Tamsui (淡水) used to be the center of shipping & commerce in northern Taiwan in the 19th century. The city is still popular with visitors from Taipei & boasts many historical attractions. It is also a popular location for viewing the sunset.
As Tamsui MRT Station (the terminal station of the red line) is just 6 stops away from Beitou MRT Station, we went to Tamsui right after touring Beitou. We started our Tamsui tour by turning left upon exit from the station & walking along the river to Tamsui Old Street & Waterfront (淡水老街).
The Tamsui Old Street is a shopping area offering a wide selection of handicraft stores, restaurants & local speciality shops. Although it was a Tuesday, the street was filled with many people, particularly students. We found out later that week was the graduation week in Taiwan so many schools organised graduation holidays for the students, who were as young as 12 year olds (国小毕业生)!
There are a few local specialties here that I had researched online so we deliberately looked out for these stores:
1. Ah Po’s Iron Eggs (阿婆铁蛋) – 135 Zhongzheng Road
Yes, this is a very famous local specialty of Tamsui – iron eggs, literally translated from its Chinese name 铁蛋. They are eggs that are repeatedly stewed in a mix of spices & air dried. The resulting eggs are dark brown, chewy and, about half its initial size. I sampled the iron egg at another shop before we reached 阿婆铁蛋 & I didn’t really like it as I thought it was too tough. So I only bought 1 packet back to let my family try, & I thought the shop staff wasn’t very friendly. *shrug*
2. Danshui Ke Ko Fishball Restaurant (淡水可口鱼丸) – 232 Zhongzheng Road
Ke Ko Fishballs is an old eatery in Tamsui, popular for its fishballs stuffed with meat. The eatery is located just 3 min away from Ah Po’s Iron Eggs, on the right. I love the fishballs here! Very delicious, fresh & QQ texture. We also tried the wonton soup which was not bad too.
3. Ti Hu Da Shi local products shop (醍醐大师) – 123 Zhongzheng Road
This store I visited is also near Ah Po’s Iron Eggs & they sell a variety of local products, such as iron eggs, dried beancurd & hot spring eggs. They have another outlet which is at the start of Tamsui Old Street from the station.
I bought 20 San Wei eggs (三味蛋) after sampling one. The flavour is quite unique as it is a mixture of salted egg, preserved egg & boiled tea eggs (咸蛋，皮蛋和茶叶蛋). The shop assistant is also much more helpful & patient, at least she bothered to explain to us the different types of eggs they sell & did not give black face.
4. 文化阿给 (Wenhua Deep Fried Stuffed Tofu) – 6-4 Zhenli Street
阿给, a specialty of Tamsui, is deep fried tofu stuffed with flavoured tang hoon/ vermicelli & sealed with fish paste. There are many stalls in Tamsui selling this but apparently, this one at Zhenli Street is the best, according to my research. It was a tiring 15 min walk up the steep narrow street after leaving Tamsui Old Street & we also had to cross an overhead bridge. Think we passed by the Zhenli University (真理大学) on the way up.
It was almost 5pm when we reached the eatery so there wasn’t too many people. We ordered each a bowl of A-Gei, & there were 3 different spicy levels to choose from. Luckily I chose the mild spicy version which was still pretty spicy to me! It was very delicious but we dared not finish the gravy as it got spicier & saltier as we finished the food. I was glad we mentioned to find our way to this eatery. 🙂
Of course, other than the above food we had, I also bought a cup of iced red tea with pearl from 50岚 near Ah Po’s Iron Eggs. After the food hunt, it was time to check out the famous Fisherman’s Wharf (淡水渔人码头) before the sun set. We took a bus from the main road near Zhenli Street to the wharf which took about 15 min. I cannot remember the bus number, but it’s quite easy to just board a bus that is heading to 淡水渔人码头, indicated on the signage on the side of the bus.
We arrived at Fisherman’s Wharf just about the right time before the sun would set. There is a department store at the wharf but we hardly saw any customers other than ourselves. 😛 The Fullon Hotel looks very grand from the outside, & I reckon it would not be cheap staying there since it boasts great seaview.
The Lover’s Bridge (情人桥), a pedestrian bridge with a single slanted tower cable that is modelled after a sailing ship’s mast & rig, spans the harbour. The bridge’s illumination changes color at night. We saw many people strolling & taking pictures of the bridge, while enjoying the cool sea breeze. In addition, we heard 2 budding singers showcasing their singing talents at the outdoor amphitheater. Probably they hope to be headhunted by producers who may be in the area? 😉 We left the Fisherman’s Wharf in about an hour’s time to go back to Tamsui MRT Station for Ximen MRT Station. It’s one of the rare days that we went back early to our hotel to rest haha.
Personally, I feel Tamsui is a pleasant place to visit & love all the food we tried above, as well as the scenery at the harbour. 🙂