Shifen, Taiwan – Day 4
Headed northbound from Taipei towards the Niagra Falls of Taiwan – Shifen Waterfalls. So how do you get there? Take northbound train from Taipei Main Station toward Ruifang Station. Switch to the Pingxi Line and get off at Shi Fen Train Station and use your feet from there. The cost to Ruifang is $49NTS.
Couple things: don’t confuse the subway/underground/MRT with the non-local trains that leave Taipei. Try to avoid lines by using vending machines if you know what tickets you want (or know how to read Mandarin lol). And on local trains (writing is in green on the train schedule lines), you can use your EasyCard. In fact, you can use your EasyCard to get to Shifen I learned today after I stood for 30 minutes in line trying to buy a rail ticket to Shifen. While in route past Ruifang, enjoy the scenic hills, rivers, winding canyons, forest and rice terraces. And a piece of advice so you don’t miss your stop due to being mesmerized, ensure your Google Maps train route is up on your phone (as you lose service out here) and look at the arrival time for your final destination as there is likely no other way to ensure you get off at the right stop. You might even consider a little alarm on your phone. For me, I love my Apple Watch for this very purpose. It just sends me a little pulse when it’s time to alight from the train. Also, ask ticket agent or security which side of the platform to be on A or B as they sometimes don’t tell you and you can end up in the south of Taiwan when you intended to be in the north 😉
Note the Waterfalls close at 5:00 p.m. so depending on your arrival time, go there first when you get off the train. This is particularly a good idea because first timers to Shifen will get caught up in the excitement at Shifen Station when they got off the train and you, the smart one, can come back when it quiets down a bit.
So off to the Waterfalls. Where to go??
I joke a little. It’s not quite that bad as they actually have arrows pointing to the Waterfalls periodically on the path. But be sure and remember to stop at the iconic suspension bridges on the way to Shifen Waterfalls. It will be like walking directly into a Chinese painting so move over Mary Poppins! Be prepared for the ground to sway under you for the rest of the day after crossing the suspension bridges. It did for me! The falls and the suspension bridge as well as the surrounding scenery are lovely despite the tourists.
Try some fried fish balls with cayenne pepper at the visitor center too before you leave if you haven’t eaten all day like me. Delicious! And pay homage to the Gods if your up to it. Perhaps just a little bow as you pass by.
So what’s so important about Shifen Old Street? Well aside from the food vendors (selling a lot of good Taiwanese eats and some not so good like stinky tofu which might make you gag when you walk by) and the charming shops, its definitely most famous for the lantern release. Buy a lantern, paint your wishes on it and set it free directly from the railway tracks but watch out for oncoming trains!
Shifen is a must do while in Tawain and a fave thus far. Now back to hotel to plan the next adventure. Note the train was more expensive on the return at $79NTS or $3.00USD rather than $1.50.
That’s all for now from a place that will change your perception of a train station forever – Shifen.