Taroko Gorge is certainly one of Taiwan top 10 must-see attractions beside Qingjing, Jiufen, Shifen, Yeliu, and many others. Not an easy place to come to, due to transportation complications, that’s why I was so delighted when I managed to reach here!
When To Go
Visiting this place is not as and when you like it, for the weather dictates the day you should come. During typhoon season or heavy downpour, the park could be closed for safety reasons due to falling rocks or even landslides.
How To Go
The place is reachable by bus and car. But most people would come here by Taiwan Railway ( TRA). How to book the railway ticket? Check it out at Taiwan TRA website https://www.railway.gov.tw/en/index.aspx
The national park is open to the public, it’s free for all. The only thing visitors need to pay is probably transportation.
Eateries at Taroko Gorge
We were lucky in that we had our lunch at Taroko Gorge Visitor Centre, thereafter I do not see any eateries except at Eternal Spring Shrine, not even a drink stall. So before you begin the trip or set-off from hotel or train, better get some supplies in your bag.
How To Tour
Hire a taxi from Hualien Train Station or from any Hualien hotel, and the fee for a one day tour is NT$3,000, which usually starts from 9am-5pm.
For myself, the exciting tour started when we got our tickets with Taiwan Haoxing (台湾好行 ).
The cost of the ticket is NT$250 per person or US$8.55
9.30 am- Qixingtan （ 七星潭）
Our first stop was intended to be the entrance of Taroko Gorge, but we were fascinated by the beauty of the beach when the bus passed by Qixingtan, so we alighted there.
The beautiful skyline and sandy beach offered a beautiful setting for photography.
Living in Singapore, an island surrounded by sea, it’s not that I have never seen a beach before, but Qixingtan is just that beautiful. No regrets for coming, we had an hour of good time here.
11 am – Taroko Gorge Visitor Centre
The next stop was the entrance of Taroko Gorge, but somehow the bus did not stop there, instead, we were brought passed it and alighted at Taroko Visitor Centre.
It was already near 11 am, since there was a restaurant there, we decided to have our lunch.
Said to be done by the local tribe, the food cost NT$280 per person. Not bad, it’s quite tasty.
The best thing about this meal is, however, not just the food itself, but the scenery we get to enjoy while having lunch.
The beauty of Taroko Gorge started to unfold…… fine weather and gorgeous view!
After the meal, we took 15 minutes to walk down to the entrance of Taroko Gorge.
The wonderful picturesque scene even had my spouse instantly drew out her handphone and started snapping pictures. Mind you, she rarely did that. That goes to show how beautiful the place is.
We finally reached the entrance of Taroko Gorge.
Nothing in particular about this place, it’s just an iconic symbol which simply spells our arrival at Taroko Gorge.
We were lucky that at the time of arrival, there weren’t many tourists, we could snap pictures here and there without much obstruction.
1 pm – Shakadang Trail (砂卡礑步道)
The next stop was a place which many said was a must-see, the Shakadang Trail. It was said that right at the end of the trail, we could see the beautiful river……
We had no intention of going for the trail, but when we saw people walking on the narrow path along the cliff, we got excited and decided to go for it.
Mistake committed! I will tell you why later.
The entrance of the trail was right at the end of the road.
A make-shift metal scrap which looks like a lift was there… no, it’s a staircase actually. What a disappointment!
I got excited when I saw the crystal clear water……
It was quite exciting to walk along the narrow path, but frankly, except for the first few minutes when we saw the many giant size rocky rocks and the famed clear stream, it’s all about walking and walking.
We had reached 5D Cabin (五間屋, Wujianwu), drinks and snacks are available. Washroom too.
It’s near to 2 pm, and we had already walked 40 minutes into the trail, still, we have not seen the most beautiful scene of Shakadang. Just when we were hesitating if we should go further, a group of hikers encouraged us to go for it. They excitedly claimed that the place was a dreamland, and even shown us the many beautiful pictures they had just taken.
But when enquired how furthermore to go, they told us that was another 45 minutes…….We were not tired yet, but we were more concerned about the limited time we were left with. So we decided to make a U-turn and save the time to visit other attractions instead.
