Shifen is well-known as one of the must-visit destinations when people arrive in Taiwan, particularly in Taipei. This old quarter mesmerizes visitors not only by its nature but also by unique characteristics that you can find nowhere. So, if you want to know why it becomes so popular, this post is here to answer you.
But First, Let Make Sure You Know About What is Shifen?
Shifen means “perfection” in Taiwanese, which is located in Pingxi District, New Taipei, more than 30km from Taipei. To get there, you can easily take a bus, or private car from Taipei, it could take you 30-40 mins for each travel. Additionally, you can easily find a way, like the metro, by using Google Maps. It was the main thing I relied on when I wandered around Taipei.
About the history of the town, it was used to be a coal-transporting site under the Japanese era. Nowadays, it becomes a place of interest where everyone could come and enjoy the cozy antique atmosphere. This is also an interesting tourist attraction in Taiwan that is worth learning because residents make use of the old infrastructures to exploit tourism. Not only it costs lowly to build, but it is also both vintage and very sensible to reflect culture and history clearly to travelers.
OK, time to get the answer. Here are 4 things that make Shifen attractive to a lot of people when they pay a visit to Taipei.
1. The Nature
Like other destinations, the beauty of nature is a big point that makes Shifen become a must-visit destination among tourist travel lists. When arriving in Shifen, you will be surprised by a number of waterfalls there. Especially there is one prominent that people call Asia’s Niagara Falls, the Shifen Waterfall.
The waterfall is not the tallest one, but the broadest one with 40m in width and 20m in height. At any angles when watching Shifen waterfall, you can see it appears beautiful like a picture of nature with mystical colors, somehow magical but full of charm. To those who love nature, or love Taiwan, or love the newness will certainly enjoy the beauty of Shifen Waterfall. You may feel the Feng Shui picture that harmonizes the scenery of cloud, sky, river, water, and mountain. A great combination for all visitors.
To reach the waterfall, you need to cross the long, wooden boardwalk surrounded by rainforests, then pass a hanging bridge called Jingan Bridge, and an area with the 4 Face Buddha. The journey may take you 15-20 mins from Shifen Old Street. It’s free to visit, so you shouldn’t miss this place!
2. Local Cuisine
If you have a chance to visit Hoi An, the old quarter of Vietnam, and are sophisticated by a variety of specialties from street vendors, you are gonna take that feeling once again when coming to Shifen Old Street. Yes, Shifen is so-called the heaven of street food in which you can find a number of delicious foods. Some notably are sticky rice cake, or peanut wrapped ice cream. I even tried one of the best-grilled chicken legs added rice inside. Just imagine, you stroll around the town, passing antique alleys while handing a roll of ice cream in such a cozy atmosphere. So relaxing!
3. Outdoor Activities
Release Sky Lantern at Shifen Old Street
According to the locals, the name “Shifen” originating from the story that this place, in the past, was often attacked by burglars, causing them to evacuate from the mountains to avoid accidents. After a few days, the healthiest men in the village would go down the mountain to investigate the situation. If the bandits had left, they would release a sky lantern as a safe signal so the villagers could return to their homes. From there, releasing sky lanterns became a Shifen’s culture.
Lanterns often come in many colors, each color is symbolizing a different wish. In details, the meanings that belong to the colors are:
|Green||Wishes to be come true|
You can buy lanterns with mixed of colors at souvenir shops around the rail from NT$150 for a color and NT$200 for 4 colors each turn, write wishes, and light candles to release the lanterns into the sky. The hottest spot for dropping them is the railway line running along with the old town.
The railway is still in operation, so if you hear the siren, stand to either side, wait for the train to pass, and continue your work. The train here is very slow, not as fast as modern trains, so keep calm and enjoy this interesting experience. Especially, if you visit the town in the traditional holiday season, in February or March, you will have a chance to gaze more than 10,000 lanterns as flying in the sky as 10,000 wishes that people hope them to come true.
Get Lost in The Cat Land
You can find the cat village at Houtong Station, just 1 station away from Shifen. Taiwanese people love animals extremely, especially dogs and cats. The story of this village is, one day in 2008, a girl stopped there accidentally to see many feral cats, so she volunteered to come there to take care of the feral cats in the region and nearby. It gradually gained attention from the people and became a destination for local and foreign visitors.
4. Anything Else?
Walking around Shifen Old Street, you will come across colorful shops selling unique souvenirs made from the talented artisans there. If you have the opportunity to travel to Taiwan, you should buy some gifts to give to your loved ones or keep yourself as a souvenir with this place!
Having itchy feet at a very young age is a motivation for me to escape from a hustle and bustle life, go to more lands to learn more new things, meet more strangers and share these wonderful experiences with more people who have the same hobby.
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