For its size, Taiwan is one of the most mountainous countries in the world. Nearly one-third of the island is a kilometre or more above sea level, while a tenth is above 2,500 m (a statistic where Taiwan matches Alpine Switzerland). No fewer than 258 named peaks top 3,000 m — a stunning total, given that Taiwan is not quite double the size of Wales. In terms of land area, it’s barely half as big as Tasmania, and only a little larger than the US state of Maryland.
Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau has designated 2020 as the ‘Year of Mountain Tourism’, and announced that it plans to promote seven mountain routes which offer ‘participatory tourism experiences… to attract people to get closer to the forests and deepen their understanding of Taiwan’. Each of the seven routes focuses on a particular region. This is wise, because getting from A and B often takes time, even when you have a car and a driver at your disposal. Also, such is the sheer natural beauty that you’ll want each and every mile to be taken slowly.
There can be no doubt that Taiwan’s mountains are a world-class attraction. Not only is the scenery genuinely spectacular, but within the uplands travellers can enjoy indigenous Austronesian culture, hike on historic trails, and take part in birdwatching and other forms of ecotourism.
Since is founding in 2012, Life of Taiwan has been bringing international visitors to the mountainous interior. Many of our tours go beyond Taroko Gorge and into the high-elevation parts of the national park that shares its name [pictured above] via a breathtaking road which leads to Sun Moon Lake. One of our favourite mountain villages is Laiji in Greater Alishan, where the art of growing coffee has been rediscovered. Inaccessible to tour buses and thus a good bit quieter than the nearby forest recreation area, it’s truly a place to unwind and reconnect with nature.
For visitors basing themselves in Tainan or Kaohsiung, the indigenous villages of Sandimen and Wutai [pictured left] make for a superb day-trip. But if you’ve a serious interest in Austonesian arts and cuisine, we recommend spending at least three whole days in the eastern counties of Hualien and Taitung. Contact Life of Taiwan today to plan your customised tour of Asia’s most fascinating island!