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River at Li Song Hot Spring | © 白士 李 / Flickr
River at Li Song Hot Spring | © 白士 李 / Flickr
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7 Places in Taiwan That Are Hard to Get to But Well Worth the Effort

Picture of Ciaran McEneaney
Updated: 29 January 2018
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.
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Jiaming Lake

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, as you can see from the image below, 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.

Jiaming Lake, Haiduan Township, Taidong County, Taiwan

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Shuiyang Forest

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.

Shuiyang Forest, Alishan Township, Chiayi County, Taiwan

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Wangyou Forest

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.

Wangyou Forest, 3-25, Xishan Road, Zhushan Township, Nantou County, Taiwan

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Li Song Wild Hot Spring

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 country, 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.

Li Song Wild Hot Spring, Nanheng Rd, Haiduan Township, Taidong County, Taiwan

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Sandiaoling Waterfalls

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 slippy. It’s a spectacular view and experience, and it’s really quite surprising that it’s not a more popular place.

Sandiaoling Waterfalls, 154 Yuliao Road, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

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As the country’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.

Yushan National Park, Xinyi Township, Nantou County, Taiwan

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Snow and Taiwan are two words that don’t quite 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.

Xueshan, Tai’an Township, Taichung City, Taiwan