Taiwan Day 8 Elephant Mountain and Raohe Night Market

When friends saw the view of Taipei 101 from 象山 Elephant Mountain, they were curious to know more.

Where is Elephant Mountain?
Can anyone hike up Elephant Mountain?

Nearest MRT station is “Xiang Shan”, literally 象山. From here, it is a short walk (850m) to the Trail head (base)

Alternatively, you may wish to walk 1.3km from Taipei 101, but beware, it is easy to get lost in the small winding lanes (you will need GPS navigation!)

Most will hike from trail head (steps picture, GPS 25.027377 121.570769).

Elephant Hill
Elephant Mountain trail head

Even after 5 min climb, you can already see Taipei 101 from different perspective. This is a motivation for you to climb higher and get a better view.

Steps can be steep and seem endless, but go slow and everyone can make it to the top.  Can you spot the “elephant hill” outline below?

 

As an estimation, we took about 20 minutes to reach the top, hop and walk and rest. For first time hikers, aim for 30 to 40 minutes slow walk and have frequent rest.

Hiking in Taiwan is different from Malaysia (read our Gunung conquers). Taiwan treks and trails are well paved with steps and pavements, you do not need to crawl on on fours and get muddy.

Elephant Mountain is actually part of a ‘animal mountain range” called 四獸山 (Four beasts). You got Elephant, Leopard, Tiger and Lion.  Conquer these four beasts to reach the peak at “九五峯” (this will require 1/2 day).

For casual tourists( you and me), we would recommend to aim for the “6 boulders” at Elephant Mountain, you will reach a few huge boulders along the climb, but who is counting the stones?

There will be platforms for visitors to take photos and enjoy the splendid Taipei metropolitan landscape view.

Day or night, you can expect some nice scenes. If you want some unique experience, hiking elephant Mountain will provide you the thrills, perspiration and sights.

 

In my previous solo trip, I climbed up the huge rock for some “epic” photos. the best view would be normally around sunset, this is also the most crowded period.

The girls did not joined us, they were shopping at 五分埔 Wu Fen Pu (GPS 25.048103, 121.580061) .

From Song Shan station (松山車站, GPS 25.049504, 121.578211), we had earlier plan to meet at 饒河夜市 Raohe for dinner and supper 🙂

Wu Fen Pu is just 5 min walk from Song Shan station. Wholesale shopping awaits shoppers and visitors.

If you love shopping and finding unique designs, Wu Fen Pu might be your cup of tea. There are endless rows of niche shops and merchandise.

Map below, Song Shan Station is in the middle of our activities. Elephant Mountain is South. Those heading to Ruifang, Keelung, Jiufen, Shifen will also have to transfer at the same train station. (Check out the other cities’ blogs on out 10D9N Taiwan Itinerary here)

 

The highlight for the night is food again, and 饒河夜市 (Raohe) is one of the popular night markets in Taiwan.

Raohe GPS 25.050917, 121.577669 , and there is a famous Mascot dog too 🙂

胡椒餅饒河 Black Pepper Bun (pork filling) is one of the most famous snacks. The buns are sticked to the side of the oven (urn?), heated to perfection and  piping hot. The juicy pepperish taste will stun your tongue.

The original stall always has queues 20 minutes long! I tried the smaller stall outside which claims “Not Nice Eat for Free haha!”

Seriously, I cannot tell the difference between the two stalls 🙂

Just grab smaller portions and share with families, that is the way to enjoy Taiwan Night Market street food.

December weather is cool, so anything soupy or fried would warm our tummies.

The torched beef cube are available at many night markets. The one at Raohe is over-rated.

 

This one is good too, deep fried ribs. No bones and crunchy chewy.

Raohe is niche and small compared to Shilin night market 士林夜市. But you can easily spend 2 hours eating, shopping and exploring 🙂

 

Games for kids, and we did not do the traditional Face massage (With strings).

 

Good range of souvenirs, for humans and pets :p
There are a lot of dogs lovers in Taiwan.   

 

Do take a photo at the famous 松山慈祐宮 Ciyou Temple just outside Raohe Night Market too.

You have seen the popular Night scene of Raohe Night Market. Cross the river and visit the LOVE bridge too, this bridge is beautifully illuminated in the evenings.

In the day time, the meandering river offers a panoramic view.

We would recommend renting a YouBike to cycle along the scenic river way too. The design is similar to Singapore’s Park Connectors, but Taipei’s cycling tracks are much wider. (you will need a local Taiwan number to rent a YouBike)

Besides the bridge and Elephant Hill, I have two other less common attractions to recommend.

a) I ran 13km to/fro from Raohe to Songshan Airport (Domestic) for some cool plane spotting too. 濱江180 (Binjiang) is super happening if you are  plane lover. Many folks will YouBike here too. (GPS 25.070849, 121.538490). More aeroplanes photos on Facebook album.

 

b) If you are visiting in December, take note the most-happening Christmas decorations and countdown activities are not around Taipei 101.

Everyone in Taiwan knows this, but visitors will always assume Taipei 101 is the spot (maybe due to New Year Fireworks countdown images?)

