Alishan National Scenic Area

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Alishan National Scenic Area
Alishan National Scenic Area sign 20160208b.jpg

Coordinates: 23°31′N 120°48′E / 23.517°N 120.800°E / 23.517; 120.800

The Alishan National Scenic Area is a mountain resort and nature reserve located in Alishan township, Chiayi County, Taiwan.


View from Alishan

Alishan is 415 square kilometres (41,500 ha) in area. Notable characteristics include mountain wilderness, four villages, waterfalls, high altitude tea plantations, the Alishan Forest Railway, and a number of hiking trails. The area is popular with tourists and mountain climbers. Alishan, itself has become one of the major landmarks associated with Taiwan. The area is famous for its production of high mountain tea and wasabi.[citation needed]

Alishan is well known for its sunrises, sunset, sea of clouds in the area between Alishan and Yüshan, railway station, and sacred trees. Alishan, along with Taroko Gorge and Sun Moon Lake, is one of Taiwan's most popular scenic attractions.


Alishan National Scenic Area spans a broad range in altitude. Lower elevations, such as in Leye Township, share the same subtropical and tropical climate as the rest of southern Taiwan, while the climate changes to temperate and alpine as the elevation increases. Snow sometimes falls at higher elevations in the winter.[citation needed] Alishan is located at an altitude of 1400 to 2600 meters. The average annual temperature is about 10 degrees Celsius, coupled with abundant rainfall.[1]

Growing Alishan High Mountain Tea

Average temperatures are moderate:[citation needed]

  • Low elevations: 24 °C in the summer, 16 °C in the winter.
  • Medium elevations: 19 °C in the summer, 12 °C in the winter.
  • High elevations: 14 °C in the summer, 5 °C in the winter.


Alishan is mountainous:[citation needed]

  • Number of peaks above 2000 meters: 25
  • Highest point: Da Ta Shan (大塔山), 2,663 meters.
  • Average height of Alishan Mountain Range: 2,500 meters.

Vegetation and wildlife[edit]

Important trees in the area include:[citation needed]

Sacred Trees[edit]

In 1906, the Japanese has discovered a red cypress tree that was over 3000 years old, located next to the Alishan Forest Railway's Sacred Tree Station. The Japanese honored it as the "Sacred Tree". The tree is 52 meters (171 ft) tall with a trunk diameter of nearly 5 meters (16 ft), making it one of the largest giant trees in Alishan.[2]

The Alishan sacred tree withered due to lightning and heavy rain. It was put down in 1998 for tourists to visit. In 2006, the Chiayi County Government and the Alishan Scenic Area Administration started a voting activity to select other sacred trees as the new landmark in the scenic area. The 45-meter (148 ft) tall, 2,300-year-old Xianglin Giant Tree received the highest number of votes and became the second generation of sacred tree.

The Giant trees are later organized and a trail is built for visitors to enter, where they can see more than 38 giant trees, most of which are hundreds of years old.


A Japanese-built train on the Alishan Forest Railway.
Boardwalk at Alishan National Scenic Area
Tsou Cultural Park

The Alishan area was originally settled by the Tsou tribe of the Taiwanese aborigines; the name derives from the aboriginal word Jarissang. Ethnic Han Chinese settlers first settled on the plains near modern-day Chiayi as early as the late Ming Dynasty (around the mid-17th century), but did not move into the mountains until the late 18th century, establishing the towns of Ruili (瑞里), Ruifeng (瑞峰), Xiding (隙頂), and Fenqihu (奮起湖). The resulting armed clashes between the settlers and the aborigines pushed the aborigines even further into the mountains.[citation needed]

Following the cession of Taiwan to Japan at the end of the First Sino-Japanese War, Japanese expeditions to the area found large quantities of cypress (檜木, or hinoki in Japanese). This led to the development of the logging industry in the area and the export of local cypress and Taiwania wood. A series of narrow-gauge railways were built in the area during this time to facilitate the transportation of lumber from the mountains to the plains below, part of which continues to operate as the Alishan Forest Railway. Several new villages also began to sprout up along the railway lines. It was also during this time that the first tourists began to visit the area. Plans were even drawn up to incorporate the area into the new Niitaka (New Highest) Arisan National Park (新高阿里山国立公園).[citation needed]

With the exhaustion of forest resources by the 1970s, domestic and international tourism overtook logging to become the primary economic activity in the area. The tourism industry continued to expand with the completion of the Alishan highway in the 1980s, displacing the railroad as the primary mode of transportation up the mountain. To combat the problems associated with the growing crowds of tourists and the expanding high mountain tea and wasabi plantations, the area was declared a national scenic area in 2001.[3] The area covers the Alishan Forest Recreation Area and the Han Chinese villages of Ruili, Fengshan (豐山), and Taihe (太和), as well as the Tsou people of Dabang (達邦), Shanmei (山美), and Chashan (茶山), and the administrative area spans four townships, including Meishan Township, Zhuqi Township, Fanlu Township, and Alishan Township.[4]

On 1 December 2014, fire broke out at Alishan spreading over more than 5 hectares of land. The area affected was located near Tapang No. 3 Bridge. The fire was believed to happen due to dry ground which was vulnerable to fire because of the absence of rain in the area for months.[5]


