February 1, 2017 (Day 2 Part 2) – From the top of Maokong Station we took a cheap NTD15/person mini bus down to Taipei Zoo Station, the trip was quite tedious as the road is narrow and steep with too many curves. It was an experience to start with, it also takes a lot of time especially on weekends or holidays. As you need to line up and sit along with the locals and wait for the few circular coasters serving this route. If you have extra money to spare you can ride the same Gondola going down or upgrade to a Crystal Cabin for that extra thrill.
We leave Maokong almost 2 pm and we reach Taipei Zoo Station around 2:20 pm We are already pressed for time and so we didn’t waste any and hop on to the next Metro train going to Muzha Station. It’s just one station away and it took us less than 10 minutes to Muzha. From this station, we look for the bus stop and usually, you’re on the right track if you’ll see a waiting shed with bus timetable and corresponding schedule posted on it.
There’s a led screen here that shows incoming buses. We look for Bus No. 795 to Shifen or to Pingxi District and find that there’s a bus coming in 10 minutes. It’s very easy to spot one because you’ll see 795 on it, but the thing is you need to cross the road and look for the same bus number since buses here are circulars; there’s always 2 buses, from and to. Just ask the Driver if they’re going to Shifen/Pingxi and when they nod, you’re good to go. The ticket cost NTD45 per person, you can just tap your easy card for hassle-free ticketing and the journey takes almost an hour or depends on the number of stops along the way.
Travel 101: Though easycard will come handy at all times, always prepare for the exact amount or loose change just in case the tapping system won’t work.
5 PM Shifen Old Street
There are several ways to reach Shifen, the easiest is through Riufang Station via TRA at Taipei Main Station but I must say that the Bus 795 is your best option especially if you’re near Muzha Station, because traveling through this bus are two things: first, it’s cheap and second, it’s scenic. You’ll get to cover more grounds and get to enjoy the pleasant lush sceneries along the way. On top of that, traveling locally is a good way to interact with locals more. Though, I’ve gotta to warn those people with Motion sickness, choose the smoother train since the bus ride is quite long, a little bumpy and might cause you dizziness due to its zigzag road.
Shifen Old Street
Located in the Pingxi District of New Taipei City, it’s a bustling spot for an old street and a bit touristy I must say. And the reason why most people come here is to release a sky lantern. For me, this one is a must-visit and one of the highlights of our trip since you can get a glimpse of the old rustic and charming Taiwan and experience its culture in just one day or few hours in our case. Lately, Shifen has gained quite a lot of attention due to the number of things you can do here.
Things To Do in Shifen?
Practice your calligraphy! Yes through the lantern of course.
Release a Sky Lantern with your wishes and desire on it for a mere NTD150-NTD200
Eat Local foods along the old railways.
Visit Jingan Suspension Bridge
Photo Opp at Shifen Waterfall. (Next Time – Since we arrived around dusk time)
Experience Old Railways and ride the Pingxi line
If there’s one thing we regret about this trip is that we missed the Shifen Waterfall and the Jingan Bridge, of course for photo enthusiast like us it’s very depressing to skip these picturesque sites. It’s almost dark when we reach Shifen around 5 PM and so what’s left for us to do is to release a sky lantern with our wishes written on it. There’s two type of Lantern; the single and the multicolor. For single colored lanterns, it cost NTD150 and for multi-colored lanterns (4 colors) it’s NTD200. Each color has its own meaning or symbols for luck. The color symbols and its meaning can be found as per photo above.
Just a little history, back in the days “Sky Lanterns” was invented during the three kingdoms by Zhuge Liang, initially used by the military as a form of communication or signals and it’s a predecessor to hot air balloons. In the early 19th century, it was brought to Taiwan for some other reason, annually they lit and release lanterns to seek for a son. Because during those days consummation of marriage was mostly out of this cause: to produce a son which means increasing manpower. These wishes are written all over the lantern, Nowadays they still practice this yearly through the Pingxi festival and even throughout the year locals and tourist flock this old street to release lanterns on a more broader and personal scale.
How to Get Here?
Since this post is all about our experience, I will be having a detailed day trip guide for Yehliu, Shifen, and Jiufen for you coming in a few days! Just don’t forget to subscribe here on my blog for more updates.
By Bus Take Bus 795 at Muzha Station for NTD45 per way. Ask the driver to drop you at Shifen.
By TRA (Taipei Railway) at Taipei Main Station. Ride the train to Ruifang (瑞芳). A return ticket cost NT120 including seat reservation. At Riufang Station, check for Pingxi Train and board the train and alight at Shifen.
- Conversion as per exchange we had at NAIA. NTD1 to Php1.75.
- You can swipe/scroll the table to see Note if you have a small screen.
|Bus to Shifen (795)||TRANSPO||NT$90||₱157.50||45/Per Person|
|Lantern 4 colors||ACTIVITY||NT$200||₱350.00||100/Per Person|
|Shifen to Riufang||TRANSPO||NT$38||₱66.50||19/Person|
|Total Expenses for 2||NT$328||₱574||Per Couple|
|Per Person Expenses||NT$164||₱287||Per Person|
Note: I didn’t include the souvenir I bought in the expenses table because these souvenirs are optional.
Again, watch out for more Taiwan entries in a few days and since we traveled DIY, I will be posting Taiwan Free and Easy guide after my travelogues. Feel free to use the comment area below for questions and or share your experience with me by sharing it here. Also, I’m prepping my Youtube Channel so please do support by subscribing at RunawayMariaTV Don’t forget to follow my journey through my INSTAGRAM @runawaymaria and Facebook by tapping LIKE! See you in my next post.