Of all the day tours from Taipei City that I’ve booked, this day tour in Shiding District is hands-down my favorite. It’s laid-back and it’s perfect for those who like a more “authentic” experience, as the tour takes you to some amazing lake viewpoints and tea plantations as well as old historical streets that locals still go to. It’s also less crowded and less commercialized compared to more popular day tours such as the North Coast or Taichung.
I booked this day tour via KKDay. The itinerary includes the Thousand Island Lake, Ba Gua Tea Plantation and Shiding Old Street.
Shiding District is located about 30 km southeast of Taipei City, an hour away. It offers scenic natural attractions, the most famous of which is the Thousand Island Lake.
The attractions in Shiding aren’t easily accessible by public transportation, so your best option is to book a tour.
Shiding Day Tour
I met up with my guide for KKDay in Ximen Station before 9AM. Interestingly, there were supposed to be four people in the group tour but I was the only one who showed up. As I mentioned in my previous post, this was in early-March 2020 so there were few tourists.
My tour guide is a nice elderly man. He speaks a little bit of English — there were times when I had to grasp to understand what he was saying but in general we were able to communicate with each other during the tour.
Thousand Island Lake and Ba Gua Tea Plantation
Thousand Island Lake is a man-made water reservoir formed by the surrounding Feitsui Reservoir and Beishi River. As such, it’s not really a lake — the submerged mountain areas surrounded by emerald water gives it an impression of being a “thousand-island lake.”
The first time I saw the Thousand Island Lake was when we were driving down the mountain. My tour guide pointed it out to me and I gasped in wonder. It was so beautiful!
We stopped in a viewpoint where I took photos. Then in another one where there is a more close-up view of the “islands”.
Finally, we drove to the Ba Gua Tea Plantation which is just a few minutes away. This tea plantation produces high quality tea leaves — the altitude of the mountain is perfect for creating the right tea flavor. It also offers a different view of the Thousand Island Lake.
There is a mountainside coffee shop here where tourists take a short break. My tour guide recommended I get the tofu ice cream. It’s topped with a kind of soy sauce and peanuts. It was interesting!
Our next destination is the Jingualiao River. This river is a tributary of Beishi River and it’s known for the biodiversity of fish and fern found along the stream.
This isn’t part of the printed itinerary so I didn’t know about it beforehand. I tried to look at it in the Google Maps but it’s listed in its Mandarin name.
My tour guide parked at the road side. From there, we walked for about 10-15 minutes along the river. We met occasional hikers in the area. The water was clear and there were lots of fishes. It was still spring when we visited so the water level wasn’t high.
Lunch at Pinglin
Pinglin District is a known tea country. The majority of its residents are tea growers or are involved in the tea business. Tourists usually visit here to experience a tea-tasting ceremony in Pinglin Old Street or see the Pinglin Tea Museum, which is the biggest tea museum in the world.
We only stopped at Pinglin for lunch. I had salted pork rice with cold tea. Then my tour guide led me to a tea store next door, where we tasted freshly made green tea and black tea. There were also an assortment of desserts.
One of the best things about Taiwan is that stores usually offer free tasting for their products. We thanked the store owner before heading to our next destination.
Shiding Old Street
Shiding is a small town in a mountain in New Taipei City. It is about 300 years old. It now serves as a local hangout where you can eat and buy local products. It’s famous for its tofu, so you can taste various tofu dishes and even desserts, including tofu ice cream, tofu cake and tofu cheesecake.
Shiding Old Street is really small that I was able to walk end-to-end in about 10 minutes. Compared to Jiufen Old Street, it’s considerably less commercialized. There seemed to be a lot of local patrons in the area. Most of the signages and menus are written in Mandarin only.
I stopped to get dessert: black sesame tofu cheesecake. It was a little fluffy and tasted good.
Shenkeng Old Street
Since we still had a lot of time, my tour guide asked me if I wanted to visit Shenkeng Old Street as well. Of course, I said yes. (Actually, I didn’t understood what my tour guide said so I thought we were going to visit an old tree in a sunken location.)
Shenkeng Old Street is one of the largest & busiest old streets in Taiwan. It’s also considerably longer compared to Shiding Old Street and there were more people here. It’s also famous for its tofu.
There was a lot of interesting food stalls here. I bought a type of spicy tofu stew — it was really good but it seems I’m not used to the spices because I had a funny stomach for the rest of the day. I also had taro ball soup. I already had this one in Jiufen, but this one is a cold dessert. The main ingredients are taro balls and sweet potato balls and then you can choose 2 additional toppings.
Similar to Shiding Old Street, the signs here are written in Mandarin and the vendors don’t seem to speak a lot of English. I didn’t prepare for any Mandarin phrases, so I just say “How much?” and they answer by holding up their fingers.
I had a really enjoyable time in Shiding Old Street. There was a lot of interesting stalls and restaurants here to fill the senses. Nothing beats the feeling of immersing in the local culture.
As said above, this is my favorite day tour from Taipei City. The itinerary was relaxed and the places we visited were great. My tour guide was very friendly and I appreciated that he drove me to Shenkeng Old Street even though it wasn’t officially part of the tour.
If you like nature and culture or you want to have a more authentic tour in Taiwan, I recommend this day tour in Shiding District.
Book your tour with KKDay
You can book your Shiding day tour with KKDay. As of March 2020, joiner rate is 988 NTD per person.
- Meetup time at 8:40 AM and returning time is 5:00-5:30PM.
- Meals and snacks are not included.
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: