A Travel Guide to the Natural Wonders of Alishan, Taiwan
Alishan is a mountainous area in Taiwan renowned for its scenic beauty and cultural significance. The region is home to a vast array of natural wonders, including towering peaks, lush forests, and cascading waterfalls. Visitors to Alishan can explore the area’s many hiking trails, take in breathtaking views from the mountaintops, and learn about the unique traditions and customs of the local indigenous people.
One of the most popular attractions in Alishan is the Alishan Forest Railway, a narrow-gauge railway that winds its way through the mountains and provides stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The railway was built by the Japanese during their occupation of Taiwan and has since become a beloved symbol of the region’s history and heritage. Other must-see sights in Alishan include the Sacred Tree, a towering red cypress that is over 2,000 years old, and the Alishan National Scenic Area, which encompasses over 140 square kilometers of pristine wilderness.
Whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff, or just looking for a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Alishan is a destination that is sure to delight and inspire. With its stunning scenery, rich cultural heritage, and endless opportunities for adventure, Alishan is a place that truly has something for everyone.
Getting to Alishan
Alishan is a popular destination in Taiwan, known for its beautiful mountainous scenery and famous sunrise views. There are several ways to get to Alishan, depending on where you are coming from.
The most convenient way to get to Alishan from Taipei is by taking the Taiwan High-Speed Rail (HSR) to Chiayi Station, which takes about 90 minutes. From there, you can take a bus or a taxi to Alishan, which takes about 2-3 hours. Alternatively, you can take a train from Taipei Main Station to Chiayi Station, which takes about 3-4 hours, then take a bus or taxi to Alishan.
If you are coming from Taichung, you can take a train or a bus to Chiayi Station, then take a bus or taxi to Alishan. The train ride takes about 2-3 hours, while the bus ride takes about 3-4 hours. Alternatively, you can take a direct bus from Taichung to Alishan, which takes about 4-5 hours.
From Kaohsiung, you can take a train or a bus to Chiayi Station, then take a bus or taxi to Alishan. The train ride takes about 1-2 hours, while the bus takes about 2-3 hours. Alternatively, you can take a direct bus from Kaohsiung to Alishan, which takes about 4-5 hours.
If you are coming from Tainan, you can take a train or a bus to Chiayi Station, then take a bus or taxi to Alishan. The train ride takes about 1-2 hours, while the bus ride takes about 2-3 hours.
The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) and bus companies provide regular services to and from Alishan, so transportation should not be a major issue. Additionally, the Alishan Express is a popular train that runs through the mountainous region, offering a scenic and unique way to reach Alishan.
Alishan is a mountainous region in central Taiwan that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and outdoor activities. Here are some of the top spots to explore in Alishan:
Alishan National Forest Recreation Area
Experience the breathtaking beauty of Alishan National Forest Recreation Area, a 140-square-kilometer expanse of lush forests and rolling mountains. Explore the winding trails, enjoy the fresh mountain air, and admire the stunning scenery.
Journey through the Tsou aboriginal villages, renowned for their tea production, and ride the Alishan Forest Railway, a narrow-gauge train that passes through high-altitude forests. Don’t forget to stroll along the Giant Tree Plank Trail boardwalk, where you can marvel at the ancient cypress trees, including the fallen Alishan Sacred Tree. A visit to this incredible area is an absolute must!
Alishan National Scenic Area
Alishan, a 415 square kilometer (41,500 ha) wonderland of mountain wilderness, four villages, waterfalls, high-altitude tea plantations, and a multitude of hiking trails, is a popular destination for tourists and mountain climbers. It is a major landmark of Taiwan, renowned for its production of high mountain tea and wasabi, and the Alishan National Scenic Area is a must-see for its spectacular sea of clouds, sunrises, and sunsets.
The Alishan Forest Railway, a narrow-gauge railway that winds through the forest, offers breathtaking views of the mountains and valleys. Visitors should not miss the awe-inspiring sight of the sunrises, sunsets, and sea of clouds in the area between Alishan and Yüshan, the railway station, and the sacred trees.
