Taiwan Diaries 2016, Day 3: Ruifang, Pingxi, Shifen & Jufien

Hello beautiful people!  I will try to finish all of my Taiwan posts today so I can move on to Sagada, Krabi and Malaysia. Each of these places represents different cultures, different experiences, all amazing and unique. You'd love it! I think it might help with your summer vacation planning. So on our 3rd day in Taipei, Taiwan we explored the Pingxi & Ruifang districts. To recap, I went there last year with my my siblings and Nico. :) Scroll down below for photos and stories!

We started the day later than normal, which I suggest you shouldn't do if you want to fully explore the Pingxi District. Haha. Good thing that Taipei Main Station was just a few blocks away from our AirBnb apartment. So convenient and perfect for people like us who cannot, to save our lives, wake up early. Lol.

 Our neighborhood

 Ay taray blogger o. Haha! Ay mannequin pala.

 On our way to Taipei Main Station

To get to Ruifang, one must hop on the local line or TRA. When you get to Taipei Main, just follow the signs, go up one floor to the ticketing area. Since it was almost lunch time, we decided to buy our tickets first and then eat fast before boarding the train. 

 Taipei Main is huge! Love this part. Nakaka Grand Central noh? Hehe

Buying tickets for this particular route or anywhere outside the city, could be quite confusing. We had to try more or less 5 times before we finally got it right. A kind lady who works there helped us out. So if you find yourself lost in translation (haha) don't be shy, you can always ask for help! People here are super nice and accommodating. :)

 Ticket to Ruifang is NT$59 each person reserved seating. You also have the option to buy a cheaper ticket or not sure if it's the same price and not reserved seating. There's also an express train for NT$76 per person.

 We had almost an hour before our scheduled train ride so we decided to eat lunch first

 Bought a set meal from this stall in the foodcourt

 Menu :) So you could see meal prices in Taipei. Not bad!

 Ordered Meal 8 which is NT$140 and shared it with my sister! :) Mas tipid hihi

 Look for the TRA platform

 Our trip was 11:55am heading to Hualien via Chu Kuang train service

 Look for Platform 4 if you're heading to Pingxi, Ruifang, Taitung, Hualien, keelung and Yilan.

 I love how efficient their train system are! No delays. :)

 Shoefie with the gang

 I was assigned to Car 10. We had different seat numbers hehe

 My ticket

 My seat!

 Lakas maka Train to Busan feels

1st Stop: RUIFANG (our jump-off point going to Pingxi and Jiufen)

 Feeling asa Train to Busan movie harhar

 Outside the train station 

 Yosi break muna sila

 At Ruifang Station, we bought tickets for the Pingxi Line. We availed the one day pass para unlimited rides for NT$80 each. 

 This is is perfect for those who want to explore all the places included in this line. Start early! Mejo d namin nsaulit coz we got there after lunch na. :(

 Inside the train. Mejo jampacked in real life!

 Loved the view along the way

2nd Stop: SHIFEN OLD STREET (lanterns!)

 Pose at your own risk hehe

 Just follow the crowd to get to the sky lantern flying part of the tracks

 Sky lantern  night lights! So cute

 There are food stalls if you're feeling hungry!

 Cutest ever!!!

 And we're here!!!

Releasing a sky lantern in Shifen (which you could also do in Pingxi) is one of the things I really want to do in Taipei. I don't know why but writing your hopes, dreams and wishes on colorful sky lanterns with your loved ones, releasing them to the sky and wishing they all come true has a certain magic and charm to it noh? I'm a sucker for century long customs & rituals. Huhu. Numerous cultures use floating lanterns in celebrations, ceremonies and significant events-- good and bad, happy or sad. 

 Chose this lantern shop at the end of the track near the Jingan Suspension Bridge. It's the least crowded spot!

Lanterns are priced at NT$150 for single color and NT$200 for 4 colors.  

 As you can see, it gets really crowded in the middle. Not good for photos. Hihi. 

FYI, this part is not exclusive to sky lantern flying. It's also not closed. Whenever there's a train approaching, people will just get off the tracks and wait 'til it's gone before going back as if nothing happened. So much fun! :) Both sides are lined with sky lantern shops, souvenir shops and food stalls.

 Busy much

For NT$200 we got the 4-colored lantern -- Red, Yellow, Pink & Blue which represents Health, Money, Career and Happiness! :) We decided to share since we are a family din naman. :) Auntie, the lantern shop owner, clipped it to a rack so we could write on it. They also provided a few brushes dipped in black ink as our writing instrument. It could be messy so bring alcohol or wet wipes. After writing on all sides, just tell Auntie you'd like it released and she'll gladly assist you. Also, they take good photos and videos! Nasurprise ako. Haha. 

