Long-time travelers tend to prefer the off the beaten path places while focusing on the downsides of famous places. Typically it sounds like the following: Machu Picchu was incredible except for the lines and crowds. I loved Akgkor Wat except for all of the tourists and vendors. The beaches were beautiful it was too hard to get a photo that didn’t include someone with a selfie stick. I am not innocent in this. My favorite places are those with longer hikes or a little off of the beaten path but I have also been to Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat and they are incredible places and I loved my time there.

The most famous waterfalls in Taiwan obviously pale in comparison to Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat but they get dismissed in the same way. For example only one of these waterfalls will be in My Favorite Waterfalls of Taiwan list (more focus on the hike or swimming possible) published later this year but there is no denying that they are spectacular. There are a few waterfalls that compare from a physical and beauty standpoint but they are located in rather remote areas and don’t get the same tourist numbers.

Ten Easy Waterfall Hikes in Taiwan

This list is part of a 5 year project that I have been working on. During that time I have visited and added over 100 waterfalls in Taiwan to my waterfall guide. Earlier this year I posted a list of Ten Easy Waterfall Hikes in Taiwan. This list is similar to that since most of the roads and hikes to all ten of these waterfalls are in good condition and anyone is able to visit them. They are mostly located in northern and central Taiwan. There are several great waterfalls in southern Taiwan but they aren’t as well known and some of them are very isolated.

Some other waterfalls that were considered. Lover’s Gorge Waterfall is one of my favorites but it doesn’t seem as well known throughout Taiwan. Liangshan Waterfall is probably the most visited waterfall in southern Taiwan but it lacks the raw size and beauty of those on this list. Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail is very popular among hikers but it doesn’t seem to be as well known overall. Manyueyuan was a consideration for the list but I haven’t been there yet and the waterfalls itself don’t seem to be as famous.

Can you think of any that should be on the list? How many have you been to?

Visit my waterfall guide to see over 100 waterfalls in Taiwan

 

  1. Wufengqi Waterfall (五峰旗瀑布) falls in three separate tiers near Jiaoshi, Taiwan. The bottom two tiers are nice but the highest tier is the special one. The highest tier falls in three streams (if there is enough water) in a lush green bowl. Unfortunately they often close the trail to the highest tier for safety reasons.

Click for directions to Wufengqi Waterfall

2. Xiao Wulai Waterfall (小烏來瀑布) is my pick for the most physically impressive waterfall in Taiwan. The photos don’t really do it justice but it is really big with a high flow. Xiao Wulai is easy to get to but the facilities (like parking) struggle to match the popularity of the place. Xiao Wulai can be viewed from across the gorge, from near the base after a short hike or visitors can go out on a skywalk above the falls. To give you some idea of the scale of the waterfall the skywalk is in photo with 20+ people just above the falls.

Click for directions to Xiao Wulai Waterfall

3. Shanlinshi (horrifically romanized as Sunlinksea in English) boasts two waterfalls on this list. Chinglong (Green Dragon) Waterfall (青龍瀑布) falls over 100 meters into a beautiful turquoise pool. Unfortunately the trail doesn’t go all the way to the bottom of the waterfall but it is a beautiful waterfall.

Click for directions to Chinglong Waterfall

4. Songlong (Pine Dragon) Rock Waterfall (松瀧岩瀑布) is just 5 km away at Shanlinshi but it is a completely different waterfall. This waterfall isn’t nearly as tall but visitors first see an idyllic pond before walking through a large cave next to the waterfall. In addition to the waterfalls there are several nice hiking trails, a botanical garden and a 5m penis totem (link).

Click for directions to Songlong Rock Waterfall

5. Huangjin Waterfall (黃金瀑布) is much smaller than all of these waterfalls but its unique rust color and its proximity to Jiufen make it a very popular destination. Debate continues as to whether or not the color is the result of mining upstream or naturally occurring due to the high mineral content of the area but there is no debate that the water is toxic.

Click for directions to Huangjin Waterfall

6. Shifen Waterfall (十分瀑布) is Taiwan’s most famous waterfall and its most picturesque. You will be surrounded by crowds and concrete but the many little cascades are a stunning sight. In addition to this you can take the train to 4 other great waterfalls along the Pingxi Rail Line. The best is the Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail (三貂嶺瀑布) with three beautiful waterfalls.

Click for directions to Shifen Waterfall

7. Wulai Waterfall (烏來瀑布) is the highest (80m) in northern Taiwan and it was the first waterfall that I took photos of for the waterfall guide. It is located immediately across the Tonghou River from Wulai Village. In addition to hot springs you can also ride a cable car to the top of Wulai Waterfall, rivertrace or go to Neidong Waterfall.

Click for directions to Wulai Waterfall

8. Neidong Waterfall (內洞瀑布) competes with Shifen Waterfall for the most beautiful waterfall in Taiwan. It is also located a few km away from Wulai Waterfall and can easily be combined as a daytrip from Taipei. Unfortunately Typhoon Soudelor devastated the Wulai region and Neidong is closed until they can rebuild the trails and roads.

Click for directions to Neidong Waterfall

9. Taoshan Waterfall (桃山瀑布) is not as convenient to reach as many of the others on this list but it is a very popular hike at Wuling Farm in Sheipa National Park. Not only does the trail lead through a beautiful forest at the base of several 3000+ meter peaks but it is also wheelchair accessible. There is also a chance that hikers will see a Swinhoe Pheasant (photo link) along the trail.

Click for directions to Taoshan Waterfall

10. Taroko Gorge is Taiwan’s most famous national park and Baiyang Waterfall (白楊瀑布) is one of its most hiked trails. Originally the trail was a road for large hydroelectric project but thankfully the idea was abandoned. The hike starts in several hundred meter long tunnel and passes through 7 more tunnels before ending at Water Curtain Cave. Water Curtain Cave is actually another tunnel but it is unique since they hit an underground spring when constructing the tunnel and water pours from the ceiling uncontrollably.

