Thursday, May 23, 2019

Taiwan Trip Day 5 - Alishan (阿里山) | Fenchihu 奋起湖 | Eryanping Trail 二延平步道 | 云瀑谷

5 December 2018

Part 2 of Day 5 @ Sun Moon Lake - Alishan
1) Fenchihu (奋起湖)
2) Eryanping Trail (二延平步道)
3) Dinner @ 云瀑谷

12:30pm - We spent our afternoon exploring Fenchihu/Fenqihu (奋起湖). The quaint village felt a little like Jiufen (九份) and no wonder it is also commonly known as Jiufen in Alishan. Located in the Chiayi County, and standing at an altitude of about 1,403 meters, Fengchihu is famous for its old street, bento box and square bamboos. Despite its name, there is actually no lake in the area. In Taiwanese local dialect, [湖] meant low-lying land. Surrounded by mountains on the East, West and North, the low-lying area lies in the South.

Fenchihu is also the mid-way stop for the Alishan Forest Railway which was opened in 1919. Once it was a refuel station for the old Alishan forest locomotives to replenish water and coal. Back then, the steam trains are slow and it takes several hours to travel from Chiayi to Alishan. As the journey was long, drivers took this time to rest and have their meal. This is also how Fenchihu has reputation for its railway lunch box. Now, Fenchihu has transformed into a resting point for travelers.

Keep a look out for the distinctive square bamboos (chimonobambusa quadrangularis)when you are in Fenchihu. From afar it looks round but when you look closer, it is actually square. Originated from China, it was brought in to Taiwan.


In 2009, several sections of the Alishan Forest Railway were severely damaged by Typhoon Morakot ,which includes the section from Fenchihu to Alishan. Hence, travelers can only take the train from Chiayi to Fenchihu and transfer to take a bus up to Alishan.

Train travelling between Chiayi and Fenchihu @ Fenchihu Station

Loving getting close to the trains and be on the train tracks. We do not get to do that often in Singapore.


Walk back in time and check out the old steam locomotives in the train garage (old railway museum). 

You can learn more about the history of Alishan Forest Railway here


One of the must eat in Fenchihu is the traditional railway bento/lunch box (鐵路便當). There are a couple of places selling it and one of the more popular/famous one is at Fenchihu Hotel. In the earlier days, Alishan Forest Train used to be the only way to Alishan and Bento/Lunch boxes flourished as it provides travelers with freshly made food which consist of vegetables, meat and rice while seated on the train.

We decided to buy 1 lunchbox to try. Selling at NT180 (~SGD8.20). the lunch box consist of chicken leg meat, boiled egg and some vegetables. In terms of the taste and flavour, I personally find it average and will prefer Chiayi Turkey Rice over this. Nevertheless, it is still worth a try to experience the traditional bento box. After our meal, we have to return the lunch boxes to the collection point.


The old streets of Fenchihu is a miniature version of Jiufen with its houses built on the hillside and the narrow lanes. The 500-meter old street, located further down from the train station, have grocery stores selling specialty products, clothing, shoes and delicious local snacks. With the opening of Alishan Highway in the early 1980s, the old street has seen lesser crowd due to the gradual decline of the railway. Thankfully, with its rich natural landscape and prevalence of tourism, Fenchihu has once again rise and become a popular scenic tourist spot of Alishan.

Assorted sweets and snacks

There are a few MUST-eat in Fenchihu, which includes Railway Lunch Box, Aiyu Jelly, Baked Donuts, Sticky Glutinous rice cake, and Stuffed Dried Tofu. Unfortunately, I did not do my research well before our trip and we only tried Aiyu Jelly and Railyway lunch box.

I enjoyed walking through the old street which is believed to have 160-year long history. 

Travelers can tour Fenchihu in half a day time, and choose to continue their journey up to Alishan or  spend a night in Fenchihu. If you visit at the right season, you can also go for the fireflies tour.

2pm - Check-in to David's House near Eryangping Trail where we will be spending our next two nights. Read more about our accommodation experience here -

2:30pm - Our home stay owner kindly dropped us somewhere along Eryanping Trail. We walked past a gorgeous bamboo grove and can't help stopping by to take photos.

After exiting the bamboo grove, the trail lead us to the tea plantations. It is a very therapeutic walk in the cooling weather.

3:40pm - After walking for awhile, we finally arrived at the viewing platform at the 2nd pavilion. The weather is pretty cloudy and we could not get a good view of the sunset or sea of clouds. Nevertheless, the view from the top is captivating.

Many photographers camp their cameras here for hours just waiting for the right moment.

We also waited patiently for about 1.5 hours before deciding to make our way down as the sun is setting.

Where is the Sea of Clouds?

5pm - Setting Sun at Eryanping Trail

Sun sets very fast and we have to make haste down quickly. It was a steep flight of stairs and along the way there are stunning views from the top. 

We past by the first pavilion and continue to make our way down as there are no street lights along the trail.

Walking past another tea plantation

This was the last photo I could take as within the next couple of minutes, it was pitch dark! I could not get a clear view of what is ahead and we have not even reached the end of the trail! It was one of the most heart-pounding experience as we could not really see what was ahead and on top of that, the rustling sounds from the leaves or animals gave us chills! I must admit I was pretty scared and to make things worse, I was leading the group with my girl in front while hubby and our boy guarded our backs. Thankfully we have lights from our mobile phones to guide us all the way down to the end of the trail. We could finally breathe!

Hence, if you are planning to catch the sunset on Eryanping Trail, make sure you are well prepared to make your way down as it gets really dark in the mountains.

5:50pm - Thankfully, our minsu lady boss gave us a ride to our dining place - 云瀑谷. We cannot really have a good view of how the restaurant looks out cos it was very dark. However, I had the impression that it has a spacious outdoor garden and the interior of the restaurant has lots of wood furnishing. Owner of the restaurant name it 云瀑谷 as you can often see the sea of clouds that looks like waterfall.

There are hotpot, curry rice, dim sum and beverages like coffee and milk on the menu.

We had Chinese Herbal and Original hotpot for the night. It is best to take warm food in the cold night. Our hotpot has lots of fresh leafy green and the portion is good for our family.


7pm - The owners sent us back to our minsu after our dinner and we rest for the night.

Check out our 2 Weeks Taiwan Itinerary Family Trip here

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