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While 40 Taipei day trips may seem excessive, I swear to you that all of them are awesome!
Whether you want to go hiking, hit the beach, soak in some of Taiwan’s incredible hot springs, see cherry blossoms, go on a Taiwanese food tour, or explore historic Japanese-era villages, or visit totally off the beaten track places around Taipei, there is definitely a perfect day trip from Taipei for you!
This goes to show why Taipei is such a desirable place to live. It has even been chosen as the #1 city in the world for expats more than once, and many people, myself included, come for a year and end up staying for 10+. You never run out of ways to spend your weekends when living in Taipei!
I have personally done each of these day trips from Taipei, many of them several times. For some of these spots, it is possible to combine two or more of them into one day-trip, which I’ll be sure to point out. Many of these day trips will be in New Taipei City, the sprawling city which totally surrounded Taipei. See my New Taipei City guide.
I’ve organized these days trips into sections covering north of Taipei, east of Taipei, and then south of Taipei. In the east section, you’ll find my directions for planning the most popular day trip from Taipei, which usually includes several of the following: Yehliu Geopark, Houtong Cat Village, Jiufen Old Street, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park, Shifen Waterfall, and Keelung Night Market. I’ll tell you how to do it all on your own, by public transportation!
- Taiwan travel tips for planning your trip
- Where to stay in Taipei
- What to do in Taipei in 2 days/3 days/4 days/5 days
- The best time to visit Taipei
- How plan a 1 to 3-week trip around Taiwan
- How to plan a trip around Taiwan with kids
Tips for Saving Money on Your Taipei Day Trip
Parkbus Taiwan is a service that simplifies making day trips out of Taipei. They do regular excursions to hard-to-reach spots for hiking and other activities. Use my discount code “Spiritual10” at checkout for a 10% discount.
Some very popular and budget-friendly guided day-tours are available on Klook, such as this one, this one, and this one. To get a TW$100 discount on any of these tours, sign up for Klook first using this link.
For several day trips below, you swipe the Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass to get there. See my guide to the pass here. If you don’t get that, just use an EasyCard like most people do. Here’s how EasyCard works.
If you end up staying overnight in any of these places, you can find the best hotel deals here.
Table of Contents
Taipei Day Trips to the North
Some of Taipei’s best day trip possibilities lie to the north of the Taiwanese capital.
I’ll start with Beitou Hot Spring (technically part of Taipei City) and volcanic Yangming Mountain (Yangmingshan), then cover the north coast of Taiwan roughly in a clockwise manner.
Beitou Hot Spring Village
Beitou Hot Spring (北投溫泉) is the only spot on this list of best day trips from Taipei that is actually in Taipei City. So why include it?
Well, despite being MRT accessible, the steaming thermal springs and natural scenery of Beitou make it feel like it’s a million miles away from the city. You could easily spend a day here, so it really does feel like a day trip from the Taipei city center.
A day at Beitou can include soaking your feet in thermal water at the park, sampling hot spring noodles, exploring the Japanese-era architecture of Beitou Hot Spring Museum and Beitou Museum, and marveling at Beitou Geothermal Valley.
Hot spring choices range from colonial-era bathhouses to luxurious modern resorts. Millennium Hot Springs is the main public hot spring, while Spring City Resort is the best family-friendly option.
Getting from Taipei to Beitou: The Beitou hot spring village is located in front of Xinbeitou MRT station. Take the red MRT line north to Beitou then transfer to the tiny, 2-stop pink line to Xinbeitou. All of the main sights are within walking distance of the MRT.
Beitou is also the starting point of the Beitou-Zhuzihu Tourist Shuttle Bus (小9 or “small 9”), which connects Beitou to various points in Yangmingshan (#2 below). The shuttle bus is included if you have a Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass or you can swipe an EasyCard.
Yangmingshan National Park
Yangmingshan (陽明山) is the closest national park to Taipei (it spreads from Taipei City to New Taipei City). Yangming Mountain is actually a massif containing several peaks, the highest of which is Seven Star Mountain (Qixingshan or 七星山, 1120m), a dormant volcano.
Yangminshan National Park covers over 100 km2, so it comes as no surprise that the park abounds in day trip possibilities.
Some of the biggest draws include cherry blossom at Flower Clock and calla lily viewing at Zhuzihu in early spring, the warm hot springs of Lengshuikeng, buffalo spotting at Qingtiangang Grassland, the luxurious Yangmingshan Tienlai Hot Spring Resort (which is actually located outside of the national park, on the back side of the mountain, near Jinshan village on the coast), and the steaming fumaroles at Xiaoyoukeng.
Find all the info in my guide to Yangmingshan National Park.
Getting to Yangmingshan: It’s a little complicated due to multiple roads and bus routes into the park. I cover it all in my guide to getting from Taipei to Yangmingshan.
If you want to see many parts of Yangmingshan in one day, consider hiring a driver for the day.
Tamsui & Fisherman’s Wharf
Tamsui District (淡水區, also spelled Danshui), New Taipei City, is furthest north you can venture on the Taipei City MRT. Step off the MRT and you’ll find yourself on a lovely riverside promenade. Fresh seafood and people watching galore make this one of Taipei’s favorite easy getaways for tourists and locals alike.
Rent a bike and follow the riverside trail south to Hongshulin Mangroves and Guandu Temple (one of the Taipei’s best temples, and oldest!) Alternatively, swipe your EasyCard or Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass and board a river ferry to Fisherman’s Wharf (漁人碼頭), which only takes about 10 minutes.
The picturesque harbor is one of the most romantic places in Taipei to watch the sunset, especially from aptly named Lover’s Bridge. Read my detailed guide to Tamsui and Fisherman’s Wharf here.
Getting from Taipei to Tamsui: Simply hop on the red MRT line and head to Tamsui station, the terminal stop in the north. For Fisherman’s Wharf, ferries depart from the Tamsui promenade or you can hop on bus 紅26 (red 26), 836 or 857 from in front of the MRT station.
There’s also a new LRT from Hongshulin station (one stop before Tamsui on the red MRT line) to Lover’s Bridge.
North Coast Beaches
One of the many, many reasons to love Taipei is that it is so easy to get to the beach when the season arrives. And even though most locals only go in summer in Taiwan, spring and autumn in Northern Taiwan are usually warm enough, too!
