• Join us on

Hiking

When should you hike a trail? Some hikes lead to fascinating forests, some have tremendous views and others are rich in variety. Share your favorite trails with other hikers and nature lovers.

The best months for a sunrise tour to the top of Mount Hehuanshan or Hehuan are during the driest time of the year from December until March. The sunlight has a little variation from summer to winter rising in June shortly after 5 and in January around 6.40. Read our must-know tips below. If you're interested in detailed weather information jump directly to our Detailed Monthly Weather guide for Mount Hehuanshan.

6 Quick Must-Know Tips | Including Sunrise and Weather Forecast


Sunrise view in November

Before we continue with the weather details and more tips below, check out the most important things you should know:

  1. Best Hotels in Cingjing Farm - Renai: Via booking.com with low price guarantee. Bookmark the booking page to save time and money! Cingjing Farm is the closest place. From there you drive  40 minutes to Mt. Hehuanshan. Some visitors arrange a tour to Mt Hehuanshan from their hotel there! You can also drive on your own.
  2. Basic Info Song Syue Lodge: The highest hotel in Taiwan. Located at an elevation of 3150 meters on Mt Hehuanshan. It’s hard to book a room there since it's difficult in English. Read this TripAdvisor post for more details: TripAdvisor - Foreigner Booking at Song Syue Lodge. However, you should only book there if you’re sure about the weather (read below). Most visitors let their hotel where they stay before do the booking.
  3. Sunrise vs Other Times: Experience the sunrise up there at Mt Hehuanshan is a once in a lifetime experience. Like one visitor said after he returned: ‘Now, my life is complete!’ But still, any other time on the mountain besides sunrise is also amazing. The views are just stunning! Believe us!
  4. Watching the Sunrise: Most visitors watch the sunrise from the lodge only. We highly recommend to walk for at least 10-15 minutes on the trail for a much better experience (read more below about the trails). You don’t have to walk the whole east trail to the peak, as it can be difficult due to the altitude. However, believe us when we say walk at least a little.
  5. Rental Car Tip: Don’t make the mistake and book your rental car on the spot (at the airport etc.). You’ll pay a lot more and it’s not even guaranteed to get one. Use this link (via rentalcars.com) for the major brands (Hertz, Avis, Europcar, etc.) for the cheapest rates. Special Tip: Do not rent a large car, as the roads up to Mt Hehuanshan are sort of narrow. The smaller the car, the easier the drive. 
  6. Weather Forecast Mt Hehuan: Check the weather forecast via this link. While visiting the peak in good weather is stunning, it’s definitely a disappointment during bad weather. That’s why we recommend to book the lodge (or hostel) not too far in advance. Read more in our weather section below. If you'd like to check the area right before you go, use the webcams (let Google translate the site for you): Webcams Mt Hehuan
     
 
Monthly Weather | Temperatures at Mt Hehuanshan


Mount Hehuan view around 10 a.m.  with pleasant weather

How is the weather at Mt. Hehuan during a certain month? How cold is it up there in the winter? How often does it rain in the summer? We compiled the most reliable data from official sources for Mount Hehuanshan for you. There is no weather station at Mount Hehuanshan. Thus, almost every other statistic on the internet you find is from another station somewhere at a lower elevation. Those are not the ‘real temperatures’ for Hehuanshan at 3400 meters. That’s why we used official historical data and put it together for you. Here is what you need to know:

  • Colder Up There: It’s 8-10 degrees Celsius colder at 3400 meters at Mt. Hehuanshan compared to lower elevations in areas nearby. Example: When you check weather forecasts or statistics at nearby Cingjing Farm (where you might stay), and it shows 16 degrees, it will be around 6 degrees at the top of Mount Hehuanshan. The difference is even higher from other towns/areas like
  • Colder at Night: It’s even colder at night and on mornings of course: During the night the temperature roughly decreases by another 6 degrees. Keep that in mind as you have you’ll be out there during the night or very early in the morning when going for the stunning sunrise view.


