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

It wasn’t easy finding 10 different (and active) bloggers that have been to waterfalls in Taiwan that I haven’t been to.  This isn’t my full to do list for this year but these are 10 more great ones that I hope to add to my waterfall guide.  Some of these will be more of a challenge than others because of where they are located but this year I will be putting on a lot of kilometers in cars, motorcycles (bicycle?), trains, buses and maybe even a plane ride (Hualien?).

Check out my waterfall guide

One thing that I discovered while researching this blog is just how many excellent bloggers are covering Taiwan.  I follow a lot of bloggers in Taiwan (and everywhere) but there are still so many that haven’t shown up on my radar.  This is by no means a comprehensive list of bloggers but I would love to know some of your favorites.  I would really love to know of bloggers that have been to waterfalls that I haven’t been to yet.  You can check my site for all of the waterfalls that I have been to and I will include a list of some additional notable ones at the bottom of this post.  I am certain that there are some great bloggers that have been to waterfalls that I haven’t been to.

Check out previous great bloggers blogs

Great Bloggers – Waterfalls

Great Bloggers – Australia/NZ

Great Bloggers – Asia

None of the photos below are mine.  I contacted each blogger prior to blogging for permission to use a photo and link to their blog.  I encourage you to visit their sites to see more of their great work.

  1. Asher and I have been exploring southern Taiwan together for the last 2 years.  He has a little bit of a different style than I do and the only thing that will keep him out of the water are the recent cold temps.  This spectacular photo captured him jumping off of Lingjiao Waterfall in Pingxi a few months ago.  He has finally started blogging and has an excellent waterfall guide for Taiwan.  You can check it out at followxiaofei.com

Click here for directions to Lingjiao Waterfall

2. Emily has since left Taiwan and she is now blogging her adventures in Mexico.  At the time I wasn’t aware of Fenghuang Waterfall in Chaiyi but it has been on my to do list for almost one year.  It has been nicknamed 1000 step waterfall due to the many stairs that need to be walked down.  You can follow her travels at everythingisgolden.wordpress.com.

Click to view the blog post at her site

3. I loved my trip to Yilan last year (11/2014) and was able to add 5 great waterfalls to my site.  Houdongkeng Waterfall is another nice one that Thomas added to his blog.  Yilan is a bit tricky to travel to from Kaohsiung but it is pretty amazing and I should figure out how to make another trip up there.  You can follow his blog at randomibis.wordpress.com.

Click to view the full post at his site

4.  In all honesty very few serious hikers travel all the way to Wuling Farm just for Taoshan Waterfall.  There just happens to be a really nice waterfall on one of the best high mountain hikes in Taiwan.  The Wuling Sixiu is part of the Sheipa (Snow Mountain) National Park system and features 4 of Taiwan’s top 100 peaks.

Martin Rubli has an extensive list of highly detailed high mountain hikes on his site and is a great resource for those planning high mountain trips in Taiwan.  I have tentative plans to do this trip with Taiwan Adventures in April so hopefully I can check this waterfall (and the other 4 peaks) off of my list.  You can follow his site at rubli.info

Click to view the full post on his site

5.  Dajianshan is a nice hike with several waterfalls east of Taipei.  In addition to posting about Hidden Places in Taiwan, Tom is an outstanding artist that draws aerial views of cities.  You can follow him on FB (here) or on his site – overthecity.asia

Click to view the full post on his site

 6.  Fengmei Waterfall is at the very end of long road in Miaoli County.  I completely underestimated just how long it would take to get back there two years ago on a trip to Miaoli and Hsinchu.  I haven’t had a chance to return but will have to schedule another trip to Luzhang this summer.  A Conscious Venture went on a great river tracing trip back to the waterfall but there is also a 40 minute hiking trail back there.  You can follow her at aconsciousventure.com

Click to view the full post on her site

7. Richard Saunders is in the midst of publishing his 7th book (2 out of print) on travel in Taiwan.  One of his hobbies is finding hidden places and especially waterfalls.  Golden Grotto (not exactly unknown) is one of the top river traces in Taiwan and has been on my to do list for a couple of years.  Travel logistics (Kaohsiung to Hualien) have prevented me from making the trip but this year I will have Fridays off and it will be a lot easier.

