Fenqihu Old Street: Bentos, Bamboo & Fireflies in Alishan Region

Nick Kembel tocuhing and looking up at a tall green stalk of bamboo with more bamboo and staircase behind

Fenqihu (奮起湖, also spelled Fenchihu) is a major highlight in one of my personal favorite regions of Taiwan: Alishan.

This cute little mountain village is a worthwhile stop on the way from Chiayi to Alishan. Many visitors only come to have a famous bento lunchbox lunch then move on, but I highly recommend spending a night here.

Besides some interesting foods, Fenqihu offers the chance to hike in stunning bamboo forests and spot fireflies at night. It’s the perfect complement to Shizhuo 10 minutes drive down the road, famous for its tea plantations and sunsets. Now you just have to choose between the two (I recommend visiting both if possible!)

In this article, I’ll dive deep into Fenqihu, providing all the info you need and tips you won’t find anywhere else. This comes from three visits over the last 10 years, including most recently with my kids – in my opinion, Fenqihu is one of the best places to visit in Taiwan with kids!

Fenqihu Old Street Intro

An old black locomotive inside a warehouse
Old locamotive in Fenqihu Station Museum (currently closed for renos)

Fenqihu started as a tiny Hakka village in the mountains, then underwent a mini boom when it became a stop on the Japanese-built train line to Alishan. The Japanese built this train line to transport camphor trees they were logging at Alishan.

Trains would stop at Fenqihu, the largest station between the two ends, for repairs and for railway workers to have lunch. This is how it came to be one of Taiwan’s most famous bento box train stations – still a huge draw for most visitors today.

Fenqihu Old Street thus developed, but there’s actually a second even older old street, fittingly called the Old Old Street (老老街), which I’ll introduce in the hiking section below.

A hanging wooden sign that says Fenchihu and shows the distances in km to Chiayi and Alishan
Fenqihu station sign

Fenqihu sits at 1405 meters above sea level. Surrounded on three sides by mountains, with a gap to the southwest, its landscape apparently looks like a traditional dustpan (benji 畚箕). You can see an example of these dustpans above the door to every room at Fenqihu Hotel (see image below).

Hence the town used to be called Benjihu (畚箕湖). Although “hu” usually means lake, the character can also mean mountain area in Taiwanese. When the train line opened in 1912, the name was changed to Fenqihu (奮起湖).

A collage of three images representative of Fenqihu: A traditional woven dustpan on the top left, bags of harvested bamboo on the top right, and a row of traditional wooden sandals on the bottom
Three symbols of Fenqihu: traditional dustpan, bamboo, and Japanese wooden sandals

Wooden clogs were also made here during the Japanese period – you can also see these hanging from the ceiling in the side building of Fenqihu Hotel.

After the Japanese period, the vehicle highway was built to Alishan and Fenqihu declined. However, when the Alishan Forest Railway was reopened as a means to transport tourists to Alishan, the village was reborn as a tourist attraction.

The biggest draws of Fenqihu are its lunchboxes, old street, local products like Alishan tea, wasabi, millet donuts, tofu, and tree tomatoes, bamboo forest hikes, and fireflies at night.

A young girls standing beside some vegetation with bamboo forest behind her
The town is surrounded by bamboo forests

I found this out after my last trip, but Fenqihu area even has a special species of square-shaped bamboo originating from Mt. Emei in Sichuan, China.

It’s not so obviously square-shaped, as the edges are supposedly rounded. People say it’s easier to notice by touch than by sight. Some of my photos in this article may even be of the square bamboo, but I’m not sure which ones. Next time I visit Fenqihu, I will investigate!

Getting There

There are several ways to reach Fenqihu: Private transfer, self driving, train, or bus.

Private Transfer or Self Driving

Two Taiwanese women and two kids standing beside a black van parked at the curb, with the words Tripool on it
We ordered to a Tripool private transfer – highly recommend!

The easiest and fastest way is by private transfer from Chiayi.

