One of the easiest day-trips to do from Taipei is a visit to the Pingxi District in the northeast of Taiwan. Known for its natural beauty and must-see events, such as the famous annual Sky Lantern Festival, the towns of Pingxi and Shifen make for great pit stops during a tour of Taiwan, or as a quick visit from Taipei City.
Once home to a prosperous coal-mining industry, the towns of Pingxi and Shifen saw an industrial boom in the 1930’s, with train tracks and stations constructed all over the area to help transport the coal. Because of that, the Pingxi District has a long, rich history of coal mining and you can take a tour or visit the Shifen Coal Mine Museum to learn more about it while you’re in the region.
There is a lot to do in both Shifen and Pingxo to keep you occupied for a day or two, whether you’re visiting from Taipei or passing through on a tour of the country.
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What to do in Pingxi and Shifen
During the day, head to the beautiful Shifen Waterfall, famed for being ‘one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Taiwan’. This 20 meter high cascading waterfall is also the widest waterfall in Taiwan, and a wonderfully relaxing respite from the city. Make sure to include it on your day-trip itinerary, as it is just 10 minutes drive/20 minute walk from Shifen village. You can grab a cheap cab, or take the local Pingxi Line train to the site. There is an entrance fee of TW$80.
Shifen Old Street
Back in Shifen, the local train station attracts a lot of attention from visitors for its unusual layout. Although visitors may be used to seeing a train passing right through the middle of a marketplace, it is still somewhat of a spectacle for tourists. The dual lined track was once part of the booming coal-mining industry in Taiwan, but although the industry is no longer running, the trains have been kept going. Take a look around the souvenir stores and sample the local food while you’re there.
Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival
The Sky Lantern Festival is the event of the year in Pingxi, as hundreds of tourists travel from far and wide to witness the release of the beautiful Chinese lanterns into the night sky. Tradition dictates that you write a New Year wish on the lantern before setting it off into the sky. This New Years Celebration attracts huge crowds and is a fantastic spectacle, as thousands of glowing lanterns gently float into the sky. The celebration is held just across from Shifen Old Street.
The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival takes place every year during the Chinese New Year. In 2015, the festival will take place on the 3rd, 8th and 14th of February 2015.
Pingxi Old Street
Of course, Pingxi also has its own ‘Old Street’ marketplace complete with train station and tracks running through the area. However, in Pingxi the train tracks go overhead the marketplace, while shoppers and vendors go about their business below. The village is small and beautiful, with many of the villages main buildings constructed into a small hill.
How to get to Pingxi from Taipei
Getting to the Pingxi District is easy, with trains running several times a day from Taipei City. You can get to either Pingxi or Shifen town via the same line (Pingxi Line) from Ruifang.
China Airlines flies twice a day direct to Taipei from Singapore and twice a week to Kaohsiung from Singapore, also a direct flight. You can search your flight and book directly only at www.china-airlines.com. If you prefer a package deal, you can also take a look at China Airlines’ Dynasty Packages for free & easy packages to Taiwan.
This article is supported by China Airlines and the Taiwan Tourism Board.