Day 3: Yehliu, Beitou and Fisherman’s Wharf
To an extent, one can say that the last day of our Taipei trip (before leaving for Hualien) was left for some of the best stuff Taipei could offer. However, while it appears to be, this above itinerary is actually not that hectic even with parents. We covered Yehliu geonational park, which is about two hours from Taipei by bus towards east of the Taiwan island. Then, Beitou which is about 45min by MRT in the northern outskirts of Taipei and summed up by a trip to the Fisherman’s Wharf.
Yehliu is a geopark with some stunning natural rock formations. It is next to the sea and hence has some great views and photography spots. About 1.5hours from Taipei by bus, which is NT$60 per person one way.
Beitou is a place where people go for natural hot water springs. There are many hotels there as well if one wants to stay and also have access to private natural hot water pools.
Fisherman’s Wharf is at the northern end of Taipei, near to Beitou where the Taipei river is close to meeting the sea. It is another place for some wonderful street food, seafood, a great photography spot and where one can just spend the evening relaxing. It is also next to Tamshi, which is a good mid-market shopping market.
Before we get into the details, incase you missed earlier, please see the day 1 or day 2 part of Taipei. We also visited Hualien in case you’re interested. Hualien is a retreat place with the famous Taroko Gorge trip.
Yehliu Geo-national Park
Going to Yehliu Park
Yehliu Geo-national park is about an hour’s bus journey away. The Easy-Card can be used in the bus. The bus (6XX number) is be taken is from Taipei Bus Terminus, but note that it is not at the same place as the Taipei Main Station, there are two bus terminals. One is called Taipei Bus Station (where MTR, HSR and TRS also meet and below the Q-square mall) while there is another bus station which is about 10-15min walk from Taipei Main (or the Q-square mall). It is called Guodao Bus Station and the link is here. Make sure that you go to the Guodao station. Chk out this website for more details on bus routes.
Enroute the Yehliu National Park
Since the day was going to be a long one and we wanted to avoid the group-tour traffic at the park (people traffic that is, especially those who travel in large groups), we thought of starting early today. We started from our service apartment at 7am and after a quick breakfast, took the 7:50am bus to Yehliu. Another positive of this was that we managed to get little traffic enroute. Also, note that the bus stops is via Post office, City Mall etc, so in case someone puts up around those locations, there are enough transportation options to go to Yehliu Park.
The bus journey to Yehliu is quite scenic and especially in the early morning sun, the colors come out really well.
Note that the journey is bit windy so for those who get motion sickness, recommend taking the tablet and not eating heavy breakfast. There are a lot of options around Yehliu to have breakfast so taking a quick bite before the bus journey should be workable.
Also, we asked the bus driver that you want to go to Yehliu and ask him to let you know when the stop comes.
When we alighted from the bus at the direction of the driver, we noticed that there was only one small signboard telling us where the park is. However, we read somewhere that the blue paint on the road is an excellent indicator leading you to the park. It looks something like this.
There are several restaurants along this route and also, some great photo-taking spots.
Yehliu National Park
The park itself is quite big and could take almost half day or more, though we covered the same in about 3-4 hours (by noon) as we had to other places to cover this day as well. There is an extry ticket here, about NT$100 per person and one can spend as much time inside. See this link for more information on the geopark. The park opens at 8am and closes around 5pm.
The park is mostly about surreal rock formations, has placards which describe how they are formed and other FAQs about the rocks there. We think one can look forward to two things here, one is nature’s beauty and how amazing nature’s creation can be. And second is that there are some ideal photography locations for portraits. Some of the tall rock formations are great background for nice portrait pictures.
There were many tourists taking the picture of the rock below, managed to sneak in a few seconds for taking one without them posing in front of this one! In case not already guessed, the rock resembles the shape of a leopard or one can also say tiger, which we all know is considered having very powerful qualities in some countries. Hence was quite a popular rock formation for many of the tourists there.
Moving on to Beitou
The next part of the journey was to Beitou. Need to walk back to the place where we got off in morning. One can also take a taxi to the bus stop but it is not easy to get one given that the number of taxis there are not enough compared to the number of tourists. We would reckon the distance of Yehliu Park to the bus stop is about a km or slightly more. One can have food at the restaurants enroute the walk, or wait till they enter the city later. We did not as we thought it might be better to try some new restaurant in the city.
