The most common Keelung day trip is likely, in my estimation, some combination of Zhongzheng Park, Miaokou Night Market and Maritime Plaza, adjacent to the cruise ship dock. Maritime Plaza is a great place to see the harbor, while Zhongzheng Park offers views from above along with some local culture, and Miaokou is a classic Keelung haunt, not to mention its island-wide fame.
I love all three of these places, and this is a fine itinerary, but Keelung has so many other hidden gems to discover! That’s why today I am introducing an alternative Keelung Day Trip Itinerary. If you’re looking for something a little more unusual, or are visiting Keelung for a second, third or fourth time, then this is the day trip for you!
- First Stop: Doughnut Shop
- The Fairy Cave 基隆仙洞嚴
- Buddha’s Hand Cave 佛手洞
- Qiuzishan Lighthouse 球子山燈塔
- Xiandong Park 仙洞公園
- A Special Keelung Treat
- Places Mentioned in This Post
First Stop: Doughnut Shop
Like any truly good itinerary, this one begins with a doughnut shop. When Lucas and I set out on our day trip adventure, we stumbled upon this fantastic doughnut shop, 陳食滋味 (chén shí zīwèi). They have, by American standards, real doughnuts, sweet pockets of puffy deep-fried goodness. They are a far cry from the doughnuts typically found here at, say, Mister Donut (by which I mean no offense. I have been known to enjoy a Mister donut doughnut, and they certainly have that special QQ texture that is so popular in Taiwan).
Not only do they serve American-style doughnuts, but they are really good. I opted for a classic, cinnamon sugar, while Luke tried the original. They have all kinds of different flavors ranging from original to sweet fillings like custard or taro or red bean to doughnuts with savory fillings like egg salad. Making a stop here is incredibly convenient since it is located on Gangxi Street (港西街) where Keelung’s main bus station is. So whether you need a snack before or after your trip, or both, I would make this a priority.
Once your belly is full of scrumptious doughnuts, walk to the Minzhi Village Activity Center bus stop on Zhongshan 1st Road (中山一路) to catch a bus. The 301 or 302 will go to the No. 18 Wharf bus stop, where you can get off and walk to the next destination…
The Fairy Cave 基隆仙洞嚴
The Fairy Cave (基隆仙洞嚴, also known as the Xiandongyan Zuisheng Temple, 仙洞巖最勝寺) is an 80-meter long marine cave, which has been turned into a place of worship. You will know it by the pop-up food stalls, hillside archway, and large elevated Buddha sculpture outside the mouth of the cave.
According to old Japanese texts from the colonial era, before the construction of the harbor one could stand in the cave and clearly hear the waves of the ocean. The cave appeared in many Japanese travel guides and in classical Taiwanese poems as one of the “Eight Views of Keelung”.
One of the most stunning features of the temple is the way in which it is built into the side of the mountain, lending it a mystical and enchanting air. Visible on the walls around it, as well as inside, are characters that were etched into the stone. These inscriptions date back to the Qing Dynasty, when (according to Chinese wikipedia) fishermen used the cave as a place to rest and pray for safety. In the cave there are altars and statues of gods carved into the walls.
There are two main sections of the cave. The immediate chamber is wide and spacious, and in the left corner a long narrow corridor leads into a second, smaller chamber. Getting all the way through to the other chamber definitely involves some crouching and squeezing, be forewarned! And you may encounter people trying to go the other way. But that’s all part of the fun and charm!
Buddha’s Hand Cave 佛手洞
Right next door to the Fairy Cave is the Buddha’s Hand Cave (佛手洞). Tucked around the corner, it’s easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it! The Buddha’s Hand Cave is well known for the large Buddha hand print, a natural formation, on the roof of the cave. Particularly nice on a hot day, the cave feels much cooler. It is more open and spacious than the Fairy Cave, allowing visitors to roam freely.
When you’re done checking out the caves, stop outside for a snack before the next leg of the journey, which involves a bit of a hike. Luke and I got some fried noodles (炒麵) and dried tofu soup (豆干包湯). Delicious and satisfying!
