Alishan is a mountainous region in Taiwan which is famous for its forests, tea and trails.
If you only had one day to spend here without staying overnight (because the hotels here are more expensive), here is how you can do it.
How to get to Alishan
Firstly, if you’re travelling from another part of Taiwan, try to reach Chiayi TRA station by 830am.
Or you can stay overnight in Chiayi; there are many hotels near the TRA station.
There are more public bus timings from Chiayi TRA station compared to Chiayi HSR (High Speed Rail) station. They are both in different parts of Chiayi and not that close to each other.
You have 4 options to get to Alishan:
1. Alishan Forest Railway
Buy tickets 15 days in advance at NT384 each for express train.
It takes 2 hours and 20 minutes to reach Fengqihu.
Costs anything from NT2000 per way from Chiayi, takes about 2 hours to reach.
3. Public bus 7322
Take 7322 from the bus stop outside TRA station.
Costs NT221 per person per way, takes 2.5 hours and stops here, about 450m from Alishan Railway Station.
Travelking has also consolidated bus timings below, but note that timings may not be updated. You can download the bus timings here.
From the table above, you can see that the bus frequency from Chiayi HSR station is much less compared to Chiayi TRA station.
Costs NT250 per person per way up and down the mountain, takes 2 hours.
You can find minivan drivers touting at the gantries of the Chiayi TRA station.
They will take you up to the Alishan parking lot, a short walk from Alishan Railway Station.
On the way down from Alishan, you can ask the driver to drop you off at Fengqihu for about 45-60 mins, then you can board the same minivan back to Chiayi TRA station. So in total you pay NT500/person.
We chose the minivan because we could squeeze in a short trip to Fengqihu.
If your minivan leaves Chiayi TRA Station by 9am, you should reach Alishan by 11am, with 3 hours to walk around until 2pm.
The minivan will then take you to Fengqihu at 3pm where you can walk around until 345-4pm, then get back to Chiayi TRA Station by 530pm. Timing is slightly flexible.
Minivan drivers don’t like to leave Alishan too late as there may be rains in the afternoon and the road can get congested by buses going down the mountain.
What to do in Alishan
It costs about NT100 for a one way ticket.
Walk towards Sacred Tree Station direction, then back towards Alishan Railway Station.
You can see the following attractions along the way; and there are more hidden gems you can also discover:
Beautiful flowers (you can also plan to come here during Cherry Blossom season)
My favourite part is when the forest is quiet and it’s just you, the trees and the path ahead.
Occasionally you will come across groups of noisy tourists, just wait for them to pass or take another route.
If you stick to the main attractions and don’t wander off the main tracks to explore other trails, and you keep track of time, it is possible to walk back to Alishan Railway Station by 130pm.
For travellers on a budget, you can check out 娜若瑪菲 美食街 food court where you can get NT60 noodles and this yummy milk dessert with taro and pumpkin balls, two types of jelly and tapioca pearls for NT60.
Take along an umbrella in case it rains, like it did when we were there.
What to do in Fengqihu
Fengqihu is famous for its old narrow streets that reminds us of Jiufen.
You can buy souvenirs and specialty products. Check out the railway museum which has old trains and a roomful of photos of railways in other countries.
There are a few cafés here to relax at, but if you’re only here for 45-60 mins, it is enough to walk around the main roads before going back to your minivan.
The roads can be quite steep at certain areas so take care if you’re with kids or elderly.
There are also a few trails you can explore if you’re spending more time here in Fengqihu, see the trail maps below.
Other Alishan trails and scenic areas
If you plan to spend more than a day here, these are some activities you can do:
Check out my other Taiwan itineraries
This article includes Google map links which you can star as favourites and track your location via GPS.
You can buy simcards or rent WiFi routers with data at Taoyuan airport so you can access the internet in Taiwan.
Check out the price plans for SIM cards and WiFi routers on Go!Taiwan website.
Try to get your own Easycard (you can buy at MRT stations) which you can easily use for MRT/metro trips and bus services.
Have a blast in Alishan!
Also published on Medium.