Sony Syue Lodge displaying the temperature. This was after we returned between 6 and 7 am

The weather table below provides you with temperature details for every month at Mount Hehuanshan. The shown average low temperature is what you might experience in the early morning. Although sometimes it can be even colder by another 1-2 degrees. The average high is what you may experience during the day (from around noon until early evening).

Rainfall and Snow: In the summer months you should definitely be prepared for rain at Mount Hehuanshan. It’s possible to experience rainfall for 24 hours without a break during wet season. In the winter months rain is a lot less likely. Snow is possible especially between December and February. However, heavy snowfall is rare. In the winter of 2017/2018 the heaviest snowfall was in early February and caused a 10 cm blanket of snow: Hehuanshan blanketed in winter’s thickest snowfall Please keep in mind, that the below numbers are averages. A rainy day doesn’t mean it rains all day. It could also be a 15 minute shower:


Note: One day with rainfall doesn't mean a full day of rain

Forecast: It’s highly recommend to check the weather forecast a few days in advance (up to 7 days) before you book your room at Syue Lodge up there. The problem: It’s hard to find a reliable forecast for Mount Hehuanshan. Most cover only the counties and towns around it. Bookmark the following link as it’s the only official and reliable forecast: Taiwan Central Weather Bureau - Hehuan Mountain East Peak

What to Wear: For your Mt Hehuanshan winter visit you must bring warm clothes as it’s one of the highest places you’ll visit in Taiwan. A thick jacket, warm trousers, gloves as well as a hat and a scarf are highly recommended. From spring until fall you should bring sunscreen. The great thing about a summer visit is the refreshing coolness at an elevation of 3000-3400 meters.

General Taiwan Climate: Subtropical with wet and humid summers. Snow is common during winter mostly in January and February, and it gets very busy here. Most precipitation occurs from April to August. There is less rain from September to November and the driest months are December until March, but pretty cold. However, even in the driest season, you can expect some rain.
 

Consider Three Things If You Like to Watch a Sunrise Above the Clouds

1. Go weekdays
2. Don’t book your room far in advance. 
3. Travel to Taiwan during the driest months to increase the chance.

Sunrise on Mount Hehuanshan in Taiwan

Do you like to know more? Read the following tips to be successful in watching the sunrise for a jaw-dropping moment in your life.

Watching the sunrise on Mount Hehuanshan is very popular in Taiwan. If possible go on weekdays, weekends are super busy and fully booked. Don’t book the room far in advance. Check the weather forecast when traveling through Taiwan  Taiwan Weather

Pick a date when the forecast for the mountain range is good or even excellent. The receptionist told me often people are disappointed due to the bad weather. The whole week before our stay in November it was always foggy and rainy. 

Highlights/Information
  • Visitor center opening hours: 8.30 until 4.30 pm but closed each month on the first and third Monday.
  • The whole area is famous for its beautiful Rhododendrons in April and May.
     

Check out complete Taiwan Guide from 2019 – Must know destinations and tips

TW Taiwan

Trolltunga! Mesmerizing! Follow our tips to make the most out of your visit. When is the best time? Mid-June until early September are the most pleasant months for hiking and seeing the spectacular scenic cliffs. However, it gets very crowded up there. Read on for our detailed description of weather conditions, how to avoid the crowds and a full season guide. Updated 2019!

We also have new (scroll down or click the links) must-know tips, hiking details, camping tips, and more! Looking for a place to stay? Our Hotel Tips for Trolltunga can help you.
 

Season Guide

Spring | Late March - April - May | Guided Hiking | It’s still snow season (hiking tours with snowshoes). A guided tour is recommended. Sometimes groups who hiked in April on their own, had to turn around: Freezing, too much snow and trail markings (red ‘T’s) were snow covered. In May experienced hikers report that the hike is doable alone but still challenging due to the snow. We suggest guided hiking tours throughout spring. You can find the official Trolltunga Active A.S. (they are the best!) hikes here: Trolltunga Active Tours & Hikes Booking in advance is highly recommended!