Click for directions to Baiyang Waterfall

Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail is one of the best waterfall hikes in Taiwan. Not only are there 3 great waterfalls on this trail but there almost another 10 nearby waterfalls that can be combined as part of your dayhike. Typically most people start their hike at Sandiaoling Train Station and end it at Shifen Waterfall but I have suggested a different and in my opinion better route in my waterfall guide. Shifen Waterfall looks great in photos but it is filled with mobs of people and the entire area is concreted. The other problem is that if you end your Sandiaoling hike at Shifen then you have to walk through a railway tunnel. I have done this before and it kind of freaked me out (no trains came). It is also very illegal to walk through the tunnels although many do.

Directions for Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail on my guide

Instead I recommend that hikers start at Dahua Train Station. If you have time you can take a short walk down the tracks and view the Dahua Potholes (photo above) at the exit to Yerengu (Wildman Valley). Yerengu was a famous attraction with 4-5 waterfalls until a typhoon wiped it out over a decade ago. I would love it if they were able to open the area up again someday

The red bridge crosses the Keelung River just downstream of Shifen Waterfall and can be reached from Dahua Train Station. This bridge and trail used to connect to Yerengu but now it is the longer version of the Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail.

After the red bridge you ascend almost 1/2 km up what I call ‘The Stairs of Death’. These kind of stairs covered in moss are found all over Taiwan and are probably one of the most dangerous parts of hiking here. I strongly prefer walking up stairs like this instead of down. At least they have installed a railing for part of the route now.

 

After hiking up ‘The Stairs of Death’ you come to the large parking for Yerengu. The gates are locked but you can access a small Tudigong Shrine with a view of Xinliao Waterfall.

The next part of the hike is a mix of roadwalking and small trails until you get near Pipadong Waterfall. You can easily make a few wrong turns between Yerengu and Pipadong Waterfall but hopefully my waterfall guide is clear enough to follow.

Directions for Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail on my guide

Before reaching Pipadong Waterfall you will have to climb down a ladder similar to this one. This ladder was between Pipadong and Motian Waterfall and has been replaced with a metal staircase. I don’t think it would be fun in the rain but it looks scarier than it actually is to use.

Pipadong is the first waterfall that you will reach if you start at Dahua Train Station. The water falls over an impressive overhang and there is a small pool below. The water isn’t very deep but this is probably the best swimming opportunity although there are some nice pools downstream of Motian Waterfall.

At Pipidong Waterfall you can see potholes being hollowed out. The rocks are stuck in the holes and during heavier rains they move around in the hole. These potholes are everywhere in the Pingxi area.

The rope-log ladder might have been replaced by metal stairs as shown below but that doesn’t mean that it is an easy trail between the two waterfalls though. Overall it isn’t that difficult but some might be comfortable hiking here. The trail from Sandiaoling Train Station to Motian Waterfall is quite easy to hike and doesn’t involve any ropes or ladder climbing. That is an excellent option for those that are less confident in these situations.

Motian Waterfall is frequently called Sandiaoling Waterfall but there actually isn’t a Sandiaoling Waterfall. The trail is named after a local village and the 3 waterfalls have different names.

At Motian Waterfall you can hike in a small cleft in the rock wall behind the waterfall. Here is a rare photo of me.

There are two cool rope bridges pass over small streams near Hegu Waterfall.

There might be some old trails that lead to the top of Hegu Waterfall but most only see the waterfall from the viewing platform. One improvement is that your view isn’t as obstructed as much at the viewing platform as before and you can see most of the lower tier at Hegu Waterfall.

My version of the hike ends at Sandiaoling Village although for most it starts there. The old school has been turned into a small museum. There are bathrooms at the school and some snack and drink vendors are now in Sandiaoling on the weekends. Don’t expect much but several years ago there was nothing to buy in the village.

Directions for Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail on my guide

I have been lucky enough to spend part of the last 3 years traveling around Taiwan with Richard Saunders while he researched his latest book. I like to consider myself resourceful when it comes to finding unknown places but Richard frequently took us somewhere not even on my radar. And every time it would be an incredible experience. The book is now complete and everyone can experience the places that Richard has shown his group of Taipei Hikers.

Update (June 7th) – I still have a few copies of each book available in Kaohsiung and can meet with you. Just leave a comment or contact me personally if you know me.

Richard Saunders is best known for leading hikes with the Taipei Hikers FB group and his previous hiking guides. He currently has four additional guidebooks for sale. Taipei Escapes Vol 1 and Vol 2 each include 20 day hikes and 10 day trips that can be done from the Taipei Area. Yangmingshan – The Guide contains 41 hikes (not duplicated in Taipei Escapes) all over Yangmingshan. And in 2013 he completed his Islands of Taiwan book. This is THE BOOK that you want if you are traveling to any of Taiwan’s outlying islands. It not only contains all of the travel information that you want but a countless amount of history and little known facts about the islands.

Taiwan 101 Essential Sights, Hikes and Experiences on Ilha Formosa is a departure from his previous guides that focused more on hiking. Overall the two volumes contain 101 different chapters about Taiwan. Volume One contains Northern and Eastern Taiwan while Volume Two focuses on Southern and Central Taiwan. They contain information on the unusual cultural experiences like the Mazu Pilgrimage, the Wang Ye Boat Burning and Foguangshan. There are several chapters devoted to historical cities like Keelung and Tainan. Some readers might not be as interested in travel themselves so they will focus on the extensive Taiwan history that is presented in the book in addition to the best museums on the island. Hikers will of course not be disappointed with the information on Taiwan’s National Parks, high mountain hiking and other famous hiking trails in the book.

If anyone wants to make a bucket list of places to visit while in Taiwan or if the want to learn about Taiwan then this is your guidebook. I haven’t even been to half of the places (I counted about 40) that Richard wrote about and I am sure that some think I have been everywhere. My to do list just got a lot longer.

Richard will be distributing the books at Daan Park in Taipei personally on Saturday, May 28th.  You will also be able to meet Richard in Taipei (usually at an MRT station) and buy books if you cannot meet this weekend. For those living elsewhere in Taiwan you can email Richard (richard0428@yahoo.com – that is a zerofourtwoeight in the email) and arrange shipping (for a small additional fee). Richard will be off on his next adventure (an awesome trip) in a couple of weeks so you won’t be able to buy direct from him during the summer and will instead have to try to find it at Caves or Eslite (possibly in stock there in mid-June).

