Danshui, also Romanized as Tamsui, is a kind of small city north of Taipei, and lies along the Danshui River. It is a favorite destination of Taipei folks who are desperate to get out of the city center for a day or a weekend.
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Probably the most popular thing to do is to hit Danshui Old Street and Waterfront, a market and shopping area that, in addition to offering a huge range of foods and wares, is gorgeous as it lies just along the river. The market gives a great sampling of Taiwanese and Danshui specialties, of which there are more than you might imagine.
As Danshui was used heavily by European occupiers, some artifacts of those campaigns remain. Hongmao Castle, or Fort San Domingo, was built by the Dutch in the 1640s. Later on, several pieces of the legacy of Reverend Mackay can be spotted in Danshui. The Reverend was a Canadian who brought Presbyterianism to Taiwan, and he left behind Danshui’s Oxford College and the Danshui Church.
Also make sure to visit Danshui Fisherman’s Wharf, with its great views of the river, cafes and fresh seafood. The wharf is also commonly an area for free public concerts and performances.
Getting Around Danshui City
Bike rental is a smart thing to do if you anticipate making a lot of stops in Danshui. The cool river breeze makes biking pleasant, and bikes can be rented at several shops just near the Danshui MRT Station at a rate of about NT$300 for the day.
Importantly, make sure to remember that the MRT shuts down at midnight, so even if you’re having a great time in Danshui, public transit won’t wait up for you. Then again, it’s not the worst place to get stranded for a night.
Eating in Danshui
Many decent restaurants and street stalls can be found right on the waterfront as well as along the old street. If you’re looking for more upscale eateries or international restaurants, you’d better head back to Taipei City, as Danshui lacks both.
Missed the last MRT after a late night along the Tamshui River? Need to sleep in Danshui? Well, don’t worry, there’s a lot of good places to stay in this “little” city north of Taipei.
The best place to start your search for Danshui hotels, hostels, guesthouses, or bed and breakfasts, is in my opinion HotelsCombined.com where you can find hotel reviews, prices, and deals.
Make sure to book your room in advance if you’re planning to visit Danshui during the summer months or in the middle of a Taiwanese festival like the Chinese New Year or the Dragon Boat Festival, when thousands of people congregate along the Danshui River to see the annual spectacle.
Getting to Danshui
From Taipei City
From Taipei take the MRT to Danshui Station. It’s very straightforward and cheap – around a dollar US one way.