If you visit Kaohsiung remember to explore Shoushan (壽山): the monkey mountain. In this post I explain how to get there.
While I lived in Kaohsiung (Taiwan) I had the chance to hike Shoushan in Kaohsiung (also called the Monkey Mountain) since it was just a short motorbike ride from my apartment.
How to get to Shoushan, Kaohsiung’s monkey mountain
If you visit Kaohsiung, you will surely notice the small mountains in the middle of the city: the longevity mountain (Shoushan, 壽山) and the monkeys’ mountain (ChaiShan, 柴山).
Since Kaohsiung has a population of about 3 million people, and since the entire West coast of Taiwan is densely populated, finding a park with tropical forest and hundreds of free monkeys, right in the city is a quite nice surprise.
In the park, you’ll find several hiking trails that are suitable for all kinds of people: some are easier than others but to be fair there aren’t any really difficult routes. Just a lots of steps.
The main trail is easily accessible. The monkeys are everywhere and don’t seem to be bothered by the many people.
The fastest way to get to the Monkey Mountain is by taxi: they are everywhere in the city and are very cheap. The main entrance is from one of these two points:
If you feel adventurous you can explore some of the numerous semi-hidden hiking trails in the park.
- Bring with you a lot of water, you’ll need it.
- Better if you don’t bring any food, but if you do pay attention to the monkeys: they love to steal it from people.
- Avoid staring at the money right in their eyes: they’ll consider it a challenge and might even attack you. It happens more often than you would think.
The Taiwanese Macaque
The monkeys are Taiwanese Macaques (Macaca Cyclopis) an endemic species of the island, recently introduced also in Japan. They reach a maximum weight of 12 kg and are about 50/60 cm long. Usually, one family consists of an average of 45 individuals. The diet is varied and consists of fruits, leaves, seeds, and other vegetable foods, insects, and small vertebrates.
When the species lived in coastal areas they also liked to feed on crustaceans. Unfortunately, the species is considered vulnerable both due to habitat loss and hunting.
The Taiwanese macaques are hunted either because of the damage they cause to crops or because they are used in medical laboratories.
If you are really lucky you can even spot sa few shy Muntjacs.
Muntjacs are a species of tiny deer, about 1 meter tall, living especially in the forests. The males are very territorial and defend their territory fiercely from the intrusions of other males. Since they don’t have antlers when two males fight use their canine teeth
Strange encounters in the monkey mountain
If you see people carrying water tanks and other supplies it’s because there is a small tea house at the top and many locals volunteer to bring what’s needed to make tea.
They do it for free and the tea is also free of charge. This example tells a lot about Taiwanese culture.
Sometimes along the paths, there are platforms from where you can admire the panorama. Enjoy the fresh air and the nature of the mountain before returning to the hustle and bustle of Kaohsiung City, just in time to visit one of its numerous night markets.