Day 4 of my Taiwan Solo Adventure would be about exploring the natural geographical wonders and attractions of Taiwan’s north coast, with the help of hop-on/hop-off Taiwan North Coast Shuttle Bus. Places such as such as Shimen Wedding Plaza (石門婚紗廣場), Shimen Arch (石門洞), Jinshan Old Street (金山老街) and Yeh Liu Geographical Park (野柳地質公園) would be covered.
The day would conclude with a trip to Keelung (基隆) where I would savour delicious traditional snacks at one of Taiwan’s most popular night markets – Miaokou (廟口夜市). Here we go…
Taiwan North Coast Shuttle Bus
As a solo traveller, it wouldn’t make sense for me to hire a cab. The tourist-friendly Taiwan offered a shuttle service that stopped at major attractions along the northern coast of Taiwan. To board Taiwan North Coast Shuttle Bus, you can either commence at Danshui or Keelung.
I’ve included probably the longest logistics note here because the website contained inaccurate info and had caused some hiccups during my trip. If you want to go straight to the attractions, just scroll right through and jump to the next section.
Getting to Taiwan North Coast
To board Taiwan North Coast Shuttle Bus from Danshui, take the MRT and alight at Danshui MRT Station. Then exit and turn right. Continue walking (about 100m) until you see a place that looks like a bus terminal.
It wasn’t clearly to me which lane I should queue for Taiwan North Coast Shuttle Bus. The Visitor Centre had yet to open. I’d asked around and most couldn’t give me a concrete answer. My suggestion – watch out for the mini shuttle bus that could be parked further away waiting, and track its movement to see which lane it would stop at to pick up passengers.
Operating Hours of Taiwan North Coast Shuttle Bus
I’d aimed to take the first bus at 9am, only to know that the first bus started an hour earlier at 8am. Apparently, the website info was outdated. Go for the first bus because I had a very rushed itinerary and couldn’t even cover a third of the places in the route.
Places Covered by Taiwan North Coast Shuttle Bus
These were the places the Taiwan North Coast Shuttle Bus covers:
- MRT Tamsui Station
- Qianshui Bay
- Sanzhi Visitor Center and Gallery
- North Coast & Guanyinshan National Scenic Area (Baishawan Beach)
- The New Temple of Eighteen Deities (Shimen Wedding Plaza)*
- Shimen Arch*
- Yun Garden
- Juming Museum
- Jinshan (Old Street)*
- Shitoushan Park (Jinbaoli Historic Trail)
- Jiatouli (Hot Springs)
- Yehliu Geopark*
- Guihou Fishing Harbor
* Those in bold were the ones I’d initially included in my must-go destinations.
It came as a surprise as the website indicated that it would cover more places than the above. For instance, the shuttle bus no longer travelled to Keelung Railway Station, and this affected my itinerary to a large extent. For some reasons, the service would end at Guihou Fishing Harbor.
TIP: The bus driver encouraged people to take a return bus from Guihou Fishing Harbour (last station) so that they get a higher chance of securing a seat. Otherwise, it would be hours of standing on the mini shuttle, back to Danshui. So even if your last stop is Yeh Liu, you are encouraged to travel further down to the last station.
Frequency of Taiwan North Coast Shuttle Bus
Half-hourly on weekends and hourly on weekdays.
TIP: They were far from being punctual. I’d waited for 45 minutes at one of the stops on a weekend. It’s obvious they’d skipped a service since the bus was supposed to arrive every 30 minutes, and I was there 15 minutes before the scheduled arrival.
Anyway, I’d waited a total of about 20 to 30 minutes at most stops. You could start counting how much time I’d spend waiting in total. To help you, 4 stops would equate 2 hours of waiting.
How many stops can I cover in one day?
I felt short-changed. As the service did not include Keelung, as per advertised on the website, I would have to make a u-turn back to Danshui if I didn’t want to incur more transport charges. That’s many hours of travelling back the way I came. Furthermore, with it’s last bus leaving at 4.05pm from last stop, it was close to impossible to catch it, considering how much time was spent waiting for their service.
In the end, I decided to pay additional fare to board another bus to Keelung. In a nutshell, I’d only covered 4 places, mostly done in a rush. I also paid separate fares to travel to Keelung, from Yehliu Geo Park.
Do I recommend Taiwan North Coast Shuttle Bus?
Well. If you are more adventurous, you could consider taking their public buses. That could significantly cut down the waiting time.
Also, there’s a higher likelihood that you could get a seat since buses are bigger than the tiny shuttle. If you are unsure about the bus service, just hail and ask the bus driver or locals.