The closest beach to Taipei is Qianshuiwan (淺水灣), only 30 minutes from Danshui by bus. Choose a spot on the long stretch of golden sand, or watch the sunset from a patio at one of the numerous restaurants or bars that line the beach.
Ride the bus 10 minutes further to reach Baishawan (白沙灣), another popular choice that has fewer restaurants and more of a surfer feel to it (though for a true surfing beach, head to Wai Ao, #26 below.
Getting from Taipei to Qianshuiwan and Baishawan: From Danshui MRT, hop on bus 860, 861, 862, or 863, or the Crown Northern Coastline line shuttle bus (#716), which is included on the Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass.
Get off at Qianshuiwan (大崛/淺水灣) or Baishawan (北觀風景區管理處/白沙灣) stops.
Fuguijiao Lighthouse & Laomei Green Reef
A few minutes’ drive past Baishawan Beach on the North Coast, Fuguijiao (Cape Fugui) is the northernmost point in Taiwan, demarcated by a small lighthouse.
Fuji Fishing Harbor (富基漁港) on the western side of the cape is the place to go for seafood restaurants. Meanwhile, local photographers flock to Laomei Green Reef (老梅綠石槽) on the eastern side of the cape. There a layer of green algae coats rows of coastal rocks in spring, making for stunning photos.
Getting from Taipei to Fuguijiao Lighthouse & Laomei Green Reef: Take any of the buses mentioned for #4, including the Crown Northern Coastline line shuttle bus (#716), which is free with the Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass).
Get off at Fuji Harbor (富基漁港) or Fuguijiao Lighthouse/Laomei Reef (富貴角燈塔/老梅綠石槽) stop.
Temples in the Northern Hills
There are three notable temples in the hills north of Taipei that are each worth a day trip from Taipei. If you’ve got your own wheels, rent a car, or hire a driver, you could even see all three in one day. To read more about these and many other temples in the north of Taiwan, see my list of the 30 best temples in Taipei.
The first is Wuji Tianyuan Temple (淡水無極天元宮). This large, round temple building is reminiscent of the Altar of Heaven in Beijing. But the real reason to come here is for what are arguable the most impressive cherry blossom scenes in all of Taiwan (see photo above) in February and March.
Second (and lesser known) Yuan Dao Guanyin Temple (緣道觀音廟) is a serene, expansive temples grounds that is not going to be a secret for much longer thanks to the recent completion of the world’s largest statue of Thousand-Armed Guayin on site.
Last but not least, Fufudingshan Shell and Coral Temple (富福頂山寺) is a temple in which every surface is built or decorated with shells and corals. It’s really a sight to behold.
Getting from Taipei to the northern temples: For Tianyuan Temple, take bus 875 or F103 from Danshui MRT station for about 30 minutes.
For Yuandao Guanyin Temple, a free shuttle operates from Hongshulin MRT and takes about 20 minutes.
Fufudingshan Shell and Coral Temple is the most difficult to get to. You’ll need to take the Crown Northern Coastline line shuttle bus (#716, included on an Unlimited Fun Pass) or any other bus to Sanzhi stop (三芝遊客中心 / 名人文物館), then transfer to bus F132, which runs Monday to Friday only, and get off at Er Ping Ding (二坪頂) stop.
Ju Ming himself designed the grounds and donated 2000 of his own pieces. The artworks are displayed throughout an expansive grassland, surrounded by mountains and with occasional glimpses of the Pacific Ocean below. There is also a large, indoor library and exhibition space on site (see image below).
Getting from Taipei to Juming Museum: Juming Museum is a stop on the Crown Northern Coastline line shuttle bus (#716), which is included on the Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass.
Jinshan Hot Spring
Jinshan Hot Spring (金山溫泉) is one of the many hot spring villages in the greater Taipei area, and is located on the northeast coast. The town itself features the usual collection of hot spring hotels and spas.
For something really special, though, you’ll want to follow Yangjin Highway (陽金公路 2甲), which heads from Jinshan uphill over Yangmingshan (see #2 above) and all the way to Taipei.
Only a few minutes’ drive up this winding, scenic highway from Jinshan will bring you to Yangmingshan Resort/Calla Young Garden Resort (陽明山水温泉会館金山温泉会館推薦), a hot spring resort with one of the most beautiful views we’ve ever enjoyed from a hot spring.
Natural hot spring lovers will prefer Bayan Hot Spring (see photo above), which I think is the most beautiful wild hot spring that is easy to reach from Taipei.
You can also take Kuo-Kuang (國光) bus 1815 from Taipei, which takes about 90 minutes. You can board the bus at Songjiang Nanjing MRT, Nanjing Fuxing MRT, Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT, or Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT and swipe with an EasyCard. This bus (and all other buses with 4-digits) are not included on the Unlimited Fun Pass.
The 20-minute trail to Bayan wild hot spring begins beside Bayan Hot Spring Resort (八煙溫泉會館), but be warned that the hot spring is technically off-limits, and police show up periodically to clear out the crowds.
Yehliu Geopark is one of the most popular day trips from Taipei for visiting tourists. The long, thin cape sticks way out into the sea and features dozens of bizarre rock formations. The most famous is Queen’s Head (女王頭), which has become a symbol of Taiwan.
Despite the tourist crowds and long aisle of seafood-focused food stalls you are forced to walk through, Yehliu is a gorgeous coastal park that you should see at least once if you spend any amount of time in Taiwan. You can book your ticket online in advance to save a little time, and Yehliu Geopark is free for Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass holders.
Few tourists to Yehliu realize that Guihou Fish Market, one of the best seafood markets in the greater Taipei area, is just around the corner from Yehliu. Guihou features numerous fresh seafood restaurants facing the harbor, as well as a more traditional seafood market where you can point at what you want and they’ll fry it up for you.
This excellent day tour includes Yehliu and 3 other very popular day trip spots (Jiufen, Shifen, and Golden Waterfall).
Getting there: Yehliu and Guihou Fishing Harbor are the final stops on the Crown Northern Coastline line shuttle bus (#716) from Danshui MRT. Get the Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass to ride free.
