Alishan Forest Railway taiwan (1)
Sitting on the train, you can see giant cypress trees that seem to grow from the depths of the abyss, reaching straight up to the sky.

One of the things that impressed me most when coming to Taiwan was the extremely large space for green trees. Traveling everywhere, I see the Taiwanese people’s focus on building a green ecosystem and protecting this ecosystem well. When mentioning one of the areas with unique and well-preserved ecosystems, many people will certainly remember Alishan National Park immediately. So, what to do in Alishan (Alishan what to do)? Let’s check out our top rated 5+ top Alishan things to do and best things to do in Alishan as follows!

Alishan Mountains | what to do in alishan
The most anticipated thing on the journey to explore and experience Alishan is to hear the train whistle and watch the red train come through the forests. | what to do in alishan
Alishan Tea Hills | what to do in alishan

Let’s walk around and experience interesting things in Alishan in the green space with cypress trees over 1,000 years old.

General information about Alishan

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Alishan is essentially a large mountainous region in central Taiwan, made up of 18 surrounding mountains creating the vast Jade Mountains, interwoven with valleys, forests and steep terrain. The road to experience Alishan is therefore very winding and dangerous. In return, the roadside landscape with majestic mountains blurred in white mist and clouds, or rows of bell peach trees along the road… are also scenes worth admiring.

| alishan one day trip
Stunning sunrise at Zhu Shan Peak | what to do in alishan
| what to do in alishan

The name Alishan in the impression of tourists is a national scenic area, a small area in the overall Alishan mountains, a famous mountain resort in Taiwan. Alishan National Forest Recreation Area allows visitors to visit, although not too large, it has diverse terrain with a system of walking trails, clear signs, wooden stairs… Very suitable for walking in the woods for a day.

alishan (1)
| what to do in alishan
alishan (1)
| what to do in alishan
alishan (1)
| what to do in alishan

What to do in Alishan?

Below we suggest interesting experiences you should try when you come to Alishan.

Explore Alishan on the red train through the forest

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In the past, the Alishan area used to be inhabited by the indigenous Tsou people, then a part of the Han people migrated in the late 18th century. Later, the Japanese organized expeditions to the mountainous area. Alishan and they discovered here many cypress trees of enormous size. Since then, the Japanese have built railways to facilitate the exploitation and transportation of wood to the plains. Part of that railway system operates to this day and has become a tourist attraction everywhere called the “Alishan Forest Railway”.

| what to do in alishan
Forest Railway | what to do in alishan
Part of the Alishan forest train with extremely prominent red paint. | what to do in alishan
A very beautiful angle when watching the train gradually approach the station – an experience in Alishan | what to do in alishan

According to my experience, when getting on the train, you should first choose the cars near the end so that when the train goes through sharp turns, you can take beautiful photos with the image of the train going through the forest. Second, when getting on the train, you choose a seat on the left side to have the clearest view of the thousand-year-old cypress forest because most of the largest cypress trees rising from the valley are on the left side of the train, and this is also the most convenient location for you to see the vast scenery because on the right side there are many rocky cliffs and high hills blocking the view.

Alishan Forest Railway taiwan (1)
Sitting on the train, you can see giant cypress trees that seem to grow from the depths of the abyss, reaching straight up to the sky. | what to do in alishan

Alishan Forest Railway taiwan (1)

Alishan railroad
Alishan railroad | alishan things to do

Stroll on the giant trees trail (# what to do in alishan)

| alishan things to do

Gian Trees Trail is a walking trail through the forest with giant cypress trees that some people can’t hug all the way around. Most of the cypress trees here are more than a thousand years old, giving off cool shade, creating fresh air and beautiful scenery, so they are very suitable for those who love hiking in the forest. On this road, there is a full system of trails, clear walkways, and clear signs indicating specific points. Therefore, Alishan is a suitable place to visit for all ages.

The mysterious charm of the Giant Trees Trail in Alishan | alishan things to do
| alishan things to do


Tse Yung temple | alishan things to do
The paved walkway is very clean – Alishan travel experience | alishan things to do
The old wooden stairs are also an interesting highlight for a walk in the forest | alishan things to do
One of the very large cypress trees – a remnant of logging.
| alishan travel guide | alishan things to do
| alishan things to do
| alishan things to do

During my walk in the forest, my favorite scene is the autumn still lingering in the forest, cool and calm. You will encounter golden autumn scenes like this if you come to experience Alishan around November – December. Even though it was late December when I went, I was still lucky to see the remaining fall foliage.

