Why Visit Taroko Gorge in Taiwan?
We had an incredible experience visiting Taroko Gorge in Taiwan. This was THE highlight of our road trip around Taiwan. In this post, we’re excited to share all you need to know about Taroko Gorge and Taroko National Park!
Taroko Gorge, located in Taroko National Park, is a stunning marble canyon that cuts through the heart of Taiwan’s lush landscapes.
It’s a place of breathtaking natural beauty, with towering cliffs, crystal-clear rivers, and lush greenery that will leave you in awe.
Simply put, Taroko is one of the best things to see in Taiwan!
Look at this Drone Footage for a Sneak Peek into Taroko Gorge in Taiwan:
How to Get From Taipei To Taroko Gorge?
To get from Taipei to Taroko Gorge, you have a few transportation options. Here are the most common ways to travel from Taipei to Taroko Gorge:
1. Going by Train to Taroko Gorge
- Take a train from Taipei Main Station to Hualien Station (official Taiwan Railway website). The train ride offers scenic views of Taiwan’s eastern coastline and takes approximately 2.5 to 3.5 hours, depending on the type of train. Stop at Xincheng Taroko Station or Hualien Station. You can view the schedule and buy tickets here.
- Once you arrive, you can take a taxi, or bus (302 or 1132), or rent a car/scooter to get to Taroko Gorge. The gorge is about a 30-40 minute drive from Hualien. We recommend renting your own vehicle to enjoy your visit the most! (more on that in the next section)
2. By Car
- If you prefer to drive (that’s what we chose during our 2 weeks road trip), you can rent a car in Taipei (we chose Klook to rent our one) and take the Northern Coastal Highway (Highway 2) or the Central Cross-Island Highway (Highway 8) to reach Hualien and then continue to Taroko Gorge. The drive takes around 4-5 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions.
3. Join a Tour
- Another convenient option is to join a guided tour from Taipei to Taroko Gorge. Many tour operators offer day trips or multi-day packages that include transportation, a guide, and visits to popular attractions within the national park. See below:
How to Get Around Once You Arrive in Taroko?
Once you arrive in Taroko, you’ll need a way to get around to explore the park (you can’t simply walk to all the points of interest). Here are our recommended options for getting around in Taroko Gorge:
1. Rent a Car or Scooter
For us, this is by far the best option! Having your vehicle allows you to explore the park at your own pace, stop at various viewpoints, and access areas not covered by the regular shuttle buses.
You can rent a car or a scooter in nearby Hualien City or Xincheng Town before entering Taroko.
2. Shuttle Bus
Bus #310 runs around Taroko National Park relatively regularly… It’s the cheapest way to visit Taroko, yet the most inconvenient, as you will need to wait each and every time for the bus to visit the next stops.
You might not be able to cover all attractions unless you start early. Bus tickets can be purchased at the Train Station or FamilyMart, more info here.
Another option for exploring Taroko National Park is by renting a bicycle. There are rental shops in the area.
Cycling is another great way to explore the park, especially if you want a more active experience. There are a few uphill sections though. Also, this is the slowest option, so it’s only good if you visit Taroko Gorge for 2-3 days.
4. Guided Tours from Hualien
Joining a guided tour is an excellent way to get around Taroko if you prefer a structured and informative experience. Many tour companies offer day tours to Taroko National Park:Klook.com
5. Local Taxis
During our visit to the Taroko Gorge, we also saw many people hiring taxis for a day. We have no idea about the cost, but if you don’t mind paying a slightly higher price, this could be another option on how to visit Taroko Gorge.
Practical Tips for Your Visit to Taroko Gorge
- Entrance to Taroko National Park is free.
- There is a visitor center (Taroko Visitor Center) at the entrance to the gorge. Don’t hesitate to stop there to get the trail map and see which ones might be closed.
- You will also find a lot of information on the official website
- Check the weather forecast before your trip to ensure a pleasant visit.
- Be cautious of falling rocks when visiting Taroko, especially during or after heavy rain. Many people are actually wearing helmets during their visit.
- Bring essentials like sunscreen, insect repellent, a hat, and a reusable water bottle.
- There are restaurants inside the Park, you don’t have to pack your lunch.
- The park is open 24 hours.
