Yehliu & The North Coast | Taiwan

Yoga at Yehliu, TaiwanIt isn’t hard to see why Yehliu Geopark is one of Taiwan’s most-visited attractions. Close enough to central Taipei to make day-tripping viable, this 1.7 km-long (just over 1 mile) peninsula is packed with a beguiling and highly photogenic collection of caves, fairy chimneys, grooves, honeycombed outcrops, pot-holes, overhangs, and weathered sand-coloured rocks that bear swirls or concentric ripples, or which resemble the back of a camel or giants slabs of tofu. Everything you see here is a result of thousands of years of natural wind and wave erosion.

The Queen’s Head, so named because it resembles the Nefertiti Bust held by the Egyptian Museum of Berlin, is the park’s single most distinctive feature. For years, geologists have been warning that it might soon collapse because its ‘neck’ is getting thinner and thinner. However, now that tourists are no longer allowed to touch or get too close to it, the rate of deterioration has slowed somewhat. The Fairy’s Shoe appears to be more resilient; each day, it comes into direct contact with the ocean, yet retains its sandal-like shape. If you’re wondering who the statue commemorates, it was erected to honour the memory of a local fisherman who back in 1964 jumped into the sea to save a student from drowning.

Yehliu is also a birdwatching hotspot. Overcast, wet, and windy conditions are best but even if it’s sunny with temperatures in excess of 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) you’re in with a good chance of seeing some notable migrants like the Daurian redstart, the Siberian rubythroat, and various thrushes.

The admission charge of NTD120 (full-time students, the disabled, and children under the age of six get in for half price) is very reasonable as you can expect to spend at least an hour and a half here. Arriving early to beat the crowds — and between April and September the sun — is advisable. You’ll need a hat; an umbrella is even better, as it can shade your shoulders and back. Do bring some drinking water but don’t worry if you forget, as there are plenty of vendors and convenience stores on the approach to the entrance.

Alternatives to driving

Bus #1815 connects Taipei Main Station and other points in central Taipei with the general vicinity of the geopark. If you’re hoping to get the most out of your day, however, booking a tour with a Life of Taiwan private driver-guide makes a lot of sense; you’ll not have to walk so far and you won’t be depending on public-transport schedules. It’s also considerably more comfortable as trains and coaches in Greater Taipei can get very crowded. What’s more, our guides are very familiar with the area’s food options and can suggest quiet eateries a little off the beaten track. The seafood restaurants closest to the geopark are often fearsomely crowded and not especially good value.Yehliu Geopark, Taiwan

Whether you decide to get around by rental car, by public transport, or with one of our guided Taiwan tours, there’s a good chance you’ll pass through the pleasant little town of Jinshan. If you’re in the mood for more walking, the tramp from Jinbaoli Old Street to Candlestick Beach is fun.

The Old Street is where, in the days of yore, traders from the interior would exchange commodities like sulphur, medicinal herbs, and vegetables for salt, sacks of rice, and dried seafood. From Candlestick Beach it’s possible to see the Twin Candlesticks, unwieldy-looking 60 m-high (197 ft) offshore rock columns. To the southeast, the Yehliu peninsula is almost always visible.

Jinshan has a number of hot springs where scalding iron-rich carbonic water emerges from the ground. The classiest establishments is undoubtedly the Governor-General’s Hot Spring, so called because it was built by the Japanese colonial authorities in 1939 as a venue for entertaining VIPs. Following World War II, it served as an army outpost before its original appearance and function were required. In addition to the outdoor sping (where swimsuits are required), there are private rooms and indoor gender-segregated ocean-view pools.

A scenic over-the-hills route

If you want to travel directly to Jinshan from Taipei using public transport, board bus #1717 outside Jiantan Station on the Taipei Metro’s Red Line. This delightfully scenic route goes through Yangmingshan National Park, stopping at Xiaoguan Yinzhan, within walking distance of Xiaoyoukeng’s fumaroles, before descending to the centre of Jinshan. From there it’s easy to catch a bus bound for Tamsui or to head in the other direction to Yehliu Geopark and the harbour city of Keelung.

Also within easy striking distance of Jinshan are Ju Ming Museum and the Dharma Drum Mountain World Center for Buddhist Education. The former houses works created by or from the personal collection of Ju Ming (1938–2023), Taiwan’s best-known sculptor. The latter is part-college part-monastery, operated by an organisation praised for its modern approach to Buddhism; it describes its vision as ‘to uplift the character of humanity, build a pure land on earth [and] give of ourselves for the benefit of all’.

Eager to see these places but thinking that organising it all yourself might be troublesome? Send our expert itinerary designers a message today and let them come up with a plan for a luxury private tour that matches all of your interests and preferences.