I will be getting a box of books shipped to Kaohsiung for those that reserve books and distributing them for Richard (at no profit for me). I am planning on distributing books at Aozidi Park (near the MRT) on Sunday 5/29 (no books available 5/29) from 2pm-4pm and Saturday 6/4 from 2pm-4pm. I will get a few extra copies for those that don’t reserve books but please reserve books if you think you want them. If you are unable to meet at Aozidi Park then you can also meet at my apartment (near the Art Museum). Contact me through the Taiwan Waterfall FB page, my personal contact info if you have that or leave a comment and I can email you.

Let me know immediately if you want to pick up some books from myself in Kaohsiung. Contact Richard about books for all other places.

How to get the books:

In Taipei – contact Richard (richard0428@yahoo.com – that is a zerofourtwoeight in the email)

In Kaohsiung and can meet Kirk – contact me (Taiwan’s Waterfalls FB – or leave a comment)

Elsewhere in Taiwan or cannot meet me – contact Richard and arrange postal delivery (a little extra cost) or wait for the books to be sold in Eslite or Caves

Outside of Taiwan – contact Richard

Prices:

Taiwan 101 Essentials – 700/each volume or 1200 if you buy both volumes

The Islands of Taiwan – 450/each (sale price) (also available as an ebook online at Camphor Press)

Taipei Escapes Vol 1 and Vol 2 – 450/each (sale price)

Yangmingshan The Guide – 450/each (sale price)

Here is a photo gallery of some of the trips that I have been on with Richard in the past 3 years. These trips have been an unforgettable part of my Taiwan experience (6 years with many more planned).

Wang Ye Boat Burning Festival, Donggang

Hehuanshan, Nantou

Qufengbi Coastal Trail, Pingtung (note the giant shipwreck has been removed)

The giant trees at Jianxibao, Hsinchu

Guifu Canyon, Kaohsiung

Alanyi Coastal Trail, Pingtung

Maliguang Waterfall, Hsinchu

This is one of the Chiang Kai-Shek vacation homes that Richard visited and gives directions to in the book. Chiang Kai-Shek may be controversial but this is an interesting part of history and some of the homes are really cool. This one is now a hotel in Lishan, Taichung.

Lianyun Waterfall, Chaiyi

 

 

 

I first tried Yaletown Bistro’s (耶魯小鎮 ) fries at the Kaohsiung International Food Festival several years ago. The fries are fresh cut and can be ordered with several different seasonings or sauces (called loaded fries). One thing that sets them apart from most of the expat owned restaurants is that their food is a little healthier. In addition to the fresh cut fries they also have paninis, sandwiches, salads and two new savory rice dishes. I usually order the lemonade (made from squeezed lemons instead of concentrate) but they also have smoothies.

The loaded fries (butter chicken pictured above) are a good option for those that want something more than a snack and less than a big meal.

Kevin and his wife opened Yaletown 4 years ago and it is located between MEGA/FE21 and the 85 Building. They chose the name Yaletown as part of Kevin’s Canadian roots. Yaletown is a trendy Vancouver neighborhood that is known for its nice restaurants. It might be a good idea to use their online reservation system (on their FB page) if you are coming during the peak meal times. There is a parking lot next to MEGA and several private garages in the alley that offer parking (30 TWD/scooter).

The Porchetta Rice is a new addition to their menu. The pesto dribbled on the pork porchetta was a perfect touch.

Location – No. 26-3, Xīnguāng Rd (next to the Family Mart and one block west of FE21)

Prices – 150 to 250 TWD although fries (more of an appetizer) are cheaper

Hours – 11:30 to 8:30 (or 9 Sat/Sun) – closed on Tuesdays

Contact info – 073341257 or 0973013900 – yaletownbistro@gmail.com – Yaletown FB

 

Previous Local Spotlights

ZZyZx Restaurant and Bar

Beast Bar and Grill

303 Kitchen and Bar

Legend’s Lunchcart

Truman’s Motorcycle Repair

Teresa’s Restaurant

Lighthouse Bar and Grill

I haven’t been everywhere yet but here are 10 easy waterfall hikes to do with children or retired parents. There are also great for those that are a little out of shape or who want to have a lazy day. And I know all about lazy days. Let me know if you have done any easy and safe waterfall hikes that aren’t on the list.

I picked several criteria for these hikes.

First, it has to be a hike and I am setting the minimum distance at 2km round trip.

Second, there should be a good trail surface so young, old and less confident hikers are comfortable hiking. Likewise the trails should have minimal rocks, branches and other obstacles even though I really like these natural trails. Another big issue in Taiwan is slippery moss covered surfaces but I think the below list minimizes those surfaces but they are difficult to completely avoid.

Third, there should be modest elevation gain.

Fourth, there should be an awesome waterfall on the hike and this is perhaps the most important criteria.

  1. Shanfong Waterfall is part of Yushan National Park in Hualien. This is part of the much longer Walami Trail (and even longer but currently closed Batonggaun Trail) but dayhikers can hike up to the waterfall or campground (5km one way) w/o a permit. On the drive to Shanfong Waterfall you will pass Nanan Waterfall where many locals swim during the summer.

Click for directions to Shanfong Waterfall

2. Baiyang Waterfall is one of Taroko Gorge National Park’s most visited places. The hike is along an old road that was built for a hydroelectric project that was cancelled (thankfully). The trail gives hikers an introduction to some spectacular high mountain scenery without the effort. Hikers should remember their headlamps (smartphones are adequate but not that great) for the 8 tunnels on the trail. At the end the Water Curtain Cave is a long tunnel that started leaking water and is now a tourist attraction. It is best to check the trail conditions before your trip because this trail is frequently closed (currently closed 4/2016). Trail conditions (link)

Click for directions to Baiyang Waterfall

3. The road to Longgong (Dragon Palace) Waterfall might be challenging with dozens of switchbacks but the hike is incredibly easy. The most spectacular aspect is when the trail continues behind the waterfall and comes out the other side. In addition to Longgong Waterfall there are two additional waterfalls to see. Leiyin Waterfall drops 100’s of meters opposite Longgong Waterfall. Be warned though there are two trailheads to Longgong Waterfall. One of the routes is almost completely flat all the way to the waterfall and the other descends 350 meters of stairs in 2 km.

