The area around the tourist information centre is filled with hotels, shops, restaurants, as well as a post office. Though Alishan is a popular tourist destination, this commercial area still retains its “rustic” charm and there aren’t that many shops & restaurants. All it takes is about 1 hour to finish combing this area. 🙂
The hotels are mostly clustered together and to get to the shopping & dining area, there is a flight of stairs that we need to climb.
There are many shops selling Alishan specialities like its coffee and oolong tea (乌龙茶), there was even 1 selling wasabi coffee! We didn’t dare to try the wasabi coffee, but I did try the oolong tea which was very thick & fragrant. In addition, there is also 7-11 convenience store here, which prides itself as Taiwan’s highest 7-11 (全台最高7-11). I bought the Alishan wooden postcard here & posted 1 home to myself (which I only received on the following day that I reached Singapore). 😉 The post office at Alishan was built like 1 of those buildings from the olden days, a very 古色古香 feel.
On our way up to Alishan from Chiayi, we got to know this Singaporean family of 3 and coincidentally, we met them again on our way to Shenmu, so upon return to Alishan Station, they suggested that we can take a walk to the most expensive hotel at Alishan – Alishan House (阿里山宾馆) (about 1km from Alishan Station), to catch the sunset as it is on higher elevation compared to other hotels. Too bad it was too foggy and we didn’t manage to see the beautiful sunset, but it was still an eye opener to see for ourselves how exquisite the hotel was. We also had a cuppa at its cafe 松庭咖啡 to relax.
After a relaxing time at Alishan House, we went for dinner at Shan Bin Restaurant (山宾餐厅) which was highly recommended by 张姐 at our hotel. It is just located opposite the post office.
Although it was just after 6pm, the sky was already pitch-dark as the sun had set. I took a picture of the restaurant the next morning that’s why the picture looks so bright. 😛 Anyway we ordered the highly recommended trout (鳟鱼), which the restaurant aunty served us in steamboat form (火锅), as well as steamed trout (蒸鱼) in black bean sauce with beancurd. I think this was the first time that I tasted trout, but it was a good try as the fish was very fresh & tasty. The restaurant aunty even gave us a complimentary plate of stir-fried cabbage (though I thought it was too hard hehe).
I would highly recommend visitors to Alishan to try this restaurant, as it is reasonably priced for a good quality meal. We only paid NTD550 for a satisfying dinner (about S$23.40), think it’s quite hard to get such a price for fish in Singapore. Coincidentally, another Singaporean couple that we would meet the next day for Sun Moon Lake tour were also at this restaurant & they had the Stone Steamboat (石头火锅) which was recommended by their minsu owner, and they felt it was quite good too.