On our most recent visit with our kids, we tried Tripool, a Taiwan taxi service, to go from Chiayi to Fenqihu and back the next day.

The driver was extremely professional, van was very clean, and the best part is the he drove super slowly and carefully so our kids didn’t get sick on the winding road.

When you download the Tripool app, if you enter my referral code nick202406 on the registration page, you’ll get a free TWD 300 credit in your account!

A young Taiwanese man driving a car, shot from the backseat, and he's mostly shaded
Our driver drove extremely carefully, which we much appreciated

If you decide to self drive, it only takes one hour and 15 minutes from Chiayi to Fenqihu. I recommend renting a car via this link at Chiayi HSR station or a scooter here at Chiayi train station. Here’s my guide to driving in Taiwan.

By Train

Three women standing between red Alishan Forest Railway trains parked at a train station
My friends with Alishan Forest Railway trains at Fenqihu station

There is only one Alishan Forest Railway per day on weekdays (depart Chiayi 9, arrive Fenqihu 11:30) or three per day on weekends and holidays (8:30-11, 9-11:30, 9:30-12).

Going down, on weekdays the train departs Fenqihu at 2:30 PM and arrives at Chiayi at 5 PM. On weekends, the departures are 2:30-5, 3:00-5:30, and 3:30 to 6 PM.

While the train is slower and more expensive than the bus, it’s an iconic Taiwan experience and less likely to make you feel sick. However, it’s extremely popular and must be booked here starting from 15 days in advance, 6 AM to midnight Taiwan time only.

During cherry blossom season (March to April) it can be especially hard to get tickets.

Don’t fret if you can’t get seats or decide not to take it. You can still experience the Alishan Forest Railway by riding the three small lines inside Alishan National Forest Recreation Area when you get there, and those don’t need to be booked.

Two kids standing at the end of a train station platform, from behind, with the train tracks leading out from either side of them towards some buildings and forest at the end
My kids on the platform at Fenqihu station
A time and price table for trains from Fenqihu to Chiayi
Train times as posted at Fenqihu station
Two rows of gray luggage lockers in the corner of a train station room
Lockers in Fenqihu train station, TWD 60/3 hrs, max 24 hrs

By Bus

An uncrowded bus station with a few people waiting and two buses parked
Bus station at exit 2 of Chiayi HSR station for buses to Fenqihu and Alishan

Taking the bus to Fenqihu is easier because it doesn’t need to be booked in advance – you can just swipe your EasyCard to ride it.

However, during cherry blossom season, I actually do recommend reserving your seat, even though doing so is very complicated.

Here are the bus times from Chiayi train station (4 per day) and HSR station (only 1 per day!) to Fenqihu and how to reserve your bus ticket to Fenqihu online if you want to.

A bus stop sign beside a small highway with a wooden cafe across the street
The weekday bus stop in Fenqihu

In Chiayi, the buses depart from the bus stop right in front of Chiayi train station and exit 2 of the HSR station.

They arrive and depart from this bus stop above Fenqihu Old Street on weekdays, and this bus stop 5 minutes down the road on weekends and in cherry blossom season (March to April).

When leaving Fenqihu by bus, it’s not possible to reserve your seat (seats can only be reserved starting from Chiayi or Alishan).

Therefore, it’s best to line up around 30 minutes early for the bus to improve your chance of getting a seat. Make sure to go to the correct bus stop for weekdays vs weekends/cherry blossoms season.

Where to Stay in Fenqihu

The exterior of a hotel, with hotel name written in orange Mandarin characters, and some digital displays on the side showing images of the Alishan Forest Railway
Fenqihu Hotel is connected to the town’s only 7-Eleven

If you are spending the night in Fenqihu, one hotel stands out above the rest: Fenqihu Hotel (see on Booking / Agoda). This is where I always stay in Fenqihu.

Fenqihu Hotel is a short walk from the bus or train station. It’s at the easternmost end of the old street. It is connected to the only 7-11 in town and its kitchen makes some of the best Fenqihu lunchboxes in town (we’ll talk all about those below!)

