Keelung, a Charming City With Striking Features in Taiwan

Keelung is a homeport of many famous cruise ships and a popular attraction. (Image: Courtesy of Wang Fu-tse)

Keelung is the northernmost city in Taiwan with an area of 132.76 km2 (51.26 mi2) and a population of 372,000. Though Keelung is a small city surrounded by the mountains on three sides and by the sea on the other side, it is a famous tourist destination with many striking features.

Please watch the following video of the charming Keelung City in northern Taiwan.

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As Taiwan’s second-largest seaport, the Port of Keelung is a popular homeport for many luxurious cruise ships, such as Majestic Princess (盛世公主號), Sun Princess (太陽公主號), Crystal Endeavor (水晶奮進號), World Dream (世界夢號), Superstar Aquarius (寶瓶星號), and Costa World Dream (歌詩達新浪漫號). Additionally, Keelung is also an important transit port for many other luxurious cruise ships.

The “World Dream” (世界夢號) is one of the luxurious cruise ships that have used the Port of Keelung as their homeport. (Image: Courtesy of Xing-Mei/Keelung City)
World Dream (世界夢號) is one of the luxurious cruise ships that have used the Port of Keelung as their homeport. (Image: Courtesy of Xing-Mei / Keelung City)

According to Taiwan International Ports Corporation (TIPC台灣港務公司), the Port of Keelung received 1.06 million passengers in 2018. The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) also pointed out that the Port of Keelung was ranked third in Asia for port calls by cruise ships in the same year.

The Keelung Maritime Plaza in front of Keelung Train Station. (Image: Niou Chi-Ping / Nspirement)
The Keelung Maritime Plaza in front of Keelung Train Station. (Image: Niou Chi-Ping / Nspirement)

Among the tourist attractions in this city, Keelung Maritime Plaza is one of the most-visited locations. In front of Keelung Train Station and close to the famous Keelung Night Market, the spacious wooden platform offers a fantastic view of the Keelung harbor. It is also an excellent location to take in enormous cruise ships berthing in the harbor, to observe eagles circling and hovering over the harbor area, as well as enjoy the maritime ambiance with its refreshing sea air.

It's common to spot eagles soaring high in the sky over over the Keelung Harbor. (Image: Courtesy of King-Thai So)
It’s common to spot eagles soaring high in the sky over the Keelung Harbor. (Image: Courtesy of King-Thai So / Keelung City)

With a striking 25-meter high white statue of the Goddess of Mercy and a massive Main Salvation Altar (Zhuputan主普壇), Zhongzheng Park (中正公園) in the east of Keelung City is another great spot to have a bird’s eye view of the downtown area and the harbor.

The Goddess of Mercy Statue in front of a temple in the Zhongzheng Park. (Image: Niou Chi-Ping / Nspirement)
The Goddess of Mercy Statue in front of a temple in Zhongzheng Park. (Image: Niou Chi-Ping / Nspirement)

Keelung Night Market

When it comes to Keelung, the first thing that strikes most Taiwanese is the Keelung Night Market, also known as “Miao Kou Night Market (廟口夜市).” Situated in front of a temple in the center of downtown Keelung, the night market is arguably one of the best of its kind in Taiwan.

Keelung Night Market attracts many visitors from home and abroad every day. (Image: Billy Shyu / Nspirement)
Keelung Night Market attracts many visitors from home and abroad every day. (Image: Billy Shyu / Nspirement)

The night market is especially famous for its seafood, and among the iconic dishes are creamy butter crabs (奶油螃蟹), crab sticky rice(螃蟹油飯), squid soup (花枝焿), barbecue squid, and cuttlefish.

Falun Dafa Tian Guo Marching Band performance is one of the most striking highlights of Keelung Ghost Festival parade. (Image: Lin Zhi-Yen / Nspirement)
Falun Dafa Tian Guo Marching Band performance is one of the most striking highlights of Keelung Ghost Festival parade. (Image: Lin Zhi-Yen / Nspirement)

Keelung Ghost Festival

Observed on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month every year, the Keelung Ghost Festival (雞籠中元祭) is the most important event of the port city. It has been designated by the Taiwanese government as a part of Taiwan’s intangible cultural heritage and is one of 12 major festivals in Taiwan.

