Taiwan is a place that should be explored not just with public transportation (as convenient as it is). If you only take public transportation everywhere you go, you are missing out on a huge part of Taiwan. You could take taxis everywhere to see these sights, like a rich Chinese person, or you can take the cheaper option and rent a vehicle. Many of the scenic and rural sights of Taiwan can’t be experienced except by hiring your own vehicle.
Renting cars or scooters in Taiwan:
Taiwan is the scooter capitol of the world. Driving a scooter is dangerous, but scooters are fun. You can stop pretty much anywhere on the side of the road easily and take photos and enjoy the scenery. They are also pretty easy to learn how to operate; if you can already drive a car and/or ride a bike, picking up riding a moped shouldn’t be that hard. There’s not much better of way to experience Taiwan than cruising down the streets like everyone else with the wind blowing in your face. However, if you are afraid that scooters are dangerous, I would suggest renting a car.
Shiding Old Street (aka Shiding East Street) is a small street in the busiest part of the mountainous Shiding District in New Taipei. There are some great restaurants here, an old mining town feel, great views of old multi story houses towering over the rivers, and beautiful surrounding mountains. Also, there are some great hiking trails and scenery nearby.
The name Shiding comes from boats transporting goods from the area that used to use large rocks (shi 石) in the river as anchors (ding 碇). The Shiding administrative area (石碇堡) was created during the Qing Dynasty and extended from Keelung to Wenshan District.
The area around Shiding Old Street was the first area to be developed by Han Chinese in Shiding. In the early days during the Qing Dynasty, the Han Chinese settlers here mainly grew tea and leeks.
During the Qing Dynasty, Shiding was an important stop along the Danlan Old Trail (淡蘭古道 which means the road between Tamsui and Yilan), which was split into three paths, and Shiding was on the Southern Path. The Southern Path winded from Mengjia Old Street to Liuzhangli, then to Shengkeng, and onto Shiding which was a major tea producer at the time. From Shiding, the road then went to Pinglin and then Yilan. The Southern path was the quickest way to Yilan.
During the Japanese Era until the 1980s, the major industry in the area was coal mining, As the coal mining industry winded down in the 1980s and 90s in Taiwan due to lower worldwide coal prices, the economy in Shiding suffered and many people left.
The multi story buildings near Shiding Old street are a testament to the economic prosperity of the coal mining era.
Currently the Old Street is a popular stop near National Highway 5. Besides the local food and history, there is also some great hiking trails and scenery nearby.
About 8 AM to 5 PM.
How to get there:
By Car: Go east on National Freeway 5, then get off at the Shiding interchange. Continue east until you reach Shiding Old Street.
By Scooter: From Taipei, take highway 106 east from Shenkeng toward Shiding, pass through Shiding Bao Tunnel, and soon you will come to Shiding Old Street.
By Bus: From Taipei City Call MRT station, you can take bus 912 to Shiding High School, after that you will have to switch to bus 666 which will take you all the way to the old street (total about 40 minutes).
Please see below.
Yinhedong Waterfall (aka Yinhe Cave Waterfall) is an easily accessible sight in Xindian District of New Taipei, and perhaps the most picturesque in all of Taiwan. It is easily accessible by public transportation, and the hike takes less than ten minutes to get there from the trailhead. The waterfall includes a cave and temple that are great for taking phots. It's spectacular cascading falls are definitely worth a stop for anyone in Taiwan.
Yinhedong Waterfall is about 30 meters high and is separated into two parts by a cave in the middle of the waterfall. It is located near the town of Xindian, and it's name literally means "Silver River Cave" or "Milky Way Cave."
The waterfall lies a tributary of the Qingtan River which runs down tho the Xindian River, which runs into the Tamsui River. The rocks here easily erode, making for odd shapes in the riverbed.
The earliest known discovery of the waterfall is by Chen Qiuju, who led a rebellion against the Japanese and used the cave as his hideout. The Japanese later discovered the cave and in 1914 a temple was built in the cave. The temple was renovated in 1958, and now the main god worshipped is Guanyin Bodhisattva.
Now the waterfall is a popular attraction in the mountains of New Taipei with many other popular trails nearby.
How to get there:
By Gondola: From Xindian MRT station, you can take the green 12 bus to Yinhedong Station. According the Google the fastest way to get to Yinhe Cave from central Taipei is by taking the Maokong Gondla to Maokong Station, then taking the trail down to Yinhe Road and the waterfall trail entrance. I't about a hal hour or 2KM walk from the Maokong Gondola to the trail entrance.
