Hike on century old paths, through a land of lush forests, rolling tea plantations, towering ocean cliffs and through impressive gorges. The landscape of Taiwan will leave your jaw hanging and there is no better way to explore it than on foot.
Discover volcanic geysers and tranquil lakes, witness Zen drumming on a mountaintop, and follow your taste buds through local markets as you savour incredible local delicacies. Climb to spectacular viewpoints, lose yourself in the teahouse lined alleys of quaint historic villages and laid-back coastal towns. Follow paths over rolling green hills adorned with alpine wildflowers and accompanied by the sound of birdsong. The adventurous landscape, paired with Asian elegance, 15,000 temples and the morph of Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism and all other walks of faith, makes Taiwan one of the most blended nations on the planet. Taiwan really does have something for everyone.
Welcome to Taiwan! Upon arrival in Taipei, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of your day is at leisure.
Taiwan’s sprawling capital city is an exciting mix of South East Asia, US and Japanese influences. The skyline is dominated by the impressive Taipei 101 Tower, once the tallest in the world, and made more impressive by its backdrop of rolling mountains in the North. The city is quirky and friendly and one of the safest capitals in Asia. Enjoy the rest of your day at leisure to get acquainted with the city.
3 nights ArTree Hotel or similar
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel this morning before departing to explore Taipei. You will start at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, an impressive local monument with a square which has the National Concert Hall and National Theatre on either side. Similar in shape to Beijing’s Tiantan, the building has been designed to invoke the character of the number 8, which represents good fortune and abundance. You will continue to Lunghsan Temple, one of the oldest and largest temples in Taiwan, built in 1738 and housing the statues of hundreds of Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist Deities. Close by is Herb Lane, a fresh produce market that sells a wide variety of herbs, to be used primarily in traditional healing. The range of herbs include rare and specialty herbs such as Japanese Knotweed and saxifrage – learn how they have been used in the past and in present day.
Next, it is time to get an incredible aerial view over Taipei, as you head to the 89th floor observation deck of Taipei 101 Tower. From 2004 to 2010, this was the tallest building in the world and it is the perfect place to take in a birds eye view of the city. From here you will continue to Mt. Elephant, where a trail of around 600 stairs will take you to a lookout from where you can get impressive views of the city, but this time with the iconic Taipei 101 Tower is included in the skyscape.
For something slightly more challenging, your next stop will be Jinmian Mountain, which will be the first trail walk that you do in Taiwan. This trail is classified as moderate, and in certain areas you will need both hands to climb, with ropes permanently attached to these areas for you to use to assist you as you walk. The view from Jinmian Mountain is simply breathtaking.
You will continue to Raohe Night Market, one of the oldest traditional markets in Taipei and bustling with street food stalls, carnival games and quaint little shops. You might like to try some of the interesting local specialties as you walk around the eateries (paid locally). Afterwards, you will return to your hotel and have the evening at leisure. (B)
After breakfast at your hotel, you will depart to visit Yangmingshan National Park, a stunning National Park that is well known for its sulphur crystals and hot springs. At the western entrance of the park, you will see the Flower Clock, a large garden artwork formed of colourful flowers. From here you walk to the volcanic landscape of Thermal Valley, often referred to as Hell Valley or Ghost Lake, due to the surreal looking setting of sulphuric mist that rises from the hot springs.
Your hike today is known as the Jinbaoli Path (Yulu Historical Trail), a century old path that linked the villages of Daping and Dapu, and was used as a trade route to deliver fish, tea and sulphur. This 6.3km route will take around 3 hours to hike, and you will see wildflowers and tantalising glimpses of the coast as the follow the dirt trails and stone steps that make up the path.
This afternoon, you will visit Dunshui Harbour Town, a laid-back coastal town with a main shopping street full of historic buildings and interesting street vendors. You will explore Fisherman’s Wharf which is full of little cafes and restaurants as well as being a hub for fishing boats. Here, you can walk along Lover’s Bridge, a curved white cable-stayed pedestrian bridge that gets its name from its original opening which was on Valentine’s Day. At night, it is lit up with changing colours and a great place to watch the sunset. After enjoying the Danshi River bank with its interesting variety of wetland plants, you will take a ferry ride to the other side of the river.
At the end of the day you will return to your hotel in Taipei and have the evening at leisure. (B)
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel before departing for Yehliu Geo Park. Located on a strip of land that stretches into the Pacific Ocean, this beautiful park is known for its bizarre rock formations formed by wind and sea abrasion. These include mushroom and honeycomb shaped rocks, and one particularly regal rock tower known as the Queen’s Head which looks like either Queen Nefertiti, or Queen Elizabeth in likeness, depending on which angle you are looking at it from.
You then continue to Jiufen (Chiufen) Village, a quaint and charming small town packed with history. The word “Chiufen” means nine pieces and refers to when this town was originally so small and isolated that its inhabitants were made up of just nine families. With markets far away, when they needed supplies they would send just one family who would come back and divide the spoils into nine pieces. For a while in the 1890’s, the town swelled to a larger size as it became a site of the gold rush, and there are multiple historic sites to be seen as you explore the narrow alleyways lined with teahouses, giving a glimpse of the past glory of this location. Throughout the town you will find nooks that have beautiful mountain views, as well as vistas that take in the Yingyang Sea.
