Ultimate Guide to Manyueyuan National Forest (滿月圓國家風景區)

Located in Sanxia District (三峽區) of Taoyuan (桃園), Manyueyuan National Forest is 1.5 hours south of Taipei City (臺北市). One of the hidden gems of northern Taiwan, Manyueyuan features several stunning waterfalls, easy hiking trails, and abundant wildlife. Manyueyuan National Forest is a perfect destination for day trips from Taipei.

Introduction to Manyueyuan National Forest

Wildlife is abundant in this park and it’s not uncommon to spot mammals such as Formosan Rock Macaques, Red-bellied Squirrels, as well as birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects are all commonly spotted including multiple kinds of toads, frogs, and snakes. This protected park is very well known for being home to several different butterfly species. 

Along the Dabao River, there are seemingly countless smaller waterfalls however the trails at Manyueyuan National Forest lead to the two larger and more beautiful waterfalls that make this park worth the journey. Both the Manyueyuan Waterfall (Full Moon Waterfall) and the Virgin Waterfall (Virgin Waterfall) waterfalls) are connected by a short connecting trail and have viewing platforms and are ideal stops for picnics or just to sit in solitude.

Quick History of Manyueyuan National Forest:

One theory regarding the origin of the name “Full Moon” is that the loggers who worked in this area were frequently homesick and believed that a full moon represented the reunion of friends and family. Another, perhaps less romantic theory, says that the park simply took the name of the landmark mountain in the area, Full Moon Mountain. It is perhaps a combination of both. There is a Chinese saying “The moon is full and the folks all together.”

The history of Manyueyuan National Forest certainly that predates its status as one of Taiwan’s National Forests. The original stewards of this land were the Atayal Tribe (泰雅族), one of 16 indigenous tribes in Taiwan. The local Atayal tribe were forced to relocate, often deeper into the mountains, initially by the Qing and subsequently by the Japanese during their occupation period of 1895-1945. For a short review of the violent history of this area, visit Josh Ellis’ blog.

Like many of Taiwan’s National Forests, Manyueyuan was also designated a logging site during the Japanese occupation period. While little of the industrial heritage and logging relics remaining, the ecological remnants of this period persist. Visitors to Manyueyuan will experience a beautiful, mixed forest including the implanted Japanese cedar (柳杉).

Hiking Trails in Manyueyuan National Forest

With the exception of a few smaller looped and connecting trails, Manyueyuan National Forest is mostly a linear park. From the lower-level parking lots it is a short walk (approximately 400m) to the ticket booth.

Most of the trails at Manyueyuan National Forest are suitable for beginners and novice hikers, while there is a more advanced hike (in distance and terrain) that connects Manyueyuan National Forest to Dongyanshan National Forest.

Download the Manyueyuan National Forest Park Map hereNote: From the upper parking lot to where the trails break off for the waterfalls, the trails are suitable for children’s strollers with larger wheels.

GPX File for Manyueyuan Trails

Hiking the Hiking Trail (健行步道)

1.6km | Linear Two-Way | No Permit Required | Level 1 Difficulty

This (generically named) trail connects the parking lots, ticketing center, visitor center, and refreshment center along a gradually inclining, yet relatively flat and mostly hard-surfaced trail. Meander along this trail with views across the Ruizai Creek and to the surrounding mountains. Spot fish in the river and if you are lucky, a Crested Serpent Eagles perched in the trees above looking for an easy meal or a crab-eating mongoose scampering along the shore. This 1.6km trail is suitable for beginners and is stroller-friendly.

From the main parking lot, it should take around 45 minutes to reach the refreshment center. The gravel steps behind the refreshment center transition to compact soil and lead to the waterfalls that make this trail so famous with local Taiwanese. From the ticketing booth this trail features great views, plenty of spots to stop and rest. interpretative signage detailing the local flora/fauna, as well as the various conservation efforts the Taiwanese Forest Bureau takes to maintain the beautiful park.

Hiking the Self-Guided Trail (自導式步道)

1.2km | Linear Two-Way | No Permit Required | Level 2 Difficulty

As you walk up the main trail of the park, the trailhead for the Self-Guided Trail is found on the right-hand side just before the visitor center. The trail distance is 1.2km and will take between 40 minutes to 1 hour to complete end-to-end. The trail surfaces are compact soil and wooden steps.

This is the least travelled trail in the park and offers visitors a great alternative route to connect to the famous waterfalls of Manyueyuan National Forest. Quiet, secluded and right into the heart of this lush green forest littered with dozens of species of ferns makes it one of the best trails in the park. This trail leads directly to the trailhead of the Dongman Trail.

