Before you read this blog, for a general overview of house buying in Taiwan, check out the buying a house in Taiwan FAQ article here.
You can also see our experience renting houses before we started considering buying in this blog.
Buying a house was easy, once I had enough money. Can I stop there?
Okay first let me explain I am a middle aged American married to a Taiwanese national. I have lived in Taiwan about eight years already.
The scooter lane coming off the Taipei Bridge from Sanchong into Taipei onto Minquan West Road is one of the most impressive traffic sights in Taiwan, and has become an iconic photo destination. Rows of 10-20 scooters across and 20-40 scooters deep. So there can be about 200-800 cooters on this bridge ramp at a time.
How to get there:
By scooter: You can drive through the scooter waterfall by going across the Taipei Bridge from Sanchong.
By MRT: You can see the scooters coming off the bridge a few blocks west of Daqiaotou Station on the orange MRT line in Taipei.
When to go:
Between 7 AM and 9 AM on a workday. That is when you will see the most scooters.
Please see below:
Along the Grand Taipei Trail past mount Nangang there is a trail that extends past Thumb Mountain to Miaogao Peak, which overlooks the Xinyi Expressway, Elephant Mountain, and Xinyi District of Taipei. It does not loop with the Four Beasts Trail, so we have made a separate blog for it.
About 150 meters
One hour round trip
How to get there:
By car/scooter: From Xinyi Road, turn south on Songren Road, the turn on to Songren Road Alley 281 until it goes up the mountain. The trailhead is near a dead end.
By bus: From Taipei City Hall MRT Station, take community bus BL5 20 minutes, to within 2 minutes walking distance of the trailhead at Ruiyun St. Intersection stop.
Please see below:Ruiyun St. Intersection
The Elephant Mountain/Four Beasts Mountain trail (aka Xiangshan/Sishoushan Trail) is perhaps the most easily accessible trail in Taipei with perhaps also the best views of the city. This popular and easy hike covers areas of Xinyi and Nangang District, and offers excellent views of the 101 and the rest of downtown Taipei. It should be on the top of your list of places to visit in Taipei.
Elephant Mountain get's its name from the shape of the mountain, which from a distance looks like an elephant. The same is true of the hills next to it: Tiger Mountain, Lion Mountain, and Leopard Mountain. Other peaks on the trail include Mt. Nangang, Thumb Mountain, and 95 Peak.
Elephant Mountain lies at 181 meters above sea level, and 95 Peak, the highest peak on the trail, is 375 meters above sea level.
These mountains lie on the Nangang Mountain Chain (南岡山系統), which starts in Nangang District, and goes through Xinyi District, Da'an District, and Wenshan District of Taipei.
The rock formations that form the Nangang Mountain Chain formed as sediment under the ocean millions of years ago and were then uplifted thanks to the collision of the Eurasian and Phillipine plates. The rocks are mainly sedimentary and are part of the same formation that forms the special rock formations on the northern coast and in Pingxi.
The area also has some coal deposits, and there are a few abandoned coal mines on the mountain.
Currently Elephant Mountain and the Four Beasts trail is one of the most popular trails in Taipei or all of Taiwan. With quick access to the MRT, hundreds of people hike these trails daily.
24/7 (there are even lights on the trail at night)
Elephant Mountain: 1-2 hours 1.5 KM one way
Total of about 160 meters in elevation gain
Full Four Beasts Trail: 4-6 hours 11KM one way (to China University of Science and Technology)
Total of about 350 meters in elevation gain
Easy, although there are many steep steps at the beginning.
How to get there:
By MRT: Take the Red Line MRT to the Elephant Mountain stop. The trailhead is about 500 meters from the MRT station. Just walk along the park to the trailhead.
By Scooter/Car: Drive east on Xinyi Raod in Taipei, and turn right at Xiangshan MRT station. There should be scooter and car parking on the street, but car parking may be hard to find.
