(2023) How to Get to Alishan from Taipei, Chiayi, Sun Moon Lake

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Alishan is one of Taiwan’s most popular attractions, along with Sun Moon Lake and Taroko Gorge. It is famous for its sunrises over seas of clouds, cherry blossoms, misty forests, and high mountain teas.

However, getting to Alishan, and getting around the park once you get there, IS COMPLICATED! So it’s something you should plan carefully when making your Taiwan itinerary. Transportation info can also affect how long you need to stay in Alishan (personally I feel it can be done in 1 night with planning, but some people opt for 2 nights to be more relaxed).

While researching my huge guide to Alishan, I realized there was so much I needed to share about getting to Alishan that I had to make this separate, and equally huge transportation guide. I’ve spent many hours and multiple trips compiling the below information, including bus and train schedules, transiting info, travel times, and more. Since first publishing, I’ve recently updated all the information after Taiwan reopened to tourists, because a lot changed during COVID times, including the location of Alishan bus station, online reservation systems, and the new Alishan e-bus.

If you’re planning a trip to Alishan during summer, or especially during Chinese New Year or the March/April cherry blossom season, you’ll want to book your accommodation and plan your transportation well in advance, as it can get extremely busy there, and there are few hotels in Alishan so they often sell out.

For more general info about transportation in Taiwan, please also visit my guide to visiting Taiwan.

The main tourist trail through the forest of giant cypress trees in Alishan National Scenic Area, Taiwan
Alishan’s haunting, mist filled, ancient cedar forests

Table of Contents

Map for Getting to Alishan

A map of Alishan and the different ways to get there.
You can save this Alishan map to your phone or right click and choose “open in new tab” to see a larger size of it.

Because this is going to be a little complicated, I have custom designed this Alishan map. This should answer a lot of questions right off the bat. As you can see, you can take the bus (purple line) directly from the Chiayi city regular (TRA) train station or High Speed Rail (HSR) station.

The Alishan Forest Railway (red train car) will get you to Fenqihu, but from there you’ll need to transfer to a bus. Arriving at Alishan, you’ll have the option of taking the E-bus for getting around the scenic area or the more fun option: the three remaining sections of the Alishan Forest Railway still operating in the park.

Getting from Taipei to Alishan: Quick Summary

  • Fr0m the High Speed Rail (HSR) station (outside of city center), you can take a bus directly to Alishan (2 hrs).
  • From the TRA station (city center), you can also take a bus directly to Alishan (2 hrs) or you can ride the more scenic but slower Alishan Forest Railway. If you arrive at the HSR station but want to take the Alishan Forest Railway, you’ll have to first take a taxi or local bus from HSR to TRA station.
  • If you ride the Alishan Forest Railway, it only goes halfway to Alishan because the upper section was destroyed in a typhoon. So you should buy a ticket to Fenqihu (2 hrs 5 min), from where you can transfer onto the bus (1 more hour). Fenqihu is a cute town worth spending an hour or two (or overnight!) in. You can also stay on Alishan tea farms in nearby Shizhao (Shizhuo) village. All buses from Chiayi to Alishan pass through Shizhuo, but only some stop in Fenqihu.
  • From Sun Moon Lake to Alishan, there is only 1 bus per day in each direction (3 hours), departing 8 am, and departing Alishan at 1 pm back to SML.
  • There are also three short lines of the Alishan Forest Railway running between the scenic attractions inside Alishan National Forest Recreation Area (including the sunrise viewing point). You can buy tickets for those at Alishan station (next to the Alishan tourist village and hotels) when you arrive in Alishan, or reserve them in advance here (not essential). These are a fun way to experience the Alishan Forest Railway if you didn’t ride it from Chiayi to Fenqihu.
  • There’s an electric Alishan shuttle bus (called “Alishan e-bus”) that goes to from Alishan’s Visitor Center (阿里山旅客服務中心) in the tourist village, where most hotels and the train station are located, to basically the same three spots as the three train lines inside the scenic area. I recommend riding the trains, though, because they are a pet of the Alishan experience.

I will further clarify each of the above points in the article below!

The Easy Way: Take a Tour or Get a Private Driver

If you want to forget about all this transportation hassle and visit Alishan in a single day, consider taking one of these tours to Alishan:

Or you can arrange a private driver such as this one to take you to Alishan. The price is 4000/day + 1000 for driver’s accommodation if you want the driver for more than one day.

You can also rent a car to drive to Alishan or (if you’re very brave) rent a scooter in Chiayi and drive up there.

Alishan Forest Railway Introduction

Want to know how to get to Alishan? The Alishan Forest Railway!
Alishan Forest Railway trains at Alishan Station

Getting to Alishan can be half the fun if you ride the Alishan Forest Railway. Built by the Japanese, this small gauge railway was first opened in 1912 to haul logged Taiwanese cypress trees from the Alishan region.

When logging efforts ceased, tourists replaced trees, and the railway provided the only access to Alishan until the Alishan highway was built in 1982. The train ride goes through some 50 tunnels and crosses 77 wooden bridges between Chiayi City and Alishan.

Going by train is a slower but more scenic way to reach Alishan. For the fastest way, you can go the whole way by bus (see next section below).

Destruction of the Railway Line

Several sections of the Alishan Forest Railway were severely damaged by Typhoon Morakot in 2009 and the railway was shut down. The service was resumed part way, from Chiayi to Fenqihu (about halfway to Alishan) in 2014. More recently, two more stops were added past Fenqihu: Duolin and Shizilu.

Fenqihu is a very interesting little town famous for its bento boxes and hikes through bamboo forests. You can even spend the night there or on a tea farm in nearby Shizhuo village. Read my guide to Alishan for all the details on spending the night in Fenqihu or Shizhuo.

Although you can transfer to the Alishan-bound bus at Fenqihu, Duolin, or Shizilu, there isn’t much to see or do at the latter two stops. So most people get off in Fenqihu, explore the village for 1-2 hours (or spend the night), then hop on one of the buses to reach Alishan. There are a limited number of buses from Fenqihu to Alishan, so make sure to see the bus times below.

The 3 Alishan Railway Lines Inside Alishan Scenic Area

Wooden car on the Alishan Forest Railway, the best way to get around Alishan!
Visiting Alishan with kids on the wonderfully scented wooden Alishan train car

When you arrive at Alishan National Forest Recreation Area, where most visitors stay, three short lines of the Alishan Forest Railway are still operating. These three lines all start at Alishan Station (阿里山火車站), which is right beside the tourist village and most hotels, and go to three scenic areas in the park, where you can watch the sunrise or go hiking. You can also walk or hike to all three spots, but riding the train is more fun.

If you decide to ride the bus from Chiayi to Alishan instead of taking the train, because the bus is faster, then riding these short train lines is a great way to experience the Alishan Forest Railway. In fact, these three short train lines have cooler train cars (see image above). The trains that go from Chiayi to Alishan look more like a normal train with normal rows of seats inside.

