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Top 5 places outside of Taipei you can’t miss!
An exchange should not only be about studying, but also about experiencing the local culture and seeing local sights. Sometimes, you also just need a short break from all the humdrum of student life. Luckily, there are lots of interesting places you can see and experience close to Taipei, below we’ve listed the top 5 day trips that we recommend.
There are so many unbelievable things to see and do outside of Taipei. Why not explore the Mount Yangminshan National Park? Photo by Andrew Haimerl / CC BY
Mount Yangminshan: Hiking, Flowers, Views
Located north of Taipei, Mount Yangminshan National Park is a great place if you want to experience nature or are just looking for some exercise. Towering over the Taipei basin, the slopes of Yangminshan are home to vulcanic activity, you can see active vents belching out gases from inside the earth. Also take a note of the vegetation, the plant life on the north side is bent from the constant winds buffeting them, while the protected south side features lush vegetation. A shuttle travels around the mountain, so even if you’re not in a hiking mood, you can still enjoy they views. Speaking of views, a popular past time in Taiwan is flower viewing. Yangminshan has huge fields of beautiful flowers all blooming at the same time, definitely a sight to see! Just remember to bring enough water when going for a visit.
Getting there: multiple bus lines go directly to Yangminshan, one of the most central is bus number 260 leaving from Taipei Main Station.
The name Wulai comes from Atayal language which means “steaming water”. Photo by Andrew Haimerl / CC BY
Wulai: Hot Springs and Native Culture
Though perhaps not quite as famous as the hot springs located in Beitou, many visitors who experience both end up preferring Wulai. Not as crowded and located in a more scenic area, Wulai also offers you the chance to get to know native culture, featuring a museum on the native Atayal people (free entry, by the way). Hot Springs are also in abundant supply, with multiple locations allowing you to relax and soak in a calming atmosphere. Another option would be to take a hike in the nearby national park to see the wild side of Taiwan, then return to Wulai to relax your muscles in warm water. So, if you’re looking for a soak, want to experience native culture, or just want a good hike in a scenic area, check out Wulai.
Getting there: Take the Green Line on the MRT to Xindian Station and from there, take bus 849 to Wulai.
You might also be interested in: Why You Should Study In Taiwan\
Tamsui: River Front Shopping and Historical Buildings
Easily accessible by MRT, the Tamsui area’s popularity stems from historic sights and beach front shopping. Home to the first European settlement in Taiwan, the entire town is breeming with history. Walking in the fort San Domingo museum complex you can feel the tides of history beating against your skin. As some of you may already know, the Taiwanese White House is located right in Tamsui, be sure to check that out as well, along with the Taiwanese Oxford. Once you’ve seen the historical buildings, you can head shopping! Tamsui is built along the riverside and shops fill the street, selling everything you could ever want or need. A great place to experience history or buy souvenirs, Tamsui is well worth a day trip.
Getting there: The Red Line on the MRT takes you all the way up to Tamsui.
Are you looking for uncrowded lineups and world-class waves? Photo by Federico Gutierrez / CC BY
Waiao Beach: Black Sand, Good Surf
Located an hour and a half from Taipei, Waiao Beach is known for it’s black sand and surfing. Perfect if you’re looking to lie in the sun and relax by the ocean, the unique black sand provides a scenic backdrop for a day on the beach. If you’re feeling sporty, dozens of surf shops line the area around Waiao Beach, so you can grab some gear and hit the waves! Whether you’re looking to rest or exercise, Waiao Beach will fit your agenda.
Getting there: Take train line 801 from Taipei Main Station directly to Waiao Beach.
Houtong Cat Village: Cats. Lots of cats.
Historically a mining town, Houtong seemed doomed for obscurity once the mines shut down. That is until a local started taking pictures of the stray cats the villagers took care of. Soon a cat boom erupted and now Houtong is home to over 200 cats of various shapes and sizes. When walking the streets of Houtong, you’ll find cats casually lounging around everywhere, truly an animal lover’s paradise. Enjoy coffee and all the cat themed souvenirs.
Getting there: Take a train to Ruifang Station from Taipei Main Station. From Ruifang, take either a local train or bus number 808 to Houtong.
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This article was written by our intern, Risto!