Head South-West to outskirt Banqiao 新北市板橋區 (GPS 25.013666, 121.464886). More details here.

All our 10D9N photos are in our Facebook album, do pop by to select your best activities.

Photo albums :

Day 1 Aowanda, Cing Jing
Day 2 Cing Jing
Day 3 Xitou Nature Education Area, Monster Village, Sun Moon Lake
Day 4 Taichung (Zhongshe flower, ShengXin station, Cycling, Fengjia)
Day 5 Taichung (Animation Lane, Rainbow, Miyahara)
Day 6 Keelung 基隆
-Day 7 Ruifang, Jiufen and Shifen
-Day x Taipei HomeAway and Neighbourhood
Day 8 永康, Xi Men Ding, 象山, 饒河 Raohe
Day 9 and 10 北投 Beitou, Toyshop, 士林 Shilin

Blog posts :

** Taiwan Itinerary for families 
Day 1 Google Sheet, Aowanda, Cing Jing
Day 2 Cing Jing Farm
HomeAway Recommendations for Taiwan
Day 3a Xitou Nature Education area (溪頭)
Day 3b Monster village 妖怪村 and Sun Moon Lake
Day 4 Cycling Taichung 台中 
Day 4a 台中 Taichung  attractions
Day 5a 台中 Taichung food Ice cream and Bubble Tea
Day 5b 台中 Taichung Fengjia night market
-Day 6 基隆 Keelung
Day 7a Jiufen attractions
Day 7b Shifen attractions
Taipei Neighbourhood around our HomeAway Vacation Home
Day 8a Yong Kang Street and Xi Men Ding
Day 8b Raohe Night Market, Wu Fen Pu and 象山 Elephant Mountain

Instagram Hashtag #sengkangBabiesTaiwan

Instagram #sengkangBabiesTaiwan

Taiwan Day 1 – Reference our Google Map for GPS and Aowanda National forest

We will cover Aowanda National Forest 奧萬大國家森林 and our itinerary in this blog post.

We took 3 to 4 months to plan our Taiwan trip. After zooming down the number of days we can spare, we focus on the areas which we wish to visit.

(do read our 10D9N summary here)

Both me and Mrs wanted to explored the less touristy area, for a more memorable experience.  I planned for too much hikes and cycling, kids wanted some “shit” I-mean-Fun-novelty cafe, but the only thing we all agree was to sample more street food. Yes, Night Markets 🙂

aowanda national forest
Aowanda National Forest

 

Besides Taipei and Kaohsiung, many other cities have lesser developed public transport system, or the Metro is not as wide spread.
One good example is Taichung, which is better served by bus network rather than train.

You should plan to visit attractions which are nearer to each other. Taichung is huge and contain many attractions (Not including those in neighbouring Miaoli, Nantou, Tainan yet!)

Do visit our itinerary (Google sheet) and sample proximity maps for Ruifang and Tai Chung. The itinerary (with GPS) would help you pinpoint the attractions and rates, the maps will help plan your travel route.

** The Google Sheet and maps are in our GDrive folder.

1)Google Sheet link  (This reference is 95% accurate, as we improvised along the way). Column “G” contains the GPS, and Column “H” indicates the “location markers” .

2)Taichung Map (link) below. Please stay at least two nights in Taichung!

Example below, we should plan to visit (roughly) attractions denoted by location “1,”2″,”7″ and “10”.

3)Ruifang Map (link) below.

Refer to Google sheet link and get an idea of distance between Jiufen, Shifen, PingXi, Keelung Night Market etc. Once you decide on your “focus” area, plan nearby accommodation for easy hop.

 

Back to Day 1 Taiwan, we arrived at Taiwan at 0600.

Our driver 小李 picked us at Taoyuan International Airport and we headed towards Nantou, destination Aowanda National Forest (奧萬大國家森林遊樂區, GPS 23.954341, 121.169178)

A 2 hour + journey, we stop for breakfast at one of the traditional breakfast eateries. 豆浆油条 is nice. (not related to JJ’s song)

 

The highlight was 蛋餅 Egg Crepe (bottom right pic). Humble appearance (and price NTD20) with slight pepper powder, but the crunchy and chewiness soft egg taste so good!

What greeted us along the highway was endless ridges and more mountains, and marvelous skyline! Somehow, it is setting our expectations for more hilly roads ahead!

Google Map of hilly zig zag terrains! Our kids took turns to vomit in the van (ooops), plastic bags alert!

 

Reach Aowanda National Forest at a cool 15 degrees. This nature reserve is famous for Autumn maple leaves and a 180m suspension bridge.

Ticket pricing (Adult NTD 200 child NTD 150)

 

Leaves are still green and yellowish, with few turning red.

We underestimated the distance to the suspension bridge, and it was a brisk 60 min walk for the boys. Normal relaxing pace will take you 90 mins.

Mrs and girl was intimidated by the endless flights of stairs! It will be challenging to climb up on the return trip 🙂

They decided to wait for us near the carpark.

The steps are long, no wonder called “好漢坡步道” (Heroes trail).

While we enjoy the fresh air, we found some acorns along the way.