Visiting Ciyun Temple, formerly known as Alishan Temple, can be a truly magical experience. Built in 1919 by the Japanese, this Buddhist temple was constructed in an area they felt was full of spiritual energy.
As the sun sets, you can witness the stunning sight of the sea of clouds and the beautiful sunset glow that radiates from the sky. Inside the temple, you can find the 1000-year-old Karmuni Buddha statue, made of bronze on the outside and gold sand on the inside. The temple is also the starting point for the trail leading to Shenben, which is worth exploring in the evening.
The afterglow of the sunset, the golden sea of clouds, and the flying waves make for a captivating view. Don’t forget to take a look at the tall and handsome Taiwan cedar tree next to Ciyun Temple, which is a special product of Taiwan and a rarity among the trees in the country.
Alishan Sacred Tree Relics
Discover the ancient wonder of the Sacred Tree of Alishan, a giant red cypress tree over 3,000 years old that was discovered in 1906. With a circumference of 25 meters and a height of 50 meters, this sacred tree is a symbol of cultural heritage to the local indigenous people. Take a stroll around the tree and learn about its history and significance.
Sadly, it was struck by lightning twice in the 1950s and dumped on the railway in 1997. However, the authorities arranged to bring the tree back to nature, planting red cypress saplings on the spot to honor its spirit and symbolize the eternal life of the Sacred Tree of Alishan. Visit the ruins of the tree at the Shenmu station of the small forest train and experience the spiritual symbol of Alishan for yourself.
Alishan is also home to a network of hiking trails offering various difficulty levels and scenic views. Visitors can choose from short walks to longer hikes that take them through the forest, along mountain ridges, and to scenic viewpoints. Some popular hiking trails include the Tashan Trail, the Zhushan Trail, and the Shermuh Trail.
Alishan is a place that offers a unique experience to travelers. Here are some of the best things to do and see in Alishan.
Alishan is famous for its tea plantations. Visitors can take a tour of the plantations and learn about the tea-making process. The tea grown in Alishan is known for its high quality and unique flavor. Many tea shops in the area offer tastings and sell tea leaves to take home.
In the spring, Alishan is covered in beautiful cherry blossoms. Visitors can take a stroll through the cherry blossom gardens and enjoy the stunning scenery. The cherry blossoms are in full bloom from late March to early April.
Sunrise and Sunset
One of the most popular activities in Alishan is watching the sunrise and sunset. The sunrise at Alishan is especially beautiful, with the sun rising above the sea of clouds. Visitors can take a train to the top of the mountain to watch the sunrise or sunset. It is recommended to arrive early to get a good spot.
Alishan is known for its local cuisine. Visitors can try traditional dishes such as Alishan chicken, bamboo rice, and mountain vegetables. Many coffee shops in the area serve locally grown coffee.
Accommodation in Alishan
When it comes to finding a place to stay in Alishan, there are several options to choose from. Below are some of the most popular accommodations in the area.
Perched atop the majestic Alishan Forest Recreation Area in Chiayi County, Taiwan, Alishan House is a luxurious hotel that promises to provide guests with a stay of unparalleled comfort and convenience. Set 2,200 meters above sea level, visitors to this majestic location can marvel at the stunning natural sceneries, high-mountain tea plantations, and breathtaking cherry blossoms all around.
With its prime location in the heart of Alishan, the hotel is within walking distance of many popular attractions, and its rooms are spacious and well-appointed. Guests can also enjoy a range of amenities, including a restaurant, bar, and spa. Alishan House is the perfect place to experience the beauty and culture of this unique area.
Stay at Alishan Shermuh Int’ Tourist Hotel and be immersed in the beauty of the Alishan National Park. Just steps away from the Alishan National Forest Recreation Area and a short drive from Mount Ali, this hotel offers amazing views of the surrounding mountains.
Enjoy a comfortable stay with well-equipped rooms and a range of amenities, including a restaurant, bar, and spa. Explore the nearby Shouzhen Temple and Zhaoping Park, both within easy reach of the hotel.
