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Keelung (基隆 or Jilong in Mandarin, but pronounced more like Keelung in the Taiwanese language) is a city on the northeast coast of Taiwan and part of the Greater Taipei-Keelung Metropolitan Area. It is built around Northern Taiwan’s largest port, and second largest in the country after Kaohsiung Port.
Keelung is a relatively small city but with a rich history and culture. While most people come from Taipei for just a few hours to feast at the renowned Keelung Night Market, there are enough things to do in Keelung to justify spending one or two full days there, some popular and some very off-the-beaten-track.
These include historic forts, beaches and islands, fishing harbors with fresh seafood, one-of-a-kind temples, and a few excellent museums. The city can also easily be combined with other popular day trips from Taipei, such as Jiufen Old Street, Shifen Waterfall, Houtong Cat Village, and/or Yehliu Geopark.
Note that Keelung is known for its rain, even moreso than Taipei, and is nicknamed “Rainy City”. In fact, the last two times I visited, for researching this article, the city lived up to its name – it didn’t just rain. It poured. Find out when chances of rain are lower in my guide to when to visit Taiwan.
In this guide, I’ll cover a full range of Keelung attractions, starting from the famous night market in the city center and spreading outward. If you’re spending more time in Keelung, there’s a handy Keelung Facebook group. I’ve also got a general Keelung travel guide for planning your visit.
Table of Contents
Getting to and around Keelung
Тhеrе аrе ѕеvеrаl ways to get frоm Таіреі tо Кееlung. It takes just under an hour to get there by car or public transportation. Yоu саn ѕwіре уоur ЕаѕуСаrd fоr аll оf thе bеlоw орtіоnѕ – you don’t need to reserve a seat or buy a ticket in advance. You could also hire a driver for the day.
Frоm Таіреі Маіn Ѕtаtіоn, rеgulаr (ТRА) trаіnѕ dераrt often fоr Кееlung. They take 40 tо 50 mіnutеѕ. Yоu сan аlѕо hop on thе trаіn аt Ваnqіао оr Wаnhuа ѕtаtіоns (before Taipei station) оr Ѕоngѕhаn ѕtаtіоn (after Taipei station).
Аn еvеn fаѕtеr wау tо rеасh Кееlung іѕ bу buѕ. Yоu саn tаkе buѕ 2088 frоm Таіреі Сіtу Наll buѕ ѕtаtіоn аnd gеt оff аt Таіwаn Роwеr Соmраnу ѕtор (電力公司站, 25 mіnutеѕ), whісh іѕ оnlу 3 mіnutеѕ frоm Кееlung Nіght Маrkеt.
Іt’ѕ еаѕу tо vіѕіt Кееlung аftеr а dау trір tо Јіufеn. Frоm Јіufеn Оld Ѕtrееt, tаkе buѕ 788 (hеаdіng dоwnhіll, bоund fоr Кееlung Тrаіn Ѕtаtіоn) fоr 50 mіnutеѕ. Gеt оff аt Yіеr Rd. Іntеrѕесtіоn (Теmрlе Nіght Маrkеt) ѕtор (義二路口), whісh іѕ оnlу 5 mіnutеѕ frоm thе nіght mаrkеt.
From Shifen or other stops on the Pingxi train line, there are a few ways to get to Keelung. You could ride the train to Ruifang station, then take a bus from there to Keelung city center. Another option is ride the Pingxi line all the way to Haikeguan or Badouzi stations (see the end of this article). Those stations are in eastern Keelung and have a few cool attractions. From there, you can hop of the Keelung Tourist Shuttle 99 to get to the Keelung city center and night market.
Getting around Keelung
Frоm Кееlung trаіn ѕtаtіоn, whісh wаѕ tоtаllу rеbuіlt аnd ехраndеd іn 2015, it only takes 10 minutes on foot to reach the famous night market. You can also walk to a few other attractions in town which I’ll describe in the first section below (things to do in Keelung City Center).
For attractions outside of the city center, which I’ll cover in the second section below (things to do around Keelung), they will be too far to walk. You can either take the super useful Keelung Tourist Shuttle 99, which goes to almost all of them, or take a taxi.
Another option is to rent a scooter in Keelung, which is what I did. I rented from 昇立機車出租, which is right in front of the train station. A local Taiwanese scooter license or International Driver’s Permit is required.
