Travel

Elephant Mountain (象山步道)

So you’re sitting at your computer, you’re planning a trip to Taiwan and you’re wondering what you’re going to do while you’re here. You type ‘T-a-i-p-e-i’ into Google and what comes up? My bet is that you’re going to get a collection of photos that look more or less the same as the photo above.

This shouldn’t surprise you. 

Taipei is a city with an endless amount of things to see and do - but its fair to say that the undisputed champion of the city’s tourist attractions is the Elephant Mountain Hiking Trail. This is why each and every day hundreds, if not thousands of photos are posted from the many popular photo spots on the trail.

You’re of course welcome to disagree with my assessment, but before you do, I recommend taking some time to hike the mountain and taking note of the amazing mixture of languages being spoken by all of the travelers on the trail. You’re not likely to have an even remotely similar experience anywhere else in Taiwan (at least not in such a high concentration) as you will on Elephant Mountain. 

Even though I’m not a big fan of crowds slowing me down when I’m hiking, I can appreciate the fact that the mountain has become so popular and has played a part in helping so many people from different areas of the world realize that Taiwan is a great place to visit.

It goes without saying that the popularity of the mountain does have its downsides - Namely that it doesn’t matter when you visit, you’re going to be hiking the trail with hundreds of other people. You’re also probably going to have to stand in line at the top to get your cool-looking tourist photo. You’re also going to have to arrive quite early to reserve a spot if you’re wanting to take ‘professional’ style shots of the sunset or the view at night.

If this kind of stuff worries you, never fear, there are quite a few other options for mountain trails in Taipei where you’re able to take beautiful cityscape photos. 

If you’re a short-term visitor though, I can’t recommend enough that you deal with the crowds, hike the mountain and enjoy the experience - I’ve hiked the mountain a hundred times over the years, and even though it has gotten progressively busier, it rarely disappoints. 

Before I start, I’d like to take a minute to explain why I’m writing about this mountain for the second time.

When I first started this blog, I honestly didn’t really have any idea about what direction it would take. I figured I would use it as an outlet to showcase my photography and the beauty of Taiwan, but never could have imagined that it would become such a popular travel resource for people wanting to learn more about Taiwan.

Now that I’m much more experienced with this whole blogging thing, when I look back at some of the articles I wrote when I first started, I feel a bit embarrassed - especially with those that attract a lot of traffic. My Elephant Mountain article in particular is one where I felt like I needed to provide an update and offer much more in-depth information to travelers. 

I hope this updated version helps travelers and answers any questions you may have about hiking this beautiful trail. 

The Elephant Mountain Hiking Trail

Benches designed in the shape of the Chinese characters for Elephant Mountain.

Most tourists seem to be unaware that the Elephant Mountain Hiking Trail (象山登山步道) is essentially just a small section of the much larger network of trails known either as the ‘Four Beasts trail’ (四獸山步道) or the Nangang Mountain Hiking Trail (南港山系). 

The 7km long network of trails also includes Tiger Mountain (虎山), Leopard Mountain (豹山), Lion Mountain (獅山), Thumb Mountain (拇指山), Nangang Mountain (南港山) and 9-5 Peak (九五峰) - all of which provide excellent views of the Taipei cityscape and takes several hours to complete.  

The Elephant Mountain portion of the trail however is just a short hike up a very well-developed set of stairs that should only take you anywhere between fifteen and twenty minutes. Don’t let this fool you though, I’ve seen people showing up in high-heels and their Sunday best thinking that it is going to be quick and easy. 

This mountain trail is steep and even an avid hiker like myself gets a pretty good workout every time I go.

You’re not going to need to wear hiking boots or bring a bunch of gear with you when you go. You’re just going to have to wear comfortable footwear and clothes that are suitable for a bit of exercise.

From the trailhead, you’re going to hike on a very steep incline that will quickly transport you well above the city to a height of about 183 meters (600 feet) above sea level. 

