Planning on hiking Yushan soon? In this guide, you’ll find everything you should know !
Yushan, also famous under the name of Jade Mountain, is the highest mountain in Taiwan with an elevation of 3,952 meters. Recently, it has become a popular destination for hikers. It’s easy to understand why, Taiwanese are very friendly, the trail is well-maintained, clean and on top of that there’s even a lodge near the summit! You don’t need any specific equipment to climb the mountain unless you go in the winter, but you’ll need to have a decent level of fitness.
Mountain-junkies love to combine Yushan with Kota Kinabalu (Malaysia) and the famous Fuji Mountain (Japan) for a hiking trilogy around East Asia. The Yushan mountain will definitely be the cheapest hike of these 3, but you’ll need a bit of planning to get the appropriate documents. Another cheap hike to do in the area is hiking the highest summit in South Korea, the Hallasan mountain.
This guide includes what you need to hike Yushan, how to get every document required and share our experience hiking Yushan with our 19-month-old toddler.
If you need inspiration about where to hike on the island, I put up a list of 6 amazing hikes in Taiwan that will leave you breathless!
Note: If you make purchases through one of the links in this post, we get a small commission at no extra costs for you. This will help us to keep the website running and carry on our journey around the world so we can write more useful articles like this one.
3 possibilities for hiking Yushan :
You plan on hiking Yushan in less than a week :
Not possible since you need to apply for a permit at least 7 days in advance.
The day of your hike is between 7 days and 35 days :
You’ll be able to hike after applying for a permit, but you’ll need to sleep at least 12 kilometers away from the summit or at the parking lot slightly closer if you have a car.
The day of your hike is in more than 35 days :
As a foreigner, things get easier if you want to hike during the weekdays.
You’re gonna be able to sleep in the Paiyun Lodge (3,402 meters high), a hostel located only 2 kilometers away from the summit. There’s a quota, 24 spots to be exact, allocated to foreigners during the weekdays (Sunday night to Thursday night). If you want to hike during the weekend, then you won’t enjoy any advantage from being a foreigner and there will be a lot of locals applying to sleep in this lodge, still possible though!
You can apply for the Paiyun Lodge up to 4 months in advance.
Step One : Get the PERMIT ~ 30 minutes
You need to get a permit before hiking Yushan. The permit is totally free.
After accepting their conditions, you’ll get this screen:
- Want to sleep in the Paiyun Lodge? Choose the “Paiyun Lodge Advanced Application” (35 days to 4 months in advance)
- Not going to sleep in the Paiyun Lodge? Choose “Standard Application” (7 days to 2 months in advance)
You can only submit your application between 7am and 11pm Taiwanese time. You can still save your draft though.
I don’t speak or read Chinese and I managed to do it without my wife’s help. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes. (doesn’t seem to be the case anymore)
You need your personal details and a picture of you hiking above 3000 meters. They ask for insurance but you can tick off the case without uploading anything. You’ll also need a parental authorization if you’re going to hike with a kid.
How to fill the form to apply for the Paiyun Lodge?
Hiking Route: Main: Yushan Trails
Secondary: 2 days (Tataka – Yushan Trails – Tataka) (Paiyun Lodge Advanced Application)
Schedule: Start with Paiyun Mountaineering Center – Tataka Trailhead – and then you can choose depending on what you plan on hiking. Mt. Jade Main Peak is the highest summit at 3.952m. There are others peaks named Mt. Jade (Front, West and North), but they are just different nearby mountains.
How to fill the form to apply only for the one-day Hiking Yushan permit?
Primary Route: You have to choose Yushan Trails
Route: Yushan Trails Day Hike
Schedule: Paiyun Mountaineering Center – Tataka Trailhead – Mt. Jade Main Peak – Tataka Trailhead – Paiyun Mountaineering Center
Choose Mt. Jade Main Peak if you plan on hiking Yushan. The other Mt. Jade mountain is just a nearby lower mountain (but much less crowded and also beautiful!).
Tips to apply for the Yushan Permit
The number of people hiking Yushan in a day is limited to 60 by the Yushan National Park, but if you hike during weekdays you shouldn’t have any problem with this quota. If it’s at the weekends then you might end up being on the waiting list if you apply late.
