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Hiking Syue Mountain – Taiwan’s Second Highest Mountain

Syue Mountain, Taiwan

After our last trip to Taiwan, when we said that we wanted to return and tackle some of the 3,000 meter peaks – we meant it! We narrowed our choice down to two mountains: Jade Mountain (3,952 meters / 12,966 feet) and Snow Mountain (3,886 meters / 12,749 feet). Jade Mountain is the tallest mountain in Taiwan, Snow Mountain is the second tallest.

We chose Snow Mountain (aka Syue Mountain, Xue Mountain, Xueshan, Hsuehshan, 雪山) because we liked the flow of the logistics utilizing public transportation and because we wanted to visit and spend extra time at Wuling Farm, the starting point of the Snow Mountain hike in Shei-pa National Park. We were able to take a bus to the Wuling Farm Visitor Center and not need any further transportation other than our feet! This itinerary also allowed us to camp two extra nights (pre-hike and post-hike) in the beautiful Wuling Farm Campground.

Pre-Trip

Permits – You need two permits for this hike:

  • National Park Headquarters Park Entry Permit (free) – National Park Permits can be applied for 7 to 30 days in advance. You cannot apply for one at Wuling Farm.
  • National Police Agency Mountain Entry Permit (free) – Mountain Entry Permits can be applied for on the spot at the Wuling Farm National Park Police Station (this is what we did). You will receive guidance from the National Park once your National Park Permit is approved if you want to apply for your Mountain Entry Permit online. Keep in mind that you still have to present your permits at the police station prior to starting your hike. Important: you need to have an emergency contact in Taiwan to list on the permit.

The number of permits issued is limited to the spaces available in the huts. The huts on this hike are Qika Hut (2 kilometers from the trailhead) and Saliujiu Hut / 369 Hut (7 kilometers from the trailhead). There is no charge for staying in either Qika or Saliujiu Hut.

Our 3 day, 2 night hiking itinerary was submitted and approved for two nights at Saliujiu Hut (369 Hut):

  • Day 1: Trailhead – East Peak – Saliujiu Hut
  • Day 2: Saliujiu Hut – Main Peak – Saliujiu Hut
  • Day 3: Saliujiu Hut – East Peak – Trailhead

Taipei Hotel Reservations – The night before we headed to Wuling Farm, we wanted to be within walking distance of gear stores for outfitting our trip and the bus station for our early morning departure (before the MRT starts operating). We chose Sunrise Business Hotel, located a stone’s throw from Taipei Main Station Exit Z10 – it was perfect! For our post-trip two nights in Taipei, we chose to return to the familiar 9ine Hotel.

Wuling Farm Campground Reservations – The Wuling Farm Campground Reservation System is in Chinese only. I was able to use Google Translate and setup an account to make reservations for the night before and after our hike. For each night booked, my credit card was charged NT$390 / 13 USD (30%) of the per night NT$1300 / 43 USD rate. We paid the balance in cash upon check-in.

GPS – We used Google Earth to locate the GPS coordinates of important landmarks, waypoints, and destinations. We entered the coordinates into MapFactor.

Day 1 – Taipei (Provisioning)

After clearing immigration at Taoyuan International Airport:

  • We recharged our EasyCard at the Airport Electronic Ticketing Joint Service Counter. In addition to the ease and time savings of using the EasyCard for transportation, there is a 20% discount when taking the metro compared to single trip ticket fares. You can also use EasyCard in designated stores for purchases.
  • We purchased a Chunghwa Telecom SIMs Card at the Chunghwa Telecom counter for safety and communication during our hike. We selected the 7 day pass package for NT$500 / 16.5 USD. This package includes unlimited data and NT$150 / 5 USD credit for voice calls. Note: The SIMs card will not have coverage everywhere on the mountain during your hike, but you do have coverage in Wuling Farm.

To get into Taipei from the airport, we took the new Taoyuan Airport MRT to Taipei Main Station (NT$160 / 5.25 USD), simply tapping our EasyCard for payment. The Express train takes about 40 minutes; the Commuter takes about 50 minutes. Taipei Main Station, located 250 meters west of Taipei Railway Station, is the terminus of the Taoyuan Airport MRT in Taipei.

