Inside Pingxi, Taiwan, the Sky Lanterns will manifest your Dreams

January 1, 2024

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Pingxi Sky Lantern festival

In the heart of Taiwan, nestled among the rolling hills of the Ruifang region and a tapestry of emerald green, lies the enchanting town of Pingxi. Known for its picturesque landscapes and vibrant traditions, this quaint town has etched itself into the global consciousness as the quintessential destination for the enchanting sky lantern festival in Taiwan. What most people haven’t discovered yet is that you can visit Pingxi year-round to release sky lanterns without the crowds. With its colorful charm, Pingxi is perfect for couples and families alike, effortlessly stealing our hearts.

Legend has it that the Ruifang region’s ethereal charm inspired the creators of both the beloved Japanese animation Spirited Away and Disney’s Tangled. The iconic sky lantern scene from Disney’s Tangled is inspired by the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival. While the connection remains a hot debate, there’s no denying that the spirit of fantasy and wonder saturates the air in the Ruifang region, especially in Jiufen, Pingxi, and the surrounding areas. In a country where old districts take center stage, the Pingxi area is filled with colorful sky lanterns, big and small, that will put a smile to your face.

Pingxi Sky Lantern festival

The Meaning of Sky Lanterns in Taiwan

In Taiwan, the tradition of releasing sky lanterns carries profound cultural significance. Beyond being a visually stunning spectacle, it symbolizes a spiritual connection between the earthly realm and the celestial heavens. Rooted in ancient practices, locals believe that by releasing these lanterns, they are sending their hopes, dreams, and wishes into the universe, seeking blessings for good fortune, prosperity, and health. The act is not merely a luminous display; it’s a tangible expression of faith and a communal affirmation of shared aspirations. As the lanterns ascend, they carry with them the collective spirit of a community, creating a celestial tapestry woven with the dreams of the people who released them.

Spiritual Travels: Our Personal Journey with Sky Lanterns

For us, the decision to experience the sky lantern tradition in Pingxi was more than a quest for a picturesque moment—it was a spiritual one with deep meaning. In the peaceful backdrop of Pingxi, as we stood on the railroad with our vibrant lantern awaiting release, we felt a profound connection to the traditions that have shaped this town. Each stroke of the calligraphy brush on the lantern felt like an intimate conversation with our inner selves, an expression of aspirations, and a release of intentions into the universe. The act of witnessing our lantern ascend, carrying with it our collective dreams, was a gratitude experience that transcended the visual spectacle, touching the core of our beings. In that moment, Pingxi became more than a destination; it became a sanctuary for spiritual reflection and a symbol to the power of shared dreams and positive manefistation.

Pingxi Sky Lantern Taiwan Bridge

Entering Pingxi: Taiwan’s Magical Sky Lantern Spot

Our journey to Pingxi unfolded serendipitously as we embarked on the infamous Pingxi Craigs hiking adventure at sunrise (which I discovered here in one of my favorite Taiwan blogs Nick Kembel). With the first light of day gracing the adorable town, the sky transformed from hues of tangerine and lavender to a canvas of perfect blue, adorned with marshmallow clouds. It’s the perfect backdrop for the mesmerizing ritual of releasing sky lanterns—a tradition that beckons you to write your dreams upon the canvas of the heavens.

Pingxi Sky Lantern Taiwan Railroad

One of the only places on Earth where the luminous sky lanterns spectacle takes place, Pingxi invites you to partake in a ritual that feels like stepping into a world reminiscent of Studio Ghibli’s magic. Adding a touch of whimsical, the lantern release happens on a railroad crossing—a detail that elevates the enchantment.

To start your adventure, colorful lanterns await your selection—choose from one, four, or eight hues to represent your wishes. In your hands, a traditional Taiwanese calligraphy brush, you inscribe your hopes, dreams, and desires on all four sides of the lantern.

Choosing your Sky Lantern at Pingxi

For a fleeting moment, the world fades into the background, leaving you alone with your wishes and the distant sound of laughter. In this simple, lovely town filled with hopes, you can’t help but smile. Upon completing your wishful inscriptions, the lantern vendor accompanies you, helping you capture this beautiful memory. The experience is nothing short of unforgettable.

Pingxi Sky Lantern on Railroad Railway Taiwan

Don’t miss out on the chance to savor a local’s favorite: An ice-cold red date drink crafted by an uncle using local red dates and fresh mountain water. This ingenious local gem offers a refreshing respite for your senses. You can find it in one of the lantern vendors strategically placed near the end of the train tracks, and meet the uncle who created it!

Remember to explore the food in Pingxi and nearby towns!

Want more day trip ideas? Once your sky lanterns dance off into the sky, explore our guide to the best eateries in Pingxi, pay a visit to the nearby Huotong Cat Village, explore the food heaven of Jiufen, climb Keelung Mountain. Also, check out one of the best day trips to Shifen from my friend Ruchika.

Don’t forget to discover the vibrancy of Pingxi’s colorful post office and delicious eateries. One of our best meals in Taiwan was at Pingxi, read our guide for the best eats in Pingxi.

Pingxi: A Town Illuminated by Dreams

Is it worth the visit? Absolutely. Beyond the enchanting landscapes and culinary delights, Pingxi offers an immersive journey into the heart of Taiwanese traditions. The sky lantern ritual transcends cultural boundaries, inviting visitors to participate in a ritual that bridges the earthly and celestial realms. The town’s charm lies not only in its picturesque scenery but in the warmth of its people and the shared luminosity of dreams. Whether you visit during the annual festival or on a quiet day, the magic of Pingxi, embodied in its sky lanterns, is an experience that will linger in your memories and, perhaps, ignite a few dreams of your own.

In Pingxi, the sky lanterns really do illuminate your spirit. As the lantern ascends into the inky sky, carrying your wishes and dreams, you’re enveloped in the magic that swirls around this charming Taiwanese town—a magic that lingers in the taste of local delicacies, the soft glow of lanterns, and the genuine warmth of Pingxi’s inhabitants. It’s no wonder this little gem has become synonymous with one of the most magical experiences in the world.

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