Alishan National Forest Recreational Area has over 1,400 hectares of land where the majority of it is located at above 2,000 meters above sea level. And Alishan has 36 cypress trees with an average age of over 1,000 years old.
So if you love to hike and want to experience a gorgeous sunrise peeking from the mountains in Central Taiwan, then you must include my two-day Alishan guide to your Taiwan itinerary.
And if you are travelling solo to Alishan, then you will want to keep reading and find out exactly how to travel from Chiayi to Alishan on your own.
Essentially, there are two ways of getting from Chiayi to Alishan: bus and train. In this post, I’ll show you exactly how to take either transportation to Alishan.
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Before you visit Chiayi and Alishan in Taiwan
Before you go start your trip to Taiwan, take a look at my post on all my best tips for travelling to Taiwan. I included a lot of information, including getting a Taiwan prepaid SIM card, transportation around the country, and more.
Here are few additional tips for travelling between Chiayi and Alishan:
- Use EasyCard or iPass (instead of cash) for taking the bus from Chiayi to Alishan. Sometimes the bus company will have promotions where you can get 50% off your bus ride when you use either smartcard.
- If you are not good with long-distance car rides and tend to get motion sickness, bring some gravol or anything that will help. The second hour of the bus ride is pretty dizzying.
- When you arrive at Alishan via bus 7322, the bus driver will give you a slip of paper, which will provide you with a discount for the Alishan entrance fee. Don’t throw the piece of paper away. Hand it over to the counter at the Alishan entrance gate.
How to get to Alishan from Chiayi
However, the easiest way is to travel from Chiayi. At a minimum, stay overnight in Chiayi and start your journey to Alishan the first thing the next morning. But if you have a few days to spare, definitely add Chiayi to your travel itinerary as there are many things to do in Chiayi.
And from Chiayi, there are two ways to travel from Chiayi to Alishan:
- Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus 7322
- Alishan Forest Railway (from Chiayi to Fenqihu) and Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus (from Fenqihu to Alishan)
1. Chiayi to Alishan Bus: Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus 7322
The easiest way to travel to Alishan from Chiayi is by taking the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus 7322. The Chiayi Bus Station is outside of the main entrance of Chiayi Main Station.
- Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus 7322: from Chiayi Bus Station to Alishan
- Time: 2 hours
- Cost: NT$240 (use your EasyCard or iPass)
The journey takes about 2 hours or so where the last hour will be on a windy mountain road. If you have motion sickness (like I do), you may want to take a gravol.
If you want something to eat or pick up some food along the way, all the buses from Chiayi to Alishan make a short stopover at Shizhao for a brief stopover. There are a few local restaurants and a 7-Eleven.
Chiayi to Alishan Bus Schedule: Bus 7322
When you visit the information counter inside Chiayi Station, there is a bus schedule at the information desk (see photo above).
Many buses go to Alishan from Chiayi:
- Chiayi to Alishan (2 hours 30 minutes, NT$240; few buses go to Fenqihu)
- Chiayi HSR to Alishan (2 hours 30 minutes, NT$278)
There are also buses to and from Fenqihu:
- Fenqihu to Alishan (1 hour, NT$98)
- Chiayi Station to Fenqihu (1 hour 40 minutes, NT$175)
Past promotions for Chiayi to Alishan bus
I visited Alishan during the fall of 2019 and there was a promotion for the second half of 2019 where certain buses from Chiayi to Alishan were half the price.
Take a look at the bus schedule above. For the buses that are highlighted in grey, 50% were taken off the regular price if you use your EasyCard or iPass for the bus ride.
Even though this was a promotion in the past, there may be new and upcoming promotions in the future. Keep your eyes peeled while you are in Chiayi!
2. Chiayi to Alishan train: Alishan Forest Railway
The Alishan Forest Railway used to transport timber when it first opened.
Today, it is a transportation system where it takes passengers up the mountain in Central Taiwan. Riding the train is an attraction in itself because it zigzags up the mountain and crosses as many as 50 tunnels and 70 wooden bridges.
And the main line of the Alishan Forest Railway operates from Chiayi Station to Shitzilu Station.
