Why Should I Go?
Pronounced Jīlóng in Mandarin, the city of Keelung was originally founded by Taiwanese Aboriginals and, with the arrival of the Spanish in the early 17ᵗʰ century, the city developed into a centre for military and commercial trade throughout the Spanish, Dutch, and Qing Dynasty periods of rule on Taiwan. With the arrival of the Japanese in the late 19ᵗʰ century, the port was further developed specifically for trade with Japan as Keelung is located along Taiwan's Northeast coast, eventually eclipsing Tamsui (Danshui) and Kaohsiung Harbours. By 1984, the port had become the 7ᵗʰ largest container harbour in the world.
This rich heritage of commerce and trade in Keelung has given birth to many historical and cultural sites, including Ershawan Fort (二沙灣砲台, also called Haimen Tianxian 海門天險), Heping Island, and Lovers Lake, not including the numerous relics and monuments scattered around the city. Given its proximity to the port, Keelung is the centre of Northern Taiwan's fishing industry hosting hundreds of fishing ships catching all kinds of fresh seafood from the sea.
For cruise ship passengers:
Keelung is the main port for the northeast of the island of Taiwan. For those wishing to travel to Taipei City, it is recommended to take a train from Keelung Train Station (located adjacent to the port). All trains leaving from Keelung will travel to the following stations in Taipei City: Taipei Main Station (located in the old downtown) and Songshan Station (nearby Raohe Night Market and Taipei 101). The train journey to Taipei City takes 40-70 mins, depending on train class, Tze-Chiang class being the fastest. Consider taking a taxi or car service if time is a constraint since taxis in Taiwan are affordable and the fare should be under US$25 back to the port with a 30 minute journey.
Visit Miaokou Night Market (廟口夜市) to see one of Taiwan's more traditional food-focused night markets and get ready for some cheap, delicious seafood! Miaokou is located adjacent to Keelung Harbour and forms the downtown area of the city. The entrance is located at the intersection of Aisan and Rensan Roads (愛三仁三路口), and is primarily located on both Rensan and Aisi roads, as well as lanes stretching off these main roads. Come with an empty stomach!
Many tourists prefer to visit Keelung at the end of a day touring Taiwan's North Coast and places like Jiufen. A visit to Miaokou Night Market for dinner is the perfect ending to a long day, and transportation back to Taipei City is convenient and fast. Most visitors prefer the ease of taking one of the frequent Local Trains (區間車) from the train station adjacent to the harbour back to Taipei Main Station, while some prefer to stay the night.
Keelung City's downtown area is very small and easily walkable. The train/bus station is directly adjacent to the port and easily accessible from the downtown area including Miaokou Night Market. There are a large number of decent hotels and B&Bs in the area for those that want a longer stay, generally priced far below that of Taipei City.
How to Get There?
When you visit Keelung's Miaokou Night Market, remember to try everything in sight! The food is relatively cheap, so try everything your wallet will allow! The night market is most well known for its fried sandwiches, cream crab, and mostly Pao-Pao Shaved Ice (泡泡冰 Pàopào Bīng), available in an insanely high amount of flavours from a few shops located near the intersection of Rensan and Aisi, but be ready to wait in long lines to get this special treat unique to Miaokou Night Market.
Keelung's nickname is the "rain port", so remember to pack an umbrella!