Hiking Virgin Waterfall Trail (處女瀑布步道)

0.9km | Linear One-Way | No Permit Required | Level 1 Difficulty

Branching off the main trail of Manyueyuan National Forest, the Virgin Waterfall Trail is slightly more challenging than the Manyueyuan Waterfall Trail due to some steep stone staircases and greater overall elevation gains. From the trailhead, the trail starts with a quick incline, leading to a stone gazebo overrun by tree ferns. Rising from the gazebo the trail follows a few switchbacks before leveling out.

From here the compact soil trail hugs the edge of a mountain with stunning views of the surrounding jungle. After a short walk, hikers will arrive at the multi-level viewing platform overlooking Virgin Waterfall. The moss covered platform provides visitors fantastic views of the 15m waterfalls that drop further down into a deep valley. This trail is 0.58km and will take between 20-25 minutes to complete one-way.

Hiking Manyueyuan Waterfall Trail (滿月圓瀑布步道)

0.44km | Linear Two-Way | No Permit Required | Level 1 Difficulty

Starting from the trailhead, not far from the washrooms, hikers will descend a compact soil trail to a large stone bridge over a small creek. The main waterfalls actually is hidden here, but there are several cascading waterfalls that can be seen from standing on the bridge.

After crossing the bridge, continue up a few switch backs before reaching the large granite outcrop. The flat rock is a great place to stop for a picnic, read a book or even do some forest yoga! This trail only takes about 10-15 minutes to complete one-way. Once hikers have made their way back to the trailhead, continue up a short flight of stone stairs behind the washrooms. There is a small viewing platform to get unobstructed views of the waterfalls. Only a 2 minute walk, if you have made it this far, it’s worth the extra effort!

Hiking Dongman Trail (東滿步道)

7.8km | Linear Two-Way | No permit required | Level 3 difficulty

GPX File for Dongman Trail (東滿步道)

Dongman Trail connects Manyueyuan National Forest and Dongyanshan National Forest through a stunning and remote forest. As a linear route, hikers can choose to hike Dongman out-and-back from one of the National Forests or arrange transportation on either end of the trail. regardless of how one hikes this trail, the Dongman Trail offers one of best hiking experience less than two hours from Taipei.

The Dongman Trail itself takes between 3-5 hours to hike (one-way). While the official trail distance for the Dongman Trail is 7.8km, when you include hiking from/to the parking lots and accessing the trailhead, this distance climbs to around 16km. Combined this can make a day out hiking reach between 6-7 hours. When hiking from Dongyanshan, most of the elevation change occurs while declining into Manyueyuan for the last 3km. It’s not technical hiking, but this can be quite tiring and hard on one’s knees, shins and ankles. A hiking pole is suggested.

There is no cell phone service, no water sources, or washrooms available on the Dongman Trail itself.

There is also a trail junction along the Dongman Trail that allows hikers to continue on to Beishatianshan (北插天山), however this is challenging hike and outside either of the National Forests. Please contact us if you’d like to arrange a private tour up Beichatianshan (北插天山).

Attractions and Services within Manyueyuan National Forest

Visitor Center  – The Manyueyuan National Forest Visitor Center is quite great and offers bilingual & interactive exhibits on local animal & plant ecology that are great for both kids & adults! Washrooms available on site.

Refreshment Center  – A small eatery is located about 500m up the main trail from the Visitor Center. This newly renovated facility has both indoor and outdoor seating and offer a mix of packaged and homemade snacks and drinks. Washrooms are also available on-site.

The Refreshment Center in Manyueyuan National Forest

Cafe & Vendors –  Outside of the official park boundaries there are a few services available. A small cafe (rice noodle shop) is located adjacent to the upper parking lot and has a variety of food and drinks available, as well as indoor and outdoor seating. A range of vendors typically position themselves along the paved road up to the ticket booth, including those selling fresh fruit and vegetables , ice cream (hello parents!) and hiking gear.

When To Visit Manyueyuan National Forest

Manyueyuan National Forest is open all year round with its gates opening 08:00~17:00 on weekdays and 07:00~17:00 on weekends and holidays. Regardless of the season you visit this protected area is stunning. A popular time to visit Manyueyuan between from October to early January. During this time, visitors can view of the few places in Taiwan that experiences fall foliage. Here, the maple leaves turn yellow-gold and gradually to orange-red, contrasting the lush green ferns and evergreens of the region.

