Lion Head Mountain: King of the Jungle

Shihtoushan, or Lion Head Mountain, is a stunning foothill located in the midst of dense jungle and bamboo forests. While there is a lot to do in the surrounding areas of Lion’s Head Mountain, we made a trip out to conquer the Shihtoushan Historic Trail—a steep hike towards the mountaintop that winds past numerous temples and shrines.

Jungle Path, Lion Head Mountain

Rock Characters, Lion Head Mountain

Shrine House, Lion Head Mountain

Temple In The Hills, Lion Head Mountain

Cave Temple, Lion Head Mountain

We started off our expedition at the Lion Head Mountain Visitor center, where we fueled up with a map and traditional vegetarian Hakka lunch. It was quite delicious, and a beautiful place to sit for a little bit (and put off the steep climb ahead of us). From the visitor’s center, a paved walkway led us to the Historic Trail, which was also paved for the entirety of the climb. That didn’t bother us too much though, as we were too distracted by the lush, green scenery to look down at our feet.

Hakka Meal, Lion Head Mountain

What was even better than the natural views was the sight of numerous Buddhist temples built into the hills. It is quite astonishing thinking about how these temples were constructed, and why they were built in such a difficult place to access. The most elaborate of all the temples is the Cyuanhua Hall, a three-story masterpiece where monks and nuns bustle about. Visitors can stay the night here, and the temple provides vegetarian meals in the cafeteria for around 60NT. We didn’t eat or sleep here, although we did spend quite a bit of time snapping photographs and taking in the serene ambience.

Temple View, Lion Head Mountain

Dragon Temple, Lion Head Mountain

Hillside Temple, Lion Head Mountain

Cyuanhua Hall is also the end of the Historic Trail, leading down to an expansive parking lot where buses await to shuttle people back to the Visitor’s Center. We opted out of taking the bus and decided to explore the main road, walking the 6km back and enjoying the beautiful day. The shuttle bus ended up passing us about 15 times; we can only imagine that the driver was probably wondering what us crazy Westerners were up to.

Lonely Planet talks extremely highly of Shihtoushan, claiming it to be one of the highlights of travelers overall time in Taiwan. It’s definitely beautiful, and since we’re in Hsinchu, the one-hour scooter ride with sensational views makes Shihtoushan a must-do. However, I’m not so sure I would say that a traveler with only a few weeks in Taiwan would regret spending their time elsewhere. What do you think? If you have been to Lion’s Head yourself, would you highly recommend it?

Meet: Casey Siemasko


Casey Siemasko is a blogger, content creator, and co-founder of A Cruising Couple. She has been living and traveling outside of the US full-time since 2011. She finds her life inspiration in exploring the world and seeks to find the magic in the most ordinary of places.

5 Comments

  1. You make me realize how much I truly miss Taiwan.

    You take the greatest photos.

    This is becoming my favourite blog.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much Eileen, that is such an awesome comment to hear!

      Reply
  2. How beautiful and intricate those buildings are! You guys are going to have stories and memories to last a life time!

    Reply
    • They really are incredible! Taiwan is an awesome place if you ever want to come visit!

      Reply
  3. “If you have been to Lion’s Head yourself, would you highly recommend it?”

    That depends. If I had never been to a mountain in Asia lined with temples, and this would be my only chance to do so, then I would say “go”. Otherwise, like you said, the traveler should probably spend their limited time elsewhere. Also, Lion’s Head isn’t easy to reach using public transportation.

    Good post. Reading it makes me want to revisit Lion’s Head!

    Reply

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