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Taiwan Exclusive: Alishan Sunrise Guide to Welcome 2019

Watching the first sunrise is a common ritual for people around the world to celebrate New Year. The dawn wakes up the world with its gentle, golden rays of light, giving viewers a glimpse of hope and a fresh new start. But what’s the world’s best spot to see this majestic sight? Of course, Alishan is the highly praised spot in Taiwan to watch a mesmerising sunrise emerging from the edge of the mountainous landscape. It is also the hottest location to catch the sunrise of the first day of the year too!

Wanna catch the sunrise on Alishan? We are here to help! Here’s a highly-detailed guide which contains everything, from transportation methods to reach the tip of Ali Mountain, and all the important information you need for the event!

Alishan and Its Sunrise

Alishan, or called “Mount Ali” is the most-visited national park since almost a hundred years ago. Situated at Chiayi County in southern Taiwan, it is a range on Taiwan’s spine, with its expansive altitude covering subtropical, temperate and frigid zones.

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In particular, Alishan boasts the giant tree trail, where the million-old cypress can be found. While the forest is shrouded by mist, they look just like a group of wise old giants guarding their sacred fortress! Not to mention the rich wildlife, aboriginal culture, and the one-and-only narrow-gauge train that zig zags through the mountain hills (perfect for rail buffs!).

Widely-known as one of the top five must-sees in Alishan, the sunrise is a legendary natural wonder for both locals and foreign visitors. How so? If you’re blessed with a good weather, you’ll be able to marvel at the sun bursting out from a sea of clouds, surrounding  the mountain tops. Watch the warmth of tangerine-colored sunrise illuminate the clouds and ranges, and gasp with all other visitors when you encounter that magical sunrise moment—How does that not sound like a worthwhile experience?

How to Plan your Trip to Alishan Sunrise 2019

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To catch the first Alishan sunrise of 2019, you must plan in advance. The best spot to catch the dawn is located at the top of Zhushan (祝山), which can be reached by 30-minute predawn trains from Alishan Station, or a 1-hour walk with the 240-meter Sunrise Viewing Trail from Chaoping Station, within walking distance from Alishan Station.

Transportation: Reaching the Alishan National Forest Recreation Area From the Ground

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The above mentioned spots are all located within or near the Alishan National Forest Recreation Area, but how do you arrive there from city? The best way, of course, is to drive up with a car. If you don’t have a car, another fuss-free option is to book a private car service from Chiayi City to Alishan, which is fast and convenient.

If you seek budget travel methods, then you can consider the following ways:

By Bus:

By Taiwan Tourist Bus:

  • From THSR Chiayi Station, take Taiwan Tourist Bus  Alishan Route A/B no. 7329/7322C. If you want to pass by Fenqihu, you can choose Bus no. 7329A/7322D. Price: 251 NTD. Check their website for details.

Tip: Book your THSR ticket from Taipei to Chiayi in advance with cheaper price!

By Train (Updated December 2018):

Unfortunately, due to the damage caused by typhoon a few years ago, the train operation is suspended between Fenqihu and Alishan Station. Which means, if you take the train from Chiayi to Fenqihu, you’ll have to transfer to bus to reach Alishan National Recreation Forest Area.

To buy train tickets from Chiayi Train Station or Chiayi North Gate Station to Fenqihu, you can buy it at the stations 12 days in advance. The ticket price is around NT$ 384.

Book a homestay in Alishan

Now that the transportation to Alishan is all sorted, let’s look at the accommodations! Since you have to book the predawn train ticket one day in advance, and you need to get up really early (around 2 to 3AM) to reach the top of Zhushan, we suggest you to book an overnight stay in Alishan National Forest Recreation Area.  

There are about 16 guesthouses in the area, here are some of the more famous ones (bonus: they’re also English-speaker friendly!):

Quick Tip: To check other hotel options, go on Google and type “Alishan Township Hotels” in the search bar.

Buy a ticket to Zhushan

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After checking in the guesthouse or hotel, the first thing to do is to buy the ticket for predawn train to Zhushan, since it’s only available one day before!

  • When to buy the ticket: 1:00pm – 4:30pm on the day before the train ride
  • Where to buy the ticket: Alishan Train Station Ticket selling point
  • Timetable: Subject to change according to the sunrise time
  • Estimate sunrise time: 07:04 (Dec 26 – Dec 31)

Reminder: Getting the ticket doesn’t guarantee the seat. Queue early if you want to get a spot to rest your feet!

After You Reach the Mountain Top

Alishan sunrise, (Image via Shutterstock)

Take the train crammed with visitors as excited as you to Zhushan station. After you hop off, you can either go to Zhushan Sunrise Observation Deck right in front of the station, or take a 10- minute walk to Xiaoliyuanshan Lookout, which might be less packed than the former one, but boasts the same breathtaking mountain view.

As you’re finally there, you won’t be able to stop staring at the glorious, ever-changing hues of the sky. When the sun is about to peek out from the mountainscape, its light starts to paint and illuminate the dark east sky with purple, orange and golden shades. Finally, as the sun pops out of nowhere, shining from the mountain edge, everyone will exclaim and cheer together! Just remember to wear sunglasses labeled UV 400 to protect your eyes.

Sunrise Impression Concert 2019

If getting the train ticket to Zhushan is too hectic for you, here’s another perfect choice—go to Sunrise Impression Concert that will take place at the Gaoyue sunrise viewing platform, inside the Forest Recreation Area. What makes it special? You can embrace the first ray of sunshine with the live performance of the orchestra, and the powerful singing voice from famous aboriginal singers! The concert will start from around 5:45am, until after the sunrise.

Now that you have a comprehensive guide on chasing the Alishan sunrise, simply follow all the steps and you will surely get the best New Year experience in Taiwan!

After Alishan, you might want to join these tours:

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