For travelers, nothing beats the feeling of seeing a place for the first time, taking in all of the surroundings and just how surreal, unbelievable or amazing it maybe. You stand there, in awe — only to catch you breath and utter a little prayer to the travel gods and fate for blessing you with the opportunity to see a place like this with your own eyes.
That’s exactly how I felt when I first saw the amazing rock formations at Yehliu National Geo Park, located in the cape of Yehliu, on the northern coast of Taipei,in the town of Wanli, between Taipei and Keelung. To go here, you have to catch a an hour and 15 minutes bus ride at the Taipei Main Bus Terminal (more on this later). The bus ride is a bit long, and you have to be on your toes the whole time so as not to miss the huge stone marker to Yehliu. So yes, this is one of those bus trips where you are not allowed to take a nap, unless you want to wake up in the middle of nowhere.
One of the first things you’ll see upon entrance to the park is the cute statues. These represent the various shapes of the rock formations caused by the sea, dating to 10 t 25 million years ago. The most famous, the Queen’s Head was Yehliu’s main attraction and usually the subject of a long line of people waiting for a quick photo op. At the entrance of the park, you will see a replica of the Queen’s Head — a pale imitation for those who doesn’t want to risk the long lines just for a quick shot.
Like I said earlier, the rock formations are simply out of this world.In instances like these, it’s better for the pictures to do the talking:
The Queen’s Head was given the name due to it resembling the delicate head of an Egyptian queen – from the narrow, delicate neck to the imposing “head dress.” It is said that in fifty years, the neck of the Queen’s Head may break due to the natural wear and tear. It is the reason why the rock formation is cordoned off and people are reminded not to touch it. This is also the reason why the park made the replica at the park entrance, which barely captured the magnificence of the original. Heck, it was fibre glass — so we really can’t expect much.
On one side of the park, you will notice this statue of Lin Tien Jen, a local fisherman who sacrificed his life saving others from drowning. To honor his memory, his statue was erected in the park so that people will always be reminded of his sacrifice. You can read his story on the plaque attached to his statue.
There’s a Tourist Center and Cafe at the entrance of the park, if you want to have a quick coffee or grab a bite to eat. In our case, my sister and I brought tons of bread we bought at the Bread Talk outlet located at the main bus station in Taipei. If you opt to have a taste of the local cuisine, there are tons of seafood restaurants in Yehliu/Wanli Country. Just outside the Geo Park was a row of restaurants advertising freshly-caught seafood. They were a hit to all the tour groups who flock to the park.
DIRECTIONS: COMMUTING TO YEHLIU
1. Ride the MRT going to Taipei Main Bus Station. To do this, you will have to alight at the Taipei Main Train Station. As you exit the train, there will be signs giving you directions going to the main bus terminal. Just follow them.
2. At the main bus station, buy your tickets at the Kuo Kuang Bus ticket counter. A one-way fare is NTD125. To make sure that you will not miss your destination (aside from not sleeping), you can look at the electronic billboard on the bus’ dashboard. The billboard displays the bus’ next stop and would often emit a high pitched sound. Signs are in Taiwanese and English. We took the bus 1815 going to Yehliu, travel was easy and the driver was fast but careful. There was also less traffic on our way to the countryside.
We passed by a house with a giant dog on its roof. So cute, so of course, we had to take a photo of it. We saw this just as the bus was heading to the main highway exiting Taipei.
3. Alight the bus when you saw the giant marker for Yehliu Geo Park:
When you alight the bus, the marker is on your right side. You have to go inside the street and walk for 10 minutes in order to reach Yehliu. While walking, you will encounter not-so-little reminders that you are on a fishing town:
After ten minutes of walking, you will see the signage and the gate. To your left, you will see this:
Entrance tickets cost NTD50 (USD1.70) for adults and NTD25 for kids.
4. To go back to the city, retrace your steps to the main highway and cross the street. Buses going to Taipei stop on the small convenience store/eatery directly in front of the road going inside Yehliu. When you are in doubt, ask the kind bus drivers if they are going to Taipei Main Station. You will pay upon entry.
Yehliu National Geo Park is definitely one of those out-of-the-way attractions that deserve the hassle of leaving the city. More than seeing the amazing rock formations, it’s the challenge and the adventure of going to the countryside of a place where you don’t speak the language and literally have no idea where the bus takes you. Seeing Taiwan’s country side is truly an experience: just seeing the vast difference between the frenetic and fast-paced life of the city, compared to the sleepy farmlands and coasts.
Inside the park, it’s a surreal experience knowing that these rocks were shaped by nature, and a million years in the making. The fragility of the Queen’s Head is a reminder that not all things are permanent in this world, so it’s better to see them up close while you still can.
Yehliu National Geo Park
No167-1 Gang Dong Road, Yehliu Village, Wanli Township
Open from 8AM to 6PM