Not to be. Seemingly running out of time (which later turned out to be a false alarm) we went straight for the bus, having some snacks enroute. And some energy bars! ha!
The bus took about 1.5hours and NT$60 or so per person, back to the city centre, Taipei Main Station. From there, we took the MRT direct to Beitou station. The red line takes to Beitou from where we change to the Xinbeitou line (pink color and just one station). The Xinbeitou train seems to be made keeping in mind the tourists as it is no normal MRT train from both exterior and the interior.
Note that Beitou is the name and what would be commonly spoken by one and all, when referring to the place where people go for the hot water springs, while in terms of MRT stations, Xinbeitou is a separate station than Beitou. Note the difference and actually, one needs to go to Xinbeitou.
Beitou is a famous spot for Taiwanese as well as tourists for its natural hot water springs. People can make a half day trip here, walk around and/or stay for hours in the public (NT$40 per person) hot water springs or go to the more exotic and private pools in the many hotels dotted around the hot water stream, which obviously costs more as well. Note that swimsuits are a must for those going to the public pools, so keep that in mind. Nevertheless, you can always buy the same on the spot as well. Not surprisingly, no photographs in the pool, please. haha!
Directions at Beitou were quite clear and there are maps all over the roads for the spots we were targetting. One can see all the spots just walking around but there are cabs around in case you dont want to do that. I think about 2-3km walk for seeing most of the spots would be there.
As for food, we could find some Western food restaurants and this one was right outside the MRT station in Xinbeitou. Highly recommended for their Italian. It was quite delicious.
Apart from the public pools, of which we didn’t take pictures for obvious reasons, there is this Hell Valley, whose name comes from the view that the smoking valley (due to hot water and sulphur fumes) resembles “hell”. Wonder how many people have seen hell before seeing this valley 😉
However, the story ended there. For some reason, Hell Valley was closed on that day. We didn’t know why and there was no one around there to tell the reason but a nasty looking “CLOSED” board spoilt that part of the afternoon.
Nevertheless, the camera did capture some bits of the smoking hot Hell Valley. And a glimpse of why and how it got its name.
Didn’t miss the hot water stream though…
There are some places along the trail, where the same hot water stream is open to everyone who just wants to have a quick feel of the waters. Perfect spot for dipping your feet into the warm waters, choose a relaxing spot and just chat away through till evening. Also, with some lights streaking through trees over the stream, the spot was one for taking some pictures especially in the low dusk skies…
Post the photography session our parents and me and my wife went for different objectives. City Hall MTR station has a good Uni-President departmental store which has decent collection of clothes and other stuff you would want to shop for. So parents went for that.
My wife and myself wanted some more of Taiwan, and we had seen some awesome pictures of the Fisherman’s Wharf. So we headed towards our different directions after taking the common Xinbeitou to Beitou pink line MRT. The journey to City Hall via Taipei Main Station and to Tamsui where we take the bus to Fisherman’s Wharf are in different directions of the Red Line.
Before we go to the fisherman’s wharf story, there is bit more to talk about Tamsui. It is the northern most point in Taipei’s MRT system and not that we knew, has some decent shops for mid-range shopping. We did not have much time and could not explore the shops much, though. Rather, we took the cab (and there are buses as well) to the Fisherman’s Wharf. The cab driver was not able to understand where we wanted to go, till yet another friendly passer-by helped us communicate to the driver.
Fisherman’s Wharf was an important fishing port for Taiwanese and is now developed to be a tourist spot. There are some nice floating piers, a beautiful park, with a bridge in the shape of a boat across the harbor. A boardwalk along the waterfront is dotted with Taiwanese street food shops. We enjoyed the hot chips and fried chicken wings while taking some shops of the bridge as well as the harbor on that chilly and windy winter evening. The site is also Tamsui river’s mouth and we were told that it is one of Taipei’s best sunset viewing sites. So, note that this site has wide open sea in front and hence can be really windy and relatively much colder than Taipei, especially in evenings.
With that,we come to the end of our day 3 in Taipei as we head back to our service apartment by taking a bus from here to Tamsui MRT station and the MRT to Taipei Main thereafter.