A Travel Guide to New Taipei City, the City of Day Trips

A collage of famous places in New Taipei City, Taiwan, like Jiufen, Yehliu, Shifen, and Pinglin

New Taipei City (新北市 or xinbeishi) is the largest city in Taiwan by population. Not to be confused with the capital, Taipei, New Taipei City is a city of its own, and it totally surrounds the capital.

In New Taipei City, you’ll find some of Taiwan’s most famous attractions, like Jiufen Old Street, Shifen Old Street sky lanterns, Shifen Waterfall, Yehliu Geopark, Yangmingshan National Park, Tamsui, and Wulai Hot Spring. Many of the most popular day trips from Taipei City are to areas in New Taipei City.

Although I usually tell people I live in Taipei, because that’s the city they’ve heard of, New Taipei City has actually been my home for over 10 years. I spent half that time in Banqiao district before moving in with my wife’s family, then getting a place of our own, both in Xinzhuang district.

In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know about visiting New Taipei City, including transportation, hotels, attractions, tours, itinerary planning, food, and events.   

New Taipei City Introduction

A cityscape, with tall twin towers of Banqiao Station at the center
Banqiao Station and New Taipei City Hall

From 1945 to 2010, this area was called Taipei County (台北縣). The county seat was in Banqiao district. In 2010, the county was elevated to the status of a city, so it now has a mayor, along with all the other things that come with being a city.

New Taipei City spans a vast area (over 2000 km2), but it is still not the largest city in Taiwan. Taichung and Kaohsiung cities, which also used to be counties until they were merged with their capital cities, are now even larger.

New Taipei City has 4 million residents, more than any other city in Taiwan. Also, if we consider Taipei City, New Taipei City, and Keelung to be one mega city, called Greater Taipei, it is surely the largest city in Taiwan, with a total population of 7 million, or 30% of Taiwan’s population.

A map showing the 29 districts of New Taipei City all labeled and with different colors
The 29 districts of New Taipei City, surrounding Taipei City in white (image from New Taipei City government)

Today, New Taipei City has 29 districts. These encompass countless beaches, fishing ports, hot springs, hikes, volcanoes, tea plantations, towns, markets, old streets, and more. I’ll cover some of the most visit-worthy districts in the “things to do” section below.

New Taipei City also hosts some big-name events like the Pingxi Mass Lantern Release, Fulong International Sand Sculpture Festival, Hohaiyan Rock Music Festival, and Christmasland.  

The current mayor of New Taipei City, Hou Yu-ih, is a candidate for the 2024 presidential election in Taiwan.

Getting to New Taipei City

Because New Taipei City is a very large city that totally surrounds Taipei City, how to get there will really depend on exactly where you want to go. You can swipe your EasyCard (order here) for most bus, train, and MRT rides to New Taipei City.

Heading north, the Taipei MRT Red Line terminates at Tamsui in New Taipei City. From there, you can take a taxi or bus around the northern tip of Taiwan. For Yangmingshan National Park, which is half in Taipei and half in New Taipei, buses or private cars are the best option – see my Yangmingshan transportation guide.

Going east, regular (TRA) trains are your best bet for getting to Keelung (a city of its own), Ruifang (for accessing Jiufen or the Pingxi train line), or Fulong Beach. Find out how to buy your train tickets here.

There are also direct buses going east from Taipei to destinations like Shenkeng Stinky Tofu Village, Jiufen Old Street, Shifen Old Street, and more.

To the south, you can ride the Taipei MRT Orange Line to Zhonghe and Yonghe districts, which have a few off-the-beaten-track attractions, or the Green Line to Xindian in New Taipei City. From Xindian, you can catch buses to Pinglin (for tea plantations) or Wulai (for hot springs).

To the west, the districts of Banqiao, Xinzhuang, and Tucheng are highly developed and connected to the Taipei MRT system. From Tucheng, you can take a bus to Sanxia (for its Old Street) or Yingge (a pottery town).

Where to Stay in New Taipei City

A narrow lane with some hotel signs and red lanterns in Jiufen, New Taipei City
Jiufen is a popular spot to spend the night in New Taipei City

Most people visit New Taipei City as a day trip from Taipei. However, there are a few places in New Taipei City that you may enjoy enough to spend the night.

You can consider to stay in Banqiao as a cheaper alternative to Taipei. Banqiao is only 12 minutes from Taipei Main Station on the Taipei MRT Blue Line, so it’s practically in Taipei.

For example, at Caesar Park Hotel (see on Booking / Agoda) or Hilton Sinban (see on Booking / Agoda), you get a hotel with a rooftop swimming pool for a price that would be tough to find in Taipei. But if you’re looking for low-budget accommodation, stick to Ximending area in Taipei City.

