Where to Fly a Sky Lantern in Pingxi Old Street (its meaning and how to get there! 平溪)

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, 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, and that Pingxi is surprisingly one of the best places to eat Taiwanese food. 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. Pingxi is filled with colorful sky lanterns, big and small, that will put a smile to your face.

Pingxi Sky Lantern festival

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The Meaning of Sky Lanterns in Pingxi 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.

Want more day trip ideas from Taipei? Once your sky lanterns dance off into the sky, explore our guide to the must eats in Pingxi, pay a visit to the nearby Houtong Cat Village, explore Jiufen food (one of our favorite place to eat in Taiwan). You also might be interested in hiking the nearby Mount Keelung trail and Teapot Mountain trail.

Why we choose to fly a sky lantern in Pingxi Old Street

For us, the decision to experience the sky lantern tradition in Pingxi 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 manifestation.

If you’re visiting Taiwan, check out my Taiwan itinerary for 7 days guide and Kenting National Park guide to learn if the famous beach town Kenting is worth visiting.

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. 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.

How to fly at Sky Lantern in Pingxi

Example of how to choose a sky lantern in Pingxi, and the prices

To pick your sky lantern, simply walk up to a vendor and let him know how many colors you want in your lantern. Typically you can choose 1 color, 4 colors, or 8 colors. We choose a 4 colors sky lantern.

Next the vendor will pin up the sky lantern so that you can draw on it. You’ll be using a traditional calligraphy brush and ink to draw or write your wishes, dreams, and intentions on the sky lantern.

Once you’re done with one fold or color of the sky lantern, the vendor will flip the colors for you. When you’re done, the vendor will help you take the picture. The boss usually has another helper that helps light the sky lantern before releasing.

Here’s our sky lantern moment! And we loved every moment.

Pingxi Sky Lantern on Railroad Railway Taiwan

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.

Afterwards, 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 middle of the train tracks just a few feet from the Pingxi station, and meet the uncle who created it!

How to get to Pingxi Old Street and Pingxi Station

Traveling from Taipei to Pingxi is a delightful day trip into the mountains. There are three main options: bus, train, and taxi. Buses (route 795) are a budget-friendly choice, costing around $1-$5 USD and taking roughly 1 hour and 55 minutes.

Trains involve a transfer at Ruifang Station. From Taipei Main Station, hop on a train towards Ruifang (look for trains with Jingtong as the terminal station which is the last stop after Pingxi). Purchase a one-day pass for the Pingxi line at Ruifang for unlimited rides, costing around $2-$5 USD. The total train journey takes approximately 2 hours and 22 minutes.

You might be wondering is there Uber in Taipei and is Uber legal in Taiwan? There answer to both these questions is Yes! With Uber, it takes just under 50 minutes to get from Taipei to Pingxi direct on Uber, and its worth it to beat the crowds.

If you want to save time, we recommend taking Uber (which is what we did). Learn why we preferred Uber over taking the taxi or bus in Taiwan, and Uber fare estimates from Taipei to Taoyuan airport and Taipei day trips.

The Pingxi train line doesn’t run very often, maybe 1-2 trains every hour from Pingxi station, so Uber or taxi is the best way to get to there!

Once in Pingxi, the best way to explore the charming town and surrounding areas is by riding the Pingxi train line itself to nearby villages like Houtong Cat Village, Shifen, Jingtong, Ruifang, and more. It offers beautiful views for just a few dollars per trip.

Pingxi Old Street is such an adorable little town to fly sky lanterns and visit the post office

What to do in Pingxi Old Street

Pssst, did you know that Pingxi has some of the best food in Taiwan? Don’t skip eating at this little town! Read our guide on Pingxi must eats and visit our favorite restaurant Taiwan! Don’t forget to eat all the delicious food in Pingxi!

While in Pingxi, you should also visit Shifenliao Cheng’an Temple, visit the colorful post office, hike Pingxi Crags, and take a train to the nearby Taiwan cat village called Houtong and consider staying at a Taiwan Minsu 民宿 to explore Jiufen old street after.

Jiufen is another one of our favorite places to eat in Taiwan. Check out our guide on where to eat in Jiufen, including misty cake Taiwan, taro balls, stinky tofu, and the best tea houses.

Also, check out one of the best day trips to Shifen from my friend Ruchika, and our guide on visiting Pinglin Taiwan.

Is Pingxi worth visiting?

Pingxi is one of our favorite towns in Taiwan because its a town illuminated by dreams, and it also has one of our favorite restaurants in Taiwan! Pingxi is absolutely worth the visit. Beyond the sky lanterns, 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.

Pingxi, Shifen and Jingtong – Which is the best place to fly sky lanterns in Taiwan?

In our opinion, there’s no wrong place to fly a sky lantern. It’s more about your intention when you do it. We prefer to fly sky laterns in Pingxi and Jingtong because its so much more peaceful, less crowded, and the food is fantastic at both towns.

Most tour buses go to Shifen, making it so crowded like a sea of people at all hours. You need at least 20 minutes to 1 hour to write your wishes with a calligraphy brush, so you also might not want to do it in a noisy and rushed environment.

We hope this guide helps you learn more about Pingxi, how to fly a sky lantern here, and how to get to Pingxi station.

Have you flown a sky lantern in Taiwan before? If yes, we’d love to hear your experience. If not, what wish would you write on your sky lantern?

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