When we last visited, we rode in an Alishan train car made entirely of wood (see picture below), and the smell of the train while we were sitting on it was amazing!

 Taking the Alishan Forest Railway from Chiayi to Alishan

Trains at Fenqihu, the halfway point from Chiayi to Alishan
My friends between Alishan Forest Railway train cars at Fenqihu Station

The Alishan Forest Railway line starts from the Chiayi regular (TRA) train station in Chiayi city center (NOT the HSR station outside of the city). After leaving the city, the train ascends through dense greenery and bamboo forests, featuring mountain views from both sides of the train car.

The shaky ride from Chiayi to Fenqihu takes 2 hours and 5 minutes and costs NT$384. Kids under 12 are half priced and under 6 are free (must sit in your lap), but if you want a seat for your child under 6, you need to buy a half priced ticket for him or her (same goes for the buses).  

As I already described above, most people ride it to Fenqihu station, where they get off to take a break, explore the small, scenic village, and eat a famous Fenqihu lunchbox. For those who don’t care about stopping in Fenqihu, then ride the train to the terminal station, Shitzulu, from where there are more frequent buses to Alishan than at Fenqihu.

Before rushing on to Alishan, if you have time, I would recommend staying in Fenqihu for a few hours or even overnight. The area is surrounded by bamboo forests, hiking trails, and tea farms in a nearby village (10-minute drive) called Shizhuo where you can spend the night – tea farm guesthouse owners will even pick you up from Fenqihu station or Shizhuo bus stop. See my guide to Alishan for more info on how to plan your Fenqihu or Shizhuo stay.

The bus from Fenqihu to Alishan then takes just under an hour. However, there are only a few direct buses from Fenqihu to Alishan per day, so you’ll need to pay attention to the bus schedule (see below) if you plan to stop at Fenqihu.

The drive from Fenqihu to Alishan is the most winding part of the drive to Alishan, so be prepared to feel carsickness. If you end up staying on a tea farm in Shizhuo, you can get the bus from the Shizhuo bus stop to Alishan (45 minutes). Note that all the buses from Chiayi to Alishan stop in Shizhuo on the way, but only a few of them stop in Fenqihu (bus times will be covered below).

If you don’t want to stop in Fenqihu, you can ride the train to the next stop, Duolin, or the terminal stop, Shitzulu (Shizilu). In fact, there are more Alishan buses passing by Shitzulu than Fenqihu, so if your only goal is to get to Alishan quickly and you don’t care about stopping in Fenqihu, then I advise you to take the train all the way to Shitzulu.

How to Buy Alishan Forest Railway Tickets

Driver on the Alishan Forest Railway, heading from Chiayi to Alishan
Alishan train driver

You should reserve your Alishan Forest Railway tickets from Chiayi to Fenqihu here. You’ll just have to switch the language to English in the top right corner. You can reserve your tickets online up to 15 days in advance (or buy from Chiayi, Fenqihu, or Alishan train stations 12 days in advance). I would recommend trying to do so because it always sells out.

Even if you don’t reserve a ticket in advance, there is supposedly a small quota of tickets that is sold at Chiayi station even after the online tickets sold out. If you want to try to get a ticket in this way, I would suggest you arrive in Chiayi the day before your trip to try to get a ticket for the Chiayi to Fenqihu train. We did this once and succeeded in buying one the day before.

Also note that on weekends and holidays, there is an extra service, called Jungshing Express, which you can only buy a ticket for in person on the day of travel.

Alishan to Fenqihu Train Times

The train times I list below are taken from the official Alishan National Forest Recreation Area website, which was recently updated. The times have been adjusted slightly since the last time I went to Alishan. If you visit Alishan and find that any of the below times are wrong, please let me know!

Note that these trains continue two more stops after Fenqihu (Duolin and Shizilu), but they still don’t go all the way to Alishan. So no matter whether you get off at Fenqihu, Duolin, or Shizilu, you still have to catch the bus the rest of the way to Alishan. Maybe someday the train will finally go all the way to Alishan again.

I still recommend getting off at Fenqihu, which is a very interesting little town with lots of interesting food to eat and beautiful hikes nearby.

Here are the current times, taken from the above linked website:

Alishan forest train times: Chiayi to Fenqihu

Alishan Express No. 1 (every day): Departing Chiayi: 9 AM Arriving Fenqihu: 11:05 AM

Alishan Express No. 3 (Sat/Sun + holidays): 9:30 AM, arriving Fenqihu 11:35 AM

Jungshing Express (Sat/Sun only): Departing Chiayi 8:30 AM, arriving Fenqihu 10:35 AM (no online tickets, buy at station on departure day only)

Alishan forest train times: Fenqihu to Chiayi

Alishan Express No. 2 (every day): Departing Fenqihu 2 PM Arriving Chiayi: 4:21 PM

Alishan Express No. 6 (Sat/Sun + holidays): Departing Fenqihu 3 PM Arriving Chiayi: 5:21 PM

Jungshing Express (Sat/Sun only): Departing Fenqihu 2:30 PM, arriving Chiayi 4:51 PM (no online tickets, buy at station on departure day only)

Getting the Bus from Fenqihu to Alishan

After riding the Alishan Forest Railway from Chiayi to Fenqihu (or Duolin or Shizilu), you’ll have to take the bus for the remaining one-hour drive to Alishan.

The bus stop in Fenqihu is called “Fencihu Terminal Station 奮起湖終點站” on GoogleMaps. There, you’ll be getting on the Chiayi to Alishan bus, either 7322 (originating at Chiayi train station) or 7329 (originating at Chiayi HSR station). See more about those buses in the next section below.

If these times don’t work for you or you miss the bus, a more complicated option is to catch another bus from Fenqihu to Shizhao (Shizhuo), then board more of the more frequent Alishan-bound buses passing through Shizhao.

Fenqihu to Alishan bus times

Fenqihu to Alishan bus times: Departing Fenqihu at 11:30 AM, 12:50 PM and 2:00 PM

Alishan to Fenqihu bus times: Departing Alishan at 9:10 AM, 10:10 AM, and 2:40 PM

Getting from Chiayi to Alishan by Bus

When getting to Alishan from Chiayi, the bus is actually the easiest and fastest option. You don’t need advance tickets. You just show up at the bus stop, swipe your EasyCard or pay exact change, and catch a bus all the way there.

It’s a super winding ride (especially the second half) and takes around two hours. You can catch a direct bus to Alishan from either Chiayi regular (TRA) train station in the city center, or Chiayi High Speed Rail (HSR) station outside of the city center.

All buses from Chiayi to Alishan pass by Eryanping (famous for Eryanping Trail with its incredible views) and Shizhuo (where you can sleep on tea farms). But only some of the buses stop at Fenqihu, because that requires a 10-minute detour off the main highway going north from Shizhuo.

