This guide to Hiking in Taiwan is one of our most popular sections of our website and we know why. People love hiking on this beautiful island. Taiwan Outdoors, your pre-eminent source for adventure and outdoor recreation inspiration in Taiwan, is committed to encouraging more people to experience nature and the great outdoors. By putting together this comprehensive resource on hiking in Taiwan, we hope to inspire more families, friends and individuals to start (or continue) there life-long passion for getting outside in to nature.
*This guide is aimed to be a living document. We will strive to add, edit and update this information as frequently as we can to ensure you, the hikers of Taiwan have the most up-to-date information available.
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Types of Trails
Like other destinations, Taiwan has a vast array of different types of hiking experiences and offers something for all skills levels and interests. While relatively small, Taiwan punches above its weight in terms of outdoor recreation and adventure experiences. Whether you are seeking a stroll in the woods or pushing your limits and physical fitness, Taiwan has plenty of hiking trails for everyone and is sure to keep offering something new and exciting year after year.
Trails in Taiwan are mostly expertly built and well maintained. There are plenty of rugged and less well maintained trails that crisscross the island, but for the most part, hikers are pleasantly surprised by the craftsmanship that goes into trail building here in Taiwan.
While there are a few good options to help you find the right trail for your skill set and fitness level, we want to align information with Taiwan’s Forestry Bureau trail grading system
Disclaimer: Taiwan is one of the most mountainous country in the world, where densely forested mountains cover nearly two-thirds of the country. There is a decent chance that there will be some level of climbing even on the easiest of hikes. If you don’t like the ‘up stuff’ do your research before going out. But remember, it always gets easier the more you get out! There are countless paths and trails across Taiwan that are relatively flat, well-signed and hard-surfaced trails. We could call these “Beginner Trails”. But to throw a monkey wrench there are also easy trails in Taiwan that are “easy-but-steep” (see the image above)!
Trail Difficulty Classification (as per the Taiwan Forestry Bureau)
(Scroll right on mobile)
|1 (Beginner)||2 (Beginner)||3 (Moderate)||4 (Advanced)||5 (Advanced)|
|General Public||Those who have better physical energy||Beginner mountain climber with good physical energy and map literacy.||Access control. Application for entrance permission in advance is required. Open to those who have good physical strength, map reading skills, and wild survival skills.||Access control. Application for entrance permission in advance is required. Open to well-trained mountain climbers.|
|1,000 meters above sea level||1,000 ~ 2,000 meters||2,000 ~ 3,000 meters||>3,000 meters||>3,000 meters|
|Takes half to one day.||Can be done within one day.||Takes one or more days.||Overnight required.||Up to 3 days.|
|Light backpacking (water & small amount of food)||Light backpacking||Overnight preparation required. (e.g. drinking water, food, map, warm clothing, first-aid medicine, etc.)||Comprehensive Mountaineering Gear Required. (e.g. food, drinking water, cooking utensils, map, warm clothing, flashlight, sleeping bag, tent, etc.)||Comprehensive Mountaineering Gear Required. (e.g. food, drinking water, cooking utensils, map, warm clothing, flashlight, sleeping bag, tent, etc.)|
|An open hiking trail with easy access. Relatively even slopes with comprehensive facilities and smooth road surface. It takes half a day or less than one day to complete.||An open hiking trail with easy access. Somewhat steep slope with some difficult sections, but has comprehensive facilities and smooth road surface. It takes less than one day to complete.||Part of the route is in conservation area which requires entrance permission. Application in advance is required. Part of the route is in relatively bad condition with steeper slopes, but the facilities are fine. It takes one day or between one to three days to complete.||Part of the route is in conservation area which requires entrance permission. Application in advance is required. Part of the route is in relatively bad condition with steeper slopes, but the facilities are fine. It takes between one to three days to complete.||Part of the route is in conservation area which requires entrance permission. Application in advance is required. It’s located in high-altitude areas (higher than 3000 meters above sea level). The condition of the trail is not good and relatively primitive. Unstable weather conditions. It takes three or more days to complete. Professional guidance is necessary. Traffic is inconvenient.|
These trails range from short and technical to longer, overnight trips that incorporate high mountain trekking. The later being included here due to the time, conditions and exposure as well as the elevation and strain they take on your body. While many of these trails are well-maintained, but utilize soft surfaces (read: compact soil, roots, rocks, etc), some of them are, how do we put it, less maintained.