From Taipei Main Station we took Exit Z10, turned right, and walked to Sunrise Business Hotel (NT$2424 / 80 USD). After checking into our hotel and dropping off our bags, we headed back out to get our supplies. We made three stops:

  1. The strip of outdoor gear stores on Zhong Shan North Road (located near Taipei Main Station Exit M7) to purchase stove fuel and a map of the Snow Mountain hiking area.
  2. Jasons Market Place in Q Square Mall to purchase groceries for our trip. It is on the same floor as the food court.
  3. 7/11 across the street from our hotel to purchase water (no reason to carry it farther than we have to!) and a lighter.
Taipei, Taiwan
The outdoor gear stores on Zhong Shan North Road.

The gear stores are very comprehensive and have everything you could possibly want for hiking and mountaineering!

Taipei, Taiwan
This is the gear store where we purchased our stove fuel and map.

The waterproof map is very good, but it is in Chinese only. We simply used a ballpoint pen to mark the locations in English for quick reference. The map times listed for completing sections of the trail were almost to the minute what we experienced.

Syue Mountain, Taiwan

Provisioned for our trip, we went to bed to rest for our very early bus ride.

Day 2 – Taipei to Wuling Farm

We took two separate buses to reach Wuling Farm:

  1. From Taipei Bus Station (Q Square 4th floor), we took the Kamalan bus #1915 (NT$137 / 4.5 USD each) to Yilan (1-1.5 hours).
  2. From Yilan we took the Kuo-Kuang bus #1751 (NT$306 / 10 USD each) to Wuling Farms (3 hours).

While there are many Kamalan buses per day from Taipei to Yilan, there are only two Kuo-Kuang buses per day from Yilan to Wuling Farm (the Yilan to Lishan bus with a stop at Wuling Farm):

  1. The morning bus departs Yilan at 7:30 AM and arrives at Wuling Farm at 10:30 AM.
  2. The afternoon bus departs Yilan at 12:40 PM and arrives at Wuling Farm at 3:40 PM.

Three Kamalan buses (4:35 AM, 4:55 AM, and 5:20 AM) leave Taipei in plenty of time to catch the first bus to Wuling Farm. We decided to catch the first bus at 4:35 AM, both to give us time to explore Yilan, and, more importantly, to give us two additional opportunities to catch the morning bus to Wuling Farm if there were any problems or delays.

When you exit the bus in Yilan at the Yilan Bus Station, you will need to walk the short distance to the Yilan Transfer Station to purchase a ticket to Wuling Farm. There is even a nice covered walkway to follow.

Yilan, Taiwan

At the Yilan Transfer Station, the attendant did not speak English and did not recognize “Wuling Farm”. We used the map that we had printed from the Wuling Farm website to show her the Chinese characters in order to purchase our tickets.

Yilan Transfer Station - Yilan, Taiwan
Yilan Transfer Station waiting area.

The bus between Yilan and Wuling Farm offers spectacular scenery. The mountain road is very windy and in parts extremely rough. If you are prone to carsickness, it would be wise to take Dramamine before the bus ride!

Entering Wuling Farm, the bus will stop for you to depart and pay the park entrance fee (NT$160 / 5.25 USD per person).

After arriving at the Wuling Farm bus stop (located at the visitor center), we started our 5.5 kilometer uphill hike to the campground. After 1 kilometer, we reached the police station and we stopped to get our Mountain Entry Permit. The process took about 15 minutes.

This is where we inquired about the water supply on the trail and at the huts. While there is a sign at the trailhead that indicates water availability, that would have been too late for us to purchase additional water to carry! We treated all water on the trip.

The walk to the campground was very pleasant with awesome scenery, perfect weather, and many areas of interest to explore. We especially enjoyed reading and learning about the critically endangered Formosan landlocked salmon.

Wuling Farm, Taiwan

We arrived at Wuling Farm Campground in the early afternoon and checked in. The campground is very nice!

