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Jiufen - Taroko - Sun Moon Lake - Alishan

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
12 posts
7 reviews
Jiufen - Taroko - Sun Moon Lake - Alishan

Hey all! I'm planning a 2-week trip to Taiwan in October and I'm working on my itinerary. After a few days in Taipei I'd like to do the Jiufen-Shifen-Pingxi trip but not as a day trip. I'm thinking of sleeping 1 night at one of those places before renting a car and head to Taroko. Would that make sense? I heard the coast in a nice drive. Any insights on which of these places would be best to spend the night?

After Taroko I'd like to go to Sun Moon Lake (probably 2 nights) and then to Alishan area (probably 2 nights as well). I assume I'd have to drive through the mountains. The train doesn't seem like an option - Google tells me the train ride between Taroko and Sun Moon Lake would be over 10 hours, and 4+ hours from Sun Moon Lake to Chiayi. I'd rather drive... Do you know if one-way car rental is possible in Taiwan (pick up in Jiufen-Shifen-Pingxi, drop off in Chiayi)?

Here's my full itinerary so far if you're interested to know, or have any feedback ;o) ... Thanks!!

Day 1: Late Arrival - Sleep in Taipei

Day 2: Explore Taipei (Sleep in Taipei)

Day 3: Explore Taipei (Sleep in Taipei)

Day 4: Explore Taipei (Sleep in Taipei)

Day 5: Daytrip Jiufen-Shifen-Pingxi Jiufen (Sleep in Taipei OR sleep in Jiufen, Shifen or Pingxi)

Day 6: Pick up rental car and drive the east coast down to Taroko (Sleep in Taroko area/ Hualien)

Day 7: Explore Taroko Gorge (Sleep in Taroko area/ Hualien)

Day 8: Drive through mountains to Sun Moon Lake (Sleep in Sun Moon Lake)

Day 9: Explore Sun Moon Lake area (Sleep in Sun Moon Lake)

Day 10: Drive to Alishan Area/Chiayi - Drop off rental car (Sleep in Alishan Area/Chiayi)

Day 11: Do the Sunrise Train / Explore Alishan (Sleep in Alishan Area/Chiayi)

Day 12: Morning train to Tainan / Explore Tainan (Sleep in Tainan)

Day 13: Morning train to Kaohsiung / Explore Kaohsiung (Sleep in Kaohsiung)

Day 14: Continue to explore Kaohsiung / Take evening train to Taipei (Sleep in Taipei)

Day 15: Departure

Edited: 09 June 2018, 03:23
8 replies to this topic
puerto princesa
Level Contributor
8,157 posts
449 reviews
1. Re: Jiufen - Taroko - Sun Moon Lake - Alishan

Train is not an option to get from Taroko to SML as the train only goes round the island and not through the middle. Last year i tried to go from Hualien to SML but we had to turn back due to rain and an avalanche so be prepared with an alternate plan. The road from Taroko to SML passes over 3000m and there are gates on the road which are closed during the bad weather.

DAY 6 --- better to stay in Hualien and enjoy some great food at the night market.

In SML i preferred to stay at the less crowded Itathao(Ita Shao) than Shuishe as it was smaller and quieter. There is a street near the pier that has many food stalls with local food to try. Also there is free traditional dancing, morning, afternoon and early evening. Just ask at tourist info by the pier for the schedule. It is only 3-400 m from the pier and a very good show.

Paris, Canada
Level Contributor
7,873 posts
20 reviews
2. Re: Jiufen - Taroko - Sun Moon Lake - Alishan

We did not rent a car so I can't help with your car questions but I do think one-way car rentals are possible. But I don't know if you can rent a car in Jiufen. Also, I think you would have to drop the car off in Chiayi after you visit Alishan. If you like to hike you might want another day in Taroko. It would have been nice to have time for hiking as well when you drive from Hualien to Sun Moon Lake (maybe stay two days in Taipei instead of three). You will pass Hehuanshan and Cingjing. When we were there in November it was clouded, foggy and rainy at Hehuanshan but hopefully the weather will be nice for you. It depends on your interests of course but I would prefer a day in the mountains to a day at Sun Moon Lake. You can also go by bus from Hualien to Sun Moon Lake. That would take a whole day. I believe you would have to take a bus to Dayuling, then a taxi (if available) or hitchhike (not hard in Taiwan) to Tsuei-fong, then a bus to Puli and then a bus to Sun Moon Lake (hopefully others will correct me if I am wrong). At Sun Moon Lake we also stayed in Ita Thao (in November several food stalls were open but not all and there was no dancing). We liked it but preferred the view from Shuishe.

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
12 posts
7 reviews
3. Re: Jiufen - Taroko - Sun Moon Lake - Alishan

Thanks for the feedback! ;)

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
12 posts
7 reviews
4. Re: Jiufen - Taroko - Sun Moon Lake - Alishan

@SoniaToronto Thank you! How did you go to Taroko and Sun Moon Lake. Did you take that bus trip between Hualien and Sun Moon Lake? Or did you leave from Taipei to go to both locations?

Paris, Canada
Level Contributor
7,873 posts
20 reviews
5. Re: Jiufen - Taroko - Sun Moon Lake - Alishan

We had 3 weeks so we did a circular tour: Taipei, Taichung (Lukang), Cingjing and Hehuanshan, Sun Moon Lake, Alishan, Tainan, Kaohsiung, Taitung, Hualien and Taroko, Taipei.

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
12 posts
7 reviews
6. Re: Jiufen - Taroko - Sun Moon Lake - Alishan

So between Sun Moon Lake and Alishan did you take a bus? hired a driver?

Paris, Canada
Level Contributor
7,873 posts
20 reviews
7. Re: Jiufen - Taroko - Sun Moon Lake - Alishan

Bus. We did everything by train, bus and we hitchhiked a few times. We had bought tickets for the 8 am bus to Alishan the evening before. You can buy tickets near the visitor center in Shuishe (350 NT). There are only two buses a day (8 am and 9 am). We got off at Tataka but it is 3.5 hours or so to Alishan.

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
12 posts
7 reviews
8. Re: Jiufen - Taroko - Sun Moon Lake - Alishan

Cool thanks! I think I'll try the car rental option but from Hualien instead, after visiting the gorge. That way I can check the weather and see if it is even possible to cross the mountains. If not I'll just take the long way around via Taipei in train/bus.

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