To us, Taipei is the most fascinating city in Asia. In fact, we hope we can someday move to live there. Not only is it an ultra-modern city, but it is incredibly traditional and quiet at the same time. That said, and as much as we like hanging in the city, Taipei is the perfect place to base yourself and go on incredible day trips. Taiwan is not a big country, and its infrastructure is state of the art. Thus, it’s very easy to go to explore the best Taiwan has to offer on day trips. The following are the 5 we love the most. We are sure you will love them too!
- 1 The Best Day Trips From Taipei
- 2 Beitou Hot Springs
- 3 Maokong Gondola and Hill
- 4 Yehliu Geopark
- 5 Jiufen Old Street
- 6 Lukang Old Street
- 7 Combining Two Half Day Trips From Taipei
- 8 Thank You Very Much Taiwan!
The Best Day Trips From Taipei
Just a step from hip Taipei, you will find lush nature, traditional towns, culture, and unbelievable hot springs. What else could you ask for? Perfect transportation, professional service, and friendly people complete the feast. As beautiful as Taiwan is, it is people that stand out. If you get lost following our 5 best day trips from Taiwan, all you have to do is ask around. Please take note that we are not suggesting going to Kaohsiung, Tainan, or Taroko Gorge on a day trip. These places are so impressive, that they deserve at least spending a couple of days in each.
Beitou Hot Springs
The Beitou Hot Springs, north of Taipei, is the perfect place for a one day tour. In Beitou, you get the best Taiwan has to offer: nature, brilliant architecture, and culture. All of these while enjoying natural hot springs that come out of the river. Take note that you do not need to enter private hotels to enjoy the springs. The public ones are fantastic, inexpensive, authentic, and offer great views to the surrounding hills. They do get crowded though. No worries, since people in Taiwan are mega polite, you won’t have a single glitch. We got confused several times and laughed so hard when people helped us!
How to Get From Taipei to Beitou
You can go from Taipei to Beitou to enjoy the hot springs on a day trip and come back the same day. Metro trains go directly from Taipei Central Station to Beitou Station in 23 minutes. The trip there is an attraction in itself, so be sure to grab a window seat. Once in Beitou Station, connect to the Xinbeitou line. It is one station to Xinbeitou. You can also walk from Beitou Station to the springs in 15 minutes. Take Guangming Road as soon as you exit the station and walk across town. If you don’t wish to go on your own, we recommend this Beitou hot spring day trip that includes a visit to a volcano.
Once you exit Xinbeitou station, cross to Qixing Park. Check out Xinbeitou historic station in the park, it’s from 1916. Beitou hot springs are in adjacent Beitou Park (it’s the same park). The park itself is beautiful. Don’t rush and admire the Beitou Hot Spring Museum and the Taipei Public Library Beitou Branch in the park. Once done enjoying the baths, you have to go up the hill to the Sulfur Valley Recreation Area. It’s a 30-minute walk. Fantastic incredible views, nature, and more springs will reward your effort. Those of you into trekking will be in heaven. We recommend the Zhongzhengshan Trail, a block from Beitouquanyuan No.48 Park. You’ll find several temples and more incredible views.
Maokong Gondola and Hill
Taking the Maokong Gondola is a day trip that gets you out of the hassle of Taipei into the peace of Maokong Hill. This is the hill to the south of Taipei. The hill and surrounding area used to be tea central. Even now, local people come to Maokong to enjoy tea while admiring the best views of Taipei. Most people take the gondola after spending some time in Taipei’s Zoo. Since cages are not our thing, we are not into zoos. Thus, we skipped the zoo and enjoyed the gondola just the same. The Maokong gondola opens from 8:30 AM to 9:30 PM if weather permit. You can check here the official website for the state of the gondola and exact opening hours.
How to Get From Taipei to Maokong
The fastest way to go from Taipei to Maokong is to take the Wenhu metro line to its last stop, Taipei Zoo. The Wenhu line crosses Taipei so, depending on where you are staying, you shouldn’t be far from one of its stations. In fact, this is the metro line that goes to the Songshan Airport! We took the metro from Zhongxiao Fuxing Station downtown and were in Maokong in less than an hour. The trip is mostly above the ground, so we enjoyed the views of the city. Once you exit the metro station, walk west for 5 minutes next to the road to the Gondola Station. For those of you that are not into cable cars, there is another way to go from Taipei to Maokong: Bus 51 leaves from the gondola station every 20 minutes and takes 50 minutes.
