The holiday region of Alishan, situated in the mountain range ofthe same name in the interior of Taiwan, is one of the most beautiful on the island. It can be reached along Highway 18 which crosses Taiwan from east to west, or by train from Chiai. The journey by mountain railway is particularly charming; it leads through tropical countryside along a 72km/45 mile stretch of track laid by the Japanese in 1912 which includes 80 bridges and 50 tunnels, up to the pleasantly cool or temperate mountain village of Alishan (2190m/7187ft). The train from Chiai usually stops en route at the Holy Tree, a 3000 year-old cypress which was struck by lightning in 1947. It is over 18m/60ft tall and 14-6m/48ft in circumference. Steam-train enthusiasts will be pleased to know that some old locomotives still operate in Alishan.
In Alishan itself, where there is good accommodation to be had, the small museum, a botanical garden, the romantic Two Sisters Pool and the Tree of the Three Generations are all worth a visit. Many visitors take the opportunity to climb up to the viewing platform on Mount Chu from where they can admire the sea of clouds below and the Yushan massif (Jade Mountains; highest peak 3997m/13,118ft). Watching the sunrise from Mount Chu is also an unforgettable experience.