The hotel also offers the only firefly viewing walks in town, around 7 to 8 PM and free for all guests (not available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but I’ll still tell you how to find the firefly spot they go to).

Two kids smiling and sitting at a small, low wooden desk drinking Taiwanese tea out of traditional tea cups, with some tatami bed on the floor behind them
Enjoying the free Alishan tea in our room

Rooms at the hotel are tatami style with super cute wooden bathtubs. Ours came with a free box of Alishan High Mountain Tea (which is grown nearby in Shizhuo) and the equipment to make it. We also paid a little more for a room with windows. Breakfast is a 7-11 voucher.

If Fenqihu Hotel is full, you can also try Yeashow Villa (see on Booking / Agoda) in the middle of the old street. Watch for the paintings of Alishan sights on the staircase going down to it.

Nick Kembel shot from behind sitting in a small wooden bathtub with only his upper half showing
Me in the cute bath tub in Fenqihu Hotel over 10 years ago
A young girl's head poking up from inside a round wooden bath tub
Lavender in the same tub in 2024

Things to Do in Fenqihu

Now we come to the most important part: what to do in Fenqihu! This will help you to determine whether you only need to visit for a few hours or spend the night in Fenqihu.

Eat a Fenqihu Bento Box

About 20-30 Taiwanese people standing or sitting beside a railway line and most are eating lunchboxes
Locals enjoying their lunchboxes right on the train tracks

Having a bento box/lunchbox is pretty much obligatory in Fenqihu. And yes, there are vegetarian ones available at almost every shop, too! All spots have seating or you can take your box to enjoy on the train, while hiking, or whatever.

These meals in a box come with some combination of meat, strewed vegetables, local bamboo shoots, tofu, braised egg, sweetened bean curd, and other goodies on a bed of sticky rice.

A small bento box restaurant shaped like an Alishan red train, with signs on the front advertising their various lunchboxes
First option for bentos right on the train station platform

You’ll have bento box options before you even stop off the train station platform. Fenqihu Hiker’s Canteen Bento Boxes (奮起湖登山食堂便當 here) sells bentos right beside the tracks. You can’t miss it, as the restaurant is shaped like an Alishan train.

I recommend the above option if you’re in a rush and need to catch a bus or train very soon. Otherwise, the below two lunchbox shops are even better.

Close up of a lunchbox meal in a small white cardboard box, with large drumsticks, half a boiled egg, bright red tofu strips, and vegetables visible
Fenqihu Hotel’s lunchbox

My second recommended spot for bento boxes is Old Street Nostalgic Bento Boxes (老街懷舊便當 here), which is located inside Fenqihu Hotel at the eastern end of the Old Street, just past the only 7-Eleven. In my opinion, it’s the second best one in town (the best one is below).

You can’t miss the old man on the hotel’s sign, who I assume is the hotel owner. I got the below photo of him (standing beside the sign of himself) over a decade ago. On our most recent trip in 2024, we saw him again, but he is very old now and wheelchair-bound.

A sign showing a picture of a delicious looking Fenqihu bento box with lots of Mandarin words and an image of an elderly local man on the bottom left
Sign for bento boxes at Fenqihu Hotel (note the old man)
An elderly Taiwanese man with long white beard standing beside a sign of himself
Fenqihu Hotel man with sign of himself

My third and most recommended place to get a bento box in Fenqihu is Railway Mountain City Nostalgic Bento Boxes (鐵道山城懷舊鐵路便當, here).

You’ll have to walk a little further for this one, about five minutes away from the old street.

Three fully loaded Fenqihu bento boxes side by side on a counter with a small paper bowl of soup behind them
Just look at these gorgeous bentos

This is worth the trek, though. In my opinion, these are the best bento boxes in Fenqihu.

On weekdays, they have 3 options: pork ribs, chicken drumstick, or vegetarian (not on the menu but just ask – here’s how to ask for vegetarian food in Taiwan).

On weekends they offer two more special ones: Dongpo pork belly and pig trotters. There’s also delicious bamboo soup and cold tofu available as sides.