Yet another option is to hire a driver for the day to visit the various sights in Keelung.
Where to Stay in Keelung
While most people visit Keelung as a day trip from Taipei, there are enough things to do in town to warrant spending the night.
Also see my guide to the best places to stay in Taipei.
Things to Do in the Keelung City Center
All of the attractions in this section are reachable on foot from Keelung Train Station.
Keelung Night Market
Miaokou Night Market (廟口夜市) in Keelung is the city’s most famous attraction and one Taiwan’s top night markets. Visitors come from across Taiwan and the world (including chef and documentary host Anthony Bourdain) to eat delicious Taiwanese street foods at this picturesque night market. Many even say it is their favorite in all of Taiwan.
Many stalls at Keelung Night Market even open in the afternoon, but it gets really packed in the evening. The night market is a 10-minute walk from Keelung Train Station via Maritime Plaza (see below).
Read my walking tour of Keelung Night Market to find out what to eat in the night market. It is the only night market in Taiwan where every stall’s specialty is labeled in Mandarin, English, and Japanese.
Khoo Tsu-song Old Mansion
When visiting Keelung Night Market, I highly recommend taking a little detour to Khóo Tsú-song Old Mansion (許梓桑古厝). These are the ruins of a 1913 house that belonged to local politician Khoo Tsu-song during the Japanese colonial period in Taiwan.
Today, the ruins of the house are overgrown with vegetation, making them quite picturesque. You can also enjoy a fine view of the city from their vantage point.
The ruins are surprisingly close to the night market. To find them, follow the night market to the end of Rensan Road (仁三路) then, instead of turning left on Aisi Road (愛四路) as the night market does, turn right on Aisi Road. The staircase up to the ruins is right next to a small restaurant called 張仙燴飯.
The ruins are just a few minutes up the stairs. Watch for some beautiful tilework (labeled 基隆八景磁磚畫 on GoogleMaps). Stick to the main stairs, though, as locals in the area are not fans of tourists wandering into their yards. GoogleMaps says that Khoo Tsu-song Old Mansion is “closed”, but there’s nothing stopping visitors from entering.
Keelung Harbor and Maritime Plaza
Keelung Harbor is the largest in Northern Taiwan and the main way that goods reach Taipei. There are often large cruise ships and Taiwanese navy ships docked in it. The harbor is surprisingly picturesque when viewed from various vantage points around it (I’ll mention a few in entries further down).
Most visitors peer at the harbor from Guomen Square (國門廣場), which is right next to the train station and has the Keelung 1915 Oceanic Culture & Art Museum (1915陽明海洋文化藝術館). Then they walk to Maritime Plaza (海洋廣場), at the head of the harbor. Besides harbor views, the plaza has several statues and 3D art installations, most of which are lit up at night.
Nighttime is really the best time to visit, when Keelung Cultural Center, Keelung East Coast Shopping Mall, Keelung Port, and other buildings along the port are all lit up or have animations projected onto them.
Huzishan Keelung Landmark
When arriving in Keelung, you might be forgiven for momentarily thinking you’ve teleported to Hollywood in Los Angeles. That’s because of the KEELUNG sign!
Up on the hill behind Keelung train station, the word KEELUNG is prominently displayed in white letters – just like the famous Hollywood sign – a greeting to arriving passengers on cruise ships. Once just big, white letters, they have since between replaced with LED letters that can now change colors and display animations at night, but unfortunately these were not working well when I last visited.
You can actually walk right up to the letters. It’s about a 10-minute walk uphill from the train station to Keelung Landmark Park (基隆地標公園).
Zhongzheng Park & Keelung Guanyin Statue
If you’d like to see more in Keelung than just the harbor and market, then I recommend going up to Zhongzheng Park (基隆中正公園). The park sits on a hill with fantastic views of Keelung Port. Like so many other parks, streets, and districts in Taiwan, the park is named after former ROC president Chiang Kai-shek, who is nicknamed Zhong Zheng.
The best spot to visit is the Buddhist-themed park around Keelung Guanyin Statue (基隆中正公園觀音大士像), the large white statue of the bodhisattva that can be seen from all over Keelung. The plaza around it includes a temple, giant drum, traditional pavilions, a few foods stalls, and various fair-like children’s games. You can even climb up inside the Guanyin statue. It is definitely one of the most recognizable religious landmarks in Taiwan.
