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:
Check out our vlog of the Pingxi railway above. And don't forget to subscribe to our Youtube Channel!
Virtual Blog Tour :
Take a virtual tour of the entire railway in the blog below. We will cover the following places:
Let's get started!
Ruifang Station 瑞芳車站
Even though Ruifang is technically not part of the Pingxi Railway line, it is the main terminus for the Pingxi Railway line trains, so if you are coming from Taipei, you will likely have to switch trains at Ruifang in order to continue on to the Pingxi Railway. While you are waiting for your train, what is there to do? Check out Ruifang Old Street!
Ruifang Old Street 瑞芳老街
Ruifang Old Street is a long old street extending out of Ruifang Train Station. Ruifang Station sits on the terminus to the Pingxi Railway, and provides direct bus service to Jiufen and Jinguashi, making it a must stop (literally) destination for tourists travelling to nearby tourist destinations.
The food on Ruifang Old Street is plentiful and delicious, and you will not regret a brief pit stop here.
For our full blog on Ruifang Old Street click here.
Houtong Station 猴硐車站
Houtong Station lies between Ruifang and Sandiaoling (the first stop on the Pingxi Railway). If you are travelling to the Pingxi Railway Line you will likely have to stop at Houtong. Is it worth getting off the train? Yes! Why? Because of cats and coal mines.
Houtong Cat Village 猴硐貓村
Houtong train station was completed in 1920 during the Japanese colonization of Taiwan, in order to ship coal from mines nearby.
Once a booming mining town with the most coal production in Taiwan, it has now been converted into a tourist destination for cat lovers.
By 2008 Houtong Started to reinvent itself as a cat paradise, with many cat loving citizens proposing to bring abandoned cats to the village for a better life. Since then, the town has been a hub for cat lovers and enthusiasts.
Visitors can enjoy the town's rich history as well as hundreds of cats and cat related shops around the village.
For our full blog on Houtong Cat Village click here.
Sandiaoling Station 三貂嶺車站
Sandiaoling is the first station along the Pingxi Railway, near Shuoren Village that was once reliant on coal mining. This small station is popular with hikers for nearby trails to waterfalls. The village also has a few historical sites such as the defunct Sandiao Mine and the abandoned Shuoren Elementary School. There are also quite a few tea and coffee shops here, perfect for resting hikers to relax. Sandiaoling Station is the only train station in Taiwan that is inaccessible by car; it can only be reached by foot.
For our full blog on Sandiaoling Station clickhere.
Sandiaoling Three-Tiered Waterfall Trail 三貂嶺三層瀑布群步道
In an area full of majestic waterfalls, Sandiaoling's Three Tiered Waterfall Trail near Sandiaoling Station could be the most spectacular, with three large waterfalls over 30 meters tall in a row next to each other.
For our full blog on the Sandiaoling Three-Tiered Waterfall Trail click here.
Dahua Station 大華車站
Dahua Station is one of the smallest, most remote, and less visited train stations on the Pingxi Railway. There are almost no commercialized attractions, but that has also made it a pristine nature area popular with hikers. Nearby one can see natural sites such as the Dahua potholes, waterfalls, forests, and wildlife, as well as historical mining sites.
For our full blog on Dahua Station click here.
Shifen Station 十分車站
The town of Shifen, which was originally named for the ten families that lived there in the Qing Dynasty, who needed ten portions of goods (Shi 十 = ten Fen 分/份 = portion).
Shifen Train station was completed in 1918 and is the biggest train station on the Pingxi Railway line. During its heyday, it had the largest coal mining operation and largest population in Pingxi District of New Taipei.
After the coal industry died down in the 1970s, tourism has taken its place as the major industry in the area.
Shifen Old Street 十分老街
Shifen Old Street is the largest and busiest old street on the Pingxi Railway line, famous for setting off lanterns into the sky, and for visiting the famous Shifen Waterfall nearby. Here one can enjoy delicious food, beautiful scenery, and learn about the mining history of the area. The sky lanterns have become a major environmental issue, but because of the allure to tourists the practice doesn't seem like it will end soon.
For our full blog on Shifen Old Street click here.
Shifen Waterfall 十分瀑布
Shifen Waterfall is the widest waterfall in Taiwan, and perhaps the most picturesque in all of Taiwan. It is easily accessible by foot from Shifen Train Station, and includes restaurants, gardens, and suspension bridges along the way. It's spectacular cascading falls are definitely worth a stop for anyone in Taiwan.
For our full blog on Shifen Waterfall click here.
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum 台灣煤礦博物館
The Taiwan Coal Museum (aka New Pingxi Coal Mine Museum) is a former coal mine turned museum near Shifen Station. Here you can ride in era coal carts and have an authentic experience of Taiwan coal mining life. The mine is the only one in Taiwan that still holds mining rights, and the only one with operating "one eyed monk" electric locomotives that you can actually ride.
