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13 Incredible Day Trips from Taipei

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Taipei was one of my favorite cities I visited in 2018. Bustling with life yet manageable to navigate, sprawling but incredibly efficient to get around, Taipei feels made for a big city lover like myself. With incredible (and cheap) eats at all the night markets, boutiques galore selling uniquely Taiwanese handicrafts, interesting museums and markets, and tons of parks and green spaces, you’d be forgiven for never wanting to leave the Taiwanese capital that seems to have it all.

But one of the best things about traveling to Taipei is that there is such a varied abundance of day trips from Taipei all within easy distance. The excellent public transportation network around Taiwan makes day trips form Taipei to even the most farflung places actually quite feasible, and as a result, it’s possible to take a day trip from Taipei to places nearly 200 kilometers away without much time or effort.

I did several day trips during my time in Taipei, including my personal favorite to Shifen Waterfall, but I’ve also included a few picks from other bloggers who have down their own day trips from Taipei.

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Planning to travel Taipei, Taiwan? There are so many great day trips from Taipei that you can do: here are 13 ideas to add to your Taiwan itinerary - just in case you run out of things to do in Taipei. These Taipei day trips include everything from hot springs to national parks to big cities which you can easily access via Taiwan's high speed trains! Rainbow Village, Taichung, Taroko Gorge, Shifen, Jiufen, and beyond.
Planning to travel Taipei, Taiwan? There are so many great day trips from Taipei that you can do: here are 13 ideas to add to your Taiwan itinerary - just in case you run out of things to do in Taipei. These Taipei day trips include everything from hot springs to national parks to big cities which you can easily access via Taiwan's high speed trains! Rainbow Village, Taichung, Taroko Gorge, Shifen, Jiufen, and beyond.

Here are my top Taipei day trip choices!

Shifen Waterfall & Old Street

The small village of Shifen is definitely one of the best day trips from Taipei that you can take! The best part is arriving in the middle of Shifen village – literally, as the train splits the main “Old Street” in two!

All up and down the streets along the Old Street, people are selling delicious traditional Taiwanese treats such as fried squid, xiao long bao, and fish balls. Definitely follow your nose and sample as much as you can up and down this main street.

Another common thing to do on Shifen Old Street is to paint your own lantern and set it off into the sky, making a wish along the way.

You can select your colors of the balloon (each color has a special significance) before painting it with well-wishes, then lighting it off into the sky! It’s quite a touristic activity to be sure, but I loved it all the same. It doesn’t come close to the magic you’d experience at, say, the lantern festival in Thailand or the annual lantern festival in nearby Pingxi, Taiwan, but it’s fun and worth doing all the same.

After lighting off your lantern and watching your wishes reach skywards, you can make your way to Shifen Waterfall. The traditional way to get there is with a (very weakly powered) electronic scooter; however, it is actually perfectly easy to walk if you so chose. We opted for the electronic scooter because it seemed a little more fun. There’s no need for insurance or even a deposit – they literally just give you the keys and off you go! It’s about a 5-minute ride by scooter or probably a 30-minute walk.

Shifen Waterfall is about a 20-minute walk from the entrance. Here, you’ll find some areas to rest and relax as well as more food if you get hungry (however, the food on Shifen Old Street looked a whole lot fresher and tastier). Keep walking down the path and soon enough you’ll encounter the beautiful Shifen Waterfall viewpoint!

Shifen Waterfall is 40 meters tall and 60 meters wide, in a horseshoe formation that has given it the nickname “Little Niagara”. Be sure to walk around a bit to avoid the crowds (it’s a popular day trip from Taipei, so you definitely won’t be alone!) and get the best photo. I recommend bringing a travel tripod and some neutral density filters to get the ideal “blurry water” photo like I shot below.

How to Get to Shifen from Taipei: It’s quite easy to get from Shifen to Taipei; I’ve explained it in detail on this post here. I’ll recap it here.

