Getting here: Take a train from Taipei to Shifen (1+ hour) and walk (10 – 15min) thereafter.
Entry to the Shifen Scenic Area is free.
Getting to the Shifen Waterfall can involve quite a bit of standing, frozen in an awkward and uncomfortable position, but is overall, worth the trouble of a challenging commute.
Be prepared for the possibility of having to stand all the way on the two trains from Taipei (first, from Taipei to Ruifang, and thereafter from Ruifang to Shifen).Visiting Taipei during the Lunar New Year period, both the trains from Taipei to Ruifang and Ruifang to Shifen were packed, and sitting was out of the question. Standing was just as challenging since limited services on the Pingxi Line meant that those who wanted to get on the train really squeezed themselves in.
Upon arriving at Shifen station, there was little reprieve from the crowd, and as the station and the main street (Shifen Old Street) was equally packed, getting to the Shifen Scenic Area where the waterfall is located involved battling the tourist / sky lantern swarm.
Once out of the main tourist area, there are signs suggesting that a walk from Shifen Old Street to the waterfall will take about 30 minutes, but this quite an overstatement. There are also taxi drivers near the end of Shifen Old Street who will quote “per head” / “per car” prices for a ride to the waterfall but a one way walk to the waterfall area is only about 10 – 15 minutes, and is a fairly easy walk. There is also a clean and large toilet at the Shifen Tourism Service Centre that can be used en route.
The waterfall itself is quite beautiful and is a welcome relief from the throng surrounding the station. There are also several shops selling food and drink where refreshment can be secured before heading back.