A very beautiful autumn corner on the walking path
Bright golden autumn colors | alishan things to do
Even the carpet of yellow leaves fascinated me

Three Generations Tree (# alishan things to do)

Visit the three generations tree is considered a unique things to do on the walking journey through Alishan forest. It is called the three generations tree because there are three trunks (of three generations) growing on the same tree. After the first tree grows and death, a new trunk grows on the old tree, and then the third tree has a different diameter. The three-generation tree has been preserved and protected until today. There are also clear annotations on the positions of the trees so that visitors can distinguish the generations of the tree.

Three generations tree in Alishan | alishan things to do

Personally, I find this to be a truly unique thing in the Alishan forest, not just because a single tree has up to 3 different tree generations, but partly because of its special appearance, like the roots are deeply rooted in the soil. The perennial tree rises above the ground but is extremely solid like a pedestal for the next two generations to proudly rise to the sky. Therefore, a three-generation tree is a symbol of the enduring vitality of trees and forests, and preserving it is also a respect for nature of indigenous people.

Enjoy the tea of the Alishan Mountains

Alishan tea field

The Alishan Range has more than 25 mountains with an altitude of over 2,000m, has a cool climate all year round, fresh water, and a fertile soil, so it is very suitable for growing tea. Along the way to Alishan National Park, you can see vast tea hills spreading far and wide. The tea harvest here is only about once or twice a year. Normally, farmers will pick tea buds (including 2 – 4 young leaves) from 2 – 3:00 a.m. to maintain purity. The tea drying process also has its own techniques that have been passed down. The tea leaves are dried and rolled, so they are also called tea balls.

Tea leaves


A tea shop owner is going through the process of making Oolong tea
The tea when poured has a beautiful bright yellow color

At a small shop on the Alishan range, we were able to see firsthand how the people here brew tea and enjoy their best Oolong tea, a teapot that can brew up to 7-8 drinks and still keep the almost flavor intact. All types of tea can be enjoyed hot or cold. Oolong tea is one of the most delicious teas here. When poured into a cup, the tea has a characteristic yellow color, a faint aroma and a slightly sweet aftertaste when enjoyed. You can buy some Alishan tea as a gift. A 150gr tea bag/box costs from 450 – 700 yuan or buy small tea packs for 100 yuan for 16 packs.

Overnight on Alishan Mountain and enjoy local cuisine

It was already dusk when we left the forest. Opposite, across the street is the restaurant we chose to have dinner.

The evening in the mountains was quite cold, so there’s nothing better than sitting in a warm little restaurant space and eating hot food. We went in a large group, about 7-8 people per table, so we chose the set meal for 2,200 yuan. This set includes stone hot pot, fish, stir-fried vegetables, grilled wild meat… and a free bottle of soft drink. Depending on the number of people, you can choose a suitable meal set. The restaurant address is also quite close to the entrance to Alishan park and the hotel.

The fish was very fresh and cooked hot
Sweet and delicious stone hot pot

After dinner, we didn’t rush back to the hotel right away but walked around some more shops. Because this area is not too big, there are not many souvenir shops, but in return the souvenir items here are very diverse and lovely. A store full of food, specialty cakes, stationery, and souvenirs. Although the souvenirs are very beautiful, I find the prices here quite high (most small items cost 180 yuan or more). You can look at a bit of the items here, but if you want to buy them as gifts, I think Ximending night market will be more suitable because the prices are much more reasonable.

Extremely cute and diverse souvenirs
Various souvenirs for you to choose from
A large glass cabinet displays an interesting Alishan railway model with a moving train.

We stayed at Alishan Peak Hotel with the standard of 4 people per room. Because it’s in the mountains, the room is quite small. The advantage is that it’s still full of essential household items and the uncles and aunties here are very enthusiastic and friendly when welcoming us.

This is Alishan Peak Hotel – Where we stayed. In the morning, walk about 300m to get to breakfast.

Although our stay in Alishan was quite short, it was good that the day we came, the weather was very nice, dry, light wind, very suitable for walking. Alishan is so famous for its iconic red train through the forest, it is definitely a must-try experience when visiting Alishan. But besides that, Alishan also has many other interesting things waiting for you to discover. Hopefully some of my practical experiences here will help you gain the necessary information to have a more enjoyable trip.

Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, to and from Alishan you can refer to

Jiufen taipei taiwan (1)

Are you looking for more Alishan travel guide and top things to do in Alishan: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Read more: Alishan autumn — Where to go & what to do in Alishan, Taiwan in the fall? And Alishan trip blog — The fullest Alishan travel guide on how to make an Alishan day trip from Taipei.