By Car/Scooter: Take provincial highway 9 east from Xindian toward Pinglin, then turn left off the main highway once you reach Yinhe Road. The waterfall is to the right of the first switchback in the road, and car and scooter parking are free on the side of the road near the entrance.
Please see below
The Pingxi Railway in New Taipei has some of the most popular attractions in Northern Taiwan. With a total of 7 stations (plus 2 if you count Ruifang and Houtong), there are endless places to explore, eat, hike, and enjoy Taiwan's history, culture, and natural beauty all in one place.
Before the Pingxi Railway was built, during the Qing Dynasty a section of the Danlan Old Trail ran through roughly the same area, connecting Yilan to Tamsui. The Japanese completed the Pingxi Railway in 1921 in order to transport coal from the area. Most all of the stations and villages along the line were economically reliant on the coal industry until its downfall in the late 1990s.
The coal industry remained strong after the ROC took over Taiwan after WWII, but slowly waned in the 1980s and 1990s due to the decrease in global coal prices.
In the year 2000, Sanxia’s Lifeng Mine shut down operations, and Taiwan’s mining company closed, and thus all coal mining in Taiwan effectively stopped.
The Pingxi Railway is a single track that is 12.9 KM long with 7 stations.
Recently the government has offered many plans to connect the Pingxi Railway to the Taipei MRT via Jingtong to Jingmei, however due to many factors these plans have never been approved.
The area around Pingxi and Ruifang is made up of sedimentary rock which easily erodes, creating many large waterfalls such as Shifen Falls, and pointy jagged peaks like the Pingxi Crags.
Popular activities along the Pingxi Railway include hiking, river tracing, eating at one of the many old streets, setting off sky lanterns, and exploring the many historical coal mining sites.
The first train reaches Sandiaoling daily at 5:25 AM and the last train leaves Jingtong at 8:33 PM.
80 NT per person for a one day pass
When to go:
Any time of year is great. However, waterfalls are most enjoyable during the hot summer, and you may want to come for lantern festival when hundreds of sky lanterns are set off at once.
To avoid crowds and packed trains, do not go on weekends or holidays.
How to get there:
By Train: Take the TRA to Ruifang Station, buy the Pingxi Railway line one day pass, and then switch to the Pingxi Railway line. Get off at any station!
By Car/Scooter: Take provincial highway 2 east toward Pinglin, then get off the main highway once you reach Shifen. You can drive right or left to reach all of the stations on the Pingxi Railway line. But please know there is limited car parking around the stations.
Please see below:
The Pingxi Crags are a set of hiking trails that traverse steep mountain peaks and rock cliffs in the mountains south of Pingxi Village. The sedimentary rocks here stick out of the forest at the tops of the mountains, making for great views but also dangerous climbs.
The rock formations that form the Pingxi crags hike 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 around Keelung.
The area also has some coal deposits, and there is an abandoned mine on the trail.
There are basically six main peaks along the Pingxi Crags trail: Xiaozishan (孝子山), Cimu Peak (慈母峰), Cien Peak (慈恩嶺), Putuoshan (普陀山), Choutoutshan (臭頭山) and the Zhongyangjian Peak (中央尖) which is the highest peak in that chain of mountains.
Xiaozishan is 140 (459 feet) above sea level.
Much of the climbing is medium to difficult, and includes rock scrambling and rope climbs up steep cliffs with carved steps and footholds, as well as ladder crossings and chain ladder climbs in some places.
The area is popular with hikers and can get busy on the weekends.
The trail is technically 1.6 KM to Zhongyanjian, but it could take you most of the day because the hike is steep and there is lots of rope climbing. The difficulty here is medium because you are not gaining tons of elevation but there are some really scary rope climbs, rock scrambling, and near vertical rock climbs in some places.
When to go:
On a sunny dry day. The rocks can get slippery and a fall on some of the trails could kill you.
When not to go:
Don't go when it is raining. You could slip right off a cliff to your death, plus it will be cloudy with no good views. Don't bring children under 12 years old.
How to get there:
By Train: Take the TRA to Ruifang Station, and then switch to the Pingxi Railway line. Get off at Pingxi Station, and then walk south past the river toward the mountains. The trailhead starts right to the right of the public bathroom.
By Car/Scooter: Take provincial highway 2 east toward Pinglin, then get off the main highway once you reach Shifen. Then turn right and go west on county road 106 until you reach the Pingxi Old street and turn left up the mountain after you reach the Taiwan Power Company. There is a parking lot and trail head at the end of the road.