Besides the excellent bento boxes, the restaurant has old-timey vibes and red hanging lanterns. Take the path up to the building at the back to check out all the nostalgic gear (and to find the toilets).

An old white house with blue painted columns, rd hanging lanterns, and old time nostalgic posters
Old timey vibes at Railway Mountain City
Looking up a narrow paved road that's wet from rain, with some hanging red lanterns lit up on the right side, building in the distance with forested mountain above it covered in mist
Looking from the shop up towards the Old Street and Railway Station
Silhouette of a young boy standing in a door frame shot from behind as he looks out, with two red lanterns lit up above his head, and small village scene outside
We enjoyed our bentos with this view
A hand holding up a vegetarian lunchbox beside a traditional wooden doorway and red mandarin couplets sign
My insanely delicious vegetarian bento box

Stroll Fenqihu Old Street

A map of Fenqihu Old Street with some local features and directions marked on it
The 3 sections of Fenqihu Old Street

Fenqihu Old Street is the main thing to do in Fenqihu village. It is the highest old street in all of Taiwan. It is only about 200 meters from end to end.

After you get off the train, you’ll most likely access it by walking down a staircase at the bent portion of the blue line (section 2) above. If you get off at the bus stop, you’ll walk down the car road to the eastern end of the red line (section 1), where 7-Eleven is.

Two kids walking down a set of sets, shot from above, with various signs and red lanterns above them
Staircase from train station down to the Old Street

The way I see it, there are three different sections of the old street. The first section of Fenqihu Old Street (red line on my map above) is the eastern end, with shops on either side as well as 7-11 and Fenqihu Hotel. This end is also closest to the Fenqihu bus stop.

In the above photo, you’d go down those stairs and turn left to reach it from the train station.

Fenqihu Old Street, with a rice cracker vendor on the right and some people walking down the road
The eastern section of the Old Street

In this section, you’ll find a few Alishan tea shops and Station Coffee (驛珈琲, here), which sells Alishan coffee, including brewed coffee or Alishan coffee beans to take home.

A female Taiwanese tea vendor sitting at a desk brewing some teas, smiling at the camera, with a wall of bags of tea behind her
Sampling some Alishan teas
Close up of two hands holding a big chunk of tofu stuffed with cilantro, pickled vegetables, and other ingredients, in a plastic bag
Tofu hamburger or “doufu hanbao

I highly recommend the tofu hamburgers (豆乾漢堡) sold here. These are big hunks of firm tofu stewed in herbal soup then stuffed with pickled veggies, peanut powder, cilantro, fried shallots, and pork floss (vegetarians can ask for them to leave out the latter). They are SO GOOD!

A hand holding up a bottle of beer that says "Zhaoping Alishan Forest Railway" on it with Fenqihu Old Street behind
Beer named after Zhaoping Station in Alishan

It’s also on this street where I managed to find a bottle of special Alishan-themed Taiwan beer, which you can’t find anywhere else in Taiwan.

You may also hear the popping sound of a machine making large Hakka rice cakes (米餅) at this shop.

A vat of red juice that says tree tomato juice on it, with a cup of the juice and two fresh tree tomatoes on top of it in front.
Tree tomato (樹蕃茄) juice, a local specialty
Two women and two kids looking at the products being sold by a vendor in the covered section of Fenqihu Old Street
My family shopping for herbs in the covered middle section of the Old Street

The middle section of Fenqihu Old Street, which starts if you go right when going down the staircase from the train station, is a covered section.

Little shops inside sell a variety of local herbs, seeds, nuts, teas, dried fruits, edible plants, jelly drinks, and super delicious Alishan wasabi – both fresh and in jars to take home, and really excellent wasabi salt. I stocked up!

