Elephant Mountain Took My Heart Away

I’ve heard the many stories about the Taipei 101, the tallest building in Taiwan and possibly one of the tallest building in the world. However, despite living on the island for four years, I couldn’t find the will to pay 500 TWD to get up to the observatory. Some of my friends did, but I knew I could get a better view for free. Where exactly? On Elephant Mountain, or more commonly known as Xiang Shan (象山).

My first hiking trip to Elephant Mountain

I first found out about this hiking trail when my friend and I visited Taipei early 2014. We had time to spare and he suggested that we take a look at the magnificent view Xiang Shan had to offer. I said yes because he said the trail was not that hard. Little did I know that I would be catching my breath every 5 seconds.

To be fair, I don’t hike very often and I never expected that hiking was going to be a part of our trip. So, you can imagine how I felt, maybe. And to make it worse, the trail was a path of stairs shooting straight up. Some of those steps were pretty steep. I didn’t like it all. I prefer trails that go around the mountain instead of up; although it takes longer to get to the top, it’s less tiring and challenging. But hey, I started the journey. I had zero plans to back down.

The best view ever!

Isn’t it breathtaking? Although I arrived tired, sweating, and out of breath, this climb was indeed worth it. I love how Taipei 101 is just standing there over the city. He’s like a watcher, both day and night, of the city. He’s silently watching over the little souls that are wondering beneath him, living their lives, lost in their daily routines, trying to find their place in this small but beautiful island. It’s poetic and romantic, I know, but there isn’t any other way to describe this landscape I saw that day.

How would you describe it?

Find your way to the Elephant Mountain

I love looking at my pictures, but these pictures just don’t do much justice. You have to experience it yourself. If you can ignore the pain in your legs, sweat on your face, and mosquitoes trying to eat on you, then you’ll merge in the magic.

How do you get there? Follow these steps:

  • Get on the Taipei MRT
  • Make your way to the red line train, heading to Xiang Shan
  • Get down at, you guessed it, Xiang Shan Station
  • Make your way to Exit 2
  • Follow the signs that says ‘Xiang Shan hiking trail’

Note to self

I had a few trials and errors hiking this mountain. First time I did, I didn’t know the trail so I went with jeans. Yeap, wrong move there! So, here are a few tips for you for hiking Elephant Mountain:

  1. Dress comfortably and wear sport shoes if you can. Your feet will thank you for it!
  2. Bring water. It’s a short hike, but you will need it!
  3. Bring your camera!
  4. If you go at night or during sunset, bring a flash light as there isn’t much lighting around.
  5. Mosquito repellent or any type of bug spray will be handy!
  6. If you don’t know where to go, follow the crowd! Most people exiting the station are going to hike the trail.
  7. Expect it to be crowded at some point. This place is a favorite spot now, many travelers, locals and photographers go there a lot!

Take yourself up there!

Hiking up there wasn’t easy for me; I’ll be honest when I say any hike isn’t really easy for me. But it was worth it. So, if any of you are going to travel around Taiwan, I hope you get the opportunity to do this hike. There’s nothing wrong with going up Taipei 101, really. If you want to do it, go! I encourage you to. However, instead of taking the picture from Taipei 101, I just preferred it to be in the picture. And it didn’t turn out so bad. Happy travels!

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