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Ali Mountain Range
Travel in Taiwan

Ali Mountain Range
Ali Mountain (or Alishan, ā lǐ shān 阿里山), located in the northeast part of the Jiayi County (or Chiayi, jiā yì xiàn 嘉义县) in Taiwan Province, is actually the general name of the eighteen hills including Zhu Hill (zhù shān 祝山) and Tower Hill (tǎ shān 塔山) which is the highest peak of Ali Mountain with the height of 2,663 meters. The scenic area is famous for its “five rare sites” including the Sunrise (rì chū 日出), the Ali Mountain Forest Railway (dēng shān tiě lù 登山铁路), Alishan scared tree (ā lǐ shān shén shù 阿里山神树), the Grand Sea of Clouds (yún hǎi 云海), and the Flamboyant Cherry Blossom (yīng huā 樱花). All of these wonders and beauties make the Ali Mountain a vital tourist destination for the tourists, and there is a saying that the one who does not visit the Ali Mount cannot experience and enjoy Taiwan Province really.


The mountainous Alishan region is the premier mountain resort in Taiwan and one of the most Ali Mountain Rangepopular travel destinations in the country. Known as an area of great scenic beauty, Alishan is home to imposing mountains, spectacular views, river valleys, waterfalls, forests, and wildlife. Alishan Mountains offer great opportunities for hiking, mountain climbing and bird watching. The area is also well known for its scenic narrow-gauge forest railway and includes many villages with cultivations of tea and high altitude food products.

Alishan mountain range is located in Central Southern Taiwan close to the city of Chiayi. The tallest peak in Alishan is over 2,600 meters high. The protected Alishan National Scenic Area sprawls through the mountain area and includes also many small villages. The most popular place to visit in Alishan Range is the Alishan Forest Recreation Area. Originally settled by indigenous Tsou people (zōu zú 邹族), Alishan now hosts also many Han Chinese inhabitants.


The Ali Mountain was originally inhabited by the Tsou tribe. The present name can be traced to the name Jarissang, the aborigines used for the place. The region around the Ali Mountain was first made home by the ethnic Chinese settlers during the Ming Dynasty.


Due to its elevation, Alishan is considerably cooler than the coast, with daytime highs averaging 14-24°C in summer and 5-16°C in winter. Even for a mountain, Alishan’s weather is extraordinarily rapidly changing: an average day starts with a cloudless morning, theatrically dense clouds of rolling mist by noon and ends with a lightning storm and torrents of rain before repeating all over the next day. Humidity is always very high, and indeed most surfaces in the park seem to be covered with a layer of luxuriant green moss.

Five Rare Sites of Ali Mountain


The sunrise is a must for everyone who travels the Ali Mountain. Many have said “to miss sunriseviewing the sunrise on Ali Mountain is like returning empty after entering the Golconda”. The best place to view the sunrise is on the top of Zhu Hill. The place and time of the sunrise are different due to the changes of the four seasons. If you plan to view the sunrise it is best to ask the local people the time of sunrise, so you don’t miss this magnificent opportunity. When the sun is rising slowly from the peak, it sends out the golden rays for a short time which provides a spectacular scene. Ali Mountain is home to some of Taiwan's most amazing natural icons. Due to diverse sunrise position and time in different seasons, the Ali Mountain in Taiwan is deemed to be an popular tourist destination, with the best sunrise watching site at the Guanri Pavilion (guān rì tíng 观日亭) on Zhu Mountain.

Mountaineering Railway
Mountaineering Railway
The railway in the Ali Mountain Forest is the one of the world-famous mountaineering railways. It rises from a height of 30 meters above sea-level to an eventual height of 2,216 meters above sea-level on the Ali Mountain. The route includes 49 tunnels, 77 bridges and travels through much of the most picturesque locations in Taiwan. There are monkey playing area and several lookouts across the mountain that offer a great vantage point over the mountain and it's enjoyable to watch the mountain view and listen to the forest whispering. For any visitors to Taiwan who are interested in understanding the natural history of Taiwan and experience one of the highest mountains in eastern China then Ali Mountain is undoubtedly a place well-worth visiting. The best time to watch such wonderful scene is autumn.