First, take the MRT to Taipei Main Station. From there, you can board any northbound train except a Keelung-bound train to Ruifang (the express trains are called Tzechiang). A ticket cost 78 Taiwanese dollars, or about $2.50 USD. The signage can be a little confusing here, so ask a local to be sure if you’re getting on the right train: the stop you want is Ruifang (瑞芳). It may help to have the Chinese written out on your phone to show someone if needed.

At Ruifang, transfer to the Pingxi line and ride that all the way to the end. Best is to buy a day pass for the separate Pingxi line, which costs 52 Taiwanese ($1.76 USD), since you’ll have to return this way.

However, what a lot of people do is book a shuttle bus ticket that goes from Taipei to Shifen to Jiufen then back to Taipei. It’s a whole lot easier and not much more expensive than figuring out the whole thing via public transport, and you get to see two of the top Taipei day trip spots in one day. It’s not guided, so you can visit independently while you are in the cities; it’s purely group transportation.

There are two departures daily, one at 9:30 AM and one at 1:30 PM. Both give you two hours at Jiufen, one hour at Shifen Waterfall, and one hour at Shifen Old Street. Check out more information, prices, & reserve your spot here.

Jiufen

Contributed by Elaine & Dave of Show Them the Globe

The charming old town of Jiufen, once famed for its prosperous gold rush and gold mining activities, is located just under 40 kilometers east of Taipei. The picturesque mountain town offers a vibrant mix of tradition and culture and is a lovely contrast to the chaotic streets of Taiwan’s capital city.

Jiufen’s old street is a maze of souvenir shops and eateries and is the first stop for most visitors on a day trip from Taipei. Glutinous rice cakes, peanut ice cream, meatballs, Taiwanese sausages, and fish balls are among the many delicious snacks which must be tried along the way! Made famous by the movie Spirited Away, the A-Mei Tea House is one of Jiufen’s most prominent landmarks and is hugely popular with visitors who stop by the beautiful building and indulge in both the tea and the views. Jiufen is also home to the picture-perfect Shengping Theatre which is considered the first modern theatre in Taiwan.

Other great sightseeing options include the nearby Gold Ecological Park in Jinguashi and a hike to the top of Keelung Mountain for some amazing views.

How to Get to Jiufen from Tapei: Jiufen can be accessed by public transport: take the #1062 bus which departs frequently from Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT and travels to Jiufen Old Street or, alternatively, ride the train to Ruifang Station and switch to the Golden Fulong tourist shuttle bus. Other options for traveling to Jiufen include renting a private taxi for the trip or joining a group tour from Taipei.

Editor’s Note: However, note that returning back on this bus is incredibly difficult due to the crowds! Once, I actually tried to return via public bus but several went by without stopping because they were already full. I ended up taking a shared taxi back to Taipei for 300 Taiwanese per person (about $10 USD). For this reason, I think a shared Taipei-Shifen-Jiufen shuttle is actually a great value as doing it independently will cost about the same but be more hassle.

There are also tours which will take you to Jiufen as well as some off the beaten path places that are hard to get to with public transport, such as the Bay of Two Colors, Nanya Rock Formations, and Bitou Cape before ending in Jiufen for the evening. Check out more details on the tour here.

The Northern Coast

There are some amazing places on the Northern Coast of Taipei, however as a day trip they can be hard to visit without either your own car/motorbike or a private tour.

A few of the highlights of the Northern coast include Bitou Cape, Sandiao Cape Lighthouse, the stunning Nanya rock formations, Fulong Beach, and Beiguan Tidal Park.

How to Get to the Northern Coast from Taipei: Public transportation in this region is limited and takes quite a while to travel independently, when it exists at all. As a result, I only recommend doing this as part of a guided tour unless you have your own transport sorted; it would simply be too difficult to see all these places as a day trip from Taipei without it.

You can check out more details on the Northern Coast tour here, which runs from 9 AM to 5:30 PM each day and includes all of the above destinations plus some extras.

Pingxi

Contributed by Cerise of Enchanted Vagabond

If you’re looking for a bucket list experience on a day trip from Taipei, make your way to Pingxi. Twice a year, this mountainous area welcomes thousands and thousands of visitors for the popular Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival held two weeks after the Chinese New Year and again for the Mid-Autumn Festival. During this time, mass ascensions of glowing sky lanterns dot the sky in a magical display of color. 

