Alishan is one of the most beautiful mountains in Taiwan. The steam-train pulling red carriages chug forward the heritage rails that enclose pine trees and cherry trees. This is a journey that I wished could pause; I wanted to stay on the train. The construction of this short scenic railroad started in 1906 and begun operation in 1912.
Alishan’s highest peak is at 2,663 meters and the average peak of Alishan Mountain around 2,500 meters. The tea plantations clad the foothill of Alishan making it an evergreen landscape. Taking a deep breath of the crisp mountain air to rejuvenate your soul.
Alishan Scenic Area is where the main tourist attraction is. If you have more days, explore the tea plantations. Alishan’s Oolong tea is renowned for its quality. It’s my favorite amongst the Lishan tea.
The train ticket is such a great souvenir from Alishan. Its quality prints can be used in your journal. Each way cost NT$ 100. You do not have to pre-book for the sunrise train. It’s available at the ticket counter. Alishan Forest Railway is the main station in the tourist park. It runs to Chaoping, Shenmu (Sacred Tree), and Zhushan (sunrise viewing point).
Day 1 Follow the trails
It was about 10 AM when I arrived at Alishan. It’s already too late for sunrise. The weather is perfect for cherry blossoms. The pine forest is quiet and the lush green moss making the landscape magical. Sunlight filtered through trees. This Giant Tree Cluster Trail is easy and continued on this trail, the crowd disappeared. If you follow this trail, it takes you to the Sacred Tree Station. I heard near the entrance, opposite from 7-11 is a great spot for sunset from a local man. I did not see a sea of clouds but he did last time.
- Train tracks from Duigaoyue to Sister Ponds
- Tashan Trail is a difficult 4 hours trail but worth the hike for a majestic view of Tashan and Yushan as the viewpoint is at 2,663-meter height. 塔山步道
Day 2 Sunrise
A trip to Alishan is incomplete without seeing the sunrise. December to February is the best time to see the sea of clouds. Wake up at 5 am and be at the train station around 5:30 to catch the first train to Duigaoyue. The Zhushan train station is under construction for several years already. After you arrive in Duigaoyue, bring your headlight or flashlight, walk 15-20 minutes uphill to the Duigaoyue Sunrise Platform (對高岳觀日坪). All the passengers will walk with you in the dark :). A 10 minutes walk from the platform, you will get to Mt. Ogasawara. Another way is to trek up to Zhushan station in the dark, it takes less than an hour. I did not trek up but I descended back on foot.
Expect the platform would be crowded with everyone want to catch the sunrise as you do but with big cameras and tripods. Just not showing the photo :). Pack thick clothing. It’s cold at any time of the year. If you forgot, buy from the market in the tourist area.
Mountain Ali Tea No.35 is the only tea shop not far from the viewpoint. I went in for warm air and hot Alishan tea. The tea’s packaging design is extraordinarily inspired by the nature of Alishan. I even kept the tea package as a souvenir. Inside showcases different artists’ painting of Taiwan topography. They have a workshop in the tourist shopping center.
Best Time to Visit
Late March to April is the Cherry Blossom season.
April to June is the Firefly’s active season
November to January is for Alishan Maple tour
December to February is the best time for witness sea of clouds but it’s freezing.
Other than mentioned months, Alishan is open all-year round. Visit anytime just except typhoon.
- Train tracks from Duigaoyue to Sister Ponds
- Tashan Trail is a difficult 4 hours trail but worth the hike for a majestic view of Tashan and Yushan as the viewpoint is at 2,663-meter height.
How to Get to Alishan from Chiayi Train Station?
The Alishan Scenic Area bus stop is at the 7-11. Get off and walk to the ticket office pay NT200
Bus from Chiayi High-Speed Rail:- #7329 & #7329A (via Fenqihu); 9:30, 10:10, 11:00 (via Fenqihu), 13:10; NT$278 & 2.30 hours
Bus from Chiayi Train Station:- #7322C & #7322D (via Fenqihu); 6:05, 7:05 (via Fenqihu), 8:05, 8:35, 9:05, 9:35 (via Fenqihu), 10:05, 11:05, 12:05 (via Fenqihu), 14:05, 15:05 (to Fenqihu only); NT$ 240 & 2.15 hours
Where to Stay in Alishan Scenic Area?
Accommodation inside the scenic area is limited. The price is on the high side for basic facilities. If you visit in the peak seasons, make your booking early. Price could be varied.
Cing Shan Hotel $89
Essential to Pack
- Thick clothings
- headlights/flash lights
- sickness pills
- Day trip backpacks