Shuitou Village is perhaps the most visited historical village in Kinmen. It features mansions from some of the wealthiest merchants in Kinmen at the time, preserving western style mixed with traditional Southern Min style architecture. Walking through this village gives you a unique time-period view of Kinmen's history.
Shuitou Village has been inhabited for over 700 years. In it's prime, it was the richest village in Kinmen. The western style mansions (Yanglou 洋樓) in the village built by rich merchants are among the best preserved and extravagant on the island. These mansions are available for tours daily. Among the most famous buildings are Deyue Gun Tower, Jinshui Elementary School, and the Huang Family Ancestral House. Most of the people in the town were either fisherman or farmers, being close to the major wharf on the island (Shuitou Wharf).
How to get there:
From Kincheng, take Xinhai Raod Sec. 1 south to Shuitou village
Deyue Tower and Mansion Tour Times: 09:00、10:00、11:00、14:00、15:00、16:00, and open for visits 8:30 AM -5:00 PM every day.
Map: Please see below:
Kinmen's Juguang Tower is like an introduction for the rest of the island. Much of the island's history and culture can be understood just by a quick walk through these halls. The tower also provides a nice view of Kinmen and Xiamen Harbor.
Juguang Tower was completed in 1953, originally built to commemorate the battles of Guningtou and the 823 Artillery War (aka Second Taiwan Strait Crisis), two battles in which the KMT forces held back the Communists from invasion. It was built in Nanjing style, the original capital of the ROC. The tower is three stories high with galleries and historic exhibits throughout its halls. Now the tower also has many exhibitions featuring the local art and culture of the Kinmen people. Often it is the first stop for tourists visiting Kinmen.
How to Get There:
Take Xihai Road Sec. 3 south out of Kincheng, then turn left onto Xianheng Road.
Hours: 8 AM - 10 PM every day.
Map: Please see below:
Maoshan Tower is an ancient pagoda dating to the 14th century AD that sits on top of a hill on the southwest side of Kinmen Island. From the top of the hill, one can see pristine views of the Xiamen Harbor, the Taiwan strait, and Kinmen Island. The hike takes about 10 minutes and is definitely worth a stop on your trip to Kinmen.
Brief Historic Background:
There are three ancient towers in Kinmen: Wentaibao Tower, Daoying Tower, and Maoshan Tower. The towers were originally built in the Ming Dynasty by Jiang Xiahou 江夏侯 under the Hongwu Emperor (1368-1398 AD) for military purposes to ward off pirates, and to act as landmarks for ships (kind of like lighthouses). Maoshan Tower was built in 1387 AD.
The tower also served as target for the PRC during the 823 Artillery War in 1958, killing many soldiers stationed around the tower. To make it less of a target for the communists, it was taken down for a few years. During deconstruction, a few people were crushed by the stones (the local people said this was due to the wrath of the ancestors). However, sometime around the end of martial law in Taiwan, the tower was rebuilt to its current form.
The tower was struck by lightning in 1997 causing some damage, so the Kinmen City Government installed a lightning rod on top of the tower.
How to get There:
By Scooter or Car: On Kinmen Island, take Xihai Raod Section 1 西海路一段 south past Shuitou Village and you will see it on top of a prominent hill.
Map: Please see below:
Guishan Island (literally Turtle Mountain Island) is a turtle shaped island off the coast of Yilan in Eastern Taiwan. Once inhabited by fisherman, it is now a coast guard base, but is open for day tours. The island tour includes beautiful sea cliffs, hiking, a lake, abandoned village, military tunnels, and whale watching just offshore.
Turtle Island has been inhabited since at least the Qing Dyansty. When the ROC took over Taiwan, the island had one elementary school and no hospital. Many people relied simply on religion to cure their sicknesses. During typhoons, the dock would sometimes be destroyed, leaving the island without food for days or weeks. Also, there was way more men on the island than women, and it was hard to convince prospective wives from Taiwan to go live an such a remote island with harsh conditions. As a result, the government relocated everyone living on Turtle Island to the main island of Taiwan in Toucheng township of Yilan in 1977. The people could have chose to stay, but they went without protest. The ROC then made the island into a restricted military base. In 2000, the Island was opened for tourism, the military aspects of the island were phased down, and it was made into an ecological reserve. Now the island allows for Tourists to come during the day, but no one is allowed to stay overnight.
How to get there:
The only way to get there is by boat from Wushih Harbor in Yilan.
To get to Wushih Harbor from Taipei, you can take the TRA train to Toucheng station, and then take a taxi from there. Otherwise you can drive on National Highway 5 to Toucheng; there is free parking at the harbor (drive to the very end of the harbor).
