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August, 30, 2016

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Northern Taiwan travel spots
  Hsinchu    Miaoli    Taipei    Taoyuan    
 
 
Travel > Taiwan North
Lavender and tea on the outskirts of Hsinchu
While there are many large tourist destinations that everyone wants to go to, some smaller ones are well worth seeing if one has access to a car and some time for a daytrip.
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The beautiful waterfalls, rocks and jungle of Chiedong Old Trail
Considering their location right beside a drivable road and that the many cool, shady spots in the glen below the falls are just made for relaxing on a hot summer day, it's a big surprise to find that the beautiful Chiedong Waterfalls (茄苳瀑布), in the hills above the Taipei County town of Xichi (汐止) haven't become a popular summer destination, as I've never seen more than a couple of other persons each of the many times I've paused at this lovely spot through the years.
 
Exploring Xichi's rich environs in a day trip
Of all the satellite towns surrounding Taipei City, Xichi (汐止), which is to the east of the metropolis and located on the road towards Keelung (基隆), has undoubtedly received the worst press.
 
Full Moon Mountain: a short, sharp climb
There's a spot about twenty minutes' walk from the entrance of Manyueyuan National Forest Recreation Area (滿月園國家森林遊樂區) where (unless the weather is misty) almost all visitors to the park seem to stop walking for a moment, admire the sudden and impressive vista that opens up for a few brief moments, and take a photo of the arresting scene laid out in front.
 
The Sandiaoling Waterfall Walk offers a terrific trio of waterfalls
Edging our way around the deep overhang behind the waterfall, we reach the far end, directly behind the slim column of falling water, only to be greeted with an astonishing sight: the other people sitting gazing out into the gorge are packing up their sleeping bags – they've just spent the night camping behind the waterfall!
 
Cloud Forest Waterfalls: An idyllic summer retreat
With such evocative place names as Full Moon Mountain, Cloud Heart Falls and North Piercing Heaven Mountain, the area south of Sansia (三峽) near Taipei County's western border promises lots for the hiker, and it doesn't disappoint, with some excellent walking opportunities to waterfalls, 2,000-year-old trees, and several challenging mountain summits.
 
Tang Spa, a delightful mix of modern and ancient times
When Taiwan was not Taiwan, but a lonely island in the Pacific Ocean, when there was no Han population in this land and we can imagine the idyllic aboriginal paradise, living in several valleys and plains of this almost empty region, the Tang (唐) Dynasty ruled in the huge, heavily populated Chinese empire.
 
Hiking in Wantan Old Trail in Pinglin
As the summer heat picks up, hiking in the steep little mountains around Taipei is rapidly becoming a less than tempting proposition, so it's great to discover that rarest of hikes in Taiwan: the long, scenically stunning, yet mostly level walk.
 
The gentle giants of Beidelaman
Standing for a group shot in front of the simply named Ancient Tree no. 1, there's ample room for ten of us to pose, lined up in a row and leaning on the tree's prodigiously broad, curving trunk.
 
A pristine landscape of rock and water at Beishi Stream Old Trail
The countryside around Pinglin (坪林), best-known as one of Taiwan's best tea growing areas, is also among Taipei County's best-kept secrets.
 
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