Written by Elissa DeTellis, (George Washington University), Student Correspondent for CET Taiwan, Summer 2022
From mountains covered in mist to dramatic cliffs falling into the brilliant blue ocean,
Taiwan’s geography is incredibly varied and altogether stunning. Although I have barely
scratched the surface in exploring all that this beautiful island has to offer, I want to take a
moment and offer my reflections on my time out of doors.
Me and my friends in Alishan
A monkey in Alishan
Whenever I am out in nature, getting to see wildlife is always a major highlight and
Taiwan did not disappoint. On a trip to Alishan (阿里山), which is one of Taiwan’s most famous forests and parks, I was lucky enough to see a wild monkey on the side of the trail. On another hike, my friends and I spotted wild cows through the mist grazing on the hills around us. There are also more butterflies here than anywhere else I have visited and species of birds that I have never seen before.
My roommate hiking in Yangmingshan
In my opinion, no trip to Taiwan is complete without a dip in a hot spring. After hiking in
Yangmingshan national park (陽明山國家公園) my friend and I relaxed in 八煙溫泉, a gorgeous natural hot spring that is just about a mile trek from the main road. What makes this hot spring so special is that there are both hot and cold springs, with some pools being extremely hot, others incredibly cold, and others where the hot and cold currents mix so you can have a major goldilocks moment and try all the different pools until you find the temperature that suits you best. Additionally, because this hot spring was more remote than other more developed hot springs, you can have a whole pool to yourself and enjoy playing in the waterfalls.
Cows on a CET hike in Fulong
If you’re not much of a hiker or are a certified city girl, fret not there are so many ways to
enjoy being outside in Taiwan besides hiking. For starters there are small parks all over the city that are the perfect place for a stroll. Or my roommate and I, taking a note from the ayis (aunties), learned a line dance in our neighborhood park. You can also use a Youbike, Taiwan’s public bike rentals, for 5NTD (about 15 cents USD!!!) for 30 minutes and take a ride along the river.
However, if you do want to get into hiking for the first time, Taiwan is the perfect place to
do it. Getting to trails, often the hardest part of a hike, is incredibly easy with many trails being easily accessible by public transport. There are even small hikes right in Taipei that you can take the metro to get to. Additionally, every trail I have been on has been incredibly well kept up, but prepare yourself to climb a lot of steps because many trails have significant portions made up of stone steps.
My roommate enjoying 八煙溫泉
One of the most delightful things about Taipei is that despite it being a big city,
there are flowers everywhere. Every apartment has potted plants outside their door or on their balcony and you can even see them on security guard booths like this one. It makes it so easy to enjoy Taiwan’s beautiful flora.
Yes Taiwan is beautiful, as are many places, but the thing that has really left an
impression on me is how friendly and kind everyone I have met while on my adventures has been. Strangers greet me on the trail, they stop and answer my questions about the hike and we encourage each other to keep going with a cheerful, “加油.”
Getting to adventure outside in Taiwan and revel in the beauty of this country, that has
been so welcoming to me, has been one of my most beloved experiences and I am hopeful that if you get the opportunity to enjoy Taiwan’s gorgeous scenery it will be just as impactful.
The view from Jiufen