CHIAYI | Discover Alishan Forest from Kaohsiung

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Weather in southern Taiwan during my visit was really bad. It was raining non-stop during my stay in Tainan that the tour agency decided to postponed my Alishan Forest tour. Since my itinerary was flexible, I agreed on rescheduling and mentioned that I’ll be changing my pick-up location. I moved to Kaohsiung City a day prior to the new tour date. Kaohsiung City is another pick-up point for the Discover Alishan Tour, so not a problem.

alishan forest tour
Towering trees inside the Alishan Forest Recreational Park.

Discover Alishan Forest Tour via Klook

Unlike other joined tours available, the Discover Alishan Tour requires a minimum of two persons for the booking. Gladly, a Taiwan-based friend of mine expressed her interests to join me. Unfortunately, the bad weather on central Taiwan disbarred her on joining the tour. The local operator providing the tour services actually has the activity on a joined tour concept. With that, I joined travelers from Hong Kong for this Alishan Day Trip.

alishan forest tour Alishan Forest Recreational Park
Alishan Forest Recreational Park.

Alishan Forest has been one of my desired destinations to visit in Taiwan. On my first trip to Taiwan last year, Taiwan was my first stop for my 5-month trip around Asia. With that, spending a hefty amount on the high-speed train was not a good option for me. Meanwhile, spending several hours on the bus just to get to the southern part of the country didn’t fit my itinerary. Dropping Alishan Forest on my itinerary was really disheartening but I just considered it a great opportunity to come back.

Klook.com
Fast forward to a year, I made my return to Taiwan and Alishan Forest is already part of that itinerary. On the other hand, the visit was in time for the monsoon season, what a great timing. Again, I’m being sarcastic. I envied other travelers’ photos walking under the canopy of towering trees and enjoying the cold weather on the mountains. Due to the non-stop rains on this part of the country, I already removed those images on my mind.

Why Avail the Discover Alishan Tour from Klook?

The idea of experiencing the Alishan Forest Railway forces me to have the Alishan Forest visit on a do-it-yourself way. But doing research and having a limited time was not a consideration so I just decided to book the tour from Klook. Booking is easy with the schedules available on the date dropdown. You can see the availability of the earliest tour prior to booking so you could check the activity before your trip.

alishan forest tour
Our guide for the Discover Alishan Tour.

On the day of the tour, drive/guide pick me at my hostel prior to the pick-up time indicated on the itinerary. He asked if I already had breakfast and when he found out not, he asked what I liked to eat and we roamed around Kaohsiung to find one.

Discover Alishan Forest Day Tour

We traveled several miles from Kaohsiung to Chiayi and finally stopping in a small community. The village is the permanent housing built by the government and some philanthropist for the affected aboriginal settlers displaced by typhoon Morakot in 2009. Houses have totem on their doors and some art installations on their walls and courtyards. There’s a visitor’s center and the market is a great stop for a quick snack or souvenir shopping.

Longyin Temple

Rain continued to deride the whole of Southern Taiwan and we had no choice but to cooperate. We dropped by Longyin Temple in Changning County for a bladder break but I found myself roaming the complex. Longyin Temple, built in August of 1980, is already part of the Alishan National Scenic Area. Ji Gong, sometimes called as Li Xiu-Yuan, is the god being worshipped at the temple. If you’ll be visiting the temple on 3rd of October, his lunar birthday, you can witness a fire-walking ceremony.

alishan forest tour longyin temple
Longyin Temple. A usual stop on the Alishan National Scenic Area.

Fenqihu Station and Old Street

Before we finally got off our tourist van, our guide took us to an educational tour by showing us some coffee and tea plants. Not my first time to see them, but first for my companions from Hong Kong. After the short tour, we finally hopped off the van and were led to Fenqihu (sometimes spelled as Fen Chi Hu) Station.

alishan forest tour Fenqihu Station
Fenqihu Station.
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Replica of the mountain where the Alishan Railway system loops.

Fenqihu Station is the mid-station of the Alishan Forest Railway and also tagged as the Jiufen of Central Taiwan. We started our walk from the area where they used to change locomotive of the old steam trains. As per the guide, the stop allows the crew to take a rest and passengers buying food from the nearby street market. Another exhibit is the replica of the Alishan Forest Railway where you can see the spiral loop of the railway system.

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Steam locomotive displayed in the mini-museum at the station.
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Fenqihu Station platforms.

Lunch is included on the tour and we were excited when we found out that we’d be trying the famous Fenqihu lunchbox. We walked from the station down to the old street and our senses feasted on some local food and souvenirs.

alishan forest tour traditional lunch box
Traditional lunch box from the old street market.

Since Fenqihu Station is a usual rest stop, lunchboxes were a thing for passengers buying for food. Discover Alishan Tour wanted us to try the famous lunchbox and we were led inside one of the restaurants on the old street. Group of people started to flock the dining area and metal boxes were distributed to people. The traditional lunchbox has steamed rice, veggies, boiled egg, and the main which is sometimes chicken or pork chop. To battle the cold weather, diners can get soup from a pot.

alishan forest tour old street

alishan forest tour
Fenqihu old street.

Alishan Forest Recreation Area

The highlight of the tour is the visit to the Alishan Forest Recreation Park. A bus shuttles park-goers from the visitor’s center to a bus stand near Zhaoping Station. The guide had few spiels near a tall lumber which is actually the post used for lumber collection. Thick fog hindered us to appreciate the beauty of the surrounding but we eventually continued to the cherry blossom trail. A canopy of blossoming cherry blossom trees (Taiwan variety) cover the trail during spring.

alishan forest tour shuttle bus
Shuttle bus from the visitor’s center to the forest park.

alishan forest tour alishan forest railway

alishan forest tour cherry blossom trail
A scenic spot before the cherry blossom trail.
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Alishan House.

Our group continued down the forest trail to Alishan House passing by the Alishan Ranger Station. We had a great time checking some remarkable trees such as the king cherry, three-generation tree, and an elephant trunk tree. In addition, are towering century-old trees. We finally ended the Alishan Forest Park tour at Shouzhen Temple before boarding the bus shuttle back to the visitor’s center.

alishan forest tour elephant trunk tree
‘Elephant-trunk’ tree.
alishan forest tour three generation tree
Three-generation tree.
alishan forest tour pagoda of tree spirits
Pagoda of Tree Spirits.

Alishan Win Tea Shop

Before we headed back to Kaohsiung, we dropped by Alishan Win Tea Shop. A family manages the business that grows tea and at the same time fuses it with other edible flowers such as rose. The owners are very friendly they can set-up a tea time to try several of their famous tea blends. AirAsia’s Chasing Wonders featured Alishan Win Tea Shop as one of the must destinations when in southern Taiwan.

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Tea time!
alishan forest tour alishan win tea shop
Nice interiors of the Alishan Win Tea Shop.

Klook.com
Dream of visiting Alishan Forest was finally realized but I would still consider another visit to this Taiwan destination on a different month for me to enjoy its scenic view without the worries of getting soaked in rain. Nevertheless, the experience was a great one and some of the side trips were actually made the tour a relaxed one. If you’re visiting central or southern Taiwan, don’t miss the chance of visiting Alishan Forest even for a day.

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