You can actually walk up to the park (passing Zhupu Altar, see next entry, on the way). Start at the staircase at Arch of Zhongzheng Park (中正公園牌樓) on Xin’er Road. It takes about 15 minutes on foot from Keelung Port or night market to the park, but you’ll need to climb some stairs. Alternative, hop in a taxi or take bus Keelung Tourist Shuttle 99.
Zhupu Altar (主普壇) is a large temple in Keelung associated with the Ghost Festival in Taiwan. The Ghost festival is a month-long event – the 7th moth of the lunar calendar, usually in August and/or September – and several of Taiwan’s most important Ghost Month activities take place in Keelung and at this temple.
The most important day of the festival in Zhongyuan Pudu, the 15th day of Ghost Month. Major festivities take place at the temple, which is lit up at night.
The temple sits on a hill next to Zhongzheng Park, with walking paths connecting the two (Zhongzheng park would be to the left of the above photo). Even if you visit outside of Ghost Month, the temple is still worth a look. Learn about other temples in the greater Taipei area here.
Keelung Totoro Mural
The Keelung Totoro Mural (基隆龍貓公車站) is on the winding drive up to Zhongzheng Park. It used to be visible from the road as you drove up, but as the trees got taller, it is now hidden and a little tough to find.
From Zhongzheng Park, you can find it by walking downhill on Shoushan Road. Watch for a small staircase on the right with the words 壽山亭 beside it. The staircase leads to a small pavilion that was occupied by a homeless person when I last visited, and the mural is on the wall behind it.
The road up to Zhongzheng park continues past it to a lesser-known attraction, Yizheng Park (役政公園). This is a small, free, outdoor military museum. There you can see an ROC tank, fighter airplane, missile, ship propeller, and more.
The Keelung 228 Monument, honoring the 228 Incident, when the KMT massacred some 20,000 Taiwanese people, is a few steps further up the road. Don’t go out of your way for Yizheng Park or the monument, but if you’re heading to Ershawan Fort (see next entry) they are a short walk away from it.
Ershawan Fort (二沙灣砲台, also called Ershawan Gun Placement, Ershawan Battery, and Tenable Gate of the Sea) is what’s left of a sprawling fort overlooking Keelung Port.
The fort was built during the Qing Dynasty and was the site of a battle during the Sino-French War. This war prompted local rulers to build more forts on the coast, notably in Tamsui, as well as Shiqiuling Fort in Keelung (see the final entry of this article).
There isn’t a whole lot left of this fort besides a few walls and canon placements with real canons on display in them, all in a shady, forested setting.
The views of the harbor are mostly obstructed by vegetation, as well, so I only really recommend visiting this fort (and perhaps nearby Yizheng Park) if you are particularly interested in local history. It doesn’t compare to the more impressive and better preserved forts of Anping in Tainan, the former capital of Taiwan, and the view from Zhongzheng Park nearby is better.
Note that if you take the Keelung Tourist Shuttle 99 up here, it will stop at the fort and Yizheng Park before getting to Zhongzheng Park.
Starbucks Yi 14 branch
The Starbucks Yi 14 branch (星巴克義14門市) in Keelung is on the company’s list of ‘special’ Starbucks across Taiwan. These are mostly Starbucks branches that occupy antique or otherwise unique structures or buildings.
The Yi 14 location is housed in a 1950 baroque building, which is best appreciated from the outside – you’ll have to cross the street to get a decent view. On the inside, there isn’t anything terribly special, architecturally, except for the unique octagonal windows, red iron handrails on the staircase, and original stone floors.
You can find what is probably the most interesting Starbucks in Taiwan in my guide to the best things to do in Hualien.
Things to Do around Keelung
The following Keelung attractions are still within the Keelung City limits, but will require a scooter, taxi, or bus ride to reach.
By scooter, if you drive around Niuchou Harbor (牛稠港), you can then turn left onto a small road that goes up Qiuzi Mountain (Qiuzishan) to Qiuzishan Lighthouse (球子山燈塔). From the parking spot, you’ll need to walk about 10 minutes up to the lighthouse.
Continue a few minutes past the lighthouse to the peak, Huohao Shan (火號山) for an unbeatable view (pictured above) of the entire Keelung Port.
Fairy Cave Temple
At the base of the mountain, and just a few minutes past the turnoff for Qiuzishan, Fairy Cave Temple (仙洞巖最勝寺 or Xiandongyan Zuisheng Cave Temple) is one of the most unique places to visit in Keelung.
