One of my favorite things about Taiwan is the diversity of the landscape. As a photographer you couldn't aks for a better place to shoot. We've got big cities near oceans and mountains. On top of that there's waterfalls.
Yuan Jue Falls
NEIHU DISTRICT — This waterfall and hiking trail is only about a 30 minute walk from the MRT station. There are 2 teirs. The first tier is pictured below. The second requires a bit of rock scaling and bravery, but it comes with the reward of privacy.
There is also a pretty great view if you decide to head to the temple up top, as you can see based on the bottom right picture.
SANXIA DISTRICT — I really like the trail here. It's deep into the forest and without Google Maps I'm not even sure if I could find it again if I want to. It starts out in a forest with views of the mountains. Then leads into a clearing of rocks over a stream. You hop over logs and use ropes to get through until reaching the falls.
There's a pool in front of the falls that's perfect for swimming in. If you come here during the rainy season you can expect a nice full vibrant waterfall like the one above. Dry spells leave it a looking a little weak.
If this waterfall were closer to Taipei and easier to reach, you can be the government would have ruined it by now by putting up fences and hot dog stands (like Shifen and many other popular places I don't even bother recommending on this blog anymore).
This one is well worth the drive and inconvenience.
JIAOXI TOWNSHIP — This place is a great example of what happens to a beautiful place when it becomes popular. Sure, in the pics here it looks nice, but in person it's full of fences and 60+ year olds stumbling into each other phone in hand. Not only that, but the upper part of the trail with the bottom right waterfall has been blocked off for over 2 years now. Who knows if it will reopen.
Nonetheless, this place is great if all you're only after photos like these, which to me is just shallow and dumb.
PINGXI DISTRICT — This place is like a dream. There are 3 awesome waterfalls on the trail and the hiking is a nice adventure. You start out on a simple trail then start crossing streams and eventually end up climbing rocks to get to the end.
I've been here on multiple Sundays and was the only one on the trail. Maybe its different now but I've never had a problem with crowds at this place, just mud after it rains.
WULAI DISTRICT — I started coming to Wulai on Sundays when I lived in Taoyuan. It's a terrible city next to Taipei. Wulai felt like paradise. It's weird when you come to a place like this over and over again though. I discovered that travel can be a lot like drugs.
Whenever you go somewhere you try to recapture the thrill of the first visit, but it never happens. The more you keep going to that special place, the less special it feels. I like this place and the memories I have here, but it's better to leave those memories in the past.
PINGXI DISTRICT — As I mentioned above, I don't really recommend visiting this waterfall even though it's quite beautiful. It has turned into Disneyland with lines, fences, and food stands everywhere. I hate this place now. But I'll leave a Google Map link anyway.
FUXING DISTRICT — This is another place I fear is turning into Disneyland. Luckily it's not that convenient to visit from Taipei otherwise I'm sure it would have by now. It's a lot closer to Taoyuan than Taipei and that's why I think development around here has been slower.
However last time I went they main pathway to get close to the waterfall was closed. So they might be building a better trail or barriers. I'll have to check back and find out.
There's still quite a few places to stop off and wander around here though so I still recommend it for exploring. Plus the route here is quite beautiful.
WULAI DISTRICT — If you keep driving into the mountains past Wulai Waterfall you'll end up here. It's a decent waterfall on camera, but I found the trail quite boring.
SANXIA DISTRICT — Again, the picture I got here was nice and there were a couple of other waterfalls in the park that were quite photogenic, but I didn't have too much fun on the trail like I did at Yun Sen Waterfall. These places are very close to each other and if choosing one over the other I'd 100% pick Yun Sen Waterfall instead.