Some of the most beautiful places in Taiwan are quite unknown, hidden, and really off the beaten track. Aowanda National Forest is such a place.
Cool things about Aowanda
- Awesome elevated hiking paths among pristine forests.
- Easily accessible waterfalls.
- Not as crowded as Alishan and Ching Jing Farm.
- It’s not too far from Taichung City, not too deep in the mountains, it’s one of the least remote National Forests.
- The drive is extremely nice and offers beautiful mountain views.
- When the Aowanda reservoir is full, the turquoise water offers memorable photo opportunities.
- Clean air.
- One of the best spots in Taiwan for bird-watching.
- Tons of bugs, some snakes, monkeys if you’re lucky…
- The area is one of the most popular places in Taiwan to see autumn colors – there are quite a few maple trees all over the place.
- Cherry blossom and pine trees can also be seen here.
The best way to get here is by car or scooter. If you have your own wheels, you can stop wherever you want to snap pictures. The road to Aowanda is without a doubt one of the finest road trips in Nantou County.
From Puli, take provincial highway #14 toward Hehuanshan and Taroko Gorge. After about 40 minutes, you will reach Wushe 霧社 in Renai Township. There, you will see an obvious road sign that says Aowanda 奧萬大, turn right onto road 投83 (Da An Road 大安路). From there, drive along the west side of Wan-ta Reservoir in beautiful and thick forest scenery, until you reach a fork, at Gaoping Road 高平路. Head east from there all the way to the park entrance.
For a fantastic (and adventurous) road-trip, on the way back, you can take Gaoping Road back to Puli. It’s quite long (nearly 2 hours) but the views are very nice and the road is super enjoyable – especially on two wheels!
Eating / Restaurant
The Feng Hong Restaurant (Red Maple) 楓紅餐廳 near the visitor center offers healthy and delicious Taiwanese set meals for pretty cheap. Here’s a picture of what I had last time I visited…
Accommodation / Camping
There is a campground at the junction of Da An Road and Gaoping Road, on the southwestern side of the reservoir. Check the map on this page.
Name in Chinese: 藍瑪司露營地
There is another campground in the park near the suspension bridge, but the reviews aren’t that good and it seems it’s often closed.
I have received reports, and heard stories throughout the years, that it is also possible to pitch a tent by the river at South Creek Hot Spring, at the southeastern end of the valley.
Hotel / Resort in Aowanda
The Green Resort Village is the only accommodation available inside the park. Two kinds of rooms are available: in the main lodge, or your own little wooden cabin. Reserve in advance on weekends at 049-2974519.
Here are prices for weekdays:
Cabin: 2 people-2300$, 4 people-3600$, 6 people-5200$
Green Resort: 2 people-1900$, 4 people-3600$
Red Resort: 2 people-1500$, 4 people-3600$
The other options you have for accommodation are Lushan, Chingjing Farm, and Puli. These three destinations have tons of hotels, motels, and guesthouses. You can check availability / room rates and reserve a bed from this form on HotelsCombined: