The North Coast Tour is one of the best day tours from Taipei City. If you only have a day to spare from your city exploration, I recommend doing this one.
I booked my North Coast Tour via KKDay. The itinerary includes Yehliu Geopark, Shifen Old Street and Shifen Waterfalls, and Jiufen Old Street.
I was really excited about this tour because I’ve read that Jiiufen is said to be the inspiration to Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. I’m a big fan of this film and, when I was a kid, I had a huge crush on Haku, the boy who helped Chichiro. Miyazaki has since debunked this but the fan girl in me wasn’t disappointed at all. I still looked forward to walking the streets of Jiufen Old Street.
Our meetup location for the day tour was in Taipei Main Station at around 9AM. There were few tourists in the city and it was a good thing that there were enough participants for the tour to push through.
Our tour guide is Karen. Karen is very knowledgeable about the main tourist attractions in Taiwan and during our tour she would give us her personal recommendations on what to see & do.
Yehliu Geopark is a cape located in Wanli District, famous for its unique hoodoo stones. The whole landscape has a yellowish color and it protrudes next to the sea, so every now and then you can see big waves crashing over it.
I was prepared to go alone and take miserable selfies, but lo and behold, another solo tourist named April joined me and we agreed to go together for the rest of the tour.
We were given 45 minutes to explore Areas 1 and 2. We followed a path and took pictures with the rock formations. As said above, there were few tourists on this day so there was only a short queue of people wanting to take a picture beside the Queen’s Head. We also took pictures of the other rock formations but we couldn’t really tell which is which.
Just before our time ended, we took a short stroll around the shops outside the Yehliu Geopark selling local goods and souvenirs.
Shifen Old Street
Shifen Old Street is a railroad town located in Pingxi (or Pingsi). It used to be a mining town, but now it’s famous for its quaint shops & restaurants and sky lantern activity.
If you want to fly your own sky lantern, you need to select a sky lantern first. There are single-colored lanterns which are meant for a specific purpose (e.g., red = health) and multi-colored ones that cover multiple life areas. Once you’ve chosen what you want, you’ll be asked to write in calligraphy your wishes to all sides of the sky lantern.
I bought a red sky lantern for health & peace. To be honest, I just thought it would look good in pictures. I wrote health wishes on the lantern and a few doodles. Tip: Make sure to write in big letters so it can easily be seen. Take it from me and my tiny handwriting.
April didn’t want one but she helped me fly it. An elder shop resident took pictures of us. He was very proactive and he suggested poses for us. We were laughing all throughout because he seemed to know more about how to pose than us. Then we lit the sky lantern and wooosh it flew away.
The whole activity lasted 15 minutes tops, and it was really fun. I didn’t expect to enjoy it that much.
For those who are worrying about the environmental impact of this activity, the local government gives incentives to locals to collect the rubbish (about 10 NTD for each lantern). This is also the reason why it’s only the place in the country where people are allowed to fly sky lanterns.
Afterwards, we had a quick lunch. Some of the notable items you can buy at Shifen include noodles, oyster omelette, and BBQ chicken wings. We bought the last one and it was very good. The chicken wing is filled with rice inside and smells heavenly. It costs 65 NTD each.
Shifen Waterfall is also located at Pingxi, close to Shifen Old Street. The waterfall stands 40 meters high and is said to be the tallest waterfall in the country.
During weekends, KKDay does not include the Shifen Waterfall in the itinerary due to heavy traffic. Thankfully, it was a weekday so I got the chance to see it even though I do not read fine prints.
It takes 15 minutes to reach the waterfall from the parking area. We passed by a hanging bridge and then shops selling snacks and drinks. Then we reached the viewdeck to the Shifen Waterfall. There is no swimming area here but you can take pictures and take a leisurely break in the surrounding shops, if you have time.
If I’m not mistaken, we were given 45 minutes here, which was just enough time for us to take pictures and linger a bit before getting back to our bus.
Jiufen Old Street
Jiufen is a seaside mountain area located in Ruifang District in New Taipei City. It rose to popularity in the early 2000s due to its resemblance to Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film Spirited Away. Tourists believed that it inspired the film, although as said above Miyazaki denied this as he hadn’t been to Jiufen yet.
Our bus stopped in the parking lot and our tour guide informed us that there are 2 ways to get to Jiufen Old Street. One is to walk the 200-step stairway from the Police Station and the other is to take a taxi or bus to the entrance beside Family Mart. We’re reasonable people so we chose to take a bus.
Jiufen Old Street is composed of narrow alleyways filled with eateries & shops. Red lanterns are hang above the stalls. Jiufen Old Street one of the most popular attractions in the country. Hence, it’s always crowded especially on weekends.
In a way, we were lucky that there were little foot traffic when we visited Jiufen. We were given 2 hours to go around.
Here are the things you can do in Jiufen:
- Food trip! Have fish ball or meat ball soup, thick fish noodle soup, taro ball or sweet potato ball, and a whole lot of desserts.
- Buy your pasalubong. Jiufen is one of the cheapest places to buy hand-made pineapple cakes. You can also find cheese bars, peanut candy, and other snacks. There are also stalls selling high-quality Alishan tea.
- Take pictures along the narrow streets. Take a signature photo beside the 100-year-old Amei Teahouse and the Shengping Theater.
- Collect trinkets with Spirited Away design. Yep, the locals capitalize on its reputation by selling No-Face items.
April and I walked around to look at shop offerings. The first food we tried was peanut ice cream roll. It was a novelty, but I don’t know if I like it because I couldn’t really tell the flavors of the ice cream. Next was taro balls in soup. It was very good, especially since it was rainy and cold. We enjoyed the soup in a small eatery that overlooks the surrounding coastal area. Last, we had fried octopus which was good as well.
Jiufen Old Street wasn’t what I expected. I actually imagined traditional tea houses and bath houses, but it was really commercial. That saying, I still loved it because coming here was a dream come true for me.
Jiufen is our last stop in our North Coast itinerary. I said goodbye to April as she planned to stay there overnight while I went back to the tour bus to Taipei City.
I really enjoyed this trip. As said above, this is one of the best day tours from Taipei City you can do.
It’s my first time to go on a tour by KKDay abroad, though I have already booked with them a private tour in Cebu in the Philippines. I liked that our tour guide Karen is knowledgeable and capable and that our itinerary seems to be well thought of, although a little bit compressed. In particular, I liked our stops at Shifen Old Street and Jiufen Old Street. As a solo traveler, this was an easy & convenient way for me to explore the north coast. I recommend it to you as well.
Book your tour with KKDay
You can book your North Coast day tour with KKDay. As of March 2020, joiner rate is 445 NTD per person.
- Meetup time at 8:45 AM and returning time is 5:30-6:30PM.
- On weekends and holidays, Shifen Waterfall is not included in the itinerary due to heavy traffic.
- Meals and entrance fees are not included.
Here are some other fees you should note:
- Yehliu Geopark entrance fee – 80 NTD | Book in advance here
- Chinese sky lantern: 1 color – 150 NTD | 4 colors – 200 NTD | 8 colors – 350 NTD
Disclaimer: Thanks KKday for the complimentary tour! As always, thoughts and opinions are my own.
That’s my experience at the North Coast Day Tour! If you have questions or suggestions, let me know in the comment section below.
What to read next:
Planning a trip to Taiwan? Here are important guides:
- First-Timers Guide to Taiwan
- 5 Days Itinerary in Taiwan
- One Day in Taipei City
- What to Eat in Taipei City
Day tours from Taipei City: