Hexing Coal Mine in Xinyi District of Taipei is a refurbished coal mining tunnel that has been opened to the public. is a great place to get familiar with the extinct coal mine industry in Taiwan that is close to Taipei's city center.
History of Coal Mining in Taiwan:
Before I show you my adventure, I’d like to give a background of the coal mining industry in Taiwan. If you aren’t interested, you can just skip this section.
Coal mining in Taiwan started during the Dutch rule, starting in Keelung and Tamsui. The Dutch started mines there, but didn’t have sufficient transportation infrastructure to move large amounts of coal. The Koxinga era didn’t see much coal mining.
After the Qing dynasty took back Taiwan following Koxinga and his son’s death, the government strictly banned mining of any kind in order to restrict the people from hiding in the mountains and starting rebellions. Despite this, coal was still mined and sold in on the black market in Taiwan.
During and after the Opium wars, many English and Americans scouted Taiwan for possible coal deposits. In 1864, despite the ban on coal mining, there was at least 4315 tons of coal exported out of Taiwan.
Pressure from western countries to open ports in Asia that had water and coal available to power steam ships forced the Qing government to finally allow legal coal mining in 1870.
After the ban was lifted, the size of coal mining operations was still very small. In 1874, due to Japanese influence, Liu Mingchuan convinced Beijing to allow advanced mining machinery in Taiwan, starting in Baodouzi, Keelung, and new mines were started under government control. During this time, many miners died due to poor and unsanitary working conditions and the fact that the government officials running the mines were inexperienced and did not run effective operations. During this time, infrastructure and railways were lacking in Taiwan, halting transportation of coal. By 1892 after the Sino-French war, government owned mines were closed and the industry became privatized. In 1895, Taiwan produced more than 10,000 tons of coal. By this time, Liu Mingchuan had constructed the Keelung-Xinxhu railway, helping alleviate the coal transportation problem.
In 1895 Japan took control of Taiwan and Penghu as a result of the Sino-Japanese war, and began to survey the forests and geography to maximize capitalist gains for the empire. Coal would be an important part in industrializing the Empire, as it was the major fuel source at the time. In 1896 Japan opened the coal mining industry to the public, and the next year the price of coal doubled, as demand increased. But as local know how and technology was lacking, imported coal from Japan was actually cheaper than producing it in Taiwan.
However in 1906 the coal industry in Taiwan gradually improved. New mining machinery moved to Tianliao, Keelung to support Japan’s Naval fleet. Sugar factories in southern Taiwan also needed a constant supply of coal.
During the First World War, the Empire of Japan became an important supplier of coal to western countries fighting in the war, and Taiwan’s coal exports gradually increased. In 1917-1918, Japan opened 194 new coal mines in Taiwan. They also built the Pingxi Railway which became the most productive site for coal mining, in its heyday producing 220,000 tons of coal per year. (The Taiwan coal mine museum now lays here, along withHoutong cat village). However, after World War I ended, the demand for coal declined, many mines closed, and there was widespread overproduction. But as industrialization continued in Taiwan, so did the demand for coal. To keep production going constantly, Japan provided subsidies to coal mines.
At the start of the second Sino-Japanese war, demand for coal rose dramatically, as did the price of coal. But also due to losses of manpower during the war, coal production saw a huge drop.
In 1945 Japan lost the war and Taiwan and Penghu were given back to China. Not long after this, the remaining government owned mines were transformed into the Taiwan mining company, but by then mining had all but stopped. However by 1949 after the KMT retreated to Taiwan, Taiwan became an important economic partner with America, and coal production began to soar to 1,650,000 tons of coal in 1951, mainly to fuel Taiwan’s coal power plants and other large industries. With economic support from the USA, new mines started opening. In 1960 Taiwan produced 4 million tons of coal.
Due to demand and the free market, coal mines gradually started closing and production went down, until by 1964 Taiwan produced only 2.8 million tons of coal. In 1969 Taiwan Power started using gas power plants which were cheaper than coal, lowering demand. By 1977 Taiwan had produced only 2 million tons of coal. During this time, Taiwan also improved safety regulations for coal mines, but accidents still kept happening, forcing the government to close quite a few mines. Here is a list of mining incidents in Taiwan.
The lone survivor of one1984 mining incident that killed 93 people survived by cannibalism and drinking pee over a period of 90 hours inside the mine. He later said that if he had to do it all over again, he would still have eaten his coworkers.
Local coal soon became more costly to mine than just importing it. 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.
History of Xinfeng Coal Mine:
Xinfeng Coal Mine was one of many mines around Taipei, as there are many coal seams in the mountains of northern Taiwan. Once the coal mining industry shut down in the late 1990's, this mine shut down too and was left abandoned for a number of years until the area was restored by Taipei City in about 2005. Now it is a well kept tourist attraction, where one can enjoy the history of the mine as well as the natural scenery nearby.
9 AM to 5 PM every day
How to get there:
Fuzhoushan Park in Da'an District of Taipei is a lesser known hiking area around a small forested hill. The park also has some of the best views of Taipei anywhere in the city. If you want the views of Elephant Mountain with an even easier walk and no crowds, this is the place for you.
Fuzhoushan is only about 105 meters above sea level, and the entire hike takes less than an hour.
The park also includes an old artillery bunker and some grave sites. Some military buildings were destroyed to make the park more fit with nature when the park was created in 2001.
