7 Places in Taiwan That Are Hard to Get to But Well Worth the Effort

River at Li Song Hot Spring | © 白士 李 / Flickr
River at Li Song Hot Spring | © 白士 李 / Flickr
Photo of Ciaran McEneaney
14 January 2019

Taiwan is an island full of wonderful religious sites and impressive natural beauty. And while there are many scenic areas that are easily accessed by car or even train, there are some that require a bit of effort to get to. Here are seven such locations where you’ll need to pull on your hiking boots to enjoy the local scenery.

Jiaming Lake

Natural Feature
Map View
Jiaming Lake | © 默 雨 / Flickr
This is the second highest mountain lake in Taiwan and at 3,520 meters (10,663 ft.) above sea level, getting there is no mean feat. This is definitely not an option for first-time hikers, as it’s a trek that will take a couple of days from start to finish.Nevertheless, the scenery is incredible. The lake just seems so out of place and almost man-made in appearance, but of course, it’s natural. Locals once told legends of a meteor strike that created the lake, but it was more likely thanks to glacial movement that we have this amazing place.

Shuiyang Forest

Forest, Natural Feature
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Shuiyang Forest | © Dellinger Wu / Wikimedia
Shuiyang Forest is an area where the landscape changed due to the tragic 921 earthquake that rocked the island in 1999. Here, the forest has taken on an eerie appearance that is particularly spooky during the early morning.It’s a trek from a nearby scenic area, and hikers like to camp there by the side of the lake, as the hike takes four hours. It rarely gets busy, though, and you’re likely to have the place to yourself.

Wangyou Forest

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wangyou forest
Another 'ghost' forest | © Jerry Chen / Flickr
The second ‘ghost’ forest in the list, Wangyou Forest was also created by the devastating effects of the 921 earthquake, and it’s every bit as eerie here as it is in Shuiyang.This one is a little easier to get to, though, as it’s off the main road to Xitou Forest Recreation Area. It’s a forty-minute hike up to a local restaurant, where you can enjoy some lunch before exploring the forest.

Li Song Wild Hot Spring

Swimming Pool
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Li Song Wild Hot Spring | © 白士 李/ Flickr
This wild hot spring is located deep in the mountains of Taidong, and it takes quite a bit of trekking to get there. You’ll climb steep paths, cross a river, and clamber over rocks on your way to to the spring, but it certainly is worth it.One of the last unspoiled natural hot springs in the region, this place checks all the boxes for the term ‘hidden gem’. You’ll need a local guide to make sure you don’t stray from the path, but again, it’s worth the expense to relax in those thermal waters.

Sandiaoling Waterfalls

Bridge, Hiking Trail
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The impressive Motian Waterfall | © Ken Marshall / Flickr
Just an hour by train from Taipei lies the Sandiaoling hiking trail, which boasts some incredible waterfalls that are mostly ignored by tourists and locals alike. The trail is easy enough (in good weather), and there are pathways and wooden steps for some of the steeper parts of the trail. There’s even a cool rope bridge to cross along the way.What makes this trail so special though is that at the Motian Waterfall, you can climb in the cave behind the waterfall, although you should take care – the rocks can be very slippery. It’s a spectacular view and experience, and it’s really quite surprising that it’s not a more popular place.


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Yusahn National Park
Yusahn National Park | © Alexander Rudy / Flickr
As Taiwan’s highest mountain, climbing to the top is something of a bucket list item for many Taiwanese people, and so getting a permit to make the ascent can be a little difficult. The national park itself is, of course, stunning, but you really want to make that climb to the top.Just before you reach the summit, you stop for the night, and then it’s up before dawn for the final climb. If you make it in time, you’ll get to witness an awesome sunrise above the clouds.


Forest, Park, Natural Feature
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Snow and Taiwan are two words that don’t often go together, but there are some places on the island where you can find some of the white stuff. Of course, the best place is the aptly named Snow Mountain, which during the colder months is something akin to a winter wonderland.This would be a trip for experienced hikers only and to get a permit, you must prove that you have some snow hiking experience. It’s well worth the effort, though, as the views are simply breathtaking. If you can’t manage the winter hike, then the main peak (Taiwan’s second highest peak) is also a great and relatively easy summer climb.