As a small island nation in the Pacific Ocean, Taiwan has some of Asia’s most beautiful natural scenery, both above and below water. When visiting Taiwan, take a breather from the lively cities and explore any (or all!) of the nine national parks in Taiwan. From towering mountains to lush rainforests to coral reefs abundant with fish and other marine life, visiting Taiwan’s National Parks are indeed a must-see during your Taiwan trip.
Not only will you see breathtaking views, such as some of the tallest mountain peaks in Asia in Yushan National Park, from the largest marble canyon in the world at Taroko National Park, but you will also get to explore the surrounding areas and cities, learning about the history and culture behind each park.
- National Parks In Taiwan
- How To Visit Taiwan’s National Parks
- 9 National Parks In Taiwan
- 1- Yangmingshan National Park
- 2- Taroko National Park
- 3- Yushan (Jade Mountain) National Park
- 4- Kenting National Park
- 5- Taijiang National Park (台江國家公園)
- 6- Shei-Pa National Park (雪霸國家公園)
- 7- South Penghu Marine National Park (澎湖南方四島國家公園)
- 8- Dongsha Atoll National Park (東沙環礁國家公園)
- 9- Kinmen National Park (金門國家公園)
National Parks In Taiwan
How To Visit Taiwan’s National Parks
All of Taiwan’s National Parks can be reached via public transportation, with the High-Speed Rail (HSR) on the west coast and Taiwan Railways (TRA) on both the east and west coasts.
The HSR only operates on the west coast because the east coast of Taiwan is too mountainous to have a high-speed train, and the TRA on the east coast travels significantly slower than the HSR, making it a safe mode of transportation on the east coast.
The TRA is also more affordable than the HSR, so if you are looking to save money you can still take the TRA on the west coast. HSR round trip tickets can reach up to 3000 NTD, while TRA ticket prices vary on destination but are less expensive than HSR tickets.
You can also take long-distance buses if you are travelling on a tight budget, but the trains are faster and more convenient.
- Private Yangmingshan Volcano Tour – fantastic experience!
- Taroko Gorge Day Tour – discover nature from Taipei by train.
- Taiwan Multi-Day Classic Tour – explore Taiwan with a guide.
- Kenting Taiwan Diving-Snorkeling Experience – aquatic adventure.
- Kaohsiung departure: One-day tour to Kenting National Park – discover the best of nature.
9 National Parks In Taiwan
1- Yangmingshan National Park
The closest national park to Taipei City, Yangminshan (shan means mountain in Chinese), is incredibly convenient and a great getaway from the busy hub of Taiwan’s capital city.
This national park was originally called “Grass Mountain” during the Qing Dynasty.
Qing Dynasty officials gave this name because, during this period, they were worried about thieves stealing sulphur from the rich sulphur deposits on the mountainside, so they regularly set fire to the mountain, making it only possible for grass, and not trees, to grow.
Yangmingshan spans both Taipei and New Taipei cities but can be reached via Taipei city’s MRT.
Besides beautiful grassy plains, Yangmingshan National Park also has active volcanic sites such as hot-air vents, which you can visit safely.
You will be able to see (and smell) sulphuric vents and even boiling puddles of mud.
You can even visit the resident water buffalo and take pictures while they peacefully graze.
This National Park has 10 hikeable peaks, including Taiwan’s tallest dormant volcano, Seven Star Mountain (七星山).
All the peaks can be hiked in a single day, taking about 12 hours, but conquering this feat is only recommended to experienced and prepared hikers.
Individual trails can take 30 minutes to 1.5 hours, depending on how far you want to go.
After your hike, relax at the base of Yangmingshan’s mountain range in Beitou and soak in some hot springs.
Beitou has numerous hot springs to choose from, ranging in price from inexpensive public ones to more luxurious private hot spring resorts.
Due to its convenient location, beautiful views, and proximity to hot springs, Yangmingshan is a must-visit National Park while in Taipei.
First, take the MRT red line to Jiantan station to get to this national park. Take the Red 30 or 208 bus from there, which will bring you to the national park’s entrance.
At the entrance, you can either walk to the different stops on the mountain or you can take another bus specifically used to get around the national park.
You can use your public transit Easy Card for all MRT and bus fares.