Weather and Climate in Manyueyuan National Forest

Manyueyuan National Forest Recreation Area is situated at an altitude between 300 to 1,700 meters. However, the majority of the trails accessible to visitors sits below 1,000m. The annual mean temperature of Manyueyuan is about 20°C, however during the summer months of July-August temperatures reach up to 30°C. Generally, the climate here is refreshing and is a nice escape from the city. It has a cool and humid throughout the year.

Click here for weekly weather forecasts for the local area.

Keep this all in mind when you are planning outdoor or hiking trips in Alishan National Forest.

Admission into Manyueyuan National Forest

Ticket prices to get into Manyueyuan National Park vary depending on age, vehicle and area of the park visitors will be accessing.

Admission Prices:

Ticket TypePriceNote
Full PriceNon-HolidayNT$80– Visitor on non-holidays.
HolidayNT$100– Visitor on holidays.
Half PriceNT$50– Local New Taipei City Residents with IDE (foreigners included)
– Military personnel and police officer with valid ID card. – Student with valid ID,
– Children (age 7-12).
Group DiscountNT$80– Minimum group size of 20 persons excluding, person qualified for half price and discount.
DiscountNT$10– Citizens over 65 years old and with ID.
– Children (age 3-6).
– Field trip of elementary school pupils accompanied by a teacher on non-holiday, with official letter ratified by school.
– Tour guide with valid certificate.

Tickets can be purchased at the ticket gate and online, by making an account with the Forestry Bureau. To be honest, the park staff is really friendly and many can speak passable to great English. Purchasing admission at the ticket booth is not a big inconvenience. Visit the Forestry Bureau website for updated ticket information.

How to Get to Manyueyuan National Forest

Manyueyuan is conveniently located in terms of time and distance from the populated areas of Taipei, New Taipei and Taoyuan,. There are several ways visitors can access this unique natural gem. Whether you drive, use public transportation, book private transportation, or join a tour group, you’ll be glad you made the trip.

Driving to Manyueyuan National Forest

For those wishing to drive to Manyueyuan National Forest, you’ll likely use Google Maps to help you along the way. As a point of reference, travel times from Taipei City will be about 1 hour each way. Traffic on the weekend can get impact driving times, particularly when driving through Sanxia. Expect an additional 30 minutes to 1 hour travel time. Use this location as your reference. There are three, free parking lots for those driving a car. Each are connected to a riverside path that follows the Dabao River to the main ticket booth.

How to Get to Manyueyuan National Forest by Bus

There are several public bus services to Manyueyuan National Forest with multiple departures every day. While more affordable than renting a car or booking a tour, the travel time and relatively infrequent service limit the amount of time guests have in the park.

From Taiwan High-Speed Rail Station (THSR) in Banqiao (or TRA Banqiao Station) there is one transfer required at Sanxia Station 1 (or at Jiauxi Village) to reach Manyueyuan National Forest.

From the THSR Station, walk out to the northeast corner of Banqiao Station Square (板橋車站站前廣場) to catch Taipei Bus 705 for 9 stops to Sanxia Station 1. The cost of this bus ride is $75ntd. Pay in cash or swipe your Easy Card while boarding.

Additionally, visitors can take this route on Taipei Bus 910 and connect with bus 807. From Sanxia Old Street bus stop, walk south for a minute or two to the Jiauxi Village Stop to catch Taipei Bus 807. Pay $45ntd or swipe your Easy Card when you board. This lego of the journey takes about 55 minutes and there are 48 stops before getting off near Manyueyuan National Forest. This route takes about 1 hour and 55 minutes in total.

Taipei Bus [807] from Sanxia Station 1 to Manyueyuan National Forest:
Weekday departures include: 05:20, 07:00, 09:30, 12:00, 15:00, 17:30
Weekend departures include: 06:00, 08:30, 11:00, 14:30, 17:30
Taipei Bus [807] from Manyueyuan National Forest to Sanxia Station 1:
Weekday departures include: 06:05, 07:45, 10:15, 12:45, 15:45, 18:10
Weekend departures include: 06:45, 09:10, 11:45, 15:15, 18:10

Take the same bus numbers back, but note the final departure times leaving Manyueyuan National Forest.

Booking Private Transportation or a Tour

For those interested in visiting Manyueyuan National Forest, but require either a guide and/or transportation services, please click on the links below.

Book a Day Trip Now

Whether you are hiking alone or with a group, book a guide and transportation now!

Book Transportation

Order a private driver & vehicle to drop you off and pick you up.

Published by Taiwan Outdoors

Taiwan Outdoors is the pre-eminent source for Taiwan's outdoor recreation and adventure-based experiences on the Internet.

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