Richard has been nearly everywhere in Taiwan and his blogs, guidebooks and group trips have been immensely valuable for my own adventures.  His FB hiking group (Taipei Hikers) has grown to over 3000 members with 10-15 hiking trips being led each month by a variety of great hike leaders.  It is free to participate in any of the hikes (space is limited on weekend hikes) and you can follow his blog at taiwandiscovery.wordpress.com

Click to view the full post on his site

8.  Yinhe Waterfall is a small waterfall that flows over a temple.  It is part of the Maokong region and can be accessed via the Maokong Gondola or by bus.  BikeHikeTaipei has been busy and has compiled an extensive list of hikes (and bikes) around the Taipei area.  You can follow his site at hikebiketaipei.wordpress.com

Click to view the full post on his site

9. Golden Waterfall is a popular oddity near Jiufen.  It is debatable whether or not the water is toxic but the color is due to a naturally occurring mineral.  I still wouldn’t drink the water but I have to visit sometime to see the vivid colors.  Catherine splits her year between several places and her blog is full of interesting places all over the globe.  Follow her at cattanblog.wordpress.com

Click to view the full post at her site

10.  Josh Ellis is one of the top photographer/bloggers that I follow.  He covers a broad range of topics in Taiwan but his specialty is the cultural side of Taiwan imo.  He does pretty well at waterfalls also though and has been many places that I haven’t yet.  I recommend checking out his Best of 2015 blog post to see his full array of work.

Manyueyuan (Full Moon) Forest Recreation Area has always been on my to do list (like many other places) but I so rarely take trips to northern Taiwan and I haven’t been there yet.  There are several waterfalls (as many as 10) located in the park or just outside the park and many hiking trails.  You can follow him at goteamjosh.com

Click to view the full post at his site

Some other notable waterfalls that I haven’t been to yet

Sandie Waterfall, Taipingshan, Yilan County (possibly inaccessible permanently)

Guanwu Waterfall, Hsinchu (closed for seemingly 5 of the last 6 years)

Butterfly Valley Waterfall, Taichung

Aohua Waterfall, Yilan County

Guanyin Waterfall, Chaiyi County

Wanan Waterfall, Pingtung County

Xiaobantian Waterfall, Nantou County

White Veil Waterfall, Taoyuan County

Silong Waterfall, New Taipei City

Shuiliandong, Caoling, Yunlin County

Longfeng and Changqing Waterfall, Yunlin County

Shimongu and Lover’s Glen Waterfall, Chaiyi County

 

2015 was a big year for content on my blogs because I went many places.  2015 was also the year that my waterfall guide started taking off.  My blog became more popular also but the waterfall guide is becoming very well known.  It is pretty common meeting people that know about and use my waterfall guide.  Shown below are the top 11 most viewed waterfall guide pages.  Some are my favorites while others are conveniently located near Taipei so they are often visited.

  1. Shifen Waterfall – a photographer’s dream

The waterfall guide grew from 41,000 views to 69,000 views for a 68% increase last year.  The World Is Not That Big was viewed another 17,000 times.  That really isn’t the interesting part.  It is more interesting to see what pages they are viewing, what countries they come from and how they are referred to the site.

2. Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail – one of the best waterfall hikes in Taiwan

Pingxi happens to be one of the rainiest areas in Taiwan but it hadn’t rained for months when I visited.  I must go back.

Shifen Waterfall actually isn’t one of my favorite waterfalls but it absolutely dominates the traffic on my website.  Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail and Shalawan Waterfall are two of my favorites and deservedly rank 2nd and 3rd.  Shalawan Waterfall is unusual because when I published the guide there was almost no English information of it and I visited it for the first time this year.  Typically it takes a year or two for a page to become popular enough to rank highly but Shalawan immediately shot to #3 and I hear constant comments from expats about how much they love it.

