Experience Taiwan’s scenic beauty, aboriginal culture and natural hot springs
Wulai is a former wood logging town nestled in the mountainous regions of New Taipei. It surrounds the beautiful Nanshih River and is famous for its stunning scenery, rich history, natural hot springs and hot spring hotels – all of which make it a perfect day trip from Taipei.
Wulai’s history began as a fishing village for the Atayal tribe (one of Taiwan’s 11 aboriginal tribes) who settled in the area and whose presence is still felt today. It was later underwent extensive development as a wood logging town during the Japanese period. Today, it has blossomed into a tourist-friendly town with both its aboriginal village and wood logging past still present.
Its historical vestiges include the Wulai Old Street, with its native aboriginal food; the Wulai Tram, originally used to transport wood to and from the town centre; as well as the fantastic Wulai Forestry Living Museum and the Wulai Atayal Museum. Other popular attractions include the Wulai Gondola, Wulai Waterfall, as well as exploring through the many hiking trails and abandoned Yun Hsien Resort.
In 2015 Wulai was severely ravaged by successive typhoons whose damage can still be witnessed today. Despite this, many local and international tourists still visit Wulai to be immersed in Taiwan’s forrest and to enjoy its hot springs and aboriginal culture.
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In 2015 Wulai was hit by typhoon Soudelor in August and Dujuan in September. These successive typhoons caused flooding and landfalls that damaged large parts of Wulai’s infrastructure.
The heavy landslides cause by surging water were in part attributed to overdevelopment along the riverbank. At least 4 major hotels, many smaller hotels and homes were destroyed. Damage was also caused to the popular hot spring rock pool in Nanshi River.
Today Wulai has undergone much restoration with attractions still being available to visitors. The cement hot spring pools in Nanshi River have not been restored, however you can still access the river and enjoy the natural springs.
Wulai Old Street is a traditional market and the first point of contact for people visiting Wulai. Delicious aboriginal dishes can be tried here including Wulai’s famous Bamboo Tube Rice (zhú tǒng fàn), Wild Mountain Boar (shān zhū), Millet Wine (xiǎo mǐ jiǔ), as well as various other local delights.
The Wulai Atayal Museum is located at the beginning of the old street and offers a glimpse into the native Atayal people’s history. The three storey museum hosts many displays showing how the aboriginal people lived and their past in Wulai. Admission is free and is a good way to become culturally accustomed to Wulai’s history.
Wulai Waterfall is a beautiful 80 meter multilayer cascade that runs down Nanshi River. It is a main attraction of Wulai and can be viewed from various observation decks as well as from the gondola. Getting there takes about a 30 minute walk from the Wulai Old Street.
A good place to view the waterfall is from the Wulai Forestry Living Museum. This museum features many displays and videos that give an insight into Wulai’s wood logging past. Admission is free and finishes with an observation deck that looks directly onto Wulai Waterfall.
Also known as the Wulai Trolley, the rail cart was originally built in 1928 during the Japanese period to transport timber. Since then it has undergone various restorations while always retaining its original design.
The Wulai Scenic train only has one stop which goes between Wulai Town and the Wulai Waterfall. A one way ticket only costs around NT$30 and is a great way to bypass walking up Pubu Road.
The Wulai Cable Car, or Wulai Gondola, is another one of Wulai’s main attractions. The cable car ride takes you over the Wulai Waterfall to Yun Hsien Resort.
The distance measures 382 meters long by 165 meters high and provides stunning views over Wulai and Nanshi River. A return ticket costs around NT$250 which includes entry into the Yun Hsien Resort.
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Atop the Wulai Waterfall is the Yun Hsien Resort, a former theme park that closed after the 2015 typhoons. Originally opening as Taiwan’s first theme park in 1967, the resort featured a zoo, merry-go-round, haunted house, carnival games, a boat paddling pond and many other attractions.
The giant resort has since become dilapidated after its abandonment, however still serves as an interesting attraction.
Not too far from the Wulai Waterfall is the Neidong Forest Recreation Area. Since the 2015 typhoon damage it has undergone three years of restoration, only recently being reopened to the public.
Visitors to the area enjoy various walking trails including the Forest Bath trail, as well with small and medium waterfalls, including the Neidong Waterfall. The dest way to get there is by taxi from the Wulai Waterfall, or can also be reached by walking along Xinfu Road and Xinxian Trail (1 hour).
Wulai District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 233
Take the MRT green-line to Xindian Station. From Xindian Station take exit 3 towards bus stop B on Beiyi Road. From there take bus route 849 to Wulai.
Wulai is known for its great range of accomodation options. Specifically, its private hot spring hotels that offer amazing views of Wulai.
If you’re looking at where to stay in Wulai during your trip, see out 7 Best Wulai Hot Spring Hotels.