Taiwan’s Most Beautiful Railway Line: Exploring Pingxi by Train

Photo by CHEN MIN CHUN/Shutterstock

Taiwan’s Most Beautiful Railway Line: Exploring Pingxi by Train

Cutting through the mountains around the outskirts of Taipei, the once bustling Pingxi Line serves as a memoir to bygone times when the area thrived as a busy mining community. Nowadays the stations along this hundred-year old railway line are popular getaways for tourists looking to explore the historic streets, explore hiking trails and snack on famous foods. Offering some of the most scenic spots in Taiwan, spending a day or two out of the capital to explore these beautiful places is a must.

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Taiwan’s Most Beautiful Railway Line: Exploring Pingxi by Train

Shifen Station

Sky Lanterns in Pingxi, Taiwan

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The largest station along the Pingxi Line, Shifen is full of things to do. The area is most famous for the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival where people write wishes on Chinese paper lanterns and release them into the sky.

A short walk from the station is Shifen Waterfall, as the widest falls in Taiwan, it's often touted as the island's most beautiful waterfall. It's worth stopping in Shifen just to see the stunning scenery here and is only about 30 minutes of walking from the station.

Pingxi Station

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While most people head to Shifen for releasing the Chinese lanterns, you can also buy them around Pingxi Station as well. There tends to be less people around Pingxi Station, the town around the tracks isn't as large and Shifen's, but it has a similar old street with shops and food stalls to explore.

Ruifang Station

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The nearest station to the beautiful hillside village of Jiufen, Ruifang is the gateway to one of Taiwan's most picturesque destinations. While it's not part of the traditional Pingxi Line, most trains traversing the line will start from Ruifang, and exploring Jiufen while in the area is a must.

Dahua Station

Waterfall near Dahua Station Taipei

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The least visited station along the Pingxi Line, Dahua Station is perfect for those wanting to get away from the crowds. There are a few different hiking trails near the station that you'll most likely have all to yourself. The best hikes around here are to Youkeng and Cukeng Waterfalls and the Dahua Potholes, a number of rock formations along the river.

Sandiaoling Station

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Sandiaoling is the starting point of the Pingxi Line, a rustic and beautiful little station with a valley running alongside it. Along with Dahua, few tourists get off here, but the nearby Sansho Leng Waterfall Trail is worth checking out. It starts from the station and passes by three waterfalls, namely Hegu Waterfall, Motian Waterfall and Biwadong Waterfall.

Jingtong Station

Jingtong railway station

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Most people don't make it as far as the last station along the Pingxi Line, it's a shame however as Jingtong is a beautiful small town that's perfect for photographers. The town contains a number of picturesque buildings dating back to when it prospered as a mining settlement.

Wanggu Station

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What could easily be the most beautiful train station in Taiwan, Wanggu Station is surrounded by incredible mountain scenery and thick, mysterious forest. As there isn't really any famous sites at this station, most tourists tend to skip the stop and get off at the more famous stations such as Pingxi or Shifen. However if you're into hiking or just relaxing around some beautiful scenic views, it's highly recommended to spend some time at Wanggu.

One of the best hikes is to the Wanggu Waterfalls, a few waterfalls a short and pleasant hike from the station.

Houtong Station and Cat Village

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A must for cat or animal lovers visiting Taiwan, Houtong Cat Village found fame through its feline residents that roam all over the sleepy village. What started off as an initiative to help out the many stray cats living there, quickly went viral, bringing animal enthusiasts from all corners of the world to visit the former mining town. Nowadays all the cats are cared for by locals and volunteers and the village is full of various cat-themed signs and shops for visiting tourists.

Pingxi Line Day Pass

Taiwan Railways offers a day pass for using the Pingxi Line and Shen'ao Line (from Ruifang to the coastal town of Badouzi). The pass costs 80 Taiwanese dollars and allows unlimited usage of trains along both lines, if you're planning at stopping at a few stations along the line then the pass is well worth it.