Top tour: Private Yangmingshan Volcano Tour.
2- Taroko National Park
Taroko National Park is in Hualien County on the east coast of Taiwan and is also a convenient trip away from Taipei City.
Hualien is famous for Taroko Gorge, the largest marble canyon in the world.
Hike throughout the gorge and see towering marble cliffs, waterfalls, the turquoise Liwu River, and mountain-to-mountain suspension bridges.
If you love swimming in crystal clear water, you should also check out the Mugua River Gorge, with its beautiful forest, waterfalls and blue waters.
To get to Taroko National Park from Taipei, you can take the TRA to Hualien Station or Xincheng Station and then transfer to Taroko Route 310 Bus to the Taroko Visitor Center stop.
You can also take the TRA to Xincheng Station and transfer using the Hualien County Bus 302 to the Taroko National Park stop.
You can also go to these train stations from Hualien City to pick up the buses to Taroko National Park.
Taroko can be done within a day from Taipei, but since you may feel rushed doing so, staying a night in Hualien City is recommended.
If you are visiting Hualien, reserve a full day in your itinerary to explore the park!
Taroko National Park covers 1,200 square miles, rises to 3,700 metres (12139 ft) above sea level, and is 90% mountains, making it a perfect hiker’s destination.
The trails, such as the very accessible Lushui Trail (綠水步道) and the Shakadang Trail (砂卡噹步道) along the clear waters of the Shakadang Stream, are all well-maintained and are suitable for beginner hikers and people who want to see the park at their own pace.
Not only will visitors and hikers see beautiful marble cliffs and over half of Taiwan’s flora and fauna species, but can also learn about the Park’s Indigenous culture.
Taroko National Park is home to the Indigenous Truku (太魯閣族) people whose village you will pass (but cannot enter) along the Shakadang Trail.
The Truku people are known for their weaving, Patasan, or facial tattoos.
They follow gaya, the ancestral rules, and ancestral spiritual ceremonies are central to their practices.
About 32,333 Truku people are living in Taiwan, mainly in Hualien and were not recognised as a Taiwanese Indigenous group until 2004.
Top tour: Taroko Gorge Day Tour from Taipei by Train.
3- Yushan (Jade Mountain) National Park
Yushan National Park is stunning, with over 30 peaks more than 3,000 metres in height (9842 ft), covering 3% of all of Taiwan.
It features the tallest mountain in Taiwan and the fourth tallest mountain on an island in the world, Jade Mountain, which stands at a lofty 3,952 metres (12,965 ft).
After the Japanese colonisation of Taiwan ended, the area around Jade Mountain was designated to be a future national park, but it wasn’t until 1982 that it officially gained national park status and, in 1986, opened its first national park headquarters.
The park is free to enter, but many hiking trails require permits, so it is recommended to plan your trip and apply for the necessary permits early so that you can hike breathtaking trails in this national park.
The permit for the hike to the tallest peak, Jade Mountain, is highly sought after and getting the permit is not guaranteed so please plan far in advance if you want to do this trail.
Since the elevation in some of the trails is relatively high, it is also recommended to come prepared with the necessary cold-weather clothing, footwear, food and water and to be aware of the symptoms and medicine required for altitude sickness!
Because Yushan has so many hiking opportunities, visiting the nearest visitor centre is best to get information and recommendations from the national park guides.
The centres are Shuili, Nanan, Meishan, and Tataka, and information on each centre can be found on the official Yushan National Park Website as well as trail conditions.
The most accessible park centre to reach via public transit is Shuili.
Getting there: You can take the TRA directly to Shuili Station and walk about 12 minutes to the park centre.
Take the Chiayi County Bus to Alishan from Chiayi City and then a taxi to Tataka Recreation Area, or take Yuan Lin Bus [6739 Sun Moon Lake – Alishan Route] at the Alishan National Forest Recreation Area, get off at the Upper Dongpu Station in Tataka Recreation Area.
Register entry permits at Paiyun Mountaineering Center and then take the paid shuttle bus or walk to the trailhead of the saddle of Tataka.
From Nantou, you can take the Yuan Lin Bus [6739 Sun Moon Lake – Alishan Route], get off at the Upper Dongpu Station in Tataka Recreation Area, register entry permits at Paiyun Mountaineering Center and then take the paid shuttle bus or walk to the trailhead of Tataka Anbu (Saddle of Tataka).