3. Shalawan Waterfall – a remote and less visited waterfall

There were some pages that were viewed less last year but for the most part page views went up for every waterfall.  In addition to increased traffic on existing pages I also added over 60 pages of waterfalls, hikes, temples (Bali) and other sights to the guide.  Shalawan Waterfall (pictured above), Qufengbi Trail, Beidawushan, Haishen Waterfall, Laomei Reef, Qingshan Waterfall, Alibang Waterfall and Dadi Gorge all were viewed over 200 times despite being published this year.  Maybe a couple of these will be in the top 10 next year.

blog stats

note – %’s don’t include the home page or guide organization pages (each county page)

I don’t think anyone is surprised that Taiwan ISP addresses dominate my readers.  It will be interesting to see how this changes during the next 2-3 years as I add more and more content from outside of Taiwan.  Another expected stat was that the largest native speaking English countries ranked in the top 10 in addition to Singapore and Hong Kong which speak multiple languages at near native levels.

4. Lover’s Gorge Waterfall – the perfect swimming hole after a short hike

Indonesia made the largest year to year increase due to my trip to Bali in June and it should climb even higher if I am able to add content from Sumatra and Lombok this year.  One country notably absent is Japan since they have a large population and are one of Taiwan’s closest neighbors.  I am not sure if I will be able to travel to Japan this year or not but I want to take many trips to Japan during the next 5 years.

54. Banyumala Waterfall, Bali – this is the top ranked waterfall from Bali could vault into next year’s top ten

It is interesting that I get fewer readers from Taiwan on my blog versus my waterfall guide but this makes sense with how I use social media.  Most of the time I post my waterfall guide updates to the Taiwan’s Waterfalls FB page (followers are mostly in Taiwan) and I usually post my latest blogs to my personal FB page (a lot of friends and family from back home).  Additionally the waterfall guide is more useful to those living in Taiwan.

country stats

note – stats are for the waterfall guide except for the last column as a comparison

Referrals are essential for any blog to succeed and I have done very little to promote the blog myself.  I finally became active on social media (non-personal accounts) this year but I have barely scratched the surface.  The Taiwan’s Waterfalls FB page has grown from 120 followers to 640 followers this year since I have been posting regular guide updates in addition to linking to various waterfall sites from around the world.  Other than regularly (less so every year) posting on forumosa.com and occasionally commenting on other blogs, I have done very little social media promotion.

referral stats

More important than producing your own social media following is getting your site linked in other blogs and in their social media feeds.  Most of my referrals aside from FB (and many on FB also) and forumosa are from other people mentioning my blog.  Foodie Baker wrote a blog about Wulai years ago and their referrals keep increasing every year so their blog must be doing really well.  Michael Turton is a very popular (and sometimes polarizing) expat blogger in Taiwan with interests in politics, biking, history and travel.  Steven Crook is the Bradt Travel Guide Taiwan writer and does some blogging on two sites.  Taiwan Explorer has a popular FB page with a lot of discussion, writes a blog and publishes a blogroll at mytaiwanblogs.blogspot.twCamping in Taiwan is my go to resource for finding a campsite on my weekend excursions.  Green Laundry, Nomad Notions and Taiwanvore have in the past linked to my blog and their content still brings a few visitors.

My next social media avenue is pinterest.com.  This seems like an excellent outlet for photography blogs.  For the last couple of months I have been creating boards and pinning blogs that I like.  The plan is to create boards that people want to visit and build up a following (currently 140 followers) before adding a lot of my own content to the boards.  I have enjoyed creating my pinterest board Travel Blogs – The World’s Waterfalls.  Another big area of improvement is including properly sized images in blogs for different types of social media and to start putting titles on the photos.  Every blogger should be doing this (an example).

What types of social media do you think I should start using to promote my blog?  I plan on using Instagram this year.  I despise Twitter although many say that it is essential for bloggers.  Tumblr seems interesting but I didn’t really like using it.  Does anybody actually use Google+?  Is there any reason to post stuff on there?  I have no understanding of Reddit but somebody posted my guide on there last week and within a couple of days I had 200-300 hits from that site.  Snapchat sounds like my own little personal hell.  I won’t be using that.  There is definitely a lot of untapped social media potential but ‘social’ isn’t exactly something that I do well.

