Alishan Travel Guide: Top 20 Things to Do in Alishan, Taiwan

Right in the heart of Taiwan’s central region, Alishan stands as a beacon for those who seek refuge in nature’s embrace. It’s like stepping into a different world, where every view is a postcard scene of cascading waterfalls, serene lakes, and lush forests that spread out like a green sea. But perhaps the most magical of all Alishan’s natural wonders is its famous sea of clouds, an ethereal spectacle that dances between the peaks at dawn and dusk, captivating all who witness it.

Alishan isn’t just about the breathtaking landscapes; it’s a place steeped in culture and history. The mountains are alive with the heritage of indigenous tribes, offering a glimpse into a world of ancient traditions and vibrant festivities. Here, you can indulge in the flavors of the land, from bamboo rice cooked in its natural casing to succulent wild boar sausages that burst with flavor. And if you’re lucky, you might just catch a cultural performance or festival, where the air fills with music, stories, and the spirit of Alishan’s people.

Alishan Forest Railway During The Spring Time For A Scenic Journey

Adventure Awaits

For the thrill-seekers and explorers, Alishan offers endless adventures. Whether it’s hiking along the storied paths of the Alishan Forest Railway Trail, cycling through cloud-kissed valleys, or climbing craggy peaks, there’s a sense of discovery around every corner. The trails here are not just paths but gateways to panoramic vistas that stretch to the horizon, inviting you to pause and soak in the beauty of the highlands.

As day turns to night, Alishan’s towns and villages beckon. Places like Fenqihu and Shizilu are like stepping back in time, with their traditional architecture and timeless charm. Or, for a touch of modern comfort amidst the mountains, the town of Alishan itself offers cozy lodges and luxurious hotels, ensuring a restful end to your day of exploration.

Alishan is more than a destination; it’s an experience that touches the heart and rejuvenates the soul. Whether you’re basking in the tranquility of its natural wonders, delving into the richness of its cultural heritage, or seeking adventure in its vast landscapes, Alishan offers a retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Alishan Travel Guide: Things to do in Alishan, Taiwan forest train

Alishan City Guide: A Brief History Of Alishan, Taiwan

Alishan’s history is as captivating as its landscapes, a tapestry of indigenous heritage, colonial endeavors, and natural marvels. Let’s embark on a historical journey to uncover the essence of Alishan.

Land of the Tsou People

Indigenous Roots

Long before Alishan became a household name, it was home to the Tsou people, one of Taiwan’s indigenous tribes. The Tsou have inhabited these mountains for centuries, living in harmony with the land. Their culture, deeply intertwined with the forest, celebrates the bounty and spirit of Alishan through traditional songs, dances, and festivals. Exploring Alishan offers a unique glimpse into the Tsou’s rich heritage, reminding us of the land’s original stewards.

The Japanese Legacy

An Era of Transformation

During the Japanese colonial period in the early 20th century, Alishan underwent significant transformation. The Japanese, captivated by the region’s towering cypress trees, established a logging industry that led to the creation of the Alishan Forest Railway. This narrow-gauge railway, initially built to transport timber, is now a beloved feature of Alishan, offering visitors a scenic journey through the mountains. The Japanese influence is also evident in the old Shinto shrines dotted around the area, silent witnesses to a bygone era.

A Sanctuary of Natural Beauty

Preserving Paradise

As the logging industry waned, the focus shifted towards preserving Alishan’s natural beauty. In 2001, the Alishan National Scenic Area was established, protecting its diverse ecosystems, ancient forests, and cultural sites. Efforts to conserve the area have allowed the majestic cypress trees, some over 2,000 years old, to thrive, making Alishan a haven for nature lovers and environmentalists alike.

Alishan Today

A Modern Connection

Today, Alishan stands as a testament to the balance between nature, culture, and sustainable tourism. It attracts travelers from around the globe, drawn by the promise of breathtaking sunrises, serene hiking trails, and the chance to ride the historic railway. The area continues to evolve, with a growing emphasis on eco-friendly practices and cultural preservation, ensuring Alishan remains a cherished destination for generations to come.

Alishan National Park Stunning Scenic Views

Alishan Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in Taiwan

On a trip to Alishan, you’ll be spending the bulk of your time exploring the Alishan National Forest Recreation Area. A 1,400-hectare park situated at an average elevation of 2,200 metres above sea level, it is home to an extensive cloud forest which draws nature lovers from across the country on weekends and holidays.

