Day trip from Douliou?

I’m wanting to surprise my wife with a nice outdoor day trip somewhere. We’re living in Douliu (near Chiayi) and have briefly visited Sun Moon Lake already.

Any suggestions would be great!

have you been to Alishan?

No, we haven’t. Is that a day trip from here? She doesn’t want to spend a night anywhere. Do we just take a train straight there?

It’s quite easy to get to from Douliou. First get to Chiayi, then you can take the bus up to Alishan (about 2 hours). The buses leave every hour or so I think.
There is a special train that goes from Chiayi to Alishan. It’s a lovely train, but difficult to get seats for on the weekend. There are only two trains up and two trains down a day. Even though the train is a really nice ride (since it’s a very old, historical train), the bus is faster, cheaper, and more convenient, so it’s up to you.

now, people might chime in and say that Alishan is a tourist trap. That may be true, but I spent two nights there and really enjoyed the easy hikes, fresh air, and nature (and very blue skies!). If you’re worried about something being too touristy, about half way up the same mountain (from Chiayi), is a small town called Fenchihu. I’ve gone there twice because I loved it so much. there are lots of bamboo forests around.

I’ve got tons of photos on my website from Alishan, i dont know how helpful they’ll be because they’re not very practical, but here’s some:

If you’re going to Alishan beware of the scam the cabbies are running from the train station in Chia-yi.

They offer to take the two of you for 500 NT each. You pay them the 1000 NT and follow them to their car. Once you’re in the cab they demand another 500 NT for the empty passenger seat up front.

The Jiji branch rail line stops in some pretty areas. You can rent bikes and ride around the countryside. I like the path through Ershui. Not as crowded as in Jiji and more scenic overall though there is one stretch of the Jiji path that runs along a canal that is very beautiful. In Ershui, you can also take a nice stroll up to the ridge through a very pleasant forest. There is a monkey conservation area but I haven’t been there.

I’d go to Ershui and ride a bike around and take a stroll up the ridge then head to Jiji for lunch or dinner. Walk along the green tunnel which is a few kilometres of banyans that form a canopy over the road. Very nice and at night the trees are light with Christmas lights which forms a very pretty sights as you ride home on the train. You can also ride down to the river where fewer people go.

At Shuili, the penultimate stop on the line, the snake kiln is worth a visit. It’s an old kiln that has been turned into a cultural centre. Well done, not tacky at all. Nice teahouse and crafts shop. Good place for pictures.

To get to the Jiji branch line, take a train to Ershui which is just north of you. The new Lonely Planet has a pretty detailled writeup on the area. Also do a web search and check out this thread:

Alishan is looking very interesting, but it doesn’t look like a day trip is even possible. The 3.5hr train ride up sounds amazing going through over 50 tunnels and 70 bridges, hugging the mountains from 50m elevation to 2,500m. The only problem is that I read there is only 1 train a day leaving Chiayi at 1:30pm and only 1 train leaving Alishan at 1:20pm. I can’t find any reasonably priced hotel accommodation. Any suggestions on that one? I may even be too late to reserve a train (if possible at all with my lousy Chinese).

If it’s too late for the train, how do I go about getting on the bus from Chiayi - Alishan? Is the bus station walkable from the Chiayi train station? It looks like the earliest departure from Chiayi is 7:10am and latest 3:30pm. I guess this means we won’t be seeing this awesome sunrise or sunset then?

I tried doing a search, but can’t find if there are bamboo forests in Alishan?

Thanks for your replies!

Forgot to ask you guys what you think of taking our 125cc scooter up from here to Alishan?

yes yes yes :slight_smile: the bus is faster and cheaper, so take it!
the perfect thing would be to take the slow train up the mountain (if you can get a ticket), then do a small hike (a couple of hours), then eat dinner, then take the bus back down to chiayi (if i recall correctly, the people at the convenience store where you buy the bus tickets can speak a little english). The last bus is later in the day, like maybe 7 or later, so dont worry about that, but check what time when you first arrive.

also, there are two trains from chiayi to alishan, the first one is earlier, but i cant remember the exact time. around 9am or something. but if you dont buy a ticket in advance, then there wont be a seat, and that’s not very enjoyable.

as for the 125, i know people who drove one from tainan, but that mountain’s roads are very very windy. i’m a bit of an adventurous type- i drove from tainan to hualien, then over the central cross island hwy-, but I honestly wouldnt want to drive up the mountain, esp two people on one scooter, it would be very uncomfortable. it’s about 2 hours from chiayi on bus, or a bit more.

a day trip is possible, in my opinion.
however, Alishan is famous for its sunrises, so a popular thing to do is to stay the night so you can wake up to see the sunrise. we paid 1100 a night for a small room with a tv and bathroom. that’s about the cheapest on the mountain, and we found it in the old lonely planet.