All Alishan buses arrive “Alishan Bus Station” (阿里山轉運站) in Alishan, also called Alishan Transport Station. For more details about what to do when you arrive, we’ll get to that below. But first:

Taking the Bus from Chiayi Train Station (TRA) to Alishan

This is the easiest and fastest way. Bus 7322 to Alishan will stop at the bus station in the square right in front of Chiayi train station. Reservations and tickets are not needed, but it is recommended to line up 10-20 minutes in advance. If the bus is full, you can stand, but that will not be comfortable.

The bus ride takes about 2 hours and costs NT$240. You can pay when you board, in cash (exact change) or swipe your EasyCard. It takes about 1 hr 10 min to reach Eryanping, another 12 min to reach Shizhuo, and from there, another 10 min to reach Fenqihu (for buses that do go to Fenqihu).

The bus drivers are a little wild, and it’s a very winding road, so many people experience carsickness on this drive. The driver will not stop for people who are carsick – bring a plastic bag in case you vomit.

You can find a table of all the bus times here. Scroll to the second page for English. I have also summarize all the departure times below. Note that a few departure times were canceled during COVID, but they should be back now.

You can confirm the current times at the Chiayi train station information desk when you arrive in Chiayi. I suggest doing this no matter what, because things can change.

Bus times from Chiayi train station to Alishan

6:05
7:10
8:10
8:40 (wheelchair accessible)
9:10
9:40 (stops in Fenqihu on the way)
10:10
11:10
12:10 (wheelchair accessible, stops in Fenqihu on the way)
14:10

Bus times from Alishan to Chiayi train station

9:10 (stops in Fenqihu on the way)
11:40
12:40 (wheelchair accessible)
13:40
14:10 (also stops in Fenqihu)
14:40
15:10
15:40
16:10 (wheelchair accessible)
17:10

Taking the Bus from Chiayi High Speed Rail (HSR) station to Alishan

You can also take a bus from Chiayi High Speed Rail Station directly to Alishan (2.5 hours, NT$278, exact cash or EasyCard).

These buses are called #7329 and #7329A (via Fenqihu). Don’t worry about the numbers. “Alishan” will be clearly marked on the bus.

If coming by HSR, book your tickets in advance on Klook to get the early bird discount!

The bus times for Chiayi HSR to Alishan are here (page 2 for English). I’ve summarized the departure times below.

Bus times from Chiayi HSR to Alishan

9:30
10:10
11:00 (also stops in Fenqihu)
13:10 (wheelchair accessible)

Bus times from Alishan to Chiayi HSR

10:10 (also stops in Fenqihu)
13:30
14:40
16:40 (wheelchair accessible)

When you leave Alishan, you can only buy tickets for the bus from Alishan to Chiayi on the day you want to travel, so it’s a good idea to arrive at Alishan Bus Station an hour or two before your bus departure time to buy your ticket. They usually start selling tickets at 8:00 a.m.

The 7-11 where the buses depart from is located just outside of the main entrance gate to the Alishan National Scenic Area. If you are walking through the gate to go buy tickets at the 7-11 and plan to re-enter the park, the gate attendant should give you a voucher to re-enter the park.

Arriving at Alishan

Whether you take the bus from Chiayi, Fenqihu, or Sun Moon Lake to Alishan, or take the Alishan Forest Rail + bus, you will arrive at the same place in Alishan, which is called Alishan Bus Station on GoogleMaps. This small bus station is connected to a 7-11, and you can buy bus tickets from the 7-11 clerk.

Alishan Bus Station is very close to the Alishan National Scenic Area entrance gate, which is a large gate over the road. When you go through the gate, you have to pay the Alishan National Scenic Area entrance fee (TWD150 per adult or 200 per car).

From the bus station or entrance gate, it’s a 5-minute uphill walk to Alishan Train Station, where you can board the train and ride 3 different lines to scenic areas within the park. The train station will be on your right, while on the left is Alishan Tourist Village, a large parking lot with the main collection of restaurants, shops, and hotels of Alishan.

Most Alishan hotels are on a road at the back of the parking lot. It’s a 10-15 minute walk to reach most hotels from the bus station. Only Alishan House (see on Booking / Agoda), the nicest hotel in Alishan, is in a different location even deeper inside the park, and offers free pickup from the bus station.

Three Alishan Train Lines Inside the Park

My son riding the Alishan Forest Railway from Alishan to Zhaoping (Chaoping) Station. See here for the Alishan Forest Railway times (Alishan train times)
My son on the train at Alishan Station

Even though Alishan Forest Railway trains no longer make it all the way from Chiayi to Alishan Station, the Alishan Forest Railway still has three short train lines operating from Alishan Station to three destinations inside the park. The three lines are Chaoping Line, Chushan (sunrise) Line, and Shenmu (Sacred Tree) Line.

As I mentioned above, these train lines use some really cute old train cars, so I highly recommend riding them as an experience in itself. It’s more fun than taking the shuttle bus (see next section below). But if you prefer walking, you can also walk or hike to all the places that the train and bus go.

You can buy tickets for these train lines at the Alishan train station when you arrive at Alishan, just before getting on the train. They never sell out. However, if you prefer, you can also book your tickets online here. Only the sunrise trains can get really busy, but as far as I know, they never actually sell out. There are no reserved seats, and people just cram onto them during busy times.

Here are the four stations where you can access this small train.

Alishan Station

Alishan Station is the closest to the Alishan tourist village, where most of Alishan’s hotels are located, as well as the souvenir shops, restaurants, tourist information center, post office with ATM, and Taiwan’s highest 7-11. The station is a 5-minute walk uphill from Alishan BusStation (the bus station where you arrive at Alishan).

Alishan Train Station is where you will board the train to ride the three different lines to the below three stops. Buy your ticket from the window just before boarding. The station itself is cool, too, and offers sunset views from the second floor.

Chaoping (Zhaoping) Station

Chaoping is the terminal station on Zhaoping Line, the shortest of the three lines. It is the closest stop to the Sister Ponds trail, the most famous tourist trail in Alishan, as well as the cherry blossom viewing spot.

There are usually many tourists on the Sister Ponds Trail, but it’s also an incredibly beautiful section of forest. Chaoping is also close to the starting point for a few lesser known hikes. Alishan Hotel (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor), the nicest hotel in Alishan, is also near it.

Note that you can also walk from Alishan tourist village to Chaoping (15-20 min). The most common way to visit Alishan is to start your hike at Chaoping Station and finish it at Shouzhen Temple or Shenmu Station before going back to Alishan village by bus or train, respectively.

Shenmu (Sacred Tree) Station

Shenmu Station, or Sacred Tree Station (named after huge tree that feel beside it) is at the terminal end of the Shenmu Line. It is the only one that is not bus-accessible, but the e-bus stops nearby at Shouzhen Temple (on the Xianglin Route).

The station is located in another very pretty section of forest with some particularly large and ancient trees (2300 years+) called Giant Tree Trail. The loop trail around Shenmu station is usually less busy than Sister Ponds Trail, but just as beautiful, so I highly recommend it. Many visitors follow the Sister Ponds trail to Shouzhen Temple, from where you can connect to Giant Tree Trail and Shenmu Station.

