Thousand Island Lake in Shiding Taiwan

Thousand Island Lake in Taiwan: The Perfect Day Trip From Taipei for Landscape and Tea Lovers

Looking for an underrated day trip from Taipei to get away from the crowds? This is it!

Taipei is a bustling cosmopolitan city in Asia, with its towering Taipei 101 Building, more night markets than you can count with one hand and a world-class history and culture museum. It also happens to be an incredible base for day trips to the picturesque northeast coast, Yangmingshan National Park, Jiufen Old Street and the hot spring town of Beitou.

Thousand Island Lake in Shiding Taiwan with text overlay Thousand Island Lake and tea plantations in Taiwan with text overlay Thousand Island Lake and tea plantations in Taiwan with text overlay

While most people traveling to Taiwan only stay in Taipei for 2-3 days, you might want to extend your stay to venture away from the crowds and explore lesser-known landmarks beyond the typical tourist trail. Now before you go off and start feverishly researching underrated day trips from Taipei, here is one that not many people know about…yet. In fact, when I had asked my family in Taipei about it they thought I was talking about the identically-named Qiandao Lake near Hangzhou in China!

Mountain ranges of Shiding in Taiwan near Taipei

Though the Sun Moon Lake located south of Taipei is Taiwan’s most famous lake, you don’t have to travel far to immerse yourself in the mountains and enchanting nature. The Thousand Island Lake (or Qiandao Lake/千岛湖/千島湖) in Shiding is just a short one-hour drive away from Taipei city and a perfect day trip destination if you are looking for breathtaking landscapes, fresh air and rich tea culture.

Looking for more Taiwan-related travel guides? Head on over here!

Where is the Thousand Island Lake in Taiwan?

Tea plantations and Thousand Island Lake in Shiding Taiwan

The Taiwan Thousand Island Lake is located in Shiding, about 30 kilometres southeast of Taipei. The turquoise body of water is actually a man-made creation formed by the Feicui Reservoir and Beishi River.

It’s not the easiest of places to get to by public transportation (though it’s not impossible), so I would recommend booking yourself on a small-group day tour from Taipei that takes you to the Thousand Island Lake viewpoint and tea plantations, Pinglin Old Street to experience a tea tasting ceremony and the Pinglin Tea Museum.

Walking to the Bagua Tea Plantation in Shiding Taiwan

To get from Taipei to Shiding Thousand Island Lake, check out this full day tour via Klook which also visits Maokong, or this shorter half-day tour which follows the itinerary below to the Thousand Island Lake, museum and tea tasting. Here’s what to expect from a perfect day trip to the Thousand Island Lake near Taipei!

Tea shop in Pinglin Taiwan

Prefer to charter a private car to show you around? Look into one of these private Taipei car charter services here, but note that there may be a small surcharge to drive out to Shiding/Pinglin. I do not recommend driving yourself out here as parking is limited, and the roads are overrun with wannabe MotoGP drivers.

Where to stay in Taipei

Raohe Night Market in Taipei Taiwan

There are plenty of convenient accommodation options in Taipei – if you want to stay somewhere central look into hotels and AirBnBs in the Xinyi, Da’an, Zhongshan and Zhongzheng districts. You’ll be close to most of the attractions in Taipei and these areas are well connected by the Taipei Metro.

Hotel Cozzi Minsheng: Hotel Cozzi Minsheng is one of my top picks for where to stay in Taipei – it is located steps away from the Xingtian Temple as well as the Xingtian Temple MRT station. We absolutely loved our most recent stay at this boutique hotel in Taipei in their modern and spacious rooms. The buffet-style breakfast is plentiful and it even has a fairly well-equipped fitness centre. Click here to book your stay at Hotel Cozzi Minsheng!

Hotel Cozzi Zhongxiao: Hotel Cozzi Zhongxiao is another of Cozzi’s branches in Taipei, located conveniently in the Zhongzheng District. True to the brand, Hotel Cozzi Zhongxiao’s rooms are simple yet stylish, the staff are well-trained and friendly, and the breakfast selection is great. We especially liked the proximity to the Huashan 1914 Creative Park and access to the blue Bannan MRT line. While it doesn’t have a fitness centre it does have a lovely lounge area on the 2nd floor. Click here to book your stay at Hotel Cozzi Zhongxiao!

