After 5 days of syllabus week and being trapped in the city. I was dying to get outside, so when my colleague suggested we go to Shanlinxi Forest Park, I jumped at the chance. Shanlinxi is an easy day trip from Taichung, only 17 km north, an hour bus ride, from Xitou Forest Park. Xitou is located south of Taichung, north of Alishan and still west of Sun Moon Lake. It is probably most known for Xitou Monster Village, a small monster-themed amusement park, directly outside of Xitou Forest Park.
From Taichung it took a little over 3 hours to get there, but that included time we had to wait for the busses as well. We arrived downtown around 7am. The 6883 (to Xitou) bus leaves from the same area of the Sun Moon Lake and Alishan tour bus area, right past Taichung station. If you walk east of the station up Jiancheng road you will pass a traditional market on your right and just past that on the left is a row of tour bus stops. The first bus left at 7:03, leaving around every 20 minutes to a half hour. We had to wait until 8:00 AM to get seats to Xitu (165NT/person one way). We arrived in Xitou shortly after 10 AM and it was crowded. The entrance fee to Xitou is 150NT/person 200NT if you have your own vehicle. We decided a short bus trip a bit farther to Shanlinxi was worth avoiding the crowd. The next bus did not leave until 10:40 from the Xitou stop so we had some time to kill in the monster village before we left. For me it was nauseatingly touristy, for a family with small children I think it would be a fun day trip, for the kids at least. The tickets cost around another 100NT/person to get to Shanlinxi from Xitou, I can’t remember the exact price. After a 45 minute bus ride we arrived to a smaller park, with a lot less tourists. The entrance fee was 150NT/person.
Sanlinxi is a high elevation area (over 1,600 meters) and is surrounded by tea farms. It was significantly cooler than Taichung city. Since we arrived mid-morning, the mist was starting to settle into the trees giving it a mythical look as we stepped off the bus. Shanlinxi and Xitou are both forested with ancient red Cyprus trees.
The park itself is most popular for the waterfalls. There are five major waterfalls in the park Chinglong,Songlong, Shyi-jing-ji, Yenyen, and Tian-Ti-Yen. The Sun Link river flows through the park and there are 6 short walking trails, the longest one only being about 2.5km long. We started in the southern entrance near the visitor center and took the first walking trail to Blue Dragon (Chinglong) and Blue Dragon 2 waterfalls.
From the Blue Dragon Waterfall path there is a trail about 2km long, a nice walk through the woods, partially dotted with wooden bridges and stairs, that lead to the nature center in the middle of the park.
Right before the center we heard a crashing in the trees. We looked up to find we were surrounded by a clan of Formosan Macaques. I still marvel at seeing monkeys in the wild as exotic, and I hate Formosan Macaques, they are notoriously vicious, and have human faces, that make them just a little too freaky for my taste.
From the nature center, about 1 km walking path to the greenhouse in the north, and from the greenhouse another km or so to the main waterfall, the Eye of Heaven (Tian-Ti-Yen).
This walk takes you along the Sun Link River.
The biggest waterfall in the park is quite beautiful. There is a bridge that goes right along the front side of the falls so close that you will get soaking wet if you stand there long enough, and a natural overhanging cave next to the waterfall so that you area almost behind it.
The last bus leaves back to Xitou at 4:30, and from there the last bus to Taichung is at 5:30 so we had to get back and did not have time to see the last waterfall. However, I felt satisfied that we had seen the majority of the park and it can easily be done as a day trip, or even a half day trip if you have your own transportation. Though very basic level tourist walking trails, Shanlinxi is beautiful and I would recommend it as a day trip for those in Taichung city or the surrounding area.