Some bins filled with fresh wasabi roots, various herbs for sale on a shelf behind them, and a boy in the background looking at the products
Fresh Alishan wasabi, lily tea, and various herbs for sale
A hand holding up a plastic cup containing brown liquid, jelly, and seeds, with a covered old market street behind
Traditional aiyu jelly drink with basil seeds
Close up of a bowl of tofu pudding with thick soy sauce and clumps of wasabi on top
Special douhua with sweet soy sauce and Alishan wasabi

In this area I enjoyed a bowl of tofu pudding (豆花 or douhua) with sweet soy sauce and Alishan wasabi at Fenqihu Tofu Shop (奮起湖豆腐店 here).

Occasionally the same shop also sells “Thumb Lemon Douhua” (拇指檸檬豆花). The douhua is topped with Australian finger limes, the “caviar” of the plant world, which create a pop of sourness in your mouth. Unfortunately they didn’t have it when we last visited.

An outdoor market street with a line of hanging red lanterns above
The third, western section of the Old Street

The final, westernmost section of Fenqihu Old Street is again a normal paved/outdoor street. Here you’ll find more of everything, including a few more bento box shops.

Some highlights to watch out for are the insanely delicious millet donuts (甜甜圈), which come in flavors like cheese, chocolate, or maple. They are available from a few stalls on the old street, but the ones down here off the old street are even better.

Also watch for the slushy aiyu (愛玉) drinks with basil seeds and brown sugar here.

Two donuts on a paper bag
Millet donuts, another local specialty

At the end of the road, you can make a short detour to find this stall selling traditional caozaiguo (草仔粿), which are herbal sticky rice cakes stuffed with pickled radish and other tasty things.

A hand holding an orange sticky rice ball with vegetables stuffed inside of it
Caozaiguo, a very traditional Taiwanese snack

Go Firefly Watching

A dark image of the forest floor with the flashing lights of fireflies flying around
It’s really hard to take a picture of fireflies. This is the best I could do!

Alishan region is one of the best places in Taiwan to see fireflies. In fact, of the 60 of the world’s 2000 firefly species which live in Taiwan, 42 species can be seen in Alishan region.

Of all the firefly viewing spots in Alishan region, Fenqihu is the most accessible one. Fireflies can be seen year-round there, but the type of firefly changes by season. April to May is considered the best time to see fireflies in general in the area.

A sign showing the different types of fireflies by season in Fenqihu
Different firefly types (and glow-in-the-dark mushrooms!) in Fenqihu area

Here’s a list of the main firefly species around Fenqihu by season.

  • February to March: 神木螢 or “Sacred Tree Firefly”
  • April to June: 大端黑螢 or “Big End Black Firefly” and 黑翅螢 or “Black Winged Firefly”
  • July to August: 三節熠螢 or “Three Festivals Shining Firefly” and 梭德氏脈翅螢 or “Sauteri’s Vein Winged Firefly”
  • September to October: 台灣山窗螢 or “Taiwan Mountain Window Firefly”
  • November to February: 鉅角雪螢 or “Giant Horned Snow Firefly”

The easiest way to see them is to take advantage of Fenqihu Hotel’s free firefly walking tour every evening except Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

If you are visiting on one of those days or staying at a different hotel, don’t worry, I’ll tell you exactly how to find them below!

A narrow paved road with dense, green vegetation and forest on either side
This road is the best spot to see fireflies (after dark!) in spring and summer

You’ll need to walk about 10 minutes from the old street to find them, and you’ll probably notice a firefly or two on the way!

In spring and summer, the best spot to see fireflies is along this road (see image above). From 7-11 at the end of the Old Street, keep following the vehicle road downhill, past this church, then turn right at the police station until you reach an intersection here.

At this intersection, you need to walk south down this road. It is a narrow, paved vehicle road to Guanghua (among the several signs at the road entrance, one of them says “Guanghua 往光華”). Go a few minutes down the road then watch for all the fireflies on the farmer’s field to the left.

In fall and winter, it’s better to view them from one road over (to the east), here.

A dark forest image with flashing lights of fireflies going by
Here’s one more try!

