My journey in New Taipei City continues to another district, which is Pingxi. Previously I wrote about a district of gold and copper mining, this time around I am bringing you to districts that are popularly associated with its history of being an important coal mining hub during early of 20th century.


Not only that, these places are famous for its romantic sites (mostly featured on popular TV dramas). Now, grab you the-other-half’s hand and visit this place! (joking).

Read also: Things to do in New Taipei City - Part 2


Pingxi and Shifen towns are both located in eastern New Taipei City. These towns are blessed with unique culture elements and strong history tales as well as Taiwan’s alluring ecological treasures. Most visitors are coming here for the exciting Sky Latern Festival held annually where they will create their own Chinese lantern (with wishes written on it) and fly it into the sky. 


Though I learned that there are plenty of activities and spots you could explore here, these are some of them that I managed to discover during my trip:


1. Shifen Waterfall

Being Taiwan’s largest cascade falls, Shifen Waterfall stands as one of the scenic gems in Pingxi District and dubbed as the mini Niagara Falls of Taiwan due to its bedrock slopes in the opposite direction of the water flow


Reminder: Please check the weather forecast and season. The waterfall looks even prettier when there is a rainfall before your visit. It gets pretty disappointing when it is dry but still a great sight to see. 


I bet most of you will definitely enjoy visiting Shifen Waterfall. There are few mini shops selling food, snacks, drinks and some souvenir around the waterfall area. You can just buy your meal here if you feeling hungry. 


If you are lucky, you will get to see a stunning rainbow (during clear days) when the water flows down along the 20-meter fall and plunges into the large lake beneath called “Rainbow Pond”.

In order to get to the waterfall from Shifen Tourism Center, you need to walk around 15 minutes. It is just a leisure walk. You will be treated with green trees and breathtaking river view along the way, which I found quite breathtaking.


Tip: Driving? simply park your car at the parking lot nearby the Shifen Tourism Center and payment can be made upon exit. You could also take visit here by bus.

Location: Shifen Scenic Area, Pingxi District, New Taipei City.
Hours: Summer (June – September) 09:00 – 18:00, Winter (October – May) 09:00 – 17:00.
Getting there (by public transport): Hop on Taipei Bus 795 (Taiwan Tourist Shuttle) and Capital Bus 1577 to the Shifen Tourism Center.


2. Shifen Old Street

Shifen Old Street is the most popular stop along Pingxi Branch Line, which previously built to transport coal and today stands as a reminder of Taiwan’s past. I like the fact that they try to preserve their history and keep it alive for other generations to see and learn.


Besides, this street receives huge number of visitors coming for the sky lantern experience at this nostalgic ambiance and antiquity of Pingxi Line. For your information, it is quite instagrammable as well as requires a great amount of patience if you want to capture a less-people shot here. 


This street mainly filled with sky lantern and souvenir shops, grocery stores and restaurants located on both side of the railway. Feel free to roam around and have a look what they've got to offer.

Good to know: In order to release a sky lantern, that particular place need to obtain an approval from the government. This is done for some safety reasons. Shifen Old Street is one of the places that is legal (safe) to fly a lantern. 


Grab a chance to fly your own sky lantern with wishes written on it. The price that I got was one colour (NT$150), multiple colour (NT$200). Go around and choose the one that offers best price!

This street is not just about photography, sky lantern and unique scene of trains passing by, but also an ideal place to treat yourself with some delectable food and snacks. Kindly allocate a sufficient time to explore this place and its vicinity.

Location: Nanshanping, Pingxi Distric, New Taipei City Best time to visit: During evening for a beautiful view of sky lanterns flying up in the sky.




3. Pingxi Old Street

If Shifen Old Street is too crowded for you, head to Pingxi Old Street - quaint area that houses many classic buildings and variety of shops, café and street food vendors lined along the street.


You may get and fly your sky lantern here if you missed it while at Shifen Old Street. Treat your eyes with the beautiful view of the town with lush green mountains as background.


Take your time to explore the shops around the street. They have a lot of interesting stuffs to offer be it food, clothes, souvenirs and snacks.


4. Jingtong Old Street
  
If you have some extra time, visit Jingtong Old Street. It is just a small area with limited interesting attractions. Jingtong was once the largest coal mine established here and it used to be a popular place for people who are seeking for a job.


Expect to see some souvenir shops and exhibits that showcases the history of the area and the coal mining industry here. Plus, don’t miss out to try some unique traditional snacks and drinks sold here.


For me, the best highlight of Jingtong Old Street is the vintage train station here. It is ranked as one of the Top 100 Histroic Century-old Buildings in Taiwan. There are well-preserved wooden benches, vintage telephone sets and classic ticket gates inside the train station.



Same as Shifen and Pingxi Old Street, you may find some food stalls or shops along the street.


One more thing, there is a cool spot to photograph when you crossed to the other side of the railway.


5. Sky Lantern Police Station

This is, by far, the coolest police station I have ever visited. You’ll know later.


Located just a distance away from Jingtong Old Street, this police station is one of the reasons most visitors stopped by here. This station is not only unique because of its shape but also its exterior glass wall equipped with LED screen that will show something amazing. What is it?


Grab your chance to visit the police station and ask for a postcard (NT$ 150). Draw the postcard based on your creativity and when you’re done. They will scan your postcard artwork and show it on the screen. How cool is that? Refer the picture below to see the outcome.


As said by their government, this station is part of their efforts to transform this asset into multifunctional facilities serving as an observatory, cyclist stop, information center, food service and lantern shop.

Location: No. 141, Sec. 2, Jingán Rd., Pingxi Distr., New Taipei City
Hours: Police Station (24 hours), Sky Lantern Show (16:00 – 20:00 on holidays, 16:00 – 19:00 on weekdays and Closed on Lunar New Year’s Eve).



Places I stay:

1. Shuangxi BnB – Valley In Green

If you love to indulge in the local ambiance, simply opt to stay at any of the BnBs here. BnB stands for Bed and Breakfast and it is similar to AirBnB – you will stay at private family homes.


I was priviledged to stay at this wonderful BnB in Shuangxi District, Valley In Green. According to our host, running this building as BnB was never a part of their planning. Initially it was only to accommodate their friends and relatives before it is open for other guests. They aim to give visitors especially those from outside Taiwan to taste the locals’ life.


Here, you can make this place as home. You can watch TV with them, relax at the living room or enjoy your time in the room.


Your breakfast will be served and it is personally cooked by the owner. So, nice of them and it was super delicious breakfast. Most are organic, freshly picked from their mini garden. Healthier choice, of course.


What’s my favourite spot? This one. A small room outside the main building.


Perfect spot to admire the breathtaking views. I spent my early morning staying here and get my works done. Truly serene! Check out their official website www.valleyingreen.ego.tw.


2. Park City Inn (Downtown)

If you are planning to explore the New Taipei City downtown, I would like to recommend Park City Inn & Hostel. It is conveniently located in the downtown (near Dingxi Station), a perfect stay for you to relax as well as exploring the city.


This hotel brand is designated to cater the needs among modern youth travel. The interior is cool and so fresh. I love to sit and enjoy my moment or talk with other guests.


There is a small kitchen area for you to prepare your simple meal or drink while doing your works on the tables provided.


I indeed had a good sleep that night before leaving New Taipei City on the next day. For rates and more info, simply visit their official website at www.parkctinn.com.




This article was made possible from a trip organised by New Taipei City Government. As always, all opinions are my own. Check out my other New Taipei City articles - CLICK HERE