Wild Taiwan

A lady of leisure writes about wildlife in Taiwan.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Yang Ming Shan

Yang Ming Shan, with an area of 11.455 hectares, is the third National park set up in Taiwan back in 1985. The altitude range from 200 to 1120 m. The whole area is what remained after volcanic activity. The original crater can still be seen at Chisingshan because its eruption was most recent. However, it's the highest mountain in the whole mountain range at 1120 m. With 1300 species of plants here, that's about a third of all plant species in Taiwan. There are many rare plants and animals, one rare plant is Isoets taiwanensis. See

Yang Ming Shan is a famous spot for local Taiwanese and tourists alike. For more details on location and information see

To get there, take bus number 230, 260 or red 5. The cost may be 15 or 30 NT depending where you get on the bus. The buses will terminate on the mountain, one can then take a bus that loops all over the Yang Ming Shan to see the rest of what Yang Ming Shan has to offer. One can get off at each stop to enjoy the spot and then hop back on the bus again. Each time one has to pay 15 NT.

Yang Ming Shan is a few degrees cooler in the summer than lowland Taipei so on weekends, it is packed. There's only one road that leads to it so there may be traffic jams on weekends.

There are a few stops one simply must visit. The first is xiaoyoukeng, or small oil pit 小油坑, is one of the accessible places where gas emission is the strongest. One can still see the thick, white hydrogen sulphide fumes emitting from it. Of course, it will smell a little of rotten eggs but not overwhelming so it's worth a visit. If you can feel the ground through your shoe soles, it's actually quite warm. Boiling water pools can be seen from the edge of the rock path. There're patches of yellow sulphur all over the place. There's a visitor centre which tells you the geological history of the place but it's all in Mandarin.

Another stop is the qingtiangang, 擎天崗. The whole place is grassy, which was why yang ming shan was called grass mountain. One can have picnic here. On rare occasions, one can see wild cattle. Their presence is evident by the large pile of droppings dotted here and there. Walk up a slope and you can see the fumes coming up from xiaoyoukeng.

If you should get hungry, go to 竹子湖, chuzihu. It happens to be the old crater which had filled up with water and parts of it have dried up and became fertile land for cultivating calla lily and other vegetables. One can taste fresh grown vegetables cooked to perfection.

One mustn't miss the lengshuikeng, 冷水坑, to enjoy a not-so-hot hotspring. It's only 40 degree Celcius so it's comfortable. There are bathing facilities so one can have a dip.