In the heart Taiwan, Alishan National Park is a mountainous area of natural beauty set in the hills and peaks of Chiayi County. Spanning more than 160 square miles, it covers terrain as varied as rugged mountain passes and green, lush tea plantations. Hugely popular with hikers and outward-bound folks, the many trails take in waterfalls, countless species of flora and fauna and include Mount Ali, a peak that is visually synonymous with Taiwan. The area is home to only four small villages including the inhabitant aboriginal Tsou tribe whose young women inspired the famous Chinese folk song, "The Girls of Alishan".
Designated a national scenic area since 2001, Alishan is a constantly changing landscape, covered in cherry blossom during spring and blanketed with orange montbretia in summer. Visitors flock there for the hiking trails and views, though some cheat and take the pre-dawn train to the peak for a view of the sunrise without too much effort. The small villages are seats of ancient indigenous history and burst with tradition and culture, while the Japanese occupation is in evidence with the logging railway running through the area.