Taipei, as the capital city of Taiwan, is probably the most-visited destination for travellers to the country. Not only is Taipei the gateway to other parts of Taiwan, with major international flights landing at the nearby Taoyuan International Airport, the capital city is known for its busy shopping streets & of course lively night markets for mouth-watering street food. However, since it wasn’t our first time to Taipei, I thought of doing something different from the usual eating & shopping. Coincidentally, through a Singapore TV travelogue series screened earlier this year, I got to know about Xiangshan (also known as Elephant Mountain), where visitors could grab cool views of Taipei City, 183 metres above sea level.
After some research online, I found that Xiangshan is actually quite a popular tourist destination in Taipei, & many visit it for the mesmerizing sunset/ night views of the city skyline. But to reach the top, one would need to climb countless stairs. That prompted me to seek alternatives for Xiangshan, preferably 1) not as touristy, & 2) easier to climb. 😛 So, when I stumbled upon write-ups of Taiwanese bloggers sharing about their experiences on Hushan (also known as Tiger Mountain), which belongs to 1 of the peaks of the Si-Shou Public Forest (aka Four Beasts Public Forest), I was excited. The “four beasts” includes Xiang (elephant), Hu (Tiger), Bao (Leopard) & Shi (Lion), with the latter two not really suitable for novice hikers like us.
While instructions on how to get to Hushan weren’t as clear as Xiangshan, & even a check with the Taipei hotel management proved fruitless as they didn’t even know of Hushan’s existence, the “stubborn” streak in me decided we must check it out. So with notes of the best online directions to Hushan that I could find, we made our way towards our virgin hike in Taipei. 🙂
How To Get There 交通指南
There are a few buses to get to Hushan, including bus #257 that stops at Taipei Main Station (Zhongxiao). Although the bus will bring us directly to the bus stop nearest Hushan (alight at Fude Elementary School), we didn’t know how long it would take since bus travelling times is subject to traffic conditions as well. So here’s the route we took:
1. Take the MRT to Taipei 101/ World Trade Centre Station (Red Line towards Xiangshan).
1. 乘搭捷运到台北101/ 世贸大楼站（超红线的象山站去）。
2. Leave the station at exit 3. There is a bus stop about 1 min walk from the exit (walk along the same road but against the traffic) where we could board either of the 2 buses: #88 or #207. We took #88 as it was the first bus that came along.
2. 从台北101/ 世贸大楼站3号出口，步行大概1分钟（就沿着道路走，但与往来的车子反方向），搭乘88号或是207号巴士就能抵达。由于88号巴士先到，所以我们就上车了。
3. Alight at Fude Elementary School bus stop, 6 stops away (for bus #88). After alighting, just walk along the road & we could see a temple entrance with the Hushan trail directional signage, right next to the 7-11 convenience store.
Actually, we weren’t 100% sure of the best route, in terms of time & convenience before the hike. All I knew was we needed to get to Fude Elementary School bus stop, & we could transfer to a bus from either Taipei 101/ World Trade Centre MRT station or Taipei City Hall MRT Station to get there. But my sixth sense told me it was more worthwhile to go to the former as we would be nearer to Hushan, & if we couldn’t find the right bus stop, just grab a cab. 😛
Upon exiting the gantry at Taipei 101 station, we were happy to see a tourist information centre right in front of us. Thinking this would be the best place to confirm where we should board the bus to Hushan, we asked 1 of the staff. Here’s how our conversation went:
Me: Hi, could you please let us know where can I board the bus to Hushan?
Staff: You should go to Xiangshan MRT instead, 1 stop away.
Me: (shocked) Erm… but I am not going to Xiangshan, we want to visit Hushan.
Staff: (bewildered) Erm ok… Why don’t you visit Xiangshan?
Me: Because Xiangshan is too crowded with tourists (can’t believe a tourist info centre staff is asking such a question)…
Staff: Oh (still giving the unbelievable shocked look)… OK let me check for you how to get there.