Some tourists stay in Jiufen to enjoy the village at night when the lanterns are lit up and all the tourists go home. In Jiufen, from cheapest to most luxurious, I recommend On My Way Hostel (see on Booking / Agoda), Sunshine B&B (see on Booking / Agoda), Dosun B&B (see on Booking / Agoda), or Something Easy Inn (see on Booking / Agoda).

A young boy in bathing suit and swimming shirt beside a pool with large white hotel behind it
My son at Fullon Hotel Fulong

A small number of tourists also spend a night in Shifen so they can enjoy releasing sky lanterns after dark without rushing back to Taipei after. However, most shops selling the lanterns close around 7, and the town is extremely quiet after that.

If you do spend the night in Shifen, I recommend Very Happy Homestay (see on Booking / Agoda). It’s about halfway between Shifen Train Station and Shifen Waterfall, so you’ll need to walk about 15 minutes to get there from either.

For a hot spring staycation, consider the popular Yangmingshan Tienlai Resort & Spa (see on Booking / Agoda).

If you want to stay on the beach, there are options at several beaches in New Taipei City, but we especially enjoyed our weekend family getaway at Fullon Hotel Fulong (see on Booking / Agoda) on Fulong Beach, the prettiest beach in New Taipei City.

Top Things to Do in New Taipei City

There are nearly endless places to visit and things to do in New Taipei City. I will just summarize some of the highlights below.

Northern New Taipei City

A bright red fort with Taiwan flag flying above and path leading to it in Tamsui
Fort Santo Domingo in Tamsui

Tamsui district is a very popular half-day trip from Taipei. Go there to walk the seaside promenade, visit Santo Domingo Fort, and take a ferry to Fisherman’s Wharf to see the sunset from Lover’s Bridge.

You can also take a ferry across the river to Bali district, which has a less tourist riverside promenade of its own.

In February and March, don’t miss the cherry blossoms at Tianyuan Temple in Tamsui. See my guide to Taiwan’s cherry blossom hotspots for more info.

From Tamsui, catch a bus to beaches on the North Coast like Qianshuiwan and Baishawan. Also visit the northern tip of Taiwan at Fugui Cape and the stunning Laomei Green Reef beside it.

For off-the-beaten-path attractions, consider Yuandao Guanyin Temple (緣道觀音廟) and Fudingshan Shell and Coral Temple (福頂山寺/貝殼廟) by car or scooter.

Staircases up to some UFO-like pod hotels
“Futuro House” on Wanli Beach

From Keelung city, access attractions on the northeastern coast like Juming Museum, Yehliu Geopark, Guihou Fishing Harbor (for fresh seafood), the unusual UFO Futuro Houses on Wanli Beach, and Dawulun Beach.

Yangmingshan National Park is shared by Taipei City and New Taipei City. Top attractions there include cherry blossoms at Flower Clock (late February to early March), calla lily viewing at Zhuzihu (April), hot springs (Lengshuikeng), volcanic fumaroles at Xiaoyoukeng, and numerous great hikes. Most of these are actually in the Taipei side of the park, though.

Eastern New Taipei City

A waterfall over orange colored rocks
Golden Waterfall

Some of the hottest destinations in the Greater Taipei Area lie in Eastern New Taipei City. Chief among them is Jiufen Old Street, an atmospheric former gold mining village. Amei Teahouse is the most popular stop there.

Near Jiufen, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park, the original mine is fun to explore. It is also the starting point for the excellent Teapot Mountain Hike. Golden Waterfall, 13th floor ruins (水湳洞選煉廠遺址), Yinyang Sea (陰陽海), Nanya Rock, and Bitoujiao Lighthouse are also nearby.

Ruifang is the main transportation hub for the area. Besides catching buses to Jiufen, you can also board the Pingxi Railway Line there. This train line gives access to several very popular spots, including Shen’ao Rail Bike, Houtong Cat Village, and Shifen.

A crowd of tourists overlooking Shifen Waterfall from above
Shifen Waterfall

Shifen is an extremely popular spot. Tourists flock there to set off Sky Lanterns beside the train tracks on Shifen Old Street and to walk to nearby Shifen Waterfall, the largest waterfall in Taiwan.

Off-the-beaten-track stops on the Pingxi Small Train Line include the Sandiaoling Waterfall Hike, Lingjiao Waterfall, Pingxi Crags hike at Pingxi Station, and the cute Jingtong Old Street. Many visitor’s also enjoy the DIY noodle making class at Hsu’s Pulled Noodles, but you need a car to get there.

A pedestrian bridge leading out to a thin strip of sandy beach called Fulong
Fulong Beach

At the southeastern corner of New Taipei City, Fulong Beach is one of the prettiest beaches in Taiwan. It’s also the starting point of the popular Caoling Historic Trail, which connects to Yilan county.

