What to See on The Pingxi Line in Taiwan?
The Pingxi Region is nestled in the lush hills of Taiwan‘s northeastern region.
This narrow-gauge railway, originally built for transporting coal, has now become a symbol of Taiwan’s rich history and natural beauty.
In this blog post, we’ll embark on a picturesque journey along the Pingxi Line, discovering its charm, history, and the delightful towns along its tracks.
History of the Pingxi Line
The Pingxi Line’s story began in the early 20th century, serving as a vital conduit for Taiwan’s once-thriving coal mining industry in this area.
Today, the line stands as a testament to Taiwan’s industrial past, with its vintage trains offering a nostalgic journey through time. The line stretches approximately 13 kilometers, winding through serene landscapes and quaint villages.
How to Get to the Pingxi Line
Step 1. Taipei Main Station to Ruifang Station:
- Start at Taipei Main Station and purchase a train ticket to Ruifang Station.
- This can be done at the ticket counters, vending machines, or using an EasyCard (a rechargeable smart card for transportation in Taipei).
- Board the northbound train towards Ruifang. The journey typically takes about 30 to 40 minutes.
Step 2. Transfer to the Pingxi Line at Ruifang Station:
Once at Ruifang, exit the train and follow the signs to transfer to the Pingxi Line.
At Ruifang, you need to purchase a ticket for the Pingxi Line. We highly recommend buying the Pingxi Line One-Day Pass, which offers unlimited travel on the Pingxi Line for the day. With that you can stop and go as you wish 🙂
Step 3. Terminus at Jingtong Station
You can either take the train all the way to the terminus at Jingtong Station and start your visit there or end your visit at Jingtong and take the train all the way back to Ruifang.
Trains are frequent, so you don’t have to worry that much about timetable.
Tips for Your Journey:
- Buy an Easycard: Consider purchasing an Easycard (a rechargeable smart card) for convenience. It can be used on trains, buses, and the MRT in Taipei.
- Consider Off-Peak Hours: The Pingxi Line can get crowded, especially during festivals or on weekends. Traveling during off-peak hours can make for a more comfortable journey.
- Enjoy the Scenery: The journey to Pingxi offers beautiful scenery. Try to get a window seat to enjoy the view!
Best Stops Along the Pingxi Railway Line
1. Exploring Jingtong: A Glimpse into the Past
Jingtong is the terminus on the Pingxi Line. You take the train all the way there and make your way back, or end your visit and head straight back to Ruifan. However, most people wouldn’t even bother visiting Jingtong, which is a pity…
Jingtong, with its old wooden train station, exudes an air of nostalgia.
The Jingtong Old Street is a must-visit, with its charming souvenir shops and the unique tradition of writing wishes on bamboo sticks. The historical exhibits and coal mining relics offer a window into the town’s past.
Jingtong is not as visited as Shifen, which for us felt quite nice to skip the crowd and enjoy the place almost entirely to ourselves.
2. Pingxi Old Street
After Jingtong, the train head back to Pingxi Station and its Old Street.
Pingxi is a bit smaller than Jingtong, but the village with the river passing by is rather charming. The town’s old street is lined with quaint shops and eateries, perfect for sampling local delicacies.
Don’t get confused here, Pingxi refers to the entire northeast region of Taiwan. However Pingxi Station is just a town part of this region.
3. Shifen: Where Nature Meets History
Shifen, another notable stop, is home to the awe-inspiring Shifen Waterfall. Often hailed as Taiwan’s version of Niagara Falls, it’s a great spot for nature lovers.
Shifen’s Old Street, with its unique setting alongside the train tracks, offers a vibrant atmosphere. Visitors can also partake in the tradition of releasing sky lanterns here.
Shifen is THE most famous and CROWDED stops along the Pingxi Railway Line. It was fun to see people lighting up the sky lanterns (although be aware of the negative environmental impact).
4. Dahua: The Quiet Retreat
Dahua is a much less-traveled spot but it offers a peaceful escape from the tourist trail. The station itself is a quaint, unassuming structure, surrounded by scenic beauty, perfect for a tranquil walk or a picnic.
5. Sandiaoling: A Hiker’s Dream
For those seeking adventure, Sandiaoling is the perfect stop. Known for the Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail, this hike takes you through lush forests to three stunning waterfalls.
It’s an ideal way to immerse yourself in Taiwan’s natural splendor.
6. Houtong: The Cat Lover’s Paradise
Your last stop if you start from the end at Jingtong (or your first stop after Ruifant), is Houtong, better known as the Cat Village.
Once a mining town, Houtong has reinvented itself as a sanctuary for cats, attracting feline enthusiasts from all over. The village is filled with cat-themed cafes, shops, and dozens of friendly cats roaming freely.
Extend your Trip to Jiufen
Jiufen is a picturesque mountain town in northeastern Taiwan, renowned for its narrow, winding streets, historic architecture, and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.
Jiufen isfamous for its old street lined with teahouses and lanterns, street food stalls, and artisan shops. The town’s unique charm and scenic setting have made it a favorite among travelers seeking a blend of history, culture, and natural beauty.
To get there, take a bus from Ruifang Station.
- Once at Ruifang, exit the station and find the bus stop nearby. Here, you can catch a bus to Jiufen. The bus ride from Ruifang to Jiufen is about 15-20 minutes.
- Buses like the 1062, 788, or 856 can get you from Ruifang to Jiufen.
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The Railway Pingxi Line is a journey through Taiwan’s heart and soul. Each stop along the line offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, making it a must-visit for anyone exploring Taiwan.
Whether you’re into history, a nature enthusiast, or simply in search of a unique experience, the Pingxi Line promises an adventure that’s as enchanting as the landscapes it traverses.
So, hop aboard the Pingxi Line and enjoy your trip in Taiwan!
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