A world apart from the subtropical lowlands, the area’s average temperature hovers around ten degrees and it experiences more than 200 days per year of rain and fog. While you may want to pack rain-resistant clothing and an umbrella, the cool damp climate shouldn’t stop you from discovering its trails and viewpoints.

While there are many wilderness trails to hike, make sure you pay a visit to this region’s Sacred Tree. Said to be over 3,000 years old, this moss-covered cypress is a popular photo shoot venue for newlyweds and selfie takers.

Be sure to also wake up early so you can catch a natural phenomenon known as the Sea of Clouds. Due to the geological positioning of the Alishan Valley, temperature inversions occur frequently, resulting in morning cloud cover that hangs low over the valley.

Right after, stop in at a tea plantation nearby. Taiwan is well-known internationally for the quality of its tea, so it would be a shame if you didn’t get to have a cup made from leaves plucked straight from the fields of one of Taiwan’s most productive growing regions.

More Attractions

While all the previously mentioned attractions are all worth experiencing, you shouldn’t leave the area without taking a ride on the Alishan Forest Railway. Originally built to transport cut logs from the region to waiting Japanese ships during the Colonial Period, the emphasis of the railway shifted from commerce to tourism.

Wending its way up the side of peaks, between giant trees and in season, alongside blooming cherry trees, it is a ride you won’t soon forget. Book your trip on this attraction at least two weeks in advance, as its immense popularity makes getting walk-up tickets impossible through much of the year.

Pay a visit to Taiwan’s highest place of worship by dropping by Shouzhen Temple. Spooked by supernatural occurrences in the woods of Alishan, forestry workers were moved to build this Buddhist temple in 1948. Like many Chinese-style Buddhist structures, its exterior is trimmed by intricate design features that temple lovers will adore. Between the incense smoke and throngs of pilgrims, it is an atmospheric place everyone should experience on a trip to Alishan.

Before leaving Alishan, head over to Tanayiku for a brief visit, as its grand suspension bridge, clean river, and indigenous cultural centre will keep you occupied for at least an hour or two. The river is only one of a few in all of Taiwan which are clean enough to allow fish to spawn without incident, while the Tsou First Nations people will treat you to dancing and cuisine which may make this place one of the highlights of your trip.

Alishan Sacred Tree National Park

Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Alishan, Taiwan

Learn more about the history of this area by spending some time in the Alishan Museum. Made from the wood of this region, its interior contains exhibits which explain this area’s history as a centre of the Taiwanese logging industry and its past as a home for indigenous people from the Tsou First Nation.

Check out a cross-section of a typical Cypress tree, and be amazed at its size – from the abundance of rings, you’ll gain an appreciation for how long these virgin stands have existed in this part of the country.

Those wanting to learn even more about this region’s First Nations people will want to spend part of their time visiting Yuyupas. A cultural hall built to help this tribe recover from the effects of Typhoon Morakot in 2009, it contains traditional houses, an exhibition hall, a theatre, and the princess’ quarters.

Cultural Attractions

In the exhibition hall, you’ll find artifacts which show traditional clothing and how they hunted food over the years, among other items, making it a great place to see how the first residents of Taiwan lived before others moved here from the mainland.

Romantics will not want to miss including Sister Lake on their itinerary. A tranquil pond situated in the midst of the Alishan Forest Recreation Area, it is a gorgeous spot with a tragic tale attached to it. According to legend, sisters who were in love with the same man made a death pact to avoid their predicament from damaging their relationship as sisters.

Finally, don’t miss the chance to send a wooden postcard to friends and family from the atmospheric Alishan Post Office. Despite the weight of this gift, it costs less than a dollar to send abroad, so do something touristy for a change – your loved ones will appreciate the gesture.

source: THE POOR TRAVELER on YouTube

Top 20 Things To Do in Alishan, Taiwan For Visitors

Here’s your guide to the top 20 things to do in Alishan, ensuring your visit is filled with unforgettable moments.

Alishan Mountain Range Views

1. Ride the Alishan Forest Railway

Experience the charm of the Alishan Forest Railway, a century-old train journey that winds through lush forests and steep mountains. Starting from Chiayi, this scenic ride offers picturesque views of Taiwan’s countryside before reaching the high-altitude landscapes of Alishan. The journey is as captivating as the destination, providing a unique glimpse into the area’s natural beauty. It’s a must-do for any visitor to Alishan, combining history with stunning scenery.