Maokong Gondola Itinerary
To go up the Maokong hill on a day trip, you have two gondola options: regular or with a glass floor. We took the Maokong glass gondola when we did our itinerary and loved seeing the trees from above. The ride to the last stop takes 10 minutes and is 10 USD return. Each paying adult is allowed 2 children under 6 for free. Seniors over 64 and children 6 to 12 pay half. You can go down to Zhinan Temple Station and walk 6 minutes to visit the impressive Taoist temple by the same name. Go back to the gondola and exit at the last station. You are in tea heaven now. Fantastic tea shops line road 38. Further down this road, you will find the Taipei Tea Promotion Center (a museum) and the famous Maokong potholes.
Yehliu Geopark is a natural beauty next to the sea and one of the top things to do in Taiwan. When we went there, it was raining and the sea was choppy. Though we got wet, we simply couldn’t stop walking about this impressive park. Yehliu is actually a 1.7 km cape formed when millenary geological forces pushed the mountains to the sea. This place is as old and as weird as it gets. It’s like being on a different planet! Locals call it Yehliu turtle because of its unique shape. There’s an aquarium with dolphins called Yehliu Geopark by the entrance too. However, and as you know, since we are not fans of torturing animals for our entertainment, we skipped it.
How to Get From Taipei to Yehliu
To go from Taipei to Yehliu, all you have to do is take a bus. The ride there is an attraction in itself, so be sure to grab a window seat. Go to Taipei’s City Hall Bus Station on 6 Zhongxiao East Road, Xinyi District. It’s next to the incredible National Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall. Since the station is pretty big, ask around for bus 1815 to Yehliu. The bus drops you at Yehliu’s pier, a 10-minute walk to the park’s entrance. There is another way how to get to Yehliu geopark if you don’t want to do so on your own. From Taipei, take this private tour along the northern coast. It offers incredible views and the chance to meet other fellow travelers.
Yehliu Geopark Itinerary
Considering Yehliu Geopark is fairly big, we advise you to follow this itinerary. The park has three areas. The closest to the entrance is where the rock formations that look like mushrooms are. Walkabout and search for two of the most famous ones: the candle and the ice cream. The second area is similar but narrower. Thus, water has eroded the rocks into the shape of elephants, peanuts, and fairy shoes. Here you have to look for the Queen and Dragon Head rocks. The final section is where the observation deck is, next to the cliffs. Rocks here are the most dramatic. Please be sure to follow the marked paths and instructions at all times. Finally, when done with the park, you can check nearby Yehliu Baoan Temple.
Jiufen Old Street
The Jiufen Old Street is the lifeline of Jiufen Town, northeast of Taipei. The area was gold central until 1971 when the mines closed. The town fell into oblivion until a couple of decades ago when a movie made the town famous. The entire town came back big time. Today, all kinds of shops line the main drag: Jiufen Old Street. Though you can still see some inns from the Japanese era, most buildings are retro Chinese. Jiufen Old Street is one of the most popular day trips from Taipei, especially during weekends. People from the big city come here to shop, drink tea, and admire the incredible views from up the hill.
How to Get From Taipei to Jiufen
The fastest way to go from Taipei to Jiufen is to take the train from Taipei Main Station to the Town of Rufiang. Trains stop at Banqiao, Wanhua, Songshan, and Nangang stations too. There are some 30 trains each day. The journey lasts 30 to 60 minutes depending on which train you take. Once in Rufiang, walk to the bus stop some 100 meters from the police station and take the bus that goes up to Jiufen Old Street. It’s a 10-minute ride. There are also two buses from Taipei to Jiufen. Bus 1062 departs from Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT Station directly to Jiufen. Bus 965 leaves from Fuzhong MRT, Banqiao MRT, Wanhua Railway, Ximen MRT, and Beimen MRT stations. Since getting out of Taipei during rush hours can take forever, we recommend the train.