There is currently (4/2016) trail damage and you can’t walk behind the waterfall but you can see the waterfall as shown below.

Click for directions to Longgong Waterfall

4. Xinliao Waterfall is a very easy and popular hike in Yilan. They first built the trail in 2006 but it was destroyed by a typhoon a couple of years later and then rebuilt in 2009. For those looking for a more natural trail they can also check out the nearby Jiuliao Waterfall.

Click for directions to Xinliao Waterfall

5. Shuiliandong Waterfall is one of my favorites in Taiwan. The hike goes over a REALLY high red bridge in a tight gorge and there is one more even taller waterfall at the end of this gorge. There might be some trail damage but I haven’t been there in 4 years. I think I need to go this summer.

Click for directions to Shuiliandong Waterfall

6. The trail to Maolin Waterfall was destroyed in the devastating Typhoon Morakot 7 years ago.  Nearly every bit of infrastructure in the Maolin and Duona area was also destroyed by that typhoon but they have slowly rebuilt the valley into a popular tourist destination. In 2013 they rebuilt the trail with two impressive suspension bridges back to the waterfall.

Click here for directions to Maolin Waterfall

7. Wuling Farm isn’t the most convenient place to visit but if planned correctly you can see peach and cherry blossoms in the spring, hike through a beautiful cypress forest and visit Taoshan Waterfall. You can also use Wuling Farm for access to some of Taiwan’s best high mountain hikes like Snow Mountain and Wuling Sixiu.

Click here for directions to Taoshan Waterfall

8. Sunlinksea (hate the name – it should be Shanlinshi) Forest Recreation Area has two spectacular waterfalls. Chinglong Waterfall is a beautiful 116 meter waterfall that can be viewed from across the valley. Those wanting to do a few extra (A LOT) stairs can descend to a better viewpoint. Songlong (Pine Dragon) Rock Waterfall is located right next to a shuttle bus stop at the end of the road.

Click here for directions to Chinglong Waterfall

9. Yulan Waterfall used to be a bit of an adventure to access but they have built a wide trail and several bridges for easy access now. The forest on this hike is particularly beautiful and I could have spent hours taking photos.

Click for directions to Yulan Waterfall

10. Yunlong Waterfall is part of one of my favorite hikes in Taiwan. The Batongguan Trail starts in Dongbu Hot Springs, connects to Yushan and if it is ever repaired it can be hiked all the way to the Walami Trail in Haulien. The hike follows a deep V shaped valley with spectacular views. The trail is in good shape and easy to walk but almost the entire trail is next to a very steep cliff and may not be suitable for young children or for those with a fear of heights.

Click here for directions to Yunlong Waterfall

Honorable Mention: I believe Neidong Waterfall is one of Taiwan’s most beautiful waterfalls. Last August the entire Wulai region was devastated by Typhoon Soudelor and it is unknown how long it will be until Neidong Waterfall reopens to the public.

Click for directions to Neidong Waterfall

Some other easy waterfall hikes:

Shuangliu Waterfall in Pingtung

Linmei Shipan Waterfall in Yilan

Qingshan (Laomei) Waterfall in New Taipei

Yuanyang Valley Waterfalls in Hsinchu

Liangshan Waterfall in Pingtung

Qinglong Waterfall (at the Sky Ladder) in Nantou

Longying Waterfall at Fuyuan Butterfly Valley in Hualien

Manyueyuan Rec Area Waterfalls and Yunsen Waterfall in New Taipei (links to Josh Ellis’s blog)

 

Fireflies were part of every summer growing up as a child in Minnesota. Last year someone mentioned firefly season and I realized that I hadn’t seen fireflies for 10 or 20 years. Or that most of my students probably had never seen fireflies. Here is some great information on fireflies in Taiwan from Travelking.

I did a little research and found that there are many great spots to find fireflies in Taiwan but the closest to Kaohsiung is Namasia. I have visited Namasia a few times and in my opinion it is like Maolin or Wutai except there aren’t nearly as many tourists nor has it been developed like those villages. I plan on taking a couple more trips to Namasia this year and eventually I will write a full guide like I did for Maolin and Duona.

The best time to see the fireflies is just after sunset and in March and April. We apparently showed up during a firefly festival and there were busloads of tourists everywhere but that didn’t affect anything (other than eating at a restaurant). We viewed the fireflies on the private property of a friend but there are many places to see them. The most important thing is that it needs to be a light free area.

Taking photos of the fireflies will be difficult. The above photo is a single shot taken on a tripod with a 40mm lens (cropped DSLR). I found the best results to be done at the largest aperture (f2.8 in this case), high iso (12,800) and a long shutter speed (30 seconds). The 30 second shutter speed means that one firefly shows up many times since they light up every couple of seconds. If I go back I will take my 50mm f1.7 lens and experiment with light painting some of the surroundings to create a forest scene.  Here is an article from a fellow (and much more experienced) waterfall guide writer about photographing fireflies.

For now here is a brief overview of Namasia

Xiaolin Memorial

88 Waterfall

Yudashan short hike – potential sunrise spot

Many aboriginal restaurants – recommendation – look for the archer shooting the sun (on the signboard)

Longfeng Waterfall (found on Google Maps) was completely destroyed during Typhoon Morakot – I also haven’t found any other waterfalls yet

Holy Mount Zion

Valas Guesthouse and Campground

Sanmin Fire – probably still there  – It is an eternal flame fueled by some sort of gas vent.

This is an account of Namasia (including Longfeng Waterfall) from before Typhoon Morakot.

Here is another overview of Namasia from before Typhoon Morakot.

I am sure that I am missing many things but there isn’t a lot of English information about Namasia available.  Do you know about any other places in Namasia?  Are there any other blog accounts (in English) that you like about Namasia?

