Sandiaoling and Shifen

After waking up at the Grand Hyatt Taipei, we had a nice buffet breakfast downstairs. We decided to head out to Sandiaoling for a waterfall hike based on today’s favorable weather forecast. Afterwards, we spent the afternoon at Shifen where there is a much larger waterfall as well as an extremely busy old street area. We ended our day back in Taipei at Taipei 101.


We decided to have breakfast downstairs as it was included in our room rate. The restaurant, on the first floor, was very large but also very busy.

There were a variety of items to choose from, covering Chinese as well as Western tastes. We tried to sample as much as we could, though mostly focused on the Chinese items. We were definitely very full afterwards!


We decided to head out to visit 三貂嶺 Sandiaoling, over to the east in a mountain valley, as the weather looked like it would be good. Although Sandiaoling is in New Taipei City, it is in a somewhat remote region. While Google Maps is great for finding transit connections, it is extremely poor when there are too many options to choose from. In this case, we decided to first take the MRT to 台北車站 Taipei Main Station. From there, we got train tickets to Sandiaoling. We then took a train to 瑞芳 Ruifang where we transferred to a local train.

After a short 10 minute ride, we arrived at Sandiaoling.

There isn’t anything near Sandiaoling Station. We started walking to the south on a paved path next to the railway.

The path is also next to the Keelung River, which flows through Taipei on its way to the ocean.

We continued walking past a rail junction.

Everything here was lush and green. This area has various hiking trails and waterfalls in the mountains.

After walking for about 15 minutes, we arrived at Sandiaoling. While there seemed to be more buildings on the far side of the Keelung River, there were only a few buildings where we were. It was possible to get to the other side by using a narrow pedestrian walkway on the railway bridge. But, instead we found the entrance to the Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail.

The first section of the trail consisted of stairs heading up the side of the valley. It wasn’t overly steep but the path was a bit narrow and seemed to go on for a long time!

Soon, the path leveled out and we started walking through a forested area. The trail was a bit wet in places but was otherwise in good condition and an easy walk. Luckily, winters in Taiwan are very comfortable and the weather looked good.

We arrived at the first waterfall about an hour after getting off of the train at Sandiaoling Station. There was a small but nice viewpoint, labelled on Google Maps as the 三貂嶺瀑布群觀瀑台 Sandiaoling Waterfalls Observation Deck. The waterfall seemed to have two stages and appeared to be pretty tall, though it was still a fair distance away.

There was a little shrine next to the observation deck.

We continued on after enjoying the view.

This land was for sale. It seemed to contain ruins of various buildings.

We soon arrived at the first of two rope suspension bridges. These days, everything is well documented on the internet so we knew these were coming. The very thick rope provided a pretty good platform for walking. The bridge didn’t sway too much as we crossed one at a time, though two are permitted.

There seemed to be a junction right after the bridge. But, the path to the left seemed to be the correct way to go.

We unfortunately didn’t photograph it but there was one extremely muddy section. The only way to cross was to walk on some bamboo poles which had been placed along the sides of the trail. It was a bit questionable as there wasn’t enough bamboo for a stable walking path but we made it.

We quickly came upon the second suspension bridge. It was pretty similar to the first. The two bridges seem to cross two rivers which join to form the waterfall that we just saw.

Once again, there seemed to be a junction past the bridge. We went to the right where the trail continued. This portion of the trail was rougher than the previous section.

This was as far as we went. It doesn’t look too bad from this photo but crossing the stream required walking over some questionable rocks. The water was too deep to walk through and the submerged parts of the rocks looked to be extremely slippery. Perhaps, before my knee injury, I would have gone for it, particularly as we had trekking poles. But it didn’t seem like a good idea to go further. So, we turned around here.

It took us about 50 minutes to return to Sandiaoling. We encountered very few people during this hike.

We decided to head back to the train station and catch the train to 十分 Shifen and find lunch there. Shifen is much larger with significantly more options, and the train service to Shifen is only hourly so we didn’t want to miss the next one.


The train to Shifen was packed! It was standing room only and felt a bit like rush hour in the city!

Shifen’s train station is much larger than Sandiaoling. We arrived as people were boarding a train headed in the opposite direction.

Many people got off our train. We waited for awhile as everyone walked across the tracks to exit the station. We decided to wait for awhile as there was no point in being caught up in a horde of people.

The old street area begins at the station and runs to the northeast along the rails. We headed in that direction.