Summer| June - July - August - Mid-September | Self-Guided Hiking | Peak season! The best weather and terrain conditions are from mid-June until early September. The trail is well marked and can be done without guides. However, if you're very unexperienced a guided hike is recommended. Meaning, if you can't or don't want to go alone, book a tour via GetYourGuide. They only offer tours from the two top operators Trolltunga Active and Trolltunga Adventures (the best guides you can get):  Reliable Trolltunga Tours. Crowds? The downside is indeed the crowds at Trolltunga and on the trail as well. At the cliffs, it’s not unlikely to wait in the queue for 1-2 hours until you can take your photos. Read our tips below on how to dodge the crowds!

Autumn | Mid-September - Mid-October | Guided Hiking | Already a high chance of new snow and rough weather. Guided tours are highly recommended. Recently in late September, a group had to be rescued by the Red Cross before they would have frozen to death. They went in bad weather. If you want to go alone: Check weather conditions constantly, listen to the locals and prepare with the right gear and clothing.

Winter | Mid-October - Mid-March | Guided Hiking Only | Off-season! DANGER, extremely rough conditions. Life-threatening even for experienced hikers. UPDATE 2019: Somehow the tourist information center 'Visit Odda' changed their mind about hiking in the winter. Now, they say you can hike even in the winter, but only with very experienced guides from Trolltunga Active. See their new infographic here: Trolltunga Hiking Seasons And the official tour by Trolltunga Active: Winter Snowshoe Hike 

 

Avoiding the Crowds


Norway Trip by Neuwieser, CC BY-SA

The main trail to the top and Trolltunga itself became really crowded recently. However, we got you covered with the best tips. You have three viable options to dodge crowds on the trail as well as avoiding long waiting times to take a photo at Trolltunga:

Start Early
Start very early around 6 AM or even better at 5 AM. (If you want to drive the new road (see below), be in Skjeggedal at 6 a.m. when the road 'opens') Hikers who start at 5 AM and arrive around 9 AM usually only see a few others on the trail and up there, even in July/August. You’ll only wait less than 15 minutes to take your photos, compared to an hour or longer!

Consider Camping:
Bring a tent for camping and stay overnight. That way you can experience a quiet sunset and sunrise without the crowds of day hikers. Never camped before or don't want to camp alone? In that case we highly suggest booking the Overnight Hike to Trolltunga (with Camping). It's offered by Trolltunga Adventures and you'll completely dodge the crowds at sunset or sunrise. 

Visit Outside Summer
Go in shoulder season, either April/May or Sept/Oct or even in the winter with a guided tour now. Rougher conditions but fewer people, sometimes almost solitude.


Sweet Spot Months

Try the sweet spot time between EARLY JUNE until MID-JUNE: Still, some snow on the ground but no guide needed. Mostly pleasant conditions and much less crowded than in late June, July, and August.

NO Norway

First of all, hiking on the Haiku Stairs is illegal, and the stairs are officially closed! A $1000 fine and an appearance in court was something we wanted to circumvent. This fine really exist! Therefore, we had chosen the more difficult and dangerous trail through the Moanalua Valley. However, even trespassing the Haiku Stairs will be prosecuted, but usually, there isn't any police at the top. And of course, when you reach the popular stairs, you want to access them and take the best snap of your whole vacation. We only recommend to hike up and down the legal way, otherwise, you may get into trouble. We even saw a police helicopter while walking a part of the stairs.

Update Feb 2019: Don't even think of hiking up and down the Haiku Stairs. There is more security now and a regular police presence. Occasionally police helicopters check if people are on the stairs. A guide is not needed a good preparation for the Moanalua Track is relevant!