The Sacred Tree

The Sacred TreeThere is a Chinese Juniper within the Ali Mountain forest area, with some 53 meters (about 174 feet) high, and 23 meters (about 75 feet) wide. This Juniper is so huge that more than ten people can surround the circumference. It has a history of more than 3,000 years, thus is called Alishan Sacred Tree. The most wondrous tree is a 'three-generation' tree. The three generations of this tree exist in the same trunk. Now since the first and second generations have faded, the third generation is still flourishing. This tree is really a wonder of nature. The forest sea on Ali Mountain creates a relaxed and pleasant environment for the people living in the city nearby. Ali Mountain has thousands of acres of rich natural forest, including many ancient trees which have grown over thousands of years and experienced a change of climate in Taiwan. Influenced by the high altitude, many plants living in tropic zones, warm zones, temperate zones and frigid zones can be found in this area. In 1899 when the Japanese discovered the forest around Ali Mountain they immediately began a large-scale logging operation. After the World WarⅡ, Ali Mountain is completely protected from any kind of commercial logging.
Sea of Clouds

Sea of Clouds

The sea of clouds and the cherry blossom should not be overlooked. If you want to avoid sunstroke, the comfortable climate in midsummer on Ali Mountain will be a good choice.

Flamboyant Cherry Blossom

Flamboyant Cherry Blossom
The oriental cherry all over the slopes of Alishan is also a wonder. During the spring, the red and white oriental cherry is in full bloom up hill and down dale, crowding together gorgeously. They mingles with the verdant forest, as if the peaks of Alishan had been splendidly attired in green clothes dotted with red flowers, making one intoxicated.


Alishan National Forest Recreation Area

Alishan National Forest Recreation Area (ā lǐ shān guó jiā fēng jǐng 阿里山国家风景区) is located in Alishan Township, Chiayi, covering an area of 1400 hectares with the main tourism spot locating at about 2,200 meters high above sea level. It is cloudy mid-elevation temperate climate with an average annual temperature 10.6 ℃ and the annual rainfall is up to 4,000 mm. There are 209 raining days and 244foggy days on average. The heavily wet weather contribute the outstanding forest and climate landscape such as Alishan sunrise, sea of clouds, afterglow, forest, railways which count to the five famous sightseeing spots known internationally.

Alishan Forest Recreation Area has the largest wood made train station in Taiwan established in 2007 with an observatory in front of the train station. Therefore, once you arrive in Alishan Forest Recreation Area, you may appreciate the famous sea of clouds and many other breathtaking views such as sunrise and sunset. In addition, you can see the cliff of Ta Mountain, which is the Tsou’s sacred mountain. Since the establishment of Alishan road opened in 1982, the Alishan Forest Recreation Area has become a very popular scenic spot for Alishan tourism. Alishan Forest Recreation is an excellent place for bird watching. The main bird watching trail is the annularity path in the recreation area, it is a four kilometer long path surrounded by forest.

Location: No.3-16, Chukou, Chukou Village, Fanlu Township, Chiayi County
Tel: +886-5-259-3900
Opening Hours: 08:30 - 17:00
Admission Fee: CNY 200 (for reference)


Take the THSR to Chiayi Station, transfer to the train.

Alishan Forest Railway:
Take a train to Chiayi Railway Station; continue by Alishan Forest Railway to Alishan.
Alishan Forest Railway was temporarily suspended by typhoon damage.

By Bus:

Take a train to Taipei Railway Station; continue by Kuo-kuang Bus to Alishan.
Take a train to Chiayi Railway Station. Then continue by Chiayi County Bus to Alishan.

Sisters’ Ponds

Located within the Alishan Forest Recreation Area, the Alishan Sisters’ Ponds (jiě mèi tán 姐妹潭) are two of the most popular tourist spots of the area. The ponds are two different sized high mountain ponds connecting to each other. They are renowned for the picturesque natural surrounding sceneries and a sad yet beautiful story.  The story is about a couple of Tsou sisters fell in love with the same man. Not wanting to hurt the sisterhood and not able to have the man for themselves, they jumped into separate ponds to end their lives, which are now known as the Elder Sister Pond and Younger Sister Pond. Two cypress pavilions known as the “Missing Pavilions” with wooden bridges connecting the shore were later built on the Elder Sister’s pond with a 180-meter plank surrounding the ponds.