There are technical climbs like the very popular Wu Liao Jian (五寮尖) in Sanxia Township (about 1 hour south of Taipei). This trail is gnarly and fun and has been documented a lot. Like here, here, here, don’t forget here, aaaannnnnnd here. (and a ton of vlogs here too). It’s a popular hike, if you do it, try for mid-week to avoid the crowds. But it is an example of how technical some of the hiking is in Taiwan.
100 Peaks (百岳) of Taiwan!
While we don’t intend to list every hike and trail in Taiwan (sorry if that was the expectation), we couldn’t compile an Ultimate (or even a Good) Guide to Hiking in Taiwan without a mention of the 100 Peaks of Taiwan (百岳)! Taiwan’s “100 Peaks,” or “Bai Yue” (百岳) was established in 1968 by the Taiwan Province Alpine Association (now known as Chinese Taipei Alpine Association), who selected 100 ascents balancing height, difficulty, beauty, and uniqueness. They set out to develop this list of exclusive hikes in Taiwan to encourage more people to get outdoors and hike the taller mountains in Taiwan. Nowadays these are on many ultimate travel bucket-lists for hikers! While they certainly vary in difficulty, we’ll bunch these into the more intermediate and difficult trails in Taiwan.
Sound interesting? Here is a great historic overview of forming of the famous Bai Yue in Taiwan.
Here is a website featuring all 100 Peaks for your bucketlist (or use this thorough Wikipedia page). There are a lot of resources out there on these peaks, including multi-day (and multi-peak) itineraries, lists featuring an ideal first 5 Peaks, 3D Map and Peak locator and this growing list of blog (in English) articles regarding the 100 Peaks of Taiwan. Hikingbook also has a great resource (albeit in Mandarin) for the 100 Peaks.
Taiwan Outdoors has put together a fantastic (and bilingual) Google Map with the locations of each of Taiwan’s 百岳. In fact, we have put together the largest online resource for Taiwan’s Bai Yue 百岳 anywhere. Check out our fantastic resource on Taiwan’s Bai Yue (百岳), including the popular routes, dedicated pages for each peak and more.
It’s the Internet and we know there is a ton (as in more than enough) information out in the ether to be scoured for tips, tricks and other insight into hiking in Taiwan. We’ve simply tried to aggregate some of the more reliable and useful resources for you to find what you’re looking for.
Now you just have to Bookmark this page and not 500 other ones!
Government websites in Taiwan are extremely useful, particularly when you need updates on the facilities or trails you are looking to explore. That said, they mostly feature those trails located within protected areas such as National Forests, National Parks and National Scenic Areas. Here are some across the country:
Government Tourism Websites:
National Forest Recreation Areas
Forest Bureau’s Main Site – This is a great resource that feeds into many other sub-pages that are very useful when planning a hiking trip in Taiwan. There are over 21 National Forest Recreation Areas and Forest Parks in Taiwan and the website has segmented them by region. Each located in very different elevations and regions across the island of Taiwan, these protected areas each offer visitors opportunities to explore and hike very unique ecosystems and sub-climates. If you’re into nature education, check out the range of eco-centers across Taiwan that offer great learning opportunities for the young and young at heart!
Natural Trails – Starting in 2002, the Forestry Bureau of Taiwan has been promoting a National Trail System, however, it seems that many of these individual resources have been aggregated under Natural Trail section on the Forestry Bureau website. As it stands now, there are 133 trails featured on this section of the website. Many have bilingual, pdf maps, as well as KML files for those with GPS devices.