Haiku Stairs view from the summit

Most important for the hike is the weather. Pick out the day with the most stable weather and if it was dry the day before even better. Although Honolulu is dry rain may occur in the valley and on the ridge. You can’t avoid getting dirty on this adventurous path. Don’t underestimate the trail difficulties. Much needed for the steep ascent and descent back through muddy and slippery soil are “mini” crampons. If you want to use the provided ropes gloves may be necessary, too. Do you like to do the hike and see the excellent view down the stairs? Read all our insights on how to be prepared and experience one of the most thrilling hikes ever.

Hiking Conditions and Crowds

The Moanalua Valley, especially the ridge to the Keahiakahoe summit and also the Haiku Stairs experience a lot of rain even during the drier season in summer. The exhausting hike can be done all year, but it’s easier to cope with all difficulties in the drier season. There is often a strong wind and fog which makes hiking along the ridge difficult. Read on for detailed tips by season.

Windy Ridge Moanalua Valley

Spring (Low Season)

It starts to get drier, but the trail is still extremely muddy and slippery. The Moanalua stream may have low flow and fording or hopping from stone to stone is necessary a couple of times. This improves in June, and the stream may be dried out. The temp along the trail is above 70°F, but it gets chilly on the ridge and the top due to the strong wind. The islands are not much crowded in spring. It starts to get busier in June, but still acceptable. June is one of the best months for this hike. Nevertheless, always check the weather forecast before; flooding can happen. 

Summer (Peak Season)

It’s drier but the humidity is higher, and it gets hot while hiking and climbing. If you can avoid, don’t travel to Oahu in July and August. Prices are at the highest and hotels are booked to capacity. 

Haiku Stairs and upcoming clouds

Autumn (Low Season) 

Usually, September is the best month for the hike. The stream may be dried out and it’s easy to walk the first 2.8 miles / 4.5 km. It’s less busy on the island, and the temps are pleasant. October is fine as well. November gets wetter, and trail conditions are getting worse. Monitor the clouds on the mountain ridge. It may be possible to hike, but it’s even more difficult and dangerous in rain and clouds. We can’t recommend hiking in the rain. 

Winter (Low and Peak Season) 

Expect more rain during the winter. It’s more likely that the Moanalua stream gets flooded. The north and east experience more rainfall. It’s the coldest time of the year but still up to 80°F in Honolulu at daytime. It's possible to hike the trail but expect the worst conditions when climbing up. The way back is even more slippery than usual. Don't hike in rain and clouds. The first part of December is still not too busy, but it gets crowded from the second half of December and in January. Although it’s not the best time for Hawaii hotels are fully booked, and hotel rates are the highest. 

US United States

The best month for the magnificent view of the rice fields is definitely September: The rice fields are still green with patches of golden color. A truly magical view and one of the best times for photographers.

Our Monthly Guide

March - April - May (Spring)

A good time to visit Sa Pa: Dry season, pleasant weather, warm. Excellent for trekking. It’s still low season without masses of domestic tourists. In April/May you can experience blooming flowers but not the amazing lush green (and later in fall yellow tinted) rice fields. The rice fields start to show their real beauty later in June. However, this is a great time to explore the area and to get in touch with the locals / different ethnic minorities.

June - July - August (Summer)

Not recommended. Rainy season with the heaviest rainfall occurring in July and August. It’s hot and humid. However, the rice fields appear in an amazing green color. It’s also very busy as it’s peak tourist season for domestic visitors.

September - October - November (Fall)

Perfect time! September can still be rainy but often short and not as much as in summer. Otherwise the temperatures are pleasant and great for hiking: Sept./Oct average temp.: 17°C / 63°F. During these months the weather is perfect for sightseeing: Clear blue skies with the sun shining through the huge mountains resulting in outstanding views of the vibrant landscape. In September harvesting of the rice fields begins. Early October the most rice is usually already harvested, taking away the impressive September rice terrace view. In November it gets colder and the rice is significantly ‘reduced’ but it’s still a great month for outdoor activities.

December - January - February (Winter)

Cold, freezing and foggy especially in December and January. It can get bitterly cold (5°C / 40°F) and the views are often limited to 20 - 30 metres due to fog. However, if you don’t mind the coldness there are magic moments in the winter: When the fog clears it can become quite surreal and magical at the same time. Some of the best photos are taken during this season.