You can check out the full trail map here or here.
For the location of the start of the trail, please see below:
Gangshan's Skywalk Bridge (aka Xiaogangshan Skywalk Park) is a tourist attraction in Gangshan District of Kaohsiung, which features great views of Agongdian Reservoir and norther Kaohsiung City. The bridge is in the shape of a violin, and there is constant music playing here. If you visit Kaohsiung, this place should definitely be on your list.
Siaogangshan Skywalk Park was completed in 2018 at the price of 128,000,000 NT. It is 40 meters tall and 88 meters wide. It officially opened February 14th, 2018. The main pylon resembles a violin and includes 24 suspension cables that look like violin strings. It's Chinese name literally means "the eye of Gangshan."
9 AM to 9 PM, closed Mondays
60 NT per person
Tickets are free until the end of December 2020!
How to get there:
By Car/Scooter: Take Jiaxing East Road east out of Gangshan until it becomes Dazhuang Road, then park at the parking lot in front of the dam. There is a shuttle bus that will take you to the top of the mountain for 25 NT per trip. Vehicle traffic is not allowed up the mountain. The shuttle bus comes about every half hour.
By Bus: From Gangshan MRT Station, take buys R68 A or B to Siaogangshan Station. The trip takes over an hour.
Please see below:
Ximending is a historical neighborhood and shopping district in west Taipei. Originally built by the Japanese as an entertainment district, it later became the first designated pedestrian zone in Taiwan. Here you can find night market like food choices, historical sights, and endless shopping options. It is definitely worth a stop on your trip to Taipei.
The land that Ximen Shopping District stands on was once part of Basay tribal land. The Basay people had lived on the land for thousands of years before the first Chinese settlers.
Sections of the area indicate that there was settlements here during the Dutch rule in the 1600s.
The name Ximending refers to the neighborhood just outside the west gate of Taipei City. Before the Japanese colonization of Taiwan, this area was wilderness connecting Taipei with Bangka. The Japanese decided to develop it into an entertainment area around the turn of the 20th century. The walls of Taipei were later torn down in 1905.
One historical building here is the Red House Theater (紅樓劇場) which was built in 1908. Originally the building was a department store, but after 1945 the building was transformed into a theater. After a fire in the year 2000, it was renovated and turned into a museum with shops and theater with more modern equipment.
In the year 2000, Ximending was designated as a pedestrian zone, the first in Taiwan. Because if its popularity, the area is also known for more crime and illicit activities.
Currently the area sees over 300 shoppers per month. The area is also especially popular with young people because there are many high schools and cram schools nearby.
How to get there:
By Car/Scooter: From Taipei Main Station, go east on Zhongxiao East Road until you reach Zhonghua Road and take a left. Take another right on Chengdu Road and you are there. There is some scooter parking on the street, but if you are driving a car I suggest parking at Carrefour and walking over.
By MRT: Take the green line to Ximen Station. The shopping district can be found at exit 6.
Please see below:
Cheng Ching Lake (aka Cheng Cing Lake or Ching Qing Lake) in Kaohsiung is one of the most beautiful parks in Taiwan. Much of the lake is full of traditional Chinese gardens and architecture. Because of its size, it cannot be properly appreciated by only going there for one afternoon; there are simply too many things to see and do there. In this blog, we will provide you a detailed virtual tour of the entire lake.
People often don’t realize that Kaohsiung has a lot to offer to tourists. Many of the places down south aren’t represented as well in English as other sites in Taipei, which is why we want to help everyone realize what a great place it is. I used to live in Kaohsiung and exercised at Cheng Ching Lake daily, and it was like living in paradise every day. There are many Kaohsiung residents that visit the lake daily for free, and I envy them.
Cheng Ching lake is the largest lake in Kaohsiung. Originally it was only a small irrigation pond, but in 1940 the Japanese diverted water here from the Gaoping River to act as a water supply for the surrounding area. During that time it was called Dabei Lake (大埤湖), however Chiang Kai-Shek (the leader of the ROC) renamed it Cheng Ching Lake (澄清湖) in 1963.
The ROC army used the lake as a base shortly after the Chinese Civil War, and built an underground tunnel and bunker to prevent against nuclear attack, which has now been converted into the Cheng Ching Lake Exotic Marine Life Museum. The lake contains a number of memorials to ROC soldiers, such as memorial plaques, army veterans mausoleum, and Fuguo island to commemorate soldiers that fled to the island of the same name in Vietnam during the Chinese Civil War.