When you apply, it can be slightly tricky, since a few things are not translated in English. You might wanna use a browser that can translate the page. Try to tick off the case, or write anything in the blank, it should allow you to submit your application. Leave a comment below if you need any help.
Step two : Got the permit? You need to apply for the police authorization ~ 2 minutes
You need to wait to be approved. Once approved, you’ll be able to apply for the second permit, named Police Permit. You can apply it through your application on the same website. They were very quick to send mine, but it was all written in Chinese. There are two pages. Here’s one of them.
Step three : Print the documents
You’ll need to print the Yushan National Park permit (1 page) and the Police permit (2 pages). You can print it only 5 days before hiking Yushan because they won’t send it before. So to be clear you’ll know that you’re approved long before these 5 days, but you’ll receive the permit 5 days before the hiking date.
You can print these documents in a 7/11 for 2NTD (0,05euro) per page. Bring your USB or upload files before on this website (it’s in English).
Step four : Get to the Yushan National Park
Get to the Yushan National Park from the Sun Moon Lake
You can take a bus from the Sun Moon Lake directly to the Yushan National Park. Two buses are leaving each day, at 8am and 9am. The bus is bound for Alishan. two very popular touristic destinations, to the park’s entrance.
The bus journey is operated by Yuanlin bus (website only in Mandarin).
Get to the Yushan National Park from Taipei
The first step is to take a train from Taipei to Chiayi. It takes about 3 hours. Chiayi is easily reachable by direct train from Taipei, Taichung, Kaohsiung or any big cities on the west coast. After reaching Chiayi, you have several options:
From Chiayi, the option I’d recommend is to take a bus to Alishan. It will be cheaper than the train. There are frequent buses connecting these two places, but the last bus leaving Chiayi towards Alishan seems to be at 2pm, and the last bus leaving Alishan for Chiayi is at 5pm. From Alishan to the Yushan National Park, there are only two buses per day. At 1pm and at 2pm. They are bound for the Sun Moon Lake, but you can ask them to drop you at the entrance of the park. The starting place for hiking Yushan is called Tataka, so you need to ask the bus to drop you there.
There’s also a scenic train that used to connect Chiayi and Alishan named the Alishan Express Train. As it doesn’t reach Alishan anymore, you’ll need to switch to Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus about halfway to Fenqihu. Check out the schedule and more information here.
You can also take a taxi from Chiayi, straight to the entrance of the Yushan’s trail. It should cost around 3000NTD (100$).
Hitchhiking from Chiayi is also a good option, as there’s a decent amount of traffic going up there. You could also hitch from the Sun Moon Lake/Nantou, that’s what my wife HiuYing did and it worked well for her. A lot of traffic until Xinyi, then it’s a bit more scarce. All in all, Taiwan is a great place to hitch rides.
You could also rent a scooter or a car in Chiayi or Alishan and ride it up there.
Cycling is another interesting option if you have the legs. That’s what I did.
If you like cycling, check this article about my experience cycling Taiwan’s highest road, the Central Cross-Island Highway, going from sea level to an altitude of 3200 meters in only a day !
Step five : Sleeping
If you want to have more details about all your options to sleep in, or near, the Yushan National Park, I wrote a complete article that hopefully will help you in your planning.
If you managed to secure a spot at the Paiyun Lodge through the permit application process, you probably don’t need to read this part and just focus on hiking Yushan.
If you did not, then your best option might be the Dongpu Villa Hostel (also known as Dongpu lodge) as it is the closest hostel from the entrance of the trail. It costs 300NTD (10US$) per person to sleep in a dorm shared by 20 people.
Being the only foreigners, and especially with a baby, we were well-treated by fellow Taiwanese trekkers and got invited to eat some famous chiayi turkey rice and drink a bit of liquor (58% of alcohol though!!).
Normally they’ll have space during the weekdays, maybe best to book in advance for the weekends. They don’t have a website nor can you find them on Booking.com or other popular booking websites. You can call them at this number: +886492702213. We were there on a Tuesday night, and there were around 40 people here. I think the hostel was almost full, but probably because half of the people were part of the same group. That was one of the best parts of our trip.