Taiwan’s National Park system offers fantastic, world-class mountaineering experiences as well as opportunities for the more beginner and novice hikers to get out and explore these protected areas. The major consideration if you’re seeking to hike some of the more remote trails with Taiwan’s National Park system, you will have to acquire a permit (we’ll discuss this in more detail below). Some guides and tour operators will be purchase the permit for you as part of their service, but if you intend to at some of these hikes alone, you’ll need to purchase a permit.
Historic trails in Taiwan hold both cultural and recreational value in the country. There are over 50 historic trails across Taiwan. This website, developed by Geographic Information Network of Taiwan Indigenous Historic Trails, features 25 historic trails that criss-cross the island from the north to the south, all with significant connections to both the indigenous peoples of Taiwan since the Qing Dynasty, as well as the Japanese Occupation period (FYI: Taiwan was a Japanese colony for 50 years, from 1895 to the end of World War II in 1945). Historic sites, including places of importance along the way, such as neighboring tribal villages, police stations from the Japanese occupation periods, transportation facilities, and cultural buildings are all featured along these trails and have been catalogued on this website. Here are the trails featured on this website
- Antong Traversing Historic Trail (安通越嶺古道) between Hualien and Taitung Counties (English / 中文 )
- Jinshuiying Historic Trail (浸水營古道) between Pingtung and Taitung Counties (English / 中文 )
- Syakaro Historic Trail (霞喀羅古道) in Hsinchu County (English / 中文 )
- Batongguan Traversing Historic Trail (八通關越嶺古道) between Hualien and Nantou Counties (English / 中文)
- Piahau Historic Trail (比亞毫古道) in Yilan County (English / 中文)
- Nengao Traversing Historic Trail (能高越嶺古道) between Nantou and Hualien Counties (English / 中文)
- Wutai Haocha Historic Trail (霧臺、好茶古道) in Pingtung County (English / 中文 )
- (Alishan) North – South Historic Trail ((阿里山)南北縱貫古道) (English / 中文 )
- Kiwit Historic Trail (奇美古道) in Hualien County (English / 中文)
- Jiaobanshan Sanxing Historic Trail (角板山三星古道) between Taoyuan and Yilan County (English / 中文)
- Suhua Historic Trail (蘇花古道) between Yilan and Hualien Counties (English / 中文)
Blogs About Hiking (and other adventures) in Taiwan
Taiwan Outdoors knows that there are a lot of passionate hikers in Taiwan and many who know the specific trails first hand and have documented these experiences very well, many with maps, gps files, pictures and often a great story to boot! There is no need to duplicate all their hard work, so instead, we have listed great hiking resources across Taiwan, in no particular order.
- Hiking Taiwan – While it hasn’t been updated in some time, this site still boasts clear and detailed information on some of the best hiking in Taiwan.
- Taiwan Hikes – A site dedicated to encouraging more people to get outdoors and onto the wonderful trails of Taiwan. This site rocks! Anusha, we’ve never met you, but you continue build a great resource for outdoor enthusiasts of all skill levels. Kudos! She’s also put together a great list of Chinese language hiking blogs.
- Taiwan Trails and Tales – A great resource for anyone looking to get out on hiking trails in Taiwan. Conveniently segmented into easy, intermediate and challenging hikes, this website has lots of good resources that are easy to find!
- Bike Hike Taipei – Mostly focusing on Northern Taiwan, the information here is pretty thorough and detailed. Great for cross-references and double checking details.
- GoTeamJosh – Eye candy galore paired with well-written and fun insight into some of the great outdoors in Taiwan. Lots of epic and more modest hiking and treks across the country. Check out the fantastic map of posts.
- Hiking in Taiwan – Doesn’t seem to have been updated since 2009, but a solid selection of easy-to-difficult hikes profiled on this website. Well written, by a past Lonely Planet contributor.