You can purchase a ticket at the harbor or book online in advance via KK Day or a similar website.
Whale watching on a boat around the island: 800-1000 NT per person.
Once around the island on a boat and 2 hour tour of the island: 800-1000 NT per person.
Whale watching and island tour: 1200+ NT
Island tour including hiking to the top of the island: 1200+ NT
For more information, look at KK Day or other tour/ferry sties or book a personalized tour with My Taiwan Tour.
Hours: 2-4 hour tours start from 8:00 AM or later and end in the afternoon until about 4:00 PM.
When to go: March-November. These tours are generally closed from December to February due to rough seas and cold weather.
Map of Guishan Island:
Erkan Historical Village is a unique place in Taiwan that preserves nearly 300 years of Southern Min culture. Isolated and cut off from the rest of Taiwan for quite some time on Siyu island of Penghu County, the village is a living museum for visitors. Every home is built in traditional red brick Southern Min style, and offering a unique splice in time.
How to get there:
The easiest Way to get there is by car or scooter from Magong.
Price: Free, except for the Chen family ancient house which charges an admission of about 30 NT.
Hours: 8:00 AM - Dusk
Map: Please see below:
Siyu East and West forts are some of the best preserved fortifications in Taiwan dating back to the Ming Dynasty. They provide a rich history of the many invasions of Taiwan throughout the ages. Currently they are open to the public if you can get yourself over to the west side of Penghu.
How to Get there:
The easiest way to get there is to take a car or scooter from Magong to the very southernmost part of Siyu (Xiyu, or Fisher) Island.
Siyu East Fort: 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM, closed on holidays
Siyu West Fort: Open all day every day!
Siyu East Fort: Free!
Siyu West Fort: 30 NT per adult, 15 NT for students and seniors
Map: Please see below:
The first time I heard of Neiwan old street was when I asked my Mioali native coworker what there is to do in Miaoli. She told me there was a fun place called Neiwan. It turns out, Neiwan isn't even in Miaoli, its in Hsinchu, but obviously it is one of the most popular places in north-central Taiwan. I am not an expert about this location, but I would like to share my experience here with the world.
During the Japanese rule of Taiwan, Neiwan was mainly a lumber driven town, as well as other industries such as mining and mineral extraction. Many Japanese era buildings still remain in the city, such as the well preserved police station. The main ethnicity here is Hakka, and you can still find lots of traditional Hakka food in Neiwan like their famed Zongzi.
Some popular destinations for tourists are the Neiwan Theatre (内灣戲院）, built in 1950 and and now converted into a restaruant, as well as Neiwan Suspension bridge （pitcured above).
The Neiwan railway was started in 1944 by the ruling Japanese, but construction was interrupted by WWII. It was completed by the ROC government in 1951 to help transport mainly lumber and lime. Now it is used as a commuter train for the suburbs of Hsinchu as well as a destination for tourists.
How to get there:
Get off at Zhudong station and then take the Neiwan Liujia line.
This takes about an hour from Hsinchu.
From Taipei, take National Highway 3 to the Guanxi Exit and travel down provincial highway 3 to Neiwan.
Hu Shih was one of the greatest literary figures in the history of China, and completely changed the literary and scholarly world in China and Taiwan for the better. After he passed away, a memorial hall was erected in his honor as well as a graveyard park.
As a lifelong student of Chinese, I am a big fan of Mr. Hu, and hopefully after reading this blog you will be as well! I was surprised when I first moved to Nangang that his grave and memorial hall are right here, so of course I wanted to make a blog about it.
Who was Hu Shih?
The Taiwan Presidential Office building is the office for all presidents of Taiwan, past and present. One of the many historical buildings in Taipei, it is a beautiful Japanese era brick building, with a built in museum inside. It is open for tours to the public on weekdays, and is definitely worth a visit.
The building was first constructed during Japanese rule of Taiwan for the Governor-General of the island. A plan was chosen that included an eleven storey tower and European style elements. Like other Japanese buildings in Taiwan, it faced east toward the rising sun.
Construction began in 1912 and it was completed in 1919. Some of the bricks for the building came from the Songshan Brick Kiln which we have blogged about earlier. It was the highest building in Taipei until it was overtaken by the Hilton in 1973.
The building was damaged during an air raid in 1945 and was not repaired until the Taiwan Provincial Government under the ROC raised funds. When the ROC retreated to Taiwan in 1950, it became the Office of the President Chiang Kai-Shek. Since then, every sitting president of the ROC has used this building as their office, and it is currently used by President Tsai Yingwen. For more information click here.
