Taroko Gorge Taiwan – Taroko National Park In Hualien
The awesome Taroko Gorge National Park in Hualien is a bit like Taiwan’s version of the Grand Canyon.
This is a huge marble gorge with steep rock walls carved by the Lewu River, complete with old Chinese shrines and temples, and 27 peaks over 3,000 meters tall.
Taroko Gorge Taiwan has some of the best (and most accessible) scenery on the whole island, so don’t miss it!This guide will explain how you can get there, and everything you need to know before you go!
What To Expect
The best way to visit Taroko Gorge is on a bus tour from Hualien or Taipei, that way you can enjoy all the great canyon views along the way without being busy at the wheel driving.
While it’s technically possible to visit Taroko on a day trip from Taipei, I think it’s a way better idea to stay in Hualien city and spend at least 2 full days seeing the park. Hualien has plenty of cheap hotels and good restaurants.
There’s a lot to see in Taroko, and it has some outstanding day hikes like Zhuilu Old Trail that are only possible if you have more time.
How To Get There
Taroko Gorge National Park is located in Hualien county, in eastern Taiwan.
The first step is getting to Hualien. There are lots of cheap flights and trains from Taipei, with a flight taking 1 hour for about $1,200 NTD ($40 USD), or a train journey taking 2 hours for less than half the cost — $450 NTD. We took the train.
From Hualien city, the park is only a 1 hour drive and there are daily buses and tours available.
Best Taroko Gorge Taiwan Bus Tour
If you want to skip the hassle of arranging everything yourself and figuring out the bus schedules, Klook has a great Taroko Gorge bus tour from Hualien for just $18 USD per person.
This tour visits most of the popular tourist spots in Taroko, and also stops at a couple of nice scenic spots outside of the park — Qingshui Cliff and Qixingtan Beach! This tour was just what we needed for our second day at Taroko.
We’ve used Klook for lots of day tours and activities around the world, and they’ve been great! Highly recommended.
Hualien City / Taroko Gorge Taiwan Bus
If you would rather arrange everything yourself, you can take the 1133A bus from Hualien Station to Taroko Gorge. The bus station is the bright orange building right next to the entrance for Hualien Train Station.
Complete timetables can be found here, but they’re in Chinese, so I’ve transcribed the Hualien bus station departure times below:
- 7:00 AM
- 8:30 AM
- 9:10 AM
- 10:00 AM
- 11:10 AM
- 12:00 PM
- 1:20 PM
- 2:10 PM
- 3:10 PM
When you get on the bus (or visit the bus station), they’ll give you a Taroko Gorge pamphlet with the full 1133A timetable in English. For some reason this doesn’t exist anywhere online except in Chinese, but once you have the pamphlet in hand everything will all make more sense.
There’s a day pass for this bus that you can buy at the bus station or at any 7-11 or FamilyMart in Taiwan for $250 NTD ($8 USD). We bought this at 7-11 the day before we hiked Zhuilu, and it covered all of our bus costs for the day. Otherwise, you can pay on the bus with EasyCard or cash.
Best Things To Do
• Eternal Spring Shrine
This is a shrine built on top of a waterfall, as a memorial to 200 veterans who died building Taiwan’s central cross island highway. It takes about 20 minutes to walk through the tunnels to the shrine, and there’s also a longer mountain trail that takes you up to some towers and temples at the top of the cliffs.
• Shakadang Trail
Also known as the ‘Mysterious Valley Trail’, this one has some bright blue turquoise colored pools partway through the trail. The full trail is 2 hours roundtrip, but it’s flat and easygoing.
• Swallows Grotto
This is one of the most narrow parts of the gorge, with rock walls that are almost touching at the top. This is a good short trail to combine with Zhuilu Old Trail, since they both start from the same trailhead. Sadly this trail was closed when we visited. It only takes 15-30 minutes roundtrip.
• Tunnel Of Nine Turns
This is a short trail through a 700 meter long tunnel in a narrow part of the gorge, where you can see the marble rock walls and the river up close as they wind through the ravine. You’ll see a couple of waterfalls along the way too. The trail takes about 30 minutes roundtrip.
• Zhuilu Old Trail
Zhuilu is the best hike in Taroko Gorge. This day hike takes you up to the top of the canyons, where you can walk along the steep cliffs and get some crazy views of the valley below. Must do!
More info: Zhuilu Old Trail
Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit Hualien and Taroko Gorge, Taiwan is in the winter months, from November to April, when it’s less rainy and daytime temperatures hover around a cool 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 C).
Summer months will work, too, but be prepared for a bit more heat and humidity since the temps will be above 80 F (27 C).
Where We Stayed
We stayed at Xiong Zhi Mi B&B in Hualien city for $900 NTD ($30 USD) per night and loved it.
This price got us a clean double room with a private bathroom and cold A/C. It included free breakfast (and free cookies from the friendly staff!), and there are lots of great restaurants nearby too.
The train station is just a 15 minute walk away, or you can easily hail a taxi or rent a scooter to get around. The room prices may fluctuate from time to time, so just keep an eye out for a good deal.