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, easily accessible Elephant mountain makes for the of 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.
What to bring for hiking Elephant mountain
There is quite some hiking involved: the route is not too long, but intense. Get mentally ready for climbing stairs, A LOT of stairs:)
It is a good idea to have a sporty outfit, including comfortable hiking shoes. You should have a backpack with plenty of water (I recommend 2 liters per person) and some snacks (for example packed lunch from 7-Eleven or muesli sticks that should give you the energy you need).
If the rain is forecasted, bring an umbrella and rain suit (both items can be ought in 7-Eleven and are worthwhile for traveling in Taipei).
And well, you should have a photo camera or loaded phone so that you can capture the place in all its beauty.
Best time to visit Elephant mountain
The place is popular for both: sunrise and the 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 do you get to Elephant Mountain in Taipei?
Traveling to Elephant Mountain used to be pretty adventurous: 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 find the beginning of the train in the darkness.
Luckily, this is not anymore the case: with the opening of new Xiangshan MTR station, getting to Elephant mountain trail is not anymore the disaster😊 Now, you just get outside of the metro and find your way clearly marked, until you reach the beginning of the trail.
How long is the hike up to Elephant Mountain?
It takes about 20-30 minutes. More, if you are not in a very good physical shape. There are additional resting stations and viewing stations on the way. If you are trying to make it up there for sunset or sunrise, make sure to allow enough time for the hike.
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.
If you have any questions about Elephant mountain in Taipei, ask them in comments below. I am happy to answer!