Day trips from Taipei & Tourism Information
If you are staying longer in Taiwan and want to discover more what this beautiful island has to offer, you will not be disappointed! Taiwan's local regions have a very rich cultural heritage and incredible scenery to photograph, walk around, hike and admire. Add to this a very easy transport network to travel in Taiwan, a good road infrastructure, friendly people and tasty snacks and dishes to try whenever hungry, makes it a perfect day to get away from the busy capital and explore the inner beauty of Taiwan.
Pretty historical towns, beaches, mountain trails, waterfalls and rivers, old mining sites converted into tourist attractions and even a cat village are all some of the wonders you can see! If you are taking public transport, it only requires you to have an easy card, (can be bought at any MRT Metro station) which is cheaper than buying single tickets, plus being much easier to use. Below you can find some destinations we suggest to visit for a trip out of Taipei. (organised by regions).
Keelung Town (night markets, trails and beach):
Pronounced Keelong in Mandarin, this port city was originally founded by Taiwanese Aboriginals and, with the arrival of the Spanish in the early 17ᵗʰ century, the city developed into a centre for military and commercial trade throughout the Spanish, Dutch, and Qing Dynasty periods of rule on Taiwan. With the arrival of the Japanese in the late 19ᵗʰ century, the port was further developed specifically for trade with Japan as Keelung is located along Taiwan's Northeast coast. Around the city there are many historical and cultural sites, including Ershawan Fort (also called Haimen Tianxian), Fo Guang Shan Ji Le Temple, or Heping Island.
However, the best reason to come to Keelung is for it's night market, Miaokou Night Market is one of Taiwan's more traditional food-focused night markets and a place where to try some cheap, delicious seafood! Miaokou is located adjacent to Keelung Harbour. The entrance is located at the intersection of Aisan and Rensan Roads. Best visit around 6 pm with an empty stomach! Getting to Keelung from Taipei is easy, take the frequent trains from Taipei Main Station (TRA Trains), note to take express trains and not the local train.
✔️Tip: Visit Dawulun Beach. If you fancy a relaxing half day over at one of Taiwan's most local beaches, head for Dawulun Beach! Also nearby is Lover's Lake, via the Haixing Trail, and the Dawulun Fishing Harbour. It's a 40 min bus ride from Keelung station (take bus 305 or 508).
Jiufen (old streets and mountain trails):
Originally established as a gold mining mountain town, built by the Japanese and now is a maze of lanes and alleyways with rich history and culture. This small town was a relatively isolated village until the discovery of gold during the Japanese occupation in 1893. After the WWII, gold mining activities declined, and the town today exists mainly as a tourist destination remembering and celebrating Taiwanese history and culture. Today, the town is filled with both retro Chinese and Japanese style cafés, tea houses, and souvenir shops, as well as fantastic views of the ocean.
Jiufen and the surrounding mountain area, Mount Keelung Trail, is also well worth the hike and the views. Hiking the mountain provides some exceptional views across to the Pacific Ocean and Northern Taiwan's mountain range. The hike takes around 45 minutes uphill till you reach the submit. It's all walking up rock made stairs, so taking adequate outdoor shoes, water and being free of bags is recommended. The return walk can take 20 minutes non stop.
Getting to Jiufen can be done directly from Taipei or from Keelung as part of a multiple visit. However to enjoy more time, we recommend you make Jiufen a day trip. Fist arriving midday or after lunch to hike the mountain, later enjoy walking around the old streets and finally after sun set enjoy the red lantern streets come into light and bring a magic feel to the streets. The easiest option is to take the direct bus 1062 from Songshan Station MRT (Green line), take exit 4 from the MRT and look out for the bus station towards your right. The trip takes about 1 hour for 70 NT. Another option is to travel by train from Taipei main station (TRA trains) to Ruifang Station (take express train better). After exiting the station and facing the Wellcome supermarket, take a left and walk 200 metres down Mingdeng Road. Next to the police station is a bus stop (named Local Residents Plaza, 區民廣場) with busses 827 and 788 heading toward Jiufen for 15 NT. Lastly if you coming from/to Keelung you can take bus 788 to/from Jiufen.