- Out Recording – Dare we say one of Southern Taiwan’s best hiking resources (in English)? We do! Lots of great insight into some lesser known adventures down south with good images and detail about each hike. Another fantastic map to boot!
- Follow XiaoFei – While not focussed entirely on hiking, or even a major part, this is still a great guide for getting outdoors. Some of the hikes are up river beds and most to great swimming holes or waterfalls. When the weather gets hot, these are good options. Great YouTube Channel as well.
- Down to Explore – Taiwan Outdoors’ Ryan Hevern has put together some fantastic photo galleries and documented his hiking trips up several of Taiwan’s highest peaks.
- Taiwan Camping – While not hiking specific, they do have over 30 hikes listed, as well as other adventures across Formosa!
- Taiwan Everything – This site has…well…everything. It covers a lot, but has built up a great library of some fantastic hiking trails in Taiwan.
- Foreigners in Taiwan – A mixed bag of information here and not solely hiking related, but they’ve put together some helpful resources on hiking and outdoor experiences across Taiwan.
The above sites are the current mainstay blogs and resources for hiking information in Taiwan. Taiwan’s an awesome hiking (and tourism) destination and online travel blogs are filled with stories from those who have passed through and shared some of their experiences online. As in too many to feature. It’s worth digging around though on Google, as there are a lot of great resources that have put together – like these ‘Ultimate’ Guides to Hiking Alishan Mountain in Taiwan (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6).
Hashtags to Follow
We’re not about to list all of the outdoor and adventure influencers in Taiwan. That would be way too many and frankly, this guide is long enough (or is it?). We suggest following some of these hashtags on Instagram and these will lead to some great adventures and stunning images of mountaineering and hiking in Taiwan.
#bpintaiwan #igtaiwan #igerstaiwan #taipeigram #iseetaiwan #amazingtaiwan #iformosa #instameettaiwan #taiwan1 #viewtaiwan #bns_taiwan #discover_taiwan #ig_taiwan #exploretaiwan #hiketaiwan #vscotaiwan #bravotaiwan #taiwanhiking #自然 #iformosa #台灣 #台灣登山 #parkbusgotmehere #taiwan #amazingtaiwan #timefortaiwan #traveltaiwan #taiwangram #taiwanderlust #discovertaiwan #taiwan_destination #exploretaiwan #promotiontaiwan
- Hiking in Taiwan – This downloadable PDF document is a themed featured publication from the folks who produce Travel in Taiwan magazine. Great resource and handy for inspiring your next outdoor adventure and hiking experience in Taiwan.
- Richard Saunders is somewhat of a pseudo-celebrity in the Taiwanese Hiking Community. While his website, Taiwan Off the Beaten Path, is no longer online, his legacy lives on through a number of guides that are available for print or in Kindle format. While some of the guide books are not 100% solely dedicated to hiking, you can still find some great trail information in some.
- Night Hikes in Northern Taiwan: Common Reptiles and Amphibians: A Herpetology Field Guide – Available in Kindle or print, Ryan Hevern features some Do’s and Don’ts and Treatment procedures when encountering snakes in the wilds of Taiwan. Love the photos? Check out his hiking and photography workshops.
Finding your Tribe
Sometimes we like to get outdoors alone, while other items we like to hike in groups. Here’s some options to consider if you’re looking to get outdoors with others.
Hiking Associations – Taiwan is an island of outdoor enthusiasts and like 99.9% of Taiwanese are extremely friendly and willing to help others. Local hiking groups and mountain associations are great resources and often offer free or paid guided trips to hiking trails throughout Taiwan. The Chinese Taipei Alpine Association, HTC Hiking Taiwan Club, Taiwan Mountain Lohas Association and Taiwan Mountain and Wildlife Association all offer great opportunities to get out with other likeminded hikers across Taiwan. One challenging part we found when building this guide to hiking in Taiwan is that for many of these groups is the limited English content available on their websites. Taiwan Hikes also features a number of other local hiking associations. While not a hiking association in the truest sense, the Taiwan Thousand Mile Trail Association is a leading non-profit organization, who is committed to building, maintaining and planning trails networks across the country. They also host hiking events and some really neat volunteer experiences.
