Alishan, Taiwan: The Ultimate Day Tour DIY Travel Guide

alishan national scenic area travel guide

It’s my first time visiting Taiwan, and I decided to stay in the country for 12 days, during which I planned on visiting some iconic places in Taipei, the South, and the North. On my second day, I went straight to the south and stayed in Kaohsiung for 3 days since I purchased the Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) Unlimited Tourist Pass for 3 days! Thus, I got a chance to explore the South for 3 days. 

Apparently, one of my main goals was to visit the Alishan National Scenic Area. I’ve always been fond of reconnecting with nature, and I felt like this was one of the best places to visit in Southern Taiwan. In fact, the Alishan National Scenic Area is definitely a must-visit destination in Taiwan. So if you’re planning to visit Taiwan soon, this should be on your bucket list! Here’s a DIY travel guide to Alishan; including things to expect and do in the area! 

Understanding Alishan National Scenic Area

Alishan National Scenic Area, or Alishan National Park, is a stunning mountainous region located in Central Taiwan. It is one of Taiwan’s most famous and popular national parks, known for its breathtaking landscapes, ancient forests, unique flora and fauna, and captivating sunrise views. The park covers an area of approximately 415 square kilometers and is situated in Chiayi County.

The Alishan area is surrounded by mountains; thus, it has a cool climate with an average temperature of around 10 degrees Celsius. Alishan National Scenic Area offers great sunrise views, a sea of clouds, and an amazing railway experience! 

In addition, Alishan National Park is easily accessible from Chiayi, the nearest city, which is well-connected by trains and buses from major cities in Taiwan. Whether you’re a nature lover, hiker, or photography enthusiast, Alishan offers a memorable and picturesque experience that showcases the best of Taiwan’s natural beauty.

How to get to Alishan National Scenic Area? 

As mentioned above, Chiayi is the nearest city to Alishan National Park. Thus, getting to the national park is very accessible, whether you’re coming from Taipei City or the Southern part of Taiwan. There are actually different ways to get to Alishan, but here’s an easy way to get to Alishan National Scenic Area. (based on experience)

From Taipei

  1. From Taipei, take a TRA or THSR (Taiwan High Speed Railway) and board a train to Chiayi station.
  2. If you are taking the THSR, Then take a shuttle bus from Chiayi THSR Station. The first trip leaves at 9AM.
  3. From Chiayi station, it takes about 3 hours to get to Alishan National Park. 

From Kaoshiung 

  1. From Kaoshiung Station, take a TRA or THSR (Taiwan High Speed Railway) and get off at Chiayi Station. It only takes about 30 minutes to get here via THSR.
  2. Then take a shuttle bus from Chiayi THSR Station. The first bus trip leaves at 9AM.
  3. From Chiayi station, it takes about 3 hours to get to Alishan National Park. 

Essential Travel Tips and Reminders 

  • If you’re traveling on a day tour only (like me), it’s highly recommended to take the high-speed railway to save time. 
  • If you want to catch the sunrise, make sure to book accommodation nearby.
  • Please wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Make sure to bring at least a jacket because the area has a cool temperature. 
  • You may bring a bottle of water since there’s going to be a lot of walking! (Although there are some convenience stores within the area.)
  • If traveling on a day tour, be mindful of the bus schedules going back to Chiayi. 
  • Don’t bring too much stuff with you. (In case you were wondering, I brought my drone and a camera, which I didn’t use. It made it a little difficult to trek the mountains.)

Alishan Shuttle Bus Schedule (as of 2023)

TimeBus RouteRemarks
10:10Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus A Line 7329Alishan -> THSR (Through Fenqihu)
13:30Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus A Line 7329Alishan -> THSR
14:30Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus A Line 7329Alishan -> THSR
16:40Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus A Line 7329Alishan -> THSR
09:10Chiayi County Bus Service 7322Alishan -> TRA (Through Fenqihu)
11:40Chiayi County Bus Service 7322Alishan -> TRA
12:40Chiayi County Bus Service 7322Alishan -> TRA
13:40Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus A Line 7322Alishan -> TRA
14:10Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus A Line 7322Alishan -> TRA (Through Fenqihu)
14:40Chiayi County Bus Service 7322Alishan -> TRA
15:10Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus A Line 7322Alishan -> TRA
15:40Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus A Line 7322Alishan -> TRA
16:10Chiayi County Bus Service 7322Alishan -> TRA
17:10Chiayi County Bus Service 7322

Things to Expect in Alishan, Taiwan

Alishan Forest Railway 

The Alishan Forest Railway is an iconic narrow-gauge train that operates in the park, taking visitors on a scenic journey through lush forests, picturesque bridges, and tunnels. The railway is a popular way to reach the famous Alishan sunrise viewing platform.

