Your Complete Guide to
Yushan (Jade Mountain)
Yushan, or "Jade Mountain", is the hardcore brother of Alishan and one of the best places to hike in Taiwan.
At 3952 meters, Mt. Jade is the highest peak in Taiwan, and offers serious hiking, serious views and serious snow (one of the only spots on the island to get a glimpse of the white stuff).
Alishan-goers are families who take trains to the peaks to watch sunsets and are then catered back to the bottom. Yushan offers few such conveniences, but we expect that might just be your thing.
Make a reservation at a hotel in Alishan if you plan on spending a night near Jade Mountain.
Yushan is in many ways a hiker's paradise for its ruggedness, undeveloped tourist industry and relative lack of competing travelers. In spite of all that, the trails are still well-maintained and well-labeled, so it's not as if you're roughing it on your own in the middle of the Himalayas.
The Yushan area contains five peaks, simply labeled "Main Peak" and one each for North, South, East and West. The Main Peak is the highest (though not by much) and the most popular. The mountain lies just east of Alishan, and contains some of Taiwan's most distinctive flora and fauna. A trip to the Taipei Zoo might uncover some of the same species, such as the Formosan Black Bear.
Supposedly, Yushan's name comes from the jade-like reflection that bounces off of the mountain's peaks when they are covered with frost.
Yushan Practical Information
Facts About Jade Mountain in Taiwan
Yushan is lacking in the kinds of tourist attractions and gimmicks that you might find in Alishan, and really if you're not there for hiking there's little to no reason to go.
Getting a Mountain Permit
Your life will be easier if you apply and get a hiking permit for the Yushan trails. I have climbed Yushan twice without a permit (once through Batonguan, once at night from Tatajia) but I don't recommend it this way as you could be in trouble if you have an accident and you will be turned back if you get caught by the people who work at the cabin.
Applying for the Yushan National Park permit is a pretty easy process IF you have a Taiwanese person who can do it for you. It can be done online, via the electronic registration website found here: http://mountain.ysnp.gov.tw/english/index.aspx.
If you are an independent traveler who doesn't have the required time to go through the entire application process, well... euh... just forget about it, go climb another mountain! Just kidding! Read on, there is a way to legally climb Mt. Jade and I'll explain it in a second.
Getting a mountain climbing permit in Taiwan can be a real pain in the ass!
Yushan Main Peak
The highest and most popular, Yushan's Main Peak is where hikers of all stripes have ascended to either catch the sunrise or to simply take in the great views and say they made it. If you're looking for the sunrise, don't worry, you won't have to hike through the night. From the start of the main peak trail, you'll meander up for several hours until reaching the Paiyun Lodge, where you can spend the night. From there it's another three hours or so to the peak.
Yushan Peaks Trail
One day, one peak, the official trail that provides a tour of the Main, North, South, East and West Peaks takes five days to do and is the choice for the comprehensive and thorough hiker. You'll be staying at the aforementioned Paiyun Lodge and Yuanfeng Camp Ground as your two bases of operation.
Batongguan Japanese Era Crossing Trail
Again the Japanese colonialists make an appearance. This trail was built by them to improve transportation between the East and West of Formosa. It offers some of the most scenic views in Taiwan. The trail is a lengthy endeavor; it will take you about a week in total.
Getting Around the Yushan Area
As you may have gathered by now, basically the only way to get anywhere or do anything in Yushan is to hike. Some of the trails are not particularly short - getting from the beginning of the main peak trail at Tatajia Anbu to Paiyun Lodge is around 8.5km, so make sure your legs are up to the challenge.
Food / Eating / Restaurants
Not many options here. Load up on trail-appropriate foods and lots of water before embarking on any long journeys. Don't expect to be able to buy snickers at the Paiyun Lodge - hiking in the Central Mountain Range of Taiwan ain't like in Nepal where you can buy food at every little hut.
Do not leave food containers (boxes, cans, bags) on the trail. Pack everything back with you. I repeat, please, DO NOT leave anything behind.
Sleeping on Yushan / Accommodation
Again, don't look for any luxury on Yushan Mountain. Refer to the maps and trail information about the location of lodges, and be prepared for some non-heated, high-altitude sleeping quarters. If you decide to bring your tent and do some camping, remember that the weather on Yushan can be very cold, even in summer, so a three-season tent (which keeps the warmth inside the tent and has a stronger structure) is advised.
Find hotels (kind of) near Yushan Mountain
The three following places (Alishan, Tainan, and Chiayi) are the closest where you can find decent accommodation like guesthouses, hostels, and hotels.
Hotels in Alishan - Hotels in Tainan - Hotels in Chiayi
Getting To Yushan National Park
Getting in and out of Yushan is a bit of a challenge but determined explorers won't have a problem. Shuttles in the early morning take you from Alishan to the beginning of the Yushan main peak trail. On the other hand, you could rent a scooter and ride from Chiayi, through Alishan and to the Tataka Recreation Area. Keep in mind that there are no buses or trains back from the Alishan train, so you'll need to continue to Dongpu to get out.
How to get from Taipei to Yushan
If you want to travel from Taipei to Yushan, the easiest way is to first take the normal train (TRA), fast train (HSR), or bus to Chiayi. Then from Chiayi, you can make your way to Alishan, which is quite close to Yushan.
It's pretty much the same process if you want to travel to Yushan from the following cities in Taiwan: Taichung, Kaohsiung, Hsinchu, Taoyuan, Hualien, and Taitung.
I wish you a safe trip to Yushan in Taiwan!
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