Taiwan's northeast coast is packed with cosy places to stay, dramatic ocean-side vistas and unique activities. Each town has something different to offer and a chance to soak up some local culture while trying out delicious food.
Taiwan is a compact island with first-rate transportation. Whether choosing to travel by bus, train, air or high-speed rail, expats can access the best that the island has to offer without much effort and in a short amount of time.
Villages close to Taipei
Pingxi is a rural district in New Taipei City and is less than an hour's journey from the centre of Taipei by train. It is home to the annual Sky Lantern Festival, which occurs just after Chinese New Year for about two weeks. During this celebration, thousands of paper lanterns float into the night sky. In the evenings each weekend, this sleepy town transforms into a thriving night market with one-of-a-kind handmade crafts.
Located outside Wanli, Yehliu offers plenty of photo opportunities for photography enthusiasts. Curious geologic formations known as hoodoos can be viewed at Yehliu Geopark. Several of the formations have been given poetic names such as 'Fairy's Shoe', 'The Queen's Head' and 'The Bee Hive'.
The easiest means of getting there is to rent a car or to hire a taxi in the vicinity. Some trains and buses travel between Taipei and the Yehliu Geopark each day.
Taiwan's famous 'cat village' is home to hundreds of stray tabbies, calicos and many others. Felines of all shapes, sizes and colours can walk on roofs, play in alleys, or nap on warm paving stones. Houtong has become a weekend destination for cat lovers and couples looking for a fun day trip just outside the capital. Expats can get to Houtong from Taipei via train, bus or taxi.
This mountainside hamlet is home to a traditional street market and is a favourite weekend excursion for expats and locals alike. The journey is most straightforward via train or bus and takes just over an hour.
Local delicacies and fresh seafood are sold from a low row of shops in the town, and hand-worked leather goods, original artwork, and countless other treasures are just waiting to be scooped up by savvy shoppers. Of course, Jiufen is most renowned as a tea-drinking destination, and myriad teahouses are spread around the town's hills overlooking the Pacific.
Beaches and seaside getaways
About an hour away by train, Fulong has a great selection of small guest houses and hotels and is everything one could want in a day or weekend trip. Recently, Fulong has become a popular getaway for holiday-goers trying to beat the heat during the summer months, so expats should plan to leave early on a hot day because it can be crowded.
Tou Cheng Beach
A relaxed surf atmosphere permeates this sleepy beach town, Tou Cheng is a place to surf, swim and generally relax. At night, the town usually hosts beach parties, attracting a young crowd. If looking for a lively beach atmosphere, expats in Tou Cheng can expect to make some new friends with locals and expats alike. From Taipei, Tou Cheng is just a one-and-a-half to two-hour journey by train or bus.
Baishawan is a well-developed family beach with a boardwalk, restaurants and other modern conventions that is well worth the two-hour train journey. During July and August, the beach can be a little crowded, so expats should be prepared. Year-round swimming is allowed, and the water is still warm enough to be comfortable in late October.