Meetup Groups – This is how popular outdoor groups in Taiwan, like Parkbus Taiwan, first got started and the community here is really great. Other very popular Taiwan hiking groups on Meetup are Taipei Hikers, Hiking and Riding in Taipei, Taiwan Adventures, Hiking Tours in Taiwan and Weekday Hikes in Taipei. There are a lot more, but some are less active than others. Sign up, join some groups and get notifications when the group’s admins release new events. A lot of people join by themselves and end up meeting lifelong friends – or they just hike solo with the comfort of knowing others are out on the trails too.
Facebook Groups – Like we’ve said before, Taiwan is bursting with a passionate community of outdoor enthusiasts. Many Facebook Groups have been set up specifically for these individuals to share events, pictures, tips and other resources (hey hey, wink wink). Taiwan Outdoors has a new group and many others exist with varying levels of activity and posts. Some of the favorites we listed for this guide to hiking in Taiwan are Parkbus Taiwan, Hiking and Riding in Taiwan, Taiwan Hiking Community, Taichung Hiking, Southern Taiwan Hiking, ,Taiwan Outdoor Sports & Activities, Taiwan Travelers, Taiwan Everything, Events in Taiwan, Tao to Outdoor 逃到戶外-登山新手村, Hikingbook｜APP 教學 X 行程分享 X 知識交流, Travel together in Taiwan, Taiwan Events & Activities, Taipei Explorers. There are also a tremendous number of Mandarin-speaking Facebook Groups that can connect you with great people who love hiking and mountaineering in Taiwan.
Outdoor Equipment and other Retail Stores – We know that a lot of great events and different resources are found and shared by the dedicated and passionate staff at outdoor-related retail outlets. We won’t spoil the locations (which we’ll share below in our Gear Section), but we always suggest asking for recommendations or resources from staff at these hiking and outdoor retail stores. They’re often out on the trails on the weekends and always talking with other passionate outdoor enthusiasts across Taiwan.
Grabbing the Gear
Ahhhh gear. We love it. Sometimes our significant others don’t ‘appreciate’ it, but that’s ok.
We always need more and someone is always willing to take our money for it.
Just as the trails in Taiwan vary in degrees of length and difficulty, so does one’s packing list. If you are going for a short hike, you won’t need some of the gear. Ok, so we won’t be putting a full list together, because other’s have already done a great job of this. We do want to include few things that are important to remember:
Items to Bring When Hiking in Taiwan:
Water – Lots of it. Regardless of whether you’re hiking in winter or summer months, staying hydrated on the trails is part of hiking 101. But definitely during the summer months in Taiwan, when temperatures rise and bodies sweat. Drinkable water is readily available from police stations across Taiwan and most designated visitor centres have water refill stations too.
A Good Hat – By ‘good’ we don’t mean expensive, but something that offers some coverage from the sun. Keeping the sun off your face and sweat out the eyes are good reasons to pack a ‘good’ hat when out on your outdoor adventures in Taiwan.
Good Footwear – We mean proper hiking boots. We’ve seen a few (we’re going to say inexperienced) hikers trying to ascent technical climbs in Vans or Converse. While they made it up/down unscathed its not worth the risk. Taiwan is a subtropical hiking paradise, but this also means trails get and stay slick (even after a few days of no rain). Depending on the trail you hike, the trail and terrain can be rocky, rooty and rough. A twisted ankle on a high mountain hike in Taiwan isn’t ideal. Here’s some advice on why you should invest in a good pair of hiking boots.
