The permit system for hiking in Taiwan is
quite very confusing. There are short, easy trails that do require permits, dangerous ones that don’t and to add to the confusion there are two types of permits but sometimes you only need one and then sometimes you need both!
So to clarify all of this, here is a guide;
Mountain entry permits
This is the basic permit that you need when entering the mountains and can be applied for online through the National Police Agency. As a rule of thumb, if the trail you’re looking to do is at all remote or involves spending the night in the mountains, you’ll need this permit. It is very easy to get and doesn’t cost anything. Simply fill in your details, wait for an email and then print out 3 copies of the permit.
If you can’t be bothered do it online, then you can apply for the permit at the nearest police station to the trailhead. Even if you’ve already got the permit, you’ll need to present your permit at the police station before entering the mountains. Be sure to pop in again on the way out so they know you got down safely!
Park entry permits
You’ll need this kind of permit in addition to a mountain entry permit if you’re doing a hike in a national park. These are more difficult to get and the procedure varies from national park to national park.
To start, follow the link to the each national park website and then make your application there. Once you recieve the park entry permit, you can then apply for the mountain entry permit.
Foreigners can apply up to 3 months in advance and can avoid the lottery by going for a weekday permit. If you want to go on weekend, your group will go into the draw. Weekends can only be applied for 33 days in advance and if the number of applicants for that weekend exceeds the number of spaces (which it always does), then the lottery draw takes place 30 days in advance. meaning that you only have a 3 day window in which to get the application done. Generally speaking you’ve got a 1 in 20 chance of hitting the jackpot. Though hiking groups seem to fair better than individual applications for some reason.
The Yushan website is the most English-friendly, but still contains a lot of Chinglish. However, they are very good about replying to emails in English!
Permits can be applied for up to 23 days in advance of your final day on the mountains. So if you’re planning a three day trip, you can only apply 20 days in advance.
The website opens to receive applications at 7.00am everyday and for the popular trails like Snow Mountain, all the weekend permits usually go by 7.30am so getting your typing fingers warmed up before trying!
This site is only in Chinese so an ability to read/write Chinese is needed.
Currently the website doesn’t recognize foreign passports or ARCs as being valid and so the only way to make an application is get a Taiwanese friend to be the group leader or to join a Taiwanese group.
For the nearly all the trails in Yangmingshan no permit is needed. However there are two trails where a permit is required. The Hunagzuishan trail and Lujiaokeng. The application website has good English and is fairly straightforward. Applications can be made between 5 and 30 days in advance.
For all of the websites it’s best to use internet explorer as other browsers often have problems.
And that’s it!