2. Watch the Sunrise at Zhu Shan

Witnessing sunrise at Zhu Shan (Bamboo Mountain) is a quintessential Alishan experience. Visitors wake up in the early hours to catch a short train ride to the viewing platform, where the sun rises above a sea of clouds, illuminating the mountain peaks. The ethereal beauty of this moment, with changing colors and shifting clouds, is unforgettable. Be sure to dress warmly, as mornings at this elevation can be chilly.

3. Explore the Alishan National Scenic Area

The Alishan National Scenic Area, encompassing vast forests, tea plantations, and mountain peaks, offers numerous hiking trails for all levels. Walk among ancient cypress trees, some over 2,000 years old, and immerse yourself in the serene beauty of the mountains. The area is home to diverse flora and fauna, including the famous cherry blossoms in spring. It’s a paradise for nature lovers, offering endless opportunities for exploration and photography.

4. Visit the Alishan Sacred Tree

Pay homage to the Alishan Sacred Tree, a giant cypress that was over 3,000 years old before it fell in 1997. The remains of the tree still stand as a testament to the ancient forest’s majesty. A walk to the sacred tree takes you through beautiful forested paths, offering a sense of the area’s deep spiritual and natural significance. It’s a poignant reminder of nature’s power and resilience.

5. Stroll Through Fenqihu Old Town

Fenqihu Old Town, a historic stop along the Alishan Forest Railway, is famous for its traditional bento boxes, bamboo handicrafts, and old street lined with snack vendors and tea shops. The Fenqihu Railway Station Museum provides insights into the railway’s history. Don’t miss trying the local specialty – Fenqihu bamboo rice, cooked inside bamboo sections. The town is also the starting point for several hiking trails, making it an ideal place to enjoy both culture and nature.

6. Hike the Tashan Trail

The Tashan Trail is one of Alishan’s most challenging and rewarding hikes, leading to one of the highest peaks in the area. The trail offers stunning views, passing through dense forests and over mountain streams. Reaching the summit provides a sense of achievement and breathtaking panoramas of the surrounding mountains. It’s a full-day hike, requiring good physical condition and preparation.

7. Experience the Tea Plantations

Alishan is renowned for its high-quality oolong tea, and visiting a local tea plantation is a delightful experience. Learn about the tea-making process, from picking to processing, and enjoy a tea tasting session with stunning mountain views as your backdrop. Many plantations offer guided tours that deepen your appreciation for Taiwan’s tea culture. It’s also a perfect opportunity to buy some tea directly from the source.

8. Attend the Alishan Cherry Blossom Festival

If you visit in spring, the Alishan Cherry Blossom Festival is a spectacle not to be missed. The mountain is blanketed in shades of pink and white, creating a magical atmosphere. The festival features cultural performances and night-time light-ups, enhancing the beauty of the blossoms. It’s a popular time to visit, so booking accommodation in advance is recommended.

9. Explore the Sister Ponds

The Sister Ponds, two serene bodies of water surrounded by lush forests, are connected by a charming walking path. Local legend tells a story of sisterly love and tragedy associated with these ponds, adding a layer of mystique to your visit. The tranquil setting is perfect for leisurely walks, offering peace and quiet away from the busier spots. It’s a romantic and picturesque spot, ideal for reflection and nature walks.

10. Discover the Shouzhen Temple

Shouzhen Temple, located in the heart of the Alishan National Scenic Area, is the largest temple in Alishan dedicated to the Taoist god of war. This spiritual site is not only a place of worship but also offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

11. Enjoy Local Cuisine at Alishan House

Dine at Alishan House to sample local Taiwanese cuisine with a view. This historic hotel and restaurant offers dishes prepared with fresh, local ingredients, including mountain vegetables and trout. The dining experience is enhanced by the stunning mountainous backdrop, making for a memorable meal. Alishan House also provides insights into the area’s history, making it a cultural as well as a culinary destination.

12. Visit the Xianglin Giant Tree

Take a hike to see the Xianglin Giant Tree, an enormous and ancient cypress tree that stands as a guardian of the forest. Estimated to be over 2,300 years old, this tree is a symbol of the Alishan area’s natural heritage. The walk to the tree is an adventure itself, passing through beautiful landscapes and offering chances to spot wildlife. It’s a serene spot for contemplation and connection with nature.

13. Watch the Cloud Ocean at the Yushan Viewpoint

Yushan Viewpoint is one of the best spots in Alishan to witness the “cloud ocean,” a breathtaking phenomenon where clouds roll over the mountains like waves in the sea. Early mornings and late afternoons are the best times to catch this natural spectacle. The viewpoint also offers clear views of Yushan (Jade Mountain), Taiwan’s highest peak. Bring a camera to capture the awe-inspiring scenery that unfolds at this magnificent location.

