A Buddhist amusement park, hot springs, Wade-Giles trivia and tons of markets, all near Taipei
Get into Taipei and then get out to these convenient daycations.
Taipei City offers one of the widest selections of cheap and easy day tour trips out of any Asian metropolis. The Taiwanese capital at the northern tip of the island is right next to incredible natural escapes as well as boisterous towns and markets. Everything is just a short train or MRT ride away. We’ve narrowed it down to our favorite half-dozen low-maintenance day tour trips from Taipei city.
1. Taipei Day Tour - Steamy getaway: Beitou
Beitou's famed sulfurous waters are hot as hell.
Welcome to Taipei City’s own volcanic hot springs right at the base of Yangming Mountain. You can smell the sulfur even before you get offthe MRT at Xinbeitou.
Start the day with photo ops at Hell Valley, the source of many of the local hot springs. You will find its name fitting as you peer into a bubbling blue swamp while being engulfed by steam. Water temperatures can reach boiling point here.
In the main park area just in front of the MRT station, there is the original Japanese-era hot spring building, as well as theBeitou Public Library, a triangular architectural statement inspired by the bungalows constructed during the Japanese occupation.
Follow Hot Springs Road up past the park to findPuji Temple, a cute little wooden temple built by Japanese rail workers.
Tired from all that walking? It’s time to treat yourself to a soak and the park’s atmospheric outdoor public springs are your best and cheapest bet.
For a more luxurious bathing experience, try the public springs in theBroadway Hoteljust beside the park, or spend the night in one of their traditional Japanese-style rooms, complete with your own private tub.
SweetMe Hot Spring Resortis another good option with similar facilities, just next to the MRT station. If you want privacy on a tighter budget, all of Beitou’s hotels provide comfortable rooms with private tubs that can be rented for two hours.
Getting There: All of the sites in Beitou can be accessed on foot from Xinbeitou MRT station.
2. Taipei Day Tour - Best sunset: Tamsui
While just about every getaway in Taiwan involves a night market or two, Tamsui has a crazy night market as well as Taiwan's most iconic sunsets.
The Tamsui market is crammed with endless rows of snack vendors, game stands and even a homegrownbelieve-it-or-not museum. Enjoy a walking lunch of typical snacks like barbecued cuttlefish, stinky tofu, and deep-fried ice cream.
Then burn it off by renting a two-seater bicycle and cruising the riverside path, or stroll up to theFort San Domingobuilt by the Dutch (also known as the "Fort of the Red Heads" in Chinese), later used as the British consul's residence and once home to Herbert Allen Giles who completed some of his work on the Wade-Giles system there.
If that's too much historical trivia for your vacation, take a bus ride to Baishawan for an afternoon of blanking out on the beach.
As the day winds down, make your way toFisherman’s Wharffor Taipei's most renowned sunsets.
Just north of the Tamsui town itself, the boardwalk is touristy but worth it for the perfect shot of the Lover's Bridge of Tamsui against a setting sun.
For the return trip to Tamsui, forget the bus and opt for one of the small ferries that ply the river. You can swipe your MRT card to get on board.
Getting There:Get out at the Danshui MRT station on the Red Line. For Fisherman’s Wharf, take red bus 26 just outside the MRT station, or a ferry departing from Tamsui Ferry Pier. To get to Baishawan, take any Keelung-bound bus, also from the MRT station.
3. Taiwan Day Tour - Best night market: Keelung
The crowds account for 50 percent of Keelung night market's charm.
Northern Taiwan’s largest port sees few tourists, which is just one of many reasons to make the short trip over.
The hill inZhongzheng Parkis a great place to start. It is a vantage point for surveying Keelung city and the surrounding ocean.
Zhuputan Temple at the top of the hill is the focal point of Ghost Month activities in Taiwan held in the seventh lunar month.
Next to the temple, you can enjoy the view from a slightly surreal Buddhism-themed children’s amusement park, which includes a 22-meter-high Kuanyin statue with stairs leading up to multiple floors inside.
In the afternoon, choose between a boat trip to the cliffs of Keelung Island, ora visit to Yehliu, a windswept cape featuring hoodoos and other rock formations.
Hungry yet? Finish up at one of Taiwan’s best night markets.
Named Miaokou, or "temple entrance" after the fine temple at its heart, this market is also one of the most visitor-friendly markets in Taiwan, with English signage indicating each stall’s specialty.
