A three-day trip to Alishan County – Taiwan
Aka “one of the most gruelling and rewarding parts of this trip”
During this 3-week trip in Taiwan, Alishan was probably one of the highlights of this trip. But not necessarily for good reasons. We had our great moments but also some unnerving ones, dealing mainly with drivers of this mountainous area.
But I still consider Alishan as one of Taiwan’s main attractions to do at least once. Some of this region’s landscapes are so breathtaking they have imprinted themselves on my memory for a long time to come.
Below are some of the highlights of this trip.
The Bed and Breakfast we stayed at: The Alishan 54.1 Homestay
Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful bed and breakfasts we stayed at in Taiwan, and probably EVER.
This small 民宿 (Minsu) only has 3 rooms. But what rooms! Especially the one we took, with its magnificent bay window overlooking the mountains.
We couldn’t stop looking at the view everytime we were in the room. And to be honest, we stayed in our room a lot. You’ll soon understand why 😉
This place is managed by a Chinese-speaking person, but he is super sweet and always does his best to help you with the English vocabulary he has. AND, he makes amazing breakfasts!
But this B&B is owned by a family who also runs a teashop just nearby. I can only advise you to come visit him as he’ll offer you some cups of Alishan Shizuo Tea and will want to know more about you 🙂
But while the place is great (I can’t advise you enough to stay at this place), this is actually the deep countryside. Do you know why it is called “54.1 Homestay”? Well, that’s because the B&B is located on the 54.1km mark of Alishan county’s main road. Should be proof enough we are a little far from modern civilization ;p
The Constant Search for Food
Don’t look around this B&B: you won’t find any 7-Eleven, or Family Mart, or Hi-Life convenience stores. So you actually have to plan some food ahead:
- Either getting some food supplies at the nearby village food shops (opened only till late afternoon)
- Either getting food at convenience stores when you visit touristic places (like Alishan National Park)
- Or walking aimlessly on the main road until you find an open restaurant.
We did all of the tips mentioned above. While we survived most days on instant noodles, sandwiches, sweets and chocolates from 7-Eleven, we couldn’t stay around without actually looking for a restaurant somewhere.
The B&B Manager directed us to a restaurant nearby…that we, dumb people, haven’t found. Instead, we walked a few kilometers, resulting in a Facebook Live I did:
Many minutes later, we reached a small restaurant I shall talk to you about in a dedicated article. I don’t know if this is because I was super hungry, but this was one of the tastiest meals of this trip.
Dealing with Drivers and the Long, Bumpy, rollercoaster-like roads.
The second drawback of being far from everything is that you highly depend on the hourly bus that stops between 6am and 6pm each day. Beware not to go overtime when doing your day trip far from there.
But if it was only this, I wouldn’t complain this much. But here you’ll probably find the most rude and crazy bus drivers of the island. I’m not joking. Each bus trip was a trial of resistance for me not to throw up in the bus.
Long Walks in between mountains and forests
But honestly, there were some perks for not being close to touristic spots (even if I can advise you to visit the Alishan National Park), like hiking in the mountains.
There is a 5KM trail that starts just next to the homestay. You’ll be able to see some breathtaking views, cross tea plantations and, if you are lucky, see the famous “sea of clouds” in the mountains.
I was not lucky on that day, but it was really impressive to be in the clouds, or even walking with a sort of fog all around you. Combined with the stillness and the emptiness of the place, it looked like a scene right from Silent Hill.
Quite simply. Need I say more?
Places mentioned in this article
- Alishan 53.1 Homestay (阿里山53.1民宿) – Better book directly by email/phone/Facebook Messenger 3 months ahead of your stay, as this B&B gets full quickly!
- 山之美 (Shan Zhi Mei): very cool restaurant I’ll talk about very soon!
- Alishan National Scenic Area: to see forests full of centuries-old cypress trees.