✔️Tip: Try the Jiu Fen Taro Balls: a chewy dessert made from flour and Japanese taro and sweet potato to form a dough ball in purple and orange-yellow colour. The dish originated around Ruifang and Jiufen area during the highlight mining times, Now it is a popular dish, mostly eaten cold as a dessert in combination with grass jelly, tapioca, red beans or ginger juice. A favourite amongst locals and a must try for visitors!
Jiufen Town Gallery ▼
Jiufen walk trails ▼
Jinshan (trails and coastal scenery):
Jinshan is famous for its hot springs, walking trails along the hills of the mountain and for its old street where you can sample some of its culinary delights. During the nineteenth century, a major earthquake created fissures in the rock stratum of Jin Mountain (Jinshan). It was from these fissures that the Jin Mountain (Jinshan) hot springs were born. One of the most popular bathing areas. Jinshan is also home to one of the few submarine hot springs in the world.
Jinshan is also good to visit its Old Street, also known as Jinbaoli Old Street, is located in Jinshan District of New Taipei City, Taiwan. The street is famous for sweet potatoes that are soft, sweet and large. Traditional Taiwan snacks, cakes, taro, bamboo shoots, and yams may also be found along the old street. Visitors may find Jinshan Old Street very packed during weekends, especially during afternoon in the area of Kuang An Temple, where the most famous duck meat restaurant located. Jinshan Shredded Ice is a great snack to savour on the hot day. The shredded ice has an array of flavors to select, offering a good choice of removing the tiredness from the heat.
With a location in the northeast coast of Taiwan, Jinshan is also famed for the beautiful coastline sceneries, cultural and historical attractions such as Juming Museum, Shihtoushan Park (MT. Stone Park) and Cihu Temple. Walking to the coast shore is very simple, at the end of the Old street, turn right and cross through the cemetery till you reach the entrance of Jinshan Shitoushan Park. The park is easy to walk and you will reach many viewing spots and the Twin Candlestick Islets.
To get to Jinshan, take bus number 1068 from Taipei City Hall Bus Station with a trip of just over one hour.
✔️Tip: You can also take this bus to visit the "Queens Head". Another attraction along the north coast of Taiwan.
Houtong (cat village):
If you are fond of cats, this place won't disappoint you! Houtong is the home for literally hundreds of cats. Originally a small coal mining town built during the Japanese era, Houtong attracted over 6,000 workers to the area, producing the highest amount of coal in Taiwan. By the 1990s with the ending of coal industry activities, the town's population began to decline, and is now a mountain small town with museums and shops. Since 2008, a local cat lover began to care for abandoned cats in the town, finding and organising volunteers to post photos of the cats online. Thanks to social media, the public fell in love with the adorable cats and the village once again, reviving the area into a tourist destination.
To get to Houtong, take a train (TRA Train) from Taipei Main Station, towards Ruifang Station, here continue on a local train to Houtong. (it's possible as well to travel direct from Taipei Main station to Houtong on the local train only, with the ride taking over 90 minutes). Also its possible to toke a bus from Ruifang train station, cross the street and take Bus 808 or F808 to Houtong town area.
Located adjacent to Fulong Village at the mouth of the Shuang River in Gongliao District. Frequently visited by Taipei residents during the summer due to its easy access from the city. Fulong is one of the more popular beach destinations in northern Taiwan. The sand on the beach is golden in colour, a rarity for Taiwan, attracting visitors from all over the island. Sand sculpture art festivals are held at the beginning of the summer every year.The Shuang River divides the beach into two distinct areas connected by the Rainbow Bridge. Entrance fee for the beach is NT$100 and includes usage of the park and beach facilities. There is also a free public beach slightly southeast next to the temple. For tourists it is recommended to visit the private beach as the entrance cost provides additional amenities.
To get to Fulong, take a train (TRA Train) from Taipei Main Station, towards Ruifang Station, here continue on a local train to Fulong. (It's possible as well to travel direct from Taipei Main station to Fulong on the local train only, with the ride taking over 90 minutes).
