Shifen is a small town a short distance (1hr) away from Taipei. It is mainly known for Shifen Waterfall. The waterfall here is probably the most majestic of all waterfalls in Taiwan. The town is easily accessible by slow train (TRA: Taiwan Railways Administration). Go to the ticket booth in Taipei Main Station, and buy a ticket to Shifen (NT69). As there is no direct train to Shifen, a transit at Ruifang is required. Basically alight at Ruifang, and ask the helpful staffs when the train to Shifen will arrive and board it. It will be at the same platform as you alight. Unlike the High Speed Railway (HSR), this train has no allocated seat numbers and seats are on a first come first serve basis. Just like the subway, people hold on to handrails during peak hours and can be VERY packed. Railway tracks are laid in proximity to shops and houses, and even before the train pull up into the station, one can feel the bust and liveliness of the place, especially during weekends.
Shifen is a pretty laid back place, and one can really feel the slow pace of life as you walk away from the train station. Looking at the raw unadulterated nature, one can even reminisce about their childhood, when all things were simple. The lost of such simple pleasure in life is all the more saddening, with the torrential rain pouring down, as if the sky too missed the time when there were no gaping holes in the ozone layer.
Shifen Waterfall is a short walk (~30mins) away from the train station. There are ample signage around to guide tourists and locals alike to the waterfall. Though the waterfall can be viewed afar at no charge, a close up view would require you to buy a ticket into the “theme park”, where waterfall observation platforms have been specifically built. Ticket prices are cheap (NT80) and I highly recommend entering the “theme park”. Vast volume of water rush off the cliff in a sheer cascade resembling towering limestones. The splash of water down the waterfall reverberated around the foliage, drowning out speech.
This is how Shifen Waterfall look like on a sunny day with less water runoff.
After Shifen waterfall, head back to the train station. From here, either head back to RuiFang, or take the train further down to PingXi. For my Taiwan trip, I took the train back to RuiFang, and from there head to JiuFen.