Hiking Elephant Mountain Taipei for the BEST view of the city!
Taipei is one of Asia‘s best cities to travel in, yet foreign tourists haven’t quite discovered it yet. Perfect! There are lots of things you ‘must’ do while exploring Taipei, like eating ice cream poo in the Modern Toilet restaurant for example, but one thing you mustn’t miss is the hike up Elephant Mountain Taipei. It offers spectacular views of Taipei both at day and night, and it’s a quick, 20-minute hike, easily accessible directly from the city. Check out just how easy it is in my blog post below.
The Xiangshan Hiking Trail; Elephant Mountain Taipei
Officially known as the Xiangshan Hiking Trail, I hiked ‘Elephant Mountain Taipei’ on a weekend, a little hungover after partying at Frank Taipei (awesome bar, check it out when you’re in town). So I was expecting it to be a painful experience. I had heard weekends get pretty packed, but actually, it wasn’t so busy. That being said, it was hot, super hot so be ready to sweat if you’re there in the summer.
The hike itself only took my girlfriend and me (EDIT 2021: Now Fiance!) about 15/20 minutes from the bottom to the top. Add to that the 10-minute walk from the MRT station, the whole experience could easily be squeezed into less than 2 hours, so you absolutely don’t have to allocate a whole day of your Taipei time to it. A morning, or evening is more than enough.
How hard is the hike? Not too hard. I was in flipflops and it was fine. As I said, it’s 15-20 mins, maybe 30 minutes up if you’re a little out of shape, and while it’s pretty steep. There are plenty of rest stops and seats on the way to take a break. I’d recommend taking a bottle of water and a towel, other than that it’s pretty basic.
Which Way To Go on the Elephant Mountain Trek, Taipei?
Once you find the start of the trail and get going, there are essentially 3 spots with good views. Just remember to stay right on the climb. There are other turns, and other hikes, but if you stay right, you’ll reach the view platforms and boulders easily. If you want to hike beyond, without the views, you can do so, but for the epic Taipei views, stay right!
The first stop is a viewing platform after about 10 minutes up, then there’s a selection of boulders that people climb all over for epic pics (like my first pic at the top of this article) and finally, 1 minute beyond the boulders is the main viewing platform, where all the pro-photographers lineup each day!
There’s no ticket necessary for the hike, so you can rock up pretty much any time and actually the night hike is super popular too. Seeing a modern city like Taipei lit up in the dark, with the iconic Taipei 101 standing tall amongst it is spectacular. Hiking before sunset and watching the change is one awesome option if you have time to spare, other than that you could do the hike twice (it’s honestly not so hard), once in a morning and once in an evening. Another benefit of the evening hike is that it’s not so bloody hot!
Anyway, after we came down, we headed on to the MRT system and made our way to the Shilin Night Market, so it was probably the best evening of my trip – 2 really fun (and free!) activities, minus the $1 MRT train ride between the two. To conclude, Elephant Mountain Taipei is top 5, perhaps even number 1, activity in all of Taipei, so don’t miss out.
How to get to Elephant Mountain Taipei hiking trail?
When you hear about the Elephant Mountain Taipei ‘hike’ you assume it’ll take you all day. Getting there, hiking, finding the top etc, that’s not the case with Elephant Mountain Taipei! It’s actually right on the edge of the city, so much that I walked to the entry from my hotel (I was staying at the GORGEOUS Grand Hyatt nearby).
If you’re staying elsewhere in the city, jump on the MRT subway system and head to Xiangshan, the last stop on the red line, and the same stop for Taipei 101. Walkout exit 2, and follow your google map or check out the map below, it’s really easy to find.
The start of the Elephant Mountain Taipei hike.
Do I need Book a tour to Elephant Mountain?
Do you need to book a tour to Elephant Mountain trail? Nope. You can do the entry-level hike completely by yourself. Hopefully, this blog posts helps you do that!.
But I know lots of people prefer to have a guide, especially in countries like Taiwan where people generally don’t speak English. So don’t worry tours are available.
These guys have a great tour where you do the Elephant Mountain Taipei trail, but also a trek further into the mountains to Pinglin (about $85 all-in). Right into the tea plantations. This is a GREAT option if you’re doing a Taipei city break. Because it starts and finishes in Taipei, but you get to experience some of the gorgeous Taiwanese countryside and culture. CHECK IT OUT HERE.
The best photo spot on the Elephant Mountain Taipei hiking trail
The hike can actually go on and on for over an hour, beyond there standard hike, but without the views. But if like me, you were doing the hike pretty much entirely for those epic views, then there are 3 spots. The first viewing platform, followed by the boulders, followed 1 minute later by the second, larger viewing platform. The first spot is the 3rd best of the 3, so move along. Basically, you can get awesome shots of you and the skyline with the boulders. That’s the best shot in my opinion. And then if you’re looking for the best city views, especially at night, the second viewing platform is best for that, without you in the shot.
Elephant mountain Taipei at night
There are 2 sides to the Elephant Mountain hike. Day time and night time. There is no ticket, so you’re pretty much free to go whenever. Lots of people go at sunset to experience both. So allocate yourself 2 hours+ for the sun to go down properly and see the night in all its glory. It’s well worth the wait though, check it out.
Final thoughts on hiking to Elephant Mountain
All-in-all it’s an awesome activity. It even adds a little bit of exercise to your day. I have great memories of my time hiking the Elephant Mountain Taipei and I hope you guys ensure you get to experience in your time there too. You won’t regret the effort, even if it is a little hot and humid! And don’t worry, it’s honestly not too diftficult (it’s not a ‘proper’ trek like these 25 best treks in the world). Even if you’re out of shape, you can take your time and still be rewarded with the best views of the city. Enjoy.
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