If you take any sort of eco-tour in Taiwan there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll see a money or two (or more) along the way. There’s also the Taipei Zoo, even though the primate is overshadowed by the cuddly bears found in the facility’s Giant Panda House. But alas, you want to see and experience Taiwanese monkeys in the wild, and you want a guarantee that you’ll actually come across them. Well, you’ve come to the right place.
Where to Find Monkeys in Taiwan and What Else You Need to Know
Monkey Mountain in Kaohsiung
Want to know where to see monkeys in Taiwan? Monkey Mountain of course! More formally known as Shoushan, or Chai Shan, Kaohsiung’s Gushan District attraction gets its nickname for the abundance of playful Taiwanese Macaques that inhabit the area. This is one place that you’re guaranteed to see and experience moneys in their natural environment, and access to the park and trail is FREE of charge.
What Kind Monkeys You’ll See
Monkey Mountain is home to the Formosan rock macaque, which is endemic to the island state. International zoos and controlled nature parks (in Japan) aside, this is the only place in the world where you’ll find this particular species, making the experience all that more special. Formosan rock macaques are the only native monkeys to live (and thrive) in Taiwan, so your search for this primate needs to extend no further than the Gushan District. Again, this is exactly where you want to be.
What to Expect
Experiencing primates in their natural environment can be an unforgettable experience but you want that statement to be for all the right reasons and you certainly have some concerns. For example, have they been trained to be thieving critters like some of their counterparts in Thailand? Do they get aggressive?
The Formosan rock macaque is pretty well behaved as far as spirited monkeys are concerned. That said, don’t approach them directly, and instead let them decide if they want to share some personal space – they most likely will. In addition, don’t tempt them by dangling your goodies (food, or colorful accessories, etc.) in front of them – they are a curious lot and may snatch something if you “offer it up” for the taking.
Primate contact aside, the nature park offers visitors a beautiful place to hike and soak up the lush scenery of the southern tip of Taiwan. You can stick to the well-maintained platform and stairs (moderate intensity) that lead to the top of the mountain, or venture off onto one of the numerous trails, as long as you pay close attention to where you’re going and mind the signs and maps. The peak of the hike offers amazing views of Kaohsiung’s harbor, coast, and urban center alike, along with North Dawu mountain.
As with any hike, it’s a good idea to pack rations and refreshments, although there will be plenty of locals around offering fresh brewed barley tea – be sure to grab some along the way and give a little something back to the community in the process.
How to Get There
If you’re already staying in Kaohsiung just ask any one of the 2.77 million residents and they’ll point you in the direction of the region’s most popular attraction. But it doesn’t matter where in Taiwan you are, as even if all the way up north in Taipei the five hour drive is worth the journey. Simply reference the map below and search directions from your Taiwan accommodations to Shoushan where Monkey Mountain awaits.
Why a Local Guide is Recommended
As mentioned, the wooden platform and staircase will guide your hike and monkey-spotting experience, but if you’re looking for a little more adventure and want to avoid the human crowd factor you can take the trails found all around the nature park. However, given that you’re unfamiliar with the area it is best to use a local guide. In addition to knowing the trail maps like the back of their hand, they also know what do to (and what not to do) when it comes to interacting with the frisky Formosan rock macaque. Some of our more experienced guides will be able to provide more insightful information on the species and can even interpret the primates’ communications and actions. Your guide will also be there to take photos while you and your party safely pose with the prized primates, and will make sure you make it back down the mountain in time to enjoy some of the area’s other activities and attractions.
Download the app today and connect to a local guide for your monkey see, and do, adventure.