Immerse yourself in nature at Kaofeng Hotel, a budget-friendly option located in the Alishan National Scenic Area. Just 7 minutes from Alishan train station and 18 km from Lulin Observatory, the elegant building offers guests comfortable, unfussy rooms with wood floors, flat-screen TVs and floor-to-ceiling windows. Upgrade to a room with a fireplace for a truly cozy experience.
Enjoy a range of amenities, including a Chinese breakfast buffet in the restaurant, free Wi-Fi, and a rooftop terrace with panoramic mountain views. Make the most of your stay in Alishan with easy access to many popular attractions.
Wankou Hotel is the perfect place to stay for a comfortable and affordable getaway in the beautiful Alishan National Scenic Area. Located just 6 minutes’ walk from the Alishan station for Forest Railway rides and 2 km from Mount Daito, this mid-range hotel offers spacious and well-appointed rooms with wood-clad walls, flat-screen TVs, tea and coffee-making facilities, and even balconies with stunning mountain views.
Guests can enjoy a range of amenities, including a restaurant, free Wi-Fi, parking, and breakfast. Make your stay in the Alishan National Forest Recreation Area an unforgettable one at the Wankou Hotel.
Dafong Hotel is a popular choice for visitors to Alishan. The hotel is located in the Alishan National Forest Recreation Area and offers guests stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The rooms are comfortable and well-equipped, and guests can enjoy a range of amenities, including a restaurant, bar, and spa.
Located just a 7-minute stroll from Alishan Station, Chinshan Hotel is the perfect budget-friendly option for visitors to the Alishan National Scenic Area. From the hotel’s red brick facade, guests can explore the area’s stunning attractions, including the Lulin Observatory, which is 18 km away. Inside, the cozy rooms boast all the necessary amenities, such as cable TV, tea and coffee-making facilities, and free Wi-Fi.
For larger groups, one room can accommodate up to 8 people, and all rooms come with a range of comforts, including sitting areas, short-legged tables, and floor cushions. Plus, the hotel also boasts a restaurant for guests to enjoy.
Alishan is a wonderful place to visit, but there are also many nearby attractions that are worth exploring. Here are a few of the most popular destinations:
Fenqihu is a small village located near Alishan that is known for its traditional architecture and delicious food. Visitors can take a ride on the historic Fenqihu Railway, which winds through the mountains and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The village is also home to several tea plantations, where visitors can learn about the tea-making process and sample some of the local brews.
Sun Moon Lake
Sun Moon Lake is a picturesque lake in central Taiwan, about a two-hour drive from Alishan. The lake is surrounded by lush green mountains and is a popular spot for boating, hiking, and cycling. Visitors can also explore the nearby temples and pagodas or take a cable car ride to the top of the mountain for breathtaking views.
Taroko Gorge is a stunning natural wonder located on the east coast of Taiwan, about a four-hour drive from Alishan. The gorge is known for its steep cliffs, rushing rivers, and crystal-clear waterfalls. Visitors can explore the many hiking trails that wind through the gorge or take a guided tour to learn more about the local flora and fauna.
Yushan, also known as Jade Mountain, is the highest peak in Taiwan and is located about a three-hour drive from Alishan. The mountain is a popular destination for hikers and mountaineers, who come to tackle the challenging trails and enjoy the stunning views from the summit. Visitors can also explore the nearby hot springs and soak in the healing waters.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Alishan is during the autumn months of September to November, when the weather is cool and dry, and the leaves turn vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow. Spring is also a popular time to visit when the cherry blossoms bloom in March and April. However, be aware that this is peak tourist season, and the crowds can be overwhelming.
Weather and Climate
Alishan has a subtropical climate with high humidity and frequent rainfall throughout the year. Summers are hot and humid, with temperatures ranging from 25°C to 30°C. Winters are cool and damp, with temperatures dropping to around 10°C. The best time to visit Alishan is during the autumn months of September to November when the weather is cool and dry.
The official language of Taiwan is Mandarin Chinese, but many Taiwanese people also speak English. In Alishan, most signs and announcements are in both Mandarin and English, so communication should not be a problem for English-speaking visitors.
