Many many years ago I dropped by the Yehliu Geopark in the Northeastern Coast of Taiwan. I remember how in awe my family and I were of the uniquely shaped rocks and jaggedy coast; but we were visiting in summer, so I remember how hot it was too! That was the only place I visited in Taiwan’s northerneastern coast — so I was elated to learn that on this visit, I was to see a lot more of this part of the country.
My travels to New Taipei City (新北市) took me to a few cities in this special municipality of Taiwan that completely surrounds the capital city of Taipei in the northern part of the country. On the first part of my adventure, I visited the port city of Tamsui and dropped by the annual end-of-year celebrations at Christmasland (read about it here); and then went to the lovely towns of Sanxia and Yingge in the southwestern part of New Taipei City — surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges (more about it here).
On this third and last league of my visit — I was joined again by my travel buddy, Wilson from Places and Foods. We headed up to the northeastern coast of New Taipei City to explore the district of Wanli (where the Yehliu Geopark is located) that is famous for their crabs; and also the Jinsan district that is known for its old street, and its abundance of hot springs.
The District of Wanli (萬里區)
New Taipei City’s Wanli District (萬里區) is a rural district located in northern Taiwan. Facing the rocky seacoast of the Pacific, the district has become known as a popular tourist destination for its capes and cliffs; and especially for its unique landscape of hoodoo (tall and thin rock spires shaped by erosion) outcrops. It is also home to small fishing harbours along New Taipei City’s northeastern coast that is known for catching natural sea crabs and other seafood.
Getting to the North Coast
The northeastern coast of New Taipei City is connected by public buses that ply its routes throughout the day. However, the most convenient way of getting to this part of the country is via a tour, or private transport. During my trip — I met Wilson at his accommodation a few minutes out of Taipei, and we hired a taxi for the whole day to take us to, from and around the area for NT$4000 (US$135). Our taxi driver was Mr.Su (蘇大哥), and he was really accommodating and easy to deal with; and most importantly, not too calculative about timing. Contact him here. We also got him to send us to the airport the next day.
A one way journey from Taipei to Wanli (or Jinsan) takes about 45-minutes to an hour by taxi.
The Yehliu Geopark (野柳地質公園)
We arrived at Yehliu Geopark (野柳地質公園) in Wanli at about 10am (it opens at 8am), and the entire place was already jam-packed with tour buses and people. Luckily the line to buy tickets wasn’t too long (most people were there on a group tour); and we even received a 20% discount off the adult ticket (which cost NT$80 ~ US$2.5) with the New Taipei City x EVA Air coupon booklet. From the entrance, we walked with the huge crowd along the walkway and onto the cape where the peculiar shaped rocks of the Yehliu Geopark are located. The entire place is truly mesmerising, and the amount of tourists on the trail didn’t diminish its beauty. We spent a little more than 2 hours walking up and down the area — admiring the view of the ocean and the artworks of nature.
The Yehliu Geopark is a part of the Daliao Miocene Formation, and the cape stretches around 1,700 meters from the town of Wanli. It features unique geological formations, and is known for its weird cone-shaped hoodoo rocks across its surface. A lot of these stones around the park have been given very imaginative names — the most famous being the “Queen’s Head” (女王頭), which is now an iconic image of the district, and Taiwan. The queue to take a photo with this particular rock is extremely long (but I had already taken one when I visited years ago); so we decided to just steal a shot from the side! The Yehliu Geopark is a definite must-visit in New Taipei City.
Guihou Fish Market (龜吼漁港)
It was lunch time when we left Yehliu Geopark, and my stomach was already craving for some crabs! My visit to Wanli in November coincided with the city’s Wanli Crab Festival (萬里蟹季) — the area is said to be rich in crabs throughout autumn and winter (from September to December). So to get a taste of this local cuisine, we dropped by the Guihou Fish Market (龜吼漁港).