Sleeping within the Yushan National Park
Check the link to see all your options to sleep within the Yushan National Park.
Your options are quite limited if you plan to sleep within the Yushan National Park. You need to apply to a lodge, such as the Paiyun Lodge. There’s no commercial accommodation within the Yushan National Park, all the lodges are regulated by the Yushan National Park governmental organization.
Sleeping outside of the Yushan National Park
Sleep in Alishan: More options, more comfortable, more sightseeing but more expensive!
If you need more comfort than the Dongpu Hostel can provide, I’d suggest you to sleep in Alishan. It’s located 20 kilometers away from the start of the hike. Here’s a thorough list of available accommodation near the popular Alishan Forest Railway.
Sleep on the road coming from the northern side: More authentic, more rural and cheaper, but further away from the park
If you’re coming from the northern side (e.g. Shuili), you’ll have much less options than the touristic town of Alishan although it should be much cheaper. The closest accommodation to the park’s entrance on the northern side is a village near the town of Xinyi, about 40 kilometers away from the trail. I’d recommend two different homestays there: Tabakai, and Manaskal. You can enjoy great views of the Yushan moutain from both of these homestays and an authentic feel. As of today, the Tabakai homestay is rated at 8.9 while Manaskal is at 8.6 on booking.com.
Sleep in the closest major city: Chiayi, 90 kilometers away from the trail
Another interesting option is to sleep in the city of Chiayi. Although it is rather far from the Yushan National Park (2 hours by car), you’ll certainly have to go through Chiayi at some point or another if you’re planning on hiking Yushan.
Hostels and hotels are plentiful and prices are much cheaper than Alishan. You can even get a double room in a 5-star hotel for less than a hundred US dollars a night! If you enjoy comfortable nights, check out these two reasonably priced 5-star hotels Hsin Hotel and Nice Prince Hotel.
I know a lot of our readers are budget-cautious, so check the KM Hostel for cheaper offers and great dorms deal, the Holiday Inn Express Chiayi is definitely the most famous franchise out there, while the Chiayi Look Hotel has some of the best prices in the country for a 4-star hotel!
Or search directly on this map the most suitable option for your need!
Step six : Hiking Yushan
It took us 12 hours and a half to get from the hostel to the main Yushan peak and come back to the Dongpu hostel. We were faster than most that day. We started at 3am, and returned at 3.30pm. Let’s break down the hike in three parts:
Map of the Yushan area
From the hostel/parking lot to the trail’s entrance (~4KM / 1 hour)
The first part is the walk from the hostel/parking lot to the trail’s entrance, named the Saddle of Tataka. It is ~4KM long and it took us 50 minutes. The road is paved but closed to all vehicles, except some shuttles going back and forth between these two points, they won’t be there before dawn, but you can take the shuttle during daytime. It costs 100NTD (~3US$). It seems that these shuttles start to operate at 6.30am.
On the way, you’ll pass by a police station as shown on the map above. We dropped our police permit in their postbox.
The trail’s entrance to the Paiyun Lodge (8.5KM / 3-5 hours)
You need to reach the Paiyun Lodge before 10am, otherwise they won’t let you carry on hiking Yushan !
Once you reach the trail’s entrance, the Tataka saddle, you have to walk 8.5 kilometers to the Paiyun Lodge. This is where you feel like you’re really hiking! The trail is not too difficult despite the 1000-meter difference between the two points. Most of the time you’ll go slightly up, and sometimes down. A few rest areas are located on the way along with markers every 500 meters.
We arrived at the lodge at 7.25am. We were quite fast and overtook several other trekkers, but we took a “long” break halfway because the baby woke up and got fussy. HiuYing nursed him for a while, then I put him back in the carrier until the lodge.
You’ll be very happy to reach the lodge, as it is a good place to relax and recharge your batteries. You can get some hot water there. They don’t sell anything though, so you should bring your own food for the entire hike. The lodge is also where you need to show your hiking Yushan permit. We left a small bag there that we picked up after returning from the top.