Fairy Cave temple is an impressive temple built into a coastal cave system, with narrow, incense-filled passages and stone carvings dating to the Japanese period inside. Local legend has it that an actual fairy once inhabited the cave. Unfortunately, the caves were totally closed throughout the COVID pandemic, including when I visited (I managed to shoot the above pic through the caged entrance, but the caves go way deeper behind what you see in this picture). The caves have since been reopened.
Besides Fairy Cave Temple, a staircase leads uphill to Keelung Shengan Temple, which offers yet another unbeatable view of Keelung Port.
Another path from Fairy Cave Temple leads around the corner, down a narrow alley, and up to Buddha’s Hand Cave (佛手洞). Inside the cave, when you look up, the opening supposedly looks like the hand of Buddha. You can find loads of details and pictures of the Keelung cave temples here.
From Keelung city center, you can take 301, 302, or 304 to Xiandongyan/Foshoudong (仙洞巖/佛手洞) stop. The tourist shuttle doesn’t go here.
There’s another lighthouse with a view in the area that you can also get to by scooter. Keelung Lighthouse (基隆燈塔) is in one of several port areas of the harbor, where huge cranes unload shipping containers.
You’ll feel like you’re driving right into the port, then at the last minute you can ride up a very steep road to the lighthouse. This lighthouse is right at the mouth of Keelung Harbor and offers a good view looking out at Heping Island and Keelung Islet (see those below). The lighthouse building was closed when I visited.
From the lighthouse, a rather sketchy road leads on to the next entry, or you can head back to the main road for a safer approach.
Just down the coast from Keelung Lighthouse lies the ruins of Baimiweng Fort (白米甕砲臺). Also known as Holland Castle and Gun Emplacement of Fort Holland, this is what’s left of a Dutch-built fort dating all the way back to the mid-1600s.
The fort was briefly occupied by the French during the Sino-French war, then rebuilt during the Japanese colonial period. The gun embankments have a commanding view of the sea as well as a large power plant adjacent to it on the coast, one of several massive ruined structures made of cement that Keelung is known for (I’ll cover a few more below).
Waimushan Fishing Harbor
One of the best places to eat fresh seafood in Keelung is Waimushan Fishing Harbor (外木山漁港). It’s only a kilometer west along the coast from Baimiweng and Keelung Lighthouse, but you’ll need to take a totally different road to get there – from the city center, take Provincial Highway 2 out of town.
Like so many other fishing harbors in Taiwan, Waimushan Fishing harbor has a cluster of seafood stalls and restaurants right on the harbor. You can order super fresh seafood to be served raw or cooked on the spot. This market is housed in the most derelict building we’ve been into at any harbor, but the food was good.
The harbor is only a 5-minute drive from town, or you can get there on bus 305 or 308 from the train station. Alternatively, you can ride the Keelung Tourist Shuttle to Waimushan stop, but you’ll need to walk about 20 minutes to reach the harbor. The bus should actually pass the fishing harbor, so if you let the driver know, you may be able to get off there.
Dawulun (Waimushan) Beach
Just a few minutes further down the coast from Waimushan Fishing Harbor and Waimushan Shore Walk, Dawulun Beach (大武崙白沙灘, also called Waimushan Beach or Keelung Beach) is one of the closest beaches to Taipei city.
This is a golden sand beach with good swimming, but amenities are limited. A few shops across the street from the beach have snacks, drinks, and showers for a small fee.
It’s a 15-minute drive from Keelung to reach the beach. You can also take bus 305, 508, or ride the Keelung Tourist Shuttle 99 to Waimushan Shore Walk and then walk the remaining 15 minutes to get there.
Zhengbin Port Color Houses
In the opposite direction from Keelung (going east instead of west down the coast), there are a couple attractions worth visiting. The first is Zhengbin Port Color Houses (正濱港口彩色屋).
This is an Instagram-worthy row of connected buildings lining a small fishing habor that have been painted in vibrant colors. As is the case with many such sites, the color saturation in photos is usually cranked way up, so you may not be that impressed – and there isn’t anything to do here besides take a picture.
Still, the view of the houses from across the harbor is on the way to the Heping Island, so you can’t really miss it.
Agenna Shipyard Relics (阿根納造船廠遺址), the cement ruins of a former shipyard, are just around the corner from Zhengbin Harbor, just past the bridge to Heping Island.
