Located in the northern part of Taiwan, Shifen Old Street (十分老街) has gained a lot of attention over the past few years. With its sidewalks just beside the train tracks, this old street is perfect for family strolls, romantic dates or even train watching. This perfect one day getaway is just a couple of hours from the hustle and bustle of the capital city, Taipei. So, if you are looking for a getaway place both filled with culture and surrounded by nature, then add this to your list!
About Shifen Old Street
At the beginning, Shifen is well known for its 20-meter waterfall, Shifen Waterfall, which is regarded as one of the most famous places in Taiwan. It is a part of the Pingxi Branch Line, a famous train line that runs daily from Ruifang station and consisting of stops to Daihua, Shifen, Wanggu, Lingjiao, Pingxi and Jingtong. The Pingxi Branch Line was originally created to transport coal, but now it has been reformed specially for travelers to learn more about the mining history in Taiwan. Nowadays, both national and international travelers visit this site to enjoy its nature, history and culture.
When you get down from the train, you will see that the sidewalks are just beside the train tracks and people can cross the tracks freely; this is one of the special characteristics of Shifen Old Street. There you will find plenty of souvenir shops, restaurants and of course shops to get your own lantern. On average, the lanterns will cost you about 100-200 NTD (approximately 4-8 USD) based on their colors. If you get hungry, there are a few food stands, such as barbequed food and sweets, with prices ranged from 30-100 NTD (approximately 50 cents to 4 USD).
Fly a lantern
When it comes to choosing your lanterns, take your time and don’t rush. There are usually two kinds of lanterns, the one-colored lanterns and the multi-colored lanterns. The Taiwanese believe that each color represents a certain meaning such as happiness, wealth, health, etc. If you choose a multi-colored lantern, you will get options on the color combinations; these lanterns are the ones that will cost 200 NTD (approximately 6 USD).
After getting a lantern and writing down your wishes, the vendors will help you light up your lantern and give you detailed instructions on how to hold your lantern and when to let go. The way the lantern works is similar to the hot air balloon; when it’s heated up and has enough air, the lantern will simply fly. And while you’re waiting for the air to fill up, your kind vendors will help take your picture to capture the moment. So, don’t forget to smile!
How & When
Shifen is accessible throughout the year, both during winter and summer. Travelers visit Shifen even on weekdays so there will be people there no matter what day you go. Weekends, however, are obviously more crowded. Another suggestion is to look up the date for the lantern festival, which is usually held annually on February at the Shifen Sky Lantern Square.
Travelers usually take the trains to Shifen Old Street from Taipei Main Station. Take a northbound train, except Keelung bound trains, to Ruifang Train Station. From there, you must take the Pingxi Line Train; there are multiple stops and each stop offers you a different sight, so it is recommended to buy a One Day Ticket. The One Day Ticket will cost you 52 NTD (approximately 1.50 USD). The Pingxi Branch Line operates daily and you can take it any time of the year, both in the summer and winter.
Come and visit!
To summarize, Shifen is the perfect place for those looking for a one-day escape. Its surrounding mountains will make you feel safe and guarded while you learn about its history and culture. It’s a great place also because it is suitable for any kind of traveler, and it’s enjoyable both for a group or a solo traveler. So, what are you waiting for? Come and visit Shifen Old Street; enjoy its nature, embrace its culture, and don’t forget to fly out your wishes to the gods!
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