm:  ride bus + stay in a hotel + ride bus the following day to go back to the city

1.1 from Taipei

For people living in Taipei, one must ride first a train going to Yilan and then transfer to a bus that would leave at 7:29 am at Yilan Transfer Station [Google Map] or 7:00 am at Luodong Transfer Station [Google Map].  I was lucky to be able to board a Puyuma express train that left Taipei Main Station at 6:05 am and arrived at Yilan Station on 7:12 am.  I then run as fast as I could to get to the Yilan Transfer Station where Bus 1751 was waiting for its passengers.

Puyuma express train ticket from Taipei Main Station to Yilan Station

iPass card with gudetama design

I only had 17 minutes to do this which is not enough time to walk and I was gasping for air as soon as I reached the right gate.  There will be no time to buy tickets so I already prepared an iPass card and loaded it with money before I left Taipei.  Bus 1751 and 1764 only accepts iPass cards in paying the fare on the sensor.  Tourists must take note of this arrangement in order to avoid the hassle.

At Lishan, there are no taxis to take tourists to Foushoushan Farm.  Seeking help from the Lishan Scenic Area Visitor Information Center would be useless.  The people there were not friendly.  When I was able to hitch a ride to the apple orchard, I asked the people at the Fushoushan Farm Visitor Information Center on why the buses stop at Lishan and not at Fushoushan Farm.  They informed that the 12:40 pm bus that leaves Yilan Transfer Station takes its passengers up to Fushoushan Farm.  The same bus would return the following day at 7:30 am.  People can take advantage of this service if they would book their stay at Fushoushan Farm.

Departure times of the bus going to Lishan Scenic Area from Yilan
Bus #OriginDrop-off pointDeparture timesiPass fare (NTD)Fare (NTD)Expected travel timeGoing directly to Fushoushan Farm?
1751Yilan Transfer StationLishan0729 (MWThFSatSun)3093524 hoursno
0730 Tuesday
1240 Dailyyes
1764Luodong Transfer Station0700 Daily315358no


Return schedules of the buses going back to Yilan from Lishan Scenic Area
Bus #OriginDrop-off pointDeparture timesGoing directly to Fushoushan Farm?
1751LishanLuodong Transfer Station0830 Dailyyes*
1329 MWThFrSatSunno
1330 Tuesday
1764Luodong Transfer Station1300 Daily
*The staff of the recreational farm told me that the bus would leave Fushoushan Farm at 7:30 am.

1.2 by bus from Taichung or Hualien

Visitors from Taichung and Hualien can also get to Lishan Scenic Area but have to endure more than four hours of travel time.  Bus 1141 will wait for its passengers in front of the Hualien Bus Station [Google Map] while the Bus 6506 starts its route at Fengyuan Bus Station (a short walk from TRA Fengyuan Station, [Google Map]).  The bus from Hualien will arrive in Lishan at around 1:00 pm but the vehicle coming from downtown Fengyuan will arrive at around 3:00 pm.  

In either case, tourists are encouraged to arrange for their own hostel accommodation before coming to Lishan. Homestays and hotels usually provide transportation to take their guests to Fushoushan Farm since there are no taxis around.

Departure times of the bus going to Lishan Scenic Area from Hualien and Taichung
Bus #OriginDrop-off pointDeparture timesFare (NTD)IC Fare ticket (NTD)Expected travel time
1141Hualien Bus StationLishan0840 Daily4533994.5 hours
6506Fengyuan Bus Station0910 Daily546-5 to 6 hours

Return schedules of the buses going back to Hualien or Taichung from Lishan Scenic Area
Bus #OriginDrop-off pointDeparture times
1141LishanHualien Bus Station1450 Daily
6506Fengyuan Bus Station0800 Daily

1.3 by tripool taxi

One of the most convenient way to get to Fushoushan Farm is by tripool taxi (https://www.tripool.app/?utm_source=luomuji).  This private point-to-point transportation service will definitely take you straight to the entrance of the recreational farm and after exploring the place, will  take you back to your origin if you booked a return trip.

There are five cities where you can start your journey and return on the same day.  They are listed on the price comparison table that I have made.   The fares are based on a single rider/couple or a group of four to eight people.  Tripool taxi can accommodate up to 8 people in one car and I suggest exploring their web app to get more ideas about their price ranges.

A trip from Taipei Main Station for a group composed of four people would cost NTD 4,800.  An MRT ride to Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center will reduce the tripool taxi fare to NTD 4,500.  Tourists staying in Yilan will save time and money since the journey is shorter.  The expected travel time is only 3 hours and 6 mins for a fare of only NTD 3,700  That's a budget of NTD 925 per person for a one-way ride from Yilan to Fushoushan Farm.  Most travelers coming from Greater Taipei whether they are on a tour bus or private car will most likely take the Yilan route, and I think this is the most efficient way to get to Fushoushan Farm.



Those living in Taichung will be glad to know that they can also visit the recreational farm.  The tripool taxi fares from the TRA or THSR stations are comparable to those coming from Taipei Main Station, for a price range of NTD 4,400 to 4,600 (one-way ride composed of 4 passengers).   But start the journey in Nantou and the prices will go lower.