Bamboo Hikes in Fenqihu

Fenqihu hiking trail map
The four trails I’ll describe below: Fenqi Trail (blue), Logging Track (red), Cedar Boardwalk (orange), and Fenrui Historic Trail (green). Right click and “open in a new tab” to see a larger size.

A major highlight for those who stick around Fenqihu a little longer is the excellent series of boardwalk trails and bamboo forest hikes around the village.

These feature some lovely cypress and maple trees, including a few giant ones, ruins of a Japanese Shinto shrine, and some absolutely jaw-dropping bamboo forests on the hillside north of the village.

It can be a little daunting to figure out which trail to take for the best views and how exactly to get to it. My above map and directions below should help!

Fenqi Trail: The Best One (1 hr)

Two kids laughing and embracing on a hiking staircase surrounded by bamboo forest
We had a blast on this trail

If you only do one trail at Fenqihu, make it Fenqi Trail (奮起步道). After walking all the trails around town, we found that this one has the most beautiful bamboo forest. It also features the best view of town, a giant tree, and ruins of a Japanese Shinto shrine.

A wooden cafe surrounded by forest with little staircase at the bottom left
The trail starts at the entrance to this cafe. Note the stairs on the bottom left.

Starting from 7-Eleven in town, walk up the car road to the highway, where you can’t miss Good Point Coffee and Tea Shop (好望角咖啡, here) on the opposite side (see image above)

To access the trail, walk up the little staircase as if you were really going to enter this café.

A cement staircase covered in green moss with two white arrows pointing the way up
The arrows on the stairs point the way to the trail

As you approach the front door of the café, you will notice little arrows on the steps to the left pointing the way up. You’ll climb up behind the café, passing right beside its lovely rooftop patio.

A rooftop patio with two round glass tables with closed umbrellas and misty mountain views in the distance
View from the cafe’s rooftop patio as I hiked by

Right away, you’ll reach a signed intersection where you can go right for the Logging Track Trail (see next entry) or left for Scenic Outlook, Shinto Shrine Ruins, and Luding Giant Tree. Take the left.

In 45 meters, you’ll reach the Scenic Outlook (觀景台, here), a small platform which offers the best view of Fenqihu train station and village. We got here in 15 minutes after leaving from 7-Eleven.

Fenqihu village and train lines viewed from above, with forests and mountains all around
View of Fenqihu from the scenic outlook

From there, the trail keeps going up through the forest until it reaches another section of the same highway. After crossing the highway, the trail finally enters the bamboo forest.

The trail soon reaches the Shinto Shrine Ruins (神社遺址), which of course date to the Japanese period (1895-1945), when the Japanese first built the Alishan Forest Railway. Little is left except for a small staircase a stone foundation, but the setting in the bamboo forest is sublime.

A young girl standing on top of the ruins of a base of a Japanese shinto shrine in the forest
Remains of a Shinto shrine

After the shrine, the trail turns left and enters the most stunning section of bamboo forest. This is what it’s all about! Come here for your bamboo forest photos!

Two kids standing on the wooden platform next to a pavilion surrounded by stalks of bamboo
Pavilion in the bamboo forest
Two women shot from behind as they hike up a wooden staircase in a bamboo forest
Staircase through the bamboo forest
Nick Kembel with his wife and two kids standing in on a staircase in a bamboo forest
A rare full family shot – usually I’m behind the lens!

In the middle of it you’ll also find Luding Giant Tree (鹿鼎巨木 here). It is also called Luding Sacred Tree (鹿鼎神木).

This flying moth tree (a type of maple) is nearly 1000 years old. Its base and roots are intertwined with a rock, resulting in a deer-like appearance, hence the word deer (鹿 or “lu”) in its name.

A giant tree surrounded by bamboo
Luding Giant Tree

Shortly after the giant tree, you’ll reach a pavilion and staircase going back down to town on the left. You also have the option to continue going straight on Fenqi trail – doing so will add an extra 20 minutes or so to your hike.

If you choose the latter option, you’ll soon pass the ruins of a historic charcoal kiln. You’ll eventually intersect with the start of Fenrui Historic Trail (see final hike below) at the western end of town.