Ciyun Temple, which is inside Giant Tree Loop, is also a good sunset spot.

Chushan (Zhushan) Station

Chushan (Zhushan) is at the terminal end of the Chushan Line, also called the Sunrise Line. It is the furthest and highest station. It takes you to the most famous sunrise spot in Alishan, called “Zhushan Sunrise Observation Deck” (祝山觀日平臺), so trains only run here super early in the morning. Later in the day, you can take the shuttle bus up here.

The train times to Chushan change each month according to the time of sunrise. You can check the times and purchase tickets one day in advance from 1:00 to 4:00 in the afternoon, or 30 minutes before departure on the morning of the sunrise, from the second floor window at Alishan Station.

You can also book them online here (switch language to English at the top). The earliest train is summer is 4 AM and in winter is 6 AM. After watching the sunrise here, you can ride the train back to Alishan station or hike down to Chaoping station for connecting to the Sister Ponds Trail.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Due to current construction at Chushan Station, the Chushan train will stop at Duigaoyue station (another sunrise viewing spot). From there, if you want to reach Chushan and Xiaoliyushan, you’ll need to walk 15 minutes up the road. If you’re buying tickets online for the Zhushan line, you’ll need to choose “Duigaoyue”. If you see that “Chushan” or “Zhushan” is back as on option, that means the station is open again.

All the train times for the different lines are listed here, but I’ve also summarized them below. I try to constantly update these, but the times are subject to change, so always check the official site or the times posted at the station when you get there.

Alishan to Zhaoping Station departure times (NT$100, 6 min)

9:00, 9:30, 10:00, 10:30, 11:00, 11:30, 13:00, 13:30, 14:00, 14:30, 15:00, 15:30

(note the long lunch break)

Zhaoping to Alishan Station departure times (NT$100, 6 min)

9:15, 9:45, 10:15, 10:45, 11:15, 11:45, 13:15, 13:45, 14:15, 14:45, 15:15, 15:45

Alishan to Shenmu Station departure: times (NT$100, 7 min)

10:15, 10:45, 11:15, 11:40, 12:05, 13:15, 13:45, 14:15, 14:45, 15:15, 15:45, 16:15

Shenmu to Alishan Station departure times (NT$100, 7 min)

10:30, 11:00, 11:25, 11:50, 12:15, 13:30, 14:00, 14:30, 15:00, 15:30, 16:00, 16:30

*You can also walk from Alishan tourist village to Chaoping or Shenmu (about 20 minutes 1 way for either one) and even Zhushan Station (45 min to 1 hr). See my Alishan guide for details on how to do that, including how to walk up there in the early morning for sunrise.

The Alishan E-Bus (Electric Shuttle Bus)

The new Alishan Electric bus is an alternative to the 3 short train lines inside Alishan National Scenic Area. I don’t really recommend it, because taking the Alishan train is so much cooler.

However, if you want to get from the tourist village or your hotel to the hiking trails, hoping on the shuttle bus can be faster than taking the train. The shuttle bus also provides access to Chushan in the daytime, as well as Chushan Stargazing Tours in the early evening (I’ll cover that below).

There are two spots you can get on the shuttle bus. The main one is at Alishan Visitor’s Center (阿里山旅客服務中心) in the Alishan tourist village. This one is closest to most Alishan hotels.

You can also board the bus at another stop, which is actually closer to Alishan Bus Station and Alishan Train Station. It is called 候車總站 on the Alishan Alipedia app, but unfortunately it is not marked on GoogleMaps. I’ve marked the exact location here.

You CAN’T swipe EasyCard for the shuttle bus. You can buy your tickets at any of the stops before boarding.

  • Chushan E-bus Route: This one goes to the Chushan (Zhushan) sunrise lookout point (only once every 2 hrs, departing the Visitor’s Center at 9 am, 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm daily, plus a special stargazing tour at 7 pm (see Stargazing section below). However, this bus DOESN’T run in the early morning, so you can’t take it to see the sunrise. But some people go to Chushan in the daytime because there are other walking trails up there. From Chushan, you can walk down to the main hiking circuit of Alishan (around Chaoping station), which then connects to the hikes around Shenmu station, and from there you can walk or take the train back to Alishan village. Doing all this will take about 2-4 hours.
  • Chaoping E-bus Route: This e-bus will take you to Zhaoping station and comes every 5-20 minutes. Chaoping is where the most popular/famous walking trail in Alishan starts, so the majority of visitors start their Alishan walking tour there. You can start hiking here, and finish at Shouzhen Temple (see next route), then take the Xianglin e-bus back to Alishan Visitor’s Center. This is what I recommend if you are just visiting Alishan for a short time and want to walk the most famous and scenic trail.
  • Xianglin E-bus Route: This bus will take you to Shouzhen temple, which is a short walk from Shenmu train station. The e-bus can’t go to Shenmu train station because that station is in the forest and doesn’t have road access. This route also runs every 5-20 minutes.

Staying in Chiayi Before Catching Your Morning Bus or Train

Staying in Chiayi the night before allows you to get one of the earlier buses, or to make sure you don’t miss your morning train. I recommend doing this so that you can get a nice early start to your day, not to mention that the trains mostly leave early in the morning.

We had a fine stay at Chiayi King Hotel (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor), a modern, 3-star hotel five minutes walk from Chiayi train sation.  

Another option is Mega Hotel (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor), which has great reviews and is as close as you could get to the train station. Yet another is Yongxing Inn (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor ), a very cheap hotel near the train station.

Hostel options also near the train station are Petite Hostel (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor ) and Light Hostel (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor).

Taipei to Alishan Day Trip

The high speed rail, first step in the fastest way from Taipei to Alishan
Here’s my article on traveling in Taipei with kids!

So how to get all the way from Taipei to Alishan? Or would you like to squeeze in Alishan as a day trip from Taipei? Well, to answer the first question, all you have to do is hop on a regular (TRA) train from Taipei to Chiayi station, then follow all of the info in my above guide.

These trains take 2.5 to 5.5 hours, depending on which one you book. You can book them up to 28 days in advance on the TRA website. Depending on how late you arrive in Chiayi, you may need to spend the night in Chiayi before catching a bus or train the next morning.

If you take the High Speed Rail (book discounted tickets here), you can easily get to Alishan the same day. The HSR from Taipei to Chiayi takes 1 hr 28 min to 1 hr 43 min. Then the bus from the HSR station to Alishan only takes 2 hrs each way. This means you could even do Alishan as a day trip from Taipei, but it’s going to be a long day.

The first bus departs Chiayi HSR at 9:30, getting you to Alishan at 11:30. The last bus back departs Alishan at 4:40, getting you back to the HSR at 6:40 PM. That gives you enough time to hike the many trails of Alishan and get back to the station. Just don’t miss the last bus departing from Alishan!

