Everyone has heard of the typical things to do in Taipei—eat street food at night markets, take basic photos on top of Taipei 101, and eating excessively at Ding Tai Fung. However, if you want a change in pace and scenery, head north and visit countless landmarks in just one day. These landmarks are all less than two hours away from the city, but be prepared to experience a whole other side of Taipei. So pack a day bag, hop on a train, and spend a day exploring the natural wonders and man-built communities around the north of Taipei.
Being one of Taiwan's most famous geoparks, tourists flock to this location to see how millions of years of wind and sea erosion created one of the most interesting natural landscapes in Taiwan. Natural rock formations are scattered along the coast of northern Taiwan, spanning across 1.7 kilometres.
Queen’s Head, resembling and named after Queen Elizabeth I of England, is the most famous one because of its unique mushroom shape. When viewed from afar, the rock resembles a woman with a long thin neck and beautiful lines that form facial lines.
Although the park is best viewed on a sunnier day, this is a must-see location if you want a front-row seat of mother nature’s creations and its constant transformation.
Nicknamed “Little Niagra” for its mimicking of the more famous one’s horseshoe shape, this 20-metre high waterfall is the place to go for a nice 30 min walk. On this short walk, you will encounter two suspension bridges, surrounded by an array of green mountains, all worthy of taking a picture.
The walk most tourists will want to do will be the Observation Point Trail, which you will hit after the first glimpse of the falls. During this walk, you will be able to capture several angles of the falls due to the multiple viewing platforms set up.
A great compliment to seeing the waterfall would be heading to Shifen Old Street where there is a collection of small alleyways and lanes. With a plentiful amount of people, Shifen Old Streets is the perfect destination for those looking for a one-day getaway from the fast-paced life in the city.
Famous for its annual Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival, tourists flock to the former mining town to release sky lanterns—symbolic of them releasing their hopes and dreams into the universe. The colour of each side of the lantern correlates with different aspects of your life. Once you have written your wishes down, you can bring it to the train tracks and set it free.
Located near the Gold Ecological Park, the waterfall is named for its golden-hued water which is due to the combination of consistent rainfall and the abundance of metal elements flowing in from the riverbed.
If that doesn’t satisfy your exposure to colourful nature, go to the coast to look at the Yin Yang Sea. Inspired by the concept of duality in ancient Chinese principles of balance, the name correlates to the fact that the mixture of light and dark, hot and cold, and yellow and blue, show the balance of two sides.
Both spots are a great place to stop by on your journey to the northern parts of Taipei, although we wouldn't recommend just going here as it isn't a full day type of excursion.
Known for its golden lanterns and cramped alleyways, this former gold mining town was the supposed inspiration for the famous Studio Ghibli movie “Spirited Away”.
A must-see spot would be the Jiufen Old Street (also called Jishan Street) which is surrounded by restaurants, cafes, and an array of fresh juice stalls. Instead of going in to sit down restaurants, eat your way around the multitude of food stalls, whether it be the deep-fried seafood, mango shaved ice, or watermelon juice.
After you are full of yummy delectables, check out A-Mei, the most famous teahouse in Jiufen. Not only do the views from inside make this place stand out, but this three-story building located in the heart of the Old Street is the perfect place to end your trip with a variety of teas, desserts, and snacks.
With such an interesting geographical landscape, Taipei offers the chance for you to experience both the hustle and bustle of a metropolitan city and the tranquility of natural wonders, just a few hours apart.