You can also take KuoKuang (國光) bus 1815 (the same bus for Jinshan, #8 above) from Taipei Bus Station. The ride takes about 90 minutes. Continue on to Jinshan (#8) after you visit, or take one of several buses from Yehliu to Keelung, famous for its night market (see #13 below).
Wanli UFO Village
This collection of UFO-like pod house ruins dates back to an experimental housing project in the 1980s. The only thing we’re all wondering is why someone doesn’t fix these things up and transform them into the awesomest hotel in northern Taiwan…
If you have a bit of energy you could even walk from Yehliu (#9) to Wanli. You can find the UFO village at the northern end of the beach.
Getting there: Take the train from Taipei to Keelung (about 40 minutes) then transfer to bus 789, 790, or 862. Get off at Wanli stop (萬里, about 30 minutes). Alternatively, take bus 1815 (the same bus as Jinshan and Yehliu) and get off at Green Bay (翡翠灣) stop.
Taipei Day Trips to the East
Heading east on a day trip from Taipei, you’ve got a few options on the outskirts of the city, followed by Keelung City on the coast.
Next up is a collection of extremely popular day trips on the Pingxi train line (#14 to #18), as well as Jiufen and Jinguashi (#19 and #20), probably the single most popular day trip from Taipei.
Several of these sights can be combined into one day trip if you plan it well. See the orange box below for the most popular route. The easiest way to do this is with this day tour, but it won’t hit all of the stops.
The Most Popular Day Trip from Taipei
An extremely popular Taipei day trip is to combine some of the following spots: Yehliu Geopark, Houtong Cat Village, Jiufen Old Street, Shifen Waterfall, and Keelung Night Market. In my Taiwan Travel Planning group, people ask me how to do this ALL THE TIME. So, here’s how:
– Start early! Ride the TRA train from Taipei Main Station to Ruifang station. Change to the Pingxi line and ride it to Shifen station for visiting Shifen Waterfall (opens 9 AM).
– Ride the train from Shifen back to Houtong for Houtong Cat Village. If you don’t have time for this or want to skip it, just ride back to Ruifang instead (next step).
– Ride the train to Ruifang station, exit station, cross road, and walk 1 block to the left to the bus stop. Catch the bus (10 min) to Jiufen Old Street. Most shops open at 10-11 AM.
– Optional side trip: ride the same bus past Jiufen to visit Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park and Golden Waterfall.
– Catch bus 788 going downhill from Jiufen Old Street to Keelung (50 min).
– Optional side trip: Catch a bus from Keelung to Yehliu Geopark (45 min). Note that it closes at 5 PM.
– Catch a bus from Yehliu back to Keelung for visiting Keelung Night Market.
– Local train from Keelung back to Taipei.
Shenkeng Stinky Tofu Village
Shenkeng (深坑) is a small district of New Taipei City southeast of Taipei City. The name is practically synonymous with Taiwan’s most infamous night market snack: stinky tofu. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it; if you can get past the smell, stinky tofu is surprisingly delicious, and virtually all Taiwanese love it.
You can try stinky tofu in any night market in Taiwan, but Shenkeng Old Street is the country’s epicenter of stinky tofu. Almost every food stall and restaurant on the picturesque old street is devoted to stinky tofu in one form or another. See my self-guided food tour of Shenkeng to navigate your way around.
All the different types are available here, from deep fried cubes served with pickled vegetables to huge hunks stewed in spicy soup. They’ve even got tofu ice cream, fermented tofu, and more. Most stalls and restaurants are open from around noon until 8 p.m., and weekends can get extremely crowded.
To learn about the history of stinky tofu and other Taiwanese foods, check out this excellent book.
Getting to Shenkeng: From Muzha MRT station, cross the street and take bus #660, 666, or 819 for about 15 minutes to Shenkeng stop. You can also take the Muzha Pingxi Shuttle Bus from Muzha station (#795, included on Taipei Unlimited Pass), which continues on to Shifen and Pingxi.
Shiding: Hiking & Homemade Noodles
Just to the east of Shenkeng is Shiding district (石碇區), a remote, hilly region with a few sights worthy of off-the-beaten-track day trips from Taipei.
If you’ve got your own wheels, then Shiding Hsu Family Hand Pulled Noodles (石碇許家手工麵線) makes for an offbeat day trip from Taipei. With a bit of luck, this family-run noodle warehouse’s courtyard will be filled with racks of hand-pulled noodles drying in the sun when you arrive. Local families or students can sometimes be seen trying their hand at making the noodles, which is good fun to watch. You can also take a DIY noodle making class there.
If you’re driving to the Shiding Handmade Noodle Factory or taking the bus to the Huangdidian hike, you can stop at Shiding Old Street (石碇老街), a small but picturesque old street beside a creek, along the way.
Getting to Shiding: To get to Huangdidian hike, take bus 666 from Muzha MRT to Huangdidian (皇帝殿) stop, the last one. Confirm with the driver when you board, because not all 666 buses go to Huangdidian. It takes about 45 minutes. You’ll need your own transportation to get to the noodle factory.
Keelung City (基隆市) is Northern Taiwan’s largest port. The city is easily reached from Taipei. It is often overlooked by tourists but makes for a great day trip from Taipei. Here’s my detailed guide to Keelung’s main attractions.
Keelung’s biggest claim to fame is its feasting paradise, Miaokou Night Market (see my guides to Miaokou Night Market and other night markets around Taipei). The markets runs all afternoon and evening, and specializes in seafood. It is my personal favorite night market in all of Taiwan.
Another spot worth checking out in Keelung is Zhongzheng Park (基隆中正公園), which occupies a large hill overlooking the port. At the peak you’ll find an old-fashioned children’s amusement area complete with Buddhist statues, including a 25-meter white Kuanyin that you can climb up into. Nearby, oversized Zhupu Altar (主普壇) is a center of Ghost Festival activities in summer.
For further exploration, consider a trip to Heping Island (NTD80 or free with Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass), which is connected to the mainland by a bridge, or remote Keelung Islet, which was reopened in summer of 2019 after being closed for five years. You can also visit Heping Park on this day trip from Taipei.
Getting from Taipei to Keelung: Frequent trains depart from Taipei Main Station to Keelung (40 minutes). Keelung Night Market is a 10-minute walk from the train station. Zhongzheng park is another 10 minutes on foot from there, or a short taxi ride if you don’t want to walk up the hill.
