Explore Northeast Taiwan: The Mountainous Taipei Alternative

Explore Northeast Taiwan: The Mountainous Taipei Alternative

Northeastern Taiwan, still technically New Taipei City, is a mountainous region with a stunning coastline that ends with the sea. The area is known for its seafood and popular tourist destination.

Keelung is the main city in the region and has one of the largest ports in the country. It is also home to the largest and most famous night market in northern Taiwan. Yes, including all night markets in Taipei.

Jiufen is another popular destination. The former gold mining town stands tall and overlooks the Port of Keelung. It was the inspiration for the movie Spirited Away and features Japanese architecture, palaces and tea houses.

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The Pingxi Line is also another popular tourist destination and will definitely take a full day to complete.

Northeast port city of Keelung

Keelung can be compared to Seattle in the United States. It’s a rainy port city with everything, great food and cultural appeal.

Miaokou Night Market

It is difficult to talk about the Miaokou night market in Taiwan’s night market. It’s not in Taipei, but it’s not out of reach either. Thirty minutes by local train, this is the No. 1 gourmet night market in Taiwan. Right next to the harbour and the seafood is fresh and delicious. You don’t even need to like seafood. You can find pork buns, noodles, soup, stinky tofu, assorted meat sticks, and other delicious Taiwanese street night market food here. Here are some delicious dishes to look forward to.

  • Crab Sticky Rice Soup

Peace Island

Opposite the Keelung Bridge is Peace Island. Years of wind erosion have carved the rocks here into dramatic shapes, perfect for photography. It is also an excellent location for diving, and in the southwest of the island is the Castle of San Salvador. It was built during the Spanish occupation, when Spain was preparing to trade with Japan and China.

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Jiufen, a relic of the Japanese occupation period

The beauty and haunting charm of Jiufen stems from a dark and recent history, but has reinvented itself as a cultural center visited by people all over the world.

shops and teahouses

In the center of Jiufen, Japanese-style buildings are built on the hillside, separated by winding paths and steep stairs. There is a wide variety of street vendors and tea shops to choose from. It’s hard to go wrong with such stunning views and delicious food.

  • Jiufen Teahouse – No. 142, Jishan St, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, 22448
  • Siddhartha – 224 Teahouse, No. 166, Jishan Street, Ruifang District, New Taipei City
  • Pork Buns and Ice Mango Dessert – No. 1-1, Shuqi Rd, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, 224
  • Amu Baozi – 224 Pork Buns and Beef Noodles, No. 5, Shuqi Road, Ruifang District, New Taipei City
  • Jiu Fen Old Street – No. 224, Local Hawker Street, Jishan Street, Ruifang District, New Taipei City

Royal Palace, Gold Museum

Within walking distance of the city center is the Emperor’s Palace and Museum, Jiufen’s history as a gold mining village. The Emperor’s Palace was built for the Emperor of Japan, although he never used it. The Gold Mine Museum shares its dark history and serves as a memorial to native Taiwanese and allied prisoners of war who were forced to work in the mines for the Japanese.

Teapot Mountain Trail

The most popular hike in the area, the Teapot Mountain Trail, is moderately difficult and offers stunning views of the surrounding area. There are no trees on the top of the mountain, and it offers an unobstructed and magnificent view.

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Pingxi Line

The old coal line, reactivated as a tourist route in 1992, takes you deep into the mountains of northeastern Taiwan along the Keelung River Basin.

Badouzi Station

This is the northernmost station of the Pingxi Line, right by the sea. Perhaps not the most convenient place to start your Pingxi Line journey, but it still offers great views of the rocky coast and is the most direct starting point for enjoying the Pingxi Line.

Haikeguan Station

This stop is home to Bishuixiang (National Museum of Marine Science and Technology). This museum is very large and exhibits and exhibits (some paid, some not) are available to visitors.


Ruifang tends to be the starting point for most people to get off the Pingxi line. It is very convenient to get here from Taipei, and it is also a frequent departure place for tourists. Ruifang is also the station where you take the bus up the mountain to Jiufen.


One of the most popular stops along the Pingxi Line, Houdong is also known as the Cat Village. The main attraction here is all the semi-wild cats that come in and out of the shops and train stations.


The waterfall trekking trail in San Diao Ling is very popular. It’s the only station not connected to a public road, so you can imagine it being in the middle of nowhere. This stop is primarily for the more determined adventurer and is sometimes skipped by the more casual traveler.


Very centrally located in the Keelung Valley, with access to the region’s beautiful streams and waterfalls. The homes here are built close to the railroad tracks, a location that is also often used by photographers looking to promote the area.


Lingjiao Waterfall and Dripping Guanyin Rock are the main attractions of this stop. Sleepy villages cut into the sides of the mountain, and the lush green surroundings also make this area very peaceful and photographic.


The last stop at the end of the Pingxi line is a favorite thing for tourists and local tourists to do, which is to put paper lanterns in the sky as the sun sets. If the time is right, you can join or at least observe the area has become a traditional activity.

Next post: Things first-time travelers to Taiwan should know

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