Even if you only want to hike for a day, spending a night near Jade Mountain or even in one of the mountain’s campsites is recommended and should be booked well in advance.
4- Kenting National Park
Kenting National Park is the first national park in Southern Taiwan.
The park sits at the southern tip of Taiwan and has beautiful white sandy beaches to relax on, mountains to hike, waterfalls to swim in, and cool caverns to explore.
You can also take surfing lessons while visiting the beaches and even snorkel or scuba dive in Kenting’s beautiful coral reefs.
Kenting National Park is the perfect destination for combining relaxation with fun hikes and water activities.
Because Kenting is a bit far from big cities like Kaohsiung, spending a few days exploring the beaches and mountains in this national park is recommended.
Getting there: The easiest way to get to Kenting is from the Kaohsiung HSR or TRA station. From there, you can take the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle bus (NT$401 one way; NT$650 roundtrip from HSR station; NT$341 one way from the TRA station).
You can also take the Kenting Express Bus (9189) from the Kaohsiung HSR station. Travel time between Kaohsiung and Kenting will take approximately three hours, and it is recommended to pre-book a Kenting Shuttle Bus ticket in advance.
If you are taking a shuttle bus, pay attention to the stops near where you are staying. If your hotel is in South Beach, get off at the Nanwan stop.
If you are staying near Dawan Beach or along the main Kenting Street, you can either get off at Kenting Arch, Kenting Police Station, or Xiaowan, depending on where your accommodation is located.
While you can take public transportation to reach the park, it is recommended to rent scooters to make travel within the park more convenient.
To rent scooters (or cars) in Taiwan, you will need an international driver’s licence, which can be obtained from your home country.
If you are in a group, renting a car or taxi would be the most convenient option for your trip.
Even though Kenting is not as convenient to get to from large cities as some other National Parks, it is still a must-see destination during your Taiwan trip, especially if you love the ocean and water activities such as snorkelling, scuba diving, and surfing.
- Kenting Taiwan Diving-Snorkeling Experience
- Kaohsiung departure – One day tour to Kenting National Park
5- Taijiang National Park (台江國家公園)
Taijiang National Park is near Tainan in southern Taiwan.
This seaside sanctuary for fish, mammals, crustaceans and birds is also a nationally protected wetland area.
The park also features salt flats which used once to be a part of Tainan’s salt industry.
Now it is a popular spot for sunset photos, where the sky is reflected in the salt pools, making you feel like you are floating.
The most famous protected bird, the Black-faced Spoonbill, is also a popular attraction for photographers.
The National Park even has a conservation centre dedicated to this bird, so if you are an avid bird watcher or are interested in learning more about native wildlife, be sure to check it out.
Taijiang National Park covers 39,310 hectares (97,137 acres)from the Yanshui River to the Zengwen River that flows through Tainan City.
Of this area, the Black-faced Spoonbill Reserve and Cigu Lagoon covers 4095 hectares (10118 acres).
The sea portion of this national park spans from the Yanshui Estuary in the south to the Penghu archipelago, covering 34,405 hectares (85,016 acres).
This water route was the main passage for early Han settlers from China, crossing from Tungchi Island to Luerhmen in Tainan.
This area used to be known as the Sicao Wildlife Refuge, and in 2001 the local government decided that it should be turned into a national park.
The National Park Planning Committee finally approved the local government’s application and it became Taijiang National Park in 2009, making it Taiwan’s eighth national park.
Taijiang National Park seeks to protect the wetlands’ biodiversity and historic salt and fishing culture.
Getting there: To get to Taijiang National Park, first, go to the historic ancient capital of Tainan.
Go to the TRA Tainan station from the city and take the Anping Taijiang Route 99 (Holiday Route) Bus to the Taijiang National Park Administration stop.
6- Shei-Pa National Park (雪霸國家公園)
Shei-Pa National Park spans Miaoli, Hsinchu and Taichung Counties. This national park has the second-highest mountain in Taiwan – Xueshan (Snow Mountain).
If you miss snowy winters, you must visit this incredible spot to see snow in tropical Taiwan.
Snow Mountain stands at a lofty 3,386m (8367 ft) high and is stunning in wintertime.
