Tuesday, April 03, 2012

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How to go to Alishan Mountain

4/03/2012 Taiwan Explorer

Alishan or 阿里山, commonly known as Mount Ali, is not only one of the most beautiful mountains in Taiwan (or in a little wider context - Asia), no, it's probably one of the most beautiful mountains in the world, as ancient Chinese poets would've said it, had they ever had the chance to see it. Peaking at 2663m, it's one of Taiwan's smaller mountains, but definitely one of the most scenic. The Japanese colonialists, the crusaders of the 20th century Formosa, have extracted the area's finest wood in order to build their imperial shrines and to do so easier, they have created a system of railways throughout the area. That's today one of the biggest tourist attractions in Taiwan and one of the reasons, why I wanted to go up there. Another one was the breathtaking nature and the famous sunrise. But there was a challenge to overcome. The question was: How to go up there?

The bus is man's four-wheeled best friend.

To go to Alishan from Taipei, it's best, if you take the comfortable and fast high-speed train ride to Chiayi City, or to be specific, to Taibao, a small town nearby, where the station is located. You will need 1 hour to arrive. From there you can a bus directly to a small settlement atop the Alishan National Scenic Area 阿里山國家風景區 called Zhongzheng, it will take you about 2.5 hours to arrive. Zhongzheng, also known as the "Alishan Village", is commonly the last stop for visitors and offers a plenty of accommodation possibilities (our hotel was located there as well). So if you ever wondered, how long it takes from Taipei City to the top of Alishan: 3.5 to 4 hours would be the answer. The ride is bumpy, because the road is very winding and in a lot of parts particularly dangerous, so if you're easy to puke, you might want to bring a sick sack with you.

Let me show you some photos I took while riding up the Ali Mountain:

A bus ascending.

Look at that canyon!

Another deadly curve.

Getting higher.

Flatlands on highlands.

This part is being fixed after the 2009 typhoon Morakot.

Ta-dah: The Ali Mountain says hi!

A beautiful tea plantation.

Ruili 瑞里, a small village half way up.

We made a 15 min stop here.

Tea plantations are all over the area here.

A Taiwanese traffic officer with a miniature lightsaber.

Moving further: Off to Alishan village!

A bridge is being built for future influx of tourists.

And then we arrived at Alishan village.

Groups of tourists from China were greeting us.

Girls marching to the buses. It's time for them to return.

More tourists from China waiting to flood Chaing Kai-Shek's village.

The highest parking lot in Taiwan amid the oh so typically Taiwanese Zhongzheng.

The ride up to Alishan is almost as exciting as everything else up there, well, if you're going for the first time, of course. The second time might not be so thrilling, but that's something I will be able to tell you next time. Meanwhile, check a map from Taibao to Alishan Village:

View Larger Map

My 2012 SOUTH-CENTRAL TAIWAN Tour - NEXT: Chinese vs. Taiwanese on Alishan>>

• Explore all my Alishan posts at once.