The 8-mile (12.9 kilometer) stretch of track known as the Pingxi Branch Rail Line, falls a bit off the beaten tourist path but is a day well spent for its charming old-school train experience and excellent stops along the way, most notably the towns of Shifen, Jingtong and Pingxi.
The Pingxi Branch Rail Line was completed in 1921, and until the late 1980s, it was used exclusively as a mining train, transporting coal south from the mountains of Northern Taiwan. Today, the train whisks passengers through a wooded gorge area, past waterfalls, trail heads and old mining towns. It’s an inexpensive and easy way to get out of the city for a day and see the Taiwanese countryside.
Trains only pass along the line every hour or so, but because many of the stops and attractions are relatively close together, it’s possible to walk from one station to the next if you’ve just missed a train. Pick up a line map and schedule at the station before you head out so you’ll know when and where you need to be to catch the next one.