Phone – Surprisingly, reception in Taiwanese back country is decent. We don’t mean bringing a phone to watch an episode of Breaking Bad when waiting to ascend/descend Wu Liao Jian. This is meant for emergencies only (and the occasional, safe selfie).
We packed in some other great resources for you on what to pack on day or overnight hiking trips into this guide to hiking in Taiwan. Here they are:
- Down to Explore’s Backpacking Gear List – Ryan’s list is a good one and specific to his adventures across Taiwan and Asia.
- 10 Essentials and the Modern Hiking Essentials – Pretty thorough list here by The Hiking Guy.
- Day Hiking Checklist – REI Coop is a leader in outdoor recreation. This is a good list.
- Meal planning for Camping in Taiwan – While not gear-specific, this could be a good resource to use as a reference.
Retail and Outdoor Equipment Stores in Taiwan
Places like DecathlonTW (which has several outlets), but also stores like 100Mountain or Metro Oasis (who both have outlets across the island) offer pretty much everything you’re looking when it comes to hiking and outdoor gear (they also have cycling, yoga, climbing and other sports too). Here’s a brief list of outdoor retail stores in Kaohsiung and Taichung and another list of locations in Taipei. Rockland is not listed on those previous list and also has a lot of different outdoor equipment brands and is based in Taipei. We know this is the ultimate guide to hiking in Taiwan, but well, we could spend hours finding and listing the hundreds, if not thousands of outdoor gear shops across Taiwan (we kind of did, and found gems like this one), but that’s what Google is for.
Don’t want to buy? Try renting outdoor and camping gear here.
Getting To The Trails
Taiwan has one of the most integrated and well-connected public transit networks we know of. Between the rails and the roads, hikers can get very close to most destinations in Taiwan. It may take a while, but lots of destinations and trailheads are accessible by public transit.
Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) – The high speed train has brought destinations along the west coast of Taiwan closer. With speeds of up to 300km/hr and lots of space to bring your hiking gear, traveling between the south and north of Taiwan is very convenient (sadly, built bikes are not allow on THSR). This website is easy to navigate and trip plan. Check out Taiwan-Secrets, who has also put together a great How-To Use Taiwan’s High Speed Rail service. If your hiking adventures can be launched from any of these cities along the north and west coast (Taipei, Banqiao, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli, Taichung, Changhua, Yunlin, Chiayi, Tainan or Kaoshiung), then the high-speed train may be a good option. While more expensive, we suggest reserving your seats in advance.
Taiwan Rail Administration (TRA) – A diverse network of rail lines criss-crosses Taiwan. Definitely a great option for those without a car and seeking to get to smaller communities across the country. Lots of space for hiking packs and gear and if you’re bringing a bike, check out their bicycle friendly options. Bus connections from train stations are pretty reliable and at the modest-sized stations you typically find a few taxis about.
Bus Networks – Regardless of whether you’re traveling within a county or long distance for your next outdoor adventure, buses are arguably the cheapest way to explore Taiwan. Convenient connections between cities and major attractions (including plenty of trailheads and some national parks and forest recreation areas) with some services running 24 hours a day! Ok, so you may not need to show up to the trailhead at 3:00am, but you never know. Taiwanbus.tw is one of the best resources for planning long distance trips by bus. As the ultimate guide to hiking in Taiwan, we’ve compiled some good resources for using buses to access some great hiking destinations in Taiwan:
- Yangmingshan National Park – Here, Here, Here, oh and this Ultimate Guide.
- Taroko Gorge National Park (and HehuanShan)
- Yushan National Park & Yangmingshan National Park (Also, check this Ultimate Guide)
- Alishan National Forest (from anywhere in Taiwan)
Taxis and Ubers – Taxi’s in Taiwan are super easy to spot. Let’s be honest here; they are bright yellow with a ‘Taxi’ sign on the roof! If you haven’t brushed up on your Mandarin, you should ask someone who can speak Chinese to write down your destination on a piece of paper (or on your phone); most drivers do not speak English. Uber is pretty straightforward, however depending on where your trailhead is, you may not find a willing driver. For both of these options, consider how you intend to get back from your trip. No one is going to be waiting for. For taxis on longer distance trips, we suggest trying to confirm the fare before accepting a ride. We’ll leave it there. This is a guide to hiking in Taiwan, not a guide to hailing cabs.