Most people don’t realize, however, that lighting and releasing a sky lantern is possible any time of year. Vendors and shops sell paper lanterns almost as large as a person that can be personalized with blessings or wishes for the coming year. Nearby shops sell delicious snacks, and during the festival, the entire main street is busy with an active night market selling treats and dumplings. 

How to Get to Pingxi from Taipei: You can book a day trip with a private driver easily, or get to Pingxi on your own by taking any northbound train (except those going to Keelung) from Taipei Main Station to Ruifang station. From Ruifang, you will need to transfer trains and purchase a ticket to the Pingxi District on the Pingxi rail line.

During the festivals, trains are very crowded and lines form for both bus and trains. Another option for going on a day trip to Pingxi from Taipei is to take the Muzha Pingxi Route (bus No. 795), which departs from Taipei’s MRT Muzha Station and stops at 5 – 6 popular attractions in the area.

Visiting Pingxi is a must for any visitor to Taipei, especially if you are here during Taiwan’s Sky Lantern Festival. Beautiful lanterns twinkling in the sky are a wonderful memory from a visit to Taiwan.

Taroko National Park

Contributed by Chris of CTB Global (Chris Travel Blog)

Taroko National Park is Taiwan’s most iconic park and should be on any Taiwan itinerary. The park is easily reached from Taipei for a day trip to do most of the unique short hikes. Longer hikes logical require an overnight stay. Taroko National Park is all about magnificent views of gorges, mountains, waterfalls, and forest. If you’re lucky you can spot some wildlife too. In case you might run out of time, then remove the Meandor Core Scenic Trail and the Baiyang Trail from the below suggested itinerary.

This Taipei day trip is full of relatively short hikes over good accessible paths. They are all quite flat although the area is very mountainous. These hikes are perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy the number one park in Taiwan. After getting the entrance ticket at the visitor’s center, start with the 2-kilometer Shakadang Trail. Continue to the Changchun Shrine and Changuang Temple. They are both worth a look. The next trail is the Meandor Core Scenic Trail, which is best in spring when flowers are in full bloom. 

Now go to Swallow Gorge (Tunnel of Nine Turns) and have a look at the magnificent geological formations and, as the name says, the swallows. There is a restaurant there too where you can stop for lunch. Continue further down the road for the Lushui Trail, but just do the short hike that doesn’t require a permit. One kilometer further is the last stop: Xiangde Temple. If you have time left and the trail is open, you can finish the day with the Baiyang Trail where at the end is a beautiful waterfall. 

How to Get to Taroko National Park from Taipei: Getting to Taroko National Park for a day trip is best done by car as driving in Taiwan is easy. Alternatively, you can go on an organized tour too, which gives you less flexibility since you have to stick to the planned itinerary. However, if you don’t have a car, it’s the only way to visit Taroko in a day trip, so check out tour details here.

If driving yourself, keep in mind that the drive takes about 2 and a half hours, so it’s best to leave Taipei at 6 AM so you can start at 9 AM when the park opens. Start at the visitor’s center to buy your ticket and map and go from there to each spot. Parking is available everywhere, and keep in mind you will be driving back in the dark as you need all the daylight hours to explore the park.

Wanli Beach & Yehliu Geopark

Contributed by Emily of Wander-Lush

Both located on Taiwan’s northeast coast, Wanli Beach and Yehliu Geopark can easily be combined to make a quirky day trip from Taipei.

Just half-an-hour by bus from the city, Wanli is a resort destination with a white sand beach. It’s also known for its ‘UFO Village’. The collection of futuristic Futuro and Venturo houses were designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen and constructed in the 1970s.

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Most of the UFO-shaped dwellings and pod houses now lie abandoned (the exact reason why the village was vacated is still a point of conjecture), making Wanli a paradise for urbexers. Inside, some have original 1970s furnishings, homewares and possessions (including VHS tapes) still lying about. Take care when exploring, especially if you go inside any of the pods.

