The 8 kilometer-long Alangyi Historic Trail 阿郎壹古道 is a path that travels along the wild and beautiful south-eastern coast of Taiwan. The track saddles both Taitung and Pingtung counties.
In ancient times – which are probably not so remote – this path was mostly used by the different aboriginal tribes of the area for trade.
The green panorama west of the trail is filled with steep mountains, thick jungles, high ridges, and deep valleys. Without a doubt, the Alangyi Trail, along the flat pebbled seashore, was the way of least resistance to carry wood, stones, fish, mountain pigs, or whatever else was traded in those days.
Alangyi is located in an environmental protection area, and as such, requires you to get a hiking permit, which you can obtain easily from the Pingtung County official website. Application must be made at least 8 days in advance, and the cost of the permit is a steep 3000NT$. The more people you have in your group, the cheaper it becomes per hiker – simple math! Only 300 people a day are allowed into the reserve.
I walked the Alangyi trail with Ruby, my nephew, and five friends in the fall of 2017. We got extremely lucky with the weather – not a single cloud appeared in the sky the entire day. The mercury hovered around a super comfortable 28 degree Celcius. We were also spared from the relentless, seasonal northeast winds which are so common in this area.
Our group met in the parking lot near the southern trailhead at Xuhai 旭海, 2 vans picked us up (2000NT$ each) and drove us to the northern trailhead in Nantian 南田. The trail can be hiked both ways. Some people say it’s better to do it from south to north in order to keep the best views at the end, I say hike with the wind in your back – just my opinion…
The Alangyi trail is more accurately classified as an easy walk, and it can easily be completed under 3 hours by most hikers, although 4-5 hours is more normal if you’re going to take rests and snap lots of pictures along the way.
The highest point is Guanyin’s Nose 觀音鼻, a 150m-high wooded hill, which is easily ascended along a well-trodden but steep path with fixed ropes on the northern slope. The rest is just flat, easy, and somewhat boring. At one point I wondered why anyone would pay 3000NT$ just to walk on a beach – something which can be done for free pretty much anywhere else along the East Coast of Taiwan.
Rang Rang – Our Paiwan Guide
Our “guide” Rang Rang, a man who belongs to the Paiwan aboriginal tribe, was a nice addition to our group, and he generously shared a few stories with us about his childhood and aboriginal life in this part of Taiwan.
Rang Rang is one of the most experienced guides (so he said) and he walks the Alangyi trail around 20 times per month. Considering he’s been doing this work for 10 years, we came to the conclusion that he’s walked it more than 2000 times!
When I asked him if he still enjoyed walking the Alangyi trail after so many times, he ironically said: “喜歡！I like it! It’s a good place. There’s no Chinese people from the mainland here. They don’t come to Alangyi, it’s too hot for them.”
When I mentioned all the plastic bottles and trash scattered along the beach, he casually said this was a relatively new phenomenon: “There was almost no trash here when I was a kid. Lately, there is more and more, but it’s ok, I can learn new languages by reading the labels on all the bottles that arrive from all around the world.”
Best time to hike Alangyi
Our guide made it very clear that only mad people hike this trail during summers as it is unbearably hot from June to August and there’s very few shaded spots along the way. Winter is also not recommended due to the strong northeast winds 東北季風. Spring and fall are the best seasons to hike in this area.
Alangyi Trail Map
If you wish to apply for a permit for Alangyi, you can check this website. I would highly recommend that you ask someone who can read and speak Chinese to arrange all the paperwork for you. It’s usually much easier and faster to have a local Taiwanese resident do the application.
For beaches, nothing beats Kenting. For waterfalls and great road trips, you don’t want to miss Manzhou, and for a bit of history, good restaurants, and a cool Sunday night market, make sure to check out Hengchun.
Accommodation Near Alangyi
I recommend Wild East Guesthouse in Manzhou Township, in the heart of Kenting National Park. This B&B is the perfect basecamp to plan your adventures around the southern tip of Taiwan.