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:
Mudan Old Street is a small old street in Mudan Neighborhood of Shuangxi District. The old street is almost totally a residential area. Now it is a quiet town with very little tourists, but with lots of nature sights, mountain roads, camp sites, and hiking trails nearby.
Mudan is named after the tree peonie flower.
During the Qing Dynasty, Mudan 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 Mudan was on the Northern Path. The Northern Path winded from Mengjia Old Street to Nuannuan, then to Ruifang, and onto Jiufen and Houtong. From Houtong, the road then went to Mudan and then Shuangxi, then went along the coast to Yilan. During this time, most of the things traded were tea leaves and agricultural goods.
Historically Mudan and the areas nearby have been rural, and in the 1900s relied on coal, gold, and mercury mining to drive the economy. The mining industry died down in the late 1900s and is now defunct.
Currently the neighborhood of Mudan has a population of only 1953 people, and is dropping every year.
The Mudan Train Station was recently upgraded to a simple station, with a TRA employee stationed there to sell tickets. There are about 200 people coming and leaving the station every day. Only the shuttle train stops at the station.
Now it is a quiet town with very little tourists, but with lots of nature sights, mountain roads, and hiking trails nearby.
About 10 AM to 6 PM.
How to get there:
By Train: Take the TRA to Mudan Station. Only the shuttle train stops at the station.
By Car/Scooter: From Taipei, on provincial highway 5 until you reach Keelung, then take provincial highway 2B to Shuangxi. You then need to take county raod 102 to Mudan. The old street is only one lane, so you can get stuck if driving a car.
Please see below:
Gold Mountain Ranch and Resort (aka Jinshan Yijing in Chinese, or simply "Horse Camp") is a campground and horse ranch in Jinshan District of New Taipei. A stay here includes activities such as horseback riding, four-wheeling, archery and bb-gun practice, and also a filling BBQ dinner and western style breakfast. Staying here makes you feel like you are in the rural American West, which is a unique experience in Taiwan. With a shortage of ranches and horse riding opportunities in Taiwan, Gold Mountain is a special place that you should not miss on your trip along Taiwan's northern coast.
From my conversation with the Laoban (Boss), Mr. Z, as well as info from their website, Mr. Z. started this ranch about three years ago as a pet project, due to his love of horses. Before that he was in the restaurant business. He said that he searched the entire island for a suitable place for a Horse Ranch, which was his dream, and happened to find this spot of land where the ranch currently operates. When he started the ranch, he would still drive back to Zhonghe every night to take care of his ailing cat. Now he spends all his time taking care of the horses, even sleeping next to them at night in case something goes wrong. Now him and four other employees help to run the campground and ranch.
Currently the ranch has 6 horses, about five ATVs, and can accommodate 60 people. Soon they plan to open a restaurant and bar on the property, as well as a wilderness survival training camp.
Check in: 1 PM
Check out: 11 AM
1600 NT - 2750 NT per night per person
Additional horse rides charged per hour/lesson.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/goldmrandr/
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How to get there:
By Car/Scooter: From Taipei, take National highway 3 north to Wanli, then take provincial highway 2 along the northern coast until you reach Jinshan. Then take provincial highway 2A east to county highway 25, and turn right at Sanhe elementary school. Turn left when you see the sign for "金山驛境." The ranch is at the end of the road. It takes about 50 minutes from Taipei by car.
By Bus/taxi: There are buses that leave from Taipei City Hall station to Jinshan hourly. The ride takes about an hour. From central Jinshan you can take a taxi (about 200 NT) to the ranch.
Please see below:
Bishan Campground (aka Bishan Camping Area) in Neihu District of Taipei City is the only free campground run by Taipei City (although it has an extension campground in Beitou). Near the campground is Bishan Temple, which has one of the best views of Taipei. Besides camping and temple worship, the area is also a popular hiking spot, and there are multiple tourist farms and tea shops to explore.
How to apply for a camping spot:
You can apply using this online form (it's in English!):
You must apply at least 7 days in advance, but no more than 30 days in advance.
You must enter your passport ID or Taiwan ID.
You can check the status of the application online as well.
For more info, check here (Chinese): https://www.geo.gov.taipei/mp10504b/
Camping time starts at 2 PM and ends at 1 PM the next day.
You can only stay for two nights at a time.
How to get there:
By Bus: You can take a bus to about 1 KM away from the campsite, but then you have to walk with all of that gear. If that's not what you want then you should take a taxi or your own vehicle.
By Scooter/Car: From East Neihu, drive up Bishan Raod (碧山路) until you see the campground. It's hard to miss.
Please see below:
Disclaimer: We are not affiliated with any camp ground or camping products in Taiwan. The following FAQ is only based on our opinion after years of camping in Taiwan, and should not be considered absolute fact. If in doubt, make sure you check with the local police station or other government office to make sure you are following local regulations while camping in Taiwan.
With two thirds of the island covered in mountains, Taiwan has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. One of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of Taiwan is via camping. Below is a very basic level FAQ on camping in Taiwan for foreigners that have never experienced it.
Disclaimer: We are not affiliated with any hotel or hostel in Taiwan. The following FAQ is only based on our opinion after years of booking accommodation in Taiwan, and should not be considered absolute fact.
What is the best website for hotel booking in Taiwan?
Agoda. From my own experience, they are the cheapest, provide the best quality listings, and have incredible customer service. They once gave me my money back for a hostel (which did not have free cancellation) just because there was an earthquake in Hualien the day before. Also, they gave my money back on a room that had a shared bathroom because it wasn’t obvious from the listing.
What is the average price of a hotel in Taiwan?
According to Hikersbay.com, the average price of a hotel in Taiwan is 2,197 TWD.
In our experience, a fair price for a hotel in Taiwan that I like to stick to is around 1,500 TWD (about 45 USD).
What is the average price range for hotels in Taiwan?
The following prices are from personal experience booking over tens of hotels in Taiwan over 5 years (Please note 1000 NT is roughly equal to 31 USD):
Typically, the cheapest of the cheap hotels will go from 700-1000 NT
Lower range Hotels will go from 1000-1700 NT
Mid Range Hotels will go from 1500-2500 NT
High Class Hotels will go from 2500-5000 NT
Super Fancy Hotels will go from 5000-30,000+ NT per night!
Please note these prices also vary by location.
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.