Private Drivers – There are a lot of different ways to get to the amazing hiking trails in Taiwan and one of those is to hire your own private drivers. HTC (Hiking Taiwan Club) has compiled a great list of private drivers. We suggest that you do your own research and perhaps ask to connect with past guests to get real, authentic feedback.
Parkbus Taiwan – This wouldn’t be an ultimate guide to hiking in Taiwan if we didn’t include one of the newest and exciting ways hikers in Taiwan are getting out to the trails – Parkbus Taiwan! Here’s a little background for those that want to know what they’re all about! Getting people outdoors and to difficult-to-get-to hiking destinations as easily as possible. Check out some of their featured destinations or upcoming events.
Apps, Maps & More
Oh, there are a lot of hiking apps out there, but the selection we’ve provided below is a short list of apps that will provide that hiking in Taiwan a better experience. When it came to building a guide to hiking in Taiwan, we wanted to ensure we were providing specific platforms that support Taiwan trails.
Maps.me is not a Taiwan-specific resource, but they’ve utilized open-source data and have a very simple, yet robust mapping system that can be downloaded and run offline. This helps when you’re hiking in the backcountry mountains of Taiwan. A bonus with this app is that it can double as a great trip planning resource when you’re traveling around Taiwan on non-hiking experiences (yes, that’s a thing).
Hikingbook is a local Taiwanese outfit that is comprised of the perfect blend of team – tech and outdoorsy folks! They’ve done a great job of building a very easy to navigate and (mostly) bilingual website using open-sourced data from Taiwan’s Forestry Bureau. They also have a mobile app for iOS, with an Android App in development – we believe. This is quickly becoming one of our favorite resources for planning hiking trips in Taiwan.
Hiking Biji is likely one of the most popular hiking websites and resources for the Mandarin-speaking community here in Taiwan. Lots of great resources for planning your hiking adventure, including trail maps, user-generated content like blogs, photo galleries and videos, as well as a ton of other content. It looks as if they have an official partnership with the Forestry Bureau and have put together a variety of cultural and outdoor adventure tours. Google Translate gets you most of the way through this massive website.
Truth be told, Google Maps has saved the day more than once while hiking in Taiwan. It’s got a lot of great advantages, such as allowing user recommendations and feedback for the trails, integrating directions for getting out to the trails. Whether it leaves something to be desired is when we start needing more details on terrain and elevation of the trails, as well as needed cellular reception to give the goods.
Maps – Government or on site
Signage on Trails
Signage on trails is actually pretty great in Taiwan. Text is written (80% of the time) in both English and Mandarin and the distances are usually spot on. Trail signage is usually better in designated areas (such as National Parks, National Forest Recreation Areas, etc), but we’ve always been pleasantly surprised with signage on trails throughout the island. Sometimes it’s great to just put away the phone and find your way with traditional wayfinding!
Safe Hiking Resources
Hiking safely in the mountains (or otherwise) is something that all hikers need to be aware of. In this guide to hiking in Taiwan, we sourced a few of our favorite resources that provide good tips for hiking. Many of these are not Taiwan-specific and we know some of the content is irrelevant (there are no moose in Taiwan), but they do help provide context to what you’re getting into when you venture into the Great Outdoors!
- Safety Tips for Hiking – Parks Canada
- Staying Safe in National Parks
- Tips for Great Hiking – The Wilderness Society
- Day Hiking Tips and Safety – Love the Outdoors
Always keep an eye out for weather. Taiwan’s an island and things can change quick in the mountains. This is particularly true in the Spring and summer when mid to late afternoon showers can open the skies and drop a ton of rain. Also, if you’re entering into canyons on a river trace be sure to monitor the sky and gauge the likelihood your environment could experience a flash-flood. While there are a lot of different weather apps out there, we stick with Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau for updates.
