Updated: Oct 29
Standing inside a large chamber - one of the few obvious, open indications of the tunnel system. While fun, and easily accessible, this bunker is no longer connected to the tunnels.
Venture deep into the ground - and the past - in this abandoned Taiwanese military jungle bunker system
Join us as we return to the dark tunnels of the Fengqi bunker system... where we discovered so much more than we had imagined!
Looking for your next adventure? How about an abandoned, labyrinthine maze of military bunkers, tunnels, and secret exits in to the high, hilly jungle overlooking the Taiwan Strait?
BACK INTO THE DEPTHS
Discovering the lower level of the bunker system in summer 2021
PLEASE DO NOT LOOT HISTORIC SITES! When we returned to the bunkers on our third trip, these WWII era US army helmets had been looted by some VERY unscrupulous people.
On Christmas day, 2020, my girlfriend Alice and I decided to go to a nice, hilltop park and cafe overlooking the Taiwan strait. While most of the world had been consumed by covid 19, Taiwan had been blessed to have stayed free of the pandemic. We had no idea that a lazy, romantic walk would turn into an underground adventure! Fortunately, we were dressed right for hiking (as always), so when we noticed an ominous looking tunnel entrance, we had to go in for a look!
Discarded US military gear in the lower level of the bunker system. Back before the UN seat was transfered from the government in Taiwan to that in Mainland China, the US government helped fund many defense projects like this in Taiwan.
Once we returned, I excitedly published one of my earliest posts for The Map Room (which you can see below). It wasn't long before my friend Anders saw the post. He grabbed his trusty pen and pad of graph paper, headed straight over, and proceded to map out a huge portion of the underground tunnel system! It wasn't long until he published an article all about his adventure.
New sections of the bunker systerm we discovered in the lower levels
Once I saw the map, we decided to grab Johan (from Discover Taiwan with Johan) and head on over to get more details, find any missing sections, complete the map and GPX files, and of course, make a video about the whole adventure!
Exploring the underground artillery emplacements. There were at least five, by our last count, and each would have had two artillery pieces.
Once we got there, we took a left just after the entrance. I had missed this the last time with Alice and hadn't come back because it seemed to be just another minor offshoot. Boy were we wrong! There was an entire lower level below, with corridors big enough to drive trucks through, and massive chambers that once served as underground artillery emplacements! We climbed up into sighting turrents, looked at sighting charts painted on the walls, and imagined what it must have sounded like when one of the great guns went off in those caves.
A literal man cave!
Then we rounded a corner and found something we never, EVER expected to see. We were standing in a very literal man cave! It seems the owner of the cafe has converted part of the tunnels into... well, it speaks for itself. Turrets, artillery tunnels, old helmets and uniforms, spiders, bats, dirt, all of that was one thing - but this? Yes, THIS was something to remember even out of all the rest!
Spiders - both alive and much more than just dead - gave the place a truly underworld-like vibe
Juxtaposed against the gloom and barbed wire, occasional glimpses of greenery and sunlight feel oddly out of place
Exploring the massive lower level
Stepping out of the gloom into the sunlight at the various tunnel exits
Read on to go deeper...
OUR FIRST DESCENT INTO THE DARKNESS
Discovering the bunkers, Christmas 2020
Want more? Check out this video of our original adventure in the tunnels!
As soon as we entered the tunnel system, we found ourselves in this room. The Chinese exhorts soldiers to defend Taiwan with patriotic slogans.
Two of the many secret, jungle exits we encountered as we explored the tunnel system. Getting lost in here is possible, though there are arrows and numbers pointing the way, but even if you do get lost you should be able to find an exit reasonably quickly.
Arrows make it easy to find your way through the tunnels.
Some areas are not for the faint of heart, but will delight those with more adventurous spirits!
For a simple system of bunkers and tunnels, there is a surprising amount of variety!
There were many indications of a second sublevel, but every entrance had been blocked - perhaps intentionally - and there seems to be no remaining access to whatever was further below (see exciting 2021 updates above!).
Inside one of the many, many hidden pillbox installations. These were built to allow the KMT troops to fire on any invaders from China in case of invasion. The tunnels were built to connect these together, and though the two exits to this one were blocked off, many were not.
More views from inside the bunker system.
Though long abandoned by humans, the tunnels are far from dead!
We encountered this just beyond the main exit - which is not at all blocked, and at the time of writing had nothing to indicate that the tunnels were to be considered off limits.
The view from up the tree
THE NITTY GRITTY
IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTE: The Fengqi Sunset Trail is a military area, but also open to the public. On certain weekdays, the military conducts live fire exercises, which tend to run from 9am - noon, and 2pm - 5pm. These do not happen every day. A monthly schedule of the exercise times is posted in paper form at the entrance to the area, close to the tank on display at the entrance. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, we were as yet unable to find information available online about times and dates (please do pass us a link if you find any!).
Difficulty: 3/10 for exertion, but see special considerations!
Baby / toddler friendly:
Yes for the Fengqi Sunset Trail. I personally wouldn't take a baby or toddler into the bunkers, but maybe you could do it for some sections with them in a backpack. If one parent would like to sip some coffee in the cafe with a panoramic ocean view, while the other goes in and gets dirty (maybe even take turns!), I can see it working out well.
GPX file: Fengqi Sunset Trail Tunnels and Bunkers - The Map Room 天得堂風氣步道防空洞-地圖寶庫
Full, downloadable, PDF map of the bunkers (courtesy of The Map Room's friends over at Renegade Writings):
Chinese name: Fengqi Luo Ri Budao 鳳崎落日步道
Time: Plan roughly 4 hours to get to the tunnel entrance, explore the entire tunnel system exhaustively (if you don't get lost), and get out.
Total ascent: Less than 300 meters elevation gain to the entrance of the the tunnel system.
BRING a reliable headlamp! Your cell phone light is NOT enough on its own! Also, be aware that, while there are clear arrows pointing towards exits, it is quite possible to get disoriented and lost down here in this vast and extensive tunnel system. Fortunately, it is laid out logically, and there are lots of exits, so even if you do get lost you will find a way out eventually.
The Map Room recommends Fenix headlamps, and personally uses the 1600 lumen Fenix HM70R Headlamp - (Amazon affiliate link*)
This is a dark, winding, and twisting system of tunnels. Local businesses, such as the cafe at the top of the hill, do take people into the tunnels, and there are clear indications all over that they are regularly visited, but use common sense.
Tanks for reading (yes, I really did go there...)!
All information on this page is intended for reference only. Preparing adequate food, water, and gear for your adventure, as well as following local rules and laws are, of course, your own responsibility! Always make sure that you check the weather for outdoor destinations, be careful and sensible for enclosed spaces like tunnels and bunkers, and bring a lighter - you never know when it could save your life! Now... get out there and have an amazing time!
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