Also nearby is the Keelung Indigenous Cultural Hall, a Taiwanese aboriginal museum. However, the museum is a little dated and doesn’t have much to see. It’s one of the stops on the Keelung Tourist Shuttle 99.
Heping Island (和平島 or Peace Island, formerly called Sheliao Island but renamed after WWII) is a small island just off the coast of Keelung and connected to the mainland by the short Heping Bridge. It’s not to be confused with Keelung Islet (see next entry).
The island is home to a Spanish-built fort dating to 1626, called Sheliao East Fort (社寮東砲台). It’s a bit of an uphill walk to the fort, but you’ll be rewarded with atmospheric ruins and a great view.
Heping Island Park (和平島公園) at the northern end of the island is by far the most popular attraction, especially since they installed the Heping Island Seawater Wading Pool (和平島公園海水泳池), a great spot for swimming in summer in Taiwan. Entrance to the park is NT 80 (40 for kids). There’s even a swimming pool specifically for dogs. You can save a little money by purchasing your ticket in advance.
Besides the swimming pool, the park has some beautiful coastal walks and lookout points. The park is only a 15-minute drive from Keelung City Center, or you can get there on Keelung Tourist Shuttle 99.
You can also visit Heping Island on this Jiufen, Shifen, and Heping Island day tour from Taipei. Read about other small islands in Taiwan here.
Keelung Islet is a small but very prominent volcanic island 3.5 kilometers off the coast of Keelung and Heping Island. It is visible from many places in Keelung, making it one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks.
After being closed for several years due to typhoon damage, the islet was reopened to visitors again in 2019. Most of the steep, uninhabited island is inaccessible. Visitors can enjoy a few walking trails, lookout points, and a lighthouse.
Badouzi and Bisha Harbor
Badouzi (八斗子) is a small coastal district of Keelung just east of Heping Island. Visitors come here to eat in seafood restaurants beside Badouzi Harbor (also called Bishha Harbor), and see public art installations on the coast at Fu Yu Park (復育公園).
Near Bisha harbor, the smaller Wanghaixiang Fishing Harbor (望海巷漁港) is where lanterns are floated on the sea as a part of the Keelung Ghost Festival on the 14th day of the 7th month on the lunar calendar.
Badouzi is home to the excellent and very popular National Museum of Marine Science and Technology (國立海洋科技博物館). This is a sprawling complex with lots of interactive displays, so it’s fun for kids. Adults can save a little money by prebooking tickets online.
Badouzi train station is a tourist attraction itself, as it is one of the most scenic train stations in Taiwan. Built in 2016, it is set right along the coast – reminiscent of the even more stunning Duoliang Station in Taitung.
This train station is now the starting point of the famous Pingxi Line, a train line that provides access to some of the most famous day trips and hikes around Taipei, including Houtong Cat Village, Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail, Shifen Waterfall, and Pingxi, where the famous Mass Lantern Release is held during the Lantern Festival.
You can also board the train at Haikeguan Station, the second stop, which is actually closer to the main sights of Badouzi.
Shen’Ao Elephant Trunk Rock
The Shen’Ao Elephant Trunk Rock (澳岬角 or 象鼻岩景觀區) is actually not in Keelung but in neighboring New Taipei City. Still, I mention it here because the Keelung Tourist Shuttle 99 goes there, after the above-mentioned stops along the coast, so you may consider adding it to your Keelung itinerary.
As the name suggests, this is a natural rock formation that looks very much like an elephant’s head and trunk. It attracts quite a few visitors and is located a short walk from the small Shen’ao Fishing Port.
The final entry I’d like to include for things to do in Keelung is yet another fort: Shiqiuling Fort (獅球嶺砲臺). This fort/gun placement is the highest of any in Keelung.
The fort was built in 1884, after the Sino-French War. Due to its high position above Keelung, it offers a fantastic view looking down on the city, port, and freeway leading into Keelung.
Although the National Freeway 1 to Keelung passes right below it (while going through a tunnel through the mountain), the fort is not easy to get to. Your best bet from the city center would be to hop in a cab (5 minutes) or walk (30 minutes uphill).
Well, that brings us to the end of my Keelung city guide. I hope you’ve found plenty of interesting things to do in Keelung! Let me know in the comments below if I’ve missed anything.