If you haven’t already thought about exploring beyond Taipei, now’s the time to start. Smaller than Taipei, Danshui (also known as Tamsui, Danshuei, and Tamshui) is at the end of the MRT line, but at the beginning of a lot of this area’s history.
Formerly a shipping and commerce centre in 19th century northern Taiwan, Danshui has emerged as a fascinating place to visit, full of tradition, history, culture, authenticity, and food (of course!). We’ll take you on a Danshui tour that will open your eyes to this wonderful little spot on the river.
We set off from the Danshui MRT station, tracing the history and transformation of Danshui with every step, beginning with the origin of Danshui – the water. The floating community is nearby, and while visible, is easily overlooked. We’ll get a closer look at it, observing that the structures resemble villages in Southeast Asia. We’ll also check out the Shell Warehouse, set up during British colonisation and now functioning as Community University.
At the heart of Danshui is its traditional market, local temple, and old street, which we’ll explore in depth. Locals often snag their daily supplies at the market, and there continues to be a healthy amount of local farmer trading in the market as well. Visiting the market is one of the best ways to understand the lifestyle and living habits of locals in Danshui.
Next we’ll visit Danshui Longshan Temple, a well-known temple located in the middle of the market. Not far from here is another temple, Danshui Master Temple, which has several god statues and very fine and exquisite carvings.
After checking out the market and temples, we’ll head over to the ‘rebuild street’ (Old Street), designated so because the buildings along this street are built with red bricks. The government of Taiwan actually planned to restructure and rebuild this old street at one time, but Danshui residents, together with historical and cultural workers wished to keep the streets and the red brick buildings as they were, as a way to preserve Danshui’s unique historical background and culture. Now, the old authentic street is preserved, and has become one the most unique attractions in town!
From history to transformation, we pay a visit to the Little White House, the former residence of the Danshui Tax Division, and Fort San Domingo, a red fort built by the Spanish. Both buildings demonstrate progression and different historical eras in Danshui, offering an interesting juxtaposition from our earlier, more historical sights.
By this point, you’ll probably be pretty hungry. Good thing it’s time to eat! The most famous and authentic local dish in Danshui is ‘Ah Gei’, or fishball soup, made with a sheet of bean curd stuffed with bean thread noodles, eaten with sweet or spicy sauces. In addition to the soup, there are other local snacks available to sample, like grilled squid, local biscuits, and an array of desserts to catch your eye.
With full bellies and minds we’ll head back to Danshui MRT station, where you can head back into downtown Taipei, or feel free to continue your evening exploring Danshui at your leisure.