If you want to do Alishan as a day trip from Taipei AND ride the Alishan Forest Railway from Chiayi to Fenqihu, I don’t think this is possible as a day trip from Taipei.

There is no direct bus from Taipei to Alishan.

If you’re also visiting Taipei, see my recommended itinerary, the best markets, temples, hotels, and other things to do in Taipei.

Getting from Taichung to Alishan

If you happen to be coming from Taichung, your options are essentially the same as from Taipei, except that you are closer. It only takes 23-37 minutes (depending on which one you get) from Taichung HSR to Chiayi HSR stations (NT$ 380, note that both stations are located outside of the city centers).

The regular train from Taichung city center train station to Chiayi city center station (for Alishan Forest Railway or buses to Alishan) takes about 75-120 minutes (NT$144-224). There are no direct buses from Taichung to Alishan.

If you also plan to visit Sun Moon Lake, then you could catch a bus from Taichung to Sun Moon Lake (NT$195), and then bus from Sun Moon Lake to Alishan (see next entry).

You can also take this guided Alishan tour from Taichung.

See my articles on Rainbow Village Taichung , things to do in Taichung, Taichung itinerary, Gaomei Wetland, and Taichung day trips!

Getting from Sun Moon Lake to Alishan

How to get from Sun Moon Lake to Alishan
Gorgeous Sun Moon Lake

If you plan to visit Sun Moon Lake as well, the good news is that there is a direct bus from Sun Moon Lake to Alishan (and Alishan to Sun Moon Lake). This is minibus 6739 run by Yuanlin bus company. The bus takes around 3 hours.

The bad news is that there is only one bus per day in each direction. The bus departs Sun Moon Lake every day at 8 AM, arriving at Alishan around 11 AM. Then it departs Alishan every day at 1 PM, arriving at Sun Moon lake around 4 PM. It is a small minibus with limited space, but currently doesn’t take reservations. You just swipe with EasyCard or pay exact cash (TWD 336) when boarding.

The bus arrives at and departs from Alishan Bus Station near the Alishan National Forest Recreation Area Entrance Gate, where you have to pay a fee to enter the scenic area.

If the bus time is not convenient for you, you could also take a slightly longer route from Sun Moon Lake to Alishan. From SML, take the bus back to Taichung High Speed Rail Station (90 minutes), then HSR to Chiayi (30 min), then bus to Alishan (2 hours). You could also do the same thing in reverse.

If you plan to travel from Taichung to Sun Moon Lake then Sun Moon Lake to Alishan, you can save some money with the Sun Moon Lake Alishan pass.

Getting from Kaohsiung to Alishan

It only take 30 minutes from the HSR station in Zuoying, Kaoshiung, located north of the city center and accessible by KMRT, to Chiayi HSR station, with trains starting as early as 5:50 AM (NT$410). Regular trains take 80-140 minutes (NT$158-245).

This makes it easier to travel from Kaohsiung to Alishan as a day trip than from Taipei to Alishan.

You can also do a day trip to from Tainan or Kaohsiung to Alishan on this private tour.

Getting from Hualien to Alishan

Hualien is about as far away from Alishan as you can get in Taiwan. It’s at the opposite side of the island, and no, there are no buses running across the island (there are lots of huge mountains in the way!) There are a few roads crossing the island, but they are extremely slow and sometimes dangerous or closed due to landslides.

Still, I want to include this section, because Taroko Gorge in Hualien and Alishan are the two most famous scenic attractions in Tawan, and many visitors want to squeeze both of them into their short Taiwan trip.

This means from Hualien, you’ll have to go back to Taipei first. If you take the regular train, it’s going to take you nearly seven hours from Hualien to Chiayi, then another 2+ hours from Chiayi to Alishan.

Therefore, if you really want to get from Hualien to Alishan in one day, then I would suggest taking the express train from Hualien to Taipei first (2 hr 15 min), then transferring onto the HSR from Taipei to Chiayi. The Hualien to Taipei express train is very popular and always sells out, so it is essential to reserve your seat (up to 28 days in advance). For the HSR, you can buy a ticket even at the last minute, but you’ll get a discount if you book in advance (also up to 28 days, the earlier, the cheaper).

Another option if you have more time is to travel around the southern end of Taiwan by and break up your trip. Considering staying in laid-back Taitung on the way.

If you stay in Taitung, I would personally recommend Luye or Chishang as great places to enjoy some of Taitung’s best rural scenery, or nearby on the coast at Dulan (near but not on the train line). You could also stop in Kaohsiung or Tainan en route to Chiayi.

Hiking in Alishan
Hiking along the train tracks at Alishan

Whether you are traveling or actually living in Taiwan, I hope you found all the info you need here!

Be sure to check out my guide to Alishan for more information for planning your trip, or my other favorite places to visit in Taiwan.

Please let me know if you found any of the info above was incorrect!

65 thoughts on “(2023) How to Get to Alishan from Taipei, Chiayi, Sun Moon Lake”

  1. Hi Nick,

    Your travel blog has been extremely helpful and informative for my Alishan planning, a big thank you!

    In terms of routing & scenic wise, on a weekday trip, do you have any preference between taking the forest rail from 1) Chiayi to Fenqihu (9am depart) or 2) Fenqihu to Chiayi (2pm depart); barring timings & routing outside of the forest rail.

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hey there, thanks for your comment!
      I don’t see a major difference between your choices. Personally, I would take into consideration that the weather is often finer/clearer in the morning, and sometimes becomes overcast in the afternoon. Assuming that happens (which it may not), would you rather have the clear weather for the scenic train ride up, or get up to Fenqihu faster on the bus and make use of the better weather with an earlier start exploring up there? For me, I’d probably go with the second option, because I tend to prefer getting to my destination and exploring as fast as possible in the morning, but it’s not really going to make a huge difference here.

      Reply
  2. Hi Nick,
    Thanks for your complete guide here. It’s really help me to build my itinerary.
    I plan to visit Alishan together with my 8 years old kid.
    Just wondering about the route Chiayi to Fenqihu and vice versa especially by bus. Is the road between Chiayi to Fenqihu is too winding for kid? Since I plan to take bus down to Chiayi, I’m afraid that the winding road will cause illness (motion sickness) to my kid.
    Second question. I plan to have 1 day visit to Alishan. Do you think it’s a worth try to visit Alishan in one day considering it will take 6 hours and 40 minutes (round trip)? In this case I only have around 4.5 hours to explore Alishan and Fenqihu? I think I’m not going to stay at Alishan since the hotel price in there is relatively high for me.
    If you think it’s not worthy, do have any other suggestion of interesting place that can be visited in 1 day with 8 years old kid?
    Thanks a lot before

    Reply
    • Hi Willy!
      The road from Chiayi to Fenqihu is not too bad for most of the ride, but starts to get pretty winding closer to Fenqihu. However, Fenqihu to Alishan is super winding. Just back and forth the whole way up (about 45 minutes). My two young kids almost got sick, but not quite, but I saw several other adults and kids puke on the bus.
      4.5 hours for both Fenqihu and Alishan is really not much, but it’s enough to take a quick look. In Fenqihu you could stop for about 1 hour to have lunch and take a look at the very small old street and train museum. In Alishan, you could take the small train to Zhaoping and do the main trail through the forest, and return to the bus station in about 3 hours, but make sure you don’t miss the bus! (you can try to book your return bus ticket as soon as you arrive from Fenqihu. Is it all worth it? I guess that’s up to you 🙂

      Reply
      • Hi Nick,
        Thanks for your quick reply.
        I think I’ll skip Alishan. I’m afraid my kid cannot deal with the winding road between Fenqihu to Alishan…:-)
        Do you have any suggestion of tourist spot for me and my kid to replace Alishan?
        Thanks a lot.

