The Songbo Temple Trail runs through the forest that goes from Ershui Village in Changhua County up the mountain to Songbo Temple in Nantou County. Along this trail one can spot lots of Formosan Macaques which are indigenous to Taiwan. If you come, you can enjoy a sure sighting of monkeys, but for your safety do not feed them or get close to them.
The Songbo Temple that overlooks Ershui Village, sitting on the edge of Nantou County, had its beginnings in the year1657 during the Dutch rule of Taiwan. The first temple structure (Shoutian Temple 受天宮 on the site was completed in 1745 during the Qing Dynasty, and has been renovated until this day. The temple is dedicated to the Zhenwu Emporer. I assume that the trail to the temple as existed since historical times.
1.4KM one way, about 250 meters of elevation gain.
Plan about 3 hours for this hike, or more if you stop for a while to look at Monkeys.
How to get there:
By Car/Scooter: From Ershui, cross to the west side of the tracks and north to Fengbai Raod (豐柏路) until you reach the trail entrance at Fengbo Plaza (豐柏廣場).
By Train: Take the TRA to Ershui station. From there, walk (1.5KM, 20 minutes) or take a taxi to the trail entrance at Fengbo Plaza (豐柏廣場).
Please see below:
Taiwan is one of the most beautiful places in the world, but there are many secret natural wonders that foreigners like us that have lived here got years have yet to go. In this list, we will give the top 10 secret natural wonders that we have not been too. If these were easy to get to, we would have gone there already.
10. Jiqi (Chi Chi) Beach 機奇海濱游樂區
This beach is secluded in Eastern Taiwan. It might be easy to get to, that's why its last on the list. Located between Hualien and Taitung, it has some world class surfing, and you can also swim and paddle board here. The beach includes showers, and the sunsets are beautiful.
9. Taitung Moon World 利吉惡地
I knew there was a moon world in Kaohsiung but I was surprised to find its counterpart also existed in Taitung. Due to Taiwan’s heavy rainfall mixed with raised sediment, much of Taiwan is filled with eroding badlands like this. These formations are some of the most unique and picturesque in Taiwan. Photo cred:
8. Fish Road Old Trail 魚路古道
This trail is not far from Taipei in Yangming National Park. This trail features a grassy lava plateau, with grazing cattle: a very rare sight in Taiwan. Photo:
7. Qinshui Ying Old Trail 浸水營古道
This historic road dates from the Qing dynasty. Located in Pingtung County, it runs from Fangliao to Dawu, and is mountain bike accessible. I hear it is best traversed in winter to avoid heavy rains and landslides. Photo:
6. Jiji Green Tunnel 集集綠色隧道
This “tunnel” runs between Sun Moon Lake and the small town of Jiji in Nantou county. This road seems best cycled, as there are many views to be enjoyed, such as Sun Moon Lake, little villages, dams, and most of all: beautiful green forests.
5. 慄松溫泉 Lisong Hot Spring
This is known as perhaps Taiwan’s most beautiful natural hot spring. Getting there requires some river tracing, but that should make getting there all the more fun. Over the years people have dammed up the hot spring to make a nice pool to soak in. Photo:
4. Caoling Historic Trail 草嶺古道
This is a historic ocean-side highway that used to connect Yilan with the rest of northern Taiwan. It features cliffs, tunnels, and breathtaking views of the ocean. Parts of it are also accessible by bike.
3. Walami Trail 哇拉米古道
This is an old Japanese road originally built so that they could better control aborigines in Eastern Taiwan. Near Hualien, it is well known in hiking circles for its historic significance as well as the untouched natural beauty. It is also accessible via mountain bike. http://tour-hualien.hl.gov.tw/en/Attraction/Album.aspx?id=145&type=4#content
2. Jiaming Lake 嘉明湖
This is the second highest lake in Taiwan, and sits above the tree line. Located in Taitung County, it is not far from Jade Mountain National Park. This hike is a favorite for Taiwan locals to come and take photos. http://mapio.net/pic/p-6560618/
1. O’Holy Ridge 聖稜線
Revered by some to be best hike in Taiwan, this hike spans some of Taiwan’s highest peaks in the Sheipa Range. Much of this hike is on a razor thin ridge with thousands of feet of drop-off on either side. I hear the views are incredible.
If you have anything you feel should be added to this list, feel free to send us a comment. We hope to visit these places soon, but then again there's always a beauty in leaving something undone.
On Monday we went to Xitou (溪头) which was similar to Alishan but in Nantou. I think the scenery was prettier here. There was a nice rainbow bridge and lots of unique plants. The sacred tree was not as impressive as the one at Alishan though. There was also a nice fishpond and bamboo forest. We didn’t spend any time at the shops, though personally I think the shops at Xitou had a more unique feel than Alishan. Also there were no Chinese tourists here, only Taiwanese people on their regular morning walks.
On Sunday we made our way up to Alishan (Mount Ali 阿里山). It was a very long ride, with windy roads and lots of fog. At the Alishan park were some shops, with decently priced food, and a train that went around the mountain. We took the train over to see that sacred tree when we were once again confronted with hundreds of Chinese tourists taking pictures of everything. The forest was definitely pretty, and there were some huge trees; it was kind of similar to the redwood forest, but there were only a handful of big trees. There was also a peaceful pond (姊妹潭) there that we relaxed at. The shops there were ridiculously overpriced, but among them we found some delicious wasabi peanuts.
We took the train back around the mountain, which we still had to pay for (100-200NT), and had some decent fried rice at one of the restaurants. Then we made our way back down the mountain toward Nantou. On the way down, we tried to take a shortcut down a narrow road, but the fog would only let me see like ten feet in front of us, so I decided to turn back and take the main road where I knew there were at least two lanes. The rest of the way to Nantou went smoothly, and we were able to stay at a friend’s house.
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.