How to Get to Alishan (From Anywhere in Taiwan!)

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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 can be a little complicated, so it’s something your should plan when making your Taiwan itinerary.

While researching my huge guide to Alishan, I couldn’t find all the information I needed online for how to get to Alishan. So I’ve decided to publish this detailed Alishan transportation guide with all the Alishan bus and train times, which I’ve compiled from various Mandarin websites and schedules at the stations.

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.

For other transportation information, 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

Essential Info for Traveling to Alishan

Reserve your Alishan Forest Railway (Chiayi to Fenqihu) train tickets online up to 2 weeks in advance. From Fenqihu, you have to take the bus the rest of the way.

– Alternatively, you can take the bus from Sun Moon Lake, Chiayi train station, or Chiayi HSR station to Alishan. No reservation is needed. This is easier, but super winding and not as scenic as the train.

– There are also sections of the Alishan Forest Railway running between the scenic attractions inside Alishan National Scenic Area. You can buy tickets at those stations when you arrive.

– For the train to the sunrise viewing point, you can buy the ticket at Alishan station one day before.

– Book HSR tickets from Taipei to Chiayi online to get a discount.

– Use Klook to find discounts on travel in Taiwan. Sign up with this link for a free TWD100 voucher.

The Easy Way: Take a Tour to Alishan

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:

The Alishan Forest Railway from Chiayi to Alishan

Want to know how to get to Alishan? The Alishan Forest Railway!
Wondering how to get to Alishan? Take the Alishan Forest Railway!

Before getting to all the transportation details, it’s worth learning about the Alishan Forest Railway’s unique history.

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 ride goes through some 50 tunnels and crosses 77 wooden bridges between Chiayi City and Alishan.

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. Read my guide to Alishan for all the details. Although you can catch the same bus from Fenqihu, Duolin, or Shizilu, I still think Fenqihu is the most interesting one to stop at and break up your journey.

The Alishan Railway Sections in the Scenic Area

In the Alishan National Scenic Area, three other small sections of the railway are currently operating, providing access from the Alishan tourist village (Alishan station) to the popular scenic areas of the park.

When we visited, we rode in a train car made entirely of wood, and the smell of the train while we were sitting on it was so gorgeous that I wanted to take a piece of it home and have a bath with it 🙂 Note that only the trains running in the park are made of wood, not the ones that travel from Chiayi City up toward Alishan.

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

Getting from Chiayi to Alishan

Your two main options for getting from Chiayi to Alishan are the bus or Alishan Forest Railway. The bus is easier, and you don’t need advance tickets. You just show up at the bus stop and catch a bus all the way there. It’s a super winding ride and takes around two hours. The train is a little more complicated, as I’ll describe in detail below.

Taking the Bus from Chiayi to Alishan

This is the easiest and fastest way. The bus stop is 130 meters in front of the Chiayi train station. Reservations and tickets are not needed. Have change ready to pay when boarding. The bus ride takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes and costs NT$240. You can pay when you board, in cash or with an EasyCard. Confirm all the information I provide here when you arrive because things can change!

The bus drivers are a little wild, and it’s a very winding road, so many people experience car sickness on this drive. If you want to break up your journey, you could stop in Fenqihu and hop back on a later bus. Note that not all buses from Alishan to Chiayi stop in Fenqihu, since it is a little off the main highway.

The bus numbers are #7322C and #7322D. Only the second one stops at Fenqihu. I’ve compiled the times for both below. You can find the exact bus routes and times for each stop here. You may have to change the language to English, click under “Chiayi”, open the bus route page, and click “download price and timetable”.

Bus times from Chiayi train station to Alishan

7:05 (also stops in Fenqihu)
8:35 (wheelchair accessible)
9:35 (also stops in Fenqihu)
12:05 (also stops in Fenqihu)
15:05 (to Fenqihu only)

*additional buses departing from Fenqihu to Alishan: 11:30, 12:50, 14:00

Bus times from Alishan to Chiayi train station

9:00 (to Fenqihu only)
9:10 (also stops in Fenqihu)
10:10 (to Fenqihu only)
12:40 (wheelchair accessible)
14:10 (also stops in Fenqihu)
17:00 (Fenqihu only)

You can also take a bus from Chiayi High Speed Rail Station directly to Alishan (2.5 hours, NT$278, pay on bus). All buses arrive at the new Alishan bus station and 7-11, which are located just before the Alishan entrance gate, a 5-minute walk from the Alishan tourist village and train station.

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!

Bus times from Chiayi HSR to Alishan

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

Bus times from Alishan to Chiayi HSR

10:10 (also stops in Fenqihu)
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 the 7-11/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.

 Taking the Alishan Forest Railway from Chiayi to Alishan

Trains at Fenqihu, the halfway point from Chiayi to Alishan
The Alishan Forest Railway’s current terminal end at Fenqihu Station

Your second option is to take the Alishan Forest Railway train from Chiayi to Fenqihu. The shaky ride takes 2 hours and 20 minutes and costs NT$384. Kids under 12 are half priced and under 6 are free, 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).  

