How to Get From Taipei to Shifen: An Insider’s Guide
Planning a day trip to Shifen but not quite sure how to get there? If so, you’ve come to the right place! This step-by-step guide highlights the best ways to get from Taipei to Shifen and includes loads of tips and tricks to help you plan an epic Shifen day trip!
The perfect Taipei day trip starts with a visit to the gorgeous little town of Shifen (十分). Tucked away in the lush jungles of Pingxi District among the Keelung River Valley, Shifen is a popular go-to spot for hikers, nature seekers, photographers, and those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Taipei City.
Despite being an exceptionally tiny village, Shifen has a lot going for it! From a booming little Old Street chock-full with traditional food stalls and sky lantern shops to excellent hiking trails and a gorgeous waterfall.
Of course, there’s more to Shifen than just its stunning scenery. This little town is also famous for its railway culture and forms part of the 13km historic railway branch – the Pingxi Line. Built in 1918, the Pingxi Line played a vital role in transporting coal between the little villages, with Shifen being one of the stops along the way. Today, the Pingxi train no longer transports coal between Jingtong and Sandiaoling, but it’s a fun way to get a glimpse into the past.
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Before you go to Shifen
Before diving into this guide on how to get to Shifen from Taipei, here are a few tips to help you plan the perfect Shifen day trip.
- If this is your first visit to Taipei (or Taiwan), make sure to read these savvy travel tips to help you enjoy a stress-free trip.
- Make sure to download Google Maps and Google Translate on your phone. That way, you can check bus/train schedules, access maps, plan your stops, and translate Chinese menus in a jiffy.
- Make sure to pack mosquito repellent for your trip to Shifen. I love this eco-friendly bug spray that helps repel bugs and insects, without the harmful chemicals.
- Check the weather forecast before you go to Shifen. While cloudy days will undeniably be a bit cooler, the scenery is much more striking on sunny days.
- Grab Taiwan’s local top-up transit card, the Easy Card, so that you can tap and go on local trains/ buses without the headache of buying tickets.
- Taiwan is an extremely safe country to visit, even for solo female travelers. With that being said, it’s always best to have travel insurance when visiting a new country. Ensure you and your belongings are safe abroad by getting cover with World Nomads in a few easy clicks.
In a rush? Pin this Taipei to Shifen Transport Guide to read later.
How to get from Taipei to Shifen: 4 Ways to Travel
While Shifen is only located 31km east of Taipei, it is an arduous journey to get there, especially if you’re using public transport. Traveling times are often quite long and usually require switching between different modes of transportation.
To help you figure out how to get to Shifen, I’ve mapped out the easiest ways to travel to Shifen from Taipei. That way, you can spend less time planning and more time enjoying the scenery!
Taking the train from Taipei to Shifen
Traveling Time: 1.5hrs – 2hrs | Cost: NT$69-NT$87 depending on which train you take.
One of the most popular ways to get to Shifen from Taipei is by train. It does involve quite a bit of traveling time and switching trains, but it’s a great way to see a bit more of New Taipei City’s gorgeous scenery along the way.
First, get yourself to Taipei Main Station. From there, take any northbound train (TRA) to Ruifang (瑞芳車站). Make sure to check the stops on Google Maps or at the train station, as Keelung-bound trains do not stop in Ruifang. A ticket on the Fuxing Shuttle costs NT$48 and NT$67 on the Tze-Chiang Limited Express train.
Once you arrive at Ruifang, you’ll need to transfer to the Pingxi Line to get to Shifen Station (十分車站). To do this, you’ll need to cross the underground walkway to platform 3. It’s the very last platform, and there are clear signs in English, so don’t worry about getting lost.
The train ride from Ruifang takes about 30 minutes and costs NT$20. Just a heads up — the Pingxi train is always packed to the brim on weekends! If your itinerary is flexible, try to come during the week. Also, the train only comes every hour, so it’s best to time your visit here.
Travel Tips: If you don’t have an Easy Card, I strongly suggest you get one. That way, you can simply tap-and-go on local trains and buses. You can grab Taiwan’s local top-up transit card at any convenience store across the island or book one here. If you want to see a few other stops along the Pingxi Line like Jintong, Pingxi, Wanggu, Houtong, or Sandiaolang, it’s best to buy a Pingxi Line 1-day pass (NT$80) at Taipei Main Station.
Taking the bus from Taipei to Shifen
Traveling Time: 2hrs – 2.5 hrs | Cost: NT$45
The cheapest way to get to Shifen from Taipei is by bus. The Muzha Pingxi Shuttle Bus (Taiwan Tour Bus #795) is the only direct bus route to Shifen. The bus stops at both Shifen Old Street (Shifenliao Bridge) and Shifen Visitors Centre (Shifenliao). The ride only costs NT$ 45 and takes about 2h30. See the bus schedule here.
To catch the Muzha Pingxi Bus, take the Blue MRT Line (Bannan) from Taipei Main Station to Zhongxiao Fuxing Station.
Then transfer to the Brown Line (Wenhu) towards Taipei Zoo Station and alight at MRT Muzha Station. The metro ride takes about 18 minutes, and the station is the second last stop on the line.
Exit the station (there is only one exit, so don’t worry about getting lost). Finally, cross Muzha Road, the bus stop is located opposite the 7-11. (See on Google Maps here).
Joining a tour from Taipei to Shifen
Traveling time: 1hr -1.5hr | Cost: NT$445
If you are staying in or near Ximending in Taipei, another option is to take a shuttle bus. Klook has a cool shuttle service that includes return transfers to Shifen and Jiufen. (Jiufen is a beautiful little hillside town best known for its awesome street food, quaint tea houses, and hundreds of alleys strewn with dangling red lanterns). The best part, it’s not a guided tour! So, you’ll get to explore both villages at your leisure and plan your own itinerary.