How to get there:
The building is close to the NTU hospital MRT station:
Chengmei Bridge Changshou is one of the best preserved suspension bridges in Nangang, even though it is no longer a true suspension bridge. A few months ago we wrote a blog about the defunct suspension bridges along the Keelung River. This bridge is also lies in the Nangang/Neihu stretch of the Keelung River and was also once a suspension bridge, so I feel it deserves a blog as well.
History of Chengmei Changshou Bridge:
For this history, I will translate the sign on the bridge:
Chengmei Changshou Bridge (originally Changshou suspension bridge/ chengmei suspension bridge)
Changshou Suspension Bridge was built at the end Xinming road 452 Lane, and was the main bridge connecting Neihu, Zhoumei Nieghborhood to Nanagang and Songshan. In February 1948, construction was finished and Changshou Bridge and officially opened.
The bridge was opened by the mayor of Taipei at the time, You Mijian, to celebrate the 36th year of the ROC. In order to finish the bridge, a fund was created for the for which the people of Zhoumei Neighborhood contributed funds in order to improve the water-locked neighborhood. At the time, the chairman of Taiwan, Wei Daoming himself, created the “長壽吊橋“ “Changshou Bridge” signs that sat on both sides of the bridge.
After Neihu was incorporated into Taipei City, the name of the bridge changed to “Chengmei Suspension Bridge.” Nov 27th 1969, Chengmei Bridge received 2.5 million NT to undergo renovation. By June 1981, Chengmei Bridge was considered in disrepair and was closed; plans were also made for its destruction. Later, the local people created a “Chengmei Bridge maintenance committee” and urged to government to preserve the bridge. Those that joined the movement were citizens form Zhoumei and Nangang Yucheng Neighborhoods, about 500 people in total. The same year in August, a bronze bust of Chiang Kai Shek was erected on the north side of the bridge, and a ceremony was conducted as a means to keep the bridge from being destroyed. In the end, the city took down the bridge in 1984, but in October 1991 restored the bridge to its current form and named it, “Chengmei Changhsou Bridge.” The bridge now only allows foot traffic across the river.
Here is a time lapse of the bridge I have compiled using historic maps:
Actually quite a few people walk on this bridge, probably to get to the green line MRT from Nehihu. It’s proximity to nearby rainbow bridge and Raohe street also brings many tourists.
From the street level there is an illusion of green scenery in the background! A view back in time!
View of Rainbow Bridge to the West.
View of Chengmei Bridge to the east.
View from the Nangang side.
View from the Neihu side.
It lights up at night.
Chengmei Changshou Bridge lit up over the Keelung River.
During my tour of Chengmei Changshou Bridge, I couldn't help but take a few shots of Rainbow bridge that sits right next to it at next to Raohe Street. It is a much more photogenic bridge.
Rainbow Bridge is another pedestrian foot bridge that connects Neihu to Raohe Street in Songshan. It was completed in September of 2007. The total construction took two years and over 100 million TWD (3.4 million USD). The reason it is called Rainbow Bridge is because it is shaped like a rainbow.
Riding Ubikes along the river is a popular activity.
Another historically important building next to the Keelung River is the Zhouweizhuang Xingan Temple (洲尾莊興安宮). Before the levee around the Keelung River was built, there were many buildings that lay on the shore. However, only this Temple was allowed to remain, and as far as I can tell is the only building left on the Keelung River Park.
Are we still talking about Chengmei Changshou Bridge? Sorry. Well, as long as we're off topic, let me show you an abandoned house I found right across the street while taking photos from above of the bridge.
This abandoned house has an address of 南港路三段314巷3衖8號. I have no idea of the story behind this house, but I couldn’t help but snap a few photos.
Window into nature.
Closed door protecting garbage.
Huge pile of rubble.
Urban jungle. Sorry, was this post supposed to be about Changshou Bridge? Are your still reading this? Well, I still have some pictures of it that I can share!
What came first, the pile or the wall?
This bridge is biker friendly on both sides!
Neihu side of the bridge. No false paintings here.
There's the smokestack we wrote about earlier!
This sign says that the north side of the bridge is a "barbecue picnic area." While barbecuing, one must not affect pedestrians or cyclists in the area, and after barbecuing, patrons must clean the area and take out any garbage.
Chengmei Changshou Bridge has a rich history and an even better story of preservation. If only the local people around Taiwan were proactive like the people in Zhoumei and Yucheng Neighborhoods, a lot of Taiwan's past could be preserved for future generations. Now the bridge stands not only as a monument to Taipei's past, but also a great recreational area for tourists and locals alike.
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We are US Expats that have extensive experience living and working 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.