Sunday, February 17, 2013


Elephant Mountain (Xiangshan), Taipei

2/17/2013 Taiwan Explorer

The 183m tall Elephant Mountain, also known as Xiangshan 象山, is a popular hill in Taipei's Xinyi District, overlooking the iconic Taipei 101 and offering a great view over the eastern part of the city. It's a magnet for hikers, photographers and people, who love a good view. If you're a first time visitor to Taipei, this post will tell you how to find your way up there (don't forget to check the map at the bottom) and offer you an idea about what to expect, as well as provide you with useful tips. All photos were taken in late 2012, when me and my wife visited for the first time.

How to go to Elephant Mountain?

The best starting point to Elephant Mountain is Taipei 101 (which can be reached by foot or by bus from Taipei City Hall MRT Station). In the near future, there will be a Xianshang MRT Station, that will make it much easier to reach this popular spot, but meanwhile starting from Taipei 101 is the easiest way for those, who are not too familiar with the city. The good thing is, that there is a plenty of signage, that will direct you to the stone stairs, that lead up to the hilltop. You will need to walk for about 20 minutes from Taipei 101 to reach that spot. Here are my photos, that show what awaits you:

When you see these statues, you are very close (turn right into a small side lane).

This is the tiny gateway, that leads up to the famous mountain (On map: Location B).

I'm not sure, how many stone stairs are there, but be ready for a lot of them.

If you walk fast, you will need at least 15 min to reach the top, if you take several breaks, it might be 25 min. There are several benches available on the way up and some areas already offer a nice view, so you might want to stop and take some photos.

This is a look down on those, who were leaving.

This is close to the top: Taipei 101 is already nicely visible.

This stone with the characters 象山 is close to the top.

A nice view over Daan District. The twin towers are Far Eastern Plaza hotel.

This is the famous hill top with a marvelous view and our final destination.

There is a hiking trail, that leads to other spots with a view, but because my wife was pregnant at that time, we didn't go further. This spot is actually fairly small and it was very crowded, when we arrived. People position their tripods with cameras on the best spots and then wouldn't move, so you have to be lucky. They are waiting for day to become night and hope to make some great shots. There are also two big stones in the middle, where the bold ones (I'd rather say stupid ones) climb up and sit on them. For me it was very dangerous, not only to the ones on top, but to all of us below. Luckily nothing happened that day and my wife and I were able to make few decent shots.

This is the less glamorous part of Xinyi.

I zoomed out to get a wider perspective.

This is my best shot on Taipei 101 on that day.

These are the stones, that people love to climb.

Some sit up there for hours just to get a good shot.

Tips on visiting Elephant Mountain

I haven't visited Elephant Mountain on every day of the week, but I would bet, that there will be a lot of people visiting on Friday afternoon and during the weekend, especially around dusk, so if you don't like crowds, choose a morning during the week. Another thing that surprised me was the humidity. It was already autumn and most of Taipei was already humid-free, but when we start to walk up there on those stairs, I started to sweat like crazy and breathing was harder than usual. I advise you to have a bottle of water with you and if you get tired easily, take several rests along the way. The third thing were the mosquitos, they were quite aggressive that day, so be prepared for that. If you have a small kid (1-3 years), you better be careful at the very top, some stairs are extremely steep and space is scarce, because a lot of people keep going up and down. I personally wouldn't bring my child up there, because I'm the type that worries a lot. Nevertheless, you will see many Taiwanese parents going up there even with babies - it really depends on the person. I hope these tips will be helpful for your trip planning.

Map and useful information

Location A: Taipei 101, Location B: Elephant Mountain. You can view this map in a larger one.


Pinyin: Xiàng shān
Related website: Wiki-CH
My useful tips: Transportation in Taipei



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