Taipingshan (aka Taipingshan National Forest Recreational Area 太平山國家森林游樂區) is a magical mountain paradise in Datong Township of Yilan County in Taiwan. It has an old Japanese era logging railroad track which has mostly been abandoned, but part of it has been restored with a working train. In addition there are hot springs, Taiwan's largest alpine lake, hikes, wildlife, and endless mountain scenery to explore.
In 1906, the Japanese Indigenous affairs police officers sent a team of men to Fanfan Mountain, where they discovered huge ancient cypress trees. Later the Japanese renamed the area Taipingshan, and began logging the mountain in 1915.
The Taipingshan Forest Railway was completed in 1934 and had at least 12 stations, with the grade up the mountain ranging from 2-3%. Loggers relied heavily on wires and pulley systems to haul logs to the railway, which differentiates it from the Alishan Railway. Because of the extensive use of wires or iron donkeys, it was difficult to convert the entire railway to a tourist railway, therefore only a short section at Maosing remains for tourists.
The logging industry continued in Taiwan until it was banned in the 1980s, after which the area was converted into a forest recreation area in 1983 and opened to the public.
The mountains in Taipingshan range from 500 to 2000 meters high, and is part of the northern central mountain range. The highest peak here is Nanhu Mountain at 3,740 meters high. The terrain generally consists of high mountains and deep valleys, which have been pushed up by the convergence of the Eurasian and Philippine plates, and eroded by torrential rains.
Taipingshan is 12,929 hectares, and includes six major areas: Tuchang, Jioujhihze, Jhongjian, Taipingshan, Maosing and Cueifong Lake.
Taipingshan holds the record for 24 hour rainfall in Taiwan of 1015 mm, recorded in 2016 during Typhoon Megi. The area is also one of the most accessible places in Taiwan to see snow during winter.
The forest recreation area is now a popular place for nature enthusiasts and hikers, and is one of the top three most popular forest recreation areas in Taiwan.
6 AM to 8 PM (open 4 AM on weekends)
150 NT for non-holidays, 200 NT for holidays
Cars: 100 NT
Scooters: 20 NT
Jioujhize Hot Springs: 250 NT in winter and 150 NT in summer
Bong Bong Train: 180 NT
For more info click here.
How to get there：
By Bus: Kuo-kuang departs from Yiland and Luodong at 7:40 and 8 AM, and arrives at Taipingshan at 10:30 AM. The bus then departs Taipingshan at 2:30 PM.
By Car: From Taipei, take National Freeway 5 to Yilan, then turn southwest on provincial highway 7 until you reach the turnoff to Taipingshan via Yijhuan Route 1.
Please see below of the places covered in this blog:
We have been to Taipingshan once, and we had a great time. We went in March when it was not too hot, not too cold, and it was great.
Check out our drone video above for an overview of the area.
Taipingshan is actually kind of an expensive place to visit, but it is similar in price to Alishan.
We paid a total of 500 NT for two adults and a car.
Tuchang Station 土場車站
Tuchang station was the connecting station between the flat land track that connected the Luodong and the Taipingshan line. The Luodong Line is now defunct but was 36 KM long and had ten stations. Even though much of the original track has been removed, the original station has been restored for tourist purposes, but of course there are no train rides from here. This station is actually outside of the Taipingshan Forest Recration area, and you will pass it before the ticket entrance.
Jioujhize (Jiuzhize) 鳩之澤
Jioujhize is a hot spring area at the foot of the mountain, sitting at 520 meters above sea level. This area was first made into a hot spring resort by the Japanese, and the hot spring area is now run by the forest bureau. See above for our drone footage of the area.
Or see above for a 360 degree panorama of the area.
Near the parking lot, there is an area for cooking corn and eggs. See more photos above.
Jiuojhize Suspension bridge crosses the river and leads to a trail loop nearby. See more photos above.
Also near the parking lot is the hot spring resort area. The price for enjoying the hot springs is 150-250 NT depending on the season.
At the ticket counter for the hot springs, you can also purchase eggs and corn.
Near the hot springs you will notice a large plume of white smoke. This is what will become the first government made geothermal power plant in Taiwan, four wells built in Jiuzhize, set to start generating power in 2021, bringing in 8MW.
Jhongjian Visitor's Center 中間游客中心
Further up the road, you will come to Zhongjian Visitor's Center, in front of which lies a giant intact iron donkey which was use to haul logs using wires. Originally these were American made wood burning steam engines, which were later replaced by gasoline and then deisel engines.