Neidong Waterfall

5. Neidong Waterfall – a sad casualty of Typhoon Soudelor – unknown reopening of the trail

6. Wufengci Waterfall was one of my first waterfalls that I added to the guide in 2011

The opposite of referrals (clicks) is also true in my blogs as well.  I have frequently included links to other blogs when writing blogs but this is an area that I want to improve on next year.  One specific area is to include links to 2-3 blogs for each of the pages in my waterfall guide so my readers can access more information about a place.  I think my information is good but it isn’t always perfect nor does it tell the entire story about a place.

7. Maolin Waterfall – Hike the newly completed trail back to one of southern Taiwan’s best waterfalls

Clicks from my blogs fall into 3 main areas.  The first area is resource sites such as China Post (newspaper), Guide to Taipei, various National Forest Recreation Area website and the Central Weather Bureau.  The second area is a group of bloggers that have remained on my links pages and still get some traffic.  This page needs to be updated to include more relevant links for travelers in Taiwan.  I have linked to 3 different websites written by Richard Saunders (my favorite article that he has written) in addition to numerous China Post articles written by him (and a few other authors).  This shouldn’t be a surprise since he has been (almost) everywhere that I want to go.  He has a new must have book coming out soon for those traveling through Taiwan.

click stats

The last area is random individual bloggers and this is where I want to improve my linking the most next year.  In 2015 I started featuring relatively unknown bloggers that are doing great work in my series Great Bloggers.  So far I have done a series on Asia, Australia/NZ and Waterfalls with 10 bloggers featured in each article.  My next article is 10 waterfalls to visit in Taiwan for 2016 and it wasn’t easy finding 10 active bloggers that have great blogs/photos of waterfalls that I haven’t been to.

8. Juansi Waterfall

10. Datun Waterfall

These two waterfalls rank highly because of their proximity to Taipei and many go there.  They are relatively boring waterfalls though so I won’t post photos of them.  Most likely they will fall out of the top 10 statistically next year.

9. Liangshan Waterfall is a little more impressive than the previous two but its popularity is due to its nearby proximity to Kaohsiung and Pingtung.

Do you have any thoughts on any of these statistics?  Are they completely irrelevant?  Is anything surprising or interesting?  I don’t use any fancy Google Analytics or even have a hosted blog (yet).  I am currently working on improvements and getting it hosted but I have a real job that I earn real money at so that is (usually) prioritized.  I have many things to improve but do you find anything particularly frustrating about either site?

11. Guifu Canyon is one of the most unusual places that I have visited in Taiwan.  Absolutely incredible.

My 2015 wasn’t just filled with waterfalls.  I visited Sabah and Sarawak, Malaysia (Borneo) in February and Bali in June in addition to dozens of trips around Taiwan.  Some of these places are well-known but some are well off of the beaten path.  They also show just how varied Taiwan and east Asia can be.  I have already mentioned my plans for next year in my waterfall recap but I expect to have an even better year next year.

My Top 10 Hikes and Places from 2015

  1. I usually shrug my shoulders when someone mentions going to see a cave but I was traveling in a group in Sarawak, Malaysia that wanted to go to Niah Caves.  It looked pretty interesting and they also wanted to go to Lambir Hills National Park (with waterfalls) so we teamed up and rented a car.  Niah Caves was incredible.  To say that it is big is an understatement.  You can fit football fields in the cave.  There are 1000’s of bat and swiftlets that live in the caves and they provide two very valuable products for the local population.  Bat guano is used as fertilizer and bird nests are harvested for a popular Chinese soup.  Over-harvesting has led to a big decline in the swiftlet population but they are now setting quotas and times to restore the population (I don’t know the effectiveness though).

View the full blog post

2. In January Mark Roche (Blue Skies Adventures) led a trip to a mostly abandoned aboriginal village in Pingtung County, Taiwan.  In 1979 the village moved out of the mountains to a new village lower in the river valley and was able to connect to roads.  In 2009 Xinhaocha (the new village) was completely buried by rising river silt and rocks during Typhoon Morakot.  Luckily the village had been evacuated prior to the storm and the villagers have moved to Rinari near Sandimen.