In October 2014, The Chiayi Forestry Administration pointed out that the park's facilities have been improved to create an aesthetic forest atmosphere, and the Alishan Highway is relatively undamaged, which in turn has improved the quality of recreation, attracting more than 2.08 million visitors to Alishan this year.[6]

In order to provide a more comfortable recreation experience for visitors, the Chiayi Forestry Administration has completed reconstructions such as the separation of pedestrian and vehicular roads, the improvement of facilities at the Visitor Service Center, and the constructions of the landscape around the Alishan sacred tree, etc. The successful project has a positive force for the peaking tourists numbers in 2014.[7]

Since August 2019, China has imposed a ban on the free flow of Chinese visitors and subsequently increased the number of tour groups, which has impacted the entire tourism industry in Taiwan. The number of visitors decreased by 49.8%, and the number of Chinese visitors also decreased from 1.76 million in 2014 to 420,000, a big drop of 76%.[8] From 2017 to 2019, there will be 1,093,896, 952,418, and 900,1441 national visitors, 594,158, 428,884, and 419,712 Chinese tourists, and 60,292, 63,744, and 65,481 foreign visitors, respectively. The number of foreign visitors has increased by 8.6%.[9]

The Chiayi Forestry Administration Office stated that tourists numbers was affected by the Covid-19 epidemic in 2020. There were only 99,7052 tourists, the lowest in 10 years, compared with the highest number of tourists which is 2.76 million in 2014.[10] Through the outbreak of Covid-19 in May 2021, Alishan National Scenic Area has announced it closure under the tier three Covid restriction.

Table of Tourists In Ten Years[11]
January February March April May June July August September October November December Total
2011 78,543 124,644 191,304 224,808 83,187 71,773 78,022 83,471 70,801 122,705 149,394 1,424,986 1,424,986
2012 134,498 158,728 371,005 254,842 183,801 87,996 180,708 44,373 111,837 173,934 191,068 188,021 2,080,811
2013 150,852 186,552 298,672 230,723 140,853 138,049 146,244 145,546 134,402 143,538 172,775 175,360 2,063,566
2014 170,203 226,561 388,798 290,910 202,715 205,603 212,549 199,884 176,049 225,527 232,939 229,741 2,761,479
2015 227,846 255,509 301,224 262,628 215,738 195,536 219,009 183,322 166,287 231,109 237,990 217,153 2,713,351
2016 204,430 238,182 329,911 275,817 200,809 157,977 184,713 153,521 82,872 123,163 137,756 153,521 2,242,672
2017 149,995 158,169 246,902 179,011 117,732 73,982 126,419 148,866 99,700 141,936 140,424 146,276 1,748,346
2018 104,508 126,051 221,875 178,918 102,682 87,411 105,540 103,696 75,589 108,472 103,912 126,392 1,445,046
2019 99,088 135,638 247,897 164,068 84,378 100,460 122,968 87,437 66,650 91,963 93,447 91,778 1,386,634
2020 76,019 88,589 123,528 36,318 28,431 63,881 107,941 119,246 78,911 105,144 82,706 87,492 868,852

Attractions and landmarks[edit]

Fenqihu (奮起湖) is a small town of low wooden buildings built into the mountainside at 1,400 meters, midpoint of the Alishan Forest Railway. It is famous for natural rock formations, mountain streams, forests, and the ruins of a Shinto temple in the vicinity, as well as for its production of high altitude food products such as bamboo shoots and aiyu jelly (愛玉). The local box lunches (奮起湖便當, Fenqihu bento) are known across Taiwan and are sold from stalls at the train station and from Fenqihu Hotel on the Fenqihu Old Street.[12] Fenqihu is currently the terminal end of the Alishan Forest Railway line from Chiayi to Alishan,[13] since the railway was heavily damaged by Typhoon Morakot in 2009 and only the Chiayi to Fenqihu portion was reopened in 2014.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Travel King Alishan National Scenice Area". Archived from the original on 2016-04-15.
  2. ^ "travel king Alishan Sacred trees". Archived from the original on 2021-07-09.
  3. ^ "History of Alishan". Archived from the original on 2020-10-14.
  4. ^ "Travel King: Alishan National Scenic Area". Archived from the original on 2016-04-15.
  5. ^ "Fire breaks out on Alishan - Society - FOCUS TAIWAN - CNA ENGLISH NEWS".
  6. ^ "Alishan tourists reach its peak". Archived from the original on 2021-06-28.
  7. ^ "Peaking tourists in Alishan in 2014". Archived from the original on 2021-06-28.
  8. ^ "Apple News: drop of tourists in Alishan". Archived from the original on 2021-06-26.
  9. ^ "Apple News: decrease of number of tourists in Alishan". Archived from the original on 2021-06-26.
  10. ^ "Lowest Tourists number in Alishan National Scenic Area". Archived from the original on 2021-02-19.
  11. ^ "Chiayi Forest Cite". Archived from the original on 2021-06-26.
  12. ^ "Alishan, Taiwan: Best Sunrise Spots, Hiking Trails and Tea Farms".
  13. ^ "How to get to Alishan (from anywhere in Taiwan)".
  14. ^ "阿里山國家風景區".

External links[edit]