A pedestrian bridge surrounded by greenery in the forest
Small bridge on the trail

We decided to take the shorter way back to town. From the pavilion, the staircase soon reaches the highway, then continues down on the opposite side. This staircase back down to town is called Gou-A-Kam Trail (糕仔崁古道, here) and will take you back to just a few steps away from the café where we started.

In total, it took us 1 hour 20 minutes to do this loop with our kids. We walked very slowly. On my own, I could probably have done it in 45 minutes.

Logging Trail: Optional Add-On (1 hr)

A wooden train-track-like track with vegetation growing around it
The trail’s namesake track which you walk along for a bit

Also called the “Wooden Horse Logging Track” (木馬棧道), this trail follows an old route which locals used to pull logs on simples sledges called “wooden horses”.

The trail features more bamboo forests (watch for the “square-shaped bamboo!) and leads to another giant tree. I recommend this trail as an add-on to Fenqi Trail for those who want a longer hike. To avoid backtracking, do this trail first.

From 7-Eleven in town, follow the car road downhill. Either use this small staircase or the turnoff just past it to go up to the highway. Opposite a large parking lot (location of the weekend-only Fenqihu bus stop), you’ll find the trailhead here.

Looking down a steep staircase in the forest with glimpses of a little town below through the trees
Glimpses of Fenqihu through the trees as you go up

The trail ascends steeply into the forest – make sure to look back for glimpses of town through the trees. It then crosses a little bridge over the Alishan Railway Line.

If you’re very lucky or time it well, you could see a train going by on its way from Fenqihu to Alishan.

Looking down at a railway line through the forest
Crossing over the Alishan Forest Railway Line.

You’ll then reach a signed turnoff – go right for Fenqihu Giant Tree (奮起湖巨木, here), which you’ll reach in a few minutes. Just like Luding Giant Tree, this is another Flying Moth Tree. You can appreciate its full size as you walk down the final staircase to it.

Vertical image of a huge, very tall ancient tree in the forest
Fenqihu Giant Tree

Return to the signed turnoff and go the other way. The trail now leads through some lovely bamboo forest, with occasional glimpses of the Alishan Railway tracks. Towards the end, you’ll see the trail’s namesake “wooden horse” tracks.

The trail then meets with Fenqi Trail, as I described in the previous entry. You can go left to return to town or make a sharp right uphill to do Fenqi Trail.

A staircase leading up through a bamboo forest
Some bamboo forest on the Logging Track trail

Cedar Boardwalk & Old Old Street: Easiest Trail (1 hr)

A boardwalk trail in the forest with a few people walking on it
Most of the trail is in the forest

The Fenqihu Cedar Boardwalk Trail (杉林木棧道) is an easy boardwalk trail on the west side of Fenqihu.  

This one is the easiest because it has fewer stairs than the above trails. It is mainly through forest but does have some bamboo, too, just not as much as the previous two trails. On the plus side, you’ll get to see a small Earth God Shrine and finish at Fenqihu’s original Old Street.

Two women walking towards the camera on a paved path, with a small temple in the forest behind them on the top right
Road from town to the trailhead, with temple at the top right

From the western end of Fenqihu Old Street, follow the car road to Fenqihu Earth God Shrine (奮起湖福德宮, here, visible at top right of above photo).

The small temple sits just above the Alishan Railway Line, right at the point where Alishan trains will enter Fenqihu village when coming from Chiayi.

A young girl kneeling down on a red bench, shot from behind, praying to a small temple shrine in front of her
Lavender praying in the Earth God Shrine
Looking between two trees at the Alishan train line and a small temple above it
The Alishan Railway Line passes by the small Earth God Temple
A young girl walks along a railway line in the forest towards the camera
Train tracks just below the temple, where Alishan trains will come into town

From the temple, watch for a small staircase going down – you’ll actually walk across the train tracks then continue down the stairs on the other side. This will bring you to the official start of the Cedar Boardwalk Trail here.