Shifen and Pingxi (Waterfall and Sky-lantern tradition):
Both these small towns are rich in culture and history and provide a glimpse into Taiwan's beautiful natural scenery. They both are popular by the uniqueness of trains travelling in the middle of their old streets, where you can cross the tracks freely and also both towns are hosts for the Sky Lantern Festival. (see Pingxi info below).
- Shifen is well known for the Shifen Waterfall, a 40 meter tall waterfall that creates a rainbow as it splashes into the lake, widely regarded as the most scenic in all of Taiwan. The train station, originally built for transporting coal, was built right alongside the Shifen Old Streets and today stands as a reminder of Taiwan's history and culture. Along the old street and shops surrounding the train station, together with the openness in which people can freely cross the tracks running straight through the centre of town make the ideal photo shots of Shifen. You can enjoy local restaurants, snack stalls, plenty of souvenir shops and even try to wish for good luck writing on the paper lanterns which are sold along the old street!
- Pingxi is famous in the whole island for the tradition known as the “Sky Lantern Festival”. It dates back to 220-265 AD during the Three Kingdoms period by Zhuge Liang. At first it was used to transmit military information, different from beacon towers, also known as the ancestor to the hot air balloon. In the early 19th century the Lantern Festival was brought to Taiwan, where every year, at the beginning of the spring planting season, (Around Chinese New Year) people would release “sky lanterns” into the air as a prayer for the coming year. The tradition also got extended to wish for a new born child, prosperity, health, long life, achievements etc. On the evening of the event, (every year it is a different date) the lanterns are written with care with all sorts of wishes, then lit, hopes slowly rise, and the flames of prayer dance in the air as the lanterns magically transform into wings of hope and desire, turning the night sky of the mountain town into an expanse of unimaginable beauty. When the festival time arrives each year, Pingxi is always overwhelmed with visitors. The sight of sky lanterns with their lights rising slowing into the sky is for many Taiwanese a beautiful memory and the beginning of happiness and dreams. For visitors it is a key date to travel to Pingxi, but to avoid the crowds and still enjoy the experience of writing a lantern with prayers and wishes, the experience is available year round thanks to many shops offering the ready-made lanterns. The lanterns cost between 150-300 NT depending how many colours you would like, each colour having a different meaning. However Pingxi is also worth to come and visit anytime of the year for its unique architecture and design, as its market area, Pingxi Old Street, is built into a hill with a train track going overhead right through the middle with shops around selling local food and gifts. Visitors are able to check out shops built during the 1930s and 1940s, as well as wooden houses built during the Japanese occupation era.
✔️Tip: Pingxi at night time is a very different experience than that during the day, so arriving before sun set is the best time to visit.
To get there, both towns are located along the Pingxi Line of the train system (accessible from Ruifang). From Taipei Main Station, take an express train (TRA) to Ruifang Station. Then transfer to the Pingxi Line. If you plan to visit both towns and go back by train then you can purchase a One Day Ticket for the Pingxi Line, NT$52. (Last trains coming back from Pingxi to Ruifang are 19.37 pm and 20.28 pm). By bus you can take the MRT to Muzha Station (Brown Line) and take bus 1076 towards Pingxi.
Jiaoxi and Yilan (water falls, Hot Springs and Night Market at Yilan):
- Jiaoxi (礁溪, also Jiaosi) is a popular weekend escape from Taipei, famous for its hot springs and its three-tiered waterfall. It's easily accessible from Taipei thanks to the incredible 13km Hsuehshan Tunnel, the fifth longest road tunnel in the world. Jiaoxi is famous for its ground-level hot spring, which is very rare, as most hot springs must be drilled down to reach the hot water reservoirs. The water is naturally rich in minerals and is believed to be very good for the skin. You can also try the fish Spa, which are lukewarm water spas which contain gold fish which bite very gently your feet and make the skin very smooth. At your arrival at Jiaoxi some of the shallow feet baths are even free at the nearby parks. Others have to pay, but they are not expensive. After experiencing the baths, then head up the road towards the Wufengqi Waterfall. It's a 30 min walk or take a quick taxi ride. The waterfall has 3 layers, although the last one sometimes cant be accessed on rainy days due to wet grounds. The views, the walk itself and the waterfalls are rather glorious, well worth the hike.
