Xiangshan (象山), also known as Elephant Mountain, is the most popular hiking spot in central Taipei, due to its close proximity to Taipei 101. A city view that many consider to be the best in the capital, as well as the giant rocks along the path and vibrant bird life, make it a must-see spot for most tourists.
As Xiangshan is well frequented by foreign travelers, the paths up contain English-language signage, as well as explanatory sign boards that provide more detailed information about the environment and wildlife up the mountain. As you head up you’ll come across various observation decks with views over the city, with the most famous one being the Six Giant Rocks (象山六巨石). Locals love to hike up to this spot, climb up on one of the rocks and take that perfect Instagram picture. It’s recommended to hike around some of the other viewing spots as well, before making your way back, but there are trails that go further east if you feel like more of a challenge. These are well signposted, and can add an hour or so to your hike.
While it can get very busy on weekends, many people like to head up the trails in the evenings and enjoy the city night views. Alternatively, you could escape the crowds by coming up very early in the morning for a view of the sunrise.
Time required: About 90-100 minutes to the observation decks and back
Difficulty: Easy, yet steep at points
How to get there
The nearest Taipei Metro station is Xiangshan, which can be accessed from stations such as Taipei (17 mins, NT$25) on the red line. Head out of exit 2 and walk south through Xiangshan Park, following signs to the Xiangshan Hiking Trail. If coming from Taipei 101 and the Xinyi Shopping District’s south side, walk east along Xinyi Road until you get to Xiangshan Station, which only takes 10 to 15 minutes. Alternatively, there are YouBike stations outside Taipei 101 Station (exit 2) and at Xiangshan Park.