Day 3 in Taipei, Taiwan: Exploring Wenshan and Pingxi Districts

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Shifen Old Streets Lantern Festival- Taiwan
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It is no longer surprising that there are a lot of overwhelming destinations in Taiwan and it will not be complete without visiting the famous old streets, zoo, waterfalls and joining their lantern festival which happens occasionally. Our fun-filled Taiwan itinerary highlights the breathtaking ride of 4.03 KM gondola system, lantern flying from the old streets, scenic waterfalls at Pingxi District and many more.

We haven’t had the high adrenaline on our third day compared to the first few days we spent wandering in Taiwan by reason of sleeping late at night and early wake-up calls. However, it’s not enough reason for us to decelerate our excitement and eat up our whole Day 3 just for kicks. Glad that we got adequate pacing and preparation to complete another 12-hour journey from Taipei Zoo to Pingxi Old Street. Hurrah for our Day 3!

Also read: Day 2 in Taipei, Taiwan: Visiting Top 5 Destinations in 12 Hours (Itinerary + Tips)

Taipei Zoo

Taipei Zoo Entrance- Taiwan

After a quick preparation for the day, we went straight to Taipei Zoo which is our first stop. With the fast MRT subway system, we arrived early at the place just minutes after they open to start their operation.

Note: Getting the tickets is super convenient if you have the MRT Card/ Easy Card. You can just tap and enter instead of waiting or standing in a queue.

Upon entering the zoo, we passed by a few security checks and headed straight to the eatery located inside the zoo to take a brunch as we were hungry for any kind of excitement.  There are not much of food selections so one can settle with that can be seen immediately in the first stand, rice meals on the next, 7/11 on the opposite building and few other satellite coffee shops in the area.

Taipei Zoo is huge as it is one of the ten largest municipal zoos worldwide and the largest in Southeast Asia. Rest assured there’s plenty to see!

Taipei Zoo Elephant Spotted- Taiwan

If you wish to start at the top going back to the entry point, walking to the uphill in a humid or hot weather condition is a bad idea. An alternative for you is to take their internal shuttle available for NT$5 per ride which can bring you to different drop-off points.

The zoo is full of all sorts of wildlife— giraffes, hippos, giant pandas, lions, flamingos, koalas, insects (with several butterfly species unique to Taiwan), kangaroos, penguins and many more. Obviously, this is great for kids or family activity and even for travelers who are interested in wildlife or nature. Be sure to check them out!

We noticed that some areas of the zoo are closed for renovation. As to our experience, we haven’t explored the whole zoo as we need to catch up the rest of the destinations in our Day 3 itinerary. We made our last stop at the Temperate Zone animal area. And from there we took another ride to Taipei Zoo South Station for Maokong Gondola ride.

Location: No. 30, Section 2, Xinguang Road, Wenshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 11656 (View Map)
Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Daily), 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM (Animal Exhibits)
Nearest MRT Station/ Bus Stop: Taipei Zoo Station
Fare: NT$65
Fees: NT$60 (adults) and NT$30 for 18yo and below
Time to visit: 2 hours

Maokong via Gondola

Maokong Gondola Last Station- Taiwan

Finally, we made our way to Maokong through gondola from Taipei Zoo. From the South Station, the ticket fee is at NT$100 to reach the Maokong station in a quaint village located at the top of the mountain. You also have an option to reach the place through a shuttle or private cars at reasonable fares. Some said it can only take 20 minutes to go up from the lower ground through cars compared with a gondola ride which could take a little longer but definitely with thrilling perks and remarkable experience.  

Widely known as the most scenic spot in Taipei, the gondola journey was truly exhilarating. The four-sided cabin offers a panoramic view of the highlands and it can be more stirring if you choose the crystal cabins (glass-bottom cars). This is definitely one of the things that every tourist shouldn’t miss and most challenging for those with acrophobia! When we arrived at Maokong station, we could immediately feel that the temperature had gone down. We checked the temperature and it was chilling at 9 °C from 15 °C in lowlands. Amazing!