 Nico and I wrote all our wishes on the red side

 My sister naman sa blue side

 My brother Joot, even if he can barely see, wrote on the yellow side! Hihi. 

 Init bes?

 You can write in English, in Chinese or any language really!

 Our wishes for the years to come:)

 Hi partner!

 Now it's time to release them!

 Auntie was very organized. She directed our poses and took our photos with all sides of the lantern. Such a pro! Haha!

 Joot's side of the lantern. He means nothing po sa hashtag, promise! He's the type of person na IDGAF and mahilig lang talaga mang inis haha. Also, he's indifferent sa politics, wala lang sha talagang masulat. Nagexplain talaga ako haha.

 My sister's namaaan

 And then Auntie lighted it up na so it would float. Mejo mainit sa kamay! Haha.

 And then she told us to let go, mga 5 seconds muna bago namin nagets, hence the fez. haha! 


 Fly high, reach the sky and I hope the One above reads them and grants them. :)

 The hopefuls:)

After our lantern activity, we looked for an exit going to the main road or highway because we wanted to go to Shifen Waterfalls. There were no buses or public transportation going there, so we resorted to hailing a cab. Tipid din coz we always divide the cab fare among the 4 of us. It was just a 10-minute ride from the train station and we only paid NT$100.  If you're feeling fit, then you could walk from the railway to the waterfall park for 20 minutes. 

 Jump off!

 Tempting! It was super hot that day :/

 Made of concrete paths & bridges and wooden stairs. 

 It is a 30-minute walk to the waterfalls

This part of Taipei, those along the Pingxi line are old mining towns. That explains the existence of old mining carts and railways all over the place. You might also wonder why some of the old houses have this Japanese look and feel to them. It's because the island of Taiwan was once a dependency of the Empire of Japan. From 1895 to 1945, as Taiwan was Japan's first overseas colony, Japanese intentions were to turn the island into a showpiece "model colony". As a result, much effort was made to improve the island's economy, industry, public works and to change its culture for much of the necessities of the war machine of Japanese military aggression in the Asia-Pacific until the surrender of Japan. (source: Wikipedia)

Was surprised to see this viewing deck! So modern! Haha.

20 meter tall waterfall that creates a rainbow as it splashes into the lake.

what a beauty:)

We took a cab back to Shifen Old Street for another NT$100 divided among us 4. Hihi. We spent half an hour checking out souvenirs and eating Taiwanese snacks before heading out again to Pingxi. 

Cab driver dropped us here

We walked a few meters before reaching the railway

I will come back for you talaga!

Jingan Suspension Bridge

Bought ice cream to cool us down!

My sister bought from this stall. It's like cheese balls but sweeter. D ko madescribe haha

4th Stop: PINGXI

Pingxi located in the north side of the mountains of Taiwan was an important coal mining town in the early 20th century. It has the largest train station of Pingxi railway line. 

The houses built on the slope are now different shops where visitors can purchase souvenirs and locally flavored snacks. Moreover, there is a famous old mailbox which was preserved from Japanese Colonial Ear. It is the oldest mailbox in Taiwan and is still being used now. So cool! :)

Lolo vs Nico hehe

Pingxi District is world renowned (more than Shifen) for their sky lanterns. This is where the annual celebration of the Lantern Festival in Taiwan occurs. This huge event is one of the three most popular customs of lantern festival in Taiwan. 

If you are a fan of Taiwan railway culture, then this place will amaze you! The unique construction of the railway passes over above houses and street; the sound of train passing by can be heard while you wonder in the town. People may walk on the tracks when there are no trains passing by and enjoy the marvelous view of the Keeling River and the alluring village below on the weekend. Travelers are welcome to bath in the ancient and casual ambience of the traditional leisure lifestyle perceived in Pingxi Old Street.  (Source: https://www.travelking.com.tw/)

If you want a smaller, more quiet place to release lanterns, then instead of Shifen go to Pingxi!

Trains don't just come and go here. We had to wait for 30-40 minutes before our ride finally arrived. And mejo pinapak kami ng lamok while waiting. The mosquitos were so big! Parang hybrid! Haha.

Our train back to Ruifang

We still can't call it a night because we still had one place on our list to visit-- JIUFEN! And I can't leave Taiwan without visiting Jiufen. I fell in love with the place just by looking at photos online. It reminds me so much of my favorite Studio Ghibli film, Spirited Away. And I'm not the only one who thinks so! According to some people, this place actually inspired Hayao Miyazaki's film. :)

From Ruifang train station we took a cab going to Jiufen for NT$200. It was just a 15-minute ride.

Mejo malayo binabaan samin so we had to walk for a few minutes before finally reaching Jiufen Old Street 

See that 7-11??? Beside that is the alley going inside!

