If you’re keen to get your hike on, breathe in some fresh air, and feel the searing burn of walking up a lot of stairs, read on, because Elephant Mountain is a must-do when visiting Taipei.
What is Elephant Mountain?
Elephant Mountain offers the best views of Taipei, but you have to earn it first. It’s a steep climb up 400 steps to get to the main viewing platform, which will promise you some spectacular views! Elephant Mountain is free to enter (that’s my favourite price).
The name Elephant Mountain comes from the long ‘nose’ of the mountain, making it look like a long elephant trunk. Almost everything in Taipei is cute, and this is no exception!
When to visit Elephant Mountain
You can stop by Elephant Mountain at almost any time, but if you’re looking for a dreamy shot, sunrise or sunset will be your best bet! This is a popular attraction for tourists, so to avoid the masses I would suggest going on a weekday, and if you can brave an early start go for sunrise. The busiest times are typically on a weekend evening, so avoid this is you can.
How to get to Elephant Mountain
It’s super easy to get to Elephant Mountain. The red MRT line has a final stop at Xiangshan, which is just one stop after Taipei 101. These trains run every ten minutes so you don’t need to plan ahead too much.
Once you exit the subway station you will see signs direction you toward Xiangshan Trail. The first part of the walk is very casual, past a park bound to be full of Taiwanese seniors exercising, before curving to the left up a steep hill.
If you’re going for sunrise, depending on the time of year you may find that the sun is set to rise too early to make a subway trip in and still have time to walk up. We went for sunrise and found that taking an Uber was surprisingly cheap. A twenty-minute ride only cost us around $250 TWD ($8 USD/$11.5 AUD/€7 EUR). Just make sure you set the Uber to Xiangshan Trail – we first set it to Elephant Mountain and went to the wrong spot!
You’ll go over the crest of the hill find an entrance saying CHECK THIS. Now the real hard work begins. Start the journey up the stairs – remember these aren’t nice stairs that are perfectly placed. Instead, you’ll be switching between taking two low stairs at a time, or ruining your knees to hoist your body up a step that is twice as high as it should be.
The good news? You’ll only have to endure this for 20-30 minutes, dependent on your fitness level. When you near the top you’ll find some huge boulders that you can climb on for a great photo, or if you venture another twenty metres up there is a great photography platform where you can take a selfie, go for the perfect shot, or shoot a timelapse.
What to bring to Elephant Mountain
This is only a short hike, which makes a short list of items to bring. I would recommend:
- Comfortable clothes suitable for the weather
- Ample water
- Bug spray if going early morning/evening (the mosquitos are ferocious!)
Final Tips & Suggestions for Elephant Mountain
- Stop by a local supermarket for some fresh fruit, cheese and crackers, or grab some beers to enjoy a picnic with a sunset view.
- Keep an eye out for some incredibly athletic jumping squirrels in the tree-tops above.
- The trail continues for another hour if you’re up to the challenge (we weren’t).