After spending a few hours wandering around Wanli, continue north along the coastal road. You can either re-board the same bus, or walk like I did, stopping in at fishing villages and lookout points along the way. After 4km you’ll reach Yehliu (Yeliou) and its famous geopark.

Yehliu is crowded with odd rock formations, many of which resemble human or animal forms. The boardwalks and pathways that lead visitors along the cape are usually jam-packed, especially on weekends. Entrance to the Geopark costs around 2 USD.

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How to Get to Wanli from Taipei: Take bus 1815 from Taipei City Hall and get off when you see the Howard Greenbay Resort Hotel. The UFO Village is tucked just behind the hotel on the beachfront. From Yehliu, you can take a bus 1815 back to Taipei City Hall.

Tamsui Old Street

Contributed by Constance of The Adventures of Panda Bear

Tamsui has a super interesting history and is one of the best places to visit as a day trip in Taipei, especially if you’re spending a long weekend in Taipei. The town of Tamsui, sits at the mouth of the Tamsui River, for which it is named. It began as an aboriginal settlement, but in the 17th century, the Spanish arrived and built the first non-aboriginal settlement at and around Fort San Domingo.

In the mid-1600s, the Dutch arrived and expelled the Spanish. They renamed Fort San Domingo to Fort San Anthonio and encouraged settlement by Han Chinese from mainland China and about 30 years later, the Dutch were defeated and left the area. After this, the population of Chinese continued to grow and it became a major fishing and trading port with mainland China.

Aside from its remarkable history, Fort San Domingo has also become a tourist site in Tamsui. The complex is located on the hillside of Tamsui, it is one of the most recognizable buildings due to its red brick facade. Today, the main building is a museum and there are cannons placed around the property. There are also Dutch clogs you can stick your feet in for the perfect Dutch photo-op.


Be sure to also check out Tamsui Old Street. This street is similar to a boardwalk where you can shop for souvenirs, grab amazing street eats, and also explore more of the town. Some of the most famous foods from Tamsui can be found here, such as the iron egg (a preserved quail egg), “ah gei” (tofu fishcake filled with mung bean vermicelli), and freshly made fishballs.

How to Get to Tamsui from Taipei: Part of the greater Taipei City, Tamsui can be easily reached by the MRT subway system. Simply take the Tamsui-Xinyi (Red) Line to the last stop, Tamsui Station.

Wulai

While not far from Taipei since it’s technically part of New Taipei City, Wulai takes about an hour to get to from Taipei so I’m considering it a day trip. Wulai is famous for its hot springs and indigenous culture, all set along a brilliantly turquoise river bisecting the town, so it’s a fascinating and incredibly relaxing day trip from Taipei.

The primary reason to visit Wulai is to relax in the natural geothermic waters at one of the many beautiful spas (the most highly recommended is Volado Urai). You can either enjoy just the hot springs or also add on an afternoon tea or meal to your experience.

If you’re on a budget, there are also free public hot springs you can access. Cross the bridge after Wulai Old Street, turn right, and walk up the road until you reach a stairway down to the river and signage for the outdoor public hot springs area.

Besides enjoying a natural thermal spa, you can check out the Wulai Atayal Museum, which tells the history and present of the indigenous Atyal people, who perform traditional songs from their culture. Admission is free.

Don’t miss the beautiful Wulai waterfall, a 20-minute walk from Wulai Old Street. At a whopping 80 meters, it’s one of the tallest and most beautiful waterfalls in Taiwan.

How to Get to Wulai from Taipei: If you book with a hot spring resort, there are shuttle buses every 1.5-2 hours from Taipei to Wulai and vice versa. For example, Volado Urai Resort runs their own shuttle buses included in the ticket price, which leave from the centrally-located Xindian MRT stop in Taipei. You can also take this shuttle (schedule here) for 50 Taiwanese dollars (less than $2 USD) even if you are not a guest of their resort.