** Note: The area beyond this 五間屋, Wujianwu is often closed for safety reasons during heavy rain or typhoon.
3.15 pm- Swallow Grotto Trail( 燕子口步道）
Prior to visiting Swallow Grotto, the few places we had visited were certainly beautiful, but it was not that fantastic, I began to cast doubts on how this place became a National Park, until…….
The beauty of this place was instantly felt the moment we alighted from the bus, the long suspending bridge hanging in midair set the scene. But not to worry, we need not cross that bridge.
** The bridge is actually the entrance to Jhuilu Old Trail (錐麓古道), which is often closed due to safety issues.
Wow, this is simply no ordinary place….. You have to come and it’s a must to come!
The place has many potholes along the cliff, which actually houses swallow. Most holes are about the size of a queen-size bed. It’s quite amazing seeing them on the walls.
Aside from the swallow’s hole, the steep marble walls were actually what excited the tourists.
The Swallow Grotto Trail is short and manageable. As we snapped pictures along the way, we had probably forgotten that we had walked 1.37km or 30 minutes walk.
See the breathtaking view of the gorge in the narrow valley.
The path provides the visitor a good view of the gorgeous vertical cliff and marble walls. These marble in Taroko Gorge is said to be over 200 million years old. Ha, now I know why marble is so expensive.
4 pm- Eternal Spring Shrine 长春祠
The highlight of the tour is this Eternal Spring Shrine. The popularity of the attractions is obvious, as can be seen from the dozen tour buses along the road. It’s also the only place in all the places we had visited which has so many tour buses.
How beautiful is this place? Wow, it’s beyond words. No wonder it’s so iconic to Taroko Gorge.
It intrigued me that some building was built on the steep wall.
Cross through the Red bridge onto the protruding platform, the view from here is even more spectacular!
View the place from many different platforms. Whichever angle you see it from, you would tell yourself: I’m fortunate that I came!
There was this Changchun Trail which could lead to the famous Eternal Spring Shrine. I was so eager to go for it, only to see that its entrance was closed.
A checked with the security guard found out that the trail had been closed for 2 years, due to it being too dangerous, as someone had accidentally fallen down onto the riverbank. The guy was saved though before suffering severe injuries.
Changchun Trail Entrance.
No entry… … there goes my dream of seeing the place up and close… 🙁
5:30 pm- Xingchen Train Station 新城火车站
Feeling satisfied and fulfilled, we ended our tour of Taroko Gorge at Xingchen Train Station, ready for our train back to Taipei.
It’s a very small station.
5 minutes walk away from the station, on its opposite is a restaurant which offers an oriental buffet. We had ours here at NT$200. No other choices, it’s the only one nearby. Anyway, the food tastes good.
About Taiwan Haoxing （台湾好行)
Prior to traveling with Taiwan Haoxing（台湾好行) or Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus, I have read many reviews about it. Frankly, the cost of the tour of NT$250 is not cheap, as compared to booking a Taxi. Hiring a cab would cost NT$3,000 if 4 persons are on the tour, it is certainly value for money. The added incentive is it saves some waiting time. There are plenty of these taxis at the entrance of Hualien Train Station.
For us, the issue for not hiring a taxi is not totally due to the booking fee, but I simply do not like having a stranger following me, which could put some stress on my enjoyment.
After doing the trip with Taiwan Haoxing, I find it rather convenient. The only thing to remember is to time your trip well for the next arrival bus schedule. On average I spent 20 minutes waiting for the bus. A 1 hour stop for each destination adequate. Taiwan HaoXing 台湾好行 ) is no different from a tour bus, except that you do not know any one of the passengers on board and there is no tour guide. That’s what I like about it, hop-on-hop-off at your own time.
Even though I had missed many attractions, it has got to do with the limited time I have for Taroko Gorge rather than the time spent on waiting for the bus. This Taroko Gorge is too big a place to fully tour in one day. Tourist really has to be selective.
Would I go by Taiwan HaoXing （ 台湾好行 )If I come again? Yes, why not!
Note: I receive no commission or whatsoever from Taiwan Hoaxing, I recommended it simply because I had experienced it and find it to be good from my personal experience.
**Mind you, none of the pictures I took or you have seen from google images could represent this national park. Pictures are an understatement of the natural beauty of this place
For further reading:
Vacation Is Never Enough!
Enjoy your trip!