For our full blog on the Taiwan Coal Mine Museum click here.
Huiyao Waterfall 灰窯瀑布
Huiyao Waterfall is a large waterfall and swimming hole near Wanggu Station on the Pingxi Railway, on a tributary of the Keelung River in Pingxi District of New Taipei. It's large cliffs are popular for jumping and has a large deep pool that is safe to swim in. It's lack of accessibility has made it a quiet location, and normally you will have the place to yourself.
For our full blog on Huiyao Waterfall click here.
Wanggu Station 望古車站
Wanggu Station was completed in only 1972 as the coal industry was gradually declining. It is an unmanned station, where you are on your honor to buy a ticket and the station you get off at because there is no one working at the station (or use an Easy Card).
As of 2017, there was an average of 18 people a day arriving or leaving from Wanggu Station.
Wanggu Waterfall 望古瀑布
Wanggu Waterfall is a less known set of four waterfalls near Wanggu Station. The short hike from Wanggu Station will take you to a series of waterfalls, with the second waterfall being the biggest. The trail is a pleasant hike and also a relaxing place to swim.
For our full blog on Wanggu Waterfall clickhere.
Lingjiao Station 嶺腳車站
The town of Lingjiao was named because it sits at the foot of a mountain (the name meaning literally "foot of the peak"). Lingjiao was a mining town on the Pingxi Railway, and a station there was completed during the Japanese Era in 1929.
Lingjiao Old Street 嶺腳老街
Lingjiao Old Street is a small street next to Lingjiao Station and the famous Lingjiao Waterfall.The old street has not been commercialized like the other popular old streets on the Piongxi Railway. Now that the Taiwan coal mining boom is over, the old street is a relic of the past that has stayed basically unchanged from those times.
For our full blog on Lingjiao Old Street click here.
Lingjiao Waterfall 嶺腳瀑布
Lingjiao Waterfall (aka "Lingjiao Grotto Great Waterfall" 嶺腳石窟大瀑布) is a large waterfall and swimming hole right next to Lingjiao Station, on the Keelung River. It's large cliffs are popular for jumping and has a large deep pool that is safe to swim in. It's accessibility via the Pingxi Railway has made it a popular spot, but most of the time there will not be any crowds there.
For our full blog on Lingjiao Waterfall click here.
Pingxi Station 平溪車站
Pingxi station was completed in 1929 to transport coal out of the area. Currently it has an average of 844 passengers per day.
Pingxi is the third busiest stop on the Pingxi Railway after Shifen andJingtong.
Pingxi Old Street 平溪老街
Pingxi Old Street has the second largest old street in Pingxi district, and is full of delicious food, souvenirs, and opportunities to light off sky lanterns. From Pingxi station you can walk down to the historic streets in the small town, and take selfies with the train tracks and bridges that cross the two rivers passing through the town. It is definitely a must see stop along the Pingxi Railway.
For our full blog on Pingxi Old Street click here.
Pingxi Crags 平溪六尖
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.
For our full blog on the Pingxi Crags hike, clickhere.
Jingtong Station 菁桐車站
Jingtong Train Station was completed in 1929 as the last station on the Pingxi Railway Line.
The surrounding town and Jingtong Old Street were created soon after.
The town relied on local coal mines for its economy, but by the 1980s coal mining in Pingxi District had all but stopped due to safety issues and low worldwide coal prices.
There are a number of historical buildings in the area, including the Coal Life Museum, multiple coal mines, and the station itself, as well as numerous residences.
Currently there is an average of about 1,000 visitors per day to the station (making it the second busiest station on the railway) and the area has become a popular tourist destination.
Jingtong Old Street 菁桐老街
Jingtong Old Street is the heart of the historic mining town of Jingtong, in Pingxi District of New Taipei City, which once had the largest mine in Taiwan. It has a long street with delicious food and souvenirs, sky lanterns, and many historical buildings nearby. As the last stop on the Pingxi Railway, you should definitely get off the train and check it out.
For our full blog on Jingtong Old Street click here.
Don't Set Off Sky Lanterns 不要放天燈
Sky Lanterns might look fun, and you will see many people lighting them off into the sky on your trip to the Pingxi Railway. But the lanterns have a dark side: after they burn out they fall into the nearby forests, rivers, houses, and roads. I have been driving on the roads many times and seen them fall right in front of me, creating a safety hazard. Countless fires have been cause by them. Also, there are hundreds of them stuck in trees throughout Pingxi. This is obviously harming nature but due to the money it provides to the locals, it likely won't be banned anytime soon. If you love the earth, do not set off Sky Lanterns, and if you have time go and help clean up the lantern mess.
That's it for our blog on the Pingxi Railway. The train also goes to Badouzi (八斗子） and the science center in Keelung, but we will cover that in a future blog.
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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.