Closer to Taipei, Shenkeng district is famous for its Stinky Tofu Old Street, where you can try all types of stinky tofu and other tofu-based snacks.

Huangdidian is a difficult but rewarding hike in the area.

Southern New Taipei City

Going south from Taipei, Pinglin and Wulai districts are two excellent day trips that see relatively few tourists. Each one takes about an hour to reach by bus from Xindian MRT Station.

Looking down at the terraces of a tea farm with some palm trees and turquoise water below
Bagua Tea Farm overlooking 1000 Islands

Pinglin (坪林) is especially known for its tea plantations. The view of Thousand Island Lake (千島湖, actually one of Taipei’s water reservoirs) from Bagua Tea Plantation (八卦茶園) is one of the country’s most beautiful. It’s possible but a little tough to get there on your own, while tours like this one are more popular.

Pinglin’s town center is a small village with several teashops and restaurants serving tea-infused foods. Pinglin Tea Museum is excellent. I also recommend renting a bike and cycling past the tea fields south of Pinglin Riverside Park.

An aboriginal man standing in front of cart of wine bottles
Aboriginal millet wine vendor in Wulai

Wulai (烏來) is the closest aboriginal village to Taipei and is famous for its hot springs. You can taste aboriginal foods and millet wine on Wulai Old Street, take a soak in one of the many private hot spring spas, or ride the gondola over Wulai Waterfall.

You can also ride a different MRT south of Taipei, the Orange Line, to Yonghe and Zhonghe. These two crowded districts have a few off-the-beaten-track spots like Museum of World Religions, Lehua Night Market, Zhonghe Myanmar Street, and the giant Earth God statue at Hongludi Nanshan Fude Temple.

Western New Taipei City

The most developed part of New Taipei City is the western portion, between Taipei City and Taoyuan City.

A traditional Chinese pond and walkway around it
Lin Family Mansion in Banqiao

Banqiao (板橋) is the seat of the New Taipei City government and feels very similar to Taipei City. It’s on the Taipei City MRT, TRC, and HSR lines. A few attractions worth considering in Banqiao are Lin Family Mansion and Garden (a popular spot for taking photos in traditional hanfu or qipao), Banqiao 435 Art Zone, and Nanya Night Market.

There aren’t many reasons to visit Tucheng, but the chance to see capybaras at Capybara Knight Café is one of them. Access is from Tucheng MRT station.

Sanxia (三峽) district is worth visiting for the excellent Sanxia Old Street, Sanxia Qingshui Zushi Temple, and the exceptionally thrilling Wuliaojian Trail.

A ceramic face on a red ceramic branch in a pottery museum
Yingge Ceramics Museum

Nearby Yingge (鶯歌) is all about pottery and ceramics, with the excellent Yingge Ceramics Museum and Yingge Ceramics Street.

Last but not least, Xinzhuang (新莊) is where I’ve lived for more than half of my years in Taiwan. Travelers understandably almost never make it out to this mostly industrial district. Xinzhuang Temple Street (新莊廟街夜市) is an off-the-beaten-track night market with several old temples. Xinzhuang Dizang Temple nearby is also impressive.

Crescent Bridge connects Xinzhuang Temple Street to Banqiao District’s Banqiao 435 Zone. The pedestrian-only bridge looks lovely when lit up like a rainbow at night.

How to Plan Your New Taipei City Itinerary

A cat sleeping in a flower bed with tourists walking behind at Houtong Cat Village
Houtong Cat Village

It is unlikely that you will plan a trip around New Taipei City. What’s more likely is that you will visit individual places in New Taipei City on day tours from Taipei.

The most popular option is a day trip to Eastern New Taipei City which includes around four of the following: Yehliu Geopark, Jiufen Old Street, Jinguashi, Golden Waterfall, Houtong Cat Village, Shifen Old Street, Shifen Waterfall, and Keelung Night Market.

While it’s possible to do the above by public transportation if you go quickly and plan it well, most visitors opt for a day tour (see next section).

Other popular half-day or full-day trips from Taipei include Tamsui (3-4 hours is enough), Yangmingshan National Park (choose a hike and go by bus, or hire a driver for visiting multiple spots in one day), Pinglin and Wulai (half-day to a full-day each), or Sanxia and Yingge (half-day each or combined for a full-day trip).

If you’re planning to head to Yilan or Hualien/Taroko Gorge after Taipei, then consider to stop at Ruifang and spend a night at Jiufen on the way. You can then continue by train from Ruifang to Yilan or Hualien.

Best New Taipei City Tours

A steaming fumarole on the side of a mountain in Yangmingshan National Park
Xiaoyoukeng Fumaroles, Yangmingshan National Park

Since most visitors don’t budget enough time for New Taipei City, they often end up taking day tours to squeeze in as much of it as they can.