You can also take the Coastal Keelung Shuttle Bus (T99, free with Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass) from Keelung Station to Keelung Night Market, Zhongzheng Park (you’ll still need to walk up the hill from the bus stop), Heping Island Port, and Bisha Recreational Port, where ferries depart to Keelung Island. All Keelung city buses (except for ones with 4-digit numbers) are also included on the Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass.
Shen’ao Elephant Trunk Rock
East of Keelung city on the coast, Shen’ao Elephant Trunk Rock (深澳岬角) is a rock formation that has in recent years become an Instagram hot spot. As the name suggests, the formation looks very much like an elephant head and trunk, dipping down some 30 meters to the sea. If you do want to get a photo standing on the elephant’s head, please be extremely careful (I personally wouldn’t even recommend it; a fall from here could easily be fatal).
If you’re into hiking, you can also combine your visit with a hike to Mt. Shen’ao. You also easily combine this with a visit to Keelung or the numerous stops on the Pingxi train line (see box text below) because Badouzi station is nearby. Recently reopened Badouzi station itself is a bit of an attraction due to its beautiful seaside location.
Getting to Shen’ao Elephant Trunk Rock is half the adventure. From Keelung, take bus 791 or 1051 to Shenao Station (深澳車站), from where it’s a 15-minute walk.
Better yet (because it gets even closer) take the Coastal Keelung Shuttle Bus (T99) from Keelung and get off at Shen Ao Harbor (深澳漁港). The Shuttle bus is included on the Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass. The shuttle bus passes Badouzi, the new first stop on the Pingxi railway, before getting to Shen’Ao.
The Pingxi Train Line
The Pingxi Railway Line is a small-gauge railway that provides access to a number of the most popular day trips from Taipei. Most people take a bus or train from Taipei to Ruifang Station, then transfer onto the Pingxi Line there.
From Ruifang, the train veers inland toward Shifen and Pingxi. More recently, two more stops were added going in the opposite direction from Ruifang, with the new terminal end being Badouzi Station (near Shen’ao Elephant Trunk Rock, #14 above).
Here’s the order of stops on the Pingxi Railway: Badouzi, Haikeguan, Ruifang (where buses depart for Jiufen and Jinguashi and for Taipei), Houtong, Sandiaoling, Shifen, Dahua, Lingjiao, Pingxi, and Jingtong.
The Pingxi train line is not included on the Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass. You can swipe on with your EasyCard, but it’s cheaper to buy an unlimited one-day Pingxi Line pass at Ruifang Station for NTD80 if you plan to make a few stops.
If you want to use your Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass to get to the area, you can ride the Muzha Pingxi shuttle bus (795) from Muzha MRT to Shenkeng, Shifen, and Pingxi for free.
Shifen and Pingxi are also the location of the famous Sky Lantern Mass Release events during the Lantern Festival.
Houtong Cat Village
The first stop after Ruifang on the Pingxi Line is Houtong, also known as Houtong Cat Village (猴硐貓村). This tiny village is a former mining town turned cat-themed village. Local villages started taking in abandoned cats around 2008 and the idea took off.
After arriving, you can cross a tunnel over the railway (if you look closely, the tunnel is shaped like a cat). You’ll find snoozing feelines before you get to the other size. Besides a handful of cat-themed souvenir shops and cafés, the main thing to do here is walk around and pet all the cats.
Cat lovers should also check out my guide to the best cat cafes in Taipei!
Getting from Taipei to Houtong Cat Village: Both local trains direct from Taipei and the Pingxi line pass through Houtong, making it an easy stop on your day trip from Taipei.
Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail
The next stop after Houtong (both on the Pingxi line and the regular train line before it heads in a different direction than the Pingxi line) is tiny Sandiaoling. Few people get off here, but when they do, it’s usually to hike the Sandiaoling Trail (三貂嶺步道).
The Sandiaoling Waterfall trail is one my favorite hikes around Taipei. It’s not difficult (I took my two toddlers on it), highly scenic, and you have the option to continue further for a more difficult hike.
The hike we usually do is to the first waterfall viewpoint (Hegu Waterfall or 合谷瀑布) and to a second waterfall (Motian Falls or 摩天瀑布). Motian waterfall features a cave behind it that you can climb up into for a surreal experience (see me in the picture above).
After Motian Falls the trail becomes more challenging, with a vertical ladder, reaching Pipa Cave Waterfall (枇杷洞瀑布). From there, trails lead to either Houtong or Dahua Staion on the Pingxi Line. We usually just hike to Motian Falls and then return to Sandiaoling station, which takes a couple hours or less.
Getting to Sandiaoling: Sandiaoling is on both the regular train line direct from Taipei and the Pingxi small train line.
Shifen Waterfall and Sky Lanterns
Along with Jiufen (#19), Shifen is probably the most popular day trip from Taipei, and the two are easily combined
See my detailed article on getting from Taipei to Jiufen and Shifen waterfall for all the details and other transportation options.
Shifen is famous for Shifen Waterfall (十分瀑布), the widest (and many say most beautiful) waterfall in Taiwan.
There is an NTD100 entrance fee to see the falls, and you’ll need to walk about 15 minutes to get to it from Shifen station.
If you’re looking for a less touristy waterfall experience, try Sandiaoling (#16 above) or head two stops past Shifen to Lingjiao for Lingjiao Waterfall (嶺腳瀑布), which you can jump off of if you are brave enough.
The second reason Shifen has become so popular is because of the train station itself. On this highly atmospheric section of tracks, vendors and food stalls line either side so close that they nearly get hit by the trains when they pass through.
Shifen station has become the de facto place to set off sky lanterns throughout the year (while the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival takes place only once per year, during Lantern Festival 2 weeks after Lunar New Year, usually in February or March, two stops away at Pingxi Station, #18). See more info in my guide to Taiwan’s holidays and festivals.
Releasing a sky lantern from the train tracks at Shifen has become one of the top experiences for numerous visitors to Taiwan, but please note that local hiking and environmental groups have spoken out against this harmful practice.
If you are really into sky lanterns, you may also want to visit the Sky Lantern Police Station at Jingtong, the final stop on the Pingxi railway line. The police station is shaped like a sky lantern and lit up with 200,000 LED lights. You can also enter the building to see it from the inside for NTD150, or free with the Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass.