How to get there:
By Car/Scooter: From central Taipei, take Keelung Road south until you get to Liuzhangli MRT station, then turn right onto Fuyang Street until you reach the trail entrance. There is free scooter parking and paid car parking nearby.
By MRT: The park is within 2 minutes walking distance from either Linguang MRT station.
Please see below:
Chiang Wei-shui Memorial Square in Xinyi District of Taipei commemorates a pioneering Taiwanese physician and notable activist against the Japanese rule in Taiwan. The park also has some of the best views of Taipei anywhere in the city.
Chiang Wei-sui was born in 1890 in Yilan during the Qing Dynasty. He later studied medicine at Taiwan Medical College, and started a Ta'An hospital in Taipei. He would later go on to found the Taiwan Cultural Association and Taiwan People's Party, and protest against Japanese colonial rule. He was imprisoned over 12 times. In 1931 he died of typhoid and the Taiwan People's Party was disillusioned by the Japanese government. He was later known as the Sun Yet-sen of Taiwan, and is respected by all political spectrums.
In 2006, National Freeway 5 was named after him.
When he died in 1931, Chiang Wei-shui was buried in Neihu, and later in 1952 his bones were moved to a gravesite at the current location of this memorial square, probably to be closer to Taipei Medical University. However in 2012 his bones were moved back to Yilan, his place of birth. Despite this, the park was renovated in 2019 and still commemorates this fighter for democracy and freedom.
How to get there:
By Car/Scooter: From central Taipei, take Keelung Road south until you get to Liuzhangli MRT station, then turn right. Take a small alley up the mountain on Chongde Road. There should be free parking on the side of the road.
By MRT: The park is within 5 minutes walking distance from either Liuzhangli MRT station or Linguang Station on the brown line MRT.
Please see below:
Yuanshan in Sanxia District is a popular hike in greater Taipei. It features a short easy hike has some amazing views of southern Taipei. It can also get very crowded on weekends despite the lack of public transportation. If you are looking for amazing views that are easy to get to, this is the place.
Yuanshan stands at 299 meters above sea level, and the top features a bell tower and exposed rocks that provide a great view of Taipei.
From the top you can enjoy views of Taipei such as Sanxia and Shulin Districts of New Taipei, as well as north east Taoyuan.
Currently the hike is very popular for local people especially on the weekends.
When to go:
Go on a sunny day when the air is clear for the best views.
Also consider going early in the morning or on a weekday, because the trails can get really clogged with crowds of people during the day on weekends.
How to get there:
By Car/Scooter: From Sanxia Old Street, travel west up the mountain, on the one way road. There is very limited car and scooter parking, I do not recommend driving a car up here on the weekend or on holidays. I'm serious, I saw someone pop their tire trying to park on the side of the road here.
By Train: You can get close to the mountain via Yingge TRA station.
Please see below:
Ergeshan (aka Erge Mountain or Shijianshan) is a magnificent mountain hike in Shiding District of New Taipei. The trail features a short climb to a watch tower with 360 degrees of Xindian, Wenshan, and Shiding Districts. There are also great views of Taipei City and the surrounding area.
The rock formations that form Ergeshan formed as sediment under the ocean millions of years ago, and was later 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, and the waterfalls in Pingxi.
Ergeshan is the highest mountain in the surrounding area at 678 meters above sea level. It is one of the 100 lesser peaks in Taiwan.
2.5 KM, 200 meters of elevation gain
About 1.5 hours total
Easy, The trail can be quite steep in some places, but overall an easy short hike.
How to get there:
By Bus: Take Bus GR12 from Xindian to Xiangdi Temple. The trailhead is about a 12 minute walk from there.
By Car/Scooter: Take provincial highway 9 to Xiandi Temple and take a turn up the mountain, and take a left at the monastery. The road ends at the trailhead. You can park further up the road for the faster way to get there.
Please see below:
We made our way out of Long Dong and went to the Shi Lin Night Market (市林夜市)。 It was definitely a large night market, but we were not impressed with the lack of food there, especially lack of sweet potato fries. Things were reasonably priced there though, and we bought some t-shirts there for 250 NT a piece. Then we made our way to eat sushi. We went to one of the conveyer belt sushi bars. I enjoyed the food, but I am not but of a sushi expert. We ended up eating 43 plates of sushi between the three of us. Then we stayed at the Shen Went Hotel (神旺飯店). It was nice to have a real shower for once.
On Thursday we took Matt to the airport. He seemed to enjoy his stay and the food grew on him overtime. Then we made our way to the Taipei Zoo. The most unique part about this Zoo it showed all of the Formosan big game animals, and it had pandas. It also had the usual insects, lions, elephants, giraffes, penguins, and children. We wanted to go on the gondola, but it happened to be closed, and the National Palace Museum that we planned to go to that evening closed at 6:30, so we went to the 101 instead. It was impressive to see at night, but not much different from the 85. And we hadn’t ever lived in Taipei so we didn’t really care to be honest. That ended our day. We stayed at our friend’s house that night, then in the morning returned the car; the rental company charged us an extra 700 NT for driving on the highway, but didn’t mention any tickets. Then we took a bus to Kaohsiung, our home, through Ubus 統聯客運, which was about 200 NT cheaper than the train.
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.