The market was buzzing during lunchtime; and it was so intriguing walking from one stall to another, all selling the famous Wanli Crab that consists of three types of wild sea-crabs — the rock crab, the flower crab, and the three-spot crab. There were many small restaurants within the market, so we randomly chose one for our crab meal! As there were only two of us; we decided to try the flower crab (my favourite of the two) that cost about NT$740 (US$24.5) for almost a kilogram, and the three-spot crab that cost NT$290 (US$9.5) for a little over 500grams. We also ordered a plate of steamed shrimps for NT$300 (US$10) and stir-fried clams for NT$250 (US$8). It was one finger-licking delicious and very fulfilling meal!
The District of Jinshan (金山區)
After the gigantic meal of crabs, it was time for us to head to the neighbouring Jinsan District (金山區). Jinsan is located towards the north of New Taipei City and is known for its abundance of hot springs. It is also home to the famous Ju Ming Museum (朱銘美術館) that features works of art from this brilliant local sculptor who made his name in the 1970’s (unfortunately we didn’t have time to drop by the museum); as well as the Chin Pao San Cemetery (金寶山), the final resting place of popular Taiwanese singer Teresa Teng.
Jinbaoli (Jinshan) Old Street (金山老街)
The drive from Wanli to Jinsan took only 15 minutes. Our first location in the city was at the Jinshan Old Street (金山老街), also known as the Jinbaoli Old Street (in reference to the city’s older name). The 300-meter long narrow street is lined by traditional shophouses and historic buildings dating from as far back as the Qing Dynasty, which makes them more than 200 years old. While strolling along Jinshan Old Street, it was really hard not to be drawn to all the delicious snacks on display — the street is known for selling a unique type of sweet potato called the digua (地瓜), as well as many local produce like sesame rice crisps, egg rolls, yam and pastries. I bought so many souvenir snacks!
The most famous dish along the old street is the Jin Shan Duck (金山鴨肉), and the best place to get a taste of it is at the stall in front of Guangan Temple (廣安宮). The stall is extremely popular, so the owners have resorted to renting many dining spaces along the street — we had to pick-up our own dish and walk a couple of meters down the road to find a table to dine at. So did I enjoy the duck dish? It was tasty no doubt, but because they used free-range ducks, the meat was a little tougher than what I am used to. Still, definitely worth a try.
The Loft Seaside Hotel (沐舍溫泉度假酒店)
And then it was off to our final stop in Jinshan — our hotel for a soak in the hot springs! Jinshan is known for their hot springs that came from the Datunshan volcanic system — it flowed through Yangming Mountain, Beitou, Jinshan, Wanli and a few other places, and erupted near the coastline. The hot springs here produces carbonic acid water at temperatures from 45°C to 86°C, and provides four types of spring water — oceanic sandy, sulphuric, carbonic acid and iron. And at the Loft Seaside Hotel (沐舍溫泉度假酒店), we got to soak in the underwater natural springs, forming a special sulphur mineral salt spring.
The Loft Seaside Hotel offers lavish spacious suites with a huge bathtub to soak in your very own hot springs bath. They come with luxurious amenities and facilities, and a huge balcony where you can lounge and enjoy the faraway sea views. During our stay, we also had complimentary use of the public hot springs (that are opened to non-guests to come in to specifically just soak in the hot springs) — there are 17 private rooms (for 2 people) available for rent at NT$1,200 (US$40) an hour. The hotel also has an outdoor hot springs area that has many pools in varying sizes and degrees. It is a mixed gender area so swimsuits are required. For more information on the hot springs at the Loft Seaside Hotel, click here.
I had an extremely relaxing bath in my very own private hot springs tub, and then later went for more soaks in the beautiful outdoor hot springs pools. It was such a wonderful way to end my day in the northeastern coast of New Taipei City.
Very early the next day, we made our way to the Taoyuan International Airport for our flight home on EVA Air (you can read more about my flight experience here). I had an interesting three-day adventure around New Taipei City — and got to know some of the places that I’ve visited before (almost 10 years ago), much more further in depth. However, there are still so many places I’ve yet to see around this special municipality and the rest of Taiwan, so I am sure I will be back again. Pretty soon.