10 Best Things to See at Taroko Gorge in Taiwan
1. Shakadang Trail
If you drive, this would be your first stop after entering the Taroko National Park. After passing through a tunnel, you’ll cross a beautiful bridge (and parking is on the left).
Here you can start a pretty east trail along the picturesque Shakadang River The trail reveals serene natural pools and mesmerizing rock formations. The trail is suitable for all ages and is ideal for a leisurely stroll.
The trail is 4km long, however, don’t feel obliged to complete it. We only walked for about 30 minutes along the river, to have a great glimpse of it, as we wanted to cover most attractions in a day. However, if you have a few days ahead of you, this could be a great start!
2. Eternal Spring Shrine (Changchun Shrine), one of the highlights in Taroko Gorge
After you are done at Shakandang Trail, take the bus or your own car and drive to the next highlight of Taroko Gorge: The stunning Eternal Spring Shrine!
Nestled against the backdrop of a cascading waterfall, the Eternal Spring Shrine is a symbol of hope and resilience. This serene shrine is dedicated to the memory of those who perished while constructing the Central Cross-Island Highway.
It’s absolutely beautiful. Don’t hesitate to walk all the way to the Shrine, it doesn’t take long and the hike is really scenic. Sadly most people just stopped to take photos from the parking lot.
Your third stop should be at Buluowan, to see the amazing Cable Suspension Bridge!
The Buluowan Cable Suspension Bridge is one of the most fascinating attractions within Taroko Gorge National Park. It is a remarkable suspension bridge that offers breathtaking views of the surroundings.
The bridge spans across a deep ravine, providing a thrilling way to cross from one side to the other.
Before getting to Buluowan Bridge, you can check out the visitor centers and eat a great meal on the rooftop! We had a beautiful day, so for us, it was the perfect place to stop for lunch (and they have Vegetarian options, which was perfect!). There is also a big parking there, which makes it convenient.
4. Swallow Grotto (燕子口 or Yanzikou)
As you get deeper and deeper through the gorge it gets more and more beautiful. Next on your itinerary, stop at Yanzikou (limited parking space) and hike all the way on the old road called the Swallow Grotto.
This is a dramatic section of Taroko Gorge renowned for its sheer cliffs and crystal-clear river. The name “Swallow Grotto” originates from the numerous Pacific swallows (birds) that nest in the rocky overhangs during the spring and summer months.
For us, this is when Taroko Gorge started to become really impressive!
From here you can also cross the Zhuilu Suspension Bridge, which is the start of one of the most popular hikes in Taroko: Zhuilu Old Trail (more on that in the next section).
5. Zhuilu Old Trail, most popular hike in Taroko Gorge
The Zhuilu Old Trail is one of the most exhilarating and scenic hiking trails in Taroko Gorge National Park, Taiwan. This challenging trail is renowned for its stunning panoramic views of the Taroko Gorge, dramatic cliffside paths, and the feeling of being suspended in mid-air as you traverse the narrowest sections of the trail.
A permit is required to hike the Zhuilu Old Trail, and access is restricted to a limited number of hikers each day to protect the environment and ensure safety. Permits can be obtained at the Taroko Visitor Center.
The trail is approximately 3.1 kilometers (1.9 miles) one way, making it a relatively short hike in terms of distance. However, it is considered challenging due to its steep terrain, and narrow paths along the cliffside. It’s actually better to plan a full day for this hike!
6. Tunnel of Nine Turns, Another Major Highlights in Taroko
Another amazing and unmissable feature in Taroko, is the Tunnel of the Nine Turns. We’ve never seen anything like it before!
This unique tunnel takes you on a winding journey through the heart of Taroko Gorge, offering breathtaking views of its stunning marble cliffs and the Liwu River.
As the name suggests, the tunnel consists of nine distinct curves or turns, which wind their way through the marble cliffs. The road is closed to cars, so you’ll need to find a parking space by the side of the road and walk through the beautiful tunnel!
The Tunnel of Nine Turns offers numerous photo opportunities. You’ll find designated viewpoints.
By the way, every single attraction in Taroko (except the Zhuilu Old Trail) is free as it’s the national park itself! Which is quite remarkable! Well done Taiwan 🙂
After being in awe at the Tunnel of the Nine Turns, continue your journey to Yuewangting, which we actually found by chance.
After multiple turns, we saw a white pagoda perched on top of a cliff. As curious as we are, we parked a few meters down the road and decided to explore this park.