Elephant Mountain Trailhead

The trail is well-developed with a stone path, signage, benches for taking breaks, lights that guide your path at night, water fountains and surprisingly clean washroom facilities. This allows you to not only hike the trail during the day, but also at night without having to worry. 

While there are several cityscape viewing platforms along the way, the main attraction of the trail for most tourists is the area known as the ‘Six Giant Rocks’ (六巨石) near the peak of the mountain. The giant rocks are part of an open space near the peak where you’re going to enjoy the best selfie opportunities, but is also where you’re going to encounter the largest amount of traffic.

Having your photo taken at the rocks is probably the most important part of hiking the trail, so it shouldn’t surprise you that you may end up having to wait in line to get your chance to stand on the rock and take your photos. So if there is a line, its just something that you’re going to have to be patient about if you want to get a photo of yourself.

My advice would be to hike the mountain early in the morning which should save you some time as the mountain isn’t as busy then.

If you’re a solo traveller and are hiking the mountain alone, I recommend requesting a fellow traveller to help you take a photo while standing on the rock rather than simply taking a selfie. If on the other hand you have others traveling with you, you can take turns by having them stand on one of the giant rocks to the rear to take photos of you.

This way you’ll get a bit more perspective when you take your photo and you’ll also save you some time waiting in line if you work together.

Once you’ve finished getting photos at the Giant Rocks area, if you’re not too tired and would like to get some more photos, I recommend continuing your hike a bit further past the Giant Rocks where you’ll come across several other viewing platforms that provide excellent perspectives of the city.

If you hike further up past the rocks, you can choose to complete your hike by returning the way you came, or simply continuing along to Tiger Mountain where you’ll descend upon another MRT station. 

Personally, I prefer to exit through Tiger Mountain for a couple of different reasons - It is a short distance from Elephant Mountain’s final platform, it also allows me to experience another mountain peak, there is less traffic, and more importantly, its much easier on the knees.

How you leave though depends on you, if you missed some platforms on your way up, you’ll probably want to revisit them, so if thats the case you’ll probably just want to head back the way you came.  

Elephant Mountain Photo Spots

Night view of the Taipei cityscape from Elephant Mountain.

When it comes to taking photos of the Taipei cityscape, you’re spoiled for options on Elephant Mountain - There are at least five different vistas for taking photos that provide tourists with an elevated platform giving an even better perspective of the city. 

So when you’re visiting Elephant Mountain, you simply have to ask yourself: What kind of photos do I want to take?

Do you want to take epic travel photos/selfies? Do you want to take professional quality photos of the cityscape? Do you want to take photos of the sunset or the night view? Or are you hoping to get photos of the New Years fireworks? 

Once you’ve decided what you’d like to do, there are a few considerations that you’ll want to keep in mind: 

  1. If you’re hoping to take photos of yourself, you’re probably going to have to wait in line to get up on the giant rock. You should also bring a photo-taking pal who can take turns with you. 

  2. If you’re wanting to take professional quality photos of the cityscape, you’re going to need a camera, possibly a tripod and a spot on one of the platforms where you can set up. 

  3. If you’re hoping to take photos of the sunset, you’re going to have to arrive early, bring a camera and a tripod and wait. Spots on the platforms fill up quickly, so if you don’t want to miss out, you’ll have to arrive several hours early. 

  4. If you’re hoping to take photos of the New Years fireworks, you should probably prepare a tent and camp out for a few days in order to reserve your spot. You may think I’m exaggerating but some of the old guys in Taiwan will have their tripods chained up in spots on the platform several days before New Years and they take turns standing guard. 

Elephant Mountain Photography Platforms

There are a number of platforms and viewpoints located on the mountain where you’re able to take some pretty awesome photos, but even though the signage on the trail is surprisingly helpful, its not easy for tourists to plan their trip in advance with all the scattered information available online.

I’m embedding a map below that includes the location of all the popular photo locations and the routes you’ll take to get there as well as a short description of each of the stops below.