The lake is meant to resemble Xihu (西湖, west lake) in Hangzhou, China. Chiang Kai-shek built a winter chateau on the lake, one of 30 guests houses that were built for him in Taiwan.
Surrounding the lake are a number of other notable sites including the Kaohsiung Yuanshan Hotel Resort, Cheng Ching Lake Baseball Field, Cheng Ching Golf Club, Kaohsiung number 7 waterworks station, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, and Cheng Ching Lake Youth Activity Center.
Chengqing Lake is also a water source for a large area of Kaohsiung. Because of this (as well as risk of drowning), fishing and swimming in the lake are forbidden.
Every year over a million visitors come to the park, although these numbers have gone down in recent years due to aging infrastructure and lack of new attractions. It is a haven for retired Taiwanese people to come and relax, and more and more young people seem to forget it exists.
100 NT per person
50 NT for students, 60/100 NT for cars (there is a discount for cars on weekdays), and 30 NT for scooters.
Kaohsiung residents: free!
Hours: 4 AM - 9 PM (no entry after 6 PM)
How to Get There:
By Car/Scooter: There are two entrances to the park, one on the north side and one of the south side. There are plenty of places to park once inside. The price is 60/100 NT for cars (there is a discount for cars on weekdays), and 30 NT for scooters.
By Bus: From the Weiwuying MRT station, you can take the 70A bus straight to the main entrance.
Huaxi Street Night Market (aka Snake Alley) is a mostly indoor night market that stretches from Bangka Old Street to Longshan Temple in Wanhua District of Taipei. Some specialties of this market include snake meat and turtle meat. Overall it is a unique night market experience in Taiwan that feels more like it is in Southeast Asia.
The land that Huaxi Street Night Market stands on was once part of Basay tribal land. The Basay people had lived on the land for thousands of years before the first Chinese settlers. The area at Bangka was a trading center for the Basay people before Chinese settlers ever came.
Maps dating to the Dutch rule in the 1600s marked Bangka as a trading location.
The name Bangka (or Měngjiǎ in Taiwanese Mandarin) comes from the fact that the Basay tribe called the Chinese trading ships that visited "Bangka" which means canoe, and was transliterated into Southern Min as (Bangkah 艋舺) which literally means small boat.
Later when the Japanese came they mistakenly heard Bangka as “Mange” in Japanese (Wàn huá 萬華 in Chinese), which is the current name of the area.
The settlement at Bangka (Měngjiǎ 艋舺) quickly grew into the largest settlement in Northern Taiwan. Settlements at Dadaocheng and Bopiliao nearby also began to sprout up.
Huaxi Street Night Market has been established for over 50 years. It used to be a red light district before prostitution was banned in Taiwan in 1991. Now it specializes in strange meats such as snake, turtle, and deer meat as well as animal blood. It is also known as "Snake Alley." You can also find normal Taiwanese night market snacks here.
4 PM to midnight every day
How to get there:
By Car/Scooter: From Ximending, go west on Guilin Road until you reach Huaxi Street. There is plenty of scooter parking on the street and paid car parking nearby.
By MRT: Take the blue line to Longshan Temple station, then walk northwest about two blocks to the night market.
Please see below:
Fengshan Reservoir in Kaohsiung lies on the top of Fengshan Mountain in Xiaogang District of Kaohsiung, and is a nice area to relax and enjoy views of the surrounding area.
Fengshan Reservoir was completed in 1984 to provide water for the surrounding industrial areas in Xiaogang and Linyuan. The reservoir itself lies across three districts of Koahsiung: most of it is in Xiaogang, about one third of it lies in Linyuan, and one industrial spillway lies in Daliao.
The dam holds 7.8 million tons of water, making it a medium to small sized reservoir in Taiwan.
The road around the area is open at the hours listed below. Swimming, bicycle riding, barbequing, and fishing are prohibited.
5 AM to 8 AM
2 PM to 5 PM
How to get there:
By Car/Scooter: You can enter from the east or west gate which can be reached from Dapingding or Daliao (see map below). The gates are only open in the early morning and in the afternoon as noted above.
By Bus: From Xiaogang MRT station, you can take bus R8 E to Daliao Yuantong Temple station. From there you can walk about 30 minutes up the hill to the reservoir's east entrance.
Please see below:
As someone contemplating expat life in Taiwan, you may be afraid of what life is actually like living here as a foreigner. Therefore we have created this short list of the main things you should consider before taking the plunge and moving to Taiwan. All things considered, you should move here; it's perhaps the best country in the world to live for expats.
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.