Shifen waterfall: How to visit Taiwan’s Niagara falls
Shifen waterfall is located just outside New Taipei city and is the widest waterfall in the country. Due to its status, it’s no surprise that this is a popular tourist attraction here in Taiwan and the crowds don’t let you forget it.
The falls stand at a height of 20 m/66 ft and a width of 40 m/131 ft.
The waterfall has been nicknamed the “Niagara falls of Taiwan” due to the familiar horseshoe shape and fast-flowing water. So, having visited the real Niagara falls while living in Canada, I simply had to check this waterfall out too!
The falls are a must-see attraction for nature lovers heading to Taiwan and can be accessed on a day tour from Taipei.
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How to get to Shifen waterfall
The two main ways to reach the Shifen waterfall and nature park are by public transport or by car.
If you decide to travel by public transport you will need to make sure you have enough cash to successfully buy each of your train tickets at the train stations.
From Taipei Main Station, take the train to Ruifang Station (瑞芳) then transfer onto the Pinxi line from Ruifang Station to Shifen station. The total journey should take an average of 1 hour and 40 minutes to reach your destination.
Shifen station address: Taiwan, New Taipei City, Pingxi District, 226
After arriving at Shifen Station, you will have to walk for around 15-20 minutes to reach the Shifen Waterfall Park, and then another 15 minutes to reach the waterfall itself.
What to expect at Shifen Waterfall Park
Walking to the park
When you arrive at Shifen Station you’ll find yourself on Shifen Old Street. You will need to walk through the street to reach the trail towards the waterfall, but don’t worry, you can spend some time here on the way back to the train station after you’re finished at the falls.
I would recommend using a map to find the way to the park as you will be taking narrow residential and side roads to get there. This can get complicated if it’s your first time visiting and a map will make it much easier to find without getting lost.
There are some food stalls, a small temple and a short street along the way decorated with Chinese lanterns for you to enjoy (or use as a bright photo opportunity).
Waterfall Location: 226, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Pingxi District, 乾坑10號
After leaving the residential area you’ll reach a sign at the entrance to Shifen waterfall park. Please note the sign is spelt “Shihfen” but it is interchangeable with “Shifen” as you will notice on map apps like Google.
You’ll eventually see a concrete building on the left side of the street and you will need to turn here to continue along the trail towards the falls. Inside the building, there are bathrooms for visitors to use before they enter the park.
The Shifen waterfall Park
From the bathrooms, you’ll walk along a small suspension bridge that takes you over the river and then along a small path. This paved path takes you all the way along the left bank of the river until you reach a much larger suspension bridge (Guanpu Suspension Bridge 觀瀑吊橋).
Be aware: The staircase to get up to the suspension bridge is made of metal and can be slippery when wet. Use caution.
From the top of the bridge platform, you will see the small waterfalls to your left (closest to the side you came in from). If you think this is a good waterfall, just wait until you see the next one!
Once you’ve crossed Guanpu suspension bridge, you will head down another large metal staircase. This will bring you to an area filled with stone statues and what looks to be various types of gargoyles.
If you continue along the trail you’ll come to some market stalls where you can purchase some food or a drink. Make sure to bring cash with you as many of the stalls do not accept card payments. There are some seats available to sit on while you eat and even a small area to watch the koi fish in a square pond.
When you are finished eating and drinking you can turn right near the pond and you will be back on the trail. You cannot get lost as the trail is a one-way loop from here.
Shifen waterfall viewpoints
Since the park is quite large there are multiple viewpoints for you to see the falls. Each viewpoint is positioned at a different part along the trail which means you get to see the waterfall from different angles.
As you walk along the trail you will hear Shifen waterfall before you will see it. Eventually, you will see it in the distance through the trees, like in the photo above. You will walk towards the waterfall and will come to a curved staircase which gives you the first real glimpse of the falls behind a fence.
To take a photo like the first on the page, take a photo from about halfway up the staircase to get the full view.
If you follow the trail to the left, you’ll go down some more steps to a long platform that has multiple tiers. This is the next area to see the falls but it is not the final viewpoint. Due to a small stream running down the hill surrounding this section of the walking trail, this area can get very slippery.
This section of the viewing platforms gets very busy so it might take a while to get a clear view of the falls through the crowd.
The third viewpoint is closer than the last and is much less of an obstructed view as you’re in front of the trees and bushes that surround the previous area. As you can see below there is a shelter to your left, and a staircase down below to viewpoint 4. There is even a tired, wooden seating area that looks like a staircase, but it doesn’t lead anywhere.
The final 2 viewpoints
Once you’ve headed downstairs you’ll see the best view in the house at the lowest level of platforms and with a direct view of the falls. From here, you’ll see a rocky area just on the other side of the fences which shows you where the original viewpoint was that has since been closed off. This is mostly due to safety reasons.
When looking at the falls, you’ll see a staircase to your left which climbs quite high, quite quickly which will take you to the final viewing area close to the top of the falls.
Following the final part of the trail, you’ll end up on the left of the falls and close enough to be splashed by the water. This is the closest you will be able to get to the falls and you will notice how loud they are too.
If you go up the stairs behind you (opposite the waterfall viewing area) you’ll find the public restrooms and you’ll be just around the corner from the line of small market stalls you walked past earlier.
You will be able to walk back out the same way you started from that point which leads you through the market and back across Guanpu suspension bridge.
Want more day hike inspiration from Taipei? Check out the Elephant Mountain trail!
Shifen waterfall opening times & Prices
Shifen waterfall is open between the hours of 9 am and 4.30 pm 7 days a week.
At some times during the year, the park is open until 5 pm. However, this doesn’t seem to be consistent so I would advise planning your day with the assumption that they are closing at 4.30 pm just to be safe.
There is no entrance fee for the park which is great so other than the transport fares to reach the park, it’s an otherwise cheap day out!
Please note, only some parts of the park are accessible for wheel access (wheelchairs, pushchairs etc) so you will be able to visit the falls, however, you won’t be able to access every viewpoint.
If you would be more comfortable visiting Shifen Waterfall as part of a group that organises all of your travel for you, then take a look at this half-day tour that takes you to the falls and through Shifen old street to light Chinese lanterns.
How long do you need to spend there?
If you were to walk the full trail without stopping, it would only take you around 1 hour to complete the entire loop. However, due to having so many viewpoints to stop and take photos at, the average person spends between 2 and 3 hours here.
This is because you can spend time at the food market, enjoying the small garden, koi pond and of course the Shifen Waterfall.
Best time to visit Shifen waterfall park?
Considering you won’t be able to reach the falls after 5 pm, I would advise visiting as early in the day as possible. The falls park opens at 9 am and due to how busy it gets towards lunchtime, it’s better to get there as close to when it opens as possible to try and avoid the crowds.
The good news is that although the park is open from 9 am, Old Street doesn’t open its stores until after 10 am each morning, This means you’re better off reaching the park first and then exploring the stores on your way back to the train station. This is the most practical way of doing both activities.
Make sure you check the train journey back as the trains heading back into Taipei are not the most frequent. Google Maps works great in Taiwan so you can easily find your way without any problems.
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