Fenghuang Waterfall (鳳凰瀑布 [Fènghuáng Pùbù])

Fanlu Township / near Chiayi City / near Tainan, Chiayi County, Taiwan

Rating: 2.5     Difficulty: 2.5
The Fenghuang Waterfall in Chiayi County

TABLE OF CONTENTS



[Back to top]

INTRODUCTION

The Fenghuang Waterfall (鳳凰瀑布 [Fènghuáng Pùbù]; meaning "Phoenix Waterfall", not to be confused with the one in Hualien) felt like one of the more obscure waterfalls that we had visited in Taiwan. Maybe we got this vibe because Mom and I happened to encounter a couple of senior locals (coming back from doing a longer hike further up in the mountains) who never knew about this waterfall in all the years they had lived here. Add to that, the relative lack of signage except for the actual trailhead itself without any formal parking, and we at first wondered if we were in the right place or not (see directions below). From reading other blogs, it appeared that this particular spot was more known to foreigners than to the locals. Well, whatever the case may be, I thought this place was a gem of a find as it was where the Bazhang Stream (八掌溪 [Bāzhǎng Xī]) plunged 20-25m into a deep pool that was perfect for swimming. Of course as is often the case in life, the most worthwhile things typically require a little work to reach, and this excursion was no different.

Our hike started from a road shoulder nearby the signed (in Chinese) trailhead. We walked along the road towards the signage and then followed along some descending steps amongst a grove of betelenut (檳榔 [bīnláng]) trees, which seemed to be quite common in Chiayi County (suggesting it may be a key cash crop in the area). Anyways, as the concrete steps descended what appeared to be a sloping ridge, it also seemed like there was a bit of overgrowth conspiring to cover up some of these steps (at least enough overgrowth to plant some seeds of doubt in my Mom). Indeed, we had to be a bit careful about making this descent without a misstep. Something that we noticed in most trails throughout Asia (and Taiwan was no different) was that they were typically paved or were along concrete. While this could be jarring to the knees, unnaturally unsightly, and prone to damage (especially from typhoons), in this particular case, it might actually make sense. For if the steps weren't here, then it would require a very dicey descent on what would most likely be a muddy and eroded trail.

After the initial flight of steps, we crossed what appeared to be an unpaved road or trail, but we kept straight ahead on the next series of steps. And it turned out that we would still have a long descent ahead of us. I recalled in doing my trip research that this waterfall was informally called the "Thousand Step Waterfall", and as Mom and I engaged in this hike, it was clear to us how it got its name. Indeed, the descent kept persisting, and we knew we'd have to get all this elevation loss back. On top of that, it seemed like the climate was getting muggier and the mosquitos were more abundant the further down this trail we went. That said, at least the betelnut trees were behind us as we were encountering more local jungle flora.

Eventually after about 30-40 minutes of hiking, we then bouldered our way to the inviting plunge pool that separated us and the Fenghuang Waterfall. After all the sweat and exertion it took to make it down here, the cool spray and breeze generated by the falls was very welcome as it somewhat offset the humidity. This was one of those spots that we didn't want to leave, especially when we had to go back up all those steps. But eventually, after having our fill of this spot, we sweated our way all the way back up to the trailhead and eventually regaining our rental car where we really looked forward to the AC. All told, we had spent a little over 90 minutes away from the car covering a distance of about 1.4km round trip (at least according to my GPS logs).




[Back to top]

PHOTO JOURNAL

On the way to the Fenghuang Waterfall, we passed by the Ban Tian Yan Ziyun Temple (半天岩紫雲寺 [Bàntiānyán Zǐyún Sì]), which was said to be a Grade 3 historical templeOn the way to the Fenghuang Waterfall, we passed by the Ban Tian Yan Ziyun Temple (半天岩紫雲寺 [Bàntiānyán Zǐyún Sì]), which was said to be a Grade 3 historical temple
Prior to visiting the Fenghuang Waterfall, Mom and I stayed in Tainan, which was said to be the cultural capital of Taiwan's south with sights like the Chihkan TowersPrior to visiting the Fenghuang Waterfall, Mom and I stayed in Tainan, which was said to be the cultural capital of Taiwan's south with sights like the Chihkan Towers
In addition to the Chihkan Towers in Tainan, we also visited the Confucius Temple in the city centerIn addition to the Chihkan Towers in Tainan, we also visited the Confucius Temple in the city center
This was the road shoulder where we parked the car, which was just a few paces from the actual trailheadThis was the road shoulder where we parked the car, which was just a few paces from the actual trailhead

Mom walking towards the Fenghuang Waterfall TrailheadMom walking towards the Fenghuang Waterfall Trailhead

After reaching the trailhead, we saw these sets of steps, which we immediately descendedAfter reaching the trailhead, we saw these sets of steps, which we immediately descended

Mom making her way along the somewhat overgrown trail as we passed through a betelnut plantationMom making her way along the somewhat overgrown trail as we passed through a betelnut plantation

