That scene in Tangled with the beautiful, glowing lanterns floating up into the dark sky... have you always wanted to see a sight like that in person? The Pingxi Sky Lantern festival is held annually, right around the Lunar New Year, in the Pingxi area in Taiwan. If you look up photos from this event, you'll see that it's just like the lantern scene in Tangled! But even if you aren't visiting Taiwan during Lunar New Year festivities, you can still release a sky lantern, along with your hopes and dreams, into the sky! Introducing Shifen, the popular destination in Taiwan for sky lanterns.
Sky Lanterns in Shifen
Shifen is a small town about an hour away from Taipei by car. The main reason tourists come to Shifen is to release sky lanterns. Historically, sky lanterns were released by brave villagers who stayed behind when their villages were ransacked by outlaws, signalling to fellow villagers who escaped to safety that it was safe for them to return. Today though, sky lanterns are released as a way to make wishes, as I'm sure we all have hopes and dreams that we'd love to have come true!
The hustle and bustle of tourists centre along the streets on either side of the train tracks that run through Shifen, that are lined with sky lantern stores on either side. Pick any one and they will set you up with a lantern that you can write your dreams on. Each side of the lantern has a different colour, and they say you are supposed to write wishes for different facets of your life on specific colours (for instance, yellow is for financial fortune), but really, write what you want, where you want!
Once you've transferred your wishes onto the lantern, you can bring it to the tracks to set it free! I hope your wishes and dreams come true!
Shifen Old Streets
Outside of the sky lanterns, the Shifen Old Streets that run by the train train tracks are fun to wander down. The streets aren't that long and there are a lot of sky lantern stores, but there are also stores that sell quirky items, and snacks.
Being on an active train track, one of the interesting things to see at the Shifen Old Streets is everyone running of the tracks when the train comes down it.
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Jingan Suspension Bridge
At one end of the Shifen Old Streets, near Shifen Station, you'll find a short 128 metre suspension bridge which connects the towns of Shifen and Nanshan. Built initially to transport coal, after the end of coal mining in the area, it was used by residents to get from one town to the next. You can get a good view of Shifen from the bridge.
If you have some time to spare in your itinerary, perhaps before you head to some other popular sites in the area such as Jiufen or the Houtong Cat Village, about 10 minutes away from the Shifen Old Streets by car is the Shifen Waterfall. At 40 metres wide, the Shifen Waterfall is the widest waterfall in Taiwan. If you've been to Niagara Falls, the Shifen Waterfall will be a bit underwhelming in comparison, but it's still a nice sight to see.
Want to get here?
Shifen is accessible via train from Taipei by getting on the train at Taipei Main Station to get to Ruifang, and then transferring to the Pingxi Line to get to Shifen station. However, if you are looking to go on a day trip to visit a couple of the popular tourist locations in the Ruifang district such as Jiufen, Houtong, and Jingtong along with Shifen, I would recommend hiring a driver for the day so that you are less rushed trying to get from one destination to the next.
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This post is linked up on Our World Tuesday, and...