The Alishan national scenic area is located within Chiayi county in Taiwan and is known for its fantastic mountain views, Alishan tea hills, sunrise over a sea of clouds, forest train and more. Alishan is a signature to Taiwan, and many visitors come from all over the world to visit this scenic area.
Alishan comprises of many mountain peaks and overlooks Yushan (Jade Mountain), which is the highest mountain in Taiwan. Long before the Chinese people settled in Taiwan, the Tsou tribe, a group of indigenous people have settled in the area of Alishan. Visitors will experience the Tsou indigenous culture in Yuyupas, an indigenous culture park located in Alishan at an altitude of about 1300 meters. There, you will learn how the Tsou tribe survived in the mountains and forests. Also, the park has its tea field where visitors can sit down, sip a cup of Alishan tea and enjoy the scenic view. Below are the key highlights of this breathtaking national scenic area.
Ultimate Guide to the Alishan National Scenic Area in Taiwan and Everything You Need to Know
Alishan Forest Railway
The forest train that runs from Chiayi to Alishan, initially built by the Japanese back in 1899, was used to transport logs from the mountains down to Chiayi city. Now, the Alishan express train has become a part of recreational facilities in Alishan. Because a typhoon in 2009 damaged a part of the Alishan railway, now, visitors can only ride the train from Chiayi up to Fenqihu station (halfway to Alishan). From Fenqihu station, you can take Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus up to Alishan. The train runs again from Alishan station up to Zhushan station, where the famous sunrise and sea of clouds viewing spot is. Click here for Alishan Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus schedule:
The train from Alishan station (Alishan tourist village) to Zhushan station only runs once every early morning. Because the sunrise time varies from day to day, you will need to check the train schedule a day or two in advance before purchasing the ticket. Click here to check Alishan to Zhushan station train schedule and online ticket booking:
From Alishan station, you can also take the train to Zhaoping station. It is where the Sister Ponds trail is located. Many visitors come here to walk the tourist trails, and there are many lesser-known trails here to explore. The Alishan hotel is also close to Zhaoping station.
Another train station within the Alishan area is Shenmu Station. It is an area of ancient and towering trees, more than 2000 years old.
There are many options for accommodation within the Alishan national scenic area. However, along the way to Alishan, there are many hotel and bed and breakfast options that you may want to consider. Shizhuo is a tea village about 45 minutes drive away from Alishan. It is an area where many Alishan high mountain oolong tea fields are located. Within some of the bed and breakfast properties, you may be able to see the sunrise as well!
Shizhuo bed and breakfast options:
Alishan Lauya Homestay http://www.booking.com/Share-c6ZOBhb
Alishan B&B YunMinGi http://www.booking.com/Share-JL0Hl5
Sheng-Le Farm B&B http://www.booking.com/Share-ddz9qV
Alishan Tea Garden B&B http://www.booking.com/Share-YQxeau
SunRise 23.5N B&B http://www.booking.com/Share-025WjJ
Within the Alishan scenic area, there are a few good accommodation options. Most are run down and not cheap. The good thing about staying within the Alishan area is it is convenient to hike around the area and easier to watch the sunrise early in the morning on Zhushan. The more expensive option is the Alishan hotel, which is close to Zhaoping station in Alishan. It is close to the scenic spots and is surrounded by natural beauty.
Alishan bed and breakfast options:
Alishan Shermuh Hotel http://www.alishan-shermuh.com/en/
Wankou Hotel http://www.booking.com/Share-eYI7RHE
Cing Shan Hotel http://www.booking.com/Share-WLiVdd
Alishan luxury accommodation:
Alishan Hotel http://www.booking.com/Share-rFbAYE
Where to Eat
On the way up to Alishan scenic area, within the town of Shizhuo, you can find a famous dish called Bitter Tea Oil Chicken. It is a chicken fried in bitter tea oil. Many restaurants up in Shizhuo also cook with vegetables grown in the mountainous area. The dishes are tasty and naturally sweet. If you are adventurist enough, you may try their wild boar meat or wild deer meat dishes. Below are two restaurants we recommend for you to try. But remember, the restaurants in Shizhuo close very early, most close at 7 pm. So be sure to visit these restaurants early in the evening.
Yong Fu Restaurant (永富苦茶油雞) 605, Chiayi County, Alishan Township, 114-2 Le Ye Vil., Le Ye
Da Guan Restaurant (達官快炒) 604, Chiayi County, Zhuqi Township, Zhonghe Village, Shizhuo 21 No. 17
Alishan Scenic Area:
There are a few restaurants just above the main parking lot area close to the Alishan Train Station. The more famous one is the 999 restaurant on the second floor. They serve many local Chinese and wild vegetable dishes. If you are on a tighter budget, there are also food stalls on the first floor above the parking lot. There you can find the famous tea eggs, steamed yams, local drinks and Alishan tea and coffee etc.
When to Visit Alishan?
If you want to avoid the crowd, the best time to visit Alishan is during the Fall. It can get chilly up in the mountains. Summer is quite crowded, and it is usually typhoon season in Taiwan, we do not recommend heading up to the mountains in the Summer.
The best chance to watch sea clouds and sunrise is to visit Alishan in the Winter. It is super cold at that time, but being able to see the famous sea clouds is well worth it.
During spring, it is also a popular time to head up to Alishan as it is Cherry Blossoms season! Be sure you book accommodations early and plan well ahead during this season.
While you will enjoy a self-guided tour of Alishan National Scenic Area, nothing will quite compare to the experience you’ll have when going with a friendly local guide that knows the lay of the land better than any. Download the Loci Amica app today to learn more.