The best thing to do in Alishan is to wake up and see the sunrise. It of course requires a wake up time of 3:00 am. This was especially daunting due to the zero sleep night before. We took the train from Alishan station (150 for a return ticket and 100 for a one way) up the mountain. If you can do this on a weekday I highly recommend it. Hotels on the weekend are much more expensive and fill up long in advance. In addition, the whole area is slammed with tourists. I was lucky enough to meet a group of 6 Malaysian friends, who kindly allowed me to set up my tripod in front of them. Otherwise, I would not have had a clear shot. My friends continued on to platform 2 and were able to get amazing shots. Platform 2 is a 15 minute walk from the main platform. Once you arrive just turn left up the hill away from the crowd. Technically this area is currently blocked off due to a recent landslide. That being said, don’t follow the crowds and jump the fence. It really was worth it for them. I still got some nice photos and greatly enjoyed spending time with the Malaysian group. They were very friendly and offered to meet up with me once I get to Kuala Lumpur.
The rest of the day was spent hiking around the numerous trails throughout the reserve. Around noon the fog rolled in and made the forest seem mystical. I suggest you spend the whole morning out and about. That way you can see the clear views of Mt. Jade and the surrounding area before the fog sets in. Also, bring your own food. There were very few options and all of them were not good. When I asked for recommendations at the information desk the man simply said, “No food here. It is all very bad.”
The bus ride back to Chiayi took about 2.5 hours. This trip during the day is beautiful, but can be a bit nauseating for those who get car sick. Once in Chiayi we were welcomed by a very warm host named Stephy.