Snow Mountain requires multiple days to explore, camping or renting accommodations and a permit to hike.
Besides Snow Mountain, Shei-Pa is full of flowing rivers, quiet creeks, peaceful forests, beautiful mountain peaks and deep valleys, and various plant and animal life.
You may even see the famous Formosan bear if you are fortunate and quiet.
When visiting this national park, you can find accommodations in Miaoli or Heping District in Taichung County.
Getting there: You can reach this park from any major city on the western coast of Taiwan, such as Taipei, Hsinchu, Taichung, Chiayi, Tainan, or Kaohsiung.
Take the HSR to Miaoli HSR Station from any of these cities. From there, ride the hourly Express 101B bus heading toward the Wenshui Visitor Center. The journey should take around 30 minutes.
From the Wenshui visitor centre, you will need a car to reach the Xuejian and Ganwu Recreation Centres and to reach each of these destinations requires over an hour of driving.
The Wuling Recreation Centre is the only of the three that can be reached via public transit but requires transferring between multiple buses. From the Taichung HSR station, take Bus 153, (850, or 207 from Fengyuan Railway Station) to Guguan.
From Guguan or Fengyuan, take Bus 865 (which operates infrequently) in the morning and then transfer to Bus 866 at Lishan to arrive at the Wuling Recreation Farm.
7- South Penghu Marine National Park (澎湖南方四島國家公園)
South Penghu Marine National Park rests offshore the Penghu Archipelago and is an excellent destination for people who want to explore off of mainland Taiwan.
This national marine park is an excellent spot for snorkelling or scuba diving, with over 250 species of fish swimming around the coral reefs, including 28 newly discovered species.
You can even go dolphin or whale watching.
Migratory birds like terns can also be seen on the islands.
The marine park includes the islands of Dongjiyu, Xijiyu, Dongyupingyu, Xiyupingyu, and other smaller islets and surrounding waters.
The islands feature interesting basalt landforms, including beautiful columnar basalt formations.
To get to Penghu, take a ferry from Chiayi, Kaohsiung, or a plane from Taipei or Taichung.
Penghu is stunning, and besides having a protected marine national park, it also has a lot of interesting history and culture, making it a must-visit destination.
Plan at least three full days to explore Penghu’s beautiful islands and life below water.
8- Dongsha Atoll National Park (東沙環礁國家公園)
Dongsha Atoll National Park can be found on Pratas Island north of the South China Sea, about 400 kilometres (249 miles) southwest of Taiwan’s Kaohsiung Cijin District.
This circular atoll has an area of 353,668 acres (143,124 ha), including the 12-nautical mile sea territory.
Dongsha Island sits on the west side of the atoll, with a lagoon in the centre of this circular formation.
Dongsha Atoll National Park is Taiwan’s first marine national park and the seventh national park overall.
This atoll is special because it features a unique circular atoll shape, amazing coral reef systems, a seagrass bed ecosystem, and coral sand islands.
This special habitat is home to sickle-fin lemon sharks, squid, jellyfish, fish, crustaceans, and other marine life.
This stunning marine park can only be reached by boat and is not easily accessible.
9- Kinmen National Park (金門國家公園)
If you are a history buff who loves nature, this is the national park for you! Kinmen National Park is, you guessed it, on Kinmen Island, way off the west coast of Taiwan in the Taiwan Strait below China.
Kinmen Park was established in 1995, the sixth national park in Taiwan, and has 8717 acres (3,528.64 ha) in area.
Kinmen is known for its historical significance during the Chinese civil war between the Nationalists and Communists.
The Kinmen National Park was given national park status to protect not only wildlife but also this history and to give visitors a glimpse into the area’s wartime past.
Besides being a historical centre of Taiwan, Kinmen National Park is also one of the best places for birdwatching in all of Taiwan.
The Eurasian otter is also a protected species in this park.
This national park also features beaches, four hiking trails on Taiwu Mountain, numerous mountainside temples, and even a network of tunnels used during the civil war. To get to Kinmen, take a plane from Taipei.
These nine National Parks are truly natural and historical gems of Taiwan.
Make your visit to Taiwan more enriching by visiting one or all of these national parks, and take in the fantastic scenery and natural life this island has to offer.
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