What to do in Taipei? A day-trip that is off the beaten track
Updated: Oct 24, 2022
Taipei is not just about eating and shopping, there's also a whole bunch of beautiful scenery and nature to take in. If you're bored of the dense concrete jungle, head to the North East Coast for a day trip!
1. Nanya Rock (南雅奇石)
One of the off-the-beaten-track attraction is Nanya Rock, located by the sea at the tip of the island of Taiwan.
The Nanya Rock Formation is considered as the gateway to Taiwan. Should you be wanting to head to Shifen and Jiufen, it would be good to also include this in your itinerary as it is located not too far from these areas. Most travellers only head to Shifen and Jiufen because they usually take the train, but if you are driving, or hiring a Taiwanese driver like I did, head to Nanya Rock in Ruifang District (1 hour journey by car).
The best thing about visiting the Nanya Rock Formation is that it is just a simple stop by the sea. Park your car, arm yourselves with a camera and head to this wonder. Especially on a beautiful sunny day, this attraction would seem to have transported you to the Australia's Great Ocean Road. This is also a great alternative to the Yehliu Geopark that is much farther and is often full of tourists!
For dating couples, or couples who are thinking of heading to Taipei for your pre-wedding shoot. The rock formation is a great place for photography! We weren't quite prepared for this, but our kind driver took so many pre-wedding-worthy shots!
These rocks formed over a thousand over of years of erosion and weathering causing them to stick out to the skies. There's also a plethora of sea creatures that can be spotted in this area, including some crabs and sea cockroaches. These sea cockroaches crawl really fast, whenever we tried to take a picture of them, they were gone!
The other great thing about Nanya Rock is that because it is located by the road, big buses aren't able to park or access this location. Here, you'll find some tourists, but not that many that will "spoil" your picture or compete with you for the next photospot.
224, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Ruifang District, 北部濱海公路224號
2. Yin Yang Sea (陰陽海)
Close to the Nanya Rock, you'll also be able to see the unique Yin Yang Sea that has an interesting mix of yellow and blue! The reason for this mix of colour is due to the mining activities that were done eons ago, depositing ferric ions into the sea. Check out the orangey-brown stones at the side of the sea!
Here's another view of the Yin Yang Sea (from the top!)
And this is a picture of the old mining factory. You'll spot it if you look up in the opposite direction of the Yin Yang Sea!
Yin Yang Sea
224, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Ruifang District
3. Golden Waterfall (黃金瀑布)
The Golden Waterfall is named after the metal deposits from the gold mines that gave it its brownish gold colour.
But the actual waterfall doesn't look as golden! We were there during Summer too, so the water flow's not that plentiful.
Golden Waterfall (lower stream)
Jinshui Road, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224
Golden Waterfall Geopark
224, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Ruifang District, 102縣道224號
4. Remains of the Thirteen Level (金瓜石十三層煉銅廠)
Our driver drove us up to the abandoned ore refinery, to get a good view of the winding road and a top-down view of the Yin Yang Sea. The backdrop of the abandoned building also provides a great photoshoot spot!
Again, there weren't that many tourists here so it felt like we've had the entire place to ourselves! It was also a pity that we didn't know about these places beforehand and really just left everything to our driver. We would have definitely worn brighter clothes for better photographs! =/
Remains of the Thirteen Levels
224, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Ruifang District
5. Jiufen Old Street (九份)
Jiufen is extremely crowded as compared to the previous places that we've mentioned... It has an old town atmosphere and a flair of a coastal town. This is a must see street if you're visiting northern Taiwan.
Jiufen is also the setting of Hayao Miyazaki's "Spirited Away", especially at the end of the street where you'll see the iconic red lanterns. This location is also a favourite amongst Taiwanese film lovers.
Picture: (Left) Lai Ah Bo Yu Yuan - choose from either hot or cold taro balls, sweet potato balls, green tea balls, and some kidney beans; (Right) Taiwanese Beef Noodles
Most of the attractions are along the cobblestone pathways and you can browse the many souvenir stores, or head into the eateries to grab a bite.
Climb all the way to the top for a bird's eye view of the long winding path. It does remind us of Busan's Gamcheon Culture Village don't they (except that there aren't those colourful houses)?
There are also a couple of tea houses at Jiu Fen that is worth the visit for tea lovers.
Jiufen Old Street
Jishan Street, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224
6. Shifen Waterfall (十分瀑布)
Next up is Shifen Waterfall, a short 40 minutes ride from Jiufen Old Street. Shifen waterfall 40 metre tall and is known as the most scenic waterfall in Taiwan.
As we visited the shifen waterfall a year after coming back from Niagara, it was quite a disappointment. Nonetheless, if you haven't been to any other large waterfalls, you'll probably be wow-ed by the scale of shifen!
To get to the actual waterfall, you'll have to take quite a bit of a walk, so do put on some good walking shoes! You'll pass by this beautiful bridge that is also a great photo spot!
226, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Pingxi District, 乾坑10號
7. Shifen Old Street (十分老街)
Another popular old street in Taipei where is a collection of lanes and alleyways that surrounds the Shi Fen Railway Station. This is also where you can release sky lanterns! There are many stalls that sells these lanterns. Choose from a selection of colours that also meant different aspects of your lives. Write down your wishes with a calligraphy brush and the friendly store owners will help you to light the lanterns and take photographs for you!
We had a lot of fun writing and releasing the lanterns! The pebbled railway path is also a great photospot! :)
Walk down to the actual functioning railway station and grab this delicious chicken that has glutinous rice wrapped within! It was a delicious treat after a long day! We couldn't resist just sharing one and gobbled down one each, plus an additional one to share!
Shifen Old Street
226, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Pingxi District, 十分老街
8. Keelung Miao Kou Night Market (基隆廟口夜市)
Characterised by the yellow lanterns, this night market is another foodie haven! This is the last stop of our day trip and we indulged in some of the favourites. We arrived slightly after the opening of the market where the dinner crowd has yet to stream in and managed to enjoy the hot favourites without having to queue! #doubleyay!
What to eat at Keelung Market?
- Peanut Ice Cream
The peanut ice creamy is creamy and cold. A great treat after the hot summer day! There is only one store selling this so it wouldn't be difficult to spot it!
- Nutritious Sandwich
The Nutritious Sandwich isn't quite nutritious. It is a deep fried bun that is filled with a whole lot of ingredients: from eggs, pickles, tomatoes to cheese. It is extremely tasty though!
- Wu Ji Thick Crab Soup
The Wu Ji Thick Crab Soup is a starchy soup that is filled with lots of crab meat at only NT$50! This soup is similar to drinking a hot bowl of shark's fins (only better because it doesn't promote the cruel shark finning activities)!
There's also some butter crabs that most people would try when at Keelung but we were stuffed and were intending to head to Shilin Night Market after our day trip so we decided to save some space in our tummies!
So there you go, these 8 attractions out of Taipei city would definitely bring you closer to nature and away from the crowds! You can either rent a car to do-it-yourself, go on a Jiufen and North Coast bus tour, or hire a private charter vehicle (8 hours) for this entire route! We hired a driver through a family friend and if you wish to know the contact, leave a message or feel free to email us!
Have you visited any of these places? Which of these are your favourites?