We stayed 40 minutes there, eating breakfast, drinking water and, of course, we let the kid walk and grab everybody’s attention.
I love to hike with my kids! Check out this article where I share my 32 best tips to hike with a baby!
The Paiyun Lodge to the top (2.4KM / 1-2.5 hours)
Brace yourselves! After the lodge comes the last and hardest part. Only 2.4k with a 500-meter height difference. It gets harder as you’re getting closer to the summit, but you’ll find chains to help you. I was surprised by the end of the trail because I was expecting something easier. Take your time! If you’re in decent condition, you’ll make it. I arrived at the summit with the baby at 9.30am, and HiuYing made it a few minutes later.
The other trekkers congratulated me and started to ask for a picture with the baby and me while I was catching my breath. After HiuYing arrived, everybody left. It was only the three of us up there, feeling like we had the mountain for ourselves. Great experience with amazing views on the Yushan National Park, but on the other hand we don’t have any good pictures of us 3 up there haha.
Around 40 minutes later we started to go down, took another break in the lodge and headed back to the hostel. It was quite misty on the way back. We arrived at the Tataka saddle at 2.50pm, and some shuttle vans were waiting but we walked to the entrance of the Yushan National Park. We arrived at the hostel at 3.30pm. After a short break and a bit of food, I was on the road cycling while HiuYing started to hitchhike with the kid towards Chiayi, where our Couchsurfing host was waiting for us! That was a very long day, and I ended up hitching a ride with my bicycle to get to Chiayi because I was just too tired!
Hiking Yushan : 7 Tips & advice
When to go ? The weather in Yushan
Taiwan has a useful government-owned weather website.
It rains an average of 140 days per year, mostly during May and August as you can see on the chart. On top of that, the typhoon’s season comes between July and September.
We went hiking Yushan in September, and it was perfect !
During the winter months, the summit will usually be covered by frost but these are the driest months.
Source : Wikipedia
Hiking Yushan in the winter
The permit application to hike the Yushan main peak in one day are closed from January until the end of March. The dates can depend on the actual weather. You can still hike the Yushan Main Peak, but you’ll need to sleep in the Paiyun Lodge, and all members will be required to show photos or certificate proving that you have experience snow climbing. You’ll also need to bring equipment.
Check out more here.
Is the Yushan trail open or not?
You can check this link to know the current status of the trail. You’ll learn whether you can apply for the permit and go hiking Yushan.
There’s no shop on the trail or near the hostel. The closest shops are in Alishan so you’d better stack up everything you need before. If you stay at the Dongpu Villa Hostel, you can get dinner at an extra cost. They sell cup noodles as well. There’s a shared kitchen and water. The Paiyun Lodge also offers an option to eat but you’ll need to book it a week before the hike. Dinner is 300 NTD (10$), breakfast/lunch is 150 NTD.
You don’t need a guide for hiking Yushan. Every intersection you’ll see a sign in Chinese and in English.
- Hike with comfortable shoes. Try to avoid brand-new hiking shoes because you’ll be likely to have blisters.
- Get ready for bad weather even if it looks sunny. Things can change quite fast at this elevation. Carry something in case of rain or/and strong wind.
- If you start hiking Yushan before dawn, a light will be necessary as you won’t be able to see the trail. A headlight is the best option.
- The sunrise is said to be an incredible sight, but you’ll need to stay in the Paiyun Lodge, or to start hiking Yushan around midnight if you want to experience it. Be aware that the sun is rising at a different time every day so check it before!
- It’s an unbelievably clean trail, so please take your own trash. I might add not only on this trail but anywhere on this planet. Thank you!
Hiking Yushan was a great experience and one of our best memories of the year. We quickly forgot that we couldn’t walk for a few days after that. Don’t be deterred by the permits. The application will be a painless process if you follow our tips! Taiwan is an island blessed with stunning landscapes. The Yushan National Park might be the most beautiful place of them all. Many Taiwanese see hiking Yushan as one of their life goals. If you are in decent shape and have enough time on the island, go for it !
Feel free to comment if you need help for any step of the process. And of course, let us know how hiking Yushan was!