At Yuewangting, besides the traditional pagoda, you can visit another stunning suspension bridge! The star of the show actually!
As it was raining heavily a few days before coming to Taroko, the river was super strong pouring down along the cliff. The view from the bridge was stunning!
Actually, it’s also the start of yet another trail in Taroko Gorge!
8. Tianxiang Recreation Area & Xiangde Temple
This is the most commercial area within Taroko Gorge. If you haven’t had lunch at this point, you’ll find a couple of restaurants in this part of the park.
However, the reason we stopped there, was to cross the beautiful Taroko Pudu Bridge and walk up many stairs to Xiangde Temple and the Tianfeng Pagoda.
This beautifully adorned temple is a cultural gem within Taroko Gorge.
Note that if you visit by bus this would be the terminus, you’ll need to head back after that.
9. Baiyang Trail
Baiyang Trail is actually one of our favorite trails in Taroko. This was our last stop for the day (and we are glad we made it there, although it was starting to get a bit dark).
We heard that here, we could see a waterfall inside a cave! What a unique sight!
And indeed, it’s true, the hike ends at the Baiyang Waterfall, which is truly amazing! We would have been soaked yet if some kind of visitors didn’t give us a rain poncho to visit it (so be ready to get wet!).
On top of the waterfall, you can also see other impressive Suspension Bridges, Monkeys, and amazing landscapes!
The hike took us roughly 1.5 hours.
10. Wenshan Hot Spring
To be honest we did not make it that far… It was dark after finishing our hike at Baiyang trail, so we decided to head back to our hotel.
Besides, since a typhoon in 2015, the Wenshan Hot Spring is officially closed (though still somehow accessible as we heard from friends). If you risk it (which we don’t recommend) you will be rewarded by a wild hot spring…
Where to Stay at Taroko Gorge?
When staying overnight at Taroko you have the option to either stay within the National Park (limited hotels), or in the nearby town at Hualien or Xincheng.
Here is our top 3 recommendations:
1. Silks Place Taroko Hotel (inside Taroko)
Silks Place Taroko Hotel is a luxurious and upscale accommodation option situated within the breathtaking Taroko National Park in Taiwan. This 5-star hotel offers guests a unique and immersive experience surrounded by the stunning natural beauty of Taroko Gorge.
This charming bed and breakfast, located near the spectacular Taroko National Park, is known for its breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and lush greenery. You can enjoy comfortable, cozy accommodations that blend rustic charm with modern amenities, ensuring a relaxing stay.
3. Classic City Resort (In Hualien)
Classic City Resort in Hualien City is another great accommodation near Taroko Gorge. It’s just a 5 to 7-minute walk from Hualien Railway Station which makes it super convenient.
Things to See Near Taroko Gorge
1. Qingshui Cliffs
These stunning cliffs offer breathtaking views where the mountains meet the sea. The cliffs stretch along the coast and are particularly impressive because of their sheer size and the contrast of the blue ocean against the greenery of the mountains.
2. Qixingtan Beach
This beach is known for its pebble-covered shoreline and clear blue waters. It’s a peaceful spot ideal for relaxing, taking leisurely walks, and enjoying the scenic beauty. The beach also provides a great view of the Pacific Ocean.
3. Hualien City
While not an attraction in the traditional sense, Hualien City is the nearest major city to Taroko Gorge and offers a variety of dining, shopping, and cultural experiences. It’s a great place to explore local Taiwanese culture and cuisine.
Best Time To Visit Taroko Gorge?
The weather in Taroko National Park is generally good throughout the year. The warmest months are May through September, which might be ideal if you prefer warmer weather. However, these months also coincide with the rainiest periods, particularly June, August, and September.
The winter months, from November to April, are considered the best time to visit if you prefer cooler temperatures and potentially fewer crowds.
Final Thoughs – Is Taroko Gorge Worth It?
A visit to Taroko Gorge is an unforgettable experience that combines awe-inspiring natural beauty, exciting outdoor activities, and a deep cultural heritage.
From the majestic marble cliffs and lush landscapes to the diverse hiking trails, Taroko offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the heart of Taiwan’s natural splendor.
The gorge’s accessibility and the year-round appeal add to its charm, making it a must-visit destination in Taiwan!
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