Definitely one of the cutest old railways I’ve seen! It’s quite saddening that I didn’t get to take the train. Just a quick tip, if you don’t want to get exhausted hiking up the mountains or the Alishan area, you can consider taking the railway heading to the higher areas!

Alishan Sunrise

Watching the sunrise at Alishan is a bucket-list experience for many visitors. The best spot to witness the sunrise is Zhushan Station, where you can see the sea of clouds and the sun rising over the mountains. With that, it’s highly recommended to book accommodation nearby, especially if you’re planning to watch the sunrise early in the morning! 

In my case, since I only had a limited amount of time, I couldn’t get to watch the sunrise since I was only traveling the whole day. 

Ancient Giant Trees

Alishan is not just surrounded by mountains; it is also home to ancient trees, some of which are over 1,000 years old. The Alishan Sacred Tree Trail is a popular hiking trail where visitors can walk among these majestic giants. I was totally amazed at what the giant trees looked like! I literally enjoyed reading every description of the ancient trees I saw around the area. 

Sea of Clouds

If you’re planning to watch the sunrise, you’ll definitely get to experience the sea of clouds in Alishan. The sea of clouds often occurs in the early morning when clouds cover the valleys, creating a surreal and magical atmosphere.

Sister Ponds (Shoujhenxi)

 These two beautiful ponds are located within the park and offer serene and picturesque surroundings.

Alishan Cherry Blossoms

During the spring season, Alishan is adorned with cherry blossoms, attracting many visitors who come to witness the beautiful pink blooms. 

And yes! I was so grateful to have seen Alishan’s Cherry Blossom trees, and I even got to see the Cherry Blossom Tree that’s over a hundred years old!

Indigenous Culture 

Indigenous people live in the area surrounding Alishan National Park, and tourists can learn about their vibrant culture and traditions there.

Trails and Hiking

 There are numerous hiking trails of varying difficulty levels, offering visitors a chance to explore the natural beauty of Alishan and its surroundings.

It’s important to note that Alishan’s weather can be changeable due to its high elevation, so visitors should be prepared for varying conditions. The park is well-equipped with visitor centers, accommodation options, and amenities to cater to tourists’ needs.

Expect a lot of walking and hiking around the area so make sure to wear comfortable clothes and bring a bottle of water since there’s going to be a lot of sweating!

My Thoughts on Visiting Alishan, Taiwan

When I arrived in Kaohsiung, I fell in love with the city at once, which gave me second thoughts about visiting Alishan National Park. I was even wondering if it was going to be worth visiting the national park since I’d only be there for a day. Upon consideration, I was so glad that I still pushed through going to Alishan. It was the best decision I’ve ever made! Well, that was the original plan, though. 

The Alishan National Scenic Area surpassed my expectations. I really didn’t expect it to be so amazing! No wonder this has to be one of the best destinations in Taiwan. A place that shouldn’t be missed! Also, it was my first time seeing the cherry blossom trees, which made me even more happy to be there. I’d definitely want to go back here, to experience the winter season! 

Note: If you’re considering staying in Kaohsiung too, you may book your accommodation at Jia’s Inn.

Frequently Asked Questions About Alishan

How much is the entrance fee to Alishan? 

Here are the following admission fees to Alishan National Park: 

  • Full fare Ticket – 300
  • Standard Discount Ticket – 150
  • Half fare Ticket – 150
  • Discount Ticket – 10

When is the best time to visit Alishan?

You can visit Alishan National Park all year. But the most recommended time to visit Alishan is from November to April. Take note that it’s rainy season in Taiwan from July to August. 

Can I visit Alishan for a day tour? 

Definitely! It is possible to go on a day tour to Alishan. Just be mindful of the shuttle bus schedules so that you won’t miss the bus going back to Chiayi City. 

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About the Author

Ara Patria

A half-travel blogger in the Philippines (based in Cavite) and a half-K-pop enthusiast, Ara Patria (The Adventuress) pursues her passion and love for traveling. She’s been blogging for years, where she writes about her own travel experiences and promotes the wonders of the Philippines. Not only does she promote the beauty of her country, but she also focuses on promoting sustainable tourism. She dreams to travel the world and inspire other people through her own written works and captured moments with her camera.

The Adventuress is a travel blogger with a purpose. She aims to inspire other people through her personal experiences, stories, and lenses. Outside her blogging world, she is an English teacher, an SEO specialist, and TEFL/TESOL certified.

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