3 One-Day Itineraries for a Day Trip out of Taipei City
May 19, 2018
Taiwan doesn’t just revolve around Taipei. If you’ve already visited Taipei city, you should totally take a day trip out of the city to see what the surrounding villages and towns have to offer. Looking for a driver? I recommend engaging Eason, or affectionately known by his passengers as Cola, as he is very friendly and helpful, and offers reasonable rates. You can reach him here. I’ve been to Taipei many times, and it started to get pretty boring for me in the city, so I decided to venture further out of the city with the driver. The following 3 one-day itineraries are what I’ve compiled and I hope you’ll find them useful.
Itinerary 1 – A Coastal Drive along Taiwan’s North-Eastern Shoreline
The drive along Taiwan’s North-Eastern coastal road brings you to 6 gorgeous destinations as you pass by Gongliao District and Ruifang District. The furthest stop is the Sandiaojiao Cape Lighthouse which is built in 1935. Often referred to as, “The Eye of Taiwan”, this lighthouse is an important landmark for fishing vessels operating in the surrounding waters. Follow the trail to the highest point, and you’ll be rewarded by the view of the entire Northeast coastal line. There’s also a white pavilion which exudes a feel of Santorini Island in Greece.
Address: No. 38 Magang Street, Gongliao District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 228
After that, pop by the Nanya Rocks which feature large, unique rock formations formed over thousands of years of weathering and erosion. While some stick out in the sky looking like ice cream cones, there are other weird looking ones which resemble the shapes of animals (well, that depends on how wild your imagination runs).
Address: No. 224 北部濱海公路 Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224
Your journey continues as you marvel in awe at the Yin Yang Sea’s mix of yellow and blue waters. In the past, there were heavy mining activities which went on in the area. This resulted in high levels of water pollution, and the locals believed that the colouration of the bay was caused by chemical runoff. However, the unusual hue of the waters remained even after the mines have been shut down for many years. Eventually, it was proven that the unique colouring came from insoluble floating iron ions from the heavy concentration of pyrite in the area. Due to this highly concentrated heavy metal ions in the water, you are strongly advised not to take a dip in the sea.
Yin Yang Sea
Address: Ruifang District, New Taipei City 226, Taiwan
You can move on to the Golden Waterfall before taking a break at Jiufen Old Street. The attractive gold hue of the waterfall is caused by the copper and iron deposits and frequent rainfalls in the mining area. If you take a little hike up the mountain, you’ll notice that only the areas where the water flows by turn into the gold colour.
Address: Jinshui Road, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224
Jiufen Old Street is worth a visit, but I’m always turned off by the sheer number of tourists here. I wouldn’t recommend going on a weekend. The maze of narrow lanes and alleyways are rich in history and culture, but it felt so uncomfortable jostling around with the crowd. There are numerous retro style cafes, tea houses, eateries offering local delights, and souvenir shops.
Jiufen Old Street
Address: Jishan Street, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224
Your last stop will be at the Xiang Bi Yan before returning to Taipei city. This is a great alternative to the touristy Yehliu Geopark. Due to the monsoon that happens frequently in the Northeastern part of Taiwan, as well as, erosions, unusual rock formations came about. You will drive pass a rock formation that resembles the face of a Red Indian. To get to the Elephant Rock, you will have to travel on foot across many mushroom rocks. Always watch where you’re stepping as the rocks are quite slippery.
Xiang Bi Yan
Address: Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224
Itinerary 2 – Hiking in Ping Xi & Visiting Taiwan’s Biggest Waterfall in Shifen
Ping Xi is the ideal place to visit if you’re looking to get close to nature and are a little more adventurous. There are three peaks to ascend for scenic views of the area. Upon reaching the first part of the trailhead, you have to walk up quite a steep paved road to arrive at the beginning of the hiking path. Look out for the map guiding you on the different hiking routes, as well as, providing you with information on the hiking time. Unfortunately, I only had time to hike up one peak and I chose the Xiao-Zi Mountain (孝子山).
Not far from Ping Xi lies the world-famous Shi Fen Old Street, where you get to learn about the history and culture of coal mining, make wishes by releasing beautiful sky lanterns into the sky, and visit the biggest waterfall in Taiwan.
Itinerary 3 – Wulai, Camel Rock & Laomei Green Reef
Wulai is a small town that’s well-known for its hot springs and aboriginal culture. The aboriginal tribes have unique histories, cultures, languages and practices which distinguish them from the local Taiwanese people. You can easily cover most corners of Wulai on foot. It takes approximately 30 minutes to get from Wulai’s bus stop to the waterfall. You’ll pass through the open air market on Wulai Old Street before continuing to the falls via the “Lover’s Path”, which promises nice views of the river gorge below the falls. After discovering Wu Lai on foot, take a break and savour their local favourite snacks and relax at one of the public or private hot springs.
Whenever I travel with Cola as my driver, he will always plan an additional destination as a surprise and this time round, he introduced me to the Camel Rock located on Pirates Beach. This is another spot with spectacular rock formations caused by sea erosion. After visiting Xiang Bi Yan and this Camel Rock, I honestly think you should skip Yehliu Geopark.
Make your way to Laomei Green Reef in the late afternoon, and you’ll get to witness an incredible phenomenon that only takes place in April and May every year. The gorgeous stretch of structured volcanic rocks along the coastal shoreline is caused by the Datun volcanoes eruption many centuries ago. The rocks are submerged in the water for long periods of time and there are vibrant green algae covering these neat rows of stone troughs which create a rare and unique sight.
Laomei Green Reef
Address: Xiayuankeng, Shimen Dist., New Taipei City 253, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Doesn’t matter if you’re visiting Taipei for a long period of time because I’m sure the above itineraries are able to keep you busy over the weekends for a month! I’m a frequent traveller to Taiwan, so if you know of any secret spots near Taipei that are worth visiting, please comment and share them with me.