Wuling Farm Campground, Taiwan

The tent provided was basic, but sufficient. The tent platform has one outlet on the outside where you can charge a phone or camera. We noticed that Taiwanese campers “in the know” brought a power strip that allowed them to run multiple appliances.

Wuling Farm Campground, Taiwan

Note: There are monkeys at the Wuling Farm Campground and at Qika Hut. Watch your belongings and food!

We turned in early so that we could get a very early start on our hike. We would have an additional 2 kilometers of uphill walking added to our hike since we still had to get to the official trailhead!

Day 3 – Snow Mountain Hike

We started our hike at 4 AM and the sky was literally dirty with stars! Each day on this trip we started hiking in the dark with headlamps. Make sure that you bring extra batteries.

We reached the Trailhead Service Station well before the office was open. We simply wrote the date and time on one copy of our permits and deposited them into the drop box.

Syue Mountain, Taiwan

Here you will also find the sign with water information.

Syue Mountain, Taiwan

Once you pass the entry gate, the hike officially begins!

Syue Mountain, Taiwan

This is an extraordinarily high-quality hike. It is difficult, it is steep, and it is beautiful!

Syue Mountain, Taiwan

On the way to Saliujiu Hut, you can do a quick detour to East Peak, allowing you to bag two of the Top 100 Peaks of Taiwan on this trip.

Syue Mountain, Taiwan

Make sure that you bring sunscreen for your face and hands. There are many exposed areas with no shade.

Syue Mountain, Taiwan

In the afternoon, we reached Saliujiu Hut, where we would spend two nights. The accommodations provided are very basic. Bring your own cooking equipment, sleeping pads, and sleeping bags.

Saliujiu Hut - Syue Mountain, Taiwan

We booked very early and had bunks 1 and 2. One thing that I did not anticipate, and do not know if there is a workaround, is that the bottom bunks are odd numbers and top bunks are even. We had to sleep stacked!

Saliujiu Hut - Syue Mountain, Taiwan

The view off the porch is stunning and a great place to relax and rest for the next day’s hike.

Saliujiu Hut - Syue Mountain, Taiwan

There is a kitchen area for food prep and tables for eating. The majority of the hikers were on guided trips and at certain times the kitchen became very busy with large groups. Even at the busiest times, however, people were very friendly and always made room for us to cook and have a place to sit down.

Saliujiu Hut - Syue Mountain, Taiwan

We turned in at 8 PM in order to get a very early start on the summit the next day. The guided trips start getting everybody up and ready at 2 AM in order to get to the summit in time to watch the sunrise. We wanted to be a couple hours after them, so we planned on getting up at 4 AM. We had packed sleeping masks and earplugs, and it made all the difference in the world! I initially tried to sleep without them – it did not work. You have people arriving late and setting up their sleeping area, people getting up to go to the bathroom, people talking, and then at 2 AM, entire groups gearing up for the summit…

Day 4 – Snow Mountain Hike

We had another beautiful day to start our hike. While we weren’t at the peak to watch the sunrise, we did get to watch it from our vantage point on the trail.

Syue Mountain, Taiwan

The trail on the way to the summit is simply spectacular.

Syue Mountain, Taiwan

The summit of the second highest mountain in Taiwan!

Syue Mountain, Taiwan

We spent over an hour at the summit, enjoying the 360 degree views above the clouds before retracing our steps to Saliujiu Hut.

Syue Mountain, Taiwan

Day 5 – Snow Mountain Hike

We rose at 4 AM to reach East Peak in time to watch the sunrise over the mountains and clouds.

Syue Mountain, Taiwan

We arrived back at the Trailhead Service Station, wrote the time and date on the second copy of the permits, and submitted them to the ranger on duty.

Syue Mountain, Taiwan
Trailhead Service Station

Our hike completed, we headed back to Wuling Farm Campground for a relaxing last evening in the mountains!

Day 6 – Wuling Farm to Taipei

There are two buses daily from Wuling Farm to Yilan: 9:10 AM and 2:10 PM. We rose early and walked back to the Wuling Farm Bus Stop to catch the 9:10 AM bus #1751 (NT$306 / 10 USD each).

