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.
Pictured above is Neiwan station, the last station on the Neiwan line, where most tourists get off to discover the historical beauty and delicious food of this special town.
We arrived via car however. The parking is slightly less expensive than parking in the middle of downtown Hsinchu: 80 NT per day.
Once you get on the main street (especially near the train station) there will be a sea of people. Taiwanese people. Not foreigners. This is a very local tourist destination.
Inside the Old Street, you can find just about every Taiwanese food you could want, like at any night market in Taiwan. There are also some specialty shops, such as this hand made ice cream place.
Did we get the hand made ice cream? No, we are too poor for that! We got the soft serve for 20 NT instead. Please forgive the above ice cream that is not in focus.
Along the path we tried some Vietnamese spring rolls. We also bought some octopus balls. Sorry, we didn't come here for the Hakka food. But we did have some traditional hakka Zongzi (粽子）pictured above, which are the main delicacy of Neiwan. What can I say, we only had one meal there and left.
Along the old street you can find stinky tofu, Taiwanese sausage, shaved ice, and just about anything else you can think of.
Here is a map of Neiwan. There is a main temple on the top left, and two suspension bridges crossing the river. You can visit both bridges, However, only Neiwan Suspension Bridge is in close proximity to the train station and Neiwan old street.
At the end of the old street you will see a 7-11 and then you can cross the street to get to the suspension bridge. There isn't much of anything across the bridge except a camp ground, but you can enjoy the beautiful scenery! By the way, there are tons of camp grounds and B&B's around Neiwan if you want to stay the night.
Further up the road you can see the view from Jianshi Township, and make your way up the road to Smangus and enjoy the aboriginal culture and fresh mountain air. Unfortunately shortly after taking this photo my daughter threw up due to carsickness and that spelled the end of our trip.
For a more in depth look at Neiwan Old Street, you can check out this blog by Josh Ellis.
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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.