        Reply
        • Hi Willy,
          Sounds like that is a good choice for you. Perhaps you could consider visiting Sun Moon Lake in Nantou, or (a much shorter stop) Rainbow Village in Taichung. Please see my article on “Taiwan with kids” for more ideas!

          Reply
  3. Hi Nick!

    Just wanted to clarify something. You said one of the bus times from Chiayi train station to Alishan is at 7:05 AM, and also stops at Fenqihu. So does this mean that when we are from Fenqihu we could also ride this bus to Alishan?

    Reply
  4. Hi Nick!

    Just wanted to clarify something. You said that one of the bus times from Chiayi train station to Alishan is at 7:05 AM and also stops in Fenqihu. Does this mean that people who are in Fenqihu could ride this bus to Alishan?

    Reply
    • Yes, that is correct! Unless the bus is completely full, but I can’t imagine that would happen, especially for the super early morning one.

      Reply
  5. Nick, terrific write-up with a ton of details, most grateful. Never been to Taiwan before but looking forward to visiting this October.

    Having arrived at Chiayi HSR station from Taipei, what non-bus non-train options exist for traveling to the Alishan forest area? Should I ask the hotel that I have booked to arrange this for us, or are there car companies at the HSR station that I could negotiate a one-way drop off with?

    Reply
    • Hi James, and sorry about my slow reply, I just saw this comment. Taxi drivers at the train station MIGHT be willing to do that, but I can’t say for sure because I’ve never done it myself. I think it would be best to arrange a driver or tour in advance. I’ve got some tour recommendations in my main Alishan article linked to above, but if you don’t find what you need, feel free to send me an email at [email protected] and I can recommend a specific tour or private transfer options to suit your needs!

      Reply
  6. Hi Nick,
    Thank for the great info on how to get to Alishan. I plan to go to Alishan from sun moon lake. Understand that there is a direct bus services from sun moon lake to Alishan, how is the road condition ? Is it very winding ?
    This is the website which we can reserve the bus services
    https://www.ntbus.com.tw/6739order-en.doc

    Reply
    • Hi TN, yes, the road is pretty winding, especially the when you get closer to the top toward Alishan, but I still think it’s the best way to travel between the two attractions. You don’t really need to book a seat online, usually you can just arrive early at the bus stop and pay when you get on the bus, but if you are worried that it will be busy, you can try to use the booking form!

      Reply
  7. We will be headed to Alishan from Tainan and staying a few days. It looks like our transportation options are limited. Is it okay to book a tour from Tainan, take the tour, but ask our guide to leave us in Alishan? The tour looks good, but we’d like a few more days to hike.

    Reply
    • Hi Barb! I can’t imagine why the wouldn’t be OK with that, but I would say that it is best to contact them to confirm this. Enjoy your trip!

      Reply
  8. Hi i was wondering if staying over at Alishan for a night is enough? I would be landing in khaoshiung and was thinking of heading over to alishan the next morning and stayover for the sunrise before moving on with taichung. What do you think? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi Rachel,
      Yes, I think this is definitely doable. If you can get there by early afternoon, you can still walk the main tourist loop through the scenic area before sunset. Then catch the sunrise in the morning, and you’ll be up so early that you’ll still have a few more hours to further explore before moving on.

      Reply
  9. Hello!

    This is helpful. I’m a bit confused. If we have 4 days, would you recommend from Taipei to Chiayi to Alishan? If we wanted to do sunmoon lake too, do we do that first or after? Thank you!

    Jesse

    Reply
    • Hi Jesse,
      If you have only 4 days, then doing Taroko + Sun Moon Lake + Alishan would be quite rushed. You will use up one entire day getting from Taroko Gorge on the east coast to Chiayi/Alishan/SML on the west coast, traveling via Taipei (unless you are willing to spend some cash on a private driver and take the very winding road from Taroko Gorge over the central mountain range to SML. I think 4 days is very reasonable for Alishan + SML though! There’s a bus between them (as described in the above article, so you could can basically do a loop, doesn’t matter which direction:
      Taipei to Taichung to SML to Alishan to Chiayi and back to Taipei
      or
      Taipei to Chiayi to Alishan to SML to Taichung and back to Taipei.
      Either day doesn’t make a big difference, just check out the (fairly limited) bus times between SML and ALishan, and decide which times look better for your plans.
      Hope that helps!

      Reply
  10. Hi Nick. Many thanks for your helpfull information, your blog is really awesome! We are traveling by car and we are in Hualien. Tomorrow we planed to visit Taroko, crossing it by n. 8 and 14 road. Then we will drive direct to Chiayi, overnight there in and next mornig go to Alishan. Do you think that is a feasible plan? Thank you again. All the best and good luck!

    Reply
    • Hi Izabella, and thank you! Yes, there plan sounds perfectly fine! Be prepared for a very winding, slow moving drive going up from Taroko, and also a super winding road from Chiayi up to Alishan! And you may want to stop at Qingjing Farm en route. You’ve probably already booked, but an alternative route would be via Sun Moon Lake, which would take about an hour longer in total (from Taroko to Alishan) but you’d get to see Sun Moon Lake. Your original plan is fine though. Drive carefully and enjoy your trip!

      Reply
  11. Hi, my friend and I will be in Taichung and wanted to scooter from there to Alishan National forest (石棹) where we booked an airbnb. We know it’s a long scooter ride, but is it even possible? And can we then scooter to the sunrise points?

    Reply
    • Hi Sophia,
      You can’t ride a scooter on all the main highways in Taiwan, but “provincial highways” are OK; there’s a provincial highway all the way around Taiwan, so you should definitely be able to connect from Taichung to Chiayi, and then the road up to Alishan is definitely OK (I have a friend that did it by scooter recently). Sorry that I don’t know exactly which roads you should take for the Taichung to Chiayi part, but definitely it’s possible. And beware that the road up to Alishan is super winding towards the top! I’m pretty sure you should be able to ride up to the main sunrise point as well, there’s definitely a road up to there!

