Lion Head Mountain

Lion Head Mountain (獅頭山, also called Shitoushan or Shishan) has been a sacred spot for Buddhists since the Ching Dynasty, and is a favourite countryside escape for thousands, who flock during the weekends from Taipei and beyond. During the week, however, it retains much more of its classic secluded Buddhist retreat feel, and is a far cry from the bustling streets of Taipei.

Over the centuries the mountain has since grown into a network of Buddhist and Taoist temples, ranging from large and elaborate to humble Budhhist nunneries. Many are built into natural caves. But Lion Head Mountain is more than Buddhism and temples: the scenery makes for a great day's hike, or better still a weekend getaway from Hsinchu or Taipei.But it's perhaps not the place for one with a spider (or other insect) phobia.


To really experience the tranquillity of this sacred spot, I recommend staying overnight at the Chanhuatang (also Cyanhua) Temple, especially if you are travelling by public transport. Being a Buddhist institution, the rooms are clean and simple, and feel perfectly appropriate for the location. I'm not aware of any online or English booking service, but while it should be possible to turn up and get a room early on a weekday, it's important to arrive early enough and know when the last bus out is in case you can't (and don't forget to take into account the uphill hike back to the visitors centre to catch it). Rooms cost around NT1,000 and include breakfast and lunch.

Changhua Tang Hotel, Lion Head Mountain


The early sunrise over the pagoda is indescribable, so be sure to go to bed early and get up to enjoy it. I made it my header image.

Sunrise over the pagoda arrives early and doesn't last long.

Visitor's Centre

Buses generally go to the Lion Head Mountain Visitors Centre, which offers (free) English maps and guidance, and nearby is a charming tea house. From there it's a pleasant hike to the Changhua Tang temple (for accommodation), and the visitor's carpark, which comes alive with small markets during the weekend but is almost deserted during the week.

Hours: 08:30-17:30
Address (for Google Maps): 新竹縣峨眉鄉七星村六寮60-8號
Phone: 03-5809296

The top right marker is the Visitor's Centre and cafe, where the bus stops. The bottom right marker is the Changhuatang Temple, Visitor' Carpark etc.

View Lion Head Mountain in a larger map


If you have your own wheels (including a scooter, but be careful) it's a beautiful drive / ride, and this official website lists other scenic spots which may be of interest along the way.

High Speed Rail Option (if coming from Taipei or southern Taiwan)

The fastest (and most comfortable) route from Taipei is to take the High Speed Train to Hsinchu (the stop is actually in Zhupei), and then the "tourist bus" to the Lion Head Mountain Visitors Centre. Note that the last bus back is currently 6PM, but be sure to check this and confirm it on the day (unless of course you will stay overnight at the Cyanhua Tang temple).

Traditional (cheapest) Public Transport Route

Tke a train or bus to Hsinchu, and then another bus (or train, using the Neiwan Line which reopened in 2011) to Zhudong (not to be confused for Zhuzhong). Then take a bus from Zhudong Bus Station to Shitoushan / Shishan. Arrive early and be sure to check at the visitors centre when the last bus departs, as you'll need to either have checked into the Changhuatang Temple for the night, or hike back to the visitor's centre in time for the last bus (which may be late afternoon).

Is something out of date? Please let me know.