Sisters’ PondsThe two Sisters’ Ponds are sized differently. The Elder Sister Pond shapes a bit rectangular with a size of approximate 530 sq. m and the Younger Sister Pond is rounder and smaller with a size of 120 sq. m.  The pond water is rather clean and peaceful without disturbance, just like a mirror reflecting the surrounded sceneries. The ponds are usually high on water level during summer and rather dry during winter.  The Alishan Sisters’ Ponds had a hard time in 2002.  The ponds were drought and the bottoms were seen for the first time.  The nearby ecological areas might have sudden changes with the sky clear and bright in any moment, and mist covering the ponds in the next second.

Location: Situated at Chiayi County, Taiwan
Opening Hours: The whole day

Dabang Village

Dabang (dá bāng cūn 达邦村) is the biggest Tsou village of 900 meters above sea level. Most of the facilities were established here, such as the Alishan country library, 228 memorial stele, and Tsou aborigine resource center. Dabang is an agricultural village; its main crops are mountain vegetables, tea leaves and bamboo shoots.

Tsou peopleDabang still remain many Tsou’s traditional customs, ceremonies, and culture. Since Dabang is the biggest Tsou village, the main Tsou’s ceremonies such as the Harvest Festival and the War Festival are being held every year.

People might think that Dabang is an inconvenient village. However, due to the rise of Alishan tourism, it has become a well-organized village. There are many public services and restaurants for the visitors. Dabang not only has allure culture, but also has lots of scenic environments, such as the primitive forest, limpid rivers, and waterfall. Visitors can appreciate the beautiful view and experience Tsou people’s life.

Location: Situated at Chiayi County, Taiwan
Transportation: Take Chiayi Bus (jiā yì xiàn lián yíng gōng chē 嘉义县联营公车) bound for Dabang.

Shoujhen Temple

Located within the Alishan Forest Recreation Park, Shoujhen Temple (shòu zhèn gōng 受镇宫) is the largest temple within the Alishan area and indeed, it is also the highest altitude temple in Taiwan (2150m). Since the reconstruction in 1969, it has become one of the most popular temples for the locals. The gods that are worshiped here are the Syuantian Emperor (God of Justice, xuán tiān shàng dì 玄天上帝), the Fude God (God of Commerce, fú dé zhèng shén 福德正神), and the Jhusheng Goddess (Goddess of Fertility, zhù shēng niáng niáng 注生娘娘).

Shoujhen TempleAn interesting and mysterious report to mention here about this highly worshiped temple is each year, on the 3rd of March in the lunar calendar, just a week prior to Syuantian Emperor(God of Justice)’s birthday, a group of Alishan kuciouluowun Moths (These gigantic moths are around palm sized and has wingspan about 15cms with black-eye-like pattern on their wings) lands and stays on the god’s statue for up to 15 days straight, without food nor movement until the celebration of the Syuantian Emperor’s birthday ends.

Some superstitious ways of explaining this unusualness activity done by the moths is that the moths were here to celebrate the Syuantian Emperor (God of Justice)’s birthday by dancing around the statue until the celebration finishes. Others explained that March and April are the breeding seasons for the moths and they were attracted by the thick smoke and lights coming from the temple. This phenomenon often attracts people to come and witness the unusual sight and made this temple well known throughout Taiwan.

Location: Situated in Alishan National Forest Recreation Area
Tel: 886-5-228-1818

Ali Mountain Range

Location: In the west of Taiwan
Transportation: Traveling to Alishan can be done by train, bus or car. The famous Alishan Forest Railway is a great way to travel to the region. Take the train or a bus to Alishan from the nearest city, Jiayi, or drive there by yourself. There is an entry fee to Alishan National Scenic Area that is lower if you arrive on public transport.
Opening Hours: 9:00-17:00
Admission Fee: CNY 200 (for reference)
Recommended Golden Season: August, September