If you have not hiked Taiwan’s mountains, you have not truly visited Taiwan. Why? A whopping 70% of Taiwan consists of mountains – we kid you not! Only after you’ve experienced this side of Taiwan, one that is well-endowed by nature, should you think about coming home.
Taiwan is also famed for 100 iconic peaks – the tallest mountains in the country – and many locals have made it their mission to summit them all. But don’t worry if you’re not that ambitious!
Here, we’ve compiled the top 10 mountains in Taiwan for you to climb. The awe-inspiring view of snowy peaks and stunning landscapes must not be missed. Ready, get set, go!
Image credit: Boris D.
We guess you are most probably heading to Taipei to kickstart your holiday. If that’s the case, you are in luck because there is a breathtaking mountain named Yangmingshan at the outskirts of Taipei. You can easily escape the bustling city via public transport or taxi in just 30 minutes. Yangmingshan, which translates to “Bright Sun Mountain”, has luscious golden sunsets and steam from volcanic vents, waterfalls, and hot, hot springs! The mountain is more than 1000m high and offers a bird’s eye view of Taipei. You can plan a day trip if you have limited time.
Image credit: Photos By 夏天
Water rapids along a hiking trail at Yangmingshan
Image credit: fishopen770
Steam rising from a volcanic vent in Yangmingshan
Hike this if you are an amateur hiker who wants to unwind amongst wonderful, easy-to-access scenery.
Image credit: Yushan National Park
If mountains were royalty, Yushan (Jade Mountain) is the crown prince. At 3952m, it stands as the tallest mountain in Taiwan. The peaks are a snow-covered winter wonderland. It’s the must-climb mountain for die-hard hiking enthusiasts. You need to apply for an entry permit and this is sometimes as hard as winning Toto because they resort to drawing lottery when there are too many requests.
Hike this if you are a rugged hiker who wants to experience a non-touristy, undeveloped terrain which still has well-maintained trails.
Image credit: Mark Kao
Hehuanshan (Joy Mountain) is only three hours away from Taichung and very accessible both by car or public bus. Now that is a really joyous fact, considering how far some of the other mountains are. If you’re in Taiwan during summer, you know how ridiculously hot and humid it gets. Hehuanshan provides a great respite from the heat, and sometimes there is even snow! It has the highest point of the Taiwan highway, Hehuan Wuling, which is 3275m above sea level. From there, you can hike up Hehuan Main Peak, which is 3416m high, in just an hour. Hehuanshan has multiple round-trip hikes ranging from 45 minutes to eight hours.
Image credit: Mark Kao
See, we weren’t kidding.
Hike this if you an amateur hiker looking for an easily accessible getaway that has both easy and challenging trails.
Image credit: Prince Roy
Xueshan or Snow Mountain, at 3886m, is the second-highest mountain in Taiwan. You get to walk through ancient forests of tall firs called the “Black Forest”. In winter, snow covers the forest floor. Since it’s the highest mountain in the region, you get spectacular views of neighbouring mountains and of Sheipa National Park. It’s practically out of an ancient Chinese painting. Can you hear the flutes in the background? No, you can’t, because you’re not in Xueshan. Yet.
Hike this if you are a fit hiker (even if you are inexperienced) who is comfortable with high altitudes and carrying heavy loads.
5. Dasyueshan Mountain
Image credit: Charles Lam
Dasyueshan (Big Snow Mountain) is a breath of fresh air. It has mostly virgin forests and is relatively uncommercialised. Best of all, it’s a 2 to 3 hours drive from Taichung. It’s almost unfair how close the Taiwanese people are to nature’s treasures. *jealous grumbling* Take advantage of this while you can! Dasyueshan has a range of peaks between 2000m to 3000m. It’s great for animal-lovers as it is home to Mikado pheasants, birds, and rock monkeys. There are plenty of trails that suit everyone, so whether you’re an amateur hiker or a mountain climber, we’re that sure you’ll enjoy Dasyueshan.
Hike this if you are an amateur hiker looking for a breezy mountain walk or if you are an inexperienced hiker ready to scale steep mountainsides. This mountain is not commercial, so you should be ready for a basic getaway.
Image credit: Wentao
Being at the summit of Alishan, standing above a sea of clouds, is an other-worldly experience. Alishan is a mountain range with 18 peaks that overlap each other, creating a fantastical view of low valleys, sharp cliffs and high mountains. You will be enveloped in a thick fog as you hike up the valleys. You can also take a train from Alishan station up to Jhushan. Once you reach there, you will be blessed with a view of an ocean of clouds. In the sunset, these clouds seem to catch fire in the afterglow and this memory will be burned into your mind forever.
Hike this is you are looking for comfortable, family-friendly trails and access to plenty of amenities.
Image credit: Wentao
7. Sun Link Sea
Image credit: Joe Lo
Sun Link Sea is a forest recreation area in Nantou county that has an elevation of 1600m to 1800m. Fluffy-looking China Firs and delicate white hemlocks cover the countryside. You can even see Hehuanshan from here! You can go slow here and stroll through bamboo forests, or you could get serious and do a three-day hike from here to Alishan. This place has plenty of restaurants, accommodations and shops.
Image credit: 加蛋不加價
Hike this is if you are an amateur hiker looking for easy one or two day hikes with stunning scenery.
8. Taroko Gorge
Image credit: Taiwan_Mountain
Even if you’ve never heard of Taiwan’s mountains, you’ve definitely heard of Taroko Gorge. It’s number one on practically every must-visit list in Taiwan. You need to apply for a permit to enter this haven. Taroko Gorge has ginormous marble canyons and rock formations. Even though Taroko itself isn’t a mountain, it links to Zhuliu Old Trail, which at its highest is 1100m. So you get to see both the famous gorge and climb a mountain at the same time! Hold your breath or it will be taken away by the incredible view.
Hike this if you are an adventurer not afraid of heights or roughing it out.
Image credit: pang yu liu
If you’re holidaying in Yilan County, you should schedule a day trip to the quiet oasis in Taipingshan. Taipingshan is home to the largest alpine lake in Taiwan which sits 1900m above sea level. Named Cueifong Lake, it is a shape-shifting wonder that transforms every season. In winter, if you’re lucky enough, you will find the lake coated with a thin layer of snow. In summer and autumn, the lake has varying water levels and the entire scenery changes. If you actually stay in Taipingshan and wake up early enough, you will find the lake veiled in mist. There is nothing more detoxing than walking around a tranquil lake atop broad mountains.
Hike this if you are looking for a free and easy walk with views of water and mountains with close access back to civilisation.
Image credit: bigheadmogi
Guanshan Township in Taitung is 338m high. It is a town on a green mountain surrounded by other mountains and an eastern river. This area is amazing for cycling so get your bike gear on! There are plenty of bicycle rental shops in the town. You can ride on a track over water which surrounds the whole town and loops back to the entrance. The track gently elevates and brings you up the mountain to witness panoramic views. Take breaks when you get tired of cycling and enjoy the famed sweet oranges and delicious rice in this area!
Hike or bike this if you want a combination of a leisurely countryside atmosphere and exquisite views from up high. This is very family-friendly.
With 10 mountains to conquer, I guess we have no choice but to go back to Taiwan again…and again… and again *wink*. Mountain climbing is something you have to experience for yourself, and once you have, it’s unforgettable. Enjoy the panoramic views of the top 10 mountains in Taiwan!