This photo probably shows the extent of the overgrowth conspiring to obscure the stepsThis photo probably shows the extent of the overgrowth conspiring to obscure the steps

Mom continuing the long descent to the Fenghuang WaterfallMom continuing the long descent to the Fenghuang Waterfall

We stayed along the trail to the right of this faded sign as there was a false path on the left. We had no idea what it was trying to say.We stayed along the trail to the right of this faded sign as there was a false path on the left. We had no idea what it was trying to say

The further down the trail we went, the muggier and buggier it becameThe further down the trail we went, the muggier and buggier it became

Mom continuing to make the long descent to the Fenghuang WaterfallMom continuing to make the long descent to the Fenghuang Waterfall

Given how hot and sweaty this hike was, I wondered how many people would just ignore this signGiven how hot and sweaty this hike was, I wondered how many people would just ignore this sign

Finally making it to the plunge pool before the Fenghuang WaterfallFinally making it to the plunge pool before the Fenghuang Waterfall

Direct look across the plunge pool towards the idyllic Fenghuang WaterfallDirect look across the plunge pool towards the idyllic Fenghuang Waterfall

More long exposed look at the Fenghuang WaterfallMore long exposed look at the Fenghuang Waterfall

Last look at the Fenghuang Waterfall before we had to make the long climb back upLast look at the Fenghuang Waterfall before we had to make the long climb back up

Apparently, there was another lower but inaccessible tier further downstream of the main drop of the Fenghuang WaterfallApparently, there was another lower but inaccessible tier further downstream of the main drop of the Fenghuang Waterfall

It was definitely a long way back up to the trailheadIt was definitely a long way back up to the trailhead

Mom continuing the long ascent back up to the trailheadMom continuing the long ascent back up to the trailhead

Still continuing on the long stairmasterStill continuing on the long stairmaster

Back at the betelnut plantation so we knew we were getting close to the end at this pointBack at the betelnut plantation so we knew we were getting close to the end at this point

Back at the trailhead and walking back to the carBack at the trailhead and walking back to the car

Last look at the betelnut trees grown hereLast look at the betelnut trees grown here


[Back to top]

VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


360 degree sweep right from the secluded base of the Fenghuang (Phoenix) Waterfall


[Back to top]

DRIVING DIRECTIONS

Even though the Fenghuang Waterfall was directly east of Chiayi (嘉義 [Jiāyì]) by about 30km or so, we made our visit after leaving from Tainan (臺南 [Táinán]) so we'll describe the best route from there (which passes by Chiayi anyways).

From Tainan City Center, we made our way to the I-1 Expressway going north. The most straightforward route from here would be to follow the I-1 north for about 55km before taking the Hwy 159 at the interchange into Chiayi City. Continue driving east on the Hwy 159 through the Chiayi City for about 5km or so then keeping right to drive onto the Route 159甲 (the character is pronounced "jiǎ"). We'd then keep driving east on the 159甲 for another 20km or so as we passed by the Ban Tian Yan Zhuyin Temple (半天岩紫雲寺 [Bàntiānyán Zǐyún Sì]; at about the 14km point) and kept climbing deeper into the mountains.

This was when we noticed an aboriginal-looking roadside signpost for the Fenghuang Waterfall (in Chinese). There was no parking exactly at the trailhead so we had to drive a little further to find a legal place to pull over. We wound up finding a road shoulder near some local shack, but we also found out that another 150m to the east along the 159甲 was a grassy car park right across from a smaller shrine or temple. I would imagine that that would be the spillover parking should the closer spots be occupied. Note that had we kept driving east on the 159甲, we would have eventually reached the Alishan National Scenic Area.

Overall, this drive took us around 2 hours, but a large percentage of that time was spent dealing with traffic and traffic lights in Tainan.

As for some geographical context, Chiayi City was about 70km northeast of Tainan (or over an hour drive), 114km north of Kaohsiung (a little over 90 minutes drive), 99km south of Taichung (about 90 minutes drive), and 262km southwest of Taipei (under 3 hours drive).




[Back to top]

ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




[Back to top]

MAP OF THE FALLS



Click here for the full World of Waterfalls map





[Back to top]

TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




[Back to top]

TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES


[Back to top]

NEARBY WATERFALLS




[Back to top]

RELATED PAGES



Have You Been To This Waterfall?

Share your experience!

Click here to see visitor comments for this waterfall

Click here to see visitor comments for other waterfalls that we've visited in this region

Click here to go to the Comments Main Page

You can use the form below, but if you find our host's interface too troublesome to use (especially if you're trying to upload photos), then just send a text submission anyways using the form, but also let us know that you'd like to attach photos. If you've provided an email address via the form, then we can reply back acknowledging your request, and you can then reply to that email with your photo attachments. We're very sorry about this, but there's not much we can do about SBI's terrible interface.



[Go to the Taiwan Waterfalls Page]

[Go to the Asia Page]


[Return from Fenghuang Waterfall to the World of Waterfalls Home Page]