      Reply
  12. Hi Nick,

    Good day!
    Thank you for a well detailed read on Alishan! Helped a lot travellers and backpackers. Been running through different blogs on Alishan, but cant get a hold on information if bicycles (folding bike) can be carried into Alishan Mountain Rail or buses that goes up Alishan, either from Chiayi or SML (preferably from Chiayi though).
    Maybe you have any info or experience on that?
    Many thanks and God bless!

    Reply
    • Hey Adrian,
      I don’t have any direct experience with that, but since both the train and bus take up countless travelers every day with all their big luggage, it’s hard for me to imagine that they wouldn’t let you take a folding bicycle up as well. Best of luck!

      Reply
  13. Hi Nick,

    Would you know whether there are lockers at the tourist information centre/Alishan Forest Railway Station?

    I’m planning on heading to Alishan from Sun Moon Lake on a day trip before going to Chiayi. It’d mean I’d have my big backpack with me that I’d need to store somewhere while I explore Alishan.

    Reply
    • Hi Ant,
      I have taken a look and it seems that there are lockers at Chiayi Railway station, see here:
      https://www.seasonstar.com.tw/blog/119

      But in Alishan village, I’m not aware that there are any. If I were you, I would just take it up there, and head to the tourist information center in the main parking lot at Alishan village. I bet they would be willing to let you leave it there for a few hours. I bet you could even walk in to one of the hotels around the parking lot and they would do the same for you. You could offer a little money, but they probably wouldn’t take it. And don’t worry, Taiwan is super safe.

      Reply
  14. Wow, your blog offers the BEST advice on Alishan. So informative. You have no idea how difficult to research for this. Will definitely link your blog when I post reviews ! Big Thank You!

    Reply
    • Thank you so much! And I do fully know what a lack of info there is out there, especially on government/tourism pages, which is precisely why I wrote the article. Please let me know if any questions come up!

      Reply
  15. hi,
    Informative blog, I am visit Alishan next month. We are going up by the Forest train at 0900.
    Most probably reached Alishan will be 1600HRS. We hoping to catch the last train 1615 from Alishan to ShenMuh. But, how long it takes to walk back from ShenMuh to Alishan? We are staying at Gao Shan Ching Hotel.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Thanks! It’s not too far at all. If I remember correctly, walking from Shenmu area back to Alishan village (and your hotel) only takes around 30 minutes, maybe even less.

      Reply
  16. Hello Nick

    Thank you for the great info.

    In case, I will go to Alishan by overnight bus from Taipei on friday night. Is it possible to buy train ticket at Alishan station on early morning to see the sunrise? I read that require to but a ticket one day advice. Do you have any other recommendation about this?

    Reply
    • Hi, I’m sorry that I’m not 100% sure about this. When I search online, I’m also seeing that you need to buy it one day in advance.
      I actually took the overnight bus from Taipei once many years ago, and I walked to the sunrise point in the dark. I think it took about 30-45 minutes. If you have a flashlight, it’s good enough. The trail is even marked on Google Maps as “Zhushan Sunrise Trail 祝山觀日步道”. Make sure you dress warm, as it can become very cold standing there waiting for the sunrise. I hope this helps!

      Reply
  17. Hi Nick!
    Thanks a lot for the information given here!
    I have information for you: I just booked my Alishan mountain line ticket online yesterday. It’s super easy, I just payed with credit card which worked on first try. To pick up the ticket I went to the little window in front of the train station where you can also buy the tickets. Had to show my passport and got my ticket directly 🙂

    Reply
    • Hey Fabienne, that’s great to hear! They made it so complicated before, it was almost impossible. I’m gad the new system works and is easy to use!

      Reply
  18. Hi Nick. Had a fabulous 3 week trip in Taiwan, thanks in great part to your guidance. To get to Alishan after our overnight in Tainan, we took a local train Tainan to Chiaya City (1 hour), then took the bus that’s right in front of the Chiayi train station. Used our Easy cards to pay. Easy peasy. From Alishan to Sun Moon Lake, we took the Yuanlin bus 6739. It’s too bad the bus windows weren’t cleaner – the trip takes you along the spectacular mountain ridge for many miles before descending along the winding road. You can purchase tickets for the Alishan – SML bus only on the morning of departure after 0800 at the lower 7-11. You need to step out of the park to purchase the tickets, but the gate agents hand you a voucher to get back into the park. And, yes, there was luggage storage in a trunk at the outside back of the bus.

    Reply
  19. Hi Nick,

    thank you so much for your blog! It´s really helpful (actually the most helpful I found so far) and also very entertaining to read. I even enjoy your posts about things that do not concern me (like traveling with children)!
    I have one question though:
    Is it a good idea to go to Alishan at the end of february or is it too cold?
    And what is the temperature at Taroko gorge at this time of year?

    Reply
    • Hey Steve,
      Thanks for your comments and positive feedback!
      January and February are the coldest months in Taiwan. I’ve been to Alishan at that time, and yes it was very cold, but nothing too crazy. It snows sometimes in winter, but not often. When I went, there was a little frost on the ground in the morning but no snow, so it was probably around zero Celsius at the coldest. During the daytime was fine, especially because you will mostly be hiking/moving, but the coldest time definitely was standing around in the early morning for the sunrise to happen. If you go for sunrise, then definitely you’ll want a good jacket, winter hat, etc. As for Taroko Gorge, the weather in February is similar to Taipei, which is a little damp and chilly, maybe 10-15 degrees C at the worst. Depending where you come from, that may not seem to bad, but because of the humidity in Taiwan, that can feel pretty cool. It’s not cold enough to stop you from doing anything though, just need to bring a few layers and it’s fine, and prepare for possible light rain.

      Reply
  20. Have you noticed that the Google Maps bus routes from Chiayi Station to Alishan estimates a much longer journey time then it should? Around 5 hours instead of 2 – 3 hours max.

    It’s also missing all route 7322 buses and only showing 7322C, which I gather are the tourist shuttle services. BTW, can you please explain the difference between tourist shuttle services and normal bus services?

    Reply
    • Hey John, good question, took me a while to figure this one out (they never make it easy!)
      I *think* that GoogleMaps is just wrong on this one. If you go to this page, you’ll find the full schedules for all the tourist shuttle bus routes from Chiayi to Alishan.
      https://www.taiwantrip.com.tw/line/10?x=3&y=2
      When you open the page, you may have to set to English, then click the “Chiayi” option, and you’ll see tourist 7329 Alishan Route A, 7329A Alishan Route A via Fenqihu, 7322C Alishan Route B, and 7322D Alishan Route V via Fenqihu. Click on any of these, then click “download price and time table, and you can find the detailed time for every station. Indeed the buses take about 2 hours and 15 minutes to reach Alishan; I’ve done it myself several times and this is how long it took. The bus times I provide on this page are just a compiled list of the times of all four of these bus numbers. Usually GoogleMaps is good for this, but it’s possible they have it wrong because the tourism department here always changes their website URLs and makes it really hard to dig up this info. I would say ignore GoogleMaps here, use these time charts, and don’t worry too much about the numbers on the buses; just be there for one of the departure times listed, and hop on the one that says Alishan.
      As for the difference between the shuttle buses and regular ones, well the network of shuttle buses in Taiwan just tend to go to the most famous tourist attractions, and have their own pricing system, but anyone can ride them, and the way to pay is the same as regular buses. They are run by the tourism department rather than regional transportation departments, but for practical purposes, they are pretty much the same thing.