  • Photographers Platform (攝手平台)

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The trail to the ‘Six Giant Rocks’ can more or less be divided into two sections, the first part is a 5-10 minute walk up a very steep set of stairs and the second part is another 5 minute walk up an even steeper set of stairs. Fortunately the space between the two sections is a flat section of trail where you’ll be able to catch your breath and take a break. 

The first viewing platform, the ‘Photographers Platform (攝手平台) sits along this flat piece of land and is an elevated structure that allows hikers the opportunity to take photos of the cityscape. This platform is often full of people so if you want to take photos from here, you’re probably going to have to be patient to get a spot.

Personally I feel like it is a nice spot to stop for a selfie, but its not one of my preferred spots for setting up a tripod and taking photos. I think what this platform does well though is give hikers a pretty good taste of what they’re about to experience as they hike further up the mountain.

  • Fireworks Viewing Platform (煙火平台)

The amazing view of the under-appreciated Fireworks Viewing Platform.

Once you’ve passed the first platform, you have the choice of either hiking up the hill to the ‘Six Giant Rocks’ or continuing straight along the flat path. Most people are going to elect to continue up the hill to their preferred destination, but here is where I’ll let you in on a bit of a secret. If you continue straight along the path, you’re going to find one of the best photo spots on the mountain, the Fireworks Viewing Platform. 

Continuing straight along the flat section of the path you’re going to come upon a covered rest area with public restrooms. What most people don’t realize is that if you keep following the path behind the rest area, you’ll find another trail that will take you to a small platform that has probably one of the best views of the city.

The trail to the platform doesn’t show up on Google Maps, so I’ve drawn a line to it on the map. You’ll see signage along the trail pointing in its direction, but the way they’ve blocked the trail with the rest area confuses a lot of people. Trust me, its there and its awesome!

  • Six Giant Rocks (六巨石)

The view from the popular Six Giant Rocks

The ‘Six Giant Rocks’ area is essentially the main destination for all of the tourists hiking this trail. This is the area where you’re going to get your ‘epic’ Instagram travel photos and also where you’re also going to have to line up with a bunch of fellow travelers all wanting the exact same photo. 

The area is aptly named for the six giant rocks that people climb on to take photos - The first rock you’ll meet as you walk up the stairs, which is coincidentally the smallest of the bunch is the main attraction. People are going to be waiting in line to take turns climbing up to the top of the rock to take their Instagram shots. This is because even though the rock is small, it towers over the peak which provides a unique perspective that makes you seem almost as tall as Taipei 101.

The best way to take photos here is to take turns taking photos with a fellow traveller so if you’re traveling with friends or family, you’re in luck. If you’re traveling solo, you’re going to want to ask another person waiting in line to help you take some photos. Don’t be shy, everyone has come here for the same reason, so make some friends while you’re there.

The reason that you’ll want to have someone else help take your photos is due to the fact that if you simply take a selfie while standing on the rock, you’re not really going to get the full perspective of just how awesome this spot is. If you have someone else helping, they can stand on one of the larger rocks to the real and take wide-angle shots that are so much better.

  • Six Giant Rocks Platform (六巨石觀景台)

Once you’ve finished taking photos at the Six Giant Rocks, you can continue walking along the trail where you’ll very quickly be met with yet another platform for taking photos. The ‘Six Giant Rocks Platform’ is another beautifully constructed elevated platform situated on a cliff and offers some pretty good views of the city. 

The platform has benches, so people like to stop here to enjoy the view and rest a bit. Unfortunately this means that if the mountain is busy on the day that you’re visiting that you’re going to have to wait to get a spot to take photos. 

While I do enjoy taking photos from this location, I don’t think its the best place to set up a tripod to take photos. The reason for this is because when others are walking on the platform, it shakes a bit, so if you’re taking long-exposures, you’re going to have quite a bit of ruined shot. You can however sit your camera on the rail to take some nice photos during the day, especially if you want to take multiple-exposure HDR shots of the cityscape.

  • Chaoran Pavillon (超然亭)

The Chaoran Pavillon is one of the most popular spots for local photographers.

