This is part of a 4-part series on Taiwan's Central Mountains (click here to see introduction)
Where: PR-21 crosses the northwestern corner of the 105,000 hectare Yushan National Park and connects Dongpu to the Yushan N.P. Visitors’ Center at Tatajia (塔塔加). PR-21 becomes PR-18 at Tatajia (located on PR-18, at the 95.5km marker) and continues on to Alishan and beyond. This single route through the mountain is well maintained, but subject to occasional closings due to rockslides and snow. Check the Yushan N.P. website for updated traffic information before traveling.
What: Yushan, the “mother” of Taiwan’s national parks, embraces Yushan (玉山, Taiwan’s tallest peak) and many surrounding heights. The National Park, crisscrossed by mountain trails (many quite well maintained), offers a temperate escape from the heat and humidity of the Taiwan coast. Information centers provide an excellent array of brochures and presentations in English. Trail markers near main roads are also typically well presented in both Chinese and English.
Evenings get chilly, even in the summer, so pack accordingly. Information on the Park, its trails, amenities and hiking permit requirements are available through the official website.
Suggested Time: The Park is open year-round, with four distinct seasons. Be aware of traffic restrictions and road closures. Travel over the PR-18/21 mountain route is not advised during inclement weather or during/soon after typhoons.
Visiting Hours: The Tatajia Visitors’ Center (near the PR-18 95.5km marker) is open from 9:00am to 4:30pm.
4. Alishan Forest Recreation Area (阿里山森林遊樂區 see map)
Where: The entrance to the Alishan Forest Recreation Area (FRA) is located near the PR-18 74km marker, a short 21km drive down from Tatajia.
What: Alishan’s forests were the first to be logged on a commercial scale, with stands of camphor, cypress and fir (many over a thousand years old) felled and sent to sawmills in Jiayi (嘉義市) on the coast. Alishan became a tourist destination even before the close of World War Two (when it was known by its Japanese name Arisan) and has consistently been a popular place to enjoy hikes through quiet (recovering) forests, contemplate ancient trees somehow spared from the axe, and catch a sunrise over high mountain ridges. For many around Asia, the reputation of Alishan makes it a “must-see” during a visit to Taiwan.
Many visitors overnight in the FRA and get moving before dawn the next morning to watch the sunrise. From the center of the hotel and restaurant district (next to the Alishan Train Station), you can either catch the mountain train (about a 20-minute ride) or hike about 1.5 hours up a forest trail to reach the main sunrise viewing platform above Jhushan (祝山).
Suggested Time: The main trails and sites within the FRA can be enjoyed in a long day. Alishan is open year-round, with four distinct seasons. Summertime and holidays can be crowded with visitors.
Fees: Entrance fee to the Forest Recreation Area: NT$200/adults, NT$100 children (gate is manned 24/7).
Contact: TEL (05) 259.3900 / (05) 267.9917
Website: click here