The plaque at the gate  indicated that not more than 110 person should walk the bridge simultaneously. Who’s counting?

Many Taiwanese were out to enjoy the beautiful park too.

180m long, but surprisingly the bridge did not rock too much, unless the kids purposely run or hop :p

Visitors can walk the whole length and admire the valley on both flanks. 

Patches of Autumn are in view, when will they turn Red?

At the other end of the bridge, pine trees greeted us.

 

Saw some campers on our way back. Although it was a cool 15 degrees, we had to remove our jackets along the walk. Tiring to climb stairs and brisk walking with Daddy.

However, we felt autumn leaves at Aowanda National Forest are not too spectacular (maybe wrong season?) and the meandering route might not be suitable for younger kids. If you really like to explore this forest, expect to spend 3 hours.

We love the photo opportunities, but there are many other National Forests which are easier to access. Taiwan is really blessed with nature and a dreamland for hikers.

On our way to our Bnb, we pass by this scenic dam and reservoir. As we climb higher, mist will float in and out out the road.

Lunch was Urn chicken (甕仔雞) on the way up to Cing Jing. 伊拿谷餐廳 (Inako Valley View) (gps 24.036825, 121.146705).

You will see many shops selling this type of chicken in Nantou, or in general Central Taiwan.

The chicken are roasted in the special urn,  We love the chicken and side dishes so much we went for dinner the second night! Many folks will actually takeaway the chicken to enjoy in their own room.


Soup is always welcome in the cold weather, kids love the crispy prawn (水晶虾)

A hearty meal, and the evening temperature was a cool 12 degrees! The wind along the corridor was chilling.

With a full tummy, we rested in our Bnb before soaking at 廬山 Lu Shan later in the night. Taiwanese call soaking in Hot spring, 泡湯 (literally dipping in soup).

維多利亞溫泉會館 (Victoria Spring Resort, GPS 24.022925, 121.186482) , this is not the Japanese type on (naked) Onsen, but family friendly. We book two tubs for about TWD 1000, the big pool was unavailable then.

*take note transport fee could be NTD 1000 and above for the estimated 12 to 15km trip, we had a van to and fro for NTD 1500.

**All the resorts around has some sort of Hot Spring facility. Business was roaring until a devastating earthquake shattered the town in 2013.

Victoria was recommended by our BnB, our initial Hot Spring venue was “廬山正揚溫泉渡假飯店” because it has fish spa :p (those doctor fish which can nibble at your feet)

We noticed many tourist coaches were packed to Ming Lu, which has a much more luxurious exterior. Glad the kids enjoyed their Hot Spring soak in the cold weather 🙂  #TheirFirstOnsen :p

Hungry again after our dip, we walked 8 mins from our Bnb to Mist Plaza 清境商場 (GPS 24.043918, 121.157100).

This is actually a mini shopping area with limited food options. The dishes are decent and not too expensive (I had expected tourist pricing).

 

Maybe it is winter period, the blue dim leds and the mist added a fog of surreal experience for us.

The highlight for us was hot Chocolate and cheesecake at Starbucks 🙂
The 星巴克 Starbucks (GPS 24.043685, 121.156977) and 7-11 here are landmark for gathering points.

 

Enjoying Starbucks in cold weather is simply different from tropical Singapore. Hot chocolate and Cheesecake always taste nicer and warmer 🙂

Mist Plaza, really misty 🙂

 

We will share more about BnB and 清境 Cing Jing Farm in the next post.

Tip : The average rate for booking a car and driver ( full-day) is around NTD 6500 to 7500.

Photo albums :

Day 1 Aowanda, Cing Jing
Day 2 Cing Jing
Day 3 Xitou Nature Education Area, Monster Village, Sun Moon Lake
Day 4 Taichung (Zhongshe flower, ShengXin station, Cycling, Fengjia)
Day 5 Taichung (Animation Lane, Rainbow, Miyahara)
Day 6 Keelung 基隆
-Day 7 Ruifang, Jiufen and Shifen
-Day x Taipei HomeAway and Neighbourhood
Day 8 永康, Xi Men Ding, 象山, 饒河 Raohe
Day 9 and 10 北投 Beitou, Toyshop, 士林 Shilin

Blog posts :

** Taiwan Itinerary for families 
Day 1 Google Sheet, Aowanda, Cing Jing
Day 2 Cing Jing Farm
HomeAway Recommendations for Taiwan
Day 3a Xitou Nature Education area (溪頭)
Day 3b Monster village 妖怪村 and Sun Moon Lake
Day 4 Cycling Taichung 台中 
Day 4a 台中 Taichung  attractions
Day 5a 台中 Taichung food Ice cream and Bubble Tea
Day 5b 台中 Taichung Fengjia night market
-Day 6 基隆 Keelung
Day 7a Jiufen attractions
Day 7b Shifen attractions
Taipei Neighbourhood around our HomeAway Vacation Home
Day 8a Yong Kang Street and Xi Men Ding
Day 8b Raohe Night Market, Wu Fen Pu and 象山 Elephant Mountain

Instagram Hashtag #sengkangBabiesTaiwan

Instagram #sengkangBabiesTaiwan