Pinglin Old Street (also known as Pinglin Shopping District 坪林商圈) is a small street in the mountainous Pinglin District in New Taipei. There are some great tea shops here, a tea museum, Qing dynasty stone houses, and beautiful views of the Beishi River and surrounding mountains. Also, there are some great hiking trails and camp sites nearby. If you love tea, Pinglin is the place for you.
The first documented Han Chinese settlers came to Pinglin in 1821, mainly for agriculture. In the early days during the Qing Dynasty, the Han Chinese settlers here mainly grew tea and leeks. The only road through Pinglin at the time was the Danlan Old Trail (淡蘭古道). During the Qing Dynasty, Pinglin was an important stop along Danlan Old Trail (which means the road between Tamsui and Yilan), which was split into three paths, and Pinglin was on the Southern Path. The Southern Path winded from Mengjia Old Street to Liuzhangli, then to Shengkeng, and onto Shiding and then Pinglin which was a major tea producer at the time. Pinglin, the trail went over the mountains to Yilan. The Southern path was the quickest way to Yilan.
During the Japanese Era until the 1980s, the populations remained small and the main economic output came from tea.
Pinglin is the largest producer of Paozhong Tea (包種茶) in Taiwan.
When National Freeway 5 was completed in 1990, originally there was no access to Pinglin. After much protest, a referendum was brought to the people, and 97% of voters agreed to allow access to National Freeway 5.
Currently the Pinglin Shopping District covers Pinglin Old Street, Pinglin Middle School, Pinglin Agricultural Association, Tea Museum, and many other small tea shops in the area. It is a popular stop along National Freeway 5.
About 8 AM to 5 PM.
How to get there:
By Car: Go east on National Freeway 5, then get off at the Pinglin interchange. Continue east until you reach Pinglin Street.
By Scooter: From Taipei, take highway 106 east from Shenkeng toward Shiding, pass through Shiding Bao Tunnel, and continue over the mountain past Huafan University, over to Pinglin. The street is at the center of town.
By Bus: From Taipei City Call MRT station, you can take bus 912 to Bafenliao Station, the switch to bus 923 to Pinglin Station. The ride should take about 2 hours.
Please see below.
I have been to Pinglin many times by car and scooter. It is a pristine mountain paradise with nothing but forests and tea fields for the most part.
Check out our drone video above for an overview of the area.
On most of the roads into Pinglin, you will run into a teapot welcoming you into the district. If you haven't notices, tea is the main export here.
View of Shiding from the border of Pingling near Huafan University.
Buddhist monastery in western Pinglin.
National Freeway 5 snakes through the mountains connecting Taipei to Yilan.
Pinglin Old Street sits in the middle of Pinglin Village and is hard to miss.
Another teapot fountain welcoming you into Pinglin.
Pinglin Old Street 坪林老街
The actual old street in Pinglin is not very long, and you can tell where it is by the brick road. Some of the houses here date to the Qing Dynasty.
At the beginning of the old street are two obvious stone houses, which probably do date back 200 years but have recently been renovated.
Stonework on the second storey.
This is the real start of the old street, here is a tea and popsicle stand.
Traditional decorations under the buildings.
Looks like this motif has been recently painted.
Another view of the stone house at the beginning of the old street.
Tea and snack shop.
View down the main part of the old street, which is quite narrow.
Mantou and tea shop.
Old stone house with some nice stone pillars.
Another view down the street with Baoping Temple in the background.
Traditional snack bar on the old street.
Another tea and snack shop.
Baoping Temple 保坪宮
Baoping temple is the center of Pinglin, geographically, economically, and religiously. It was completed in 1862 during the Qing Dynasty and became the starting point for the town. The main God worshipped here is Xuanwu.
Closer look at the entrance of the temple.
View looking back down the old street.
Looking down a small alleyway.
More tea shops down the street, not all were open that day.
Small Taiwanese snack shop inside a traditional stone house.
Stone and brick house at the northern end of the street.
This is old Taiwan. Stone and brick with tin roof.
Abandoned brick building.
Zhengzhai Hundred Year Sanheyuan 鄭宅百年三合院
Near the old street is a well preserved Sanheyuan (three sided house) worth checking out., but peoiple still live here.
Here is the historical description: "The traditional distinctive architecture in Pinglin is the stone house. As Old Street first developed, local and natural materials were used to build houses. The buildings, made of stones collected from the Beishi River, were not only strong and durable but also warm in winter and cool in summer, Over the years, the houses became shabby and worn out. There were gradually tone down and rebuilt out of concrete. The Zhengzhai Historical house, situated behind Pinglin District Office, the only well-preserved stone house.
Zhengzhai Historical House is a Sanhouan (three0sided compound). Its structure was composed of well-cut rocks and the stones piled up to make the main hall. The colors of the stones interweave, adding an air do nostalgic to this pace. the quaintness of the stone walls and windows allows yo to reminisce about the past glory."
More old stone walls one houses in the old street.
Tea Industry Cultural Museum 坪林茶產業文化館
Near the entrance to Pinglin Junior High School is a cultural museum as part of the tea factory.
The usual times to visit are 9 to 5, but closed on Tuesdays. Entrance is free. You have to climb up the stairs to the second floor.
Map of the area.
Here there is some historical info and a tea drinking room so you can taste test and buy the tea that the factory is making.
Equipment used by tea harvestors.
History of tea making in Pinglin.
More tea making history.
Of course there is a gift shop.
Tea drinking room.
Tour of the tea making machinery.
Processed tea laying in bags in the hallway.
On the main road in Pinglin, with many more tea shops around.
Restaurants, tea shops, and bait and tackle.
View of the Beishi River, a nice place for a stroll.
Another view looking at the other side of the Beishi River.
The stone bridge in the center was I think the main bridge at one time, but now has been converted to carry pipe.
Pinglin Tea Museum 坪林茶葉博物館
Another attraction in Pinglin is the tea museum, which is across the river from the old street.
View of the entrance.
The museum is open from 9 to 5 and closed Mondays. The entrance fee is 80 NT.
Photography is not allowed, so that's all I can show you.
Traditional stonework making the base of a house here.
If you get away from the main old street into the mountains, there are many pristine mountain landscapes and tea farms to explore.
Tea farms next to the side of the road.
More tea fields on the mountainside.
More tea fields on the mountainside.
View of the Taipei 101 from the border of Pinglin.
You can also visit the nearby Thousand Island Lake in Shiding.
Or you can go further up the Beishi River and enjoy the Kuolai Old Trail, which we will blog about next time.
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.