This day tour to Yehliu, Jiufen, Shifen, and Golden Waterfall is extremely popular and efficient. There are other variations of the tour like this one and this one.

Hiring a private driver for a day is another popular way to achieve the same thing but in a more customized way.

Yangmingshan National Park can be visited on this popular day tour which includes Beitou Hot Spring in Taipei, or with a private driver.

To see Pinglin’s tea plantations, try this day tour or this Pinglin day tour or this private car deal.

What to Eat in New Taipei City

There is a whole lot of good eating to be had in New Taipei City. Here are some specific places that stand out for their food. if you’re vegetarian or vegan, see my Taiwan vegetarian and vegan food guide.

Rows of packages of iron eggs for sale in Tamsui
Iron eggs, a delicious Tamsui specialty

Tamsui’s riverside promenade features treats like Turkish ice cream, grilled squid, and iron eggs. Tamsui is also known for agei (阿给), a Taiwanese food that was invented there.

For super fresh seafood, head to one of the several seafood markets or restaurants at Guihou Fishing Harbor, which is close to Yehliu Geopark.  

On Jiufen Old Street, taro and sweet potato balls (芋圓 and 地瓜圓) are a famous local specialty – enjoy them hot or over ice. Also try the cilantro and peanut brittle ice cream wraps (花生冰淇淋卷). The tea sets at Amei Teahouse are extremely popular.

A white paper bowl filled with taro and sweet potato balls
Sweet potato and taro balls in Jiufen

Keelung Night Market is one of the best night markets in Taiwan. It’s in Keelung City, not New Taipei City, but I mention it here because it’s easy to combine with your visit to places like Yehliu, Jiufen, or Shifen in Eastern New Taipei City. Finish your day trip at the market before heading back to Taipei.

On Shenkeng Old Street, try some of the best stinky tofu in Taiwan. You can find the stewed (麻辣臭豆腐), grilled (串燒臭豆腐), and deep fried (臭豆腐) kinds of stinky tofu. Also try tofu ice cream, douhua (豆花), and other traditional snacks.

In Pinglin tea area, it’s all about baozhong tea (包種茶), a light, subtly melon-flavored oolong tea. Small restaurants there also served tea-infused dishes like tea oil noodles and deep fried tealeaves.

Many sticks of stinky tofu on a tray wrapped with aluminum foil
Stinky tofu in Shenkeng

On Wulai Old Street, you can try all kinds of aboriginal foods, like bamboo tubes filled with sticky rice, mountain greens, betel nut flowers, fried river shrimps, tiger lily soup, and millet wine (小米酒).

Banqiao has more restaurants than I could cover here, but if you’re looking for a quick answer, there’s a Din Tai Fung and a strangely excellent food court in B1 of Mega Mall beside Banqiao Station. The food court is designed to look like an old-fashioned market street.

New Taipei City Events

A couple huge events commonly associated with Taipei actually take place in New Taipei City.

Many lanterns going up into a black sky with one especially big one and each one has a small fire inside
The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival

The Pingxi Lantern Festival is one of Taiwan’s most popular (and crowded!) events. This is when masses of sky lanterns are released at timed intervals – don’t confuse it with the many other events associated with Lantern Festival around Taiwan. The event usually takes place on the two Saturdays closest to Lantern Festival (the 15th day of the Lunar New Year).

From January to March, you can see cherry blossoms at Wulai, Yangmingshan, and Tianyuan Temple in Tamsui. Also see tung blossoms in Tucheng in April to May, calla lilies in Yangmingshan in April, hydrangeas in Yangmingshan in May, and silvergrass in Yangmingshan and Caoling Historic Trail in November.

A large round temple visible behind some cherry blossoms
Cherry blossoms at Tian Yuan Temple in Tamsui

From early summer to mid-autumn, Fulong Beach hosts the impressive Fulong International Sand Sculpture Festival. Throughout the festival, you can see enormous and very impressive sand sculptures on the beach.

Fulong also hosts the free Hohaiyan Rock Music Festival, usually sometime in August.

From late November to early January, Christmasland takes places in Banqiao City Hall Plaza behind Banqiao Train Station. It is an over-the-top display of Christmas lights, with tunnels of lights, fake snow, concerts, and more. It is very popular and crowded.

2 thoughts on “A Travel Guide to New Taipei City, the City of Day Trips”

  1. Thank you for such detailed information. I’m thinking that it might be better staying in New Taipei City and doing a day trip to Taipei. What is your take on this?

  2. New Taipei City is huge, so it really depends on many factors, like which part you plan to stay in, why you chose it, what you want to see in Taipei, how many days total your trip is, etc.

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