The final photo spot tends to be the most popular one with local photographers, especially with those wanting to take photos of the cityscape at sunset. From the Six Giant Rocks area, it shouldn’t take you any longer than ten minutes to arrive at the pavilion, which thankfully doesn’t require you to walk up any more steep hills. 

While walking along the path you’ll come across a fork in the road with signage pointing that indicates the trail to Thumb Mountain (拇指山) is to the right and to the left you’ll find the pavilion. From there you’ll only have to walk for a minute or two before you arrive. 

The view from the pavilion is beautiful, but spaces fill up quickly, especially before sunset, so if you’re wanting to set up a tripod to take some cityscape photos, or night shots, you’ll probably want to arrive quite early to make sure you get a spot. 

Getting There 

In the past, hikers would have to walk from Xinyi District toward the mountain and (if they were anything like me) would invariably get lost or have to ask directions. All of those problems have been solved thanks to the addition of an MRT station near the trailhead. You can of course still walk to the mountain from the Xinyi area, but the easiest way to get there is by taking the Red Line (紅線) to Xiangshan Station (象山捷運站) and from there walking the short distance to the trailhead.

Something you’ll want to keep in mind is that not all trains go to Xiangshan Station as quite a few end their service at Da’an Station (大安站). Before getting on the train, make sure that it is one that goes all the way to Xiangshan, which is currently the terminal station for the red line.

Once you’ve reached the MRT station, take Exit 2 and walk through Xiangshan Park (象山公園) until you reach the end of the road. From there you’ll see signs directing you to turn left. When you’ve reached the top of the hill you’ll turn right and within a minute or two will arrive at the trailhead which is next to a temple.

If you want to grab some water or a snack before your hike, you’ll find a 7-11 and a Family Mart a short distance away from the park. Before you turn left to walk up the hill, turn right and walk down Xinyi Road to get to the convenience stores.

If you find yourself in the Xinyi (信義) area, you could also just as easily hop on a Youbike, ride to Xiangshan Park and then follow the directions above. 

Likewise, Xiangshan Station is serviced by buses 20, 32, 33, 37, 46, 88, 207, 612 and Red 10. 

If you want to take a bus and need info on bus stops or real time info, check the Taipei eBus website for more information. You may also want to download the “台北等公車” smart phone app which uses GPS to let you map your route more easily.  

While you’re in Taipei, there is certainly a lot for you to see and do, I’d suggest though that Elephant Mountain should be at the top of your list - Not only does it have arguably the best views in the city, it is also a quick and easy hike and is extremely accessible. You can also get some pretty epic travel photos while you’re there and best of all - its completely free. If you’re visiting Taipei and you’re not planning to visit the mountain, you’re certainly missing out on a great experience.


Fort San Domingo (紅毛城)


A few months ago I was commissioned to take photos for an article, a sample forty-eight hour itinerary for people visiting Taipei for the Indonesian travel magazine, DestinAsian.

I couldn’t imagine only having two full days in Taipei - After more than a decade, I’m still finding new places and enjoying new experiences. It goes without saying that the article covered quite a few of the places I’ve already been to, but strangely there were a couple that were still new to me.

You might think its weird that an article describing places that people should see during a forty-eight hour trip to Taiwan actually took me, a travel photographer, over a decade to visit.

All I can say is, maybe I just don’t really have a thing for old forts.

I hail from Nova Scotia on the East Coast of Canada and grew up seeing forts all over the place - English forts, French forts, my neighbours snow forts, etc.

They just don’t really excite me very much.

Still, when you’re getting paid to take photos, you can’t really pick and choose what the client wants, so on an early morning, I made my way out to Tamsui to take photos of one of the area’s most important tourist destinations, the historic Fort San Domingo.

Geographically speaking, Tamsui (or Danshui) is actually a lot closer to where I live than Taipei is, but if you’re not driving a scooter or a car, its a bit of a pain in the ass to get there. If I drove a car, it would have taken about half an hour but with a bus to Taipei and then the long MRT ride, it ended up taking almost two hours.

