Shifen is often called the “Little Niagara of Taiwan. Shifen Waterfall is a cascading waterfall that is horseshoe-shaped, and resembles the Niagara in North America, although it is only a miniature version in respect to Niagara, as Shifen is but 40 meters in width and about 20 meters high. The Taiwanese government now manages the area, so no admission fee is required to visit. Hiking is the best way to reach this waterfall, which is located in Shifen town. The town itself is called 'Home of Water', and many tourists flock to it for its Old World ambiance. The town also celebrates a lantern festival every night. The best time to visit is Fall, from mid-September to October, when the days are dry and cool.
Though Shifen waterfall itself is popular enough as a destination, there are still even bigger waterfalls to be seen in Taiwan. What makes Shifen so special is that it just completes the atmospheric charm of Shifen town. To see the Shifen waterfall requires little more than an easy 40-minute trek from the Shifen train station. The train tracks run into the midst of the middle of Old Street, between two rows of tourist shops. Many tourists enjoy Shifen's Old Street, where souvenir shops and lantern shops vie for the visitor's attention with their many restaurants and grocery stores. To visit the town and waterfall, the average tourist who is in Taipei has several choices. They can either drive, take the bus, or the train, the latter of which is considered the most convenient way.
Shifen waterfall is especially worth the 40-minute trek from town in the Fall season. It would be a sight worth seeing if for nothing more than its thunderous waters and the lush surroundings. The adjacent forest proffers one's senses a complete experience immersed in sensation. Shifen Town, which is the starting point of the trek to the waterfall, offers the tourist a glimpse into an old coal mining town of Taiwan's past, and the old coal train was renovated to serve the tourists. The Jingan Suspension Bridge is also a famous landmark worth seeing, with another attraction being the Lantern festival held every night. Tourists can purchase a lighted lantern and send it up the sky with a wish to join in on the fun.
When you visit, be sure to take the opportunity to experience the ambiance and flavors of Shifen's quaint Old Street. The path to the waterfall offers many local treats, from food stalls in the town's Old Street all the way to the nature trail of the waterfall area. A must try are the custards in eggshells and plum-flavored sweet potato strips. The Old Street area of Shifen Town offers tourists souvenirs of all kinds, and there are grocery stores to buy bottled water and sunblock for the hike. Walking through the forest path, the sights of colorful flowers and green bamboo are accompanied by chirping crickets and frog calls. Chirping birds also join in on the forest cacophony.
The passenger train goes through the middle of Old Street, passing by shops on both sides full of tourists, almost every hour. The train comes from the nearby Pingxi Branch railroad line. This situation is what you would hardly recommend when planning a narrow street full of tourist shops on both sides of the street. The greatest dangers arise when there are children in the area unfamiliar with the train schedule. On the other hand, tourist impact is not a problem, as the area is a tourist destination that needs tourist revenue, and the government strive to protect the integrity of Shifen's natural environs. Recently, the government took over management of the waterfall area, and fees have been abolished.
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