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I'll be arriving from Taipei to Chiayi on a Sunday morning by THSR (I'm flexible with times). I will also need to leave a bag in a hotel near the TRA Chiayi Station. I want to go to Alishan (without an overnight stay) with a stop in Fenqihu.

As far as I understand, it's quite hard to get tickets for the Alishan Forest Railway to Fenqihu (departing at 9 am and 10 am). The official website won't open, and I've read on the internet that if purchasing tickets at the counter, one must do it at least one day before the trip. So there are 2 other options: taking B line bus from TRA Chiayi station to Fenqihu (which only departs at 9:35 am and 12:05 pm) and then taking some bus from Fenqihu to Alishan. I assume taking the 12:05 bus is unreasonable because it will only arrive to Fenqihu at 2:00 pm (so I won't get to Alishan until 4 pm if I spend some time in Fenqihu), and the last bus from Alishan to Chiayi departs at 5:10 pm.

So my questions are:

  • Am I missing any options?
  • Should I not account for the the Alishan Forest Railway and should I just plan to take the 9:35 am bus?
  • If I take the 9:35 am B-line bus to Fenqihu (which will supposedly arrive at 11:35), are there other options to get to Alishan before the other B-line bus arrives to Fenqihu at 2 pm?
  • Probably one option I missed is to leave the bag in a locker at the Chiayi THSR station, if there are any and take line A bus to Fenqihu at 11:00. But then I'll need to go to the THSR station again after returning from Alishan to the TRA station. – user77409 Apr 28 at 19:02
  • If it's significantly better to avoid weekends, I can go on Monday, especially if I will manage to get a ticket for the Alishan Forest Railway. – user77409 Apr 28 at 20:54
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    As a side note, as far as I'm aware Fenqihu is the current terminus on the Alishan Forest Railway from Chiayi, owing to unrepaired track damage from landsides further up the line. Also, looking at Google Maps there's only a one-a-day service from Fenqihu to Alishan (7322a) at 15:59, unless you get the bus to Shizhao (7302) and change to the 7329 there. Either way, public transport connections to Fenqihu are not that great, especially with the limited time available. – Michael Dodd Apr 29 at 7:29
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    However, my Grandfather-in-law is a volunteer at Alishan national park, so I'll see if I can find some more accurate information from him. – Michael Dodd Apr 29 at 7:30
  • It might be unreasonable to squeeze a trip to Alishan to one day, so I may also consider just going to Fenqihu and hike a little bit before returning to Chiayi, leaving a trip to Alishan for another time. Here is the schedule I found. It looks there is a bus from Fenqihu to Chiayi at 17:00. – user77409 Apr 29 at 16:03
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+50

Travelling from Taipei to Chiayi, and then directly to Alishan National Park is already a very long journey, the 7329 bus journey from Chiayi HSR to Alishan is over 2 hours in itself. Adding Fenqihu into the trip will definitely be stretching your time significantly - you will be spending more time travelling than standing still, although the Forest Railway museum at Fenqihu is a good little place to visit.

Two decomissioned Forest Railway locomotives

Incidentally, there is also a park dedicated to Forest Railway locomotives in Chiayi, slightly south west of North Gate Station - Alishan Forest Railway Garage Park.

As for the Forest Railway itself, you can buy tickets on the day (Source, in Chinese but this information translated by my wife) but you may well be disappointed as this service is very popular, especially at weekends. That said, according to this website (English at the bottom of the page) you can order tickets online up to 15 days in advance on the Alishan Railway & Cultural Heritage website, however it appears to be mostly in Chinese so you may require some help. I'd definitely try and make the extra effort to make the trip on the train though, it's a lovely route with gorgeous scenery.

View of foliage and mountain from train window

Forest train at Fenqihu Station

Going back to the buses: Looking at the timetable you posted in the comments and assuming you take the free shuttle service from the HSR to the TRA station, your first opportunity to get from Chiayi TRA to Fenqihu is the 0935 service on line B (7322), which will take just under 2 hours assuming it sticks to timetable. Then there is a 1250 service from Fenqihu to Alishan (7322a) which should take about an hour and a quarter. This'll give you a couple of hours at Alishan National Park (as well as the highest Post Office and 7Eleven in the country) before catching the 1710 service back to Chiayi.

(All photos taken by myself in October 2014)

  • There is also a 0705 bus service from Chiayi TRA to Fenqihu (7302), but I don't think that you'd be able to get a HSR train early enough to catch that one. – Michael Dodd Apr 29 at 21:11
  • Thanks! The website with tickets you provided does open (unless the one in my question). I can use Google Translate, but I still don't know the names of the stations. I suppose I should choose "9000 Sentie Chiayi Chiayi" as the departure station and "9100 Fenqihu Fenqihu" as the arrival station, but this does not agree with the information found here which says that the departure station should be "360-Chiayi" and the arrival station should be "369 up the lake" (I don't see these options). – user77409 Apr 29 at 21:38
  • But for some reason that website with tickets only works through a proxy, otherwise I'm getting "afr.forest.gov.tw’s server IP address could not be found." – user77409 Apr 29 at 21:44
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    Unfortunately I don't really know what "up the lake" refers to and can't really see it on the site you've linked to, but "9000 森鐵嘉義 (Chiayi Forest Rail)" to "9100 奮起湖 (Fenqihu)" would be correct in this case. Perhaps the station designation codes have changed recently. – Michael Dodd Apr 29 at 21:51
  • I can see two trains on the Sunday of interest: No 1 and No 3. Is there any way to know which one is the 10am one? And can I collect the ticket at a convenience store (or a train station) in Taipei, or do I need to collect it at the Chiayi TRA station? There is a contradictory information on Tripadvisor. Also some sources claim that one must pick up the ticket at least one day in advance. – user77409 Apr 29 at 22:09

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