There are a ton of great day trip options from Taipei if you fancy getting out of the city. I’d say one of the most popular is Jiufen in the north east. It is a coastal/mountain town with a maze of alleys and stunning architecture, that was actually the inspiration behind the movie Spirited Away. To get there we took a bus from Taipei and it was all very straight forward.
Jiufen is absolutely stunning and such an easy place to wander and get lost. It was quite packed as lots of people do visit and there is a real ‘tourist hotspot’ feel but once you get out of the main funnel it really opens up and becomes very spiritual. The shops and restaurants are all built into the mountain so every view you get oversees these stunning peninsulas and the water. The streets themselves are more alleys as everything is cobbled and very olde-worlde. There is a real abundance of red lanterns and greenery that dances around wooden beams and stoned walls. There is one ‘main’ street that is basically a very long market full of food vendors. Just like the night markets in Taipei make sure you go hungry! I had a peanut ice-cream wrap that was very refreshing but the most popular dish seemed to be tapioca balls. People were queueing for those bad boys but we wanted to just get out of the hustle bustle and really enjoy the atmosphere.
For lunch we found a tea house just out of the main tourist stretch. They had a beautiful veranda with wide windows decorated with the iconic red lanterns. The view was mind-baffling and it was so peaceful up there I could’ve stayed for years and years. The decor of the place was very rustic, wooden and magical. It really did remind me of a Miyazaki cartoon and felt really special being there. The food was lovely and many people around us were doing traditional tea ceremonies which looked on point (we opted for bubble tea earlier).
If you want to experience something quite unique there is a mask museum in Jiufen! You’ll meet the owner who explained that he makes masks inspired by dreams, nightmares and visions he’s had – he calls them ghost masks. There were hundreds upon hundreds and I think just the sheer amount of masks here is what makes it impressive (and then that they’re actually pretty cool is the icing on the cake). Some of them are scary, some funny and some disturbing. I love weird stuff so this what right up my alley. They weren’t for sale, it was more an experience and one I absolutely loved.
About an hour away (but quite a simple bus journey) is Yehliu Geopark. I wasn’t sure what to expect as from blog posts online it seemed like a very expansive beach but in reality it’s quite small and extremely touristy. It is located on a cape and home to a bunch of rock formations that are quite intriguing. As with anything here, they’ve all been nicknamed and involve some imaginational thinking but go for it! I’m not sure how long these formations will be around as I can only imagine erosion from the water and wind must be affecting them. There is a gentle walk to the peninsula which is very calming being right at the edge of the ocean (but we did see a snake which freaked us out). You pay to get in and then are free to roam around and explore. Don’t go touching any of the formations though as there was a man with a whistle and he blew that guy every few minutes at rebellious kids haha. If you’re in a rush I wouldn’t recommend stopping here as it was a little underwhelming and gimmicky but if you have the time check it out.
There are a lot of day trips out of Taipei and deciding where to go was really hard. If you can I’d add a few days on to your itinerary so you can really explore and embrace everything!