Xindian (新店), also sometimes spelled 'Hsintien', 'Shindian' or 'Sindian,' is a city located to the south of Taipei where the apartment complexes of the Metro Taipei area meet the northern end of the Central Mountain Range.
The towns and cities of Taipei County are generally considered to have a less salubrious environment than 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 complexies 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 line).
Hike up Wu-feng 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 Wu-feng Road, entered from Zhongshing Road, sec 1 (near the junction with Zhongzhen 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. The path starts from Zhongshing Road, sec 1 (next to the 'Old Postal Hall' bus stop and across the road from property number 101).
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 Minchuan 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 2006 falls on May 31.
See Taipei 'Eat' section for information on the various kinds of vegetarian restaurants in Taiwan.
An excellent and cheap menu-type vegetarian restaurant is Miao-xin, located at 43 Bitan Road (across the pedestrian bridge at Bitan lake - between two convenience stores).
One of Xindian's best vegetarian restaurants is Xiang-gu at 2F. 125 Zhong-zhen Road (near the junction with Beixin Road, sec 2). Tel:2915 3078 - excellent and cheap, this restaurant is very popular with locals. Customers who cannot read Chinese, can choose from the photograph album showing the dishes.
An organic vegetarian restaurant and food store is at 69 Zhong-hwa Road (just around the corner from Xindian City Hall MRT Station, exit 1). Tel:2911 2168
Minder is a very large buffet style vegetarian restaurant located at 137 Minchuan Road (near the junction with Zhongzhen Road). Tel:8218 7858.
Qizhang Vegetarian Restaurant, 131-1 Beixin Road, sec 2. Tel:2914 4922, is a simple but good and very cheap buffet style restaurant located near Qizhang MRT Station, (cross street from exit 1 of MRT, the small restaurant is a two minute walk to the right, next to the electric company main gate).
Waterside Bistro 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 at 7 Bau-chang Road (near the corner of Bei-shin Road, sec 3). Tel:2910 9096/2910 1810 - a very elegant and cosy cafe with excellent coffee and light meals, including vegetarian fare.
Bi-ting (Emerald Pavillion) 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.
China Trust Hotel, 219-2 Jungshin 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