Getting from Taipei to Shifen: There’s a lot of info here, so please see my detailed guide to getting to Shifen waterfall and Jiufen.
Pingxi Station on the railway line named after it is most famous as the site of the annual Pingxi Lantern Festival on the 14th day of the Lunar New Year. However, hikers looking for a serious thrill can head here for the Pingxi Crags hike.
The hike involves ascending three insanely vertical crags that pierce the sky. It isn’t terribly difficult, but it’s terrying if you look down!
Getting to the Pingxi Crags: Take the train from Taipei to Ruifang then transfer to the Pingxi line. Get off at Pingxi Station, walk through the village and cross a bridge to the highway, then follow signs to “Xiao Zi Shan Hiking Trail” (孝子山步道).
If I had to guess what the single most popular day trip from Taipei is, I would say that it is Jiufen. The mountaintop village is a former gold mining town. In its heyday during Taiwan’s gold rush in the late 1800s and early 1900s, it was a huge collection of homes built practically on top of each other.
The mine was later closed and the city went into decline. In the early 2000s it became the new tourist hot spot after a retro film was made there and a (false) rumor began that Miyazaki’s Spirited Away was inspired by the village.
Today’s Jiufen is as atmospheric as it gets, with red lantern-lined staircases snaking up through the village. It’s mega touristy, but its charm is undeniable. You can also sip on tea at iconic Amei teahouse while taking in the magnificent view.
Getting to Jiufen: I’ve got so much information about this that I’ve written a whole post on how to get to Jiufen from Taipei or Shifen Waterfall.
Jiufen is on the Gold Fulong Shuttle Bus line (#856), included on the Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass.
Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
Only 10 minutes past Jiufen on the bus, Jinsguashi (金瓜石) is definitely worth adding on to your Jiufen trip. This old gold mining facility has been transformed into the Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park.
Go to Jinguashi to learn about gold mining, touch a huge piece of gold, and even eat ice cream with real gold flakes in it. The views are also incredible, and if you’ve got the time and energy, the park is also the starting point of an excellent hike to Teapot Mountain.
Don’t miss the Golden Waterfall, which is a little ways from the park but worth the side trip. If you only want to see Golden Waterfall, it is included on this excellent shuttle bus deal that also includes Yehliu, Jiufen, and Shifen.
For more information on all of the above, see my guide to Jiufen and Jinguashi.
Getting to Jinguashi: Take any bus to Jiufen and continue another 10 minutes to Jinguashi Golde Museum stop (金瓜石(黃金博物館)). The bus goes one more stop after this before turning around to head back to Jiufen, Ruifang and/or Taipei.
Jinguashi and Golden Waterfall are also on the Gold Fulong Shuttle Bus line (#856), included on the Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass.
Bitoujiao and Longdong
Bitoujiao (鼻頭角) is the second easternmost point in Taiwan. At the tip of the cape rests a picturesque lighthouse, with an even more picturesque path leading to it called Bitoujiao Trail (鼻頭角步道). So beautiful is this path that it has even been called the “Great Wall of Taiwan”.
For an even greater adventure, try hiking the Bitoujiao Cape Trail (鼻頭角稜谷步道), which includes the lighthouse. Budget 2-3 hours for the hike.
Nearby Longdong (龍洞 or Dragon Caves) is northern Taiwan’s adventure sports capital. Activities on offer at this rocky cape include the best scuba diving, rock climbing, and cliff diving in Northern Taiwan.
For cliff diving, you can just show up and do it like we did in the above photo (but exercise extreme caution; the waves can be really rough here). For scuba diving or rock climbing you’ll want to book something before you arrive.
Getting from Taipei to Bitoujiao and Longdong: For Bitoujiao, take the regular train to Ruifang then transfer to the Gold Fulong Beach tourist shuttle bus (#856), which is covered by the Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass. Get off at Bitou (鼻頭), from where it’s a 25-minute walk.
To reach Longdong, stay on the same bus past Bitoujiao and get off at Longdonggang (Longdong Harbor or龍洞港) stop. Walk to the waterfront, turn right, and follow the road along the cape. When the road ends, continue walking along the rocks around the cape to find the main rock climbing and cliff diving areas.
Fulong is arguably Northern Taiwan’s best and most popular beach (see more info in my guide to Northern Taiwan’s best beaches here). What makes is special is how the beach occupies a thin peninsula that sticks out into the sea, separated from the mainland by the Shuang River. Crossing the bridge over to the beach is a special experience.
Fulong is also known for Hohaiyan Rock Festival, a free music festival that is held on the beach every summer, as well as the ultra impressive Fulong Sand Sculpture Festival (see my kids in photo above), usually held from summer to fall.
Note that there is a NTD100 entry fee for the beach ($10 for kids), which includes the use of showers and changing rooms. If you don’t want to pay, head to the free beach at Fulong, which is in front of the Fulong Seaside Park.
When in town, don’t miss the chance to try a Fulong Bento Box (福隆便當), the most famous lunchbox in all of Taiwan. Fullon chain’s Fulong Hotel is a great, family-friendly hotel suitable for a weekend getaway.
Getting from Taipei to Fulong Beach: Trains from Taipei to Fulong take approximately 60-90 minutes and depart regularly throughout the day.
Alternatively, Fulong is the final stop on the Gold Fulong Tourist Shuttle Bus (#856), free with a Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass, which beans you could also potentially visit Jiufen, Golden Waterfall, or Longdong on the same day.
Caoling Historic Trail
Lonely Planet Taiwan once said, “If you can only do one hike in Taiwan, make it this one.” That is a pretty bold statement, as there are so many incredible hikes in Taiwan, but there’s no denying that the Caoling Historic Trail (草嶺古道) is a spectacular one. The hike takes 3-4 hours to complete, and you can start or finish your hike at Fulong Beach (#22).
The trail was built in 1807 and was once the only route between Danshui and Yilan. The main features of the trail are awesome sea views and slopes covered in silvergrass in November in Taiwan, when it becomes very crowded.
For a more intense hike that includes incredible coastal bluffs and grazing buffalo, you can add the lesser-known Taoyuan Valley Trail (桃源谷步道) to the end of your hike, making for a full day of hiking.