Complete with the crowds that make strolling in night markets one of Taiwan’s defining experiences, this is one of the best places to take part in "re nao" or "hot and noisy atmosphere" -- a sure marker of a good time.
Getting There:Frequent trains depart Taipei for Keelung. A number of private bus companies also operate buses to Keelung from Taipei Main Station, or from bus stops along Zhongxiao East Road. Ferries to Keelung Island depart from Bisha Harbor and buses to Yehliu leave from near the Keelung train station.
4. Taipei Day Tour - Riverside hot springs and aboriginal culture: Wulai
Testament to the health-giving properties of Wulai hot springs. Free riverside hot springs, aboriginal food and drink and waterfalls all in a picturesque river valley only a stone’s throw from Taipei -- Wulai is a day trip that's hard to beat.
Once home to the Tayal, an indigenous tribe once known for their tradition of face tattoos, Wulai is the closest aboriginal village to Taipei.
As you navigate the market strip upon arrival, check out local specialties such as roasted wild boar, raw pickled pork, steamed fragrant rice in bamboo tubes and river shrimp that are eaten whole.
A bottle of xiaomi jiu (millet wine) will help it all go down. Word of warning: you might already be light-headed from the free samples handed out by persistent vendors.
After the market, cross the bridge over the river and find a spot in one of the natural hot spring pools or makeshift saunas.
If the heat gets to you, just flop over into the cool river and then return to the heat for another round.
There are more hot spring resort choices here than in Beitou and a wider range of quality.
Getting There:Bus 1061 departs every 15-30 minutes from Xindian MRT station, taking about 40 minutes to Wulai.
5. Taipei Day Tour - Vertical escape: Pingxi
Crags and a quaint railway at Pingxi.
With so many trekking regions in the greater Taipei area, why did Pingxi make the list?
Well, for starters, between your treks you get to hop on the old-schoolPingxi Rail Line, a single-track railroad previously used to transport coal.
The seven stops along the 12.9-kilometer track boasts quaint old villages that take visitors to times of the past.
If you want waterfalls, this is also the best place. The trail from Sandiaoling Station boasts three of Taiwan’s highest. The second one, where you can climb under a rock overhang and peer down the valley from behind the waterfall, is a real treat.
At Shifen Station, don’t miss Shifen Waterfall, a 40-meter-wide beauty, the broadest in Taiwan.
Metal ladders and steps carved into cliff faces lead you hundreds of meters upwards for dramatic views.
Getting There:Trains for depart Taipei hourly for Ruifang. At Ruifang, transfer to the Pingxi Rail Line. Some of the stops on the Pingxi Line, including Jingtong and Pingxi can also be accessed on bus 1076, departing hourly from Muzha MRT station.
6. Taipei Day Tour - Golden mining towns: Jiufen and Jinguashi
Jinguashi's Gold Waterfall. Unfortunately, that's just a euphemism. The once booming mining towns of Jiufen and Jinguashi are alive and kicking again these days.
Crowds of domestic and international tourists flood here to enjoy stunning views of the Pacific, fine trekking opportunities, shopping and snacking.
The focal point of Jiufen is Jishan Street, a narrow market strip that twists through town. Everyone is eager to sample Jiufen’s specialty, the squishy taro and sweet potato balls that are served hot in sweet soup or cold over shaved ice.
If the food-mad crowds get to you, stop for a break in one of the quiet teashops-with-a-view or move on to Jinguashi.
Jinguashi's visitors also flock to the Gold Waterfall where minerals in the water give it a golden shine.
Add to this ruins of a Japanese Shinto shrine that are evocative of Greece and you have a genuinely unique destination.
Getting There:Bus 1062 departs regularly for Jiufen and Jinguashi from Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT exit 1. Alternatively, take the train to Ruifang, then a bus just in front of the train station. Passengers might clear out at Jiufen, but all buses do continue up the mountain to Jinguashi.
(Source: travel.cnn.com by Nick Kembel 14 June 2012)
To Book or Enquire
Please call us now on +612 9267 1308.
Toll Free: 1300 TAIPEI (1300 824 734)
Alternatively, you can enquire with us by clicking the button below.
Visit Taiwan with Australia's #1 Taiwan Travel Specialist, TaiwanHolidays Strat your Best Taiwan Tour with Taiwan Holidays
Click following links to Join one of our tours to Taiwan to experience the Fascinating Customs, Unique Cultures, Incredible Food, Exhilarating Adventure, and Breathtaking Nature.