From Taipei To Wulai
To get from Taipei to Wulai, simply take the metro to Xindian Station. Upon exit, turn right, steps away is the bus stop which offers bus service 849 to Wulai.
The red coloured arrow at the bottom of the train map pointed to XinTian Station.
Above picture: The bus stop is just outside the Tourist Information Counter. It is a bus stop with no shelter and can be easily missed by anyone if there is no queue there.
The bus service number to Wulai is 849, it comes every 15-20 minutes. There is a digital display board on the wall telling the estimated time of the bus arrival.
There were only less than 10 passengers on the bus, quite unbelievable, to think that it was a Saturday. I did not know why then, until after the tour did I know that it was all because Wulai had became a ghost town…….
The bus fare is TWD$15 or USD$0.45 for a one way trip to Wulai. Which is why it makes no sense to take a taxi there. Anyway, the trip to Wulai takes only about 45 minutes, or 15 minutes slower than by taxi.
But should you insist in going there by taxi, there’s a taxi fare signage prominently displayed beside the bus stop. So no tourist would be cheated by any unscrupulous taxi captain.
Having said that, there’s another reason for taking a taxi. If you have all the time in the world and is an avid photographer, by all means, go Wulai by taxi. Why? Because the route to Wulai offers plenty of scenic view. The taxi driver can be asked to stop as you like it. Look , I managed to take these blurry pictures through the bus windows.
The bus passes by dozens of bus stops, as can be seen from the bus route in the following picture, But do not worry, as Wulai is the last stop, you can sleep all the way if you are sleepy, but if you are not, do choose to seat on the right side of the bus, for it offers a better view of the mountainous Wulai.
45 minutes after boarding, we’d reached Wulai! That’s the bus stop. But upon alighting, I got a shock of it. The bus stop, or rather the surroundings was rather deserted. I hardly see any tourists around……then did I learnt that Wulai attracted few visitors ever since it was struck by typhoon in September 2015, just 2 months back.
But then the scenic view of Wulai already started to unfold from the very moment we alighted at the bus stop. Already we could see from far many villages were bathing on the hot spring along the stream.
Many signages were on the way to guide visitors to the desired destination, the famous one being Wulai Old street and Wulai Waterfall.
If you are going to Wulai Waterfall directly, believe me, take a taxi there from this bus stop. It cost less than TWD$270 or USD$8. If you were to walk there as suggested by many readouts I’d gone through, you could be in for trouble. Why? I was told that tt takes almost an hour to be there, what’s more, the route to Wulai Waterfall is tough and rough through many steep slopes. Look at the distance on this map and you would understand what I meant.
The yellow arrow pointed to the direction of Wulai Waterfall, while the Blue coloured arrow pointed to Wulai Old Street. To have a better idea of the location, I shot a picture from a brochure I got, printed by New Taipei City Tourism Board.
Because the English map is not available, I have to do some editing to add in some important names of the location.
Wulai Old Street
That’ s the entrance of Wulai Old street. We’re already a bit excited to be here.
A simple exhibition building houses all information visitors want to know about the aboriginal culture and Atayal Tribe, its a good introduction to Wulai for new arrivals.
Do not miss out the souvenir shop. No photography is allowed, cant show you the many lovely things put on sale,
Thereafter, we have a ‘taste’ of Wulai Old Street.
Lots and lots of souvenirs and street food lined up along the street, very similar to the many night markets of Taipei such as Shilin Night Market.
We kept an empty stomach on purpose, having learnt that there are lots of good food here, and really, we picked up so many fingered food along the way.
The most famous ‘must-try’ food is probably this Bamboo Rice (‘Zhu Tong Fan’ 竹筒飯 ). We seen it in almost every food stalls. In the end, we just had to try it.
Bamboo Rice is a speciality of the local aborigines, it is actually rice being stuffed into a bamboo tube and have it steamed.
I find it taste very ordinary though, very hard and solid rice with plain taste. It was a complete let down. To be more assured, I later try another tube from another store, and find that it taste much better, softer rice with much more aroma.
That’s the restaurant I tried. The one you get from the street stall taste better than theirs.
Another must try is this Hot Spring Egg, said to be a traditional local food. We did not try it though as we discovered it too late and were already too full.
