On day 2, we planned a trip to Shifen, which is about waterfalls, walking amongst lush green lanes and roads and mountains. It is so much better for those who can walk a bit – not much but say, about a km in one go. For those with little kids, it is a manageable journey. A carrier is always helpful and think needed, given the walk involved. Do not expect much food help, so carry what your child needs here.
See Taipei day 1 link here for introduction to Taipei and day 1 highlights.
- Day 3: Yehliu, Beitou and Fisherman’s Wharf
- Taroko Gorge and the city of Hualien experiences.
The trip to Shifen is about 2 hours train journey away from Taipei. OK, note that Taiwan has three types of trains in the city, and one should not get confused.
- MRT – which is for Taipei’s metro/tube/subway type travel within Taipei only
- TRA – The slower version of cross country trains which runs across Taiwan country
- HSR – the newer train which is High Speed Rail again throughout the country, but more powerful, fast, but costlier.
So, we took the TRA from Taipei Main, to Shifen. The platform for TRA is different than MRT but are very near to each other. It typically takes about 5-10min to buy the ticket (though can be bought online and then taken from the ticket counter after showing the print and ID proof). We went to platform 4 for the Shifen train.
Another thing. There are two types of trains – Chu-Kuang Express and Tzu-Chiang Express, with the former also having unassigned seating sold at 80% of the cost. Tzu-Chiang is all assigned seating and is faster as well. Interiors are much better.
Getting to Shifen
As mentioned above, we took the TRA from Taipei Main to Shifen. There are also some trains starting from Shilin station, so see what timings suit you and whether you want from Shilin. You take the train from Taipei Main to Ruifang (One hour) and then change the TRA at Ruifang to Shifen, which is another 30-45min. If you want to see the Jiufen gold park, you need to take a bus from this Ruifang, so you can plan Shifen and Jiufen on the same day as well, but we suggest start the day early as Shifen takes time.
Fun at Shifen station
At Shifen, the fact that you can walk right next to the tracks and even on it, while the train is at the platform or far away, is a thrill for many, especially the kids for whom it is a first time experience.
Shifen station, walking next to the tracks and even on it, to cross to the other side In fact, it gets more exciting when a train is approaching and people start shouting and ask everyone to get off track and the decibel level of the whole place, gets louder and louder.
Good luck hot air balloon: This is a very popular activity at Shifen station – where people write on the hot air balloon (costs TWD100) and sends it off, I guess people believe this goes to God and gets fulfilled.
Before you leave Shifen station for the waterfall
There are some local Chinese restaurants near the Shifen station for those who want to fill their tummy. Then, you wont find anything during the 20-25min walk and near the waterfall entrance, there is another cafe, although that is quite steeply priced.
Journey back to Taipei
The fact that there is a lot of travel, different modes of transport (trains, metros, walking etc) is involved, one can get quite tired by end of waterfalls. However, if one has time, they should go to Jiufen which has the famous Gold Mine Museum. From Ruifang station, you can take the bus opposite the station and after going from underpass, to the last bus station. Costs about NT15 and takes half hour. The ticket to the museum is NT100 and is open till 5pm.
While the trip was thoroughly exciting, fun and fulfilling, it was also tiring, as the kids’ face below shows it all
So post this trip, while my wife and mom were tired enough to do anything, my dad agreed to accompany me to go to Taipei 101 again to take the pictures there. When we went on day 1, it was too cold and seemed it would rain, so we headed to Shilin rather. So on day 2, we thought going to 101 to take the pictures will be a good idea.
It was, but only issue was it was cloudy. Nevertheless we did manage to take some awesome pics.
Taipei 101 pics – where to take them from
Well, people always ask – which is the best place to take pictures of Taipei 101 from. While the best views can be taken from Elephant hills, it might not be a feasible option to many of you who would not like to trek.
So, the next best answer is – outside Eslite Mall, on Songshan Road. The traffic junction there is a perfect spot to capture almost the whole of Taipei 101 with the traffic lights adding the magical twilight effect.
After spending about 25-30min in the cold taking the shots and talking to fellow photographers there, we had a quick coffee at the Agnis B coffee shop near City Mall MRT station and then off to our service apartment.
Day 3 to follow now… till then, enjoy the hot cuppa!