Sitting along the upper reaches of the Keelung River, Shifen Waterfall (十分瀑布) is one of the most famous scenic waterfalls in Taiwan. With a height of 20 meters (66 ft), and a width of 40 meters (130 ft), it is the widest waterfall in Taiwan and is often referred to as Taiwan’s Niagara Falls. It is easily accessible by foot from Shifen Train Station and is the only waterfall near a train station in Taiwan.
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This waterfall has an intriguing horseshoe shape across its width. As the water plunges directly into the large deep pool beneath the fall, a rainbow may be seen over the pool on sunny days. The waterfall pool was therefore dubbed “Rainbow Pond.”
History of Shifen Waterfall
Shifen Waterfall was named after the place where it is located. Shifen was a quiet coal mining village during the Japanese colonial period (1895-1945).
Shifen (十分) means 10 portions. This mining community got its name because of the 10 families that lived there and helped develop the district in the Qing Dynasty.
In the past, visitors had to purchase admission to see Shifen Waterfall, and the land adjacent to the waterfall belonged to private entities. However, in 2010, the local government designated the surrounding land as a park and appropriated it.
Following a series of renovations and the construction of hiking paths, the waterfall has been open to the public free of charge since December 29, 2014.
Shifen Waterfall is located between Dahua Station (大華火車站) and Shifen Station (十分車站) on the Pingxi Railway Line, which was completed in 1921 during the Japanese colonial period mainly for the transport of coal in the area.
It is unique that visitors should cross two adjacent suspension bridges before entering the waterfall park. The first is called the Siguangtan Suspension Bridge (四廣潭吊橋), and the second is named the Guanpu Suspension Bridge (觀瀑吊橋).
Built over the Keelung River, the Siguangtan Suspension Bridge is behind the visitor information center. It was named after the square shape of the pool below the bridge. As a matter of fact, “Siguangtan (四廣潭)” literally means a square collection. When walking along the Siguangtan Suspension Bridge, visitors can see some fantastic geological phenomena like potholes and other rock formations.
The Guanpu Suspension Bridge (觀瀑吊橋) was so named because “Guanpu (觀瀑) means appreciating waterfalls, and the suspension bridge is a great location to enjoy the Yanjingdong Waterfall (眼鏡洞瀑布) below the bridge. Moreover, visitors may sometimes see a train running alongside when crossing the bridge.
The Yanjingdong Waterfall (the Eyeglass Cave Waterfall, 眼鏡洞瀑布) takes its name from being shaped like a pair of eyes on the two sides of the fall. This small waterfall was named “the Thunderbolt Waterfall” (霹靂瀧 Pīlì lóng) by the Japanese Governor-General of Taiwan, Kenjirō Den (1855-1930) during the Japanese Colonial Period in Taiwan.
There is a well-built footpath with some lookouts near the Shifen Waterfall. Nestled directly in front of the waterfall, these viewing decks are ideal locations for appreciating this magnificent curtain-type foliage and taking photos of the grandeur of the rushing stream from various angles.
Visitors can also see the emerald waters at the top and the bottom of the waterfall along the path. On top of that, as there are many tall trees with parasitic plants, bamboo, and green-leafed shrubs on both sides of the path, walking along this walking trail is enjoyable and relaxing.
The park with a shrine
After passing the two suspension bridges, there is a small park where a shrine, food stalls, and souvenir shops are located. Some might feel odd seeing the shrine on this public property. However, legend has it that this area used to often be affected by floods, but after the shrine’s construction, the situation was solved.
What is intriguing for visitors is that the shrine, the sculptures and installations of various animals, and even the trees near the shrine are tied with many red ribbons. It is believed they were done by visitors who wished for good luck.
Shifen Old Street
Shifen Old Street (十分老街) is within a 20- to 30-minute walk from Shifen Waterfall. Known for its Sky Lantern Festival (天燈節) on the 15th day of the first lunar month, the old street has many shops offering sky lanterns, and visitors can paint their wishes on lanterns and fly them.