Please see below:
Taiwan's outer islands are some of the most beautiful and scenic places in the whole country, and all of them can be considered a secret paradise. You can find the best beaches, snorkeling, diving on these islands. You can also find rich and important historical sites here. Transportation may be difficult, but you will never regret visiting Taiwan's outer islands, and no trip to Taiwan should be complete without doing it.
In this blog, we will introduce the main outer islands in Taiwan that are open to tourists (there are 166 islands in Taiwan, this blog only covers a few), point out their unique traits, and compare them to each other. This way you can best prepare for your trip to the outer islands, and at at the same time know what you are missing out on. All the outer Islands are great, and I highly recommend visiting them all if you can.
Map: Please see a map of the islands covered in this blog below:
I am done renting apartments in Taiwan. I hope. I just bought an apartment here, so I think it is finally time to chronicle my experiences here for all to enjoy. I hope that some new foreigner will learn something from these experiences and not make the same mistakes.
In total I have rented four apartments in Taiwan. During that process I learned a lot about what to watch out for when you are looking for an apartment, especially from landlords and “amenities” provided.
Jinguashi is a small village in Ruifang District in New Taipei, famous for its now defunct mines. Here you can explore the Gold Mine Musuem, touch a multi-million dollar gold ingot, see golden waterfalls, go on some of the best hikes in Taiwan, check out the old mining town, see Japanese era historic sites, and explore abandoned mining sites.
In 1890 during the Qing Dynasty, gold was found in the Keelung River during the construction of Taiwan's first railroad, which led to a small gold rush. Gold seams were eventually found in the mountains behind Jiufen around what is today Jinguashi.
The name Jinguashui (金瓜石 Jīnguāshí), literally meaning "Gold Gourd Stone" comes from the shape of the nearby Keelung Mountain, which resembled a Pumpkin "Nánguā 南瓜" to early settlers, and the fact that early gold miners found lots of little gold seams resembling small gourds.
After Taiwan was colonized by the Japanese in 1895, the Japanese quickly took control of the mines at Jinguashi, banning locals from owning mining rights. They quickly found many more copper and gold seams, and Jinguashi became the number one gold mine in the Japanese empire.
During WWI, the mine came upon difficult times, and mining rights were passed to what is now Japan Energy, who built the 13 level complex that sits abandoned today. By 1938 it had become the most profitable gold mine in Asia, and population grew to over 80,000.
During WWII, the mining operations switched from gold to copper, and the area was used as a POW camp.
After the ROC took Taiwan, the mines were used mainly for copper, as the cost of refining gold was too high. The Chalet built for the crown prince of Japan at Jinguashi was later used by Chiang Kai-shek. After worldwide copper prices collapsed in the 1980s, the mine shut down for good in 1987. After that, people moved out of the town, and Jinguashi has a population of just about 2,000 people.
Later mining initiatives have been met with strong criticism from environmentalists.
In 2004, the New Taipei City Gold Mine Museum was completed, using several abandoned mining sites near Jinguashi, making it a popular tourist attraction in the area.
Gold Mine Museum Hours:
9:30 AM to 5 PM, closed Mondays
Gold Mine Museum Price:
80 NT per person (Free for New Taipei Residents)
How to get There:
By Train: Take TRA to Ruifang Station, then transfer to Keelung Bus which goes directly to Jinguashi every few minutes (about a 15 minute ride from Ruifang).
By Bus: Buses directly to Jinguashi leave from Taipei Main Station, Taipei City Hall, and Songshan Station regularly via Keelung Bus.
By Car/Scooter: Take provincial highway 2 to Ruifang and then travel on highway 102 all the way up to Jiufen, then go over the mountain and keep going down to Jinguashi. Parking is scarce, and if you drive a car you need to park at the bottom of the hill and take the bus up to the gold mine museum. There is free scooter parking at the entrance.
You can book a tour with My Taiwan Tour here.
Please see below:
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.