As tourists, it's easy to get caught up running from one attraction to another, barely processing what's happening around us. But today, we're going to take a slow and quiet stroll, retracing the steps of the industrial miners. I hope this article can provide some guidance for smaller attractions and stops in Keelung that you can visit while enjoying a slow journey to some of Keelung's most famous tourist sites: the famous "Keelung" sign, Zhongzheng Park, Heping Island, and Keelung Night Market.
Keelung's Hollywood Sign: Back on the Big Screen
At the crossroads of South-East Asia, Keelung has one of the busiest ports in the world. With foreign influence from all parts of the world, it is no surprise you can find Keelung's very own 'Hollywood' sign. Walking up the mountain path to the sign, you'll come across a mapped with many small attractions you can find en-route. The lanes here are filled with artwork and colorful quaint housing, so its a joy to get lost hunting for these attractions. I was able to find all but one of the attractions: the gazebo. Will you uncover this hidden treasure for me?
I also found an abandoned temple that I would add to the map, that I'll help you find in this article.
Here are some spots I particularly enjoyed on this trip:
Zhongzheng Park: Before the Buddha
Although Zhongzheng is famous for its towering Buddha statue, you'll find lots of hidden attractions and charming shops during your stroll in and around the park. I recommend you begin your journey on Yiliu Road. The first hidden gem here is 1632 Cafe & Diner, which serves comfort food for our western friends, from red wine stews and creamy carbonara's to fried foods and delicious desserts. A little further up you'll find Shalom cafe, which features a selection of coffee ranging from all around the world. They also offer a tasting menu with a selection of various coffees in small servings.
Opposite Shalom, you'll find a steep set of stairs, and from here you'll follow the path through Renyili Community Park. There are many places in this park to take rest and enjoy the lush nature that surrounds you. It is a tranquil walk and you'll be met by a few friendly felines.
Emerging from the park, head up the hill. Rather than turning left towards Zhongzheng park, take a right at the perimeter of the college and you'll eventually be met by a lovely temple with intricate detailing. As you continue you will encounter an old nursery brimming with color that's been repurposed as a community park by the locals. This park is a very tranquil place to visit and offers scenic views, ponds and places to sit in the sun and shade.
Taking some stairs down from the nursery, you'll find yourself immersed in rich green forest organized with stone paths. Following one of these paths, you'll come by a magnificent structure. Aged and infested with weeds and wrinkles, it features 3 crooked platforms that give off oddly appealing image. Perhaps the child in me sees this as some fantasy of a Jurassic lost world!
Heading to Heping Island
Heping Island is a beautiful spot to take a swim or check out some of Northern Taiwan's famous cliffs, but the surrounding areas also offer lots of charming surprises.
Before crossing the river to Heping Island, take a right on Zhengbin Road. Firstly you'll find some old shipyard relics at the Argenna Shipyard which are currently popular on Instagram.
Continuing down the road, you will pass a colorful car park, where mined gold was transported by train to the shipyard during the Japanese Colonial Period. Attached to the car park you will find the aboriginal culture hall, whose members are friendly and enthusiastic about their ancestry. They took us around the museum and allowed us to interact with many props and instruments. It was a raw and authentic experience and to our surprise we got to watch an impromptu musical performance. It was very charming meeting their community and I look back fondly on my experience there.
A little further down the road, you'll find another car park. On the opposite side, you'll find a set of stairs leading up the side of a small mountain through some forest. Nearing the top you'll come across a lovely bridge, and, on the other side of some stairs, the summit. There, you'll find some aboriginal hand-craft wooden totems. Past the totems, you'll stumble upon an observation deck with an expansive view looking out to sea.
Getting lost around Keeling Night Market
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Many tourists come to Keelung especially for its famous night market. And although a night at the market is an experience you can't miss, the surrounding attractions. provide a respite from the tourist rush.
Lost in the night market streets, I stumbled upon a set of stairs that led to a temple and abandoned mansion. Khoo Tsu-song Old Mansion had a sense of grandeur with its redbrick lined with contrasting, dense, green vegetation. You cannot help but feel a comparison to the contrast between death and life — it's truly a beautiful place I suggest checking out.
Further along, you'll find another path, plastered with artwork and color. This path is across from the popular A Xin Cafe, which serves a range of fantastic roasted coffees, smoothies and deserts. At the top of the path you will find the tranquil Ren'ai park, which offers a wonderful winding footpath lined with exotic flowers and lush greens. There are many places to take a seat and enjoy your surroundings for a moment. As you rejoin the city streets you'll find a lovely little open hut with wooden detailing, table and chairs. It serves as a nice break from the city life.