ILLUME Taipei: ILLUME Taipei took over the former Sunworld Dynasty location near the Taipei Arena. It is steps from the Taipei Arena and Nanjing Fuxing MRT stations. This luxury hotel in Taipei is not exactly budget friendly, but it is fantastic if you want a hotel with best-in-class facilities including a huge fitness centre, yoga studios, outdoor pool and sauna.

The rooms are incredibly spacious (but make sure you book a renovated room rather than a legacy room from the former property) with fancy Japanese toilet seats, and some offer balconies with a view of Taipei 101. If you are traveling with kids to Taipei this is a no-brainer: there is an outdoor electric car track and indoor playroom (set to reopen later this year), as well as on-site self-serve laundry room. Click here to book your stay at ILLUME Taipei!

Chill Roof Hotel: Chill Roof Hotel in Zhongshan is located midway between the Zhongshan and Songjiang Nanjing MRT stations, offering you easy access to 3 different subway lines across Taipei. This boutique hotel in Taipei is for design-lovers: the rooms are spacious and each features a unique modern European/Scandinavian-inspired design. Chill Roof Hotel is best suited to independent travelers as it does not have a 24-hour reception or on-site restaurant, but it does have a guest laundromat for longer stays. It has two cats who live in their own room next to the reception so it is not suited to those with cat allergies. Click here to book your stay at Chill Roof Hotel!

Fullerton North: Fullerton North is located in Songshan District and is perfect for people who prefer staying at boutique hotels. It is close to Raohe Night Market and Ciyou Temple. Click here to book your stay at Fullerton North!

Thousand Island Lake and Tea Plantation tour itinerary

This is what to expect from your Taipei day trip to the Thousand Island Lake – please note that the itinerary may vary slightly but will almost always include a visit to the viewpoint and include a tea tasting!

This is the shorter half-day tour which follows the itinerary below to the Thousand Island Lake, or tea aficionados may want to embark on a full day tour which also visits Maokong (another tea growing area near Taipei city).

1. Thousand Island Lake viewpoint and Bagua Tea Plantation

Tour to Thousand Island Lake and tea plantations in Shiding Taiwan

After a breezy 1-hour drive from Taipei in a comfortable van, our group of 5 (plus our local guide, Walter) reached the heart of tea country and were greeted with breathtaking panoramic views of the “islands” and aquamarine water framed by lush tea plantations.

Tea plantations and Thousand Island Lake in Shiding Taiwan

Walter told us a little more about the tea industry in Taiwan, the types of tea cultivated on the island, when the tea is harvested and so on. I had previously visited tea plantations in Maokong and near Sun Moon Lake in Central Taiwan, so had some idea of the types of tea and how they were grown on the island. For first-time visitors to Taiwan, don’t miss out on trying high mountain oolong tea, or this region’s specialty: the baozhong tea. Did you know that more than 80% of the local residents grow tea and the total area of tea plantations is close to 1000 acres here?

Standing in front of tea plantations in Shiding Taiwan

After 15-20 minutes of taking landscape photos we moved onto the next stop, Pinglin Old Street, though some visitors might also opt to have a light lunch or snack at the on-site cafe – I hear the local tofu ice cream is one to try!

2. Tea tasting ceremony at Pinglin Old Street

Tea tasting ceremony in Pinglin Taiwan

This next part of the tour was my favourite, and might have even topped the jaw-dropping views of the Thousand Island Lake! While a tea tasting ceremony might not sound like anything special, tea is very much ingrained in Taiwanese culture and is an important industry for the island and certain local communities.

Tea shop in Pinglin Taiwan

We spent about an hour in a small tea house tasting a variety of Taiwanese tea – from the fragrant and sweet-smelling baozhong to the honey-infused black tea. The tea farmer hosting the ceremony lovingly brewed cups of hot tea for us and showed us how to smell the tea using special smelling cups, before holding the tea in our mouths for a few seconds to make the most of its aroma.

