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Essential Guide to Hiking Regulations in Taiwan

Posted by:  Anusha Lee
Published date: February 17, 2024
Taiwan's lush landscapes offer hikers breathtaking experiences. However, to protect the environment, adventurers, and unnecessary rescue efforts, 5 local governments in Taiwan have established strict regulations for mountain exploration. This guide outlines these essential rules, focusing on permits, insurance, Basic Life Support certificate requirements, and penalties.
Huangzuishan in Yangmingshan Taipei
I'm here to bridge the language gap for those unfamiliar with Chinese, offering basic concepts to these regulations. For detailed inquiries or specific questions, feel free to contact the fire departments of the respective local governments who oversee these regulations.
Taiwan Hikes is an affiliated partner of HolaTaipei.

Table of Contents:

Regulation Background

In 2001, Taiwan amended the mountain control regulations, eliminating the requirement for an organization's guided team of at least three people to apply for mountain access. This change democratized mountaineering, becoming a booming national activity and business. The accidents during trekking and hiking also increase.
Songluo Lake: a tent city
Many popular trails attract many hikers.
2016 the Taichung City Government pioneered the Taichung City Mountain Climbing Activities Management Autonomy Ordinance. The ordinance highlighted that mountain accidents in the area consumed significant rescue resources and workforce, wasting national search and rescue resources. The law aimed to prevent such scenarios, reduce the burden on rescue teams, and avoid unnecessary expenditure of national resources.
However, by 2019, despite the government's efforts to deregulate and open up more mountain areas for the public, as announced by then-Premier Su Tseng-chang, the supporting measures needed to catch up. Five counties and cities exercising local autonomy introduced their mountain climbing management regulations. These laws required the public to share the costs of search and rescue operations.
As the number of hikers surged, so did the frequency of mountain-related accidents. This led to a societal debate over the rights to mountain trekking/hiking freedom and the misuse of national resources, especially when personal negligence necessitated resource-intensive rescue operations.
statistics about accidents on the trails from Fire Bureau in Taiwan
Statistics of the accidents in the mountains from 2015 to 2021. Data by National Fire Agency.
You can find all the regulations from the new permit application website, Hike Smart Taiwan Service, and look for "Local Governments" section for details.

Definition of Mountain Activities and Which Local Governments Have Those Regulations

Mountain Activities:

Mountaineering activities: Refers to entering mountainous areas for trekking, hiking, wilderness exploration, skill training, rock climbing, river tracing, trail running, camping, or related outdoor activities.

Mountain Areas:

一般管制山域:指需申請入山許可之山域步道或山地經常管制區域之 山域。
General Controlled Mountain Areas: Areas requiring a Police Mountain Entry Permit, including regulated trails and frequently controlled mountain regions.
Special Controlled Mountain Areas: Areas that require a National Park Permit.

Which Local Governments Have Those Regulations

Those links are in Chinese only. The agency that is in charge of those regulations in those counties or cities is the Fire Bureau.
Kaohsiung City government didn't list purchasing hiking insurance and having a BLS certificate as a must. They specify the rescue cost reimbursement for violations of not having a permit and evacuation when the weather conditions worsen.

Key Points of Regulations: Permits, Insurance, and Basic Life Support Certification

Permit Requirements

Taiwan's mountainous areas, especially those above 3,000 meters, require hikers to obtain permits. This is to manage the number of visitors and ensure environmental protection. Permits can be applied for through the official Taiwan National Park website.
Other than those apparent or known trails inside the national parks, please check the National Police Agency's Mountain Entry Application System for details. Please note that the database is case sensitive, and I don't understand the translations of the trail names, either.

Insurance Necessities

Hikers must possess valid insurance covering outdoor activities. In Taiwan, those policies are called mountain trekking insurance 登山險. This insurance should ideally include rescue and hospitalization, considering the remote nature of many hiking trails. Those local governments require three major coverages.
  1. Minimum death benefit: NT$1,000,000
  2. Minimum coverage of accident medical expenses: NT$100,000
  3. Minimum coverage of rescue cost: NT$100,000 - NT$500,000
The insurance companies that provide mountain trekking insurance in Taiwan are:
Fuban Insurance 富邦產物登山綜合保險
Sinkong Insurance 新光產物登山綜合保險
Chung Kuo Insurance 兆豐產物登山綜合保險
Cathay Century Insurance 國泰產物登山綜合保險
Their policies cover the minimum coverage required by the local governments. Please note that mountain trekking insurance excludes emergency rescue by aircraft. Therefore, helicopter rescue costs are not covered under the climbing insurance policy.

Communication Device That Can Provide Your Current GPS Coordinates

Carry equipment with positioning capabilities, communication devices for emergency contact, and adequate power supplies.
In plain English, please bring your smartphone, learn how to check your GPS coordinates, and send them to your emergency contacts when you need help. Please also bring extra batteries or a portable power bank for the power supply.

Basic Life Support Certification

Nantou County requires the team leader/guide to have a valid Basic Life Support (BLS) certificate. The other four governments require at least one member or guide in every hiking group to have a valid Basic Life Support (BLS) certificate.

Penalties for Non-Compliance (Infographics)

Those two images might be the most important things you need to know about the regulations.
As far as I know, it's not easy for foreigners to purchase local insurance policies in Taiwan. If you have an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) or Alien Permanent Resident Certificate (APRC), it might be easier to buy one. I'm unfamiliar with this area, so I can't answer your questions. Please let me know if I'm wrong.
I called two fire departments and asked them about insurance and a BLS certificate. In short, the law is the law, and everyone must comply.
Regarding BLS certification, I have taken this training twice and highly recommend everyone to do the training at least once a year. Some techniques are evolving, and it's always good to practice those skills, which may save a life someday.
BLS training is a must for everyone whether you are a hiker or not.
And avoid a hefty fine.
You might have many questions, but I am the wrong person to ask. I'm trying to help people be aware of those regulations. The best practice is to thoroughly prepare as much as possible, including staying fit for the hike and researching the trails you are going to hike. And don't take unnecessary risks.
Some practices and experiences from your home country may not work in Taiwan, especially how to stay alive when getting lost on the trail (short answer: don't follow the streams.)
LOHAS hiking guide training for high mountains. Photo by Julie Huang
Have a safe and happy hike in Taiwan.

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