Photo Credit: Willflyforfood

Read about a day trip to one of Taiwan’s hidden gems, towns and hiking trails on the eastern edge of Alishan National Park.

We overheard an American recently, griping about ‘how they couldn’t explore as much as they wanted from Taipei because the inconvenience of the rail and bus times in and out of Taipei.’ One of the places that they mentioned trying to go was Alishan, one of Taiwan’s more famous mountainous regions.

While Taiwan is not perfect, its transportation system is light years ahead of than anything that the US might have to offer. And so, while the comment of a nameless, shameless, ignoramus did not require a response, we decided to put their theory to the test: if we could plan a day trip from Taipei to Alishan how would we do it?

Because we’d been to the Park before and because we thought it might be neat to see and showcase something new on this blog, we decided to visit a famous, picturesque town just outside of Alishan National Park called Fengqi Hu.

History of Fengqi Hu and Surrounding Areas

Fenqi Hu and the Alishan area was originally inhabited by the Cou people as they migrated and in some cases were forced up into the mountains from the eastern plains region of Taiwan. Nowadays the Cou are one of Taiwan’s 16 recognized indigenous groups and still live primarily in nine surrounding towns near Fengqi Hu and the National Park. The first Han Chinese settlers arrived in the 1850’s followed by others who came in search of lumber and other natural resources . During the Japanese Colonial Period, Japanese Cyprus was discovered and the railroad was constructed to facilitate greater and greater lumber harvests. Nowadays the railroad is still in place and Alishan has become one of the most visited destinations in Taiwan.

How to Get There

  • HSR to Chaiyi (2.5 hours, 1,200 NT$)
  • Bus from Chaiyi HSR Station to Chaiyi Station (30 min, 0 NT$, simply show the bus driver your high speed rail ticket).
  • The green 3722 bus to Fengqi Hu (1.5 hours, 175 NT$)
  • Return is the process in reverse

While we were looking to prove our American foil wrong, we also wanted to make the most out of our day, so we set out at 6:30 from Taipei Main Station. It was a breezy train ride down the coast. The HSR has great leg room and a wonderful assortment of travelers from the day trip tourist to the business person to the mother and kids off on an adventure. As with most elements of Taiwanese transportation, things are clean, smooth, and wonderfully efficient.

Arriving in Chaiyi, we wandered out of the station, where both taxi drivers and station attendants told us how we could catch the bus to Chaiyi Station for free if we showed out HSR ticket to the bus driver. Another 30 minutes and we were downtown Chaiyi.

Because our bus pulled into the backside of the station so we had to walk the skybridge to get to the main entrance of the station. From there, on the road side of the drop-off U, we waited for our lime green chariot in the form of the 7230 bus. The astute traveler will note that the 9:40 and 11:55 buses are the only one which goes to Fengqihu. As we waited, we wandered a few blocks into Chaiyi for some premium baozi and shaobings, (see our article on bings here).

At 9:40 we boarded out bus to Fengqi Hu. Note that these busses headed for Alishan fill up quickly. It is best to get a ticket at the station window, otherwise it will be first come first serve in the line that forms at the bus stop.

Fengqi Hu: A Day Trip 2
Photo Credit: Flickr

What to Eat

Arriving in Fengqi hu, is like stepping into a different country or a different world. In many ways it almost does’t feel like Taiwan. Keep in mind too that this is only four and a half hours outside of Taipei. For an American that is equivalent or shorter than Boston to New York City. The bus ride up gives you a sense of just how far out and high up you are, but there’s nothing quite like that feeling of mountain air and being in a small town on a bamboo and cedar hillside. It has a wildness that hasn’t yet been forgotten.


The first thing that you should know is that you pass the bus stop before pulling a u-turn further up the road. The second thing you should know is that Fengqi Hu has some of the best donuts anywhere. They are almost like elephant ears crossed with croissants. Warm, sweet, flakey, perfection. The average price is 25 NT$ for one, however, it’s worth it. And if you buy 10 you will often get one free.

Fengqi Hu: A Day Trip 3
Photo Credit: Kevin

Lunch boxes

If you haven’t spoiled your appetite with too many donuts, then it’s time for lunch. The best spot in town is actually the lunch box spot next to the train station. They are rustic, humble, and good. Don’t grumble about the price (130 NT$) and we dare you to pick the mystery box on the menu. Your welcome.

Aiyu Jelly

Now it is time to taste something that is truly dependent on altitude and elbow grease. Aiyu jelly is a traditional slightly lemon-sour-tasting jelly dessert that is found in Taiwan and other parts of Southeast Asia. You will hear many locals talk about it and you may even have tried a cup or two in Taipei’s night markets. That said, it is found and best produced at altitude where they do not need to rely on as much gelatin powder in the mix. Up in Fengqi Hu is where some of the best of it is made. Make sure to try both the sour and the sweet versions.

Fengqi Hu: A Day Trip 4
Photo Credit: Shutterstock

What to See

Fenqi Hu Old Town

The walkabout of the town proper takes about an hour to an hour and a half. More with the dining and tea options. From the town however, there are a number of trails which wander up and down into the hillsides. Make sure to read the signage or carry a cellular map with you before embarking as it can get steep!

Hike Shitzulu to Duolin via the train tracks

Fengqi Hu: A Day Trip 5
Photo Credit: Correspondant: J

Alternatively, you can do as we did and that is to catch the next bus a stop further to the town of Shitziulu. From there it is an incredible walking path (along the train tracks) back to several villages nearby. We had intended to go further afield and do more, but we ended up falling in love with the quiet of the forests and the incredible views that sometimes came out of nowhere.

While we contemplated catching the rail train up or down from Chaiyi, we had decided that it might be neat to explore on foot once we were up there. You will consistently see numerous people decked out in hiking gear and striding off on incredible hikes through the hillsides of Alishan, however, for the average western tourist, it is sometimes a little reassuring to stay a little closer to the beaten path.

We ended up catching the 2:50 bus back down from Shitzulu and then the 5:30 train back to Taipei. It was quite honestly the perfect day trip.

In Summary

Americans know very little about public transportation and the larger world, and we are glad to prove them wrong in this instance. Taiwan is such an incredible place. It can sometimes feel daunting living and working in Taipei and trying to find time for a trip to another side or part of the Island. What this trip inadvertently helped remind us is that it is so easy to get places in Taiwan. There’s no excuse to not to go, to explore, and to find yourself in a part of the country that will take your breath away.

Until next time Alishan.

Fengqi Hu: A Day Trip 6
Photo Credit: Correspondant: J


  • No comments yet.
  • chat
    Add a comment