Taiwan’s railways offer an endless variety of experience, and the scenery lining their routes provides an infinite range of fascinating scenery. If you want to get a close look at the island’s beauties without having to suffer the troubles of unfamiliar roads and the frustrations of traffic congestion, then you could do no better than choose a railroad tour and immerse yourself in the delights of enchanting coastlines, awesome mountains, placid farmlands, and engrossing countryside.
Alishan Forest Railway carries passengers through four climatic zones and each section of the line passes by truly unique scenery. It also allows you to experience a “corkscrew” ride as it winds its way up one of the mountains along its line; it ends up at the Alishan National Scenic Area, where you can see the spectacular sunrise, sea of clouds, sacred tree, flower season, and mountain pathways. You will not be disappointed taking a trip on the Taiwan railways. There is a tour suggestion if you want to travel to Alishan. Hope you enjoy your rail tour trip of Alishan!
ALISHAN FOREST RAILWAY
Construction of the Alishan Forest Railway was commenced in 1899 by the Japanese. Intended to transport logs down the mountain, it has a 762mm gauge. The railway climbs from 30 meters above sea level to 2,216 meters, has 47 tunnels and 72 bridges, and passes through a cross-section of climates and terrain types. From Chiayi, the railway travels along relatively flat terrain for 14.2 kilometers before beginning the long climb, corkscrewing around Mt. Duli, climbing 200 meters over a distance of five kilometers. The railway then travels on to Pingjena Station. From here it zigzags up the mountain, reversing direction at each new section of line as it gradually ascends Alishan.
Intended to transport logs and carry supplies, the railway has now become an integral part of the Alishan recreation facilities. After the Alishan Express was established in 1984 (requiring 3 hours and 15 minutes for the complete journey), some of the carriages of the original trains were converted into hotel accommodation. A number of locomotives are also on display at the Old Railway Display Area located near Zhaoping Railway Station.
ALISHAN NATIONAL FOREST RECREATION AREA
It’s said that 250 year ago, a Tsou chief named Abari had came here for hunting. After returning to tribe from a rewarding journey, he often brought his clans come. To remember him, this place is named of his name.
Alishan National Forest Recreation Area is located in Alishan Township, Chiayi, covering an area of 1400 hectares with the main tourism spot locating at about 2,200 meters high above sea level. It is cloudy mid-elevation temperate climate with an average annual temperature 10.6 ℃ and the annual rainfall is up to 4,000 mm. There are 209 raining days and 244foggy days on average. The heavily wet weather contribute the outstanding forest and climate landscape such as Alishan sunrise, sea of clouds, afterglow, forest, railways which count to the five famous sightseeing spots known internationally.
TEFUYE OLD TRAIL
Located in Alishan township, Tefuye trail is a 6.32-kilometer long trail from Zhihzhong of Xinzhongheng Road. It takes about 4 hours to walk through the trail. In the early days, it was once the old hunting trail of Taiwanese aborigine, Tsou. As the time that Taiwan was ruled by the Japanese, Tefuye trail was built as the railway due to its abundant red carp and cypress. Japanese then used this railway to transport the rich wood resources. Though the railway is discarded now, the old tracks, plank roads and trestles are still left for future generations to remember the lively scene of steam trains running in the mountains.
The landscape is very varied throughout the year and is beautiful and charming. It is a good place for outdoor activities and birds watching.
FENQIHU SCENIC AREA
Located in Zhonghe Village, Zhuqi Township, Chiayi County. It is about 1,400 meters above sea level. It’s surrounded by mountains and low in the middle which is alike the shape of dustpan and gives its name of “dustpan lake”. Fenqihu marks the half-way-point on the way to the top of Alishan on the forest railway. This is a perfect stop-off point where tourists can relax, and take on refreshments and snacks. Culinary attractions include the famous “Alishan Railway Lunchbox,” “Caoagui,” and special “Train Cake.”
The house of Fenqihu is built on the hillside. There is a 500-meter old street below the train station. Before the railway was opened, the street was already a prototype, and it could be said to be a hundred-year-old street. The shops in the street sell specialties which always attract many tourists to buy and it has become a most-visit for many people to visit Alishan. As if entering the time tunnel, the atmosphere is tranquil.