Our Jiufen itinerary begins in Rufiang. Exit the station and walk to Rufiang’s Old Street, not as cool as Jiufeng, but kind of empty. Then, walk to the Jieshou Bridge to admire Keelung River. Once in Juifen, you have to explore its Old Street, adjacent isles, and stairs. Most tourists have tea at Amei Teahouse. Since it’s set on a cliff, it offers incredible views. You will recognize it because it’s quite crowded. No worries, there are plenty of great tea houses to choose from. Be sure not to miss Shengping Theater from 1934 on Qingbian Street. If you are into treks, go some 500 meters up the entrance of Jiufen Old Street and take Mount Keelung Trail. You can see Taipei 101 on clear days from the peak! The Jinguashi Gold Ecological Museum is 10 minutes from Jiufen and set in lush nature.
Lukang Old Street
From all of our day tours from Taipei, Lukang is the furthest away. Its history goes back to Dutch colonial times. Since they traded mainly deer skins, they named the port Lukang: Deer Harbour. During the 17th Century, it was an important trading port of the Qing Dynasty. It remained pretty active during the Japanese invasion. Lukang’s historic heritage is impressive. The city boasts 200 temples, traditional houses, museums, tones of shops, and some of the best eateries in the country. Unlike Jiufen, the terrain is flat, so it is very easy to wander about. Most people rush through Taiwan and skip Lukang, making it the least visited day trip from Taipei. What a luxury!
How to Get From Taipei to Lukang
Going from Taipei to Lukang may not be as easy as going to the other day tours on our list, but it’s sure worth the extra effort. In fact, getting to Lukang is an adventure in itself! You should take the fast train from either Taipei Main Station or Banquiao Station to Taiwan High Speed Rail Taichung Station in the south of Taiwan. You should be there in 45 to 60 minutes. Once in the Station, you have to take the direct Shuttle Service to Lukang. Buses leave from the first floor, and the journey takes between 30 and 60 minutes depending on the bus line.
Begin your Lukang itinerary in Lukang Ai Gate on the main street. Look for the old Taiwanese mansions with carved doors and windows. As you will notice, red tiles cover the streets and red bricks, the walls. Bakeries and all types of eateries line the street. Go ahead and try the local cake Yu Jen Jai. Our favorite buildings are the Lukang Culture Center from 1928, the Lukang Kinmen Hall from 1805 (renovated in 1855 and 1905), and the Lukang Folk Arts Museum. The latter holds an impressive collection in two buildings: one from 1919, and the other from the 18th Century. Regarding temples, you have to see Wen Wu, Mazu, Rimao, and Longshang temples.
Combining Two Half Day Trips From Taipei
The Easiest Option: Maokong Gondola and Beitou
If you don’t have much time, you can do half-day trips from Taipei combining two of the above. The easiest option is to go to Beitou and the Maokong Gondola the same day. We recommend going to Beitou first. Thus, you arrive in Maokong in the afternoon to enjoy the sunset. To go from Beitou to Maokong, take the Tansui-Xinyi line (red) to Daan Station. Here, board the Wenhu line (brown) to its last stop, Taipei Zoo. As mentioned above, it´s next to the gondola. It’s much easier than it sounds, and you get to cross all of Taipei.
More Complex Option: From Yehliu Geopark to Jiufen
A bit harder, but equally rewarding is to go from Yehliu Geopark to Jiufen on the same day. We believe it’s best to go to the Yehliu geopark in the morning. This way, you’ll be in Jiufen in the afternoon for the killer sunset. Take note that from Yehliu to Jiufen there are no direct buses. Instead, you have to take the bus to Keelung. It’s a beautiful ride that takes some 50 minutes. In Keelung, you have to take a train to Ruifang (30 minutes approximately). Finally, in Ruifang hop on the shuttle bus that takes you to Jiufen. Since this could be a little tricky, we suggest taking this private tour that includes both places. It’s a fantastic way to meet likeminded travelers.
Thank You Very Much Taiwan!
Our last two days in Taipei were very intense, amazing, and a bit stressful. Thanks to Patty from the Taiwan Tourism Bureau, first we went the unforgettable Yehliu Geopark. What an adventure! Since it was raining so hard, the place was quite dramatic. The next day we went to the mountain on the Maokong Gondola. We took the gondola with the transparent floor and had a splendid time seeing the trees from above! That same day, we took the metro all the way to Beitou and dipped in the public hot springs. Therefore, we strongly recommend you visit the Taiwan Tourism Bureau on 290 Zhongxiao East Road in Taipei. Be sure to ask about their different transportation packages, such as the Fun Pass. You will get tones of tips, great discounts, and Taiwanese service. Thank you so much!