Maokong Tea Plantation- Taiwan

We had few hours stint at Maokong area and indeed the view of the city is breathtaking from our point of view. On top of that, we spotted some cherry blossoms upon exit and hiked towards where numerous tea houses are located at Tea Promotion Center. These tea houses only offer high quality, locally grown tea in Taipei and the price was “reasonably” expensive. Depending on what variant, you can get a 100g of tea for more or less NT$800. Many visitors will still make their trip here extra special to simply have tea and chat.    

After being satiated in Maokong, we went back to Taipei Zoo station through gondola to try and experience the crystal cabins. The tickets were NT$120 and the view was even more exhilarating with see-through cabin floor.

Operating Stations: Taipei Zoo Station, Taipei Zoo South Station, Zhinan Temple Station, and Maokong Station
Address: Taipei Zoo Station, Section 2, Xinguang Road, Wenshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan (View Map)
Hours: 09:00– 21:00 (Mon- Thur), 09:00– 22:00 (Friday/ Day before a National Holiday), 08:30– 22:00 (Sat/ National Holidays), 08:30– 21:00 (Sun/ Last Day of a National Holiday)
Nearest MRT Station/ Bus Stop: Taipei Zoo Station
Fare: NT$70 (1 stop), NT$100 (2 stops) and NT$120 (3 stops)
Fees: NA
Time to visit: 3 hours

Shifen Waterfalls

When we arrived at Taipei Zoo station, we took the MRT to Muzha Station which is just a one-MRT stop. Inside the Muzha station, we exited to take the Bus #795 in the nearby Bus Stop. The bus interval is pretty unpredictable. We had no idea what the bus interval was, thus, we spent around 15 minutes to finally catch a ride.

After an hour and 30 minutes, we arrived at Shifen Visitor Center at approximately 3:30 PM, still a perfect time for Shifen Waterfalls tour and Old Street stops. From the Visitor Center, we leisurely walked another 10 minutes and crossed two vintage bridges to finally get to the waterfalls.

Shifenliao Bridge- Taiwan

Shifen waterfall is a 40-meter tall waterfall that creates a rainbow as it splashes into the lake. The sound of falling waters and fresh mountain air really gives peacefulness and contentment. There are few viewing decks to get a perfect picture of the falls. We took hold of all chances to get one instagrammable shot of all the spots and angles since the place is so admiring and that we got enough time before proceeding to our next stops. We made an exit after taking photos and enjoying the majestic view. I felt a sympathy for those group of tourists who arrived past their closing time which is 5:30 PM. That being so, I suggest that you should be conscious of the time and research ahead of the destinations listed in your itinerary.

Location: 226, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Pingxi District, 乾坑10號 (View Map)
Hours: 09:00 AM – 5:30 PM
Nearest MRT Station/ Bus Stop: Shifenliao Bus Stop
Fare: NT$115 (from Taipei Zoo Station)
Fees: NA
Time to visit: 1 hour

Shifen Old Streets

Shifen Old Streets Lantern Festival- Taiwan

Our next stop from Shifen Waterfalls is the old railroad town famous for its sky lanterns called Shifen Old Street, a walking distance from the waterfalls. While walking, I noticed that there’s a “possible” alternative way to go to Shifen Old Street from the waterfalls, but we didn’t give it a go and took the way back to the Visitors Center instead since we don’t want to get lost.  While we trek the way to the old street, the rain started to fall (luckily, we are well-prepared for Taiwan’s unpredictable weather).

About Shifen Old Street, well the whole stretch of old railway track is undeniably alive whether it’s day or night time there will be people there. Weekends are even more crowded as I observed.  People can cross the tracks freely. If we’re not mistaken, the railway track is still operational and that a train will pass through every once in a while, but you’ll be asked to get off the tracks whenever a train passes through and the entire street will be back to life again once. We just witnessed how people cheerfully dodged when a train pass. With this, I thoughtfully tagged this a notable countryside experience in my entire existence.