VN Vietnam

Best time for hiking the Kalalau trail is the drier season between May and October however showers occur frequently. After Hanakāpīʻai Beach it is almost impossible to hike this trail in very wet conditions. It is very slippery and muddy on the narrow footpath. The only option is a pair of mini-crampons. 

Mini-Crampons to hike the Kalalau Trail

Update August 2019: There was a trail closure for 14 months due to immense flooding mid-April 2018. The highway and bridges to the Haena State Park got also flooded and destroyed.  The Haena State Park and Kalalau trail got reopenend mid-June 2019. However, a permit is neccessary also for day visitors now. Apply online for a permit to hike until the Hanakāpīʻai Beach and Falls, same for the entire Kalalau Trail. Permits are limited. Overnight parking is not any longer allowed. A shuttle bus reservation is needed for the Kalalau Trail. Do you look for alternatives to explore the Napali Coast? Scroll down for more details.

Weather

Kauai is wetter than the other Hawaiian Islands, therefore, called "The Garden Island". The rainy season starts in November and lasts until April. The north and east coast gets more rain than south and west which is the leeward side. Mostly showers are short, often in the night, and the sun returns quickly. 

Crowds along the Kalalau Trail, Kauai Hawaii

Crowds

The first part of the trail until the Hanakāpīʻai Beach is not any longer accessible without a permit. It'll be less busy in the future. The Kalalau Trail is almost always fully booked. You have to get your permit far in advance. Tuesdays are often not full due to Haena Park closure. Shoulder season in spring between mid-April to mid-June and in fall from September to October. Crowded during summer with hikers and kayaks, during Christmas, New Year's Eve, Independence Day and June 9th is a bank holiday. 

Parking at the Kalalau Trail - Haena State Park

Limited parking at Haena State Park of around 100 parking lots, 30 are for local people. A reservation is essential. Don't leave any luggage in the car. It is not safe, and the car might be broken-up!!

Where to Stay

You can stay at Haena State Park and campground, but it is closed every Monday from 10 a.m. to Tuesday 12 p.m. for maintenance. The reason that the Kalalau trail is often not fully booked on Tuesdays. Be aware of leaving your valuables and bags in the car is not recommended. We, a part of the team, saw a couple of rental cars on Kauai which had a broken side window and glass on the ground respectively. 

Close by is the town of Princeville; ideally located in the north to buy your groceries and to enjoy the Queen's Bath. Also not far away is the gorgeous Hanalei Beach Park. Have a closer look at the different private apartment rentals and hotels. Princeville Accommodations

US United States

Summer offers the best and driest weather in July and August. However, bad weather can still occur. Always check the forecast, bring rain gear and dress in layers to be prepared for every kind of weather. If you want to avoid the most snow, don’t go before June. In May even places like Paradise are still covered with snow. In most years the area is usually snow-free from about mid-July through late September.

Avoiding the Crowds

July and August are also the peak tourist months. Paradise and Sunrise will be quite crowded. If you can, visit in June or September: After the first Labor Day weekend (early September) tourist crowds dissipate. However, there are 3 simple ways dodge the crowds and get a parking lot even during peak season in the summer:

  • Be there early in the morning. Preferably before 9 AM. The earlier, the better. Stay at a nearby hotel or lodge (see our tips below).
  • Alternatively, you could arrive late, between 5 PM and 6 PM. Most visitors have left the park at 6 PM. You'd avoid most crowds and enjoy one of the fascinating Shorter Hikes
  • Try to avoid weekends and visit mid-week if possible.

Sweet Spot Months

Sweet spot months with fewer crowds and a high chance of good weather are June and September (immediately after Labor Day crowds disappear). In September it’s even snow free, and the visitor centers and all its facilities are usually open until the end of September. But still, try to avoid weekends in September if possible or start early in the morning.

US United States