Getting from Taipei to Caoling Historic Trail: You can either start the trail from Fulong on one side, or Dali (a stop on the local train line) on the other side. If you continue on to Taoyuan Valley, you will come out around Daxi train station.
Taipei Day Trips to the South
My recommended day trips from Taipei to the south begin right next to Shenkeng (#11) and Shiding (#12), but I had to draw a line between east and south somewhere!
Are you a tea geek, or want to learn more about Taiwan’s unique tea culture? Then head directly to Pinglin. This district of New Taipei City is home to one of the world’s largest tea museums, and is famous for its delicately melon-flavored Baozhong tea.
Start in Pinglin village, where you can spend some time in Pinglin Tea Museum. Next, hop on a bike and cycle the Beishi Creek Fish Watching Trail (北勢溪觀魚步道) past picturesque tea fields. Before heading back to Taipei, dine at one of several tea-themed restaurants, which specialize in all manner of tea-infused dishes, or check out the town’s little Old Street.
For something really special, head to Shiding Bagua Tea Plantation (石碇八卦茶園), an incredibly beautiful terraced tea plantation with Fei-ts’ui (Feicui) Reservoir in the background (see photo above). The Thousand-Island Lake (千島湖) viewpoint is also nearby.
Shiding Bagua Tea Plantation and Thousand-Island Lake viewpoint are not easy to get to. If you get off at the right stop on the Xindian to Pinglin bus, you can walk down to them. Alternatively, join this tea-focused day tour from Taipei and don’t worry about how to get there.
Wulai Hot Spring Village
Directly south of Taipei, Wulai district (烏來區), New Taipei City is yet another area that offers an eclectic mix of activities to enjoy on a day trip from Taipei, including hot springs, river tracing, a great day market, and aboriginal culture. See here for my full guide to Wulai District.
In fact, Wulai is the closest aboriginal village to Taipei, home to the Atayal (Taiya) people, famous for their facial tattooing. Arriving at Wulai, you can first peek into the free Wulai Aboriginal Museum before exploring Wulai Old Street, with its countless aboriginal snacks and millet wine (xiaomijiu or 小米酒).
Next, cross the river and take your pick of the numerous private hot spring facilities (what’s left of the free ones along the river are no longer worth visiting). From there you can either walk or ride the small train to Wulai Falls, the highest in Northern Taiwan at 80 meters. There’s a cable car to the top of the falls, and this is also a great spot to see cherry blossoms in spring.
For those interested in river tracing, one of the best routes in northern Taiwan is found at Jiajiuliao Stream (加九寮溪). It includes an awesome rock waterslide that can’t be missed (yep, that’s me in the photo above!) Make sure to bring appropriate river tracing gear and never go alone.
Getting to Wulai: Bus 849 from Xindian MRT station leaves about once every 15 minutes and takes 45 minutes to reach Wulai Old Street.
For Jiajiuliao Stream stream, get off at Chenggong (成功) stop, walk down the hill and across Jiajiuliao Suspension Bridge. The trail to the river begins a few minutes past the road on the left. You’ll want to walk a ways up the trail before getting into the river.
Wai Ao Beach, Yilan
Wai Ao is a little further away then other Taipei beaches, but if you make the journey, you won’t regret it. The scenery here and view looking out at Turtle Island (Guishan Island or 龜山島) is just a taste of what lies further to the south around Taroko Gorge (#29).
The waves aren’t too wild at Wai Ao, so it’s a great place to learn how to surf. You can rent a board nearby from the shops facing the beach.
Getting from Taipei to Wai Ao: The local train from Taipei to Wai Ao takes about 2 hours. From tiny Wai Ao station, walk to the water and head to the right side of the beach for the surfing area.
Jiaoxi Hot Springs, Yilan
Visiting Jiaoxi (Jiaosi or 礁溪) is my personal favorite of all the things to do in Yilan, and one of the best hot spring towns that is easily accessible from Taipei. Compared to Beitou in Taipei City, it is cheaper and has better choices for public (mixed sex) springs and for kids. Read my detailed guide to Jiaoxi Hot Spring here.
I’ve been to Jiaoxi at least a dozen times, and we almost always go to the same two hot spring spas: Chuan Tang Spa (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor) or Art Spa Hotel (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor). There are other better places to stay in Jiaoxi, but these have the best hot spring facilities.
Both of them have dozens of different tubs, some with relaxing scents and colorful water. They also have scented steamrooms, play areas for young kids, and Art Spa Hotel even has a tall hot water slide (best for older kids only).
Jiaoxi also has a great easy hiking trail to Wufengqi Waterfall (五峰旗瀑布), a short taxi ride from town, or the longer and lesser-known (but more beautiful) hike to Yuemeikeng Falls (月眉坑瀑布, pictured above).
Another awesome thing to do in Jiaoxi is eat Japanese food while soaking your feet in hot water, or drink local craft beer (there’s even a green algae one) in Tangweigou Hot Spring Park (湯圍溝溫泉公園).
Getting from Taipei to Jiaoxi: While the train from Taipei to Jiaoxi is more reliable, the bus that departs from the indoor bus terminal at Taipei City Hall MRT is often faster (so long as the traffic isn’t too bad) and unlike the train, you are guaranteed a seat.
Kavalan Distillery, Yilan
Did you know that Taiwan makes some of the best whiskeys in the world? Kavalan Distillery, located in Yilan County, has won gold medals at the World Whiskies Awards for several years running.
Tours of the facility are free, including a whiskey sample at the end. You’ll just have to find your way there! The tours are in Mandarin, but you can contact them to arrange an English tour in advance.
A more interesting option is to make your own bottle of whiskey on this English guided tour. If you’d like to do this but without the tour from Taipei, you can also book it by contacting Kavalan directly. They sometimes take a while to reply.
If you’re in the area and also like beer, don’t miss Jim & Dad’s Brewing Company, which do excellent brews made unique with local, seasonal ingredients.
Getting from Taipei to Kavalan Distillery: If you don’t have your own wheels, your best bet would be to take the bus or train to Yilan station and then hop in a cab (about 20 minutes).
Taroko Gorge, Hualien
You’d have to be a little bit crazy to do this, but it’s possible to do a day trip to Taroko Gorge from Taipei. Taroko Gorge is Taiwan’s premier scenic attraction. You can see my guide to Taroko Gorge here and my guide to other amazing things to do in Hualien County.