Given the amount of time it takes to get out there, every time I’ve visited I’ve more or less stuck to the popular areas around the Old Street and the riverside. It’s also a bit embarrassing to admit that I was always under the impression that the fort was quite a distance away from the downtown area which prevented me from visiting.

Suffice to say, I found out that it is actually within walking distance from the MRT station.

Now that I’ve visited Fort San Domingo, I can honestly say that I regret not visiting sooner.

Not only should this spot be on the itinerary of every tourists visit to Tamsui, it is one of the few historic spots in Northern Taiwan that deals with Taiwan’s Western Colonial history.

History

With a history dating back to 1624, Fort San Domingo, both a fortress and consulate, has been one of the most significant locations (with regard to western trade) in Taiwan for almost four centuries. Over its long history it has been controlled by the Spanish Conquistadors, the Dutch, the Qing, the Japanese and the British before becoming a National Historic Site in the modern era.

With such a long list of owners, the fort also had a variety of names - Today we refer to it by its original name “Fort San Domingo” (聖多明哥城) but it has also been referred to as Fort Antonio (安東尼堡), Koumoujyo (こうもうじょう) and colloquially by the locals as Âng-mn̂g-siânn (紅毛城), which in Taiwanese Hokkien translates as the “Red Hair Fort”, a clever way of describing the ‘weird-looking’ Dutch people who came to Taiwan.

Coincidentally if you visit the fort today, it appears red in colour, painted that way to match the consulate residence next door, although I’d like to think that it was an ironic way of paying homage to the nickname the locals gave it.

Spanish Era

The history of a fort located in this area started with the construction of the original Fort San Domingo around 1628-1629. The Spanish, who had already established a colony on what is today’s “Heping Island” (和平島) in Keelung, sought to increase their land holdings and expanded by force into the Tamsui area which was already a popular trading outpost with Chinese merchants.

The original Fort San Domingo was constructed simply of clay, wood and bamboo polls but didn’t last very long. A few years after it was constructed, it was attacked and demolished by a group of angry locals who were irritated with the taxes levied on them by the Spanish governor.

In 1637, a year after the fort was demolished, it was rebuilt, but this time they instead used stone and raised the walls to over twenty feet making life for the over one hundred soldiers stationed inside much safer from attacks by local militias.

The locals unfortunately turned out to be the least of their concerns because in 1641 the Dutch started to show more interest in the region and weren’t really big fans of the Spanish hanging around.

After a couple of attempts (over a period of two years), the Dutch were able to kick the Spanish out of Taiwan. Before they did though, the Spanish demolished the fort out of spite, because they weren’t interested in sharing it.

Dutch Era

As mentioned above, the Dutch East India Company (荷蘭東印度工色) started to take an interest in the area in the mid-1600s with plans to expand their trade with the locals. First though they had to expel the Spanish from Tamsui and Keelung to ensure their monopoly on trade and the safety of their trade ships.

In 1642 the Dutch sailed into Tamsui harbour with a large naval and land force and laid siege on the fort for a period of three weeks. They then moved on to and eventually took the port at Keelung ending the short lived Spanish occupation of Taiwan.

Once the Dutch kicked the Spanish out of the area they moved quickly to secure their position constructing a new fort on the site of the original that laid in ruins. The new fort, named Fort Antonio (安東尼堡), constructed in 1644 is the historic site that you can still see today.

With 32 foot high walls made of brick and stone was home to over 80 soldiers who were stationed there to protect the area and ensure that the trade of deer skins and sulphur went smoothly.

A few decades later, In 1661, a naval fleet of over 200 ships, led by Koxinga (鄭成功) landed in southern Taiwan with the intention of expelling the Dutch and establishing a base of operations on the island. After a nine-month siege the Dutch were defeated and signed articles of surrender at their southern stronghold at Fort Zeelandia (熱蘭遮城).

Undeterred, they quickly signed a cooperation agreement with the newly established Qing empire in China and reestablished their Taiwan base of operations in Keelung and Tamsui.

Their stay however was short lived as they were unable to retake any of their former holdings in central Taiwan and revolts by the Basai Indigenous peoples (巴賽族) saw many of their properties burnt to the ground.

