How to Visit Shifen Waterfall: the Little Niagara of Taiwan
One of the best Jiufen day trip options is getting on a train and visiting Shifen waterfall. Here’s a quick little guide on what to except and what to do while you’re there.
As I was talking to friends about what to do in Jiufen, they told me about this stunning waterfall nearby that they wished they had known about, describing it as a little Niagara falls.
I quickly did some Google searching, found images of Shifen, and immediately added it to my itinerary. There are a few things I’ll go out of my way to see while traveling, and waterfalls are at the top of that list. So, of course, this day trip was a no-brainer!
How to Visit Shifen Waterfall
What is it?
- Mandarin: 十分大瀑布
- Pinyin: Shífēn Dà Pùbù
Shifen, the town, is a small part of the Pingxi District. The area was traditionally a quiet farming community. During the 1900s it experienced a coal mining boom, but this ended in the 1980s. The name “Shifen” comes from the ten families (shí) who helped build up the district.
The Pingxi train line that was created during this boom was then turned into the tourist route it is now. Shifen is one of its main attractions.
The waterfall, which sits along the Keelung River, is absolutely incredible and has quickly been dubbed Taiwan’s own little Niagara Falls. It has a slight horseshoe shape and is 40m (66ft) wide and 20m(131ft) tall.
How to Get To Shifen from Jiufen
It’s really easy to get to Shifen from Jiufen and takes maybe 30-40 minutes or less.
First head to Ruifang Station (瑞芳). If you take a bus it can be 10-20 minutes depending on the wait time, but you can also take a taxi, which takes less than 10 minutes to get there. The taxis have set prices from Jiufen to Ruifang, so it was about NT$205 ($7 USD) altogether.
From Ruifang Station, buy a ticket for Shifen Station for NT$19 ($0.64 USD). The train comes about every hour, so if you want to plan ahead, you can check the timetables here. When you enter the information it should be:
- Area/Subline: Taipei/Keelung, Station: Ruifang
- Area/Subline: Pingshi/ShenAo Line, Station: Shifen
The line will be:
Ruifang -> Houtong -> Sandiaoling -> Dahua –> Shifen -> Wanggu -> Lingjiao -> Pinxi -> Jingtong
When you get off at Shifen Station, you’ll notice it’s pretty crowded. You’re actually in Shifen Old Street. When a train isn’t coming, people walk on the tracks.
Cross over to the other side where you’d buy tickets (your exit will be this little area sitting between the two train tracks). From that side, if you’re facing the tracks, turn left and start walking. You’ll see signs pointing you towards Shifen Waterfall right away.
From Old Street, it’s about a 20-minute walk. It’s kind of a weird walk on backroads, but there are enough signs to point you in the right direction. And, of course, Google Maps always works!
After your walk, you’ll reach the entrance to the falls area. I remember there being a building, but there wasn’t an entrance fee or anything that I can recall, and I was still tracking every expense by this point.
It’s actually another 15-minute walk to the actual waterfall. You’ll cross over two different bridges, and then you’ll get to an area with a few food stands and places to sit. I do remember there was enough stair-climbing for me to silently curse stairs. Just a heads up so you’re prepared!
Next to the food area is a small trail towards an observation deck to get the best views of the falls. Once you climb down to the deck, you’ll see this:
You can go to another observation deck if you want to be closer to the top of the falls, but sadly, there’s no option for swimming!
In order to head back from Shifen to Jiufen, just retrace your steps. I will say, the train around 6 p.m. coming from Shifen to Jiufen was packed. I’ve never felt like a sardine before, but man, that felt like a long ride. Everyone was a little wet from the weather, and I was close enough to the girl in front of me that I could probably count every hair on her head.
How to Get to Shifen from Taipei
If you’re going to Shifen from Taipei, you’ll want to go to Main Station and take the train to Ruifang. There you’ll switch to the Pingxi line and repeat the steps above.
If you’d prefer to do a day trip and see Shifen, check out this half-day tour from Klook.
Other Things to Do in Shifen
While you’re in Shifen, there are a few other things you can enjoy right by the station.
Shifen Old Street
As I said above, Shifen Old Street sits right on the train tracks at Shifen Station. There were plenty of food stands, souvenir shops, and lantern activities right there. I even saw a few cats roaming around, but they wanted nothing to do with me. I stopped by a few souvenir shops to look for postcards and take photos.
Sending up Lanterns
I’m writing this as an option, but I personally chose not to do it. I read an article before I left about the lanterns and if they’re eco-friendly. Most of them aren’t. I even checked with my BnB owner in case the information was old, but she also said they weren’t very sustainable.
If you choose to send up a lantern, I’d strongly recommend looking for a vendor who uses traditional materials — cotton paper lampshades and thin bamboo sticks. These materials are decomposable. The cheaper/faster way of manufacturing that uses metal sticks and just painted paper is both a fire hazard and will result in waste. (Source)
Cross Jing An Suspension Bridge
Okay, I’m almost certain this is the bridge I saw from the train, but I mixed it up with one of the bridges in the Shifen waterfall area, so I didn’t try going. If you can’t tell my sense of direction and space is embarrassingly bad, which is probably the main reason it takes me longer to see some places than normal!
Anyhow, this bridge is actually right by the station and is a nice 128m crossing.
Practical Information for Shifen Waterfall
- Address: No. 10, Qiankeng, Pingxi District, New Taipei City
- Opening Times:
- June – September: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (last entrance: 5:30)
- October – May: 9:00 a.m. -5:00 p.m. (last entrance: 4:30)
- Shifen Waterfall Entrance Fee: No fee, though there used to be one which is probably why there’s confusion
Taiwan Travel Guide
- General Taiwan Trip Planning
And that’s your guide to seeing Shifen Waterfall. Let me know if you’ve been!
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