Qiuzishan Lighthouse 球子山燈塔
Upon exiting the temple, turn left down Renan Street (仁安街) and past the Cavern Cafe, here we find Lane 31 (31巷), a small alley venturing uphill. Follow this lane until it connects with Lane 103, Zhongshansan Road (中山三路103巷) and take Lane 103 as it trails off up to the right – this path will take you to Qiuzishan Lighthouse (球子山燈塔).
Built in 1956, the Qiuzishan Lighthouse sits on top of Qiuzi Mountain, with a fantastic view overlooking Keelung. At one point it was converted into a military outpost and painted camouflage. Below the lighthouse stand abandoned remains of the old outpost, a fascinating glimpse of Keelung’s history.
The lighthouse has since been restored to its original white and is no longer in use. Regardless, the government hopes to turn the lighthouse into a tourist attraction and has been working to make it more accessible.
The trail up to the lighthouse is incredibly beautiful, with fields of wild flowers, and the views at the top of the hill are among the best in the area.
Xiandong Park 仙洞公園
Xiandong Park (仙洞公園) is a fun place to stop on the way down, as it offers possibly the best and most up-close views of Keelung’s container port. Follow Lane 103 all the way down past the Keelung Shengan Temple (基隆聖安宮), and it will take you to Xiandong Park. Spend some time here relaxing in the shade, hanging out in the pagoda, watching shipping containers get loaded and unloaded, and take a walk on the massage stones to relax your weary feet.
From Xiandong Park you can walk back down to Zhongshan 4th Road (中山四路), where you can catch the 301 or 302 bus back to downtown Keelung.
A Special Keelung Treat
Part of your Keelung Day Trip should definitely involve a local delicacy. On your walk downtown to wherever you might enjoy dinner, stop at the famous Keelung Lianzhen Pastry Shop (基隆連珍糕餅店). You can get off the 301 or 302 at the closest stop, Zhongsi Road bus stop (Donghe Building, 仁五路(東和大樓)), and walk north on Aier Road (愛二路) towards the harbor. It will be almost two blocks down on the right.
I love to stop here whenever I’m walking around this part of downtown to get some yummy taro balls, for which they are really well known. If you like taro, you’re in for a treat! And if you’ve never tried it, well I encourage you to give it a shot! The flavor is pretty mild but lovely, and the texture is almost creamy. I have found them to be quite addictive! They will make a delicious snack, special gift or after-dinner dessert.
From there, the world is your oyster! Hit Miaokou! Find a hot pot restaurant! Chill at Maritime Plaza. Or, if you’re still full of energy and rearing to go, check out some of my other things to do in Keelung! Whatever you do, have a great time!
I hope you get to try out this itinerary, or at least enjoyed reading about it! It has been one of my favorite Keelung adventures to date! Have any questions, comments, concerns? Get at me in the comments below! I always love hearing from you! Happy exploring ☺️
One note on getting to the Fairy Cave: walking from downtown is an option – it’s what Luke and I did. It took a good half hour to 45 minutes to walk there. Be aware that after you pass the military base and turn onto Zhongshan 3rd Road (中山三路), there cease to be any sidewalks and there are a lot of large trucks and industrial vehicles – it can be a bit dangerous, so be extra cautious!
Places Mentioned in This Post
Chen Shi Taste (陳食滋味)
Open every day 8 AM – 6 PM
No. 33號, Gangxi Street, Ren’ai District, Keelung City, 200
Fairy Cave (基隆仙洞嚴)
Open every day 6:30 AM – 4:45 PM
No. 1, Renan Street, Zhongshan District, Keelung City, 20343
Buddha’s Hand Cave (佛手洞)
Open every day 8 AM – 5 PM
No. 1, Renan Street, Zhongshan District, Keelung City, 20343
Qiuzishan Lighthouse (球子山燈塔)
Open 24 hours
203, Keelung City, Zhongshan District, Lane 103, Zhongshansan Road, 203號122-134號 旁軍營山頂 25°08’46. 121°44
203基隆市中山區中山三路103巷203號122-134號 旁軍營山頂 25°08’46. 121°44
Xiandong Park (仙洞公園)
Open 24 hours
No. 3, Renan Street, Zhongshan District, Keelung City, 203
Keelung Lianzhen Pastry Shop (基隆連珍糕餅店)
Open every day 9 AM – 7 PM
No. 42, Aier Road, Ren’ai District, Keelung City, 200