It is pretty normal to visit Taroko Gorge in one long day if you’re staying in the area, but adding a 2 to 3-hour train ride EACH WAY from Taipei makes it an extremely long day.
Still, it can be done! If you don’t want to figure out the logistics on your own (and risk the chance of not getting train tickets, arranging transport to Taroko Gorge after you arrive, etc.), this day tour from Taipei has transportation included.
Alternatively, you can forget about trying to get train tickets, and just fly from Taipei to Hualien, then start your Taroko tour from there.
Getting from Taipei to Taroko Gorge: See my guide to Taroko Gorge for all the details.
Lion’s Head Mountain
Hopping from the east coast over to the west coast of Taiwan, Lion’s Head Mountain (Shitoushan or 獅頭山) will appeal to those looking to get off the beaten track and have a little adventure getting there. See my guide to Lion’s Head Mountain here.
Lion’s Head Mountain is a small mountain covered in Buddhist and Taoist cave temples connected by a network of hiking trails. The mountain straddles Hsinchu and Miaoli counties.
Nearby Nanzhuang has an atmospheric Old Street in Hakka country.
Getting from Taipei to Lion’s Head Mountain: Plan for a long day getting there and back, which can include a fantastic scooter ride or a few buses. See all the details in my full guide to Lion’s Head Mountain linked above.
Miaoli County (苗栗縣) is the kind of place you go after you’ve been everywhere else in Taiwan, and it becomes your new favorite.
Internationally recognized for its “slow living, slow travel” towns, Miaoli is a predominantly Hakka county. It’s best to have your own wheels to explore its various attractions, but if you are determined, you can visit most of them by public transport as well, even as day trips from Taipei.
Some of the most popular attractions in Miaoli include strawberry picking at Dahu (see photo of my daughter above), Tai’An hot spring, Sanyi Wood Sculpture Museum, Remains of Longteng Bridge, and Flying Cow Ranch.
Getting from Taipei to Miaoli: Regular trains, buses, and the high speed rail provide access to Miaoli, but you’ll have to look up transportation for each sight on consult my guide to Miaoli.
Taichung & Sun Moon Lake
Taichung (台中) is Taiwan’s second largest city by population (after New Taipei City), and is becoming an increasingly popular destination for visitors thanks to its unique museums, great dining choices, and art-oriented attractions.
Only two hours by train/bus, or one hour on the high speed rail from Taipei, it is perfectly feasible to do a day trip to Taichung from Taipei.
Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) is one of Taiwan’s most famous attractions. It’s actually in Nantou County, but most people get there from Taichung. Although it’s best to stay overnight at Sun Moon Lake, it can be done as a day trip from Taichung, and if you really want to squeeze it in, as a day trip from Taipei.
Getting from Taipei to Taichung and Sun Moon Lake: Regular buses and trains connect Taipei to Taichung station. Taichung’s High Speed Rail station is a little out of the town center, but can be convenient for reaching certain attractions.
The shuttle bus from Taichung to Sun Moon Lake takes around 90 minutes, while Kuo-Kuang bus 1833 travels several times per day from Taipei Bus Station directly to Sun Moon Lake (about 4 hours).
Alishan (阿里山) is Taiwan’s most popular mountain resort. It is famous for its high mountain teas, the Alishan Forest Railway, ancient trees, and sunrises over seas of clouds. See my detailed guide to Alishan and surrounding areas.
Like Taroko Gorge and Sun Moon Lake, it is a little crazy to do Alishan as a day trip from Taipei, but it is certainly possible. All you have to do is start really early, and consult my detailed guide to getting from Taipei to Alishan.
One problem with this is that it will be impossible to see the sunrise without spending the night at Alishan. But one solution is that you can take an overnight bus from Taipei to Alishan, which gets there early enough to catch the sunrise.
Getting from Taipei to Alishan: See my detailed Alishan transportation guide for all the juicy details. Here’s the link for the overnight bus from Taipei to Alishan, which departs Taipei Bus Station once per week on Friday evening only and takes about 6 hours.
Taipei Day Trips to the West
Heading west on a day trip from Taipei, culture lovers are going to find the most possibilities, from fascinating temples to pottery towns, while going a little further will bring you to fishing harbors and natural attractions, not to mention Northern Taiwan’s most famous amusement park.
At the last stop, we will come full circle at Bali on the Northwest coast, across the river from Beitou, Yangmingshan, and Danshui.
Banqiao and Xinzhuang
These two dense suburbs of New Taipei City are looked over by most tourists. However, having lived in Banqiao (板橋) for five years and Xinzhuang (新莊) for six years, I think they are worth visiting for anyone who’s got a little more time in Taiwan or wants to get off the beaten track!
Banqiao is the seat of the New Taipei City government, and feels as developed as Taipei. If you happen to be in town during Christmas, don’t miss Christmasland, the over-the-top Christmas lights display at Banqiao Station Plaza. Other notable sights in Banqiao include the Lin Family Mansion (entrance fee covered by Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass), Nanya Night Market, and 435 Art District.
When I first moved to Xinzhuang to live with my wife’s family, there was no MRT access, so it really felt far away from (and more traditional than) Taipei. The yellow branch of the MRT opened it up a little, but it still has a crustier edge to it.
One reason to make the journey would be to visit Xinzhuang Temple Street (pictured above), a street with a handful of temples that predate even some of the oldest in Taipei. In the evening, the street is closed off to traffic and becomes a night market. See more details in my guide to the best night markets around Taipei.
Near Xinzhuang Temle Street, picturesque, pedestrian only Crescent Bridge (新月橋) connects Xinzhuang to Banqiao a few steps away from 435 Art District, meaning you can easily visit both districts in one day.
Getting from Taipei to Banqiao and Xinzhuang: Banqiao station is on the blue MRT line and also has a train and HSR station. Xinzhuang is on the yellow line and takes slightly longer to reach from the city center.
Going further west into New Taipei city, Sanxia district (Sansia, Sanhsia or 三峽) is famous for Sanxia Old Street, a beautifully restored street of red brick buildings.