That's the one! Just follow the crowd

Candy Crush store!

This historic centuries-old town with a beautiful view of the sea, offers a one-of-a-kind Taiwanese culinary and gastronomic experience. There are so many interesting shops and stalls selling delicious Taiwanese food! 

Jiufen is a decommissioned gold mining mountain town, originally built by the Japanese and now a maze of lanes and alleyways with rich history and cultureFounded during the Qing Dynasty, this small town was a relatively isolated village until the discovery of gold during the Japanese occupation in 1893, quickly developing the town due to a gold rush. Many buildings in the town remain unchanged to this day, reflecting the Japanese influence on both architecture and culture on the island. During World War II, the town housed a Japanese prisoner of war camp where captured Allied Force soldiers (mainly British) were forced to work in the gold mines. After the war, gold mining activities declined, and the town today exists mainly as a tourist destination remembering and celebrating Taiwanese history and culture. (source: https://guidetotaipei.com)

It is said that long time ago there were only nine families in Jiufen. Before the roads on land were built, all materials were transported via ships. Thus a habit was formed that nine pieces of same object were purchased at one time for reservation so all families could have them. Such good neighbors noh? Hence, the place was called Jiufen.

Interesting shop selling masks. Wooow.

This reminds me so much of the tunnel Chihiro and her parents went through! Again, Spirited Away. Hehe. 

The famous A Mei Tea House behind us!

It's more than a hundred years old and was said to be the first tea house in Jiufen! 

Box office this place! Don't go during weekends. Haha.

I saw a sign at A Mei Tea House's entrance which read: "Rare in-line window sills enable light source to dance within the tea house spaces; which inspired the Japanese animation "Spirited Away" by Hayao Miyazaki. Unique masks fills the tea house which is especially interesting when you sip up the cocktails stirred up by A-Mei herself!"


We were not able to make tambay and have tea in this historical place because of time constraint, but I promise, next time! :)

I wanted to take a nice photo sa stairs na to for Instagram but no chance at all because look. Haha.

So selfie nalang!

Saw this while we were walking towards the main road. So pretty.

Hello there!

We were already tired and got a little lost so we hopped into the first empty taxi we saw and asked the driver to take us back to Ruifang station. I red somwhere that there are buses from Ruifang to Jiufen and back, but we were out of time and out of strength to even try it. Haha.

*A shuttle bus service is available to Jiufen then on to Shifen Old Streets (十分老街) from Taipei City at Ximen , leaving in the morning and returning before dinner.

Back in Ruifang!

My sister had been craving for CoCo milk tea ever since we got there, so pinagbigyan! Hehe. In fairness, we only paid more or less NT$120 for 2 drinks! So cheap!:;)

Found this random stall in front of the train station and decided to try it out

Soup! Yum

They sell sizzling pasta! Haha! Ordered the red sauce one. I finished everything!

They ordered this one that's loaded with pepper. Didn't like it haha. Super spicy!

Finally heading home. Love the old school train!

Siblings! D kami magkakamukha noh? Ma, umamin ka! Charot haha.

This train has a cool restroom with automatic door! 

On our way home from the train station, we always pass by Family Mart to buy water and snacks. Taiwan has the best convenience store snacks! Swear. I could eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in Family Mart or 7-11. Haha. See our awesome buys below... 

Spicy Edamame for NT$28! THE BEST guyzzz.

Look! Huhu

Dumplings for NT$28. So good! Tasty!

Of course, we always end our day with a can of great beer. Cheers!

It was a super tiring day as we hopped from one place to another, but it was a great day. :) We were not able to visit Keelung and its famous night market but that's something to look forward to when we come back. Db? :) On our last day in the city, we visited the famous Taipei 101 and got lost in a mountain. More about it on my next post! Thanks for reading. :)

EXPENSES/BUDGET in NT$ or TWD (Night 1):

Train to Ruifang - 59
Lunch - 90
Pingxi Line One-Day Pass - 80
Lantern - 50
Cab to Shifen Waterfalls - 25 x 2 = 50
Cab to Jiufen and back - 100
Dinner at Ruifang - 50
Miscellaneous (water, snacks at Family Mart etc) - 200
TOTAL = NT$679 or P1,100

Link to all my travel posts:

Link to all my travel posts:


  1. Hi Aisa, great travel blog. as always. :) would like to ask if what time did you leave ruifang station back to taipei? or the last train from ruifang back to taipei? me and my friends will also travel to taiwan this july. :)

    Thank you!

  2. very informative, it helps me a lot to prepare for my DIY tour. looking forward for more travel blogs. kudos!

  3. ty for this great blog :)


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