New Taipei City

Jiufen

新北 九份Some believe that the only reason Jiufen has is famous because it was featured in the movie “City of Sadness,” but only those who have not had the opportunity to appreciate the finery the township has to offer would think this. Jiufen not only has well-preserved buildings constructed during the Japanese-occupation era, but what is even more important is the mountain township ambiance. Though the old street here is always brimming with people going about their routines or shopping, there are still little unexplored pathways that give visitors a chance to seek out some extra adventure. There are a lot of snack foods that are reminiscent of the past. It’s always possible to eat and visit Jishan Street, Jianci and Cingbian Roads. If you have some extra time at the end of your journey, feel free to visit Gold Ecological Park, where you can peek into the past and see gold mining practices.

Tamsui (Danshui)

Guanyin Mountain forms the backdrop of the scene where the Tamsui (Danshui) River meets the East China Sea. To one side are gorgeous banks of the Mangrove Forest that seem to illuminate the waters as though a billion scales of a golden snake were glistening on the horizon. It is the light that helps create the natural beauty which make the vistas of Tamsui (Danshui) so worthy, but never forget the old markets that harken back to the past. Also, there is the breezy boardwalk along Tamsui (Danshui) Fisherman’s Wharf, where live bands play moving music and boat rides are available on the wavy “blue highway” at the docks. These are all part of the allure of Tamsui (Danshui), that also include the Red Castle, A-Gei, Cakes, Sour Plum Juice, Fish Cakes, and cuisine. What with the ease of transportation thanks to modern roadways and the metro, there is no reason a backpacker would not wish to pay a visit.

Yingge

yinggeIn Taiwan, Yingge is synonymous with ceramic arts. Immediately after exiting the Yingge Train Station, there’s the sensation of being in an ancient realm. Stepping out on the street, visitors have an even greater feeling of early 20th century charm. Quadrilateral kilns are famed landmarks throughout Yingge and these few remaining kilns symbolize the huge numbers of kilns that once existed on this site. There was once a time when the pottery business was booming, followed by a slowdown, but a resurgence is again underway. Yingge’s treasures are not limited to just early 1900s architecture and snacks. Those kilns are put to good use as ceramic artists work their craft, giving tourists an opportunity to select a piece to their liking. Having a choice of pottery art is most certainly another unique treasure to this town worthy of perpetual preservation.

Sanxia

sanxia-old-street arcadeFor those who want to get a look at old structures and Baroque facades, Sanxia Old Street is certain to be the number one locale for such finery. Here are endless brick atriums one after another with surnames that double as the purveyors’ brand names. The shopkeepers sell cold water, calligraphy brushes, sweet cakes and many other things. These business people here, obviously, are not ordinary. So those who like monuments are advised to visit the nearby Palace of Oriental Art: Sanxia Ancestral Temple and then there’s the memorial to its restoration engineer Li Meishu. The memorial provides a behind-the-scenes look at modern Bhuddo-Daoist religiosity. If here’s any time left after that, visit the nation’s only blue dye culture park nearby, for a do-it-yourself experience in fabric dye techniques.

Wulai

Wake up one day in Taipei, let’s say, and think, “Gee, I’d like to see some flowers.” The first choice is Wulai during the cherry blossom season in February and March. Every year a lot of tourists are likely to come and see the cherry trees in bloom then bathe in Wulai’s hot spring resorts. The colors are many and varied and Japanese tourists particularly love to appreciate the varieties in their minute difference and similarities. Growing here are eight varieties of cherry trees, such as Prunus campanulata Maxim, Prunus incisa, and Prunus yedoensis. In autumn, Wulai maples turn red and in winter Wulai has steamy hot baths to ease the chill. With its lovely waterfall that flows year round, Wulai is a great four-season getaway. Taiya aborigines have made a home in the place for many years and so there are aboriginal artwork, dishes and themed guesthouses.

Northern Coast

north_coastThe northern coast is highly recommended for backpackers who rent a car, scooter or motorcycle. Generally, the northern coast refers to the superior span of sightseeing highway from Tamsui (Danshui) to Yeliou where the mountain meets the sea. Between these two locales, we have in Taiwan the highest concentration of shallow bays and white sand beaches. Scenic overlooks at the shallow coves along this stretch of highway present romantic overlooks that rival that at Tamsui (Danshui) —and, chances are, much more private.

Yeliou

yeliou-queens-headYeliou, which means literally “wild willows” in Mandarin, is one of the best tourist sites for those who like natural scenery. The unusual rock formations of Yeliou (Yehliu) Geopark were formed by erosion and tectonic plate movement. The most well-known rock is Queen’s Head because this sea stack looks like the head and neck of a crowned woman. There are also the Yeliou (Yehliu) Ocean Park, Green Bay, Shihzih Park, Cu Cave, and Mt. Huangzuei Ecological Conservation Area—all are especially suitable for nature lovers and photographers.