Taipei’s hot spot: the Elephant Mountain Trail

Hello!

You can see the mountains surrounding Taipei from almost any point in the city. One of these mountaintops is Elephant Mountain. (AKA  象山 or Xiangshan) The name refers to the shape of another hill you can see when standing on the top of Elephant Mountain. That hill should look like an Elephant. (FYI: I don’t see it 🤦🏼‍♀️)

You only have to walk like a few minutes away from downtown Taipei until you would imagine you’re in the jungle. These two worlds are so close to one another, it’s almost unbelievable. It takes only 20 minutes to reach the top of this trail. You don’t need hiking boots or other special equipment. I did the walk on my slippers (and I wasn’t the only one 😅) It seems easy and comfortable, but trust me. Once you’re on those steps, you’ll be soaked in sweat. Maybe it was so because we did the hike on a super hot day (34°C and a humidity of 70%), but feel free to change those 20 minutes to a sweaty 35 minutes 😉

Luckily on the way to the top, there are some stops with a pretty view. Take some time to chill, relax and enjoy the view. Take some pictures and you’ll be ready to go!

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The stairs at the Xiangshan Hiking Trail

We started our trip at about 6 pm. There was enough light for the climb and so we hoped to enjoy a part of the golden hour.

Armed with my camera, a tripod, a bottle of water and a pair of slippers, we started our trail. When the stairs took their first turn, it seemed like you were hours away from the ‘big city life’.

Ten minutes later, we arrived at our first resting point. The sun was going down and golden hour it was! It rained a lot that afternoon, so it was good to see the sun for a moment.

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In the meantime, it is possible to take pictures when sitting on the famous rock which is a real attraction. We didn’t cue because there was a long line and we wanted to reach the last viewpoint before all the pretty city lights were shining.

One mini-climb further you’ll find the third platform. A lot of photographers wait there a long time before sunset to make the perfect shot. We were (of course) a bit late 🤷🏼‍♀️, but some people were just standing there, playing games on their phones. So by taking their spot, we managed to take some pretty pictures of this even more spectacular city.

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The two highest towers in this picture are:

Taipei 101: the highest building in Taipei (504 meters, 101 floors). The tower was opened on new years eve 2004 and defines the skyline of the city. The antenna on top is being called ‘the flame of the candle’. From 2003 until 2007 this building was also the biggest building in the world, until the Burj Khalifa the crown.
I have only visited the food court in the basement, but I’m planning on visiting the observatory deck too. It appears to be a place worth visiting, just as checking out the big steel pendulum that supports the building during earthquakes. (More on this beauty later on!)

Taipei Nan Shan Plaza: The second biggest building in Taipei and number three in Taiwan. If you’re standing in between the 101 and Nan Shan Plaza, it seems like have almost the same hight. On the picture above you can see that Nan Shan Plaza is much smaller than the 101. The building has 42 floors, which equals 272 meters.
A Japanese architect designed it. The building is designed in the shape of praying hands as a blessing over Taiwan.
In this tower you can also find a lot of offices, a food court and a shopping center.

At last, a fun fact about the Farglory Financial Center: the bright top in the middle of the picture. The building itself isn’t that special, but every night, you can see a heart-shaped animation playing at the top ❤️

A lot of other buildings are fancy hotels, apartments and offices. A lot of companies, banks and insurance companies have their headquarters in downtown Tapei

When we started our trip back home, the sun was already gone and it was pretty dark outside. Luckily the paths were lit, but sometimes, the flashlight on a smartphone came in handy.

We enjoyed the last viewpoint on our mini-trip and so our two-hour ‘hike’ came to an end.

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The fun thing about this hike?

You really don’t need a lot of time to get into a whole new world (🧞‍♀️🧞‍♂️) (I enjoyed smelling the ‘green’ again after two weeks!) 
It’s free and you choose when you start the hike. (Even if you’re walking through the city on slippers and decide to start, it is possible! 😉)
You can go for a hike during the daytime or nighttime. Each time is a completely different experience. You don’t need to prepare for this hike (though, some water can come in handy 😅), and everyone is able to do the hike on its own pace.
Last but not least: everybody is soaked in sweat and huffing and puffing. No shame, it’s hot for everyone. 🤷🏼‍♀️

See you!

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