5-Day Northern Taiwan Itinerary (Overview)

It is true what they say about it being hard to cure yourself of the travelbug once you’ve been bitten. Right after my Japan trip, I had one day to enjoy the comfort of my bed before I went to Taiwan. I booked a flight on the budget airline AirAsia, which meant that my flight was scheduled late in the evening. I arrived in Taoyuan-Taipei International Airport at around 1 in the morning. I opted to sleep in the airport rather than navigate the city in the wee hours of the morning.

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Taoyuan-Taipei International Airport.

There’s more to Taiwan than the modern city of Taipei and its streetfood. The whole island is geothermally active as evidenced by the numerous hotsprings in the different parts of the country. In this post, I will give you an overview of my itinerary. The succeeding posts will focus on each day of my trip.

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My general itinerary.

Day 1: North Coast (Yehliu Geopark, Ruifang and Shifen)

The first day was consumed with traveling to the Northern Coast of Taiwan. I went to Yehliu Geopark and enjoyed the unique geological formations that were naturally sculpted over a long period of time.

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Yehliu Geopark.

Later in the afternoon, I proceeded to Ruifang Station and Shifen District. Shifen is best known for its majestic waterfalls, considered one of the most photogenic places in Taiwan.

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Shifen Waterfalls

The rail track has become quite an attraction, as it coincides with the town’s own Old Street where lines of shops are lined up along the train line. People would release giant lanterns whenever the train is not in use.

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Shifen Old Street.

In the evening, I went to Ningxia Night Market and tried a few of Taiwan’s famous streetfoods.

Day 2: Taipei City

Taiwan’s climate normally includes a daily dose of rain, at least in the northern part of the island. I decided to just stay inside the city and enjoy what it offers without leaving the confines of Taipei.

First up in my itinerary is the Taipei 101. It was once the tallest building in the world until it was surpassed by Burj Khalifa in 2009. It also contains the world’s heaviest mass damper to counter-act earthquakes, trivia enjoyed by yours truly. I went up using the ear deafening elevator traveling at max speed of 1010 meters per minute and tried to enjoy the view from the 89th floor despite the poor visibility brought about by the rain.

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Taipei 101

Second in my itinerary is the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial, the equivalent of Rizal Park in the Philippines. I managed to snap a few pictures despite the heavy rain. It was not an easy feat, I tell you.

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Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall.

To relax myself, I went to one of the numerous hotsprings in Beitou district. It was a great feeling bathing in an outdoor hotspring while it was raining and with a refreshing view of lush green mountains.

On my way back to Taipei, I stopped by Shilin District and experienced the night market there.

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Shilin Night Market.

Day 3: Northeast Gold Coast (Fulong, Jiufen, Jinguaszi)

On my third day, the rain finally let up and I was graced with a little bit of sunshine. I proceeded to Fulong beach where giant sand sculptures were on display. I read that the Northeast coast of Taiwan was blessed with highly cohesive white quartz sands which is considered by experts as the perfect sand for sculpting.

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Fulong Beach.

I stopped by Nanya Rock Formations where beautiful  rock formations can be seen. Like the rock formations in Yehliu Geopark, they were naturally sculpted by tides, waves and winds. The coast, however, is infested with cockroach-looking sea creatures and has become an area where the garbage washes ashore.

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Nanya Rock Formations.

On my way to Jiufen, I saw the Golden Waterfalls located in Jinguashi. It was a former gold mining town which explains the color of the rocks.

In Jiufen, I walked along the Old Street and tried to get the feeling of the Spirited Away movie, to no avail. I realized this is best visited during the night when they have switched on the street lanterns.

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Jiufen Old Street.

I tried the art of tea-making inside one of the snooty cafes in Jiufen and took my time to relax with a good view and cool mountain air.

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Jiufen Tea House.

On my way back to Taipei, I stopped by Keelung City and walked around the Keelung Night Market, considered as one of the best night market experiences in the whole of Taiwan.

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Keelung Night Market.

Day 4: Wulai District and Elephant Mountain Trail

I went to Wulai District in an attempt to experience an outdoor hostpring located by the river. To my dismay, the government was doing river protection works during my visit hence they closed down the hotsprings. The mine trolley going to the waterfalls was also under construction so I had to trek 1.6km to reach it.

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Wulai Waterfalls.

Great scenery while walking tho and cool cable car ride with fantastic view of the Wulai town.

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Wulai Cable Car.

I went back to Taipei 101 for some last minute shopping before I proceeded to Xiangshan MRT Station to hike Elephant Mountain and witness the sunset with a view of Taipei 101 and the whole of Taipei.

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Elephant Mountain.

Day 5: Yangmingshan National Park

On my last full day in Taiwan, I went to Yangmingshan National Park and Xiaoyoukeng, a post-volcanic rock feature that spews sulfur gas or fumaroles.

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I hiked to the top of Mt. Cising, the highest peak in Taipei. The main peak is at 1120 meters above sea level and 1.6 km hike from the entrance of Xiaoyoukeng Trail Entrance.

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Mt. Cising.

On the way down, i stopped by Menghuan Pond, which literally means misty lake due to fog and mist above its water surface.

Misty Menguan Pond

I went back to Taipei and went to Ximending, a market area where several clothing outlets are located before I headed to the airport to await my flight going back to Manila which was scheduled at 2AM the next day.


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