TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Everyone enjoys a stunning view. Indeed, people travel all over the world to seek them out. But some views require a little bit more fortitude than others. In recent years, Skywalks have become big business. These walkways offer visitors unique and beautiful views. But to enjoy them you have to traverse a walkway, and often a climb too, that is not for the faint-hearted.
Some are built high up in trees and others cling to mountainsides or cliff-faces. Some are made of sturdy metal or wood, while others are made of glass to allow visitors to look directly beneath them as they walk. If you are a sufferer of vertigo, then visiting a skywalk is almost certainly not. But if you are not, they are increasingly becoming must-see destinations.
Last week saw the latest skywalk in Taiwan open to the public. The Siaogangshan Skywalk Park (崗山之眼) is the first of its kind in Kaohsiung and offers spectacular views over the scenic Agongdian Reservoir (阿公店水庫). And its opening seemed like an opportunity to highlight a few of Taiwan’s other impressive skywalks. There are a few to choose from, but these are my top five:
- Xiao Wulai Skywalk –(小烏來天空步道)
Xiao Wulai Skywalk, which is located in the Fuxing Township, Taoyuan County (桃園復興區) is arguably Taiwan’s most famous skywalk. It is located in the Xiao Wulai Scenic Area, a mountainous 200-hectare large national park with plenty of stunning natural sites to enjoy. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Xiao Wulai Waterfall(小烏來瀑布), and the skywalk was built to offer visitors an even more impressive view of this already stunning waterfall.
The Xiao Wulai Skywalk is a transparent walkway built with reinforced glass. It was constructed in 2010 and for a nominal fee, visitors are able to get up close and personal with the waterfall as well as enjoy a great view of another local site Fengdongshi (Wind Moving Rock風動石), a huge boulder which appears to be very precariously balanced. The walkway is 24 stories high at its highest point and visitors can look straight down through the glass at the forest and river below them. For obvious reasons, numbers are restricted to 50 people at any one time. It is a mesmerising experience and one well worth both the journey there and the small fee.
- Fengbin Skywalk – (豐濱天空步道)
Anyone who has driven up and down the East Coast highway between Taitung and Hualien cannot have failed to miss the queue of traffic waiting to visit the new Pacific skywalk in Fengbin Township. This skywalk, which was opened last summer is located just next to the southern entrance to Xinfeng Tunnel (新豐隧道) on the highway.
It is built on a narrow Japanese era trail which wound around the long before and connected nearby Jiqi Village (磯崎村)with neighbouring Xinshe Village(新社村). The trail itself is worth the visit alone, but the addition of a short but nonetheless impressive skywalk only adds to the experience. The glass-bottomed section is only 20 metres long, which does disappoint some tourists who are expecting more, but this skywalk does allow visitors to look directly downwards to watch the powerful Pacific waves crashing onto the cliff face below.
Visitors only have to pay NT$40 for this special experience and the skywalk is a great way to break up the east coast drive. Shortly after opening, this skywalk did experience some issues with cracking, but don’t let that deter you as the problem which was believed to have been caused by vandalism rather than construction issues, has long since been resolved.
- Cingjing Skywalk (清境天空步道)
If that skywalk doesn't seem nearly long enough for you, then you might be better served by the new skywalk at Cingjing Farm (清境農場) in Nantou County(南投縣). This one also opened last year but is an impressive 1.2km long. You won’t find reinforced glass here, but instead, this long skywalk, which is between 1700-2000 meters high at the highest points offers stunning views over the farm and the spectacular mountain scenery around.
You will need to plan your visit to this one in advance, , as tickets are strictly limited, with 3,400 a day available online on the Meet Nantou website, while just 600 are available at the site itself. But if you do manage to get hold of one you can look forward to a long a leisurely walk through the sky, with six lookout points, but countless more impressive vistas to enjoy.
- Baguashan Skywalk - (八卦山天空步道)
Baguashan, which is located in Changhua County (彰化縣)is another impressively long skywalk which winds its way through treetops and offers some impressive views across the surrounding areas. This one was opened in 2016 and is just over a kilometre in length. It is not the highest around, being just 16 metres off the ground at its highest point, but it does offer great views of an area which is one of the most popular destinations in the county.
This bridge is constructed of metal and, I think uniquely in Taiwan, offers steps at certain points along the walk which allow visitors to descend into the treetops themselves. It begins a 26m tall Buddha statue and passes over an ecological park and high school before ending at National Changhua Living Art Center(彰化生活美學館), which is itself worth a visit too.
The skywalk has already provided an additional boost to the tourist numbers in the area and it is obvious why when you are there. But get there early, as its capacity is also limited, with just 2,000 people allowed on at any one time.
- Xitou Skywalk – (溪頭空中走廊)
Xitou is a hugely popular destination that can divide option amongst visitors. Some are awestruck by the impressive bamboo forests and amazing views that can be found, while others are unimpressed by the often long traffic jams to get there, overcrowded paths, and countless old people blaring loud music from portable radios (haven’t they heard of earphones?).
But one site in Xitou which does usually get universal approval is the forest skywalk. Situated on perhaps the busiest and most popular path, it is no surprise that this skywalk is a busy one. But that doesn’t detract from the experience of walking through the top of the forest canopy and enjoying the close-up views of the local wildlife as well as a few glimpses of the views beyond.
The walkway is made of wood and 22.6m (seven stories) high at its highest point. It zig-zags through the trees allowing visitors to try and catch a glimpse of the many birds, insects, and even , which grows up there.
After walking through the forest on the ground for a of kilometres, it makes for a refreshing change to see the trees from a different perspective. And if anything, they are even more impressive from up on high as down on the ground. The Xitou Skywalk is only 180m long, but if you are heading up to the bamboo forests anyway, it is definitely worth the walk up.