Alishan is a very famous mountain in Taiwan. If you’ve ever heard of a Taiwan with charming natural landscapes, majestic mountains and national parks with cool, fresh weather, then Alishan is the representative for all of that. Coming here, you can not only immerse yourself in the fresh nature, but also learn more about culture, history, riding experience on a hundred-year-old train. So, what’s hot in Alishan and do you want make an Alishan day trip from Taipei (Alishan one day trip) but don’t know where to start? Let’s check out our Alishan trip blog with the fullest Alishan travel guide (Alishan guide) to explore Alishan in one day (Alishan itinerary 1 day) to clear the answer!
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Alishan travel guide: Some main activities you should try when visiting Alishan
- Take the scenic train and watch the sunrise at the peak of Zhushan: This is the must-go place when traveling to Alishan, experience the feeling of queuing up to buy tickets from early morning to catch the ancient train from Alishan to Zhushan mountain. If lucky you can admiring the sea of clouds from Zhushan peak.
- Trekking in Alishan: The mountainous area of Alishan is very beautiful, fresh air is ideal for a trekking trip in Alishan.
- Visit some famous places in Alishan such as Sisters Ponds, Sacred Tree, Tse Yung Temple, ancient rails of a hundred-year-old train, …
Alishan day trip from Taipei: How to get to Alishan from Taipei?
Depending on time you can spend for Alishan to make a suitable itinerary. The national park in Alishan is not too large but can be completely walked and trekking, so spending 1 day is enough to explore all. The highlight in Alishan is to take the early morning train to Zhushan to see the sunrise, if you have plenty of time, you should come to Alishan the day before, stay at Alishan Lauya Homestay (Agoda.com or Booking.com) to catch the train to Zhushan early in the next morning. If your time is tight, you can catch the night bus from Taipei, and it will arrive in Alishan National Scenic Area at 4AM and continue to take the train to Zhushan (it takes about 20 minutes to reach the top).
There are 2 ways to get to Alishan from Taipei:
By train from Taipei
- Trip 1: Taipei – Chiayi by train, or HSR high-speed train, buy tickets and depart from Taipei Main Station.
- Trip 2: Chiayi – Alishan by bus. Buses wait at the station’s entrance, both at normal train station and HSR station. Note that these 2 stations are located quite far apart and not related to each other.
Traveling by train, you will have to stay an extra night in Alishan if you want to watch the sunrise at Zhushan. Trains from Taipei can be booked online here with regular trains, and here with bullet trains. You don’t need to book tickets in advance, don’t worry of running out of tickets.
By bus from Taipei
You buy a ticket of King Bus at Taipei Main Station to go to Alishan, they offer a night bus, so you can save 1 night in hotel. Buses usually depart near 10pm and arrive in Alishan around 3am – 4am next day.
To buy tickets, look for the ticket counter of the King Bus company in the central station, note that you should go from the ground, not from the basement because going from the underground will be extremely difficult to find, go around and far, even when taking the bus to avoid get lost. The night bus is only available on the weekends of Fridays and Saturdays. From the entrance above the ground, you enter the station and ask for the ticket counters (located on the lower floor). The fare is 625NT. You also should buy tickets 1 day before of traveling date or if you depart at night, buy tickets in the morning with peace of mind, from the ticket counter you go up the stairs right there to the upper floor to reach the departure location.
If Sun Moon Lake also includes in your itinerary, then from Sun Moon Lake you can take Yuanlin bus no. 6739 to Alishan, ticket price 307NT / person. Take the bus 6739 you have the opportunity to see many beautiful roadside views such as Tataja, Zhizhong Sacred Tree, Husband & Wife Tree, and Xinyimei Village. The bus schedule for this route:
- From Sun Moon Lake to Alishan: 8am & 9am
- From Alishan to Sun Moon Lake: 1pm & 2pm
Alishan one day trip: My Alishan itinerary for 1 day
I bought a bus ticket to Alishan from Taipei Main Station the day before and departed at 10pm next day. I already known how large the station is, but I didn’t think it was that complicated. Before 1 hour of departing, I still ran out to buy a bowl of noodles to eat while waiting for the bus depart. Then I went down to the basement and asked for directions to the bus stop because I thought the bus would pick me up in the basement. Finally, I was going around to ask for directions for a long time, it took 30 minutes to find the bus stop, language differences also took a lot of time.