Jiuhaocha (the old village) is a beautiful village with slate houses in various condition.  Some haven’t been lived in for decades while others are maintained by villagers that live in both the new and old villages.  It requires a little effort to visit and for most it is best as an overnight hike (stay in a slate house).  It is one of the coolest places that I have visited in Taiwan.  It feels like an authentic aboriginal experience instead of the festivals in the villages.  I have attended and I enjoy the festivals but I really liked seeing what life was like in an original aboriginal village.

View the full blog post

3.Beidawushan is the southernmost 3000 meter peak in Taiwan and a very popular weekend trek.  The hike is challenging right from the start and climbs almost 2000 meters to the summit.  Many hikers do Beidawushan as a 2 day trip but that requires getting up at 2am to summit and return to the car by dark.  If you have an extra day and can do a 3 day trip then I highly recommend it.

View the full blog post

4.  I am possibly the only person to ever plan my entire Bali trip around visiting its waterfalls but you would have to try very hard to avoid visiting Bali’s temples.  There are 1000’s of them on the small island.  Instead of being grand complexes (a few are) each unique temple possesses a lot of character and detail.  I blogged about my 10 favorites from my trip and Tanah Lot (pictured below) is one of the most famous and visited.

View the full blog post

5. One of the best and most unusual festivals in Taiwan is Donggang’s Wang Ye Boat Burning Festival.  Every 3 years they hold the 10 day festival.  All week they shoot off firecrackers and make noise to lure the evil spirits out from hiding with everyone following in the parade.  On the festival’s conclusion the local temples march a giant boat to the ocean.  All night long they prepare the boat for its voyage by piling up a mountain of (fake) paper money.  Finally they light the boat on fire taking the evil spirits with it so the town is prosperous for another 3 years.

View the full blog post

6.  Laomei Reef is one of those rare places that is hard to believe exists until you visit it.  The green algae only blooms for 2-3 months (March and April most likely) every year and you will need to track the ocean tidal charts and visit during low tide.  Unfortunately it will be crowded on the weekend but English teachers that start in evening could do a weekday trip from Taipei and be back in time for class.

View the full guide

7. Brunei is a tiny country on the island of Borneo whose economy is heavily tied to oil.  One side effect of their wealth is that their rainforests are virtually untouched compared to their Malaysian and Indonesian neighbors on the island.  Although small compared to its neighbors the size of their virgin forests is significant.  Brunei’s crown jewel is Ulu Temburong National Park.  99% of the park is set aside for conservation and only researchers are allowed access to those parts.  Tours are available starting with a traditional longboat ride up the Temburong River from Sumbiling Eco Village or even Bandar Seri Begawan from several tour agencies.  Once inside the park the hike leads to a canopy skywalk but unfortunately a hard thunderstorm rolled in and we were unable to go up there.

Our guide with a researcher discovering a new ant species.

View the full blog post

8.  Taiwan only has two short stretches of roadless coastline.  Both of them are located in Pingtung County north of Kenting.  There were serious proposals to build a road along this part of the coast but thankfully that appears to be permanently shelved.  The Qufengbi Coastal Trail leaves from the Jialeshui Scenic Area and is full of interesting sights.  The Jialeshui Scenic Area is the sight of fascinating ocean carved rocks.  There are also shipwrecks (the big one is dismantled), an old army fort and green cliffs that seemingly fall into the ocean.  The Alanyi Trail is a little farther north in the same area.  It is a little shorter and includes great views of the ocean.

The Jialeshui Scenic Area at the beginning of the Qufengbi Trail

View the full blog post

The Alanyi Trail

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9. Gunung Batur is Bali’s most hiked volcano since it can be done in a day (1/2 a day actually).  Gunung Batur is the center cone in one of Bali’s largest craters with an impressive lake in the southern portion.  I was unaware of this when I decided to hike Batur but it has erupted at least a dozen times in the last 150 years.

View the full guide entry

10.  Hehuanshan is Taiwan’s most accessible high mountain area due to the Central Cross Island Highway (new version) passing nearby.  It used to be the site of Taiwan’s only ski hill but the area no longer gets significant snow and the infrastructure is in ruins.  Now Taiwanese flock to Hehuanshan on snowy weekends so they can experience snow likely for the first time.