The trail descends through some bamboo and regular forest. You’ll be walking on an elevated boardwalk for most of it. After a few minutes, you’ll have the option to go left for a shorter path or right for a slightly longer one. Take the right.

A young girl standing on a boardwalk in the forest and reaching out and touching a tall green stalk of bamboo with her hand.
There’s some bamboo on this trail, too.

The trail eventually meets a paved car road here. This road happens to be the best spot to see fireflies at night.

Two very old looking houses side by side, one white, one green, with red lanterns
Fenqihu Lao Lao Jie (Old Old Street)

Turn left at the road, then turn right at the coming intersection to reach Old Old Street (老老街 or lao lao jie, here), Fenqihu’s original old street.

Locals call this the “Bottom Foot Street” (下腳店仔) to differentiate it from the “Tip of the Head Street” (頂頭店仔), today’s old street at the train station.

The Old Old Street indeed looks very old. This was the original village before Fenqihu train station was built. It was once home to a mere 10 families. It’s very quiet today, with one or two little coffee shops if you happen to need a drink or snack.

Looking down an ancient old street with a string of hanging red lanterns and some misty mountains behind
Another angle of the Old Old Street

From the end of the Old Old Street, follow the street as it curves left. Walk for 10 minutes up that road to return to 7-Eleven on Fenqihu Old Street.

Fenrui Historic Trail: Most Difficult Trail (3-4 hrs one-way)

Nick Kembel wearing tank top and colorful sarong, sitting in the middle of a bamboo forest and looking up at the stalks of bamboo
Doing Fenrui Historic Trail by myself many years ago

Fenrui Historic Trail (奮瑞古道) is an epic ascent through never-ending bamboo forest. On it, you’ll find hours of solitude and become one with the swaying, creaking stalks of bamboo, including the special square-shaped ones. It is without question one of my favorite hikes in all of Taiwan.

The trail name means “Fenqihu to Ruili”, as it starts here in Fenqihu (near the Earth God Shrine) and ends here in Ruili village (瑞里). Ruili is a remote village with limited amenities. It has infrequent bus connections to Chiayi city and no bus connections to Fenqihu or Alishan.

A man crouched down in a bamboo forest taking photos upwards at the bamboo
My friend Caleb photographing the bamboo

This means if you want to hike the whole thing, you need to plan it carefully. If you want to start and finish at Fenqihu, then I suggest you only hike as much of the trail as you have time/energy for, then return back the way you came.

The trail is 6 kilometers, so if you hiked the whole thing and back, that would be 12 km and take 6 to 8 hours. It would be a long, tough day.

Looking straight up in a bamboo forest, with rays of the sun shining through
Looking up at the bamboo

If you want to start or finishing at the Ruili end, you can take a 2.5 hour bus ride there from Chiayi station.

Bus 7315A (or 7315 on Sundays) goes from this stop in Chiayi to Ruili once per day, departing at 9:25 (get there a little early to make sure) and arriving at Ruili (Ruitai Historic Trail) stop here in Ruili near the trailhead.

There is a second bus departing Chiayi at 3:10 PM, but then you would arrive at Ruili around dark – only do this if you intend to sleep in a guesthouse like this in Ruili and do the hike the next day.

A group of hikers walking down a narrow vehicle road with some tea fields on the hills in front of them
Some tea plantations in Ruili near the start of the trail

When my friends and I hiked this trail (with limited luggage of course), we caught the morning bus to Ruili, hiked the Fenrui Trail to Fenqihu, then spent the night in Fenqihu. It was an awesome day!

If you hike starting from Fenqihu, the same bus goes back from Ruili stop to Chiayi station at 6:10 AM or 1:10 PM.

This means you could potentially hike out from Fenqihu early in the morning and catch the 1:10 PM bus back to Chiayi, or hike from Fenqihu to Ruili, sleep in a guesthouse there, and take the early morning bus down the next morning.

Closeup of a the sides of a few thick stalks of bamboo
Enjoy your explorations in the bamboo forest!

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