Maolin was the first area that I explored on motorcycle when I moved to Taiwan 6 years ago. I knew about Typhoon Morakot but I had no idea just how severe it was or how much things had changed. I moved to Taiwan months after Typhoon Morakot but I didn’t know just how devastating it was for many of the aboriginal villages in southern Taiwan. Almost every bridge was taken out in Namasia, the entire Southern Cross Island Highway (parts still closed), Maolin and Wutai (among other places). In addition to that villages were washed away (mostly evacuated) and one village was completely buried (Xiaolin – not evacuated).  Altogether over 600 people likely died and the rebuilding continues today.

Duona was just a dreary ghost town with a couple of basic convenience stores selling snacks on my first visit. Fast forward a couple of years and Duona’s main street is packed with busloads of tourists on weekends and a dozen of stylish restaurants and businesses lining the main street. I have seen the reconstruction of numerous bridges on my various trips. Many of the trails to the sights below have been built in the last 3-4 years and they are so much easier to access.  Things have changed so much for the area and I love going back every time.

My goal is to explore every hidden corner of Taiwan and there will no doubt be even more spectacular places but Maolin will always be a special place because it is where the exploration started. It is also a pretty awesome place with many things to do.

Are there any places that I have left out?  What are your favorite places in Maolin and Duona?  

  1. Maolin is best known for its purple butterflies. There are many places in the world where butterfly migrations pass through yearly but there are only two (known) overwintering valleys in the world. One is in Mexico and the other is in Maolin, Taiwan. The numbers of butterflies have declined but with a little luck you can find swarms of butterflies along the Zishalishi Butterfly Trail in Maolin Village. Before hiking the trail there is a visitor center which explains the significance of the butterfly migration.

Click for directions to Maolin’s Purple Butterfly Valley

2. Lover’s Gorge Waterfall is the most popular of the waterfalls near Maolin and it is one of the best swimming spots in Taiwan. Two bridges (pedestrian and vehicular) to the waterfall have been built since Typhoon Morakot devastated the area in 2009. The rebuilt trail (2014 or 2015) starts at a parking lot waterfall and it is now an easy walk to the 2nd tier (and best tier) of the waterfall.

Click for directions to Lover’s Gorge Waterfall

3. After Typhoon Morakot, Douna Suspension Bridge was the only bridge that wasn’t destroyed. For awhile it provided the only permanent connection to Duona Village at the end of road 132. Today most traffic goes over a new bridge but tourists can still visit the 103 meter tall bridge (tallest in Taiwan) and hike out to nearby Longtoushan (Dragon Head Mountain).

Click for directions to Duona Suspension Bridge

4. Longtoushan and Shetoushan are pair of interesting case studies into Taiwan’s fascination of naming rocks and hills after animals that they vaguely resemble. In this case these are actually pretty cool.

Longtoushan (Dragon Head Mountain)

Shetoushan (Snake Head Mountain)

View the full blog post from one of my first trips to Maolin

5. I was originally told that Meiya Waterfall was broken up by several different sources but broken up seemed like a strange description and I was determined to investigate as far as I could. I was initially turned away by an impending rainstorm but the following year I walked up the creek to find Meiya Waterfall. The trail is completely destroyed though and visitors will have to pick their way through a rock field in the creek. There are rumors about a new trail being built but so far the project hasn’t started. Hopefully they don’t remove the best Chinglish sign ever.

6. I found Deengorge Guesthouse completely by accident 5 years ago. I was exploring Maolin a year or two after Typhoon Morakot and went down a random road ending up at the guesthouse on a Sunday evening. They were as surprised to see me as I was to see them since very few tourists came to Maolin after the big typhoon and even fewer ventured as far as Deengorge. We chatted for awhile and this has become my favorite campground in Taiwan. One of my favorite memories is the guesthouse owner looking at all of the frogs in the middle of the night because he heard an unusual croak that sounded different than the 12 species that are usually present.

Click for directions to Deengorge Guesthouse

7.  On my first or second trip to Deengorge I asked about the name of the waterfall near the guesthouse and they said it doesn’t have a name and it is only used for drinking water. I might have been the first person that was ever interested in that little waterfall but it is a nice two tier waterfall right next to the road and I have thus named it Deengorge Waterfall.

Click for directions to Deengorge Waterfall

8. I first attempted to go to Maolin Waterfall in 2012 and was told that it was an easy hike. Instead I found bridges lying in the creek and no trail so I improvised and walked up the creek (a lot of fun). Ultimately I was blocked by a small waterfall and wasn’t able to get to Maolin Waterfall. I still put it up on the guide but later I started getting comments about not having to walk in the creek and pictures of a completely different waterfall from confused hikers. In 2014 the government built a beautiful trail (27M TWD) back to Maolin Waterfall. This has become one of my favorite waterfalls in Taiwan.

Click for directions to Maolin Waterfall

9. On one of my trips to Deengorge I was told about the Tapakadrawane Festival happening that night in Duona. Tapakadrawane is a harvest festival that ironically is held at almost the same time as American Thanksgiving. Many groups participated in a talent show but the highlight of the evening was a ceremony similar to homecoming king and queen. About a dozen young men and a dozen young women performed and gave speeches in hopes of winning.

View the full blog post

10. Guifu Canyon is one of the rarest places that I have visited in Taiwan. Downstream and upstream the creek is a fairly typical green valley filled with river rock but for a short stretch it becomes a narrow slot canyon with steep walls and a waterfall drops into it from a sidestream. The end is blocked by a 2nd shorter waterfall. Trips need a little luck to be successful. If it has rained heavily recently then you won’t be able to enter the canyon and the waterfall dries up during the winter.

Click for directions to Guifu Waterfall

11. Weiliaoshan is at the entrance of Maolin Valley and it is a challenging but excellent dayhike. The trail follows the ridgeline on the Kaohsiung and Pingtung county line rising 1275 meters in 8.5 km.  The last 3 km are particularly steep and rocky.

