Pingxi (平溪) is a small town in New Taipei, Taiwan, famous for its Chinese Sky Lanterns (天燈).
Bus 795 departs from Muzha MRT station in Taipei roughly every 20 minutes. It takes a scenic route through a narrow green valley and takes around 45 minutes to reach Pingxi.
Take a train to Badu Train Station or Ruifang Train Station and then transfer to Pingxi Branch Rail Line to Pingxi (towards Jingtong). Note that the Pingxi line in particular will be overcrowded on festival days and you may need to find alternate transportation. Train should be pretty cheap around NT$30, and runs every hour until about 10pm. Total travel time from Taipei should be under 2 hours. To save time, bus is probably recommended, but it's also a nice train ride if you don't mind the longer travel time.
From downtown Taipei, head eastwards on road 106. It takes about 40 to 50 minutes to reach Pingxi. Directions are clearly marked on road signs in English and Chinese. Roads might be blocked during the Sky Lantern Festival, requiring drivers to park far outside (when coming from Taipei, near the No. 5 Highway) and changing to public buses.
Visitors flying a Sky Lantern
- Pingxi Train Station. Most visitors come to Pingxi for the train station and its surrounding area. Colorfully painted trains make a brief stop here a couple times per hour. It's possible to walk on the tracks. edit
- Old Street. Pingxi Old Street has tea shops, cafes and various street food vendors and is located right next to the train station. edit
- Sky Lantern Festival (平溪天燈節). Every year during the final days of Chinese New Year, the Sky Lantern Festival will take place in Pingxi and draws massive crowds. Dates change every year and more information can be found online. Due to the crowds, roads might be blocked for private cars during that time! The festival actually takes place in nearby Shifen now, which has a special launching area that organizes mass sky lantern launches every 30 min during the festival. Special buses are organized for the event and must be boarded at the Taipei Zoo. edit
- Shifen (十分) has a famous waterfall, and is just one train/bus stop away.
- Jingtong (菁桐) is also 1 stop away, and within walking distance, about 20 minutes walk.
Writing on a Sky Lantern in Pingxi
- Fly a Chinese Sky Lantern. Sky Lanterns are available for sale all over Pingxi. Visitors usually write wishes or blessings on the lanterns with provided brushed and ink and the vendor will assist in flying the lantern. Lanterns are available year round 150-200 NT$. edit
- Hike Mt Xiaozi (孝子山) a rock outcrop above the trees with steep stairs carved into the mountain. It's about a 400 meters high hike, 30 minutes to hike up, along a steep stone staircase. The staircase can be dangerously slippery due to the water and moss on the stairs. To get to the top, you'll need to climb very steep (about 50-80 degrees steep) stairs carved into the stone, with rope along the path. There are also 3 other peaks to climb, all within 30 minutes of Mt Xiaozi. The entrance to Mt Xiaozi is across the river from the train station, and up the street from FamilyMart.
It's not easy to find a place to sleep in Pingxi, so most visitors go back to Taipei, Jiufen or Keelung at night.
The fastest way is to take the 795 bus back to Muzha MRT.
Take a train to Shifen, a slightly bigger town on the same train line that also offers street food, sky lanterns and a waterfall.