14. Soak in the Hot Springs of Dongpu

A short drive from Alishan, the Dongpu Hot Springs offer a relaxing escape. These natural hot springs, located near the base of Yushan, are known for their therapeutic properties. There are several resorts and public bathhouses where visitors can soak in the mineral-rich waters while enjoying views of the surrounding mountains. It’s an ideal way to unwind after a day of hiking and exploring.

15. Take a Leisurely Walk on the Giant Trees Boardwalk

The Giant Trees Boardwalk is an easy, accessible trail that leads through a forest of towering ancient trees, including cypresses and red cedars. This peaceful walk is suitable for all ages and offers up-close encounters with some of Alishan’s oldest residents. Informational signs along the path provide insights into the ecology of the area. It’s a must-do for nature lovers and those seeking a tranquil forest experience.

16. Participate in a Traditional Tsou Tribe Cultural Experience

The Alishan area is home to the Tsou tribe, one of Taiwan’s indigenous peoples. Participate in a cultural experience that includes traditional music, dance, and crafts. Visitors can learn about the Tsou people’s way of life, their relationship with the land, and their cultural heritage. It’s an enriching experience that offers a deeper understanding of Taiwan’s indigenous cultures.

17. Stargaze at Alishan’s High Altitude

The clear skies and minimal light pollution in Alishan make it an excellent spot for stargazing. Several areas in the Alishan National Scenic Area offer perfect conditions for observing the stars, planets, and Milky Way. Nighttime guided tours are available, providing telescopes and expert knowledge on the cosmos. It’s a magical experience that connects you with the vastness of the universe.

18. Explore the Alishan Forest Village

Alishan Forest Village, located within the scenic area, is a quaint settlement that offers a glimpse into life in the mountains. Here, you can visit local shops selling handmade crafts, tea, and souvenirs. The village also has cozy cafes where you can enjoy a cup of Alishan tea while soaking up the peaceful atmosphere. The architecture and layout of the village blend harmoniously with the natural surroundings.

19. Photograph the Sea of Clouds at Erwanping

Erwanping is another excellent location for viewing Alishan’s famous sea of clouds. Situated at a lower altitude, it often offers a different perspective on the cloud phenomenon, with layers of clouds flowing through the valley below. The area also features terraced tea plantations that add to the scenic beauty. Sunrise at Erwanping is particularly stunning, making it a favorite spot for photographers.

20. Attend the Alishan Sunrise and Sunset Concerts

The Alishan National Scenic Area occasionally hosts sunrise and sunset concerts, combining the natural beauty of the area with live music performances. These events provide a unique cultural experience, with the music enhancing the already magical atmosphere of sunrise or sunset in the mountains. Check the local event schedule for performances during your visit, and enjoy this harmonious blend of nature and art.

Alishan oolong tea is a must try item in Taiwan

What To Eat and Drink at Restaurants in Alishan, Taiwan

Here’s a detailed list of what to eat and drink when visiting restaurants in Alishan:

1. Bamboo Rice

A traditional tribal delicacy, bamboo rice is glutinous rice mixed with meat or mushrooms and steamed inside bamboo tubes. This cooking method infuses the rice with a subtle woody aroma, creating a unique flavor that’s both earthy and comforting.

2. Alishan Oolong Tea

Renowned worldwide, Alishan Oolong Tea is a must-try. Grown on the high mountain slopes of Alishan, this tea is cherished for its floral fragrance and smooth, creamy taste. Enjoy it freshly brewed for a true taste of Alishan’s terroir.

3. Wild Boar Sausage

A nod to the area’s indigenous cuisine, wild boar sausage is savory and slightly gamey, with spices that highlight the meat’s natural flavors. Grilled over an open flame, it’s a hearty dish that pairs well with local vegetables.

4. Alishan High Mountain Vegetables

Due to its elevation, Alishan produces an array of high mountain vegetables that are crisp, tender, and full of flavor. Sample these in a simple stir-fry or as part of a local hot pot to truly appreciate their freshness.

5. Aboriginal-Style Chicken

Marinated with indigenous herbs and spices, wrapped in leaves, and slow-cooked over a fire, this chicken dish is succulent and packed with flavor. The cooking method imparts a smoky aroma that enhances the meat’s natural juiciness.

6. Sticky Rice Cakes

A sweet treat popular in Alishan, sticky rice cakes are made from glutinous rice flour and can be filled with sweet bean paste or simply coated in peanut powder. They’re the perfect snack to enjoy with a cup of Alishan tea.