View out the front door of the visitor's center.
See the photos above for a look inside the visitor's center. You can see more photos above of maps, dioramas, and descriptions of each trail in the park.
There are also some amazing views near the visitor's center that you can see from the road. More photos in the gallery above.
Bailing Giant Tree 白嶺巨木
Also along the road which was once a ropeway to transport logs, you will find Bailing Giant Tree, which is a Taiwan Cypress 30 meters tall and also has a circumference of 34 meters. It is estimated to be 2500 years old. The tree is split in half and is held together by a wire, and you can walk inside.
More excellent views from the road up to Taipingshan.
Jiancing Historic Trail 見晴步道
This is one of the most famous trails in the park that you don't want to miss. It follows the abandoned train tracks of an old branch line, the Jiancing Logging Railway,
See above for photos of the trail. The main attraction here is mossy railroad tracks in fog, making for a distinct aura.
See above for more photos of the trail on our way back.
Train track into the fog.
View of the canopy above.
I highly recommed walking the whole trail.
We also saw monkeys on the side of the road, which seems to be a common sight.
Taipingshan Village 太平山莊
First sign marking the arrival to Taipingshan Village.
The local police station has been renovated to resemble what it looked like during the Japanese era.
Taiping Village Service Center 太平山莊服務站
See above for photos of the Taiping Village Service Center. It is the largest and most complete visitor's center in the area and includes a suvenir shop. See above for more photos.
Taiping Village includes a central staircase which is kind of reminiscent of Jiufen. There are Japanese era buildings on either side that have been renovated, including restaurants, exhibition halls, old dormitories, cafes, and bathrooms.
View of the mountain scenery from the Bong Bong Train Station.
Another view from nearby.
Bong Bong Train 蹦蹦車
See above for our drone footage of the Bong Bong Train, which connects Taiping Village with Maosing. The current train ride is only about 1 KM long.
Or check out our 360 degree view of the area above.
Normally the price for the train is 180 NT per person but because it was under construction when we went, it was only 50 NT. The sad part is we could not make it to Maosing which has some historical buildings and nature trails, such as the Maosing Reminiscent Trail, the Cypress Forest Trail, and the Chinese Hemlock Forest Trail.
View of the front of the Bong Bong Train.
View of the train at a curve.
View of the mountain valley below from the train.
For more photos of the train ride, see above. The train stopped halfway to Maosing and turned back.
There is another iron donkey near the Bong Bong Train station, with more photos above.
Inside the train station there are some displays and a gift shop.
Another view from the station.
Next we went on our way to Cuifeng Lake. The road there was an old wire track for transporting logs. But you can still see some virgin forest here, like this lone tree.
See above for some more incredible views on the way to Cuifeng Lake.
Another amazing view of the mountain valley.
Along the way we also spotted a pair of yellow throated martens, which is rare to see in Taiwan, however there are lots of them on Taipingshan.
And they dispersed quite quickly.
Sunrise Pavilion 日出景觀
Along the way to Cuifeng Lake, there is a sunrise pavilion which is a popular place to see the sunrise. More photos above.
Entrance to the circular Cuifeng Lake Trail.
View from the Cuifeng Lake Parking Lot.
Taipingshan Villa is the most coveted accommodation on the mountain. From here you can easily hike to see the sunrise over the Pacific Ocean, and this place is a gold-star eco hotel.
More views from the parking lot above.
Cueifong Lake 翠峰湖
See our drone footage of Cuifeng Lake above. We went in March when the water level was not full. In the summer the water level in the lake fills over and overflows. This is the largest alpine lake in Taiwan.
You can also check out our 360 degree panormam of the area above.
Map of the circular trail around the lake.
From here you can hike 1 KM to the sunrise pavilion, where you can see views of the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately the afternoon fog has already started to come in so there was no view.
Boardwalk around the lake.
View from the platform on the east side.
More views of the lake above. This was supposed to be the first "silent trail" in Taiwan, but a tour group quickly ruined the silence.
View of the lake via drone.
That was the end of the trip, and we had fun getting stuck in traffic in the Xueshan Tunnel on the way home to Taipei.
If you have time, you can also check out the nearby wild Fanfan Hot Spring which is free to visit. For more about this place, see our blog here.
Thanks for reading and be sure to stay tuned for more of our blogs on Taiwan to come soon.
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling 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.