Bishan Campground (aka Bishan Camping Area) in Neihu District of Taipei City is the only free campground run by Taipei City. Near the campground is Bishan Temple, which has one of the best views of Taipei. Besides camping and temple worship, the area is also a popular hiking spot, and there are multiple tourist farms and tea shops to explore.
How to apply for a camping spot:
You can apply using this online form (it's in English!):
You must apply at least 7 days in advance, but no more than 30 days in advance.
You must enter your passport ID or Taiwan ID.
You can check the status of the application online as well.
For more info, check here (Chinese): https://www.geo.gov.taipei/mp10504b/
Camping time starts at 2 PM and ends at 1 PM the next day.
You can only stay for two nights at a time.
How to get there:
By Bus: You can take a bus to about 1 KM away from the campsite, but then you have to walk with all of that gear. If that's not what you want then you should take a taxi or your own vehicle.
By Scooter/Car: From East Neihu, drive up Bishan Raod (碧山路) until you see the campground. It's hard to miss.
Please see below:
The first time coming across Bishan Camping Area while wandering through the mountains of Neihu on a scooter, I knew that we had to stay a night there. Much to my surprise, this campground is free to everyone, as long as you apply in advance.
I had to use my lunch hour to ride up and register before 5:00 or else they consider you a no show. This is because they want to lower the cost of the campground, so the campground manager's shift ends at 5 PM. I then drove up after work with my family and we arrived before sunset.
The campground has some nice views of Taipei, even if there are some trees in the way. Recently they have upgraded the campground so site has a wooden platform.
One drawback about this campground though is that it lies on a steep slope, and the bathroom is at the very bottom.
There is a nice path here, and they provide carts so you don't have to carry all of your camping gear by hand.
There were also some picnic tables nearby our site which we used to eat dinner and breakfast with.
We had the whole place to ourselves, except for one other family who took the prime spot near the bathrooms.
This is because it was in the middle of the week (in October) and the weather was not too good. But it is hard to predict the weather when you have to book at least seven days in advance.
There are a total of about 30-40 campsites in the camping grounds.
The bathrooms are quite nice; there are showers here and hot water is provided from 5 PM to 9 PM.
View inside one of the showers.
Another view of the men's room.
The bad part is if you pick a site up on the hill you have to make this long hike in the middle of the night.
There is also a nice wide open stadium like area which can use if you have a large group.
An example of one of the camping areas.
This was our camping spot. It rained at night, and the platform above was not waterproof. I should have put a tarp up there.
There were also outlets near the tent that we used to charge our phones.
There are some amazing views of Taipei from Bishan Campground at night. I took the opportunity to take some night photos with my telephoto lens.
That night the clouds were rolling right into the middle of the 101 which made for some nice photos.
This is probably the best shot I took.
My tripod is not the greatest so most of the shots were blurry.
Pretty soon it started raining kind of hard to I hurried back to the tent to rest for the night.
Near Bishan Campground are tons of hiking trails to choose from. I didn't get to explore many of them though.
Weather and time information near one of the hiking trail entrances.
There were also tons of elderly people on the mountain in the early morning.
Bishan Temple 碧山巖
Even if you do not end up camping, I recommend if you are in the area to visit Bishan Temple, which has some amazing views of Taipei.
Usually there are stalls in the main parking lot selling fruits and vegetables.
Bishan temple dates back to 1751 when it was just a small shrine on the mountain, but has gained popularity overtime, especially after some bandits were believed to be defeated by the Kaizhan Holy King (pictured above) in the area around the temple. For more information on the history of the temple, check out this blog by Josh Ellis.
The temple features a very long and spacious viewing platform which you can see most all of the Taipei Basin.
The weather wasn't the greatest while camping up there.
So I cam back later, and the visibility was still not great.
Smoggy view of Taipei. One day I will go back a third time on a clear day and get some better photos.
View of greater Taipei looking east.
An explanation of the Taipei basin in Chinese.
A woman using one of the coin operated telescopes.
Dim view of eastern Taipei.
View directly east toward Keelung.
View of Neihu and Nangang.
Lot's of people were up there with me enjoying the view.
Bishan temple in perspective.
Phoenix ornament on top of the temple.
Worshipers in the main hall of the temple.
Pavilion on the side of the temple.
View looking up the mountain from the temple.
Workout equipment near the temple.
Near the temple, there are also a few nice trails to hike.
Baishihu Suspension Bridge 白石湖吊橋
Baishihu Suspension bridge is hard to miss, as it sits right next to the main road. Across the bridge are some farms, gardens, trails, and coffee shops.
Explanation of the design of the bridge and how it can be stable even while rocking back and forth.
The bridge is 116 meters long. Legend says if you make a wish while crossing the bridge, it will come true.
View of the bridge. It is quite nice to walk across.
View of the farmer's fields below.
Foam covered tree trunk on the trail on the other side of the bridge.
Small "Love Pond" with heart shapes grass island in the middle.
The "couple's tree" near the lover's pond.
I bet you are so excited to see the couple's tree right?
Originally there were two full grown Camphor Trees here which the locals called the "married couple trees." However is 2015 one of the trees was blown down during Typhoon Soudelor. After that, the people in the town planted another camphor tree as a replacement.
It's a touching story, but hardly a tourist spot for outsiders. I smell a tourist trap.
"Fufu" coffee, playing on the name of "couples' tree" in Chinese.
A giant banana spider along the trail.
This concludes our camping adventure at Bishan. I definitely recommend visiting here, especially for the views of Taipei and the free camping.
Stay tuned for more of our adventures in Taiwan!
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living and working in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.