Overall there are 5 of Taiwan’s Baiyue (top 100 peaks) in the area and several others (Cilai North) that can be accessed via longer trails.  Hehuanshan Main Peak, Hehuanshan East Peak and Shimenshan are short hikes that hikers of most abilities can handle.  Hikers that want a little more challenge can tackle Hehuanshan North Peak or go all the way to Hehuanshan West Peak (a very long dayhike).

View the full blog post

My Top Ten Waterfalls of 2015 (link)

2015 was a great year for myself and for my waterfall guide.  I fell a little short of my goal to visit my 100th waterfall in Taiwan but I should reach that goal in February this year.  I have now visited 13 out of Richard’s 20 favorite waterfalls in Taiwan but I still have a personal list of 30-40 more waterfalls to visit.  More importantly I traveled outside of Taiwan twice this year on waterfall/hiking trips.  In February I went to Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo and in June I went to Bali.  Of course I ventured far from the typical path in Bali and visited 13 waterfalls in 10 days.   Bali’s waterfalls were amazing and it was really difficult to choose only 3 for the list below.

Riding back to Ali Waterfall, Pingtung, Taiwan

The list below only includes new waterfalls that I visited this year.  One focus this year (and next) has been on revisiting some of my favorites (like Lover’s Gorge) because they are my favorites but they aren’t included.  Another focus has been doing more hikes and the other best places that Taiwan has to offer.  I am hoping to do at least 3-4 of Taiwan’s high mountain hikes this year.  A 3 day hike of Beidawushan is a certainty.  Other hikes could include Jiaming Lake (Taitung), Shuiyang (Nantou), Wuling Sixiu (Taichung) or Qilai North Peak (Nantou).

Fenghuang Waterfall was my last new waterfall of the year.  We visited on New Year’s Eve.

I am hoping to go on four international trips this year so next year’s competition for this waterfall list will be even tougher.  In addition to that I have some great waterfall trips in Taiwan planned (like Golden Grotto and Manyueyuan).  In February I will travel to North Sumatra and visit Sipisopiso Waterfall and Sibolangit Waterfall.  I am very close to booking a ticket to Lombok in March/April to climb Mt Rinjani (at least to the crater – seasonal weather issues) and Tiu Kelep Waterfall.  In June I will hopefully be making a trip home to Minnesota and there are some great waterfalls (Gooseberry Falls) in Minnesota.  My October/November trip is a little undecided but the most likely destination choices are the Philippines (including TBEX Asia), Japan (anywhere and everywhere is on my list) or northern Vietnam (Sapa and Ban Gioc/Detian Waterfall).  If I can actually pull off this busy schedule (I also work full time and run a business) then I might have to expand next year’s list to a top 20.  I also might have to find a sponsor, sell plasma and/or cash in all of the worthless baseball cards that I have in my mother’s closet.

2015’s best waterfalls

  1. I had known about a possible waterfall near Majia for several years but I never took a trip until January this year.  Part of the reason for this was that no information existed about this waterfall on the internet until my friend Asher visited it (many times).  I finally visited and it instantly became my favorite in southern Taiwan in addition to being the #3 most viewed waterfall page at my Taiwan’s Waterfall Guide.  As an added bonus there is an old slate house village (Jiupaiwan) located near the falls that you can walk around in.

Click for directions to Shalawan Waterfall, Pingtung, Taiwan

2.   Langanan Waterfall is one of Sabah’s most impressive waterfalls (#2 on My Sabah’s top ten list) and one of the highlights from my February trip to Malaysian Borneo.  The waterfall is located on the eastern flank of Mount Kinabalu and is a slightly challenging half day hike.  The trail is a lush example of what Borneo’s rainforests would look like if they were untouched by the plantations and logging.  Lupa Masa (link) is a great eco-camp near Poring Hot Springs that allows you to fully experience the rainforest.