The grand parade at the Keelung Ghost Festival 2018. (Image: Billy Shyu / Nspirement)
The grand parade at the Keelung Ghost Festival 2018. (Image: Billy Shyu / Nspirement)

A wide variety of activities are held throughout the month to mark this Festival, and they culminate in a grand parade participated in by local clan associations and various public and civic organizations. With the themes of “legacy and harmony,” the 2019 Keelung Ghost Festival, hosted by Keelung City Hsu Family Association (許姓宗親會), will kick off on August 1, and the grand parade and release of water lanterns will be held on August 14.

The Main Salvation Altar in the Zhongzheng Park. (Image: Billy Shyu / Nspirement)
The Main Salvation Altar in the Zhongzheng Park. (Image: Billy Shyu / Nspirement)

The Main Salvation Altar in the Zhongzheng Park is decorated with colorful lighting around the Festival. It is lit up in the evening to symbolize the brightness of the world of the living, and to entice the roaming spirit to enjoy the sacrificial offerings during the ghost month.

The 2019 Keelung Ocean Eagle Carnival was held on June 29. (Image: Keelung City Government)
The 2019 Keelung Ocean Eagle Carnival was held on June 29. (Image: Keelung City Government)

As Keelung is an important habitat for eagles, it’s common to spot eagles soaring high in the sky or gliding over the waters of the harbor to catch their prey. Therefore, the eagle has been chosen as the city bird of Keelung, and the Keelung City Government has even sponsored the Keelung Ocean Eagle Carnival (基隆海洋老鷹嘉年華) in June annually for the past nine years.

The Rooster Bridge is one of the 12 Zodiac Bridges along the Tianliao River (田寮河) in Keelung City. (Image: Courtesy of Aaron Wu/Keelung City)
The Rooster Bridge is one of the 12 Zodiac Bridges along the Tianliao River (田寮河) in Keelung City. (Image: Courtesy of Aaron Wu / Keelung City)

Keelung’s 12 Zodiac Bridges

Another distinct feature of this charming city is its 12 Zodiac Bridges along the Tianliao River (田寮河), which was Taiwan’s first canal built in the Qing Dynasty. These unique bridges stretch the first 2 km canal session of the 3.5 km Tianliao River starting from the Keelung Harbor. These bridges were named after the 12 Chinese zodiac animals in order: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. It’s romantic to stroll along the two sides of the river bank to take in the unique bridges.

The rock formations at the Peace Island. (Image: Billy Shyu / Nspirement)
The rock formations at Peace Island. (Image: Billy Shyu / Nspirement)

Standing 182 m (597 ft) above sea level in the Pacific Ocean, Keelung Islet not only is a prominent island landmark in northern Taiwan, but it is also one of the eight scenic spots of Keelung.

The Keelung Islet with graceful parabolic contour used to be a mysterious island for locals. (Image: Billy Shyu / Nspirement)
The Keelung Islet with graceful parabolic contour used to be a mysterious island for locals. (Image: Billy Shyu / Nspirement)

With graceful parabolic contour, this volcanic island is 960 m (3,149 ft) in length and 400 m (1,312 ft) in width. Along the wooden walks on the islet, visitors can appreciate the beauty of nature and various plants indigenous to Taiwan. This beautiful islet reopened in June after being closed for the past five years due to typhoon damage.

The Badouzih Fishing Village (八斗子魚村) in Keelung City. (Image: Courtesy of Xing Mei/Keelung City)
The Badouzih Fishing Village (八斗子魚村) in Keelung City. (Image: Courtesy of Xing Mei / Keelung City)

There are many other famous tourist attractions in Keelung, such as Peace Island (Hoping Island和平島), Lovers Lake Park (情人湖), Chaojing Park (潮境公園), Waimu Shan Seashore (外木山濱海步道), Wangyou Valley (忘幽谷), the Yang Ming Oceanic Culture and Art Museum (陽明海洋文化藝術館), and the National Museum of Marine Science & Technology (國立海洋科技博物館).

The Lover's Lake is a place that people can escape the hustle and bustle of their busy lives. (Image: Billy Shyu / Nspirement)
The Lover’s Lake is a place where people can escape the hustle and bustle of their busy lives. (Image: Billy Shyu / Nspirement)
The Waimu Shan Seashore (外木山濱海步道) in Keelung City. (Image: Courtesy of Xing Mei/Keelung City)
The Waimu Shan Seashore (外木山濱海步道) in Keelung City. (Image: Courtesy of Xing Mei / Keelung City)

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