7. Mountain Trout

Freshwater trout from Alishan’s clear streams are a local delicacy. Often served grilled or steamed with a sprinkle of herbs and spices, the fish’s delicate flavor is a testament to the pristine waters of its habitat.

8. Alishan Coffee

Cultivated in the same fertile soil as its famous tea, Alishan coffee is a lesser-known but equally delightful beverage. With its mild acidity and smooth finish, it offers a refreshing change of pace from the area’s traditional teas.

9. Fenqihu Bento

Originally served to travelers on the Alishan Forest Railway, the Fenqihu bento box is a compact meal featuring a variety of local specialties, such as bamboo rice, pickled vegetables, and a selection of meats. It’s a great way to sample different flavors in one sitting.

10. Mochi

Soft, chewy, and sweet, mochi is a popular snack in Alishan. Available in a variety of flavors, from traditional red bean to innovative tea-infused varieties, these rice cakes are a delightful way to end any meal.

Alishan scenic mountain train route

Tours For Visitors To Alishan, Taiwan

For those planning a trip to this breathtaking destination, a variety of tours are available to enhance your experience. Here’s a detailed list of tours tailored for visitors to Alishan, each offering a unique perspective on this majestic mountain area.

1. Alishan Forest Railway Experience

  • Embark on a nostalgic journey aboard the historic Alishan Forest Railway, which winds its way through lush forests and mist-covered mountains. This tour highlights the engineering marvels of the narrow-gauge railway and offers stops at scenic viewpoints and historic stations along the route. It’s a perfect way to experience Alishan’s natural beauty and learn about its logging history.

2. Sunrise and Sea of Clouds Viewing Tour

  • Wake up early for a guided tour to the Alishan viewing platforms, where you can witness the breathtaking spectacle of the sunrise over a sea of clouds. The guide provides insights into the best viewing spots and the phenomenon behind the sea of clouds. This tour is a must-do for photographers and nature lovers.

3. Tea Plantation and Tasting Tour

  • Alishan is famous for its high mountain tea. This tour takes visitors through lush tea plantations, explains the tea-making process, and ends with a tea tasting session where you can savor the distinct flavors of Alishan tea. It’s a relaxing and educational experience that tea enthusiasts will particularly enjoy.

4. Indigenous Culture Exploration Tour

  • Delve into the rich culture of the Tsou people, one of Taiwan’s indigenous tribes, with a tour that includes visits to tribal villages, cultural performances, and traditional Tsou cuisine tasting. Learn about the Tsou’s customs, beliefs, and the significant role they play in conserving the forest. This tour offers a meaningful insight into the area’s cultural heritage.

5. Nature Trails and Hiking Tour

  • Explore Alishan’s diverse ecosystems on a guided hiking tour that takes you through ancient cypress forests, past cascading waterfalls, and along scenic trails offering spectacular views. The tour caters to various fitness levels and highlights the area’s rich biodiversity. A knowledgeable guide shares information about the local flora and fauna, making it an enriching experience for nature enthusiasts.

6. Zhuqi Township Cycling Tour

  • Experience the scenic beauty surrounding Alishan on a cycling tour through Zhuqi Township, known for its picturesque landscapes and agricultural lands. Stop at local attractions, including the Fenqihu Old Street, where you can enjoy traditional snacks and shop for souvenirs. This tour is perfect for those looking to enjoy Alishan’s beauty at a leisurely pace.

7. Photography Tour

  • Led by a professional photographer, this tour is designed to help you capture the magical moments of Alishan, from the enchanting forests and tea plantations to the stunning sunrise over the sea of clouds. Learn photography tips and tricks to take breathtaking photos. It’s ideal for both amateur and experienced photographers.

8. Nighttime Star Gazing Tour

  • After the sun sets, join a guided stargazing tour to admire the clear night skies of Alishan. Learn about the constellations and enjoy the peaceful ambiance of the mountain at night. This tour is a unique way to experience Alishan’s natural beauty after dark.

9. Fenqihu Old Street and Historical Sites Tour

  • Visit the historic Fenqihu railway station, explore the old street known for its bamboo crafts and traditional snacks, and learn about the area’s logging history. This tour provides a glimpse into the past and an opportunity to enjoy local delicacies, including the famous Fenqihu bento.

10. Customized Private Tours

  • For those seeking a more personalized experience, customized private tours are available. These tours allow visitors to tailor their itinerary to include specific attractions, activities, and interests, ensuring a unique and personalized visit to Alishan.