Alternately, from Xindian Station, there is a bus to Wulai which takes about 40 minutes and costs 15 Taiwanese dollars, about 50 cents.

Qiandao Lake & Pinglin Tea Plantation

If the hustle and bustle of Taipei is getting to you, then just a mere __ minutes away, you’ll be able ot unwind at the gorgeous Qiandao Lake. It’s nicknamed “Thousand Island Lake” because the rolling green hills surrounding the lake give it the illusion of having a handful of floating miniature islands.

This part of Taiwan is the heart of Taiwanese tea culture, so aftewards you can explore Pinglin Tea Plantation and learn about the history and cultivation of tea in Taiwan. The mountains combined with the beautifully terraced tea plantations are a perfect respite from the city vibes of Taipei.

There’s also the educational Pinglin Tea Museum, where you can taste several local teas (some of the most famous teas in Taiwan!) and learn from a tea expert about the exact specifics on how to brew the ideal pot of tea.

How to Get to Qiandao from Taipei: A guided tour of Qiandao & Pinglin is probably the best way to visit Qiandao, but there is a public transportation option. From the Xindian MRT station, you can take the #12 bus to Shiding to the Shisangu bus stop, and walk down the hill from there. However, I haven’t tried it, so I’d probably book a tour instead.

Keelung

One of the closest cities to Taipei, a day trip to Keelung is an easy addition to any Taipei itinerary. Keelung is a port city most famous for its delicious seafood as well its vibrant night markets and fish market. Whereas many of the night markets in Taipei have become a slightly touristy affair, the night market in Keelung is mostly frequented by locals.

There are a few interesting things to do in Keelung, including the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial in Zhongzheng Park, the abandoned Qingyu Hall, and of course, the Night Market for which it is best known. I recommend doing a walking tour of Keelung in order to get to know the city, its sights, and its history better.

And of course, if you’re a foodie, you won’t want to miss a night market food tour while in Keelung!

How to Get to Keelung from Taipei: It’s quite easy! Simply take any Keelung-bound train from Taipei Main Station, which will cost about 41 Taiwanese dollars (less than $2 USD). They leave about once every 20 minutes all throughout the day. You can also take the Kuo-Kuang Bus outside of Taipei Main Station (exit 3) for 55 Taiwanese dollars, which will also take you to Keelung.

Yangmingshan National Park

While also part of greater Taipei, getting to Yangmingshan takes a bit of effort and definitely feels like a true day trip from Taipei.

I visited using public transportation which I actually don’t recommend -.getting to the park was easy, but figuring out the shuttle bus that goes throughout the park was pretty inscrutable as a non-Chinese reading tourist. If I did it again, I would definitely go on a guided tour or shuttle to make the most of my time.

A few highlights of Yangmingshan include the hike to Mount Qixing, the highest volcano in all of Taiwan at 1,120 meters. It’s not for the faint of heart – we started this hike but because we started too late in the day in th emiddle of winter, we had to abandon the hike about halfway up as otherwise we’d be ascending in total darkness.

A few other points of interest are the Milk Lake, the sulphur fumaroles, and the many thermal hot springs that dot the volcanic area around Yangmingshan.

How to Get to Yangmingshan from Taipei: In my opinion, the best value option is the shuttle bus. This shuttle takes you from downtown Taipei to the following locations: the geological park Xiaoyoukeng, the stunning valley of Bamboo Lake, the pleasant hot springs at Lengshuikeng and the unique lava field landscape of Qingtiangang Grassland.

Other options include taking a tour that includes a private hot spring and nature walk, or taking a day of luxury to relax in the white sulphur hot springs at Tien Lai resort in Yangmingshan National Park, shuttle included.

If you just want to explore the park independently, you can take the MRT to Jiantan stop (1 before Shilin) then take the red bus #5 or small bus #S15 or #S17 to Yangmingshan. However, once in the park, I found it kind of confusing to get around, so leave early in the day and allow yourself plenty of time to figure out the transportation or walk between destinations.

