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If you should visit only one place in Taipei, pick Xiangshan known as ‘Elephant Mountain Taipei’ for its stunning views.
Situated in the Nangang District, an easily accessible Elephant mountain makes for the best place to get panorama views of Taipei. After living in Taipei for more than two years, I can tell you that it is one of my favorite places to enjoy the Taipei skyline combined with natural beauty.
It’s a short and steep hike from Xiangshan metro station, stone’s throw away from the iconic Taipei 101. You can make it up there within half an hour as long as you are physically fit (yes, there is a lot of stairs involved😊).
The entrance is free and the views are amazing: so if you are all about getting an amazing picture of Taipei, Elephant mountain is a great choice. Here is all you need to know about visiting.
Best time to visit Elephant mountain
The place is popular for both: sunrise and sunset. I must say that sunsets during the weekend are a pretty popular time when you can find Elephant mountain a little crowded. If you are looking to go there in the evening, you should definitely pick a day during the workweek.
I personally prefer to go there for the sunrise: first, you avoid most tourists and the only people you meet are the “real” Taipei people. I frequently meet there elderly people who are just doing another 6 am hike as well as any other day (crazy!!).
How long is the hike up to Elephant Mountain?
As mentioned before, the hike takes about 20-30 minutes. More, if you are not in a very good physical shape. Last time I brought to Elephant mountain my father who is nearly 60, and we have done it under 25 minutes. Anyhow, most of the breaks were because of me😊
If you are trying to make it up there for sunset or sunrise, make sure to allow enough time for the hike. There are additional resting stations and viewing stations on the way. The hiking path is covered by threes, so it would be a pity to pass the sunset or sunrise on the stairway.
Once you find the start of the trail and get going, there are essentially 3 spots with good views. Just remember to stay right on the climb. There are few other
Altogether, there are 500 stairs to climb to the rock viewing point (the most popular place) and 600 stairs to the viewing platform. It is really worth all the effort: the views are amazing and you can see pretty much all Taipei from there.
What are the photo stops on the Elephant mountain Taipei?
There are essentially three photo stops along the way. They are all Instagram worthy.
The first stop is a viewing platform called ‘Photographers Platform’ (攝手平台)and you reach it about 10 minutes up. The platforms it’s along with this flat piece of land and is an elevated structure and you will get some very good pictures of the cityscape there. As long as you don’t find this stop crowded: then it takes some time queuing until you get to the perfect spot.
The second photo stop makes for the main attraction known as the ‘Six Giant Rocks’ (六巨石)that people climb all over for epic Instagram pics. The first rock you’ll meet as you walk up the stairs, which is coincidentally the smallest of the bunch is the main attraction as it towers over the peak which provides a unique perspective that makes you seem almost as tall as Taipei 101.
You can get really amazing pictures there, but it’s better if you have a friend to help you. Ideally, you should be on the rock and your photographer on another rock or down your rock. If you are traveling alone, try to ask someone to take your picture. Chances are, they are about to get there very same pic. Just please be careful when climbing!
The third photo stop follows 1 minute beyond the rocks: it’s the main viewing platform called Giant Rocks Platform (六巨石觀景台). The views are great and there is also a roof, so you can still enjoy the views even if you are caught up by the rain.
How do you get to Elephant Mountain in Taipei?
Traveling to Elephant Mountain used to be pretty adventurous back in time as it was not well reachable by public transportation. Once if I wanted to see the sunrise, this meant traveling there with the taxi, with a little sheet of paper with a Chinese address, hoping that the taxi driver would help me to find the beginning of the train in the darkness.
Luckily, this is not anymore the case: with the opening of the new Xiangshan MTR station, getting to the Elephant mountain trail is not anymore the disaster😊 It’s the last stop in the red line. All you have to do it to walk out by Exit 2. Just walk outside and you will find your way clearly marked until you reach the beginning of the trail.
It’s easy to find. Just to be sure, you can follow the map below.
Elephant mountain during the sunset
Hiking Elephant mountain for the sunset is a nice option as you get both views by day and by night. As mentioned before, you should avoid weekends because then the viewing spots are crowded. The photographers are queuing to get a good spot.
The night view is of course stunning. If you are heading there for the sunset, start hiking at least one or even two hours before the sun goes down. Then you can walk as fast (or as slow😊) as you need, and take pictures in each of the viewing points.
Once you are done visiting Elephant mountain, you can consider having a snack in the local night market. The closest night market area to Elephant Mountain is the Tonghua Night Market (通化夜市, nearby Linjiang Street). To reach this night market from the base of the mountain, walk west for 25-30 minutes on Xinyi Road (信義路) and make a left turn onto Tonghua Street (通化街). Alternatively, take the MRT red line 2 stops to Xinyi Anhe (信義安和.
Elephant mountain during the sunrise
Getting there for the sunrise could be a little exhausting since you will have to wake up early. Yet, you are more likely to have viewing platforms just for yourself. So it’s a more exclusive experience.
You should definitely check the weather forecast before to know the sunrise time. Consider bringing some snacks with you so that you can have a small breakfast or a picnic on the top.
Once you are done visiting Elephant mountain in the early morning, you still have plenty of time to continue the hike towards the Tiger mountain. I describe the details below.
The Elephant Mountain Hiking Trail
Most tourists seem to be unaware that the Elephant Mountain Hiking Trail (象山登山步道) is essentially just a small section of the much larger network of trails known either as the ‘Four Beasts trail’ (四獸山步道) or the Nangang Mountain Hiking Trail (南港山系).
The 7km long network of trails also includes Tiger Mountain (虎山), Leopard Mountain (豹山), Lion Mountain (獅山), Thumb Mountain (拇指山), Nangang Mountain (南港山) and 9-5 Peak (九五峰) – all of which provide excellent views of the Taipei cityscape and takes several hours to complete.
If you are planning to do this hike, you should definitely have hiking shoes, plenty of water and some snacks. Please, don’t go unprepared and it flips flops.
The trail is well-developed with a stone path, signage, benches for taking breaks, lights that guide your path at night, water fountains and surprisingly clean washroom facilities. This allows you to not only hike the trail during the day but also at night without having to worry.
Tips for hiking Elephant Mountain
- Bring comfortable shoes
- Time your visit right, aiming ideally for the sunset or sunrise
- Travel my MRT, head to Xiangshan, the last stop on the red line
- If you have more time, you can continue with the 4 Beasts hike.
If you have any questions about Elephant mountain in Taipei, ask them in comments below. I am happy to answer!