Sometimes the chaos and noise of Taipei is just too much. Here are a few easy to reach places that offer some peace and quiet.
WANLI DISTRICT — Yehliu feels like walking on a drained ocean. It's a really cool experience. Even though this place tends to be overrun with tourists of the worst kind, I still recommend coming here.
There's a small fishing village outside the geopark. You're likely to run into some workers from other Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, or the Philippines if you hang out near the boats. If given a chance, ask about their lives. They've got interesting stories. They basically live on the boats or in shipping containers nearby. More people need to be aware of their living conditions and treatment in Taiwan.
I really like this place because of all the opportunities to play with perspective. It's a good spot for any kind of photography. Obviously the landscape is cool. Portraits would work well here. And there's endless content for candid street shots among the tourists.
RUIFANG DISTRICT — Famous for being the inspiration of the Japanese film Spirited Away, Jiufen now attracts tourists from all over Asia.
Despite the fact that the mountain roads are now jammed up with tour buses and it's nearly impossible walk anywhere on the weekends I still recommend coming here. There's a bit of something for everybody here.
The immediate outskirts of Jiufen have abandoned buildings next to steep cliff-sides in front of the ocean. Remnants of the mining enterprise are scattered throughout. Those seeking a bit more exercise and adventure can head up to Teapot Mountain. The trail is especially fun at the end when you have to use ropes to climb through a small cave to get to the peak.
Those seeking a bit more exercise and adventure can head up to Teapot Mountain. The trail is especially fun at the end when you have to use ropes to climb through a small cave to get to the peak.
Finally, head into town and grab some great snacks, bubble tea, and photo ops with lanterns. There are plenty of hostels for those hoping to spend the night and give themselves more time to explore the area.
PINGLIN DISTRICT — I can't seem to remember what inspired me to visit this place. It's not a popular tourist spot by any means. It's more like a rest stop for people travelling to and from Yilan. The stream running though the city is one of the clearest I've seen in Taiwan. There's a few hiking trails, but they don't seem to lead to anywhere cool. The best thing to do here is wander near the riverside.
There's no particular attractions here that I can hype up, but this place just makes for a nice Sunday stroll. It's a good place to head out to clear your mind and get some fresh air.
WENSHAN DISTRICT — Maokong translates to 'cat empty.' The name of this place refers to the abundance of stray cats that used to hang around the tea shops here. A few of the tea shops remain, but now when you go to Maokong you mostly find fat tourists and hot dog stands.
I still like this place though because most of the tourists are too fat to wander onto the hiking trails. And these trials have some hidden gems if you're willing to go far enough.
After all the fat tourists leave is when Maokong really shines though. Head on over to Zhinan Temple and enjoy a lovely panoramic view of the city.
Baoduozi Coastal Park
KEELUNG CITY — Keelung is home to the largest fishing ports in Taiwan. The city is loud and dusty, but this park is a breath of fresh air that's ideal for hikers and photographers. I spent the entire afternoon wandering and people watching. It was an unusually clear and beautiful that day.
Thousand Island Lake
SHIDING DISTRICT — Thousand Island Lake is a beautiful place between Taipei and PingLin. The roads here wind up and down the mountain and provide many great lookouts of the lake. On a sunny day this place looks like paradise.
This place is best visited on a scooter so that you can access all the small roads and trails in a decent amount of time.