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, that 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 turns into a thriving night market with one-of-a-kind handmade crafts.
Located outside of Wanli, Yehliu offers plenty of photo opportunities for photography enthusiasts. Curious geologic formations known as hoodoos can be viewed at Yehliu Geopark. A number 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, when in the vicinity. There are also trains and buses that 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 be seen walking on the roofs, playing in the alleys, or napping on warm paving stones. Houtong has become a weekend destination for cat lovers and couples looking for a fun day trip just outside of 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 easiest 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 there are countless teahouses 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 guesthouses and hotels and is everything one could want in a day or weekend trip. In recent years, Fulong has become a popular getaway for holidaygoers 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, which attracts a young crowd. If looking for a lively beach atmosphere, expats in You Cheng can expect to make some new friends with locals and expats alike. From Taipei, You Cheng is just a one-and-a half to two-hour journey by train or bus.
Bai Sha Wan Beach
Bai Sha Wan 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.
►For more on what to enjoy in and around the city, read See and Do in Taipei
►Read What's On in Taipei for a list of annual events and festivals that take place in the city
"It’s easy to leave the city for day or weekend trips too. I love hiring a scooter and heading into the hills of Wulai for a day, or taking the train to Fulong beach. Beautiful Yilan county is close by which means one can escape to rice paddies or mountain streams after a hectic week in the city." Read about Jen's move in Taipei and how she's adjusted to her expat life in the city.
Are you an expat living in Taipei?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Taipei. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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