TIP: Even if you did not commit to a one-day pass, you could still board the shuttle bus. Just tap your Easycard whenever you board or alight and a per-trip fare would be deducted. Such an arrangement can potentially save you time as there are more bus services for you to board at each stop.
If you like it hassle-free and do not intend to cover many places, go ahead and take the shuttle. Just be prepared for a lot of waiting.
How much is Taiwan North Coast Shuttle Bus
At Danshui station, the bus driver collected a one-time fee of NTD160 for the unlimited 1-day pass.
Update in Dec 2018: Apparently, Taipei now has a Transport Fun Pass. At just NTD180, you’ll get unlimited rides not just on the North Coast Shuttle Bus, but on all MRT, buses and 4 other Tourist Shuttle Routes. Why didn’t they have this during the time of my travel? This is such great value!
Shimen Wedding Plaza (石門婚紗廣場)
Shimen Wedding Plaza (石門婚紗廣場), located just beside the highway contained romantic Mediterranean-style structures.
White-stoned walls against the blue backdrop of the sky is sure to produce beautiful pictures. With a wedding theme concept of bells and arches, it wasn’t a surprise to see couples and photographers.
Yes, I went there alone. But no problem. I’d enjoyed myself thoroughly taking an hour worth of selfies. LOL.
The plaza faced the vast blue ocean. So yes, it’s a place to take in the ocean view.
TIP: As an open and unsheltered area, the heat at the plaza was intense and overbearing. Do bring along high-strength sunblock or umbrella if you travel during the summer or autumn months. And don’t forget your shades!
Shimen Arch (石門洞)
It was disappointing and probably not worth the ‘stop’. Shimen Arch (石門洞) was small, short and far from being charming. The climb (the part I was anticipating the most) was only 3-storeys high. So my “hike” ended in one minute.
If you needed to justify why you’d made the stop, you could walked towards the tiny man-made Lovers Bridge and get some photos taken. Otherwise, there really wasn’t much to do at Shimen Arch.
Jinshan Old Street (金山老街)
I reckoned that Jinshan Old Street was a great place for lunch. By the time I’d reached this third stop, it was 12.30pm.
Jinshan Old Street was a bustling old street, and sold very different types of local food from the other old streets I’d been to, such as Jiufen and Shenkeng. It seemed like their specialty included roasted tapioca, duck-related dishes and some Chinese small-bites.
Crowds of people gathered at some shops that had large plates of dishes on display, such as a duck meat or chicken. Despite its popularity, I’d to skip it as I was travelling solo. No one to share with me….sob sob.
After buying a few large packets of Taiwan crackers, seaweed and tea leaves, I realised I had not managed to find anything for lunch at Jinshan Old Street. I was probably too fussy or indecisive.
Soon, I found myself walking back to the bus stop. Along the way, I stopped by an air-conditioned Braised Pork Rice (滷肉飯) eatery. Great, this would be a great lunch and resting point, I’d thought. Unfortunately, I didn’t know braised pork rice was supposed to be like 80% fatty pork. Oh…make it 90%.
The gravy was super oily. Not the fault of the restaurant. It was my ignorance for not knowing what “braised pork rice” or Lu Rou Fan (滷肉飯) was. I finished the oil-soaked rice and skipped the fatty pork. So, my lunch was just rice and green milk tea bought from convenience store. How interesting! Argh!
By 1.30pm, I was waiting at the bus stop for my lovely mini shuttle. To my astonishment and full bladder, the bus came after 45 minutes. Hence, my plan to visit Shitoushan Park which was just 5 minutes away, was ruined. I was rather disappointed as that, along with Yeh Liu was high on my to-go list.
That’s all for today’s post. I will continue with the rest of my North Coast destinations and Keelung trip in my Day 4 (Part II) post. Stay tuned.
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- Day 1 (pt 1): Taoyuan Airport, Taipei Main Station, 228 Peace Memorial Park
- Day 1 (pt 2): Get EasyCard, Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, Q Square Mall
- Day 2 (pt 1): Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
- Day 2 (pt 2): Golden Water Fall, Jiufen, Ximending
- Day 3 (pt 1): Maokong
- Day 3 (pt 2): Taipei Zoo and Shenkeng Old Street
- Day 4 (pt 1): North Coast Tour (Shimen Wedding Plaza, Shimen Arch, Jinshan Old Street)
- Day 4 (pt 2): North Coast Tour (Yehliu Geopark, Keelung & Miaokou Night Market)
- Day 5: Wufenpu, Raohe Night Market
- Day 6: Songshan Cultural Park, Xiangshan, Tonghua, Raohe Night Market
- Day 7: Taipei City Hall Shopping District, Wufen Pu, Raohe Night Market
- Day 8: Easiest way to get from Taipei Main Station to Taoyuan Airport