Located in Chiayi 嘉義 in Southern Taiwan, Alishan is Taiwan’s most visited National Park. Aboriginal Taiwanese or 原住民 have lived in the area for centuries, but development in Alishan took off after the Japanese established the Alishan Forest Railway in 1912. Originally there were three lines, Shenmu 神木, Zhushan 祝山, and Mianyue 眠月. However, the Mianyue line closed in 1999 due to earthquakes. Starting from 2017, avid hikers can apply with Taiwan’s Forestry Bureau for a spot to hike Alishan.
The first step in preparation to go to Mianyue is to apply with the Forestry Bureau’s Nature Reserve Application System at the link here. If you cannot read Chinese, I recommend you grab a Taiwanese friend and have them help you. The page has Google Translate, but we all know how well that works. This is a crucial step because the guards will definitely check who’s correctly applied. Make sure you give yourself ample time because time slots fill up fast.
When you’re ready to go, just head over to Chiayi. I took the TRA or 火車 to the Chiayi station. Feel free to check out the nearby Wenhua Road Night Market. On the day f the hike, I took the 7322 bus all the way to the Alishan Visitor’s station. It was just a couple of hours, but the roads were pretty rough so be careful if you get easily car sick. There is also a palpable change in altitude so altitude sickness may also be a problem. The visitor’s station has a 711 (of course) so feel free o stock up on snacks for the road.
When you’re on your way in, and you’ve spoken to the guards, just keep following the path. You can ask/look around for the e-us tour service or 遊園導覽服務. If you buy a ticket, it’ll take you deeper to where the trail actually starts and you can save a lot of time. Be careful, however, because there are specific cut-off times. Just look for little green buses.
After you’ve gotten off the bus, make your way to the entrance (tracks) and start your hike. Essentially, you’re going to be following the now-defunct Mianyue tracks as far as you want to hike. You’ll pass many old structures, old tunnels, and the best part, sketchy-looking bridges. Unfortunately for us, we woke up way too late and couldn’t make it to the sketchy bridges section. We had to hastily make our way back so we could catch the last bus back to Chiayi. In the near future, I’ll (hopefully) be updating this post with much more information and pictures.