The currency used in Taiwan is the New Taiwan Dollar (TWD). Visitors can exchange their currency at banks, hotels, and airports. Credit cards are widely accepted in major cities but may not be accepted in smaller towns and rural areas. It is advisable to carry cash when traveling to Alishan.
Traveling to Alishan can be an exciting and memorable experience. Here are some useful travel tips to help make your trip even more enjoyable:
- Plan your itinerary ahead of time: Alishan has a lot to offer, and it’s important to plan your itinerary ahead of time to make the most of your trip. Consider visiting popular attractions like the Alishan National Forest Recreation Area, Tashan Trail, and Jiemei (Sister) Ponds.
- Travel as a team: If you’re traveling in a group, consider renting a shuttle bus or purchasing a tour package to make transportation and logistics easier.
- Know your gate: If you’re taking the train to Alishan, make sure you know which gate to enter at the train station. The Alishan Forest Railway has two gates: the Main Gate and the North Gate.
- Watch Alishan on YouTube: Before your trip, consider watching videos of Alishan on YouTube to get a better idea of what to expect. You can find videos of the Alishan Forest Railway, the sunrise, and more.
- Choose your lodging carefully: There are many lodging options in Alishan Township, including hotels, guesthouses, and homestays. Consider staying in the highlands for a more peaceful and scenic experience.
- Prepare for downhill hiking: If you plan on hiking downhill from Alishan, make sure you’re prepared with sturdy shoes and plenty of water. The downhill hike can be steep and challenging.
- Respect the forest park: Alishan National Forest Recreation Area is a protected area, so it’s important to respect the environment and follow park rules. Don’t litter, stay on designated trails, and avoid damaging plants or wildlife.
- Learn some Taiwanese Min-nan: Taiwanese Min-nan is the local language in Alishan, so learning a few basic phrases can be helpful and respectful. Consider learning how to say hello, thank you, and excuse me.
Alishan is located in a remote area, so it’s important to plan ahead and be prepared for your trip. By following these travel tips, you can have a safe and enjoyable experience in one of Taiwan’s most beautiful mountain ranges.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the top attractions to see in Alishan?
Alishan is known for its scenic beauty, and there are many attractions to see. The most popular attraction is the Alishan Forest Railway, which takes visitors on a scenic ride through the mountains. Other popular attractions include the Alishan National Forest Recreation Area, the Sacred Tree, and the Alishan Sunrise. Visitors can also hike through the mountains and explore the tea plantations.
How do I get from Taipei to Alishan?
The easiest way to get to Alishan from Taipei is by taking a train to Chiayi and then transferring to the Alishan Forest Railway. The train ride from Taipei to Chiayi takes around two hours, and the Alishan Forest Railway ride takes around 3.5 hours. Alternatively, visitors can take a bus from Taipei to Alishan, which takes around 5-6 hours.
What is the best time of year to visit Alishan?
The best time to visit Alishan is in the spring or fall when the weather is mild and the scenery is beautiful. In the spring, visitors can see the cherry blossoms in bloom, and in the fall, the mountains are covered in a blanket of red and gold leaves. Summer can be hot and humid, and winter can be cold and snowy.
What are some recommended accommodations in Alishan?
There are many accommodations in Alishan, ranging from budget-friendly hostels to luxury hotels. Some popular options include the Alishan House, the Alishan Tea Homestay, and the Alishan Shermuh Hotel. Visitors can also stay in nearby towns like Chiayi and Fenqihu.
How many days should I plan to spend in Alishan?
Visitors should plan to spend at least one or two days in Alishan to see the main attractions and enjoy the scenery. However, those who want to hike and explore the area more thoroughly may want to plan for three or four days.
What is the best way to get around Alishan?
The best way to get around Alishan is by foot or by taking the Alishan Forest Railway. Visitors can also rent bicycles or scooters to explore the area. However, it is important to note that the roads in Alishan can be steep and winding, so inexperienced riders may want to take caution.
Alishan Travel and Tour Packages
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