Laodifang (literally ‘old place’) is a cool lookout point on the ridge to the north of the Keelung River and Songshan Airport, with cracking views out over Taipei:
It’s famous as a place to watch the planes landing & taking off, but whether you’re a plane geek or not it’s really just a great place to hike up to above the city.
Laodifang’s located along the ridge that starts with Mt Jiantan at its western end, and runs all the way east along the back of the Neihu district. Here’s a handy map from the info board at the trail entrance (click for large version):
You can see Laodifang, 老地方, near the Jiantan end of the marked trail. Basically for a short hike you can just go up & down Mt Jiantan from Jiantan Station (Red Line), or go up Mt Jiantan and along to Laodifang before going back down the same way; or for a longer hike you can carry on past Laodifang to Mt Wenjian and the Koxinga Temple, then either descend to the National Palace Museum (on the north side of the ridge) or keep going even further to Jinmian Rocks and descend to Neihu from there (finishing at Xihu Station on the Brown Line). You can also keep going all the way to Bishan Temple and descend to the Dahu Park area at the other end of Neihu (also on the Brown Line).
This page describes Jiantan > Laodifang > Mt Wenjian > Koxinga Temple > Jinmian Rocks. For more detail on the eastern part of the ridge beyond that, see my post here; and for the route down from Jinmian Rocks see here.
Starting from Jiantan Station, come out of exit 3, cross the main road to the east side (towards the mountain, away from Shilin Night Market), and turn south (right). It’s about a 7 or 8-minute walk to the trailhead, passing this giant bowling pin on the way:
This arch marks the start of the hiking trail:
The first section’s pretty steep, with the day’s biggest climb coming right at the start up steep stone and wooden steps like this:
Mt Jiantan is the part of the ridge right behind the massive Taipei Grand Hotel, and it’s criss-crossed with walking trails and home to all sorts of random karaoke pavilions and exercise areas. It’s well-lit at night as far as the top of Mt Jiantan, and locals come up here to stretch their legs every evening (at one point I stayed nearby for a few months and sometimes went running around these Jiantan trails). You could spend quite a while exploring the area, but to get up to the top just follow the signs for 老地方 ‘plane-spotting platform’:
Don’t worry about the 95 mins given there; more like 45 mins for the average hiker.
Nice little rest area on the way up:
When you get to this sign:
…you can either keep going straight to head directly for Laodifang, or you can detour up the steep wooden steps to the left to reach the viewpoint at the top of Mt Jiantan. If you’re hiking at night then the top of Jiantan is your goal anyway, but I’d say it’s worth the slight detour at any time.
The top of Jiantan is home to this ugly ass thing:
…which isn’t so nice, but the viewing platform there is probably as good as Laodifang to be honest, so if you’re only looking for a quick hike then just up to here and back is a decent workout (you can get up & down in 30 mins if you’re quick, though it’ll probably be a sweaty job):
The large traditional building to the right is the Grand Hotel:
Once you’re done taking pics keep on walking along the trail this way (and make use of the toilets there if needed, they’re the last you’ll see for quite a while):
For now just follow the ‘hiking trail’ signs:
It becomes a bit of a dirt trail and then drops down to the main Laodifang trail again, rejoining at this point:
Turn left for Laodifang (if you skipped the detour to the top of Jiantan, you’ll just walk straight to this point):
For a while the trail runs along the top of the ridge, giving you views to the right of Taipei 101 & central Taipei and to the left of northern Taipei & Yangmingshan:
And then you reach Laodifang with some rest shelters and this viewing platform complete with metal paper planes:
From Jiantan Station to Laodifang should take you something like 40 to 60 minutes, so if you’re planning to head back down the same way you should allow 90 minutes plus for the round trip.
To continue on along the ridge, follow the signs for Mt Wenjian and Bishan Temple:
It dips a bit and climbs again, passing a random derelict building:
And eventually comes up to this junction:
…with a paved trail with some sort of government/military buildings off to the left:
Turn right, again following the sign for Mt Wenjian.
The trail zig-zags a bit around the side of the mountain and then past a random solitary shack:
…and then a bit further you pass behind another military building and come out on the road it’s located on. Turn left here following the signs for Bishan Temple and 文間山 (Mt Wenjian):
(if you were to follow the road downhill from here it goes to Jiannan Road Station on the Brown Line)
Just along the road you get to this view point:
…you’re at the point marked as Mt Jiannan night view (劍南山夜景) on the red arrow above (and on Google Maps). To carry on to Jinmian Rocks (or if you want to descend on the north side of the ridge) follow the road away from the viewpoint:
… and take the path leaving the road almost immediately on the right:
You get down below the ridgeline from here, with some views opening up to the north side of the ridge of the National Palace Museum below and the Koxinga Temple up ahead:
The path zig-zags and goes up & down a bit, past a few view points (including one with the marker stone for the summit of Mt Wenjian), and eventually you emerge on another road (this is Jiannan Road) next to a rest stop:
Turn left past the pavilion and follow the road round a few bends to Koxinga Temple. You can visit the temple just up this road that branches off on the right:
Koxinga Temple commands good views back down the valley:
Once you’re done at the temple go back to the road and carry on round the bend to find these steps on the right:
The steps become a stone path running through the forest for a couple of km:
…until you reach a rest stop. If you turn this way (to the left):
…you can start following signs for Zhongyongshan via Jinlong Agricultural Road, eventually reaching Bishan Temple and descending to Dahu Park; for details of all that, see here.
To continue to Jinmian Rocks and down to Xihu Station, turn right at the rest stop, this way:
Follow the signs for 金面石:
The trail goes up and down over a small peak or ridge, then climbs back up again:
…up to the left here:
…and the steps get you up to Jinmian:
At the top of the steps you reach a T-junction with the Jinmian hiking trail. Xihu Station is down to the right, but first turn left and walk 30 seconds to Jinmian Rocks, and some more great views over Taipei:
See here for my description of the Xihu-Jinmian trail but it’s simple enough, basically just follow the trail down (scrambling over rocks at the top and then steps further down) until you reach suburbia and a 10-minute walk through the streets to the station.
To get from Jiantan to Wenjian to Jinmian Rocks and down to Xihu this way, you’ll probably want to allow around 4 hours. To clear the whole ridge from Jiantan all the way to Dahu Park (via Wenjian and Bishan Temple but skipping Jinmian Rocks) is probably a 6-hour job (I’ve never done the whole thing in one go).
If you want to descend on the north side of the ridge, after Koxinga Temple instead of going up the steps on the right you need to carry on a bit further along the road to find the steps down on the left.
It’s the second set of steps you want, which leave the road on the left near the entrance gate to Yuanming Temple 圓明寺 (before which you also pass the entrance for Yongquan Temple):
These temples are all huge and probably worth checking out if you’re passing while they’re open. Anyway, these are the steps down:
Follow them down into a quiet suburb and find your way through to the main road. The National Palace Museum is on the far side of the road, and you can catch a bus from there back to Shilin Station or Jiantan Station. Doing this route should take about 3 hours (plus rest/photo stop time) from Jiantan Station to the Palace Museum.
Any questions? Give me a shout below and I’ll get back to you.
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