Since it’s the most convenient way to go to Jiufen and Shifen, tickets usually sell out fast. It’s best to book your tickets well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Just a heads-up, most of the tour’s time is spent in Jiufen. While you’ll have ample time to browse the Old Street, sample some local snacks, and decorate a sky lantern, you might not have sufficient time to walk all the way to the waterfall and back. With that being said, if you really want to see the waterfall (and you definitely should), rent an electric scooter near the railroad crossing. (NT$200 for 1 hour).
Taking a private transfer from Taipei to Shifen
Traveling time: less than 1hr | Cost: Nt$1000 (one way)
If you don’t feel like bothering with public transport or simply don’t have the energy to figure out the nitty-gritty details of how to get to Shifen from Taipei, taking a private transfer is your best bet. It’s by far the least stressful way to get to Shifen since you’ll be picked up right at your hotel.
With that being said, I really only recommend choosing this option if you are traveling in a group, or with very young kids or the elderly. While it is arguable the fastest way to get to Shifen, it is much more expensive than the other options already covered in this guide. Also, keep in mind that it’s a pick-up and drop-off service, which means you’ll need to either book a return ride or find your own way back to Taipei.
Phew! Now that you know how to get from Taipei to Shifen, let’s get to the good stuff! Read along to find out what to do in Shifen.
What to do and see in Shifen
A day trip to Shifen packs the perfect mix of nature, history, and food. As one of the most charming little towns near Taipei City, Shifen definitely deserves a spot on your Taiwan itinerary.
Shifen Old Street (十分老街)
Shifen Old Street is a quaint little street running along both sides of the train track and is the perfect place for a leisurely walkabout.
The street is lined with sky lantern shops, cute souvenir shops selling all kinds of interesting knick-knacks, and tons of little stalls and eateries dishing up local treats. Some of the must-try traditional snacks include taro balls, taro ice cream burritos, fried cuttlefish sticks, and chicken wings stuffed with sticky rice. Come hungry, because there are lots to try!
Shifen Waterfall (十分大瀑布)
Located about 20 minutes’ walk from the Old Street is Shifen Waterfall — the widest waterfall in Taiwan and the “Little Niagara of Taiwan.”
It is the biggest highlight in Shifen and one of the most picturesque places to visit along the Pingxi Railway Line. The waterfall is only about 40m wide and 20m tall, but what really sets it apart from other waterfalls near Taipei is its rushing cascading flow. The best part, it’s free! So, skipping it is simply inexcusable.
To get to Shifen Waterfall, follow the signs leading the way from the Old Street. Once you pass the Visitor’s Center, you’ll walk along a well-paved footpath leading up and down countless stairs and over several bridges. It’s a very scenic walk, and you’ll be surrounded by a lush jungle no matter which way you turn.
At the waterfall entrance, you’ll find lots of food stalls selling street food, barbeque skewers, ice cream, and everything in between! Grab a few snacks and an ice-cold beer to enjoy next to the river before exploring further.
There are heaps of different viewing platforms, all offering breathtaking views of Shifen Waterfall. Make sure to follow all the little trails jolting off from the main path to see the waterfall from all angles!
Oct – May: 9:00-17:00, with the last entry at 16:30.
June – Sept: 9:00-18:00, with the last entry at 17:30
Travel Tips: If you’re combining your Shifen day trip with a visit to Jiufen, you probably have some luggage with you. If you don’t feel like tugging it along, you can leave your bags at the Shifen Visitors Centre’s small restaurant for a small fee. Don’t lose the ticket as you’ll need it to get your bags and deposit back.
Send up a Shifen Sky Lantern
Releasing a sky lantern with good wishes written on it is an age-old tradition in the Pingxi District. It’s also one of the most popular things to do in Shifen!
Along Shifen Old Street, you’ll find several stores selling sky lanterns in all kinds of colors and sizes imaginable. It’s a fun thing to do, but I highly recommend finding a store that sells eco-friendly lanterns. Most of the sky lanterns can’t decompose, which is harmful to the environment. Before buying a lantern, make sure it’s made from cotton paper and has bamboo sticks.
Prices generally start around NT$150 but expect to pay up to NT$350 for an eco-friendly lantern.
Travel Tip: The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival is one of the most memorable festivals in Taiwan. It is held on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year, which usually falls somewhere in February. If you’re keen to join the crowds, make sure you check the Lunar Calendar in advance.
Other Things to do Near Shifen
If you have a bit more time to explore Taipei’s outskirts, here are a few places near Shifen that deserve a spot on your list of things to do:
- Jiufen: A gorgeous little town offering incredible views, quirky alleys full of lanterns, and oodles of tea houses and tasty street food.
- Houtong: A cute little cat village home to nearly 200 cats and lots to keep you busy. Read my guide on what to do in Houtong for more info.
- Dahua Kettle Holes: A cool spot to check out how years of erosion have shaped crevices in the Keelung River.
- Wufen Mountain Trail: A gorgeous 3.2km hike offering picture-perfect vistas atop Wufen Mountain at an elevation of 756-m.
- Wanggu: Another stop along the Pingxi Line famous for its beautiful hiking trails and the Wanggu waterfalls.
That’s all I’ve got on Shifen. Have you visited Shifen on a day trip from Taipei yet? Feel free to share your tips on getting from Taipei to Shifen, the top things to do, the best eateries, and anything in between.