Tea tasting ceremony in Pinglin Taiwan

There are only 2 small tables in this tiny local shop, and is a wonderful opportunity to ask questions about tea culture and industry, or pick up a few souvenirs for home.

Tea tasting ceremony in Pinglin Taiwan

For a little sweet treat make sure you try the tea-flavoured peanut candy – I’m Taiwanese and visit a few times a year, but it was my first time trying these little bite-sized delights!

3. Pinglin Tea Museum

Tea museum exhibit in Pinglin Taiwan

Don’t write-off the visit to the tea museum like I did, because you might actually be pleasantly surprised. I didn’t have high hopes for visiting the tea museum after the outrageously stunning viewpoint, lush terraced tea plantations and educational tea tasting ceremony…but the Pinglin Tea Museum proved me wrong.

Interactive exhibit at the Pinglin Tea Museum in Taiwan

The museum features 2 exhibition halls dedicated to the history of tea in Taiwan and the properties of Taiwanese tea, and you can also visit the “Experience Center”, an activities-based hall where visitors can appreciate tea through the senses and interactive installations. I especially loved the installation that allowed you to smell different types of freshly brewed tea.

Tea museum exhibit in Pinglin Taiwan

The Pinglin Tea Museum is a must-visit for tea aficionados, and is all-in-all a wonderfully-curated collection that gives you valuable insight into this very rich part of Taiwanese culture.

Pinglin Tea Museum in New Taipei City Taiwan

If you’re looking for an incredible day trip from Taipei away from the tourist crowds, then look into this full day Thousand Island Lake, Maokong and Tea Plantation tour or if you are short on time consider booking this half day Taiwan Thousand Island Lake tour instead. went on a weekday in January (winter) and we were the only group at the Thousand Island Lake viewpoint in the morning, only 1 of 2 small groups at the tea tasting ceremony and the only group touring the tea museum.

Though you might run into a few more groups during the peak travel season from May to about mid-October, Taiwan as a whole is an extremely underrated travel destination in Asia and doesn’t tend to experience extremely heavy crowds (with the exception of a select few landmarks such as Jiufen).

Essential information

Pinglin Old Street near Taipei Taiwan
  • The tour runs year-round but I encourage you to book ahead of time to guarantee your spot, and try to visit on a weekday as more people tend to head out to this area on the weekends
  • This full day Thousand Island Lake & Tea tour costs US$65 per person and this half day Thousand Island Lake & Tea tour costs US$40 per person. These rates include transportation, a local guide, the tea tasting and your entry into the Pinglin tea museum
  • If you are a first-time user of Klook you can sign up for a Klook account using this referral link and get HK$25 (US$3.5) off your first travel booking!
  • The road to Shiding is very windy – I recommend taking a tablet ahead of time if you are prone to motion sickness
  • I feel that this tour could be suitable for families with older children as well, but those with active toddlers may find the drive times long.
  • The museum is closed the first Monday of each month so if your heart is set on checking the museum out make sure you book accordingly

Ready to book your visit? You can’t go wrong with Hotel Cozzi Minsheng steps away from the Xingtian Temple, Hotel Cozzi Zhongshan next to Huashan 1914 Creative Park, Chill Roof Hotel in Zhongshan, or Fullerton North in Songshan District. We also enjoyed our stay at ILLUME Taipei in Songshan District – a 5-star hotel with plenty of facilities including an open-air racetrack for kids and humongous fitness centre.

More: There are tons of great accommodation options in Taipei – if you want to stay somewhere central look into hotels in the Xinyi, Da’an, Zhongshan and Zhongzheng districts. Click here for even more accommodation options!

I hope this Taipei day trip guide inspires you to look beyond the obvious attractions in Taipei and venture off the beaten path! Ready to book a visit to the Thousand Island Lake near Taipei? Check out this full day tour via Klook which also visits Maokong, or this shorter half-day Thousand Island Lake tour.

Looking for more Taiwan destination guides and travel tips?

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