Under constant threat from the locals and being caught in the war between Koxinga and the Qing in the south, the situation became untenable and Dutch decided to abandon the fort and left Taiwan in 1668.

Qing Dynasty

From 1683 - 1867 the fort controlled by Qing government representatives stationed in Taiwan.

The Qing never actually took up residence in the fort but they constructed stone walls with four gates around the perimeter in order to fortify their position in case of attack.

During the reign of the Jiaqing Emperor (嘉慶帝), China got involved in several incursions with the French over territory in Vietnam. In response the French sailed to Taiwan and attacked in Tamsui and Keelung. Easily defeated, they soon realized that their coastal defense network in Taiwan was more or less useless so in the following years they constructed several fortifications in key economic hot spots to protect their interests.

None of that would really matter though because in 1860s, as a result of the Second Opium War (第二次鴉片戰爭), the Qing were forced to sign the Treaty of Tianjin (天津條約) ceding Hong Kong to the British as well as Fort San Domingo (among many other properties) which would be used as a trade consulate.

When the British moved in, the fort was in bad shape with moss and other stuff growing on the walls, so they decided to clean it up and paint the fort red. Later they constructed the beautiful residence next to the fort to serve as a consular residence.

Notably, British linguist Herbert Allan Giles, known for his creation of a romanized system for Mandarin, lived in the fort or a period of three years while conducting research on what would become the Wade-Giles system of romanization (威妥瑪拼音), which is still widely used in Taiwan today.

Japanese Colonial Era

When Japan took control of Taiwan in 1895, things pretty much stayed the same at the British Consulate. The office continued to conduct its affairs and thanks to the colonial governments development projects, was able to modernize the property with running water, a sewage system and electricity.

In 1930, the Japanese government listed the site as a National Historic Monument (史蹟名勝天然紀念物保存法) and conducted surveys of the site to ensure its preservation.

Modern Era

When the Second World War came to an end, the Japanese were forced to surrender control of Taiwan to Chiang Kai-Shek and the Republic of China. The British returned to Taiwan and re-opened the consulate in 1946 and even though diplomatic relations between the ROC and the UK broke off a few years later, the consulate remained open to maintain economic ties.

In 1972, the British moved out of the consulate and tried to sell the land to the local government which wanted to turn the fort into a public museum. The asking price for the land however was far too high and the government refused to pay. Instead of selling the fort, the British placed the it under the stewardship of the United States which would maintain the grounds.

When America established relations with the People’s Republic of China in 1979, they were forced to cut formal diplomatic relations with Taipei, which once again made the question of the ownership of the fort an issue. The British didn’t have much interest in continuing to argue with the government, so in 1980 they turned over ownership of the fort, which was then listed as a National Historic Site and plans were made to open it up to the public.

In 1984, after a period of restoration, the fort was opened and amazingly attracted more then 40,000 visitors on its first day of operation.

Ownership and operation of the fort was later transferred to Taipei County (Currently New Taipei City) in 2002, which came up with plans to renovate the park after years of tourism put considerable wear and tear on the grounds.

After being closed for a year the fort reopened again to the public in 2005 as part of the Tamsui Historical Museum (淡水古蹟博物館), a network of historic sites in the area that has a modest admission fee and provides access to each of the sites.

Design

The area that encompasses ‘Fort San Domingo’ consists primarily of two main buildings which include the fort and the former consular residence. The area however is set up a bit like a park with a nature area on the hill below the main buildings with some additional buildings setup that help tourists learn about the area and provides shaded rest stops for visitors to have some food or drinks.

Strangely though, the actual fort is often a bit of an afterthought for most tourists as they prefer to spend most of their time touring and taking photos of the beautiful Victorian-style mansion instead. And you know what, I can’t really blame them. As far as architecture goes, the consular residence is absolutely beautiful and is a rare sight in Taiwan - The fort on the other hand isn’t really that appealing to the eye.

