Ultimate Guide to Taiwan: The Alishan Forest Railway

Alishan, Taiwan: Alishan Forest Railway

To efficiently forest off the large cedar trees of Taiwan, the Japanese built an impressive narrow-gauge train. And while logging has since ended, the Alishan Railway continues to be the best way to enjoy this scenic mountain resort.

Less than an hour away from Taipei, the Alishan National Scenic Area continues to leave visitors in awe with its dated charms and mystic atmosphere.

Getting There: Taking Taiwan’s HSR

Beyond Taipei: Using Taiwan's High Speed Rail System
Beyond Taipei: Using Taiwan’s High Speed Rail System

Taiwan’s High Speed Railway is an enviable train system that takes you to the island’s most scenic countrysides. At a speed of over 180 kilometers per hour, the HSR can take you from Taipei to Taichung in less than an hour.

  1. Skip the lines and book your HSR tickets ahead of time. Only one-way tickets are sold, but you can purchase all of them at an exclusive discounted rate with KKday.
  2. You’ll receive an email voucher after booking, which you can print out.
  3. At the Taipei Main Station, head to the HSR Counter and present your voucher and passport. Select your desired departure time and seat, then get your ticket. NOTE: Be sure to arrive at least 30 minutes before your desired departure time.
  4. Present your ticket to the staff, and board your train. Travel time is less roughly 45 minutes long.

Once your day trip is over, your guide will escort you back to either your hotel in Taichung City, or the Taiching HSR Station. Similar to before, simply present your KKday HSR voucher from Taichung to Taipei along with you passport and claim your ticket.

Day tour from Taichung: Alishan National Scenic Area

High Mountain Tea Experience

Alishan, Taiwan: Alishan Mountain Tea Plantations
Alishan, Taiwan: Alishan Mountain Tea Plantations

The Taiwanese have been perfecting tea drinks for centuries. The High Mountain Ooolong Tea grown by Alishan benefits from the high altitudes and humidity, which makes for slow and careful production.

Alishan, Taiwan: High Mountain Tea Experience
Alishan, Taiwan: High Mountain Tea Experience (image by Lady Ninevetch)

The result is a bold and aromatic brew, rich in antioxidants and all sorts of health benefits. Enjoy a cup (or a pot) as you learn about Taiwan’s rich tea culture, before feasting on a delicious Aboriginal lunch.

Forest Recreational Area

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself reaching for your jacket or umbrella after lunch; Alishan enjoys a cool yet erratic climate, shrouding its forest in mist. Choose from a number of hiking trails that will take you deep into the mountainous forest.

Alishan Forest Recreational Site
Alishan, Taiwan: Alishan Forest Recreational Site

Dense with fog and Taiwanese red cypresses over 2,000 years old, take your time enjoying the mystical atmosphere. Follow the unused railway tracks and cross an old wooden bridge to see the 2,700-year old Giant Tree. Or sit and contemplate over the still emerald waters of the Sisters Ponds. Whichever path you take will lead you straight into a fairytale.

Alishan Forest Railway 

With Taiwan’s TRA and HSR systems, the Alishan Forest Railway now runs mostly on nostalgia. For most visitors, riding the train in the highlight of the trip, and leaves a lasting memory.

Alishan, Taiwan: Alishan Forest Railway
Alishan, Taiwan: The Alishan Forest Railway

For a truly breathtaking site, plan you trip during the autumn when the fall foliage is warm and welcoming, or spring when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.

Beyond Taipei: The Alishan Forest Railway
Alishan, Taiwan: The Alishan Forest Railway

See the villages, waterfalls, and tea plantations in the warm glow of the sunset—a fitting way to end your trip.

You can book this entire tour with KKday over here: Alishan Forest Railway ExperienceOr check out similar tours below:

For more useful guides about the beautiful country of Taiwan, browse through our blog and check out our Ultimate Guide to Taiwan Series: Pre-DepartureStaying at The Flip Flop Hostel, and Taipei by Train.