      Reply
  21. Thanks so much for your advice and for putting together such a comprehensive set of blogs about the many spectacular destinations in Taiwan.

    I was trying to find the journey length via Taiwanbus.tw but your referral to Taiwantrip.com.tw has straight forward timetables and is much easier for planning bus trips. Taiwanbus.tw still looks good for checking real time bus tracking.

    Thanks again for all your travel writing, especially the way you cover public transport, self-driving, inexpensive tours or private tour options for various traveller styles.

    Reply
  22. Hi Nick,
    Thanks for your comprehensive guide!
    I sucessfully managed to book Alishan railway tickets though your link! There might be a waiting time on the page but just wait it out.
    Also managed to take the 6.30 HSR train from Taipei arriving at Chiayi HSR 7.43.
    Free shutte took us to Chiayi TRA from where we boarded the 9.00 Alishan railway train. Eaisly managable without any stress Let me know if you have any questions and again thanks for your guide.

    Reply
      • Thanks! One more question… Should I take the Alishan Forest Railway from Chiayi to Shizilu or Chiayi to Fenqihu? Then catch the bus up to Alishan.
        Thanks for your help!

        Reply
        • Hey Lisa,
          I have only ever gone to Fenqihu then taken the bus from there. Fenqihu is a cute little town with a few hotels, food stalls, restaurants, 7-11, and a small train museum. It’s a cool place to spend an hour, or even stay the night. Shizilu will get you a little closer to Alishan so your bus ride will be shorter (the bus ride is super winding, so this can help), but from what I’ve heard, there isn’t as much stuff at Shizilu. I’m not even sure if they have shops, but I can’t confirm because I haven’t been there. Sorry about my slow reply again!

          Reply
  23. Hi Nick,

    Excellent blog, very helpful in planning my trip there a few weeks ago. My route from Taipei was HSR to Chiayi the night before, shuttle bus to Chiayi Main (free with HSR ticket), Alishan Railway up to Fenqihu, bus to Alishan (leaves around an hour or so after the train, there are lockers at the station for your bags), bus directly back to HSR. I was a solo traveller and I cannot speak much Mandarin, but all was very manageable. I didn’t stick around in Fenqihu but understand why you recommend it, will do so next time.
    Just a few points I thought worth giving an update (may be more suited to the other blog on Alishan but will add all here);
    1. The English language rail site was telling me there were no tickets available when I looked 10 days in advance, despite travelling on a Wednesday, outside the school holidays and with no international tourists around. However, had no problem getting one at booth before departure. There were still large tour groups of elderly Taiwanese so it was quite full.
    2. Got up for sunrise and took train (5am train for a 6.25am sunrise) from Alishan but last stop is currently Duegayue as Zhushan is still under re-construction, so there is still a good 20 min walk up to look out spot (by the way, got perfect sunrise on first attempt!).
    3. I stayed in one of the hotels in the park but they are not great quality and all seem to send you to breakfast at one of the poor quality restaurants elsewhere in the park. It should also be noted that there is nothing to do in the evenings in the park so make sure you bring some entertainment!

    Reply
    • Hey Barrie,
      Thanks a lot for the very useful update! I will add some of this tips to my articles right now.
      As for evenings in Alishan, I think the main thing to do is get a beer from 7-Eleven, and then go to bed super early to prepare for sunrise the next morning 🙂
      Can I ask, when you got of the train at Duigaoyue, did you notice a sunrise viewing platform there? Did it also seem to be under construction?
      Glad you enjoyed your trip!

      Reply
  24. Thanks nick,

    Very useful information

    I been on the weekend in Alishan.
    Very foggy weather which added even more mist in the forest.

    Regarding sea of clouds, there was, but before sunrise
    When the sun actually rised the sea of clouds disappeared 😉

    Reply
  25. Hi Nick~ Hope all is well~
    Thank you for the effort in offering detailed options to reach Alishan. Am planning a trip in Feb 2023. Am not a stranger to Taiwan, but first time to Alishan.

    Do you have any information on getting out of Alishan National Park back to Chiayi HSR station or the Chiayi station? I couldnt find clear information on that, & seems like the return bus timings are early in the day. I am hoping to stay in Alishan National Park till sunset if possible, then head back down~ OR is that not advisable due to the winding road? I have booked Hinoki Air B & B in Chiayi, for your information~

    Look forward to hearing from you. Thanks in advance~

    Reply
    • Hi Pamela, please see the “Bus times from Alishan to Chiayi HSR” section of this article. The bus times are listed there. The last one to the HSR station is 4:40. And the last bus of any kind leaves Alishan at 5:10 p.m., to Alishan city center train station (TRA station, not HSR). Because the sun sets early in the mountains, you could actually probably see the early stages of sunsets around 5:00 and catch this bus. It often because misty and beautiful in the hour or so before sunset. But please note: Hinoki B&B is NOT in Alishan, and also NOT in Chiayi. It’s halfway between Chiayi and Alishan, along the highway, near a village called Shizhuo (Shizhao). So I don’t understand your plan – do you plan to visit Alishan in the daytime, see sunset, and then take the bus down to your Hinoki hotel? Actually, you can enjoy a more beautiful sunset from your hotel or somewhere nearby. That area actually has better sunsets than Alishan. Alishan is more famous for the sunrise.

      Reply
  26. Hi Nick,

    Your website has been the main source of information for planning my trip to Taiwan. Tremendously helpful!

    I like to ask for your advice on the mode of transport from Chiayi to Alishan. My group is travelling with four luggage bags. Should we choose to take the forest railway or bus?

    Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • Both are OK and have storage areas for luggage. The train is slower but more scenic. And it only goes halfway, so you still have to take the bus too. The bus is faster, cheaper, and don’t need to reserve in advance.

      Reply
  27. Hi Nick,
    Thanks for gathering all information, which is helpful to plan trips.
    The minibus from Sun Moon Lake to Alishan doesn’t take reservations, but to your knowledge is it likely to be full, especially in March/April? If yes, it looks risky to rely on it when planning my itinerary. But the alternative (with HSR) is way longer. Do you know if there may be private transfer services available instead?
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • I would say that yes, the minibus is likely to be full. In fact, before COVID, there were 2 minibuses per day, and I never heard of anyone not getting on because they were full. During COVID, they scaled it back to only one per day, but I wonder if they will add a second one again soon if the bus starts getting too full every day. For a private transfer, you can try the Tripool app/website, but it may be a little pricey (they usually add an extra charge for drives that go above 1500 meters, which includes Alishan).

      Reply

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