Fort San Domingo (主堡)

The information you’ll received on site claims that Fort San Domingo is the oldest surviving historic building in Taiwan. I’m not sure how much I believe that, but I guess I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on this one, because yeah, it is pretty old.

The fort, which was constructed on the top of a hill overlooks the mouth of the Tamsui River and was constructed in a strategic location allowing the people in the tower to have the ability to closely watch who was coming and going through the river.

The fort is square-shaped and is about 15 meters in length and 13 meters in height. The walls around the fort are about two meters thick and were constructed with the thought that they could withstand artillery attacks.

The two-storey fort used a mixture of stones and brick to strengthen the walls of the structure. The outside walls, which were originally painted white were painted with stucco and lacquer but was later repainted red by the British to match with the colour of the consular residence.

The interior of the fort consists of a few rooms, which used to house soldiers and later consular officials. There’s not much to see inside, but the people who run the site have added some exhibitions that let you learn about what life was like when the fort was once a military outpost.

Consular Residence (領事官邸)

The beautiful Victorian-style Consular Residence is where most tourists focus their attention while visiting the area. The large two-storey brick building, constructed in 1891 is considered to be indicative of British colonial style architecture but mixes in a bit of local construction techniques that help to shelter the building from wind and rain.

The exterior of the red brick building is beautifully designed with arches along the veranda that encircles the perimeter of the building and makes for some beautiful photos.

The interior consists of several rooms on the first floor that were used for consular affairs including offices, a large foyer, meeting room and dining room, etc. The second floor likewise consists of three large bedrooms and storage rooms that housed the consular officials and their families. The rooms are large and beautiful and are currently full of displays that educate guests on what life in the residence was like.

The residence was designed by a British architect, but the craftsmen who constructed the building as well as the bricks and other material used in its construction were all imported from Xiamen in China. Likewise, the fireplace and clocks in the building were also imported, but directly from England.

Unlike the fort, most of the rooms in the residence are open the public and there are informative displays in each of them that allow visitors to learn about the house.

If you’ve got time, I recommend checking out each of the rooms, then walking around the perimeter of the building and checking out the line of cannons that sit to the rear of the building in the area between the fort and the consular residence.

For a more detailed description of the design of the consular residence check this link: Tamsui Historical Museum - The British Consular Residence.

Getting There

 

Fort San Domingo is located a short distance from the main stretch of the Tamsui Old Street. If you are planning a day-trip to the area, I recommend first walking from the Tamsui MRT Station (淡水捷運站) to the fort, checking it out and then making your way back to the MRT station walking along the riverside. This way you’ll get to walk the entire loop and not miss anything.

There are of course a few places you could stop along the way including the historic Fuyou Temple (福佑宮), Tamsui Church (淡水禮拜堂), the Tamsui Red Castle (淡水紅樓) and the Tamsui Customs Officers’ Residence (小白宮) among others.

If you follow this route, you can easily leave the MRT station and walk straight down Zhongzheng Road (中正路) until you reach the fort - even visiting a few places along the way. Then when you’re finished you can explore the Old Street along the riverside on the way back.

For those who have their own itinerary in mind, the address for the fort is:

No. 1, Lane 28, Zhongzheng Road. Tamsui District, New Taipei City. (新北市淡水區中正路28巷1號)

If you prefer to save some time and take a bus to the fort, you can take either bus #836 or Red 26 directly from the Tamsui MRT Station bus terminal.

You should also note that Fort San Domingo is open on weekdays from 9:30-5:00 and from 9:30-6:00 on weekends. It is closed only on the first Monday of every month.

There is also a modest admission fee of $80NT that offers visitors access to Fort San Domingo as well as nearby Hobe Fort (滬尾礮臺) and the Tamsui Custom Officer’s Residence (小白宮).

You have the option of paying with cash or your EasyCard (悠遊卡).

After living in Taiwan for so long, it is hard to believe that it took an article about a 48 hour trip in Taipei to get me to this historic tourist destination. In retrospect that is something I regret, I should have visited much sooner. If you’re travelling in the Tamsui area, you should definitely take the time to visit as well.