Click here for directions to Weiliaoshan

12. I haven’t hiked the Liugui Special Garrison Trail yet but Tyler has provided excellent details on a lost and overgrown section of the trail in his new blog. The Liugui Special Garrison Trail is a 50 kilometer route along a ridgeline all the way from Dajin to Baolai. The trail was built by the Japanese and had a police station every kilometer. Now the police stations are just piles of rocks and only sections of the trail are walkable. Tyler plans on blogging about these sections next on his blog.  You can follow his blog at tylercottenie.wordpress.com.

Note – I wouldn’t recommend walking the section that Tyler did in his blog but the other sections look very interesting.

Click to view the full blog post

13.  There are three waterfalls located just outside Maolin Valley that can be a fun side trip. Dajin Waterfall is very popular on weekends and goes up (and then down) over 800 stairs. Dazhi Waterfall is a decent waterfall but it goes dry early in the season (read between the lines here – it is one of my least favorites). My recommendation would be Hulugu (Calabash or Gourd Valley) Waterfall for a cool little area to explore or relax.

14.  One area that I would like to explore further is an overgrown trail at Meiya Waterfall. The sign is now obscured and unreadable but it mentioned an old aboriginal village somewhere up the hill. It is also possible that this trail leads up to an overlook for Meiya Waterfall.

15. I don’t know anything about Wanshan Petroglyphs but I have been told that it is strictly off limits unless you arrange a local guide (no idea how to arrange a guide though). This is on my secondary (or tertiary) to do list. I have so many other trips planned in Taiwan before I figure out how to go back there.

16. There is a small waterfall and hot spring up one of the river valleys but I lost the blog link to it. Based on memory this required an overnight camping trip (maybe 15 km each way).

17. I definitely need to add more info on things to do in Duona and Maolin Villages. There are numerous cool spots (including UBAKE art space) and we have eaten some amazing food. We enjoyed the meal below from the Diplomatic (?) Restaurant near the main intersection in Maolin. We also ate roasted chicken in Duona and the food at Deengorge (a large set meal) was delicious. One local specialty is xiaomijiu (millet wine). On two separate occasions this led to disasters though so be prepared for the bottles to explode (when opening). I don’t even want to write about the other disaster.  It was awful.

18. And just so people are clear – Duona Hot Springs are completely buried by 10+ meters of rock (Typhoon Morakot). Perhaps they will excavate this in the future but I have not heard of any plans to do so.  There might be plans to setup a hot spring at a different location but I don’t know any details about it.

Are there any places that I have left out?  What are your favorite places in Maolin and Duona?  

It isn't easy to reach Shimenggu (Taiwan) but you will be rewarded with a waterfall, giant cypress trees, a 500+ meter deep valley, a mossy forest, little pools in the creek and a great trail.

Shimenggu (Stone Dream Valley) is located in one of the most remote parts of Chaiyi County in Taiwan.  Shimenggu itself is a series of strange pools but the hiking trail is absolutely amazing with several different amazing sights.  At the beginning of the trail there is a suspension bridge that links to an alternate entrance to Shuiyang Lake (blog) (and another Shuiyang blog) and some stands of enormous bamboo while walking up a valley of 500+ meter walls.  After a hard ascent (300 meters in 1+km) you reach the perfect mountain garden.  This garden used to be the home to a nice elderly couple that we met in 2013 and they operated a part time B&B.  Since then they have moved away but their garden is still perfect.

The trail is nice before the garden but the best places are the furthest away.  I had hiked part of the trail 3 years earlier with Richard Saunders (Richard’s blog from that trip) but I stopped at the garden to rest because I had a 5 hour motorcycle ride home that day.  Richard and several other hikers came back gushing with how great it was.  It took me 3 years to return but I finally found out how great the rest of the trail is.

Directions to Shimenggu and Qingrengu can be found on my waterfall guide

Near the end of the trail is a loop that we hiked the loop clockwise.  The waterfall was much larger than expected and is one of my favorites in Taiwan.  Just above the waterfall are some great pools for summer swimming.  The hike becomes very steep after this going past a grove of ancient trees that remind me of Jianxibao.  Sadly most of the trees have been illegally logged.  Immediately afterward it changes to a damp forest with green moss hanging from the trees like it was part of the Lord of the Ring set.  Finally we arrived at Shimenggu.  Shimenggu is a series of bizarre pools in a stream that runs down a large piece of rock.  The hike is difficult but not impossible and it will take most of the day.

It isn't easy to reach Shimenggu but you will be rewarded with a waterfall, giant cypress trees, a 500+ meter valley, a mossy forest, little pools in the creek and a great trail.

Looking up the main valley from the suspension bridge.  The suspension bridge leads to an alternate route to Shuiyang Lake.  We have looked a couple of times and the route to Dadianyu Waterfall seems to be blocked by a giant boulder.  According to some hikers it takes 4 hours to reach 1000 person cave and an additional 2 hours to reach Shuiyang Lake.  The trail was in much better shape on my 2016 trip though.  In 2013 we couldn’t find anything that looked like a trail but now it seems to be in decent shape although it is a very steep climb out of the valley.

The cables across the valley are for a small cable car that was used by the family to transport their personal items up the mountain.  The path shown leads to the small waterfall.  Instead the trail climbs 500 meters in 2 kms to the top of the cables.

It isn't easy to reach Shimenggu (Taiwan) but you will be rewarded with a waterfall, giant cypress trees, a 500+ meter deep valley, a mossy forest, little pools in the creek, a bamboo forest and a great trail.

Huge bamboo flanks parts of the first half of the trail.

It isn't easy to reach Shimenggu (Taiwan) but you will be rewarded with a waterfall, giant cypress trees, a 500+ meter deep valley, a mossy forest, little pools in the creek, a bamboo forest and a great trail.

There is a fair amount of stinging nettles at the beginning of the trail and much more of it on the other side of the suspension bridge (a side trip and not the way to Shimenggu).  It isn’t serious if you touch it but it is VERY annoying.

It isn't easy to reach Shimenggu (Taiwan) but you will be rewarded with a waterfall, giant cypress trees, a 500+ meter deep valley, a mossy forest, little pools in the creek, a bamboo forest and a great trail.