The train passes through dense greenery and bamboo forests, featuring gorgeous panoramic views from both sides of the train car.

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 where you can spend the night. See my guide to Alishan for more info.

The bus from Fenqihu to Alishan then takes another hour. Even that one hour is enough to make some passengers sick. If you end up staying on a tea farm in Shizhuo near Fenqihu, 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 (famous for its tea farm guesthouses), but not all of them stop in Fenqihu, so pay attention to which bus times above mention a stop in Fenqihu.

How to Buy Alishan Forest Railway Tickets

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

After years of not having a functioning English website for booking Alishan Forest Railway tickets online, the website is finally up and running here. You’ll just have to switch the language to English in the top right corner. You can reserve your tickets up to two weeks in advance, and I would recommend trying to do so.

Even if you don’t reserve a ticket in advance, there is still a quota of tickets that is sold at Chiayi station. 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 were able to buy ours on the afternoon of the day before, on a weekday, but this may not always be possible. It is also possible to buy Alishan train tickets at Beimen Station, Fenqihu Station, and Alishan Station.

Alishan to Fenqihu Train Times

The train times I list below are taken from the official Alishan National Forest Recreation Area website, which seems to have been 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.

Alishan forest train times: Chiayi to Fenqihu

Departing Chiayi: 9 AM (train code 1)

Arriving Fenqihu: 11:05 AM

Extra service on weekends and holidays:

Departing Chiayi: 9:30 AM (train code 3)

Arriving Fenqihu: 11:35 AM

Alishan forest train times: Fenqihu to Chiayi

Departing Fenqihu: 2 PM (train code 2)

Arriving Chiayi: 4:21 PM

Extra service on weekends and holidays:

Departing Fenqihu: 3 PM (train code 6)

Arriving Chiayi: 5:21 PM

You’ll notice that there’s a Jungshing Express train code #311/312 train. This is an additional service on weekends only, departing Chiayi at 8:30 AM, and from Fenqihu to Chiayi at 13:50. It is slightly cheaper, and tickets can be purchased on site only, not in advance.  

Train Times inside Alishan National Scenic Area

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

Despite the still closed section between Fenqihu and Alishan Station, the Alishan Forest Railway still currently runs along some short lines within Alishan National Scenic Area. These are short rides between scenic stops, and you don’t need to book tickets in advance (except for the sunrise run).

These trains run from Alishan Station, which is beside the tourist village, to three stations within the Alishan National Scenic area: Zhaoping (Chaoping), Shenmu (Sacred Tree), and Zhushan (the main sunrise viewing point).

Alishan Station is the closest to the Alishan tourist village, where most of Alishan’s hotels are located, as well as a collection of souvenir shops, restaurants, tourist information center, post office with ATM, and Taiwan’s highest 7-11. The station is just a few minutes walk in from the bus station where you will likely arrive.

Zhaoping (Chaoping) Station is closest to the Sister Ponds trail, the most walked tourist trail in Alishan. There are usually many tourists here, but it’s also an incredibly beautiful section of forest (see photo at top of this article. Zhaoping is also close to the starting point for a few lesser known hikes, as well as Alishan Hotel (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor), the nicest hotel in Alishan.  

Shenmu (Sacred Tree) Station is located in another very pretty section of forest with some particularly large and ancient trees (2300 years+). Most people take the train to from Alishan to Zhaoping station, then walk and head back to Alishan station from Shenmu Station.

Zhushan Station takes you to the most famous sunrise spot in Alishan, so trains only run here super early in the morning. The times vary throughout the year depending on the time of sunset. You can check the times and purchase tickets one day in advance from from 1:30 to 4:30 in the afternoon from the second floor window at Alishan Station.  

2020-2021 Note: Zhushan Station is currently under repair, so you may have to get off one stop earlier, at Duigaoyue Station, and walk about 15 minutes up to Zhushan. The train times are adjusted accordingly.

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 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 (45minutes, see my Alishan guide for details).

There is also a regular shuttle bus from the Alishan tourist village beside the tourist information center to Shouzhen Temple, which is located in the middle of the walking trail between Chaoping and Shenmu stations, closer to the Shenmu station.

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 (but nearly budget priced) hotel five minutes walk from Chiayi train sation.  

Other options are Hotel Discover (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor), which has great reviews and as close as you could get to the train station, Yongxing Inn (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor ), a very cheap hotel near the train station, while good hostel options also near the train station are Petite Hostel (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor ) and Light Hostel (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor).

There is only one Alishan train service per day on weekdays, two services on Saturdays and three on Sundays, but you still may have better luck on weekdays.

If the train is indeed sold out when you arrive, you can always take the bus up to Fenqihu or all the way to Alishan. It’s not as scenic and the road is super winding, but you’ll get to Alishan twice as fast.

Getting from Taipei to Alishan

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

Wondering how to get from Taipei to Alishan? Or would you like to squeeze in Alishan as a day trip from Taipei? Well, it’s doable, but you probably won’t be able to take the Alishan Forest Railway, and obviously you won’t be able to catch the sunrise at Alishan unless you stay there overnight.