Taichung

While of course, I’m of the opinion that Taichung deserves a few days of its own, it still isn’t a bad idea to make a day trip from Taipei using the high speed rail if you have a limited amount of time in Taichung. Using the high speed train, you can get from Taipei to Taichung in a mere 55 minutes. Just know that the high speed train station is a bit outside of Taichung City in Wurih, so you will want to use a taxi or public bus to get into Taichung proper.

A few things worth seeing in Taichung: eating pineapple tarts from Miyahara, walking around the Taichung Cultural and Creative Industries Park (close to the regular train station), visiting the calm Taichung Park, the Fengjia Night Market, and of course — Rainbow Village, located about a 20-minute cab ride outside the city.

How to Get to Taichung from Taipei: Take the high speed train from either Taipei Main Sation or Banquiao. The train will take less than an hour and cost around 670-750 Taiwanese dollars, around $21-24 each way. I actually recommend getting a 3 Day THSR Tourist Pass, as it’s not much more expensive and will enable you to visit Taichung as well as Kaohsiung, Chiayi, Taoyuan, and many other places along Taiwan’s densely populated West Coast. If you have more time, a 5 Day TR/THSR Pass may be an even better value if you are planning on visiting a lot of places from Taipei! Do the math on where you want to go and check that it’s worthwhile.

Kaohsiung

Even though this city is nearly 400 kilometers away, it’s actually only 90 minutes by high speed rail, making this an easy day trip from Taipei!

Kaohsiung has so much to offer: the beautiful, photogenic Lotus Pond, the delicious Liuhe Night Market, the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, the Takao Consulate, the Chimei Museum, the 85 Sky Tower, and so much more. You definitely could spend a. few days in Kaohsiung, but it is also quite doable as a day trip if you have limited time in Taiwan and want to use Taipei as your base.

If you love colorful places, don’t miss the Formosa Boulevard MRT Station, one of the most beautiful subway stops in the world.

How to Get to Kaohsiung from Taipei: Go to Taipei Main Station or Banquiao to take the High Speed Train to Kaohsiung, which will take about 90 minutes and cost around 1500 Taiwanese dollars ($48 USD). Because it’s an expensive ticket, I recommend just buying the 3-day unlimited pass which will already save you money on just the roundtrip high-speed train ticket, as well as giving you another two days to explore other cities on the high speed network — a fantastic deal.

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    jijin
    March 15, 2019 at 8:26 pm

    lovely photos and places! may i ask what camera you use? thank you!!

    • Reply
      Allison Green
      March 16, 2019 at 4:41 am

      Thank you! This was a collaborative post put together by several travelers (each contributor has a byline or link to their blog so you can check it out) so each photo was taken with a different camera unfortunately! I personally use a Sony A6000 and like it quite a bit.

  • Reply
    Felicia
    March 18, 2019 at 9:36 am

    I was checking out the Sahara tour on your blog and I’m grateful for your detailed sharing! Since I’m from Taiwan, kind of curious your opinion toward our country, just wanted to say thanks for visiting & sharing! If you have plans to visit again, please take Tainan into consideration since that’s my favorite destination next to Hualian(where Taroko national park resides.).

    • Reply
      Allison Green
      March 19, 2019 at 1:42 pm

      You’re welcome Felicia! I absolutely loved Taiwan, and it was one of my favorite new countries I visited last year. Taiwan is tied with Japan as my favorite country in Asia 🙂 I definitely plan a return visit to Taiwan. I found people so friendly and the cities so easy to get around, clean, and efficient! But yes, I want to visit Tainan and Hualien. I was traveling in winter so I didn’t get to do as much hiking as I would have liked but Alishan, Sun Moon Lake, and Kenting National Park are also on my list for a return visit!

  • Reply
    Gustavo
    September 7, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    Great article! Just one to clarify that Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival doesn´t happend in Pingxi, it happen in Shifen, It is called “Pingxi” Sky Lantern Festival because the full district name is Pingxi. Keep writing, you are good ai it.

    • Reply
      Allison Green
      September 9, 2019 at 1:34 pm

      Thanks for your kind comment Gustavo! Will make an edit to that 🙂

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