Alishan National Scenic Area is one of the most famous mountain areas in Taiwan (aka Mount Ali, or Ali Mountain). Formerly a timber harvesting area during the Japanese Era, it still has a working rail system for park visitors to ride around the mountain. The mountain villages, ancient forests, waterfalls, hiking destinations, and tea plantations have made it a popular destination for tourists. It is also a popular destination to see the sunrise over a sea of clouds. Overall, it is one of the most iconic and well known mountain destinations in Taiwan.
Alishan is a high mountain area over 2,000 meters above sea level in central Taiwan. The first settlers in the Alishan region were the Tsuo aboriginal tribe. Chinese settlers did not move into the area until the 1900s. After the Japanese took over Taiwan in the late 1800s, they discovered large quantities of cypress trees in the area and sought to harvest them. They built railways in order to transport lumber down the mountains, part of which stands today as the Alishan Forest Railway.
By 1970 logging resources had been depleted and the area began to rely on tourism as the major economic driver in the area. High mountain tea and wasabi are also major industries in there. The Alishan highway was completed in 1980, which made the surrounding area more accessible for tourism. In 2001, the Alishan National Scenic Area was officially established.
The railway was damaged in 2009 by typhoon Morakat but was reopened again in 2014, and is currently running as of 2018.
How to get There:
The best way to get to Alishan is from Chiayi. There are a number of transportation options.
By Train: You have to book the tickets the day before and they have been known to sell out. For more information on how to book train tickets up the mountain check out this blog by Travel Taiwan.
By Bus: King Bus goes directly to Alishan from Taipei Main Station but this bus leaves early and is expensive. You can also take a bus from Chiayi Main Bus station.
By Car/Scooter: Take provincial Highway 18 east out of Chiayi City, then make your way up the mountain for about over an hour until you reach Alishan Scenic Area.
If your GPS tells you to go up the one lane roads to Alishan, do not. For safety, stay on the two lane Highway 18.
The road to Alishan is known to often have thick fog. You do not want to be stuck on a super steep one lane road with thick fog, so stay on the main two-lane highway.
You can rent a scooter for cheap in front of the Chiayi Train Station. I would suggest getting at least a large 125 cc scooter that can make it up the mountain. Some rental shops do not even require to see a license. Also be aware there is a gas stations in the first town up the mountain road, so make sure you fill up there if you are getting low. Getting to Alishan could take most of your gas tank.
Hours: Open 24-hours a day all year round (so you can go to see the sunrise at 3 AM).
Recreation Area Price: 300 NT for foreigners, 200 NT for Taiwan nationals. Parking is 100 NT for cars and 20 NT for scooters.
Map: please see below
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