Besides exploring the Old Street and doing some serious snacking, you can’t miss Qingshui Zushi Temple (清水祖師廟), one of the most beautiful temples in Northern Taiwan.
It makes sense to combine a trip to Sanxia with Yingge, which is a short taxi ride away.
Sanxia District is also home to what is perhaps the most notorious hike in the greater Taipei area: Wuliaojian Trail (五寮尖). The hike features heartstopping terrain such as rope ladders straddling vertical cliffs, mountain-top ridges, and more.
No equipment or expertise is needed beyond basic trekking experience, but this is definitely a thrilling hike that adventure lovers (like my happy little crew of friends above) can’t miss!
Getting from Taipei to Sanxia: There are numerous buses to Sanxia depending on where you are coming from in Taipei. Use GoogleMaps for this one! Taxis from Sanxia to Yingge only take about 10 minutes.
Yingge Pottery Street
Sanxia’s neighbor, Yingge (鶯歌) is Taiwan’s undisputed center of pottery. The Yinngge Old Street (also known as Yingge Ceramics Street) has literally hundreds of shops and studios devoted to pottery and ceramics. See my guide to Yingge Pottery Street here.
You can find anything here, from cheap functional ware and tea sets to stunning artwork. The Yingge Ceramics Museum (新北市立鶯歌陶瓷博物館) is one of the best museums in Taiwan, and there are a few historic kilns in town that you can enter.
Getting from Taipei to Yingge: Regular trains from Taipei to Yingge take 20-35 minutes and depart frequently. If you’ve got the energy, you can also hire a bike at the Xinzhuang side of Crescent Bridge (see #34) and cycle to Yingge in about 30 minutes.
Daxi District, Taoyuan
Taoyuan, known mainly to outsiders for the Taoyuan International Airport, is almost totally ignored by international visitors. It isn’t all just urban sprawl though; there are certainly some attractions that are worth the day trip from Taipei, and parts of Taoyuan are known for their Hakka culture (see my Taoyuan city guide for more info).
Daxi district (大溪區, not to be confused with Daxi village on the east coast, see #23) has a handful of such attractions. Start with Daxi Old Street, which is especially known for its dried tofu (豆乾). Hakka dishes can also be sampled there.
Next, Cihu Mausoleum (慈湖陵寝) is one of the country’s most bizarre museums. Near the mausoleum where Chiang Kai-shek, the former ruler of Taiwan, is interred, hundreds of old Chiang Kai-shek statues from all over Taiwan have been placed in an expansive field.
Shimen Reservoir (石門水庫) is yet another great sight in the area. Along with Feicui Reservoir in Pinglin (#24), the reservoir provides water to millions of people in Taipei and Northern Taiwan. The reservoir is quite beautiful, and many locals like to visit after heavy rains to see water shooting out from certain spots in the dam.
Longtan District (龍潭) is yet another place worth visiting, where you can check out Window on World Theme Park (小人國主題樂園), the Taiwan Baseball Hall of Fame (棒球名人堂), biking trails around Longtan Lake, and the many seafood restaurants on Fish Street (活魚街). Thank you to a reader who lives in Longtan for making these last few suggestions!
Last but not least, the Xiao Wulai Waterfall and Sky Walk (小烏來瀑布/小烏來天空步道, photo above with my son) nearby is worth the trip if you’ve got your own wheels. It’s in Taoyuan’s Fuxing district, but near the above-mentioned sights in Daxi District.
Getting from Taipei to Daxi: It’s tough but possible to fit the first three sights into one day-trip from Taipei by public transportation.
For Daxi Old Street, take the regular train from Taipei Main Station to Taoyuan then transfer to bus 5096 to Daxi. Alternatively, take the MRT to Yongning Station then hop on bus 710, which takes 30-40 min to reach Daxi Old Street.
From Daxi, you can get to Cihu Mausoleum and Shimen Reservoir on Zhongli Bus 501 (you’ll need to head in different directions from Daxi for each one). The bus only runs about once per hour.
Leofoo Village Amusement Park
Leofoo Village (Liufu Cun or 六福村) in Hsinchu County is possibly the most popular amusement parks in Taiwan, and definitely the easiest one to get to from Taipei.
What began as a wildlife safari has now expanded to include four themed areas with 60+ rides, a large water park, and Leofoo Resort (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor), a hotel with rooms overlooking giraffes and other large animals. Besides the safari train still in operation, the park has one of only 300 white tigers in the world.
Getting from Taipei to Leofoo Village: This deal includes entrance ticket plus transportation from Taipei Main Station and Ximending, or this one includes entrance and the shuttle bus from Jingan, Songshan Airport, or Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT).
Yong An Fishing Harbor
Seafood lovers looking for another totally off-the-beaten-track day trip from Taipei can head to YongAn Fishing Harbor (永安漁港) on the coast of Taoyuan.
Like so many other fishing markets in Taiwan, you will be greeted with seemingly unlimited seafood choices, any of which you can purchase and have prepared for you at numerous restaurants on site.
There’s also a lovely pier and colorful (if a little run down) pedestrian bridge. But the real beauty of this spot is that I can almost guarantee you will be the only foreign visitor when you go.
Getting to Yong An Fishing Harbor: The downside is that it’s not super easy to get here by public transportation. Start by taking the regular train from Taipei to Zhongli in Taoyuan, then board Taoyuan bus 505 to Yong An Harbor.
Congratulations if you’ve read this far! For the final entry, we are going not to Bali—not the tropical island in Indonesia, but Bali district (八里區), New Taipei City, Taiwan.
While just about every tourist in Taiwan has Danshui (#3) on their radar, few realize that there is a similar promenade on the other side of the river, called Bali Old Street (八里渡船頭老街). There you’ll find all kinds of delicious treats and great views, minus the foreign tourists (but still lots of local ones).
Bali is dominated by Guanyin Mountain (觀音山), part of the same massif as Yangming Mountain (#2) across the river. The Shihsanhang Museum of Archaeology is also located in Bali and the entrance fee is covered by the Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass.
Getting from Taipei to Bali: The easiest way is to start your day at Danshui, then take one of the regular ferries across the river. You can even swipe your EasyCard or to board the ferry.
Well, you deserve a pat on the back if you’ve read all the way to here. I’d love to hear what your favorite day trips from Taipei are, so please comment below if I missed your favorite one!