Keelung 基隆 (pronounced as Cheelong), sometimes written as Jilong, Chilong or Kelang, is the biggest and only city on Taiwan's northern coast. It's approximately 1h away from Taipei City, if you take the usual train. Unfortunately the city lacks good traffic connection with the rest of Taiwan, but I've read that the local government strives for the extension of a Taipei MRT line to Keelung (source). Not sure, if that will happen, but it would definitely be great for the further development of this disconnected city. Together with Taipei and New Taipei, Keelung is part of the biggest metropolitan area in Taiwan with nearly 7 million people commonly referred as the Taipei-Keelung Metropolitan area (台北基隆都會區).
The history of the name of the city is pretty interesting. The current pronunciation originates from Taiwanese "kelang" or 雞籠, which means "chicken cage", "hencoop" or "hennery". However, during the Qing dynasty (in 1875), the Chinese characters were changed to 基隆. The current name, which means "prosperous base", but it's pronounced same as 雞籠 (jilong). So only the Characters were changed (and the meaning became more dignified), but the pronunciation is the same (source). Pretty cool, isn't it?
Keelung City today has nearly 400.000 inhabitants and is Taiwan's main northern port and after Kaohsiung, the second biggest port in the country, catering mainly to Taipei City. During my trip to Danshui, I've seen they're building a big port nearby, which means Taipei will have its own port closer to its city center and with a better traffic connection. I wonder what will happen to Keelung's development after that's completed.
How did I see Keelung? Keelung is one of my favorite Taiwanese cities. I like it, because it's different than the cities and towns south from Taipei. They're mostly huge and spread all over the place, while Keelung is small, squeezed between mountains and the northern coast. Keelung is a real port, a city that lives for the sea and depends on the sea. I like the squarish old city center, which looks like a chessboard. And there's also one of my favorite night markets in Taiwan: The famous Miaokou Night Market. The whole city has a very special feel to it, it's hard to describe. You need to go there and see it for yourself, I highly recommend it to you.
Let's have a small walk around Keelung:
Keelung is a very interesting city. There is so much to explore and I will do so in the future. If you go, I highly recommend you to visit the Miaokou Night Market. But try to go out of the city to see the nearby Yehliou Geopark, which is one of Taiwan's biggest natural wonders. Keelung will surely capture your heart, it's simply amazing.
Read more of my posts about Keelung:
✰ Yeliou Geopark, travelogue, photos
✰ Keelung at Night, my photos
✰ Miaokou Night Market, my review
✰ Hua Guan Tower, info and photos
✰ Wanli Town, info and photos
✰ Sunset in Yeliou, my photos
✰ Queen's Head, my photos