Fenqihu is a great day trip from Alishan, Taiwan

Day Trips From Alishan, Taiwan

The region surrounding Alishan is replete with destinations that offer their own unique landscapes, histories, and experiences. Here’s a list of day trips from Alishan that promise to enrich your Taiwanese journey with memories that last a lifetime.

1. Sun Moon Lake

Nestled in the mountains of Nantou County, Sun Moon Lake is Taiwan’s largest lake, known for its clear, calm waters and stunning surrounding landscapes. Take a boat tour to appreciate the serene beauty of the lake, visit the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village to learn about the indigenous cultures of Taiwan, and enjoy a bike ride around the lake on one of the world’s most scenic cycling paths. The Wenwu Temple, perched on the lake’s edge, offers panoramic views and a peaceful retreat. Sun Moon Lake is perfect for those seeking tranquility and natural beauty.

2. Fenqihu

Fenqihu is a historic town famous for its old street, railway station, and delicious traditional bento boxes. It’s a step back in time, with a visit to the Fenqihu Railway Museum offering insights into the area’s logging past and the development of the Alishan Forest Railway. The town is also the starting point for hikes into the surrounding forests, providing a closer look at the region’s natural beauty. Don’t leave without trying the local delicacies, such as bamboo rice and mochi.

3. Chiayi City

Explore Chiayi City, the gateway to Alishan, rich in culture and history. Visit the Chiayi Tower to enjoy city views, explore the Hinoki Village to learn about Japanese-era logging life, and immerse yourself in the vibrant art scene at the Chiayi Art Museum. The night markets in Chiayi are perfect for tasting local street food and experiencing the lively local atmosphere.

4. Tainan

Tainan, Taiwan’s oldest city, offers a deep dive into the island’s history, with its well-preserved temples, historic forts, and colonial architecture. The Chimei Museum showcases a diverse collection of Western art, musical instruments, and natural history specimens. Food lovers will delight in Tainan’s culinary scene, famous for traditional Taiwanese snacks and dishes. A stroll through the Anping District reveals ancient streets and the historic Anping Fort.

5. Kaohsiung

Kaohsiung, a vibrant port city, is known for its modern skyscrapers, beautiful parks, and cultural landmarks. The Love River is perfect for an evening stroll or a boat ride, while the Lotus Pond area is dotted with colorful temples and pagodas. Art enthusiasts will appreciate the Pier-2 Art Center, a revitalized warehouse district now hosting galleries, cafes, and shops. Don’t miss the stunning views from the 85 Sky Tower.

6. Yushan National Park

Yushan National Park is home to Jade Mountain, the highest peak in Northeast Asia, offering challenging hikes and breathtaking scenery. The park’s diverse ecosystems host a variety of flora and fauna, including endemic species. Numerous trails cater to different fitness levels, providing opportunities to experience Taiwan’s mountainous landscape. It’s an ideal destination for adventurers and nature lovers.

7. Alangyi Historic Trail

The Alangyi Historic Trail offers a unique trek along Taiwan’s southeastern coast, featuring pristine beaches, rocky cliffs, and historical sites. This path was once used by indigenous peoples and early settlers for trade and travel. The trail requires a permit due to its ecological sensitivity, ensuring a serene hiking experience. It’s a day of adventure that combines history, culture, and natural beauty.

8. Siraya National Scenic Area

Discover the Siraya National Scenic Area to learn about the Siraya indigenous people and enjoy the natural hot springs and scenic spots. The area features several hiking trails that lead to waterfalls, forests, and panoramic viewpoints. The Guanziling Hot Springs are famous for their mud baths and skin-healing properties. It’s a rejuvenating experience that blends cultural insights with relaxation.

9. Baguashan

Visit Baguashan in Changhua County to see the Giant Buddha Statue and enjoy the sweeping views of the Taiwan Strait and surrounding plains. The area is also known for its historical sites related to the anti-Japanese resistance. The nearby Baguashan Tunnel hosts thousands of bats, offering an unusual wildlife spectacle at dusk. It’s a trip that combines spirituality, history, and natural wonders.

10. Tataka

The Tataka area, near the base of Jade Mountain in Yushan National Park, is the starting point for several high-mountain trails. Even those not aiming to summit Jade Mountain can enjoy shorter hikes that offer stunning views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. The Tataka Visitor Center provides valuable information on the area’s ecology and geography. It’s a breath of fresh air for those looking to explore Taiwan’s alpine environment.

