Travelers are often surprised to learn that Taiwan is packed with a surprisingly high amount of mountains for a relatively small island. There are actually over 260 mountains over 3,000m in Taiwan, leaving you many options to hike no matter where you are on the island! Hiking in Taiwan is a must-do if you are visiting. Most mountains are located in the center of the island, and near major cities such as Taipei, Taichung or Hualien. In fact, wherever you are in Taiwan, you are never too far from a mountain !
Be aware that for most mountains, you’ll need to get a permit before attempting the hike, which is usually straightforward to get and free.
Yushan Jade Mountain Main Peak
This is the highest mountain on the island at 3.952 meters. If you have time to do only one hike, I’d definitely recommend this one. We had great memories hiking the Yushan Jade Mountain, thanks to the breathtaking views and the sympathy of Taiwanese hikers. I have no doubt that this hike will become one of the most popular adventures in Asia in a matter of time. It’s relatively accessible to most, even though you should not attempt it without a good physical condition. It took us more than 12 hours to hike.
We wrote a complete guide with everything you need to know on how to hike Yushan, check it out !
Be aware that there are many different hikes around the Yushan Main Peak. You can also hike other peaks such as the Yushan East, Yushan West, Yushan North and Yushan South Peaks. They are all slightly lower than the main peak, with much less visitors.
Zhuilu Old Trail (Taroko National Park)
If you want to conquer your fear of heights, it’s the hike to do ! You’ll need to arrange a permit before hiking, but several agencies can take care of it for you. It’s harder to get a permit for the weekend, so aim for weekdays. The hike is not necessarily long, it’s about 6 kilometers, but you’ll be rewarded with incredible views at the top. The path gets very narrow with a huge cliff drop on one side, be careful ! The hike can take anywhere between 2 to 6 hours depending on your speed and level of fitness.
The highest point of the hike is relatively low in terms of altitude. It is also located very close to Hualien and most attractions of the Taroko Gorge.
QiLai Mountain (Central Taiwan)
QiLaiShan (or CiLaiShan) has the reputation of being the deadliest mountain in Taiwan, if that sentence alone is already scaring you, I’d recommend scrolling down and checking the next hike, located pretty much as the same place as the Qilai Mountain. This hike will bring up to an altitude of 3.607 meters, it is located in the Taroko National Park, but farther away from the most touristic areas. There are camping and lodge (Chenggong Cabin) options nearby, but you’ll still need to hike for about 18 kilometers round-way. You’ll also need a permit for the hike.
HeHuanShan (Central Taiwan)
I didn’t hike this one, but I passed by the trail with my bicycle on the way to the highest road in Taiwan. What I noticed is there were A LOT of people hiking around there. The HeHuan mountains are quite popular because there are relatively easy despite their altitude (between 3.416 and 3.422 meters for the 3 main peaks). It is a beautiful place to hike, and the sunrise has the reputation to be one of the bests of the island. It is also located in the Taroko National Park, between Hualien and Taichung.
Teapot Mountain near Taipei
The advantage of this hike is that it is located near Taipei, which makes it convenient to get from the capital. It’s a perfect hike for those who are short on time. In one day, you can manage to start from Taipei, get to the mountain, hike and come back to Taipei. It is located near the touristic town of Jiufen, that is also worth of a stop.
The trail is quite steep and short, it starts in the village of Jinguashi and stretches for a couple of kilometers or more depending on your starting point. From the top you can have a majestic view on the ocean and the surrounding mountains. The Teapot mountain is only 600 meters high, much lower than the rest of the hikes in this list, but hey, at least you don’t need a permit for this one !
Mount GuanShan (Southern Taiwan)
Guanshan is located in the South of Taiwan, it is part of the Taitung county. It’s located near the Southern-Cross Island highway between Tainan and Taitung. Most people need two days to hike, but you might be able to do it in only one day if you’re really fit. The hike is pretty steep, it takes a little over 9 kilometers, with a height difference of 1300 meters. Once again you’ll need a permit, and there’s a cabin where you can sleep halfway through the trail.
If you need more inspiration, a local association created a list named the “100 Peaks of Taiwan” in order to promote hiking tourism on the island.
And you? What was your favorite trail while hiking in Taiwan ? Share your experience with us !