Yang Ming Shan is situated in Taipei. It is a volcanic basin with rich sulphur deposits, resulting in a lingering rotten egg smell in certain parts of the mountain trail. Apart from the fumaroles, hot springs and sulphur crystals, Yang Ming Shan also boasts a flat stretch of greenery atop what was a lava terrace.
To get to Yang Ming Shan, take the subway (Metro Taipei) to Taipei Main Station. Navigate to exit Y6, and board bus 260. The bus stop is directly in front of Taipei Train station North exit 2 where a statue stands. Yang Ming Shan will be the last stop for this bus. Along the way, it does go to a number of other tourist attractions, such as Jiantan: Shilin Night Market, Taipei Fine Art Museum and Chiang Kai-Shek (CKS) Shilin Official Residence.
Once at Yang Ming Shan stop, look for bus 108. This bus loops around the entire Yang Ming Shan, bringing tourists to various scenic spots. However, if you are more interested in a hike, you can take the hiking trial. Do note that the tourist information center is NOT at the Yang Ming Shan stop, and is NO WHERE near it. By hiking up slopes and stairs, it is a 20 minutes walk. There is nothing much at the Information center, apart from helpful staffs whom will give you a map and suggest an itinerary for you. However, if you don’t want to hike, and still want to get to the information center, take 108 and alight at the next stop, 2nd Parking Lot (2).
Here, I will suggest an itinerary based on the route of bus 108 for an afternoon leisure walk. As with other tourists spots in Taiwan, bus frequencies DON’T increase with human load. As such the further away and later into the evening you are from Yang Ming Shan stop, the harder it is to board bus 108, as it will be crowded with people eager to get off the mountain. You will be amazed at how many grannies and grandpas come up to the mountain for the free hot springs. Missing one or two bus 108 will be a common and exasperating experience at the end of your trip. Nonetheless, here is my suggested itinerary: Yang Ming Shan stop (阳明山站)(1) –> Xiao You Keng (小油坑)(5) –> Leng Shui Keng (冷水坑) –> Qing Tian Gang (擎天冈)(6) –> Juan Si Pu Bu (绢丝瀑布) –> Yang Ming Shan stop (阳明山站)(1). The stop where you alight will be the stop you retake bus 108.
A lot of information about Yangmingshan is easily available in the internet, hence I will not go into too much details about this nature park. Instead, I will give a short rundown on my suggested itinerary. Along the way from Yang Ming Shan stop (1) to Xiao You Keng (5), there is still a Yang Ming Academy House (3), and Er Zi Ping (4). I decided to give Yang Ming Academy House (3) a miss, because to me it just looked like a pretty rundown house. Er Zi Ping (4) on the other hand will be worth a trip to in spring and summer, but not in late autumn/early winter.
Xiao You Keng (小油坑)(5) is a scenic spot that boasts a plethora of steaming vents, sulphur fumaroles, and pale yellowish sulphur crystals deposits. The area is perpetually filled with the rotten egg smell of sulphur, making it repulsive at first. If you are up for it, bring an egg up and cook it on the boiling steam vents.
Leng Shui Keng (冷水坑) is a free indoor hotspring area, flooded with grannies and grandpas. There is also an outdoor foot bath, where one can sit leisurely and admire the mountains. If you are not particularly into hotsprings, or prefer a more reclusive spot, then give this place a miss. Some people hike towards a suspension bring from here, and then upwards towards Qing Tian Gang (擎天冈)(6).
Qing Tian Gang (擎天冈)(6) is flat stretch of greenery atop what was a lava terrace. It has now become a cow grazing pasture. This is also a spot for catching the sun set. There are many hiking paths intersecting atop this lava terrace, some will bring you to the submit, some downhill, and some further into the nature park, so don’t wander too far off.
Juan Si Pu Bu (绢丝瀑布) is just a normal waterfall. The water is supposed to fall like threads of white silk, hence the name. However, given the amount of greenery blocking a clear view of the waterfall from the observation bridge, admiring and photographing the waterfall becomes a chore. Also, the water volume of the waterfall isn’t large enough to warrant a 20mins hike from the main road to the waterfall. Unless you have the time, you can give it a miss.
All in all, I feel that the lure of this nature park to tourists are the sulphur fumaroles and the lush greenery of the lava terrace.