In theory, you could just barely make it on time to catch the Alishan Forest Railway, traveling from Taipei to Chiayi by high speed rail (regular price NT$1080): depart Taipei 6:30 AM, arrive Chiayi 7:43 AM, catch a taxi (20 minutes) or take the free shuttle bus (30 minutes) from Chiayi HSR Station to Chiayi Train Station, arriving in time for the 9 AM departure (or later one on weekends).

Save money by booking your HSR ticket in advance online.

However, there’s a good chance that if you arrive at the last minute like this, the train will already be sold out. You could always try, and if it is sold out, just catch the bus from Chiayi to Alishan (see above section).

Therefore, what I would recommend doing (if you didn’t book your Alishan train tickets in advance and are worried about getting seats) is simply taking the HSR from Taipei to Chiayi and getting the bus from Chiayi HSR to Alishan (2.5 hours, see times above). It’s almost always possible to get a seat on this bus, but arriving early is still a good idea, especially on weekends.

Then, if you are only visiting Alishan as a day trip, just make sure not to miss the last bus from Alishan back to Chiayi train station or HSR station. One full day is definitely enough to see the enjoy the main trails and sights of Alishan, but if you want to see the famous sunrise, of course you’ll need to stay overnight.

A cheaper way to get from Taipei to Alishan is to take the regular train from Taipei to Chiayi (approx. 3.5 hours, earliest departure 6:10 AM, arrives, 9:39 AM, NT$461-598) and then the bus up to Alishan. This is a lot of time to spend on a train and bus in one day, so I’d recommend the HSR option if you have the budget for it.

If trains seats are sold out, you can stand on all trains except the Puyuma Express (which only takes 2.5 hrs, but always sells out first), or you can take the bus from Taipei to Chiayi, which takes a similar amount of time to the slower trains, or possibly longer if there are traffic jams.

A more relaxed approach is to head down to Chiayi by bus or train the night before, stay in one of the hotels near the train station that I mentioned above in the “Chiayi to Alishan” section, and get the bus or train to Alishan the next morning.

Finally, you can also take the Kuoguang direct overnight bus from Taipei to Alishan (Friday and Saturday nights only, departing from Taipei Bus Station at 8:45 PM and 9:45 PM, 6 hours and 10 min, NT670). Either one will get you there with plenty of time to make it up to one of the Alishan sunrise points.

The same bus returns to Taipei on Saturday or Sunday at 11:30 AM. For the Taipei to Alishan bus, I would try to reserve at the station a day or two in advance, but you may still be able to get a ticket at the last minute.

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. Click the bus link above for the bus times from Taichung HSR to Alishan and Taichung station to Alishan (see more info below).

See my articles on Rainbow Village, things to do in Taichung City, the best Taichung itinerary, and the 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 you can take a minibus from Sun Moon Lake to Alishan (or Alishan to Sun Moon Lake).

The current times listed are departing Sun Moon Lake at 8 AM and 9 AM, and departing Alishan at 1 and 2 PM. There used to be better information online about this bus, but the webpages have disappeared. I have recently called (July 2019) to confirm these buses are still running.

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.

From Sun Moon Lake to Alishan, you are going uphill, and the bus sometimes stops for a while, so the trip takes 3-3.5 hours. Going from Alishan to Sun Moon lake it should be a little faster.

You can sometimes buy tickets from the visitor center at Shuishe, the main tourist village on Sun Moon Lake where the bus departs from, but sometimes it seems you just pay when you board. The fare is currently listed as NT$328.

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 on the same day 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

You couldn’t really get further from Alishan by public transportation, but I include this because Taroko Gorge in Hualien and Alishan are the two most famous scenic attractions in Tawan, and many visitors choose these two places as the only attractions they visit outside of Taipei.  

If you get the regular train, it’s going to take you nearly seven hours from Hualien to Chiayi, and that’s not counting the bus or train/bus up to Alishan.

Therefore, if you really need to get from Hualien to Alishan, then I would suggest taking the train from Hualien to Taipei first, then transferring to the HSR for Taipei to Chiayi.

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 for one or several nights.

I would personally recommend Luye  as a great place 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!

59 thoughts on “How to Get to Alishan (From Anywhere in Taiwan!)”

  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.

    • 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.

  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

    • 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 🙂

      • 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.

        • 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!

  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?

  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?

    • 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.

  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?

    • 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!

  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

    • 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!

  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.

    • 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!

  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.

    • 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.

  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!


    • 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
      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!

  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!

    • 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!

  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?

    • 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!

  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!

    • 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!

  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.

    • Hi Ant,
      I have taken a look and it seems that there are lockers at Chiayi Railway station, see here:

      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.

  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!

    • 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!

  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! 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.

  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?

    • 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!

  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 🙂

    • 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!

  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.

  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?

    • 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.

  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?

    • 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.
      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.

  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 but your referral to has straight forward timetables and is much easier for planning bus trips. 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.

  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.

      • 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!

        • 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!

  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!

    • 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!

  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 😉


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