Monday, April 20, 2015

#exploretaipei/taiwanese: i strongly recommmend BITAN 碧潭


MRT: Xindian


Kid friendliness: great day trip for families, pedal boats to rent, boardwalk and street market to browse.

visit reviewed: 4/3/2015

I always thought Bitan sounded so far away, but it's only a 20-30 minute car or  MRT ride outside of the center of Taipei. My day trip to Bitan was a nice escape from the city- being able to walk around the scenic area surrounding the Xindian river, enveloped by the lush, towering green mountains. It was like a macro version of Sun Moon Lake, but a lot easier to get to as Sun Moon Lake is three hours south of Taipei.  Bitan has the best of both worlds- activities for nature lovers with pedal boats available to rent and a long suspension bridge to cross and take selfies, as well as street food to devour for food lovers, or restaurants along the river if you want to chill with a view instead. 

The Bitandiao suspension bridge is for pedestrians only and the entrance is about a 5 minute walk from the Xindian MRT stop on the green line. You can't miss the food vendors lining the street on the alley where the bridge is, as well as on the other side of the suspension bridge. 

the view from the foot bridge

Taiwanese sausage on a stick NT$35

snacking at the bridge's entrance. see the Bitan sign in the background?
i liked this taiwanese sausage vendor better than the other one.  you can do your own taste test!

did not like this vendor's aiyu jelly drink. watery and no flavor at all.

Don't forget to get an ice cream wrap/burrito run bing NT$35 if you spot it! Three scoops of taro, pineapple and red bean ice cream with crunchy bits of shaved peanut candy wrapped in a thin flour wrapper. Cilantro optional. If you've read my blog or follow me on instagram, you know I loooooove this (and you should too). This vendor knows how to market itself, glossy signage and photo to catch people's eyes. Sometimes it's hard to find if they just have the block of peanut candy sitting out and signage in Chinese.

Also near the entrance to the foot bridge and the Xindian MRT stop is a long boardwalk of waterfront restaurants and cafes that is really well designed. The tables face the river and were very clean and comfortable looking, and seating areas were covered in case of rain. Even in the afternoon, there were tons of people eating and enjoying the view, and I would totally come back to try it out. There was a selection of pizza, pasta, tea shops, curry, noodles, ice cream and dessert places. I really was pleasantly surprised by the waterfront boardwalk because I thought it was very tourist and family friendly area with open and clean spaces. I've been to quite a few beaches, mountainside and waterfront areas in Taiwan that didn't take advantage of the opportunity to develop its area into more of a destination than for its natural elements. 

Pedal boats are easy to rent- just walk down to the riverside and look for the rental sign/shack. There are different sized Swan shaped boats, for 2 people up to 6 people, and cost a few hundred NT depending on how many people in your boat. Everyone wears a life jacket and you get a mini work out pedaling, breathing the fresh air.  It was fun to try and relaxing to be out on the water, though you have to kind of coordinate pedaling with other people because the machinery is all linked together. You can rent boats on either side of the river, and you can also rent from one side and return the boat on the other.  

Such a nice day! 

the view from my boat :)

After walking down the boardwalk and walking back towards the main area, I passed by Green Hornet Cafe which I heard about a few years ago from a friend and readers. I didn't get a chance to try it, but they have Mexican food on the menu! Has anyone tried them? Will have to come back to try the enchiladas!

#hungryinbitan! I'll be back again soon!

Before you leave Bitan, try some of the sheng jian baos (NT$10 each) from this yellow signed vendor. Crispy on the bottom, the steaming hot pork and cabbage baos were a perfect bite to end the evening. 


Greg Hao said...

As my Taipei home is in 新店,well,it's off the小碧潭MRT station, it is nice to see non-core Taipei being spotlighted and seeing pictures of the bridge brings back memories of when I was a kid playing on it. It looks much more developed than what I remembered.

Chinamatt said...

I've been down there a few times--it's great. Took a YouBike down there on Sunday. I wanted to park and walk around a bit, but there's no YouBike station in the area!? Guess if I want to wander around again I need to take the MRT.

Rob said...

Green Hornet makes EXCELLENT food. Their burritos and nachos can't be beat. You really should give it a review. I pretty much guarantee you'll like it.

Anonymous said...

Agree about Green Hornet - supreme beef nachos were delicious and around $300

Mark Grundemann said...

Pasta in the green hornet is delicious, also not expensive, portions will leave you full up, love the one item desert menu which is chocolate brownie!a must visit


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