The flower garden that was part of a beautiful home and part time B&B.  We met the owners 3 years ago but they have since moved away (likely into the village).  The garden is stunningly beautiful and you walk through a tunnel of rhododendrons, cherry blossoms and other flowers.

It isn't easy to reach Shimenggu (Taiwan) but you will be rewarded with a waterfall, giant cypress trees, a 500+ meter deep valley, a mossy forest, little pools in the creek, a bamboo forest and a great trail.

This rather bizarre rock is right next to the trail.  I have no idea what caused this.

It isn't easy to reach Shimenggu (Taiwan) but you will be rewarded with a waterfall, giant cypress trees, a 500+ meter deep valley, a mossy forest, little pools in the creek, a bamboo forest and a great trail.

Qingrengu was just the first spectacular sight of many near the end of the hike.  The cave behind it is accessible and actually had an old stone wall built in it.  This one will definitely be on my favorite waterfall list whenever I publish it.

Directions to Shimenggu and Qingrengu can be found on my waterfall guide

It isn't easy to reach Shimenggu (Taiwan) but you will be rewarded with a waterfall, giant cypress trees, a 500+ meter deep valley, a mossy forest, little pools in the creek, a bamboo forest and a great trail.

Directly above Qingrengu Waterfall are some perfect pools that would be awesome to swim in during the summer.  It is at 1500 meters of elevation so it might not be warm enough to swim even in early spring or late fall.

It isn't easy to reach Shimenggu (Taiwan) but you will be rewarded with a waterfall, giant cypress trees, a 500+ meter deep valley, a mossy forest, little pools in the creek, a bamboo forest and a great trail.

Asher (followxiaofei.com) stands directly on top of Qingrengu Waterfall.

It isn't easy to reach Shimenggu (Taiwan) but you will be rewarded with a waterfall, giant cypress trees, a 500+ meter deep valley, a mossy forest, little pools in the creek, a bamboo forest and a great trail.

The trail goes vertical again climbing 200 meters in the next kilometer.  This giant cypress tree is right next to the trail and is sadly one of the last ones in this area.  There is access to an impressive valley here that I will explore next time.  It looked like there was a nice waterfall and some vertical cliff walls.

It isn't easy to reach Shimenggu (Taiwan) but you will be rewarded with a waterfall, giant cypress trees, a 500+ meter deep valley, a mossy forest, little pools in the creek, a bamboo forest and a great trail.

Illegal logging has taken its toll on the giant cypress trees.  There were several recently logged trees and we only saw one giant cypress and several other much smaller ones.  I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to carry the entire tree (chopped up) out by hand.  And they would probably have to work at night.  This is a fairly difficult hike with a daypack.

It isn't easy to reach Shimenggu (Taiwan) but you will be rewarded with a waterfall, giant cypress trees, a 500+ meter deep valley, a mossy forest, little pools in the creek, a bamboo forest and a great trail.

At the highest elevations the trail becomes a lush green paradise.

It isn't easy to reach Shimenggu (Taiwan) but you will be rewarded with a waterfall, giant cypress trees, a 500+ meter deep valley, a mossy forest, little pools in the creek, a bamboo forest and a great trail.

One of the more creative parts of the trail.  I am guessing that this type of construction is no longer allowed to preserve the larger trees in this forest.

It isn't easy to reach Shimenggu (Taiwan) but you will be rewarded with a waterfall, giant cypress trees, a 500+ meter deep valley, a mossy forest, little pools in the creek, a bamboo forest and a great trail.

This part of the hike was probably my favorite.  It occurs at the highest elevation on the trail (about 1700 meters) and almost the absolute farthest point of the trail.  It is definitely worth it to hike the entire trail even though is over 800 meters of elevation gain to reach this spot.

Shimenggu is a series of bizarre pools where the rock has worn away in deep pools that go straight down.  This hole was well over 1 meter across and 2-3 meters deep.  I think these would be good places to swim during the summer.  We didn’t have time to walk upstream from the trail but there is potentially something really cool up there.

It isn't easy to reach Shimenggu (Taiwan) but you will be rewarded with a waterfall, giant cypress trees, a 500+ meter deep valley, a mossy forest, little pools in the creek, a bamboo forest and a great trail.

The whole trail is nice but the best part is the loop at the end of the trail.  The bridge near the trailhead provides access to 1000 person cave (marked in Chinese in the top right of the map). It must be an exhausting hike since there are A LOT OF contour lines that it crosses. Shuiyang Lake is 2 hours past the cave.

It isn't easy to reach Shimenggu (Taiwan) but you will be rewarded with a waterfall, giant cypress trees, a 500+ meter deep valley, a mossy forest, little pools in the creek, a bamboo forest and a great trail.

The isn’t quite as long as shown due to the off trail exploring across the bridge and the long breaks at the break area and the waterfall.  Overall the trail is about 10 km long.

It isn't easy to reach Shimenggu (Taiwan) but you will be rewarded with a waterfall, giant cypress trees, a 500+ meter deep valley, a mossy forest, little pools in the creek, a bamboo forest and a great trail.

During Chinese New Year I traveled to North Sumatra for my second trip to Indonesia. Last June I traveled to Bali but avoided the popular beaches along the southern coast and instead spent my time exploring small roads. In Bali I found 14 waterfalls, visited 10 temples and climbed a volcano and loved it. This time I picked something a little more off of the beaten path although rural Bali is not at all like the touristy parts.  In Sumatra I only visited 6 waterfalls but they were some of the best ones in all of Indonesia.

See my previous post on Bali’s Waterfalls

Sipisopiso Waterfall was of course the first thing that I knew about North Sumatra but as I researched the area I found a lot of other great waterfalls. I found travel logistics difficult and a lot of the roads are in terrible shape but North Sumatra is full of cool places (if you can get to them). The food was good, the people were really nice, I felt safe (didn’t stay in Medan) and the natural beauty was incredible. My biggest complaint is a complete and total lack of garbage/recycling programs. There were a few collection areas in Berastagi but throughout the countryside people either pitched their garbage in road ditches or burned it on the side of the road. A few of the top sights were well developed for tourism but many sights required a lot of effort from tourists to get to. I have many places on my to do list that either would have taken too long to get to or the roads were in questionable shape. This area has a lot of potential though and I look forward to returning in a few years.