Guests staying at any of the minsus in Cinjging Farm will be glad to know that their tripool taxi fare is cheaper by almost half.  Just take a look at the price for Cingjing Guest House.  Its shorter distance to Fushoushan Farm meant a travel time of only 2 hours and 7 mins for a price range of NTD 2,200 to 2,400. The amount of time saved in traveling will be crucial during the apple picking since there is a fruit picking schedule that is being implemented in the orchard. (tripool web app: https://www.tripool.app/?utm_source=luomuji)

Depending on your itinerary, tourists can schedule a trip down to Hualien to visit Taroko.  I recommended searching for a hotel in Tianxiang if possible, or select TRA Hualien Station as the drop-off point.

Book for 8 persons and you will get considerable savings per person.  Imagine paying only NTD 750 for a group of people coming from Taipei for a one-way ride from Taipei Main Station to Fushoushan Farm.   Residents in Taichung will not get envy because they will pay almost the same rate as those living in Taipei.   In summary, expect to pay NTD 1,500 to NTD 2,000 for a roundtrip ride in tripool taxi for a group of 8 passengers.

Price comparison of one-way tripool taxi fares to Fushoushan Farm from Taipei, Yilan, Taichung, Nantou and Hualien
CityPick-up pointDistanceTravel TimeEstimated tripool taxi fare (NTD)
# of passengers
1 or 248
TaipeiTaipei Main Station174.1 kms3 hrs 50 mins4,4004,8006,000
MRT Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center162.3 kms3 hrs 39 mins4,1004,5005,600
YilanTRA Yilan Station115.9 kms3 hrs 6 mins3,4003,7004,700
TaichungTRA Taichung Station151.8 kms3 hrs 40 mins4,2004,6005,700
THSR Taichung Station152.6 kms3 hrs 33 mins4,0004,4005,500
NantouCingjing Guest House68.2 kms2 hrs 7 mins2,2002,4003,000
Puli Station99.7 kms3 hrs 1 min3,3003,7004,600
HualienTRA Hualien Station Station130.9 kms3 hrs 44 mins4,4004,8006,000

2. Entrance tickets at the recreational farm

Before you get too excited to enter the apple orchard and pick some fruits, have some time to take a look at the entrance tickets table below.   Most tourists enter Fushoushan Farm with their cars so people pay once their vehicle passes the toll gate.  Students, the elderly, military personnel and government employees in Taiwan are entitled for the discounted tickets. Yehey!

The entrance toll gate of Fushoushan Farm

And there is an apple above the roof!

Fushoushan Farm entrance ticket prices. Present a valid ID to avail of the discount.
Ticket typeHoliday/WeekendWeekdayDescription
Adult ticketsNTD 100NTD 80Ordinary visitors
Concession ticketsNTD 80NTD 60Military/soldiers, employees, school teachers, and aboriginal people
Group ticketA group composed of 20 persons or more
Student ticketUniversity students and above
Elderly ticketNTD 50Seniors aged 65 and over
Child ticketNTD 60Elementary, junior and senior high school students
Special discount ticketNTD 20Disabled persons and children aged 0 to 6
Veterans and disabled persons
Parking feeSightseeing bus: NTD 100; Sedan: NTD 50; Motorcycle: NTD 20

3. Apple picking in Fushoushan Farm

Fushoushan Farm in Lishan Scenic Area is the place to go during Taiwan's apple season which starts to ripen in September and harvested until the end of November.   A veteran's farm located in a mountain city of Taichung's Heping District, various kinds of crops are grown here that are used for tourism.  Aside from functioning as a recreational farm, vegetables like cabbage are also cultivated here which are sold in the city.

Fushoushan Farm has various attractions throughout the year with its maple and cherry blossom season being its peak season.  The apple picking season is just one attraction that tourists can enjoy from October to November.  A lot of people are excited to see the orchard and pick some fruits, but Fushoushan Farm is a very difficult place to visit especially for those people relying only on Taiwan's public transportation system.


3.1. When is the apple picking season in Fushoushan Farm?

It happens every October and November.  Although some varieties ripen in August, the autumn season is still regarded as the best time to handpick the fruits.  In October, the apple picking activity happens from Monday to Friday only.  In November, the orchard is open for tourists every day. The kind of apples to grab during your visit depends on which variety happens to be ripe.

The apple picking season in Fushoushan Farm
openprice per catty (6 to 7 medium-size apples)
OctoberMonday to FridayNTD 300
Novemberevery dayNTD 500

I have prepared a table which enumerates the kinds of apple trees planted in the Fushoushan Farm from 1964 to 1985 and you can see it after scrolling down for a few pictures.




Expect the “Golden Delicious” variety to open the apple picking season when you visit the farm on October 1.  These apples are light green in color and in contrast to the usual red color of the fruit.  But they taste the same only that their skin color is different.  Surprisingly, there is also a “Red Delicious” variety.

