View over the river from the Bitan pedestrian bridge
Xindian (新店), also known by its historical spelling Hsintien and alternative spelling Sindian, is a district located to the south of Taipei where the apartment complexes of the Taipei metropolitan area meet the northern end of the Central Mountain Range.
The districts of New Taipei are generally considered to have a less salubrious environment than those in Taipei City, though Xindian is an exception. Built later than many of the county's other municipalities, Xindian is a spacious suburb with good recreational facilities. Besides the famous Bitan Lake, the city also boasts good hiking areas in the mountains that surround the city. In recent years, IT industries have also expanded rapidily in Xindian, and this has greatly increased the affluence of the area. There are three large shopping complexes in Xindian, as well as a bustling downtown. The Hwa-yuan Xin-cheng (New Garden City) area of Xindian was developed in the 70s and 80s with the aim of attracting artists and writers. Thirty years later, the green hills, quiet environment and relatively inexpensive real estate prices of Garden City still attracts the art crowd, and in addition, many Westerners have settled there. New Garden City is located about twenty minutes from downtown Xindian, off the road to Wulai.
The city is accessible through the MRT Xindian (Green) and Xiao Bitan (Light Green) Lines.
The Xindian Ke-yun buses criss-cross the city and connect Xindian with Taipei and other cities in Taipei County.
MRT stations in Xindian City on the Green and Light Green Lines (Xindian Line and Xiao Bitan Line): Xindian, Xindian City Hall, Qizhang, Dapingling, and Xiao Bitan.
Green 3 bus belonging to the Xindian Ke-yun bus company to Hua-yuan Xin-cheng (New Garden City) from Jung-shing Road and also near Xindian MRT station - one bus every forty minutes.
Bitan is a stretch of the Xindian River that has been dammed and turned into a recreational area. The name Bitan means "emerald lake", and is derived from the natural, emerald-turquoise color of the water (except after heavy rain). Paddle boats can be hired, and there are some great river-side coffee shops (the ones furthest from the station, such as 'Waterside Bistro', are recommended) offering views over the river and the lush green mountains beyond. While it is not worth traveling a long distance to visit, enjoying a coffee at Bitan is certainly a very pleasant and relaxing way to round off a day of bathing in the hot springs of nearby Wulai.
NB: Food at the Bitan cafes is a little expensive, so it is recommended to eat first (there is a great and cheap veggie restaurant across the Bitan pedestrian bridge - 43 Bitan Road) and then just take refreshment at one of the cafes. Bitan is located directly behind Xindian MRT Station (the last station on the Xindian (green) line)
Hike up Wufeng Shan (Five Peak Mountain). This pleasant walk passes through forests, offers views over Xindian and Taipei, and along the way takes in a Tibetan style temple in the Nyingma Tradition (there are no resident monks, but at weekends there are occasional ritual ceremonies) and a Tibetan style stupa. Start from Wufeng Road, entered from Zhongxing Road, Sec. 1 (near the junction with Zhongzheng Road).
Lion's Head Mountain offers a short, but steep hike to its peak. At the top, hikers are rewarded with wonderful views over the northern end of the Central Mountain Range. There are two main paths leading from the base: from Zhongxing Road, Sec. 1, the path begins from next to the Old Postal Hall bus stop (across the road from property number 101), and from Wenzhong Road, Lane 64, the path begins from next to the rather attractive Zhulin Chan Sz (Bamboo Forest Chan Monastery).
The main Taiwan center of Penor Rinpoche , the head of the Nyingma school of Buddhism, is located in Xindian. While rinpoche only visits occasionally, there are several resident monks and the center hosts a full schedule of activities. 3 Floor, 135 Minquan Road (nearest MRT station: Dapinglin). Tel:2218-2486~7
Watch the colorful Dragon Boat races at Bitan (see Taipei festivals for more information). The races are held on the 5th day of the 5th month according to the lunar calendar, which in 2007 falls on June 19.
See Taipei 'Eat' section for information on the various kinds of vegetarian restaurants in Taiwan.
Miao-xin (妙心蔬食館), 43 Bitan Road (新店市碧潭路43號) (across the pedestrian bridge at Bitan - next to the 7-11). An excellent and cheap menu-type vegetarian restaurant serving traditional Chinese dishes. Cost is around NT$100-200 per person.
Xiang-gu (鄉菇天然素餐), 2F, 125 Zhongzheng Road (新店市中正路125號2樓) (near the junction with Beixin Road, sec 2). Tel:+886 2 2915-3078. One of Xindian's best vegetarian restaurants - excellent and cheap, specializes in Chinese cuisine, but has a few extra international dishes.
An organic vegetarian restaurant and food store is at 69 Zhonghua Road (新店市中華路69號) (just around the corner from Xindian City Hall MRT Station, exit 1). Tel:2911 2168
Minder (明德素食園), 137 Minchuan Road (新店市民權路137號) (near the junction with Zhongzheng Road). Tel:+886 2 8218-7858. A very large buffet style vegetarian restaurant serving Chinese dishes.
Bruce Kitchen (布佬廚房), 137 Chezi Road (新店市車子路137號). Tel:+886 2 8666-6181. Rustic reds, French cafe blues and outdoor decking among trees define the decor of this hillside restaurant. Bus number 839 (Danan bus company) stops nearby. Otherwise, private transportation is required. Excellent international vegetarian meals. Prior reservations essential, especially at weekends. Open 11AM-2:30PM and 5PM-10:30PM. Closed on Mondays.
Waterside Bistro (水湾) at Bitan is a good, albeit expensive place to enjoy tea or coffee. Located on the promenade at Bitan, the cafe offers great views over the lake and the green mountains beyond.
Cafe Aribica, 7 Bauchang Road (near the corner of Beixin Road, sec 3). Tel:+886 2 2910-9096/2910-1810. A very elegant and cozy cafe serving excellent coffee (Illy), tea and simple but good quality meals.
Bi-ting (Emerald Pavilion) at Bitan is a tea house located on the opposite bank of the river to the MRT station (cross pedestrian bridge, immediately turn left and go up stones stairs. Bi-ting Tea House is at the top). While the decor of the tea house is not inspiring, the tea is good and, being located on the top of a cliff, the views of the river and bridge are second to none.
Dzongtung (President), 35 Zongxing Road, sec 3 (near the corner of Bauchang Road - a five minute walk from the huge Carrefour Hypermarket). Tel:+886 2 2913-2498. A funky tea house serving various kinds of teas (though don't expect top notch oolong), coffee, freshly made juices and light meals. The interior of the two story cafe is all wood and has some interesting features.
Om-Para, 8 Mingchuan Road (near Dapinglin MRT Station, exit 3). Tel:+886 2 2913-4977. The especially comfy chairs make up for the rather drab decor of this cafe. Serves a varieties of coffee brands and simple, but well prepared meals.
China Trust Hotel, 219-2 Zhongxin Road, sec 3, . a mid-range business hotel conveniently located near Dapinglin MRT Station (Xindian line).
The area code for Xindian is the same as Taipei City: 02