This afternoon, you will trek for around 3.5 hours on the Caoling Historic Trail, which cuts across Sandiao Cape (Sandiaojiao) starting at Yuanwangkeng, and finishing at Dali on the coast. It is the only section that still remains of the old Ching Dynasty Trail, which is over 130 years old. The present trail is approximately 10 kilometers long and beautifully scenic, as you walk over rolling green hills, with stunning ocean views.
When you have finished your hike, you will drive to Yilan, where you will check into your hotel and have the remainder of the day at leisure. Your unique accommodation includes hot and cold spring water baths in your room, perfect for soaking in as you relax at the end of a long day. (B)
Overnight Lakeshore Hotel Suao or similar
After breakfast today, you will travel to Volandosatoyama, where you will walk along a mountain trail in a stretch of nature that is full of fruit trees and birdlife. The round trip hike takes approx. 1.5 -2 hours. You will stop half-way for some refreshments, and to soak up the beautiful surrounds. As you reach the top of the mountain, you will reach an open-air theatre, where you will see a performance of U-Theatre. This is a drum beating performance with a focus on zen and has been described as ‘attaining the state of total calmness while in motion’. For this troupe, a performance is not an end in itself, but rather an approach to a holistic way of life oriented in the Tao. Lunch will be arranged for you in the park, before you depart for you next location – Hualien. On the way, you will visit the Qingshui Cliffs where you will take in incredible views. You will then do a light hike called the Shakadang Trail, which is built along a river cliff, with trails that often go under overhanging cliffs, and past rockpools and interesting plant ecosystems.
After a photo stop at Gorge Gateway, you will then travel to Taroko National Park where you will find your accommodation for the night on an isolated plateau in dramatic mountain surroundings. Time will feel like it has slowed down in this beautiful environment, with its background music of birdsong, and the backdrop of towering green mountains and blue sky. This accommodation is owned by members of the local Taroko tribe and the semi-detached log cabins are full of Indigenous influence, with hand-made weaving and canvas paintings crafted by the community, and a slightly retro design which is reminiscent of the traditional Tang Dynasty. (B,L)
2 nights Taroko Village Hotel or similar
Wake up in your mountain surroundings and enjoy breakfast before departing for a hike in the Taroko National Park. You will first see the Eternal Spring Shrine, a memorial built in 1958 to commemorate 212 workers who died building the Central Cross Island Highway. The peaceful memorial is set above a waterfall, and with many Buddha sculptures lining its paths. You will continue to Bulowan Terrace, a large hill-top home, before visiting the magnificent Tunnel of Nine Turns. You will continue walking to Swallow Grotto, so named because the caves and crevices created by erosion are an ideal nesting place for swallows. You will often see swallows flying in and out of the surrounding rock formations, and from here, you have an incredible view of the Liwu River flowing below and the beauty of Taroko Gorge. This gorge is also known as Grand Marble Gorge because of its impressive, steep marble walls. You will continue on to Tianshiang Village, where your hike for the day will finish, and you will transfer back to your accommodation in Taroko National Park. (B)
Today you will be trekking Hehuanshan Peaks in Taroko Gorge National Park. Hehuanshan is 3,416 metres high, the peak of which lies on the boundaries of Nantou and Hualien counties. In summer, it is delightfully cool and also highly scenic, as different alpine flowers are in bloom from May to September. Autumn and Spring are also incredible times for hiking and trekking in this area. The main trail for Hehuan East Peak (938m, altitude 3421m, 2 hours round-trip) starts from a cottage and ascends the northern slope of the mountain. Hiking poles will come in handy on this path as there are some steep sections.
You will then travel to Goang Xing Paper Mill, where you will learn the knowledge of the paper making process. Enjoy a lesson in how to make Chinese style paper fans and perhaps take one home as a souvenir.
You will continue on to Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan’s largest body of water and a tranquil oasis with a rich indigenous culture. You will check into your hotel and have the remainder of the day at leisure. (B)
2 nights Richforest Hotel Sun Moon Lake or similar
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at your hotel and enjoy the beautiful views of Sun Moon Lake. The lake sits at an altitude of 762m in the mountains of Nantou County. After breakfast, you will drive around part of the lake to visit Wen Wu Temple. This impressive temple is the only Confucius temple in Taiwan where you will see a statue of Confucius himself, and some of the other bronze statues also represent his disciples. If time permits this morning, you will also visit Tse En Pagoda, and Tehua Village.
It will then be time for your hike of the day, the Mt Moalan Trail (approx. 3 hours). This is a relaxed scenic walk that takes you to a weather observatory that was built by the Japanese in 1940. From the summit, at 1020m, you can see as far as Puli. The 3km trail is paved, and you will wind through villages, cedar trees, and vast tea plantations, accompanied by the sound of birdsong. The scenery around you is spectacular, with the view of rolling green hills and silhouetted mountains in the distance.
Today is free for you to explore Sun Moon Lake before your departure transfer. If time permits, you may want to cycle around the beautiful Sun Moon Lake cycling trail.
You will be transferred to Taipei International Airport in time for your onwards flight. (B)
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**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures.
* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.
* A minimum of 2 adults is required to guarantee this departure.
A non-refundable deposit of $1000 AUD per person is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.