Gorgeous scenic views rom the Alishan train

Alishan Transportation Guide

Understanding your transportation options is key to planning a seamless trip. Here’s a comprehensive guide to getting around Alishan:

Reaching Alishan

By Rail

The Alishan Forest Railway is not just a means of transportation; it’s an attraction in its own right. This historic narrow-gauge train runs from Chiayi to Alishan, providing a scenic journey through forests and past tea plantations. However, due to maintenance and weather conditions, operations can be sporadic, so it’s essential to check the schedule in advance.

By Bus

Buses from Chiayi offer a reliable and frequent service to Alishan. The journey takes approximately 2-3 hours, winding up the mountain roads to reach the Alishan National Scenic Area. Buses are equipped to handle luggage, making them a convenient option for travelers.

By Car

Renting a car provides the flexibility to explore Alishan at your own pace. The drive from Chiayi to Alishan is scenic, with well-marked roads. However, be prepared for winding mountain routes, and ensure you have a valid international driver’s license.

Getting Around Alishan

Shuttle Buses

Within the Alishan National Scenic Area, a network of shuttle buses connects major sights and trailheads. These buses are an efficient way to move around, especially for those planning to hike or visit remote locations within the park.


Alishan is renowned for its walking trails, ranging from leisurely walks to more strenuous hikes. Exploring on foot is one of the best ways to appreciate the area’s natural beauty, with well-marked paths leading to ancient forests, temples, and viewpoints.

Forest Railway

For shorter distances within the scenic area, the Alishan Forest Railway also operates smaller routes, such as the line to Zhaoping Station, offering a unique and charming way to move between sights.

Private Tours

Several companies offer private tours with transportation included. These can be a great option for those looking to learn more about the area’s history and ecology from knowledgeable guides, with the convenience of planned transportation.

Tips for Alishan Transportation

  • Plan Ahead: Alishan’s weather can be unpredictable, affecting transportation options, especially the forest railway. Check schedules and weather conditions in advance.
  • Purchase Tickets Early: For both the forest railway and buses, it’s advisable to buy tickets in advance, particularly during peak tourist seasons like the cherry blossom period.
  • Stay Informed: Keep an eye on announcements from the Alishan National Scenic Area and the Taiwan Railways Administration for any changes in service due to maintenance or weather conditions.

Kenting National Park In Taiwan is a great place to visit after Alishan

Where To Visit After Your Trip To Alishan?

After soaking in the serene beauty and cultural richness of Alishan, continue your exploration of Taiwan with these captivating destinations, each offering its unique charm and attractions.

1. Sun Moon Lake

Nestled in the heart of Taiwan, Sun Moon Lake is renowned for its crystal-clear waters and picturesque surroundings. Take a leisurely bike ride around the lake to soak in the stunning scenery, or hop on a boat tour for a different perspective. Visit the Wenwu Temple to admire its intricate architecture and enjoy panoramic views of the lake. Sun Moon Lake is also a great place to sample local tea and traditional Thao tribe cuisine.

2. Tainan

As Taiwan’s oldest city, Tainan is a treasure trove of history, culture, and culinary delights. Explore the ancient temples, such as the Confucius Temple, to get a glimpse into the past. Wander through the charming streets of the Anping District, where you can visit the Anping Tree House and Fort Zeelandia. Don’t miss trying Tainan’s famous street food, like Danzai noodles and coffin bread.

3. Kaohsiung

Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s harbor city, blends modernity with tradition. Visit the Love River for a romantic evening stroll or a relaxing boat ride. The Lotus Pond, with its dragon and tiger pagodas, offers a peaceful escape amidst the city bustle. Art lovers will appreciate the Pier-2 Art Center, an industrial space transformed into a vibrant cultural hub.

4. Kenting National Park

Located at Taiwan’s southern tip, Kenting National Park is a paradise for nature lovers, boasting beautiful beaches, coral reefs, and lush landscapes. Spend your days sunbathing, snorkeling, or surfing at one of the many pristine beaches. Explore the Kenting Night Market for delicious street food and local handicrafts. Hike up to the Eluanbi Lighthouse for spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean.

5. Lukang

Lukang is a charming town known for its well-preserved heritage and traditional Taiwanese architecture. Stroll through the old streets to admire the intricate details of the ancient buildings and temples. The Lukang Folk Arts Museum offers insights into the town’s rich cultural heritage. Be sure to try Lukang’s specialty dishes, such as oyster omelets and traditional mochi.