"Golden Delicious" apple

"Fuji" apple

The “Fuji” and other Japanese varieties are ripe for harvest from mid to late-October.  The picking season continues until the end of November but there is a catch when you visit the Fushoushan Farm during this period.  The number of visitors to the recreational farm increases as the fall season intensifies due to the foliage of the maple trees in front of the Songlu Villa.  During this peak period when people make a long queue at the orchard, only guests staying at the guesthouses of Fushoushan Farm are guaranteed to have slots for the apple picking activity.  

The different kinds of apple trees planted inside Fushoushan Farm's orchard
Apple varietyWeightFruit colorRipening period
Natsumidori150-200gGreen or yellow with light red stripesearly August
Kitanosachi200-250gRedmid-August
Hokuto300gGreen or yellow with light red stripesmid to late August
Nebuta200-250gRedlate August
Sensyu (M26)Brownish redlate September
Wakou (M26)Bright red to dark red
KogetsuRed or crimson
Same red “tsugaru”250-300gGreen or yellow with red stripes
Golden Delicious (M7)200-250gYellow to greenlate September to mid-October
Megumiwith red stripesearly to mid-October
Mutsu450-600gRed when ripemid to late October
Fuji200-250gRed
Yoko250-300g

3.2 Where is the apple plantation in Fushoushan Farm?

The orchard is located behind the Fushoushan Visitor Information Center: [Google Map]  After paying the entrance tickets at the toll gate, visitors can walk directly to the apple farm.

The right side of the photo is the apple plantation.



3.3 Do I need to register online to book a slot for the apple picking activity?

No.   But there is an on-site registration.  Visitors enter a tent where they pay NTD 300 (October) or NTD 500 (November) and leave their belongings on a locker with a key.  There will be a person to assist the participant on how to pick the apples properly.

Once you are in the apple orchard of Fushoushan Farm, look for the tent where you can register.

3.4 What is the schedule of the apple picking activity?

The fruit picking activity happens in the morning from 8:30 am to 10:30 am and from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm in the afternoon with each session lasting for only 30 minutes.   During this half-hour period, the participants can pick apples or have some selfies with the fruits. After that, the visitor will be asked to have his/her harvest weighed.



Schedule of the apple picking sessions in Fushoushan Farm.
time
morning08:30-09:0009:00-09:3009:30-10:0010:00-10:30
afternoon14:00-14:3014:30-15:0015:00-15:3015:30-16:00
Visitors should also take note that the fruit picking activity may be suspended in the event of a bad weather or when there are no more apples to harvest.

3.5 How many apples can I pick?

The NTD 300 ticket (per catty) entitles a participant to pick six to seven medium-sized apples.   Visitors put their harvest on a basket and then weighed before leaving the orchard.  Depending on the total weight of the fruits, it will be assessed whether it is less than or more than what you paid for.  If it is less than NTD 300, an additional fruit/s is given for free by the staff.

Before paying the fee of NTD 300 (October) or NTD 500 (November), prospective apple pickers will have the chance to taste some apple slices.

An electronic balance is used to check the total weight of the harvested fruits 



3.6 How to properly pick apples?

For the harvesting of the “Golden Delicious” variety, the participants are asked to look for apples as big as a fist.  Then,  the skin color of the fruit is checked near the stem.  Since a mature “Golden Delicious” apple is light green in color, a golden discoloration on top of the fruits indicates that sugar has already formed on the outer skin of the fruit and is now ready for picking.


To pick the apple, grab the fruit with one hand.


I was assisted by one of the staff of the Fushoushan Farm in picking the apple.  To do it properly, just turn the fruit left or right until you feel that it is finally detached from the branch.

A freshly picked "Golden Delicious" apple

Visitors should refrain from pulling the apple during the picking process.  Instead, roll the fruit to have its stem get broken.  Turning the fruit to a right angle will actually free it from the branch. An apple tree has multiple fruit-bearing branches, pulling one just to get one apple might damage the whole branch and even cause the other fruits to drop on the ground.

A staff from Fushoushan Farm will assist every registered participant in selecting the right apples to pick and how to do it properly.  So do not worry too much.

4. The apple king tree

The crowning glory of Fushoushan Farm's apple season is its so-called king apple tree.  Planted near one of the buildings of the Administrative Center, it was a round leaf Chinese flowering Crab Apple Tree that was initially grafted with two varieties of Japanese apples in 1971.  Now, there are at least 40 varieties of the fruit that have been growing on its branches.   


The fruits of the apple king tree are even larger than the ones I saw in the plantation.  They also look ripe to pick but unfortunately, the apples are for your eyes only.   Haha! Taking a selfie here is a must for those who went to Fushoushan Farm for the first time to see the orchard.












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Sakura Series - Taiwan

Sakura Series - Taiwan


Sakura Series - Japan


Maple Series


Yehliu to Jiufen? Yehliu to Shifen? Cheaper than yellow taxis

The "Taipei kong mahal" (My beloved Taipei)


Other attractions in Taipei


New Taipei


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