Just half an hour from Taipei by MRT is another of my favorite temples in Taiwan, Guandu Temple.
First constructed in 1661, this is one of the three main temples in Taiwan dedicated to Mazu (媽祖), goddess of the sea, who is the protector of fishermen and sailors and is particularly popular in southern China and among the Chinese diaspora in South East Asia.
The temple has a spectacular interior featuring beautifully carved dragon pillars and stone lions, as well as a statue of a benign-looking Mazu on the main altar flanked by her two fearsome-looking generals Qianliyan (千里眼) [thousand mile eyes] and Shunfenger (順風耳) [with the wind ears].
Next to the temple is an 80-meter-long tunnel known as Kuful Cave, which has 28 Buddhist devas lined along its walls and culminates in a chapel featuring a stunning statue of Guanyin (觀音), the goddess of mercy.
From behind the statue, you can also enjoy some magnificent views of the Danshui River.
Guandu Temple is a fifteen minute walk from the Guandu MRT station, and makes for a pleasant morning or afternoon excursion from Taipei. Nearby the temple is one of Taiwan’s best birdwatching spots located in the Guandu Nature Park (關度自然公園), which is an important stopover and breeding site for migrating birds.