Click for directions to Langanan Waterfall, Sabah, Malaysia

3. Lambir Hills National Park in Sarawak, Malaysia was one of my favorite hikes of the year.  The park is located outside of Miri and is a waterfall lovers paradise.  There are 6 different waterfalls and one peak to hike to but hiking to all of the waterfalls (and the peak) in one day can only be done by the strongest hikers (25+ km in heat with a 5pm park exit) though.  Sometime in the next 5 years I plan on returning to Sarawak to visit the Mulu Pinnacles and I will definitely take an extra day or two visiting Lambir Hills National Park again.

Tengkorong Waterfall

Click for directions to Lambir Hills National Park, Sarawak, Malaysia

4. One of my favorite forgotten areas in Taiwan is Zengwen Reservoir.  Many people visit the Zengwen Reservoir Recreation Area and drive the road to Dapu (one of the best motorcycle rides in Taiwan) but other than that very little of the rest is explored.  Asher and I tried to find one of Richard Saunders’ 20 favorite waterfalls 2 years ago but we got lost (terrible directions from a local) and ironically found the correct valley but didn’t explore far enough.  I went back this year with better maps (and ignored the terrible directions from a different local) and found an incredible and almost never visited waterfall.

Click for directions to Feiyun Waterfall, Taiwan

5.  Later that weekend I joined up with Richard Saunders and a group of Taipei Hikers on one of the most interesting trips of the year.  We hiked down to the river on a barely used fisherman trail and swam across the river to the other side of a flood control dam.  We walked up a fish ladder and then had to crawl through a 1 meter tall hole in the dam.  Continuing upstream we found many fossils (shells) in broken up river rock before arriving at an amazing swimming hole with multiple small waterfalls.  Lianyun Waterfall and several others are located up a side stream.  It isn’t the biggest but there is something special about the perfect pool in the perfect forest.

Click for directions to Lianyun Waterfall, Chaiyi, Taiwan

 6.  Melanting Waterfall was the highlight of my favorite part of Bali.  Munduk and Melanting are a pair of beautiful villages located just east of Bali’s 3 lakes region at a slightly cooler elevation of 700 meters.  There are at least 3 nice waterfalls in the area, a nice hiking trail between them and many nice guesthouses and restaurants with picturesque views of Gunung Batukaru.

Click for directions to Melanting Waterfall, Bali, Indonesia

7. The best thing about Bali was that so many great places were so close together and the road infrastructure made travel very efficient.  In 11 days I visited 13 waterfalls, 10 temples, hiked Gunung Batur, went dolphin watching (as disappointing as the reviews are) and traveled with my sister.  Aling Aling Waterfall is a stunning waterfall in Bali’s waterfall rich north central region.  The main waterfall is the most impressive but there are 3 smaller waterfalls downstream that are perfect for swimming at (local guide required for swimming).

Click for directions Aling Aling Waterfall, Bali, Indonesia

8.  Sekumpul isn’t the most famous waterfall in Bali but it is the most spectacular.  It falls close to 100 meters in multiple streams from allegedly multiple sources.  As an added bonus Lemukih Waterfall is located on the same hike (different stream) and you experience a 360 degree waterfall where you can experience multiple different branches that surround you.  Both waterfalls are great places to swim.

Click for directions to Sekumpul Waterfall, Bali, Indonesia

9.  Changlong Waterfall was once a popular destination near the Shaonian Stream Recreation Area.  It was most famous for its hot spring but there were also two great waterfalls.  In 2009 Typhoon Morakot destroyed the hot spring, the lower waterfall and the entire hiking trail but the upper waterfall survived.  It is a short but rocky hike up to the rarely visited waterfall.

Click for directions to Changlong Waterfall, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

10.  Maolin Waterfall was another waterfall trail completely wiped out by Typhoon Morakot.  I tried finding this waterfall in 2012 and walked up the river to a small waterfall that was impassable.  In 2013 they built a new 27M NT trail back to the waterfall.  The new trail has two suspension bridges and leads to one of the best waterfalls in southern Taiwan.  This is just one of 4 great waterfalls in Kaohsiung County’s Maolin Valley.

Click for directions to Maolin Waterfall, Kaohsiung, Taiwan