To get to Jiaoxi first you need to take the bus from Taipei main Station, the company is Kamalan bus which departs every hour to Jiaoxi, for 120 NT. (need to take ticket before boarding).
- After you come back from the waterfalls back to Jiaoxi, take the train to Yilan. Best to arrive late afternoon. At Yilan station, you can find several artistic parks to walk around, the Jimi Square by the famous Taiwanese illustrator, Jimmy Liao, where there are several cute life-size figures as well as large luggage sculptures. At sun set head to Dongmen Night Market, Yilan is famous for its scallion pancakes.
On the way back from Yilan station you can take bus or train back to Taipei. Busses are quicker as they drive via the tunnel taking 1 hour. (Trains take 1.30 hours).
▼ Jiaoxi town, visit here for fish spa, free hot spring feet baths and later head to the Wufengqi Waterfall!
▼Yilan; find several artistic works, walk around Jimi Square, eat at Dongmen Night Market and sample the scallion pancakes!
Su'Ao and Nafang Ao (Cold Springs, Trails and Fishing Village and Beach at Nafang'Ao):
The township of Su'Ao is also located in Yilan Country, however it's a further 40 min by train heading south from Yilan Township. Making it ideal for a day visit out of Taipei. The highlight of Su'ao are its cold springs. They have a temperature of less than 22°C and the water from these springs are clear, colorless and emit no smell. This rare type of cold springs is only found at a few places around the world, (Italy for example). The waters are suitable for bathing and consumption. The cold spring area of Su'ao can be found at the northern side of Su'ao village, some 300 meters from the Su'ao train station around Zhongyuan road and Lengquan road. As the water temperature of the cold springs is lower than our body temperature, you will first feel cold when immersing into the water, however, after having soaked for some 5 minutes, your body will start to warm up. After bathing, you can take a bite of the local delicacy, goat-meat stew, which is still a specialty of the Su'ao area. Enjoy best in the evening when more restaurants open up for business. Su'ao location is also ideal for nature lovers, with its land backed by mountains and facing the sea. There are numerous trails and paths that can take you up the mountain hill and sample the great views of the town. As well the Su'Ao lighthouse is worth the long walk (1.15 hours from the train station) to reach the view of the ocean in front.
At the southern side of Su'ao Harbor is Nanfang' Ao, a major base for coastal fishing. The abundance of the fish catch here has made Nafang'Ao one of the three largest fishing towns on the island. The first market is the site of fresh fish auctions, held daily at around 2:00 p.m. by the fishermen's association. There is also a retail market for seafood, with the fishermen themselves each selling their fish from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day. Running along the third fishing harbor is Yugang Road, which is packed with seafood restaurants and stores selling the special products of the area. It is regularly packed with tourists as well, specially at the weekend. Another scenic area of Nafang'Ao is Neipi Beach, is a 1-km long beach, easy to access by walking from Nafang'Ao, and lined up with parks, eating places, accomodation and monuments.
✔️Tip: It's a popular place for swimming, kayaking, and kite surfing. But beware in cooler months the beach is closed for swimmers for the high winds and big waves. Always take notice of the flags if its safe to swim or not.
To get to Su'Ao you can take bus or train from Taipei Main station, however the trip is not direct. By train you need to go to Luodong or Yilan Station first and then change for another local train to Su'Ao, taking 2.5 hours in total. The cheapest option (155nt) is to take the bus to Jiaoxi Bus Station, the company is Kamalan bus which departs every hour to Jiaoxi, for 120 NT.(need to take ticket before boarding). When arriving to Jiaoxi, walk 5 min to the train station where you can take local train to Su'Ao for 41 NT.
From Su'Ao to Nafang'Ao you can walk around 35 min by pedestrian path next to the main road. Or take bus 1766/1791 from Su'Ao station for 23NT. Returning from Nafang'Ao there is a bus which takes you back to Taipei, at Jiantan Station MRT (Red Line), bus 1879 departing Nafang'Ao from Kuagang Road, costing 177 NT. (Naturally this can also be done from Taipei to Nafang'Ao by bus, if you are familiar with finding your way around foreign transport). Busses are quicker as they drive via the tunnel taking 1.30 hour. (Trains take 2.30 hours)