Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Taiwan Travel with Children - Shifen by Train 十分天燈鐵道之旅

This has been on my bucket list - releasing sky lantern (放天燈)! So the first thing in our Taiwan itinerary was to visit Shifen (十分) to send our wishes to the sky!

We planned to release sky lantern, followed by visiting Shifen Waterfall (十分瀑布). However, it was raining that day, so we dropped the idea of going to Shifen Waterfall. I guess it would not be enjoyable to carry our 2 backpacks (as we were travelling to Yilan after that) and to bring 2 children to walk 2 km from the station to the waterfall in the rain. Anyway, we had a glimpse of Shifen Waterfall on the train.

We took trains from Taipei to Shifen (Read the information of "How to Get from Taipei to Shifen" by Train at the end of this post). If you think that no one will visit such an "ulu" (remote) place on a weekday morning, you are wrong! The train was packed with locals and tourists! 





When we alighted at Shifen Station, the children were thrilled to see many sky lanterns flying up! The tiny dots are sky lanterns, not dirt on your screen!



There are many shops selling sky lantern along Shifen Old Street (十分老街), and their price is about the same - NT150 for same colour on 4 sides, NT200 for different colours on 4 sides. My tips to you is - walk all the way to the end of the street, as there are fewer people, so you will not be photobombed when you are releasing your sky lantern!

We bought our sky lantern from a shop called 阿媽的天燈. A staff of the shop commented that my standard of Chinese is quite good compared to some Singaporean visitors hehe!



The children also took turn to make a wish. Erm, this was more like a tiger mum's wish for them - 考試滿分 (score full marks for examinations).



No worries if you run out of ideas on what to write, this shop provides a list of good wishes phases for your reference! One good thing is that the staff takes photos and video for us, he told us how to position ourselves on the railway track, and told us to turn the sky lantern so that he took photos of us with 4 sides of the sky lantern. He also took video of us releasing the sky lantern. However, as the rain was getting heavier, the staff was a bit rush when he was taking photos for us, so not all 4 photos turned out nice.

It is a bird! It is UFO! No! It is our sky lantern!!



Other than releasing sky lantern, you can also purchase souvenir and have some food along Shifen Old Street.



The train station is also a nice place to take photos. 





Don't forget to stamp on your notebook!



We would love to explore the nearby area, however we had to give it a miss due to the rain. We took the train back to Ruifang, where we took another train to Yilan. 

The train was quite empty on our return trip, so we got to have "first-class" seat next to the train driver!






How to Get from Taipei to Shifen by Train
Step 1:
Take a train from Taipei Station (台北) to Ruifang Station (瑞芳). We took the fastest train (a.k.a. the most expensive type) Tze-Chiang Limited Express (自強號) with reserved seats, which took about 35 minutes. The cheaper type of train Local Train (區間車) would take 50+ minutes.

Step 2:
Take Pingxi Line (平溪線) from Ruifang Station to Shifen Station (十分), which takes about 35 minutes.

Important notes:
  1. Take note of the schedule of Pingxi Line, as there is only one train per hour! So plan ahead!
  2. If you are travelling to a few stations along Pingxi Line, then you may consider getting the one-day pass which is NT80 (as of December 2015).  For us, we didn't get the pass as we only visited one station, so each adult spent NT38 in total to get from Ruifang to Shifen and back to Ruifang. Children fare is half of adult fare.


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18 comments :

  1. Thanks for the information! Definitely come in useful should we plan a Taiwan trip. It's one of my to go places with the children, hopefully soon!

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    1. You are welcome Cynthia! Taiwan is a nice place for family!

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  2. I think taking a train to Shifen is a good idea - we had a driver, and prior to the trip, I did ask the agent about whether the ride would be ok and was assured that it would. Well, almost everyone (there were about 10 of us) felt at least a little woozy. It was quite awful! And of course I was quite annoyed that I didn't take a train..... :D

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    1. mummyed, I also heard that the road to Shifen is quite uncomfortable to travel on, so we decided to take train instead of bus. Hope the ride didn't spoil you day.

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  3. Woo, sky lanterns. I noticed a nice drawing on the lantern... did you draw that? It's so cute! I will pray that your wishes come true too!!

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    1. Danessa, yes! I drew on the lantern! Thanks for your kind words!

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  4. Confirm stamp chop a must do when visiting Taiwan! I wanna bring the family there some day but hmmm maybe my husband and I should do a couple trip first hahha

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    1. May, Taiwan is so near to Singapore, you can go there anytime. I also hope for a couple trip someday...

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  5. Wow! Looks like a fun train ride for the kids. Your Chinese words are written very nicely and in "Fan" ti some more! Nice! Taiwan is not really a destination for my family, but if my son does not do well in his mid-terms, I will definitely head to ShiFen to release a lantern too... ;-p

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    1. Thanks Meiling for your kind words! Lol at your comment about releasing a lantern!

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  6. It must have been such a special experience, especially for the kids! And I did notice that the locals are extremely fond of their places of interests too :)

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    1. The children were so excited to see the sky lantern flying up the sky!

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  7. We love Shifen and Jiufen too, very culturally rich yet scenic!

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    1. We visited Jiufen 10 years ago, before having children. The place is scenic!

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  8. We visited Taiwan 2 years ago and till now my girl still remembered that we went to release the lanterns in Shifen. Shows how much she enjoyed this part of the trip :)

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  9. Hi, May i know how much is the Tze-Chiang Limited Express ticket from taipei to ruifang. Actually i planning my sept trip to there. I want to compare the train price with private bus.

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    1. It is about NT76. You may refer to Taiwan Railways website for the updated fare:
      http://www.railway.gov.tw/en/index.aspx

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