Time flies and this was already our ninth day in Taiwan. The itinerary for this day was probably the most relaxing one for the entire trip – Danshui (淡水) in the morning and then followed by Karaoke at Ximending (西門盯). There was absolutely no stress and no rush for any closing hours, transportation, etc. 😉
Danshui is a relatively small and quiet town to the north of Taipei and it is easily accessible via the MRT to Tamsui (淡水) station; the last one of the red line. If you have half a day to spare, Danshui could be a good option especially if you just want to escape from the hustle and bustle of Taipei city. There are a couple of activities that you can do in Danshui, such as:
- The Old Street (淡水老街)
- Fisherman’s Wharf / Lovers’ Bridge (情人橋)
- Fort San Domingo (Hongmao Castle or 紅毛城)
- Little White House (小白宮)
As we had decided to go slow, we could only cover the Old Street, Fisherman’s Wharf and Lovers’ Bridge in 4 hours, inclusive of lunch. So if you intend to cover all of the above, you may need a few more hours.
The Old Street is just 5 minutes walk from the MRT station. Upon exiting the MRT station, turn left to the esplanade and then keep walking towards the right, you will will reach the Old Street. Like the many Old Streets in Taiwan, you can find many stores selling souvenirs, handicraft and food. The fish crackers are especially nice and the store owners allow free sampling as well.
Danshui has a speciality food called Ah Gei (阿給), which is basically tofu stuffed with glass noodles in a spicy sauce. Personally, I don’t like glass noodles as they are too chewy for me. However, if you are at Danshui, I think you should give this dish a try cos I didn’t see this anywhere else in Taiwan.
From the Old Street, you can either take a bus 26 (from the MRT station) or a ferry ride (from the pier behind the Old Street) to the Fisherman’s Wharf / Lovers’ Bridge. Either way, the journey is about 15 minutes. Since we were already at the Old Street, we continued the walking along the esplanade until we reached the pier, where we took a ferry to Fisherman’s Wharf.
I was actually quite pleasantly surprised with the safety practice of the ferry operator as that was the first time I actually saw life vests for children made easily available.
It is generally accepted that the most beautiful sunset in Taiwan is at the Lover’s Bridge. If your schedule permits, you may want to plan to visit Danshui in the evening and then followed by the Old Street at night. Our visit to the Fisherman’s Wharf was quite disappointing as most of the shops were closed. I am not sure if it has anything to do with Mondays (that’s the day we went) but you may want to avoid Mondays if possible. The place was quite deserted and it was a windy day with some light drizzle. The elders in our group couldn’t take the chill and decided to take shelter in a cafe instead. The bridge was a far cry from what I read and I believe it has everything to do with the weather. It should be much better during sunset on a good day.
It can extremely windy, especially at the bridge itself. Our umbrella was almost blown away and it had flipped inside out on numerous occasions. Check out the photo on the right below for an idea of how strong the wind was. Now, you have been warned. ;-P
On the other side of the bridge is a nice sculpture with the word “love” and I guess that is the reason why couples like to come to this place. Would I come back to the Lovers’ Bridge again? I don’t think so. Hahaha.
Useful Information – Danshui:
Click here for a larger version of the map.
- Generally, the shops start opening at around 10.30am
Directions to Old Street:
- MRT to Tamsui (淡水) Station (About 40 minutes from Taipei station)
- Turn left at the MRT station and keep right along the esplanade
- Walk 5 minutes
Directions to Fisherman’s Wharf / Lovers’ Bridge:
- Either take bus 26 from MRT station OR
- Take a ferry from the piers at the esplanade