The bus ran to around 1am, then stopped, the bus driver give each passenger a map of the Alishan National Scenic Area. Then he instructed to all passengers on how to travel, points to note (I guess so because he spoke in Chinese, and the map is also in Chinese, I don’t understand!). Waiting for him to finish speaking, I went up and asked again, then he gave me back a map in English, what a happy!
The bus stopped once on the way at a 7 Eleven convenience store for guests to eat at night. Then going on to the checkpoint area of Alishan National Forest Recreation Area to buy entrance tickets (ticket price is NT200 / person for holidays, 150NT for weekdays). At around 3:30am the bus reached the end point is Alishan Station, from here I bought a train ticket to get up Zhushan peak to watch sunrise. When the bus arrived, there were also many tourists here, everyone went into the nearby 7 Eleven store to buy things to prepare for the whole day of hiking.
The train go through the forest to Zhushan sells tickets at 5am, but around 4am – 4:30am, you should walk to the station because the queue for tickets is very crowded. Ticket price is 150NT / trip / adult. Line-up later, you will have to take the next train because there is not enough seats for all at once.
The train is quite old but still runs well, only sometimes a little shaking, feeling like to be thrown off the tracks! The interior of cabins are not the same as today’s modern train cabins with only 2 rows of seats facing each other, looking like in a tram or a bus. Overall quite interesting.
It takes about 20 minutes of riding to reach Zhushan peak, it was twilight of dawn. I rushed to the sunrise viewpoint to find a best view spot, not very comfortable, but in general still acceptable because the number of people standing like me was a lot. After jostling for a while, I got up to the top to set the tripod to take some photos. Unfortunately, that day the sky was clear and cannot meet the sea of clouds. In return, the scenery is charming and gentle, so refreshing.
Spending much time for wandering at the top of Zhushan that I forgot one important thing when traveling in Taiwan, it is always to watch the train / bus back. At the time I realized, it was too late, the only train of the day returning to Zhaoping had turned the wheels since 7am. Wondering what means to get down the mountain, everyone around me said that walking is not very far, only about 2-3km, so I decided to walk, walk while watching the scenery and enjoy the super fresh air of this Alishan land.
Ah, not to mention, at the top of Alishan I also met a group of Vietnamese sisters traveling here. Get to know them for a while and then join them to walk down the mountain with the sisters. They said that they had come to Alishan the day before, stayed at Alishan House (Agoda.com or Booking.com), and came up here early in the morning to watch the sunrise. They also invited me to the hotel for breakfast with them, but unfortunately I didn’t have much time so when we walked to Zhaoping Station, I said goodbye them and continue to trekking.
It takes about 45 minutes to walk to get to Zhaoping Station, the scene here is also very beautiful, the old station, the train tracks that seem only to be seen in Japanese movies, deserted, lonely in the middle of a majestic natural space.
Continuing to trekking in the Alishan National Park, the next destination is the Sisters Ponds and Three-Generation Family Trees (which are big ancient trees with long roots that are signature here). It can be considered as a real ecological forest, carefully cared for, from the way of making paths, trails, the steps between a tall forest bunched up towards the deep blue sky. Taiwanese people know how to protect their resources, especially this fresh and wonderful ecosystem.
The Sisters Ponds is a short distance from Zhaoping Station, with a small hut in the middle of a clear blue lake. According to the story, this place was invaded by the enemy, in the village, there were two sisters who voluntarily jumped into the lake so that when the enemy arrived, the water rose up and surrounded them. Thus protecting villagers from invaders. These ponds are usually quite deserted, with only a few groups of tourists visiting. Airy space, charming scenery is no different from Chinese epic films in the past.
At the end of the afternoon I wandered back to Tse Yung Temple, a large temple located in a large campus in the middle of the mountain. I walked around this area for a while and then took the bus from here back to Alishan Railway Forest Station, priced at NT$50.
If you want to go to Tainan during the day, go to 7 Eleven store at Alishan station, buy a bus ticket to Chiayi (it takes about 2.5 hours). Note that there are 2 bus routes to Chiayi but in 2 different directions, 1 bus to Chiayi station, 1 bus to HSR high speed train station, these 2 routes alternate every 1 hour with 1 trip. From both of these stations can go anywhere in the beautiful country of Taiwan.
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