Here are a few basic travel observations for North Sumatra. Buses travel all over North Sumatra but are slow. Private cars and drivers are available for hire and can be arranged through your guesthouse. The driest season to travel to Sumatra is Dec to April but they still average 100+ mm’s of rain every month. It rained almost every day during my trip in February. Most guesthouses are private rooms with shared or private bathrooms. I saw a few large palm oil plantations in North Sumatra but I saw mostly vegetable and fruit farms. According to a local the big palm oil plantations are in the southern part of Sumatra. The National Parks have been a success but there are still problems with poaching and illegal logging but things seem to be improving.

I am hoping to travel to Lombok (hike Mt Rinjani and some waterfalls) in May but I am not sure which Indonesian region to travel after that (in 2017). Yogyakarta and Borobudur? Mt Bromo and Madakaripura Waterfall? Flores and Kelimutu? Something strange like Sulawesi? I have a year to think about another destination but does anyone have any advice for a waterfall focused trip?

1. Sipisopiso Waterfall was at least 90% of the reason that I chose to travel to North Sumatra this year. Not only is it over 100 meters high but it flows out of a cave near the top of the cliff. From the main viewpoint visitors are able to turn around and also see Lake Toba. Those wanting to get closer to the waterfall can descend over 600 stairs to the base of the waterfall. Of course they will have to walk back up all of those stairs.

Click for directions to Sipisopiso Waterfall

2. Pelaruga Waterfall was a nice waterfall but at some point a tree was washed downstream and ended up directly in the middle of the waterfall. It has been there so long that it is more commonly referred to as Tongkat (Bahasa for stick) Waterfall by everyone. It is an adventure to reach but it is definitely worth it.

Click for directions to Pelaruga Waterfall

3. We found Sidompak Waterfall completely by accident. We knew virtually nothing about Tongging Village other than it was right next to Sipisopiso Waterfall and Lake Toba. We found Tongging to be a stunningly beautiful village surrounded by fjord like valleys that taper off into Lake Toba. We called Tongging ‘A place that isn’t a place yet’ and expect this sleepy village to transform into a tourist town in the future. But we visited Tongging before that happened.

Just by chance we stayed at the Wisma Sibayak Guesthouse and they had photos of a nearby waterfall on their wall and it wasn’t Sipisopiso Waterfall. We asked about it and not surprisingly they offered to find us a guide to the waterfall. We discussed whether or not we actually needed a local guide and we were extremely glad that we chose to hire one. There isn’t a trail and it is really challenging to make it to the waterfall even though you know where the waterfall is. I love finding places like this where there is nearly no information available on the internet in any language.

Click for directions to Sidompak Waterfall

4. Sikulikap Waterfall is a thunderous waterfall near Berastagi. The best part is that it is really easy to reach using public transportation. The downside is that most of the hike follows the valley directly below the Penatapen Restaurants and it is difficult to escape the noise and trash from the restaurants.

Click for directions to Sikulikap Waterfall

5. Ponot Waterfall is Indonesia’s tallest waterfall at 250 meters and it impressively plunges over a cliff wall. I am not completely convinced it is a natural waterfall though. I think Ponot Waterfall is actually a diversion tunnel for the upstream Siguragura Dam. Siguragura Waterfall is officially considered as Indonesia’s tallest waterfall but I believe that it is permanently dry just downstream of the dam.

Click for directions to Ponot Waterfall

6. Dua Warna (Two Color) Waterfall is perhaps one of the most beautiful waterfalls that I have seen. It is only about 30-40 meters tall but it falls into a brilliant opaque blue pool that I haven’t seen before. Not only that but it is an outstanding hike through a beautiful forest and there is a second waterfall falling into the valley 30 meters away.

Click for directions to Dua Warna (Two Color) Waterfall

Other waterfalls that showed up in my research and are on my list for my next trip to North Sumatra. This page (in Bahasa) is a great resource for all of the sights in North Sumatra.

Lae Mbilulu Waterfall

Lae Une Waterfall

Tonduhan Waterfall

Pelangi Waterfall

Sampuren (Teroh Teroh) Waterfall

Bah Biak Waterfall

Lau Berte Waterfall 

Batu Lobang Waterfall

Nionggang Waterfall

Situmurun Waterfall

Tinggi Raja – not a waterfall but similar to Pammukale in Turkey

After working in the guitar industry for a couple of decades in Los Angeles, Steve Tsai moved back to Taiwan and has entered the restaurant business with a trendy spot near Old Hanshin Mall.  Steve merged his passion of guitars and has an entire wall built out of over 300 guitar bodies.  In addition to that Steve’s musical background is obvious with the rest of memorabilia and the music. He is also set up for live music and check his Facebook page for any upcoming gigs at ZZyZx.

The name ZZyZx is actually an interesting story and is tied back to Steve’s California roots.  Here is a great version of the story.

Part of the ZZyZx team (Steve, Albis and Chris)

Steve opened ZZyZx in late November and recently brought Chris (formerly of The Eatery) in to set up the kitchen.  Since closing The Eatery, Chris has been working for a high end kitchen supply company (www.jendeindustries.com).  Chris gave me a tour of the kitchen and their setup is really impressive (although I know nothing about the restaurant business).  The menu consists of burgers, pasta and a few main dishes starting at 250 TWD and a large selection of drinks.

This bunless burger was excellent.

Location – No. 234 Chenggong 1st Rd., Kaohsiung, Taiwan 80249 (next to Bottom’s Up)

Prices – 250 to 400 TWD for most meals

Hours – 6pm-2:30am (or later)

Contact – Facebook Page and phone (07 269 3438)

Previous Local Spotlights

Beast Bar and Grill

303 Kitchen and Bar

Legend’s Lunchcart

Truman’s Motorcycle Repair

Teresa’s Restaurant

Lighthouse Bar and Grill