Many visitors to Taiwan spend all of their time in Taipei for its vibrant city life: shops, clubs, and skyscrapers can certainly fill an entire itinerary. Few people know that just to the east in Taipei's literal backyard lie abundant natural scenery and fascinating historical towns that are well worth the day trip. Here we introduce several such places: Shengkeng (深坑), Pinglin (坪林), Shuangxi (雙溪), and Pingxi (平溪).
Shengkeng is a few kilometers east of the Taipei Zoo. Its first development can be dated back to the Qing Dynasty more than 200 years ago. Lying in a mountainous area, Shengkeng is famous for its agricultural products and food, the most famous of which are stewed bamboo shoots and tofu.
"Shengkeng Under the Great Tree", one of the most popular tofu cuisine store at the Old Street.
The main tourist area is Shengkeng Old Street. Here one can find many tofu dishes like fried stinky tofu, grilled stinky tofu, braised tofu, tofu soup, fried fish with spicy tofu, etc.
From near to far: soy sauce stewed tofu; stewed bamboo shoots; tofu-thickened soup; braised tofu
Ready for eat dishes: stewed bamboo shoots and spicy duck blood tofu stew
A quieter place, Pinglin is a beautiful agricultural area and produces some of the most highly-praised Taiwanese green tea: Pouchong Tea (包種茶). This tea has mild taste with incredible floral and fruit fragrances.
Tea field with a great mountain view
Traditional tea pot and cup as larger than life stone statues
Also a quiet place, Shuanxi has one major east-west highway running through it. I found this farmer's market at the side of a lotus field with a wide valley view.
Great valley and the sky
A place that used to be littered with coal mines, Pingxi is now famous for its Lantern Festival and the releasing thousands of sky lanterns every year.
Sky lantern-shaped police station.
Pingxi hilly town view.
For more photos about a bike event through all these places, check out my blog on Pingxi Classics.