Pinglin is located to the south of Taipei. This area is famous for its tea-especially the Bao-chung variety. Visitors to the area can easily take a day trip down from Taipei and spend their day hiking through tea fields.
To get to Pinglin, take the MRT in Taipei to Xindian station. If you walk out the main entrance you will see a 7-11 in front of you and a bus directly to the left. The bus to Pinglin leaves every half hour or so and is currently the 923 bus, but ask around before you hop on a bus. An information center is located inside the MRT station, you can ask them for help.
Once you are on the bus, just stay on it until you reach Pinglin, it should take a little under an hour. The bus ride is cheap-only 30 NT and is seldom too crowded. It should drop you off outside of the visitor center where you can pick up an English map to the area.
Close to the center is the Pinglin Tea museum. This museum is touted as the world’s largest museum on tea. Exhibits are in English, Japanese, and Chinese and cover the history and making of tea. Inside of the museum is also a gift shop where you can buy tea and tea pots as souvenirs. Do not feel pressured to buy anything yet-downtown Pinglin also contains many tea and tea related shops.
Follow the signs at the museum and you will reach the nearby Ecological park. A pleasant stone trail meanders through it and leads to multiple trails where you can start hiking through tea fields. In the park is also a giant golden statue of the Chayi Matzu goddess which is excellent for photographs.
If you go back to the visitor station and consult your map, you can also check out Pinglin old street. This street is cute, quaint, and ancient, but devoid of other notable features save a typical Taiwanese temple. Located behind the school and on a mountain nearby is a 193 stairs that lead up to the Guanyin god statue and a small temple where you can offer a quick prayer. If you continue on behind this statue you can reach other hiking trails or you can stay and catch your breath. The view from the top is excellent and showcases the whole valley Pinglin is located in. I spent about half an hour just catching my breath and enjoying the relaxing view. Few people want to climb the staircase to the top of the mini mountain, so the view up there is yours and yours alone to enjoy with Guanyin.
Another must see is just a trip to the downtown area of Pinglin. For those bargain shoppers out there, this is where you can find a better price for tea and tea pots. There are also several tea themed restaurants for you to eat at. I chose one located to the right of the towns only Family Mart. It was inexpensive, brightly lit, and had an English language menu. The food is also extremely good. I had tea oil vermicelli and steamed vegetables with Bao Chung green tea. The entire meal cost six dollars and was served quickly. For those lazy travelers, you can also ask the family mart for a taxi back to the city. I currently live in Luodong so rather than go north to Taipei and then south back to my home, I took a taxi home to save time. It cost about 15 dollars more, but for the two hours of travel time I saved, it was worth it.
This village is an excellent spot for anyone who wants to see the real Taiwan and spend their day hiking through tea fields, attending tea tastings, and learning how tea is made. For the traveler tired of the busy city life in Taipei, this mountain hideaway of tea fields is a welcome getaway.