Wildlife (we mean Snakes)
Taiwan’s wildlife viewing while on hikes is superb. A subtropical and mountainous country, mean that the forests and grasslands are filled (and buzzing) with life. This is different than other hiking destinations. But, there’s really nothing to worry about. No honestly. If you’ve spent any time outdoors, you’ve likely heard the famous saying, “They’re more scared of you than you are of them.” This is true of the wildlife in Taiwan (except perhaps hornets, leeches and mosquitoes). The island is populated with a tremendous diversity of snakes, both venomous and non-venomous. But unless you spook one or come upon a nest, these reptiles are likely to try their best to keep out of your way.
As you can see from all the information above, finding the trails and information, connecting with likeminded outdoorsy people, as well as getting to trails is fun, convenient and one of the best ways to experience Taiwan’s adventurous side. Probably one of the more challenging aspects of hiking in Taiwan isn’t the steep pitches or elevation, it’s getting permits to access some of the best trails on the island. Administered by a number of different organizations (yes, in some cases, multiple permits are required), this system was implemented to manage visitor numbers on specific trails. This helps reduce damage to the environment and maintain world-class hiking experiences along some of the most epic hiking trails in Taiwan.
Again, we’re not in the business of recreating the wheel here, so we’ve just listed some of the great resources online about applying for hiking permits below:
- National Parks of Taiwan – Official Website for Applying for Hiking Permits in Taiwan’s National Parks
- Hiking Taiwan – Great overview of applying for hiking permits across Taiwan
- English in Taiwan – How to Apply for Police Permits in Taiwan
- Taiwan Adventures – If you’re looking for specific details on permits (and much more) for hiking adventures in Taroko National Park, this is it!
Taiwan is a well insured country as a whole. In fact, Taiwanese hold the most average number of insurance policies per person of any country in the world. Travel insurance is an important component of traveling, but even more so when you’re taking on more adventure type activities such as hiking or mountaineering. You can get personal travel insurance for individual trips or you can purchase monthly or annual flat rates that provide coverage for longer periods. Personal Travel Insurance can be purchased from most major banks, as well as a variety of independent, insurance providers. Here is an example of coverage (annual) for Personal Accident Insurance from Fubon Insurance.
Here’s a good overview of the healthcare system and insurance needs for Taiwan.
Leave No Trace
We were always taught to “Leave a campsite better than you found it”. This is something that’s carried over into all parts of our lives, but Taiwan Outdoors officially believes in a Leave no Trace policy. We felt that this wouldn’t be a complete guide to hiking in Taiwan if we didn’t keep encouraging hikers to travel responsibly. LNT.org has put together seven principles that will help towards minimizing behaviors deemed harmful to the environment:
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimize campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of other visitors
Above all, be respectful when you’re out on the trails. Here are the National Parks Regulations for Taiwan. If you’re going into one of the parks, consider reading these first. *Could we add something about noise pollution here too?
With this guide to hiking in Taiwan, we wanted to take the time to highlight some of the great tour operators in Taiwan that offer great service and reliable guides for guided hiking tours in Taiwan. We know many people want to go it alone, but as we’ve illustrated, sometimes its easier to have someone book the accommodation, organization the transportation, take care of the permits and prepare the information you need to know about the gear and the trails. These are by no means operators that are solely dedicated to hiking (some are!) and they are not the total extent of hiking tour operators in Taiwan, but the one’s we know offer some great experiences!
- Parkbus Taiwan
- Imagine Taiwan
- Round Taiwan Round
- Blue Skies Adventures
- Hualien Outdoors
- OwlTing Experiences
Any other tour operators you think we should include? Shoot us a message!
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