Yingge Ceramic Town

A ceramic street sign in Yingge.
The huge ceramic dishes!
When I lived in Taiwan, one of my favorite activities was tour biking. Almost every week, I logged over 100 miles on my bike, visiting interesting parts of Taipei and New Taipei City, some of which are somewhat inaccessible by public transportation. One of my favorite places was Yingge District(鶯歌區)in New Taipei City, also known as "Ceramic Town" because the area produces the most ceramics in Taiwan. There are over 800 ceramic shops in there!

Yingge literally means "Golden oriole". As the legend goes, there was a Golden oriole rock that used to spit a miasma at travelers. One day, a General Koxinga ordered his army to shoot at the rock which allowed his men to pass by. Every since, the town has been called Yingge.

While it's easy to get to Yingge by train from Taipei Main Station, you might miss some of the interesting things in the outskirts of the city. Biking to the area is a cool way to enjoy everything. At some points the trail can become rough, but there are clear signs that direct riders to the "family trails" which are safer, especially if you're riding with children.

One of my favorite aspects of Yingge's outskirts are the large ceramics. To give a reference, I'm almost 5'7" and the plates are nearly twice my height! I really wanted to sit in the spoon and take pictures, but unfortunately there was no one around to take one for me because I came on a weekday when it isn't busy at all.

This is a great place to take pictures.
This walkway is so cool!
In the outskirts of Yingge, there is also an interesting steel walkway which is fun to stand under. I was lucky to go on a sunny day; the reflection of the light off the still orb at the end of the path was awesome.

The giant ceramics are next to a small park. When you take the road to the left of the park, you'll enter Yingge proper.

Yingge District is a relatively quiet, relaxing place. It's mostly residential, and it appears that many of the younger people have left for school and work, although I'm sure on the weekends and during holidays it's a little more bustling. However, I'm not sure what there is to do in Yingge aside from buying ceramics. You could visit the Yingge Ceramic Museum, but I didn't go so I don't know if it's worth it.

Yingge Old Street is where most of the ceramics are sold. There are many clearly marked signs in Yingge directing visitors there, both in English and Chinese. Interestingly, there are also ceramics right on the main streets of Yingge! They're gorgeous and give the small town character. The pots are all bolted down so they can't be stolen easily.

A ceramic pot on a street corner.
A map of old street.
The mouth of the main avenue
of Old Street.
Yingge Old Street has two major sections: the ceramic shop area and the food stall area; however, there are a few ceramic shops where the food is sold. I didn't get to try any snacks in Yingge because I came too early in the morning and the shops hadn't opened yet. I decided to get a bun from a shop elsewhere in town instead. 
The designs are gorgeous!

Additionally, there are two main classes of ceramics in Yingge: cheap and expensive! The cheap ones aren't bad, they're simply made with cheaper materials and are for everyday use. Typically, a plate will put you down anywhere from $1 to $3. If you have the language skills, you can make a deal with the shop owners and get a cheaper price. I bought quite a few on my second visit, around $60 worth. It was easy to bring them back to the States. I simply wrapped them well and stuck them between the clothes in my luggage.
I bought bowls with red flowers.
Gold plated ceramic pots.

Of course, rich people will go for the pricey ceramics. I don't know much about the world of ceramics and ceramic-making, but I noticed that the more expensive dish-ware was extremely delicate and paper thin. When I have more money I'd like to buy some, but if I did I'd be afraid of breaking them! A couple tea cups could easily put you down $200 or more!

Aside from ceramic dishes, you can find ceramic pottery, whistles, and flower pots on Old Street. They're all well-crafted and come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. I wanted to buy a large pot, but shipping it back to the States would have been quite expensive.

The hippo pot is super cute!
Whistles shaped like animals and insects.
This was by-far my favorite pot,
I loved the teal color.

Tiny pots.

If you have no interest in buying ceramics, I still think Yingge District is a great place to visit. It's a gorgeous area of town, perfect for going on a relaxing stroll. From the center of Taipei, it only takes about 25 minutes or so to get to Yingge Station, so it's conveniently located. If you decide to bike from southern Taipei, you'll get there in 90 minutes or so if you're in good shape.

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