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Overview

Half of Taiwan is heavily forested and nine percent of the land is well protected inside seven national parks. These are true national parks in the Western sense (i.e., not just protected on paper) and cover a landscape that varies from tropical beaches to juniper forests to alpine meadows above 3000 meters (9,843 feet). Taroko park is the jewel of the system, and with its stunning marble walled gorge, a true world class destination. Though surprisingly little known, Taiwan's parks offer some of the best hiking in Asia. The trails are well maintained, clearly marked (in English as well as Mandarin), and feature a system of tidy free cabins ...

Half of Taiwan is heavily forested and nine percent of the land is well protected inside seven national parks. These are true national parks in the Western sense (i.e., not just protected on paper) and cover a landscape that varies from tropical beaches to juniper forests to alpine meadows above 3000 meters (9,843 feet). Taroko park is the jewel of the system, and with its stunning marble walled gorge, a true world class destination. Though surprisingly little known, Taiwan's parks offer some of the best hiking in Asia. The trails are well maintained, clearly marked (in English as well as Mandarin), and feature a system of tidy free cabins (though one must apply for permits first). Yushan is the highest mountain in northeast Asia (higher than Mt. Fuji) and thus extremely popular, but more experienced hikers should aim for the weeklong Batonguan Historic Trail, the South Section II, or Shei-Pa National Park's glorious Holy Ridge. In the south, Kenting National Park features tropical beaches one can swim in year round and scrubby headlands for cruising around on a bicycle or scooter. It's also a prime bird watching spot especially in the fall during the goshawk and gray-faced buzzard migration. Closer to Taipei, Yangmingshan is renowned for butterflies and birds, rolling meadows, steamy fumaroles, and some nice hot springs.

Robert Kelly
About the Expert

Robert Kelly is the two-time author of the Lonely Planet Taiwan guide, and coauthor of Tibet and China. He has lived in Taiwan for the past 12 years.

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Robert Kelly for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Fall, spring; typhoons can close parks in summer; Yushan is closed for a month every winter.