😳, both of us were very surprised that even for staff stationed at the tourist info centre, Hushan sounds so foreign to them. 😭 But I guess, this also meant Hushan is indeed off the beaten tourist path haha. Nonetheless we made it eventually to the trail, which was not as difficult to get to as others had claimed. 😉
During the hike 登山的过程
Located at the eastern border of the Taipei Basin, Si-Shou Public Forest is a popular hiking route which is part of the Nangang Mountain. The start of the trail is an easy one as you can see from above pic, gently sloping stone path lined with big tall trees on both sides. In fact, if you can read the Chinese text above, the hiking trail has been labelled as “leisure” category, burning about 250 calories per trip. Let your eyes do the walking as you follow my pics below of the entire journey up to Hushan Peak. 😉
We had only hiked for about 15 min in the Hushan Nature Trail, but were already panting by the time we reached Four Beast Square. Oops… I wonder why bloggers have been saying this trail is an easier hike compared to Xiangshan’s, when there were also a lot of steps to climb here?! 🤔 But what was true about Hushan trail was that, we didn’t see anyone else throughout the 15-min hike, i.e. it wasn’t as crowded as Xiangshan. Not sure if it was partly because it was a cloudy weekday evening or not
Only at Four Beast Square did we see a few locals, either resting in the pavilion or doing some stretching at the fitness corner. We approached a lady to confirm we were on the right track to the peak. While assuring us that we were on the right track, she was curious where we were from as we didn’t sound local. After knowing where we came from, she commented “Wow! So brave of you! First time to Taipei on your own & venture to Hushan!” Haha we didn’t clarify it wasn’t our first Taipei trip, nonetheless, it felt good hearing a local affirming our off-the-touristy-path choice. 😛 Then we continued happily up another series of long flight of wooden stairway again…
Right in front of this “100m ahead” marker was a pavilion where we could catch our breath before continuing. By then, we were both drenched, partly because it had started to drizzle & the hike up was a real workout for us haha. While there was no one else we saw, we had lots of undesirable “companions”, i.e. the mozzies! Although I’m usually not the mosquito’s priority target, I had already found several bites on my body despite spraying lots of mosquito repellent (specially bought in Taiwan & I used up half a bottle!) to combat the infamous little black mozzies. So don’t say I never warn you, come prepared with mosquito repellent, but be prepared to still get bitten though. 😛
Fortunately the 100m trail to the peak was up & down some stairway along a gentle slope, so it wasn’t too strenuous. We were the first to reach the peak around sunset, with a local couple joining us at the raised platform shortly. Despite an exhausting, & sometimes scary (due to large dogs appearing & barking, fighting mozzies etc) journey, it was definitely rewarding to witness the awesome sunset views of Taipei City, albeit through dark & thick clouds. There was nothing obstructing our view atop Hushan Peak, & we could see the towering Taipei 101 clearly with its vibrant neon-lit colours.
After switching my camera mode to handheld night scene, this was what I managed to capture:
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[6月19日|偶阵雨☔的傍晚] 流了很多汗,喂饱不少蚊子,耗尽不少体力,终于爬上#虎山峰 。 上#虎山 换来这一迷人的#臺北101 #夕陽西下 的景色。。。这就是所谓的一份耕耘一份收获吧!❤❤❤☺ #臺灣的夏天 Lots of perspiration, lots of mosquito feeding, depleted a lot of energy, just to ascend to the peak of #tigermountain in #taipeicity. It feels rewarding to catch a glimpse of #taipei101 atop the city with mesmerising sunset view. ✌ #taiwansummerholiday2017 #iseetaiwan @discover_taiwan #travelblogger #travelfinds #awesometravelmemories #nofilters
It was a fascinating evening hike up Hushan, but we couldn’t stay long at the peak, because it became pitch-dark after the sun had set around 6.45 pm. We had to quickly get down before it turned even darker. Besides, we didn’t want to continue feeding the powerful mozzies here! There were 2 ways to get out, either via the same route we came from, or the opposite way down a long flight of stone stairway with no lights. Heeding the advice of the friendly couple whom we met there, we thought it would be safer to go back the same route we took earlier as it was nearer the road where cars could access. At least there would be street lamps along the sloppy road.
Along the way down the mountain, besides a handful of cars possibly driving up to catch beautiful night views from Hushan Peak, there were at least 10 large wild dogs, barking at us the moment they saw us! 😥 Gosh, I was scared stiff but I knew I had to remain calm. Thankfully my friend was beside me & we managed to brave through to get back to the start of the hiking trail. I wonder if it was my chant “good dogs don’t block the road” that helped to miraculously made these dogs clear the path for us? 😅
Post-hike thoughts 虎山游记感想
Including little breaks to catch our breath & take photos, the entire hike up to the peak at leisurely pace took about 50 min. The walk down was slightly faster around 30 min. Although Hushan Peak is even lower than Singapore’s highest Bukit Timah Hill, the triumphant feeling I got upon “conquering” the peak was much more. Hushan is situated right in the affluent Xinyi district so the feeling of being surrounded by nature, but so near yet so far from the bustling streets of Taipei was awesome. Just remember to come armed with mosquito repellent, water and strong torchlight (you need that for the walk down the mountain after sun has set!).
Experience it yourself the next time you visit Taipei & you will know what I mean. Happy hiking! 🙂