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A Comprehensive Guide to Applying for Hiking Permits to Hike the 5 Most Popular Mountains in Taiwan

Posted by:  Anusha Lee
Published date: January 19, 2023
Last update: October 01, 2023
The stunning scenery of the high mountains in Taiwan has attracted local and international hikers. However, most high mountain trails are within the national parks. Therefore, hikers need to apply for permits to hike those trails. Although there are English versions of how to apply for hiking permits on the national parks' websites, it is still confusing to understand the process.
Morning view of Zhongbaping to Mt. Dabajian
Mt. Dabajian, Xueshan and the Holy Ridge (Shengleng Trail)
In this post, you will find how to apply the 5 most popular high mountain trails: Yushan (Jade Mountain), Xueshan (Snow Mountain), Mt. Dabajian, Qilai Nanhua (Mt. Qilai South Peak, and Mt. Nanhua), and the alpine lake, Jiaming Lake Trail.
Those trails can be done by yourself or with friends. The hiking plan here can be handy for your self-guided hikes in Taiwan. But some sections of those trails are treacherous and windy. Several hikers fell to their death on the last slope of Jade Mountain peak.
Taiwan highest mountain: Jade Mountain hike
The last section to Jade Mountain is dangerous.
Please note that it's better to plan your hike for at least 2 months. Although many popular cabins have preserved spots for foreign nationals, it does not work like hikers can do the hike after they land in Taiwan.

Table of Contents:

What Are the 5 Most Popular High Mountains to Hike in Taiwan?

I don't have exact statistics about the list, but I'm sure most people will agree with this list.
  1. Yushan (Jade Mountain), the highest mountain in Taiwan
  2. Xueshan (Snow Mountain, Sylvia Mountain), the second highest mountain in Taiwan (post coming soon)
  3. Mt. Dabajian and Mt. Xiaobajian
  4. Qilai Nanhua: Mt. Qilai South Peak and Mt. Nanhua
  5. Jiaming Lake (the old route), post coming soon
Paiyun Lodge (Yushan), Sanliujiu Lodge (Xueshan), Jiujiu (Mt. Dabajian), Tianchi Lodge (Qilai Nanhua), and Jiaming Lake Cabin are the most difficult mountain cabins to apply for in Taiwan.
Funny group names I saw on Paiyuan Lodge page
From the desperate group names, you can tell how difficult it is to get a spot at Paiyun Lodge to hike Jade Mountain.
There is another popular high mountain, Mt. Hehuan (post coming soon), but it's easy to access and requires no permits. So, Mt. Hehuan is not discussed here.
Jade Mountain Main Peak
Hiking Jade Mountain is popular among local and international tourists.

Types of Permits: National Park Permits and Police Mountaineering Entry Permits

There are two types of permits to apply for hiking high mountains in Taiwan: National Park Permit and Police Mountain Entry Permit.
Please note that each national park has its rules regarding when to apply. Some national parks, like Shei-Pa National Park, have scraped the requirement to get a police permit.
100 Peaks: Mt. Qilai South Peak and Mt. Nanhua
Hikers have to check in with the staff with ID and documents when they arrive at the lodge.
Here's a table to see what permits you need to hike those popular high mountain trails.

Advanced Application and Standard Application

To accommodate international visitors' schedules, the national parks provide advanced applications to ensure they get spots in the cabins. Those spots are only available on weekdays, and there is a ratio requirement between foreign nationals and local Taiwanese guides.
Things about hiking Jade Mountain-transport-one-day-hike - 4
Moreover, only specific routes are available for advanced applications. For example, advanced applicants can only do Tataka Trailhead to Yushan Main Peak route.
Paiyun Lodge application
If you still want to do other mountains like Yushan North Peak, you have to apply for a standard application.
Check the National Parks' Current Status of Trails again before your departure.

Hiking Insurance

Five local governments, Miaoli County, Taichung County, Nantou County, Hualien County, and Pingtung County, require hikers to purchase hiking insurance. Otherwise, hikers might get a hefty fine of up to NT$30,000.
However, it is not easy for foreign nationals, including APRC holders, to purchase insurance. This might be a topic for another day.
One thing about hiking insurance in Taiwan is it doesn't cover the cost of flying with a helicopter. The rescue team will evaluate the patient's condition, the terrain, the weather, and other things to decide whether they can airlift the patient to the hospital.
So far, hikers don't have to pay for a helicopter. This topic has been under debate for a while because some hikers abused these resources and caused several public outrages in the past.
At least you can get travel insurance to cover medical expenses if things happen.

The Comprehensive Guide and Hiking Plan That Helps You Enjoy the Most Popular High Mountains in Taiwan

I used Notion to make this guide. You don't need to have a Notion account to read the guide. I also embedded a Google Sheet so you can input the date you wish to hike, which can help you see when to send the applications and other processes. But it seems we can only edit the Google Sheet file on a desktop computer, not on a smartphone.
Construction and Planning Agency in Taiwan built a new website: Hike Smart Taiwan Service to simplify the application process. However, I still think the old one is easy to understand. Therefore, I still use the National Park's website to demonstrate.
Click the image below and download the guide.

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From National Parks and Other Goverment Websites

National Park website
Jiaming Lake Cabins and Jiaming Lake Campsite
Taiwan Hikes' Partner: HolaTaipei Travel
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