To take a different route back to Taipei, we exited the bus in Yilan on Guangfu Road (many people will probably exit the bus here) and took the train (NT$211 / 7 USD each) to Taipei Main Station. If you miss the Guangfu Road stop you can walk from the bus station the short distance to the train station.

Yilan Train Station - Yilan, Taiwan

From Taipei Main Station we took the MRT to Daqiaotou Station and walked the very short distance to our hotel – 9ine Hotel (NT$1870 / 62 USD per night).

For our celebration dinner, we took the MRT to Xiangshan Station and walked to NOLA Kitchen, a great restaurant that we discovered on our first trip to Taipei. We had delicious New Orlean’s style Jambalaya before capping the night off with a pleasant walk through Zongqiang Park.

Day 7 – Taipei

Another repeat from our previous trip, we decided to give our feet a rest and soak in an onsen! We took the MRT to Xinbeitou MRT Station and, before heading to Beauty Age Hot Spring Resort (NT$990 / 31 USD for 2 hours) for our rejuvenating soak, we stopped for some photos at Beitou Geothermal Valley (Hell Valley) (free).

Beitou Geothermal Valley (Hell Valley), Taiwan

Day 8 – Taipei

We checked out of 9ine Hotel and returned to the airport via the MRT.

We had a fantastic time on our Snow Mountain hike. We were very much in need of an outdoor adventure, and this was just what the doctor ordered! The hiking in Taiwan is spectacular. I hope that we get to return and enjoy many more of the amazing Taiwanese Mountains.

Trip Details

  • Time of Year: October 2017
  • Length of Stay: 8 Days, 7 Nights
  • Total Trip Cost – 2 People:  720 USD*
  • Cost Per Day / Per Person:  45 USD*
  • Visa Information: U.S. citizens are granted 90 days visa-free entry, Bureau of Consular Affairs

*Excluded from the cost analysis:

  • International Airfare – International airfare is not included because fares vary depending on your starting location.
  • Travel Health Insurance – Travel health insurance is not included because we have an international policy.

GPS Coordinates:Click to expand

Day 1
Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (Terminal 1) @ 25.081006,121.236674
Taipei Main Station @ 25.048734,121.514231
Taipei Main Station Exit Z10 @ 25.046993,121.513225
Sunrise Business Hotel @ 25.046306,121.513142
Gear Stores @ 25.046462,121.519839
Q Square Mall (Jasons Market Place) @ 25.049464,121.517069
7/11 across from Sunrise Business Hotel @ 25.046833,121.513335

Day 2
Taipei Bus Station @ 25.048571,121.518906
Yulin Bus Station @ 24.752376,121.758750
Yilan Transfer (Bus) Station @ 24.751010,121.759447
Wuling Farms Bus Station @ 24.353552,121.31023
National Park Police – Mountain Permit @ 24.361902,121.310846
Wuling Farm Campground @ 24.380966,121.304847

Day 3
Snow Mountain Trailhead @ 24.386051,121.298703
Qika Cabin @ 24.383507,121.286258
East Peak @ 24.388797,121.271970
Saliujiu Hut @ 24.392313,121.254709

Day 4
Syue Mountain Peak @ 24.383388,121.231726

Day 6
Guangfu Road Bus Stop @ 24.754847,121.756752
Yilan Train Station @ 24.754631,121.757725
Daqiaotou Station @ 25.063199,121.512801
9ine hotel @ 25.062527,121.511505
Xiangshan Station @ 25.032765,121.570354
NOLA Kitchen @25.028452,121.569739
Zongqiang Park @ 25.031795,121.569865

Day 7
Xinbeitou MRT Station @ 25.136931,121.503473
Beitou Geothermal Valley @ 25.138009,121.511548
Beauty Age Hot Spring Resort @ 25.137062,121.510762
click here to collapse

You can copy and paste the latitude and longitude into Google Earth, your browser, or into your GPS.

*Disclaimer- ALWAYS verify locations, transportation routes, GPS coordinates, etc. Errors are made, routes changed, sometimes we are just plain wrong. No one knows what you like more than you. If the trip is worth doing, it is worth doing right! Do your homework.