Sky Lantern Town of Shifen, along the Ping Hsi Branch Railway Line of Taiwan


Considered myself more acquainted with Taipei metro and railway system as the days passed by, I decided to spend another day outside the city and explore the nearby rural town of Shifen.

Along with teenagers, school kids and families on summer vacation who were waiting patiently at Ruifang station, I was excited to ride the famous Ping Hsi Branch Railway Line. There is very limited information available on the web about this particular train line but with whatever information there is, it always promises one thing – a ride along a scenic rural side of Taiwan with waterfalls, farmlands, bridges and houses along the track.
ping hsi railway (shifen)
ping hsi railway (shifen)

With a total length of 12.9 kilometers and said to be originally built for coal transportation, the six station town along Ping His Branch Railway offers variety of tourist attraction but united by one common theme- sky lanterns and the Lantern Festival.
ping hsi railway (shifen)

The town of Shifen is the 3rd stop along the railway and must be the most famous one apart from the Ping Hsi station itself, since everyone on-board the train has decided to stop over.
ping hsi railway (shifen)
ping hsi railway (shifen)
ping hsi railway (shifen)

The sky lantern shops besides the track and the few tourist who are preparing their lanterns, writing wishes and prayers are the first thing you will notice at the town of Shifen. Mid-day is not the ideal time to fly sky lanterns and only few can be seen up in the air together with blinding sun rays.
ping hsi railway (shifen)
ping hsi railway (shifen)
ping hsi railway (shifen)
ping hsi railway (shifen)
ping hsi railway (shifen)

A “peaceful bridge” connects the station area to the non-touristy side of the town. While to reach from one side of the station to another, you have to cross the track.
ping hsi railway (shifen)
ping hsi railway (shifen)
ping hsi railway (shifen)

Apart from the shops and the houses along the train tracks, what I like the most is my walk inside the residential neighbourhood as I made my way towards Shifen Falls.
ping hsi railway (shifen)
ping hsi railway (shifen)

The walk from Shifen station towards the waterfall takes about 15 to 20 minutes but walking on a summer noon it feels like forever, though the scenic view of the hanging bridge, the passing Ping Hsi Branch train and the Keelung River compensates for the uncomfortable, sticky sweaty feeling.

Ideally, it is shorter to walk from Dahua station to the waterfalls than Shifen, but you have to break the rules and take the risk of walking along the tracks.
ping hsi railway (shifen)
ping hsi railway (shifen)
ping hsi railway (shifen)
ping hsi railway (shifen)
ping hsi railway (shifen)

The Shifen Waterfalls is said to be Taiwan’s greatest screen curtain style waterfall, with some even declaring it as Taiwan’s “mini” Niagara Falls.
An entrance fee of 50 TWD is required to enter the waterfalls area and several patios are available for picnic,that is if you are able to secure a spot.
ping hsi railway (shifen)
ping hsi railway (shifen)
ping hsi railway (shifen)
ping hsi railway (shifen)

After a half day spent at Shifen, I decided to head back to Taipei but made a brief stop at the town of Ruifang. Nothing special going on but I like the vibe of simplicity and people walking around just going about their daily lives.
ping hsi railway (shifen)
ping hsi railway (shifen)
ping hsi railway (shifen)
ping hsi railway (shifen)

This type of chicken cuisine is quite famous in Taiwan and widely available on all markets I been to so far, do you know what it is?
ping hsi railway (shifen)

On-board the train back to Taipei, I keep on thinking how nice it must be to backpack along the six stations of Ping Hsi railway but not sure about the availability of hostels or dorms.
ping hsi railway (shifen)

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25 thoughts on “Sky Lantern Town of Shifen, along the Ping Hsi Branch Railway Line of Taiwan

  1. Love this. I could really see and feel the natural, green landscape and how calming it would be just from you photos. I was imagining cicadas in the background, lending their summer chorus. Was there background sounds of nature there? Do you remember anything distinctive?

    1. i was trying to recall if i hear anything distinctive, but all i can remember is how focus i was walking toward the falls.
      it was mid-day, really humid and my memory was somehow clouded by my desire for a cold Coke 🙂

  2. I love the Buddha with the red toenails!

    I look at the summer photos and hope, fervently, that summer will arrive soon in Tokyo.

    (Yup, I’m back, after a hiatus in South Africa and recovering from various culture shocks!)

    1. this is obviously very late but welcome back! 🙂
      yeah, sometimes when it gets really cold I wish for summer too, but thinking about how dreadfully humid summer in Tokyo can be, an extension of spring weather will be nice 🙂

    1. oh, i would love to meet you too!
      i will definitely contact you next time, there are a lot places still I wanted to explore in Taiwan..

  3. Extraordinary post,Beautiful trip and stunning pictures.l Enjoyed the post immensely .Regards.jalal

  4. wow! very refreshing (it’s already summer here, see?). that must have been a delightful experience. lovely surroundings – the lush, the water, the oldness of the atmosphere… thank you for taking us. 🙂 and spectacular pics, as usual… ~ San

  5. Will be to TW soon… can you tell me where/how to pick up this train from downtown Taipei? Thanks the posting!

    1. i think it would be better to go to Taipei Main Station, from there a lot of people (ticket staff & tourist info center) can help you arrange your tickets to Shifen. there is no direct train from the city, you need to purchase a ticket from Taipei Main Station to the town of Ruifang, then switch to Ping HSi train line from there.
      enjoy! 🙂

      1. Thanks! what do you think of tour -guides for the train ride to juifen. I do only english, but not afraid to play charades…

        1. i remember not seeing tour guides during my trip but lots of teenagers and families since it was school break.
          i think juifen and the other towns along the ping hsi railway line can be easily explore without the need of a guide..

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