Famous for its hotspring bath, along Wulai Old street are many Hotspring Spa houses, prices ranges from TWD$200 onwards for a 30 minutes of fun. We didn’t have the time to, otherwise I would want to try it out.
After the meal, we had come to the bridge where taxi is readily available to take us to Wulai Waterfall.
It was said that there is this Wulai Log Cart or little train that brings tourists from Wulai Old Street to Wulai Waterfall. But I didn’t see any, a check from shop owners found that it has ceased operation.
As in many other tourists attraction, the taxi fare is prominently displayed on a signage. So do not worry about being cheated. The taxi ride takes only 5 minutes to be at the cable car station. But it was an uphill task for the taxi. Noticed that the taxi charges is the same as boarding it at XianDian Train Station.
We alighted right in front of Wulai Waterfall. A very high waterfall indeed, it is said to be 80 meters tall.
But then that is it, nothing spectacular. All the talk about it as a ‘silk cloth coming down from the sky’ are just plain exaggeration. The waterfall is too small and too quite to be imposing. Perhaps, Shifen Waterfall and Jiufen Golden Waterfall are the better one to look at.
The sight of the waterfall was made worse by the few buildings right in front of it, totally blocking the view of the falls. There’s no way to see where the water falls to. In the end, we simply took a few symbolic pictures and left within 10 minutes for the cable car ride after arrival.
Business is extremely bad after super typhoon DuJuan hit Wulai in September 2015, just 2 months before we visited. The whole place around the cable car station is a ghost town, with hardly a living soul around, only the sound of the occassional passing car breaks through the complete silence. Tourists are so rare that even the taxi captain who drove us here prefers to wait 2 hours here for us with no obligation. While driving, he was lamenting the glory days of Wulai when he was driving non-stop and making tons of money from countless tourists.
Yun Hsien Resort
So we went to take the cable car or gondola to Yun Hsien Resort, in another mountain across. Yun Hsien Resort was a happy wonderland with lots of fun rides and games for the young and old. He who comes to Wulai has to visit this resort!
The 2 minutes gondola ride brought us directly across Wulai Waterfall. It was during this ride that the beauty of Wulai Waterfall is being fully revealed.
I could see where the water comes from, how it falls and where it falls to. This is what I meant by magnificient view! This is what I demand from a waterfall!
Upon alighting from the gondola, visitors could follow the flow of the water to see the origin of the waterfall, that’s something unique about this waterfall.
The view from the mountain was scenic too, but all these scenic view was overshadowed by a huge landslide we saw on the opposite mountain. It was actually along the driving route where the taxi took us here.
The landslides was caused by a September 2015 typhoon which killed few and injured hundreds. But wait, the worst has yet to be revealed……
As we proceed to Yun Hsien Resort, along the way are rows of shop houses with plenty of souvenirs shop. But none is opened.
The quietness of the place provided us an atmosphere of serenity. We thought we were in heaven then. We hear the birds singing, we breath fresh air, and we see streams of water flowing to make up Wulai Waterfall.
After 10 minutes of slow walk, we had reached the entrance of Yun Hsien Resort.
Then for the first time in my life did I witnessed the devastating effect of a typhoon, and what typhoon is capable of. The whole place was almost totally destroyed by the typhoon which resulted in a landslide.
Supposingly, we can follow and trace the source of Wulai Waterfall, but now there’s no way to do it.
The only building which stands firmly is Yun Hsien Resort.
That’s the comparison of before and after the place is being hit by typhoon.
A lovely fun wonderland is being reduced to rubbish! Perhaps, the greatest thing I gained from coming to Wulai was to see the evil power of typhoon.
Overview Of Wulai Trip
Wulai (烏來) was never the priority in our itinerary, we were there simply because we could not get train tickets to Taroko Gorge (太魯閣). And the only reason for us to be at Wulai was because we wanted to see Wulai Waterfall.
Wulai is really a very small town, even if YunXian Resort is opened, there is nothing much to do with in this attraction. The famous Wulai Waterfall view is being spoilt by the buildings around it, it looks wonderful only when you view it from the gondola. We left just 4 hours after we arrived at Wulai Old Street, including lunch, that was fast.
The best out of Taipei trip is still Jiufen, Shifen and Yeliu, no doubt about it.
Would I come again to Wulai once the recovery works is done in about another 4 months time? Perhaps yes, probably not. After all, Taiwan offers too many attractions to visit the same place twice.