We grabbed a snack from 溜哥燒烤雞翅包飯. The name translates to something like Brother Liu BBQ Chicken Wings Wrapped Rice. They sell chicken wings stuffed with fried rice. It was pretty good!

We also picked up some fried cuttlefish from a fried food stand. Good as well and a rather large quantity!

We continued walking by the rails through the old street. One popular activity here is releasing lanterns on the rails. We didn’t do it, but basically you buy a lantern and write wishes on its sides. The lantern is then assembled, lit, and released where it hopefully floats away!

We continued walking out of town to reach the nearby 十分瀑布 Shifen Waterfall. We passed by this heart of hearts and two cupids on a fence by the road.

We crossed over the Keelung River to reach the entrance to the Shifen Waterfall Park.

We arrived at a pedestrian suspension bridge which crosses over the Keelung River again.

The bridge swayed as we crossed over the clear river water.

The path continued next to the river beyond the bridge.

We soon came to a pair of bridges across the Keelung River. One is another pedestrian suspension bridge while the other is a railway bridge.

There are stairs leading up to the bridge as it is high above the river. The stairs provide a nice view of a small waterfall.

We didn’t cross over the suspension bridge yet. We briefly took a look at the area above the small waterfall.

We crossed over the Keelung River via the suspension bridge. This bridge swayed quite a bit!

We walked by these animal sculptures.

The area next to the Shifen Waterfall had a large structure containing viewing platforms as well as various food vendors.

We headed up to the highest platform to take a look! This waterfall along the Keelung River is nicknamed the Little Niagara of Taiwan1 due to its shape and large flow of water2. It is considerably smaller than Niagara Falls but still looks quite impressive and beautiful.

We continued on a one way route which led to additional viewing areas. This one provided the highest viewpoint. There seemed to be some sort of nature trail beyond but we did not continue due to the time as it was starting to get late in the short winter day.

We headed down to some additional viewpoints.

This next viewpoint was fairly low, though still well above the river below.

This next viewpoint was a bit higher up.

This viewpoint was the largest and closest to the waterfall. It was wet as it was within the spray zone of the waterfall.

We followed the trail as it headed back to where we started. This was the view on a stairway heading back up next to the river.

Looking down river, we could see two of the viewpoints that we had just visited.

We soon ended up back at the large viewing structure above the falls. We took a look from the lower viewing platforms.

Looking downriver again from this vantage point, we could see the four viewing platforms that we had just visited on the loop trail.

One final look at the waterfall before we start to head back!

We stopped to get coffee drinks at one of the food stands. One was orange flavored and the other black sugar. The orange was less weird than it sounds, though still a bit weird.

We returned across the two suspension bridges on our way back to Shifen.

As we crossed over the Keelung River again, we could see many lanterns floating up in the sky.

We took a different but more direct route on our way back to Shifen, passing through a section of the town that we didn’t walk through earlier. Many of the businesses here were already closed for the day.

We continued walking to the train station through the Shifen old street. We saw many more lanterns being lit and released.

We decided to try a peanut ice cream roll as it seemed interesting and different. It is peanut brittle candy, no idea the proper English translation, scraped off using a wooden block onto a wrap. Ice cream is then placed on top. The whole thing is then wrapped and squished a bit. Very good, though no idea what the colorful ice cream flavors are.

We decided to return to Taipei for dinner. We waited along with many others for the next train back to Ruifang. From there, we took a train back to Taipei Main Station.


We went to the food court in the Taipei 101 Mall. The Din Tai Fung queue was already full so that was not an option. But, they do offer takeout! We decided to order some xiao long bao, their most famous specialty, and eat it in the food court. We walked around as well to see what else we wanted to eat.

We decided to get some shrimp rice from 忠青商行 Chung Ching. Ordering was quick but it took awhile for it to come out.

Our xiao long bao from Din Tai Fung was ready at about the same time. Definitely different in style to Nan Xiang‘s extremely soupy ones from their original location in Flushing and back home in Maryland. These are smaller and easily eaten whole rather than slurping out the soup first.

We ended with some milk tea and fruit tea from 先喝道 Tao Tao Tea. They were very good as the tea flavor was not overwhelmed by the other ingredients.


  1. “The waterfall also is nicknamed the Little Niagara of Taiwan.” ↩︎
  2. “Because of its horseshoe shape and powerful flow, it is nicknamed the Little Niagara of Taiwan.” ↩︎

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