The most awaited activity here is the lantern festival which usually happens annually in February at the Shifen Lantern Square. Just a perfect timing of our visit! Walking down the streets, there’s a lot of sky lanterns being released by most tourists. There are usually two kinds of lanterns: the one-colored lanterns and the multi-colored lanterns. The Taiwanese believe that each color represents a certain meaning such as happiness, wealth, health, etc. We chose the multi-colored lantern and wrote down our wishes. We took photos and videos first while waiting for the air to fill up and the vendor gave instructions on how to hold the lantern and when to let go. By then, the vendor helped on lighting up the lantern and asked to hold it above our head. As the illuminated lantern gradually rose, we were smiling with so much hope that all our wishes be granted!  

Location: 226, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Pingxi District, 十分老街 (View Map)
Hours: 24 hours
Nearest MRT Station/ Bus Stop: Shifenliao Bridge Bus Stop
Fare: NA (from Shifen Waterfalls)
Fees: NA
Time to visit: 1 hour

Pingxi Old Streets

Pingxi Old Streets Vendors- Taiwan

As much as we wanted to stay a little longer at Shifen Old Street, we already felt the need to go back. But before we rushed home, we had a quick stop at Pingxi Old Street. A place where lantern flying activity is also possible. Obviously, we never get tired dropping by the old-world atmosphere here.  

The place is not really far from Shifen if going back to Muzha MRT Station. It was an easy commute as there were no other buses in different numbers operating with the same route. Only the bus #795 or take the other option which is to ride a taxi.

A few bus stops later, we arrived at Pingxi at around 6:00 PM. It is evident that Pingxi is not as busy as Shifen Old Street or maybe because it’s already late? We aren’t sure. Along both sides of the railway are shops and traditional houses built from the Japanese era which remain untouched of modernity. Amazed at how humble the lives of the residents here.  

Afraid to miss the bus going back to the nearest MRT Station, we didn’t get a chance to try the long-queued food stalls at the place. Instead, we strolled around the street observing, taking photos and spent our remaining time watching other tourists passionately released their lit lanterns to the sky.

While on our way back home, we dropped by at Taipei Bus Station (near Taipei Main Station) to secure our bus tickets for Taichung tour the next day. Then finally we proceeded to our hotel to rest ourselves. After an hour, we woke up to feed our day with sumptuous street food at LeHua Night Market nearby.

Location: Pingxi Street, Pingxi District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 226 (View Map)
Hours: 24 hours
Nearest MRT Station/ Bus Stop: Pingxi Bus Stop
Fare: NT$15 (from Shifen Old Street)
Fees: NA
Time to visit: 1 hour

Sample Itinerary

Estimated hours: 12

Taipei Zoo
    0900: Depart from Apartment (Dingxi Station)
    1000: Arrival at Taipei Zoo Station
    1005: Walk towards Taipei Zoo
Maokong (via Gondola)
    1130: Walk Towards Taipei Zoo South Station (Gondola)
    1140: Arrival at Maokong Station
Shifen Waterfalls
    1300: Depart from Maokong Station (Gondola)
    1320: Arrival at Taipei Zoo Station (Gondola)
    1320: Depart from Taipei Zoo Station (MRT)
    1330: Arrival at Muzha Station
    1340: Walk towards Bojia Elementary School Bus Stop
    1340: Depart from Bojia Elementary School Bus Stop
    1630: Arrival at Shifenliao Bus Stop
    1640: Walk towards Shifen Water Falls
Shifen Old Streets
    1730: Depart from Shifen Water Falls (Walk)
    1745: Arrival at Shifen Old Streets
Pingxi Old Streets
    1830: Depart from Shifenliao Bridge Bus Stop
    1930: Arrival at Pingxi Bus Stop
Apartment (Dingxi Station)
    2000: Depart from Pingxi Bus Stop
    2200: Arrival at Bojia Elementary School Bus Stop near Muzha MRT Station
    2245: Depart Muzha MRT Station towards Dingxi Station

Also Read:
    Day 1 in Taipei, Taiwan: Sample Itinerary & Travel Tips
    Day 2 in Taipei, Taiwan: Visiting Top 5 Destinations in 12 Hours (Itinerary + Tips)
    Day 3 in Taipei, Taiwan: Exploring Wenshan and Pingxi Districts

Overall

To be honest, we were doubtful at first if we will make it to the top five most visited spots in Taiwan and squeeze in just a 1-day itinerary, but proud to say that we have successfully visited ‘em all.

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