However, the train does not reach Alishan. You will have to get off at Fenqihu Station, which is two stops before Shitzilu Station.
To continue your journey to Alishan, you will have to hop on the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus at Fenqihu (see the previous sections for more bus information).
If you want to travel from Chiayi to Alishan via a train, this is what your journey looks like:
- Alishan Forest Railway: from Chiayi Station to Fenqihu Station
- Time: 3 hours
- Cost: NT$384 (purchase in-person or online)
- Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus: from Fenqihu Station to Alishan
- Time: 1 hour
- Cost: NT$98 (use your EasyCard or iPass)
Chiayi to Alishan Train Schedule: Chiayi to Fenqihu
There are only one train (or three trains during weekends) going from Chiayi Station to Fenqihu Station. Take a look at the train schedule above.
The schedule was photographed from the board inside Chiayi Station. There is also an online train schedule.
While I was in Chiayi (in September 2019), the train was suspended temporarily due to railway damages. And with typhoon seasons in Taiwan, railway services may be disrupted. Make sure to check if the train is operating before planning your trip if you take the train.
Also, it is recommended that you book as early as you can as the train ticket sells out quickly.
2 ways of buying tickets for Alishan Forest Railway
1. In-person at Chiayi Station
You can get your train ticket either from the automatic ticket vending machine inside Chiayi Station (see photo above) or at the counter just on the outside of Chiayi Station.
Tickets can be purchased 12 days before departure date. Pay cash or credit card.
2. Online via Alishan Forest Railway Network Ticketing System
Online bookings can be made via Alishan Forest Railway Network Ticketing System.
Tickets can be purchased 1 to 15 days before departure date. Then either pay online or pay in-person within 2 days at Chiayi Station.
Option: Visit Fenqihu before going to Alishan
If you have time in your itinerary, you can stay a day or two at Fenqihu before moving onto Alishan. The area has many excellent hikes like Ruitai Historic Trail, where you can see the bamboo forest. Other great walks include Mist Trail, Sunset Trail, Tea Trail, Cloud Trail and Sakura Trail.
There are hotels, guesthouses on tea farms in the area. The tea farms grow Alishan high mountain oolong tea, Taiwan’s most famous tea.
And make sure to get the famous lunchboxes at Fenqihu Hotel.
Leaving Alishan: Alishan to Chiayi, Sun Moon Lake and Taipei
Unless you have private transportation prearranged after your trip to Alishan, you may want to think about your transportation options leaving Alishan.
When you leave Alishan, you have three options:
- Return to Chiayi via the same bus (Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus 7322)
- Continue your journey to Sun Moon Lake
- Continue your journey to Taipei
All bus passengers will wait for outgoing buses at the Alishan Bus Station (pictured above) at the Alishan entrance. You can buy your outgoing bus tickets for same-day travel at the 7-Eleven.
Alishan tourist shuttle bus timetable at Alishan Bus Station
The Alishan tourist shuttle bus timetable is above the entrance to the bus station at Alishan. The board is quite big, and it is right above the doorway. It shows the bus schedules for all of the buses mentioned below.
1. Alishan to Chiayi
There are many buses throughout the day going from Alishan to Chiayi Station (bus 7322) and Chiayi HSR Station (bus 7329). You can pay cash or use your EasyCard or iPass.
2. Alishan to Sun Moon Lake
Yuanlin Bus runs two buses per day going from Alishan to Sun Moon Lake. Bus 6739 departs Alishan at 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm, and it costs NT$336. You can buy the ticket at the 7-Eleven at the Alishan bus station, and you can only buy tickets for the same day.
3. Alishan to Taipei
On weekends, Kuo Kuang bus 1835 goes to Taipei from Alishan. Kuo Kuang Bus runs this route on Saturday and Sunday at 11:30 am and costs NT$690.
How will you travel from Chiayi to Alishan?
I hope this post is useful for you to plan your trip to Alishan. The easiest way is to travel to Chiayi first then take a direct bus 7322 to Alishan. But if you want a more scenic way of seeing Central Taiwan, take the train option as it is one of the most scenic trains in Taiwan.
Which one are you going to take? Let me know in the comments below.