6. Taroko Gorge

Taroko Gorge, with its towering marble cliffs and deep valleys, is one of Taiwan’s natural wonders. Hike along the trails that offer breathtaking views of the gorge and its surroundings. Visit the Eternal Spring Shrine, built in memory of the workers who lost their lives constructing the nearby highway. The gorge’s beauty and grandeur make it a must-visit for nature enthusiasts.

7. Taipei

Taiwan’s bustling capital, Taipei, is a city of contrasts, where traditional temples stand alongside towering skyscrapers. Ascend the Taipei 101 for panoramic views of the city, or explore the vibrant night markets for a taste of local life. The National Palace Museum houses an extensive collection of Chinese imperial artifacts. Taipei’s diverse neighborhoods, from the historic Wanhua District to the trendy Xinyi District, offer endless exploration opportunities.

8. Penghu Islands

The Penghu archipelago, located in the Taiwan Strait, is famous for its crystal-clear waters, white sand beaches, and unique basalt formations. Enjoy water sports such as windsurfing and kitesurfing, or simply relax on the beach. Explore the traditional villages and taste fresh seafood. The Penghu Fireworks Festival in spring is a spectacular event not to be missed.

9. Hualien

Hualien serves as the gateway to the Taroko Gorge and offers a laid-back atmosphere with stunning natural scenery. Visit the Qixingtan Beach for a peaceful day by the Pacific Ocean. The Hualien Cultural and Creative Industries Park is a great place to shop for local crafts and art. Don’t miss the opportunity to try Hualien’s famous mochi and other local delicacies.

10. Jiufen

Jiufen, a quaint mountain town, was once a gold mining hub and is now known for its narrow cobblestone streets, traditional teahouses, and stunning views of the East China Sea. Explore the Old Street, lined with shops selling unique souvenirs and tasty snacks. Enjoy a cup of Taiwanese tea while taking in the breathtaking views from the A Mei Teahouse. Jiufen’s magical atmosphere is said to have inspired the animated film “Spirited Away.”

Alishan Mountain views over the clouds in Taiwan

Alishan Travel Guide: Final Thoughts

Alishan is not merely a destination on the map; it encapsulates a profound journey into the heart of Taiwan, weaving together the majestic beauty of nature, the depth of historical narratives, and the richness of cultural heritage. For those who have ventured through its enchanting landscapes, Alishan remains a cherished memory, offering insights and connections that resonate deeply.

Embracing the Serenity

More Than a Mountain

Alishan stands as a testament to the power of serenity and the beauty of stillness. Witnessing the sunrise illuminate the sky above the Sea of Clouds or hearing the ancient whispers of the forests, visitors are reminded of the joy found in tranquil moments. Alishan serves as a sanctuary, inviting all to slow down, to breathe in the purity of nature, and to appreciate the world in its natural splendor.

A Cultural Odyssey

A Tapestry of Traditions

Journeying through Alishan is to embark on a cultural odyssey, a chance to delve into the traditions of the Tsou people and uncover the historical imprints left by Japanese influence. Each path in Alishan’s misty realms is a pathway through time, revealing stories of resilience, harmony, and survival that are intricately woven into the fabric of the landscape. This journey enriches the spirit, offering a window into the diverse tapestry that forms Taiwan’s cultural identity.

Conservation and Respect

Guardians of Nature

The narrative of Alishan is also a clarion call for conservation and respect for our natural and cultural treasures. The towering majesty of the cypress trees and the area’s rich biodiversity underscore the critical importance of preserving such wonders for future generations. The region champions sustainable travel practices, encouraging visitors to tread lightly, leaving the smallest of footprints and taking away only lasting memories.

For those who have walked its trails, either in reality or through these narratives, may Alishan have left an indelible impression, inspiring continuous exploration, learning, and an unending appreciation for the beauty that lies just beyond the horizon. Alishan awaits future visits, ready to unveil new wonders and share more of its secrets nestled within its ancient landscapes.

Alishan autumn leaves on the train tracks

Ode To Alishan

Amidst the clouds and misty air, Alishan’s beauty is beyond compare, From towering trees to mountain views so rare, Each moment in this wonderland is worth the fare.

With cherry blossoms in the spring, And autumn leaves so bright and captivating, Alishan’s charm is an evergreen thing, A sight to behold, forever captivating.

Take a train ride to Fenqihu town, Or hike the trails to see waterfalls come down, Visit the tea plantations, roam the night markets so renown, Experience it all, from the city to the countryside’s crown.

Alishan, a paradise in the clouds, A place of beauty that leaves one wowed, For travelers seeking nature’s shroud, It’s a must-visit, an experience endowed.

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