Hiking in Taipei: Teapot Mountain

Teapot Mountain

Teapot Mountain (茶壺山, Cha Hu Shan) stands above the small town of Jinguashi (金瓜石) on Taiwan’s northeast coast, not far from Taipei. It’s named for the rock formation at the top, which apparently resembles a teapot from certain angles (though I personally don’t really see it). At just 550m high (with the hike starting at 280m) it’s a fairly short (but steep) hike up from Jinguashi, though you can keep going along the ridge beyond the teapot and up to the higher (670m) Mt Banping (半平山).

Jinguashi is located just beyond Jiufen (one of Taiwan’s most popular spots) and the buses from Taipei to Jiufen actually terminate at Jinguashi; when most of the passengers get off in Jiufen, just stay on for another 10 minutes and get off at the gold museum.

Bus window view at the bus stop in Jiufen:

Ornate temple roof in Jiufen

To get there take this bus #1062 from the bus stop just outside exit 2 of Zhongxiao Fuxing Station:

Bus stop for Jiufen at Zhongxiao Fuxing Station

Zhongxiao Fuxing is on the brown and blue lines, the bus costs 100 NTD (you can use your Easycard or pay cash) and takes about 75 minutes in decent traffic. Get off in Jinguashi at the gold museum entrance:

Start of the Teapot Mountain trail

To find the trailhead walk past the museum buildings following the signs for the No. 5 Tunnel:

Start of the Teapot Mountain trail

Teapot Mountain looms over the museum:

Teapot Mountain

Keep going past all this:

Teapot Mountain

Until you reach this bridge:

Teapot Mountain trail

The trail starts with this sharp right turn immediately at the end of the bridge:

Teapot Mountain trail

Looking back in the opposite direction from Teapot Mountain you can see Mt Keelung (which stands above Jiufen) and is prominently visible for most of this hike:

Teapot Mountain trail

The trail starts with these stone steps taking you up to the road:

Teapot Mountain trail
Teapot Mountain trail

Once you hit the road follow it up to the right:

Teapot Mountain trail
Teapot Mountain trail

Looking across the valley from the road you can make out the remnants of the old Japanese shinto shrine which once stood above Jinguashi:

View of the old Shinto shrine above Jinguashi
View of the old Shinto shrine above Jinguashi

I haven’t been to the shrine yet, but check out the pics here (and check out my post here about old Japanese architecture in Taiwan).

You pass a small pavilion along the road with nice views, just follow the sign to Cha Hu Shan:

Teapot Mountain trail
Teapot Mountain trail
Teapot Mountain trail

If you like the look of Mt Keelung over there, that’s easily climbed from Jiufen (which I covered as part of this much longer hike)

When you reach the small car parking area the hiking trail proper starts from there:

Teapot Mountain trail

It’s quite steep so will get pretty sweaty unless you’re doing this in the cold months. Just keep on up:

Teapot Mountain trail
Teapot Mountain
Teapot Mountain
Teapot Mountain
Teapot Mountain

Oh yeah, these guys… when I got to the pavilion just below the teapot, I kept seeing them waving down from the teapot rocks. Are they waving at me? Don’t think so… doesn’t look like they need help or anything either… weird… shrug… once I got up there I realised they were using a remote controlled camera to get their perfect couple selfie, arms pointing at the sky, with this lovely view behind them:

Teapot Mountain

They were there for ages. Seriously, is that what people go hiking for now? Just to get the perfect shot for social media?

It’s an Instagram world now.

They were probably perfectly nice people, but fuck Instagram, absolute headbutts to it; I snapped a quick shot on my crappy little compact, left them to it, and carried on walking.

Anyway rant over, at this point you have to scramble through a cave within the teapot rock formation. It’s nothing too sketchy, but it is fairly dark in there so be careful, and perhaps not a good idea in bad weather. There are fixed ropes to guide you through, and to continue on to Mt Banping you want to bear right through the cave rather than going straight up (which brings you out on top of the teapot).

Teapot Mountain
Cave at the top of Teapot Mountain

Once through the cave you can see the ridge leading up to Mt Banping:

Teapot Mountain

Looking back from the ridge:

Teapot Mountain

The last bit is another rock scramble, again with fixed ropes and nothing too sketchy, but this one’s steeper than the cave and again probably not a good idea in bad weather:

Teapot Mountain
Teapot Mountain

Once up that scramble turn right, and the last section has more fixed ropes guiding you to the top (this ridge is known as Stegosaurus Ridge due to the shape, and Banping is the highest point):

Mt Banping

This is the view from the top of Mt Banping, out across the next valley on the other side of the ridge:

View from the top of Mt Banping

That’s some sort of military installation on the far side I think.

From there I descended the way I’d come – I started this hike a bit later than intended and didn’t want to run out of light. But you can also continue on along the trail from Mt Banping to Mt Canguangliao (燦光寮山) at just under 700m and then loop back down to Jinguashi via the trail which passes through the old Japanese shrine. Didn’t make note of my times but think it was about 3 hours to do Teapot & Banping up & down from Jinguashi, you probably want 5 hours plus for the full loop via Canguangliao.

Have you been hiking around Jiufen and Jinguashi? Do you have any questions about Teapot Mountain? Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.

Useful Links

Accommodation: search & book rooms in Taipei and Jiufen

For some more hikes in and around Taipei see here, and see my Taiwan overland travel guide here. Also check out my guides to hiking in Seoul, Tokyo, and Kyoto

Make sure you have a good insurance policy; World Nomads offer flexible travel insurance you can buy even if already overseas – most travel insurance companies won’t cover you if you’ve already left your country, and this can be a crucial point as I once found out the hard way in Thailand.

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