15 February 2020.

Veering away from the coastline, Taroko Gorge carves its way inland; a wide canyon blanketed in verdant forest. Onwards, the lush vegetation gives way to steep cliff walls that twist and turn like a jagged tear in the earth.

It’s a remarkable sight and well deserving of its spot as Taiwan’s crowned jewel, but it is the wonders that lie hidden within its furthest reaches that make a trip here truly spectacular.

Eden-like valleys conceal thundering waterfalls that cascade between the trees culminating in a serpentine stream of clear, glimmering blue. High mountain trails will test even the most intrepid visitors and reward them with astounding vistas from above. While down below, a series of bridges, tunnels and cliff-hugging roads will bring you to temples, shrines and caves that sit nestled amongst the forest.

As one of the most popular places to visit in Taiwan, don’t expect the have the place to yourself. In fact, you’ll likely be sharing it with hundreds or thousands of others. But don’t let that put you off either. Many of the day-trippers stick to the same attractions and remain in the park for just a few hours meaning that on a well-planned trip, it’s entirely possible to find moments of tranquillity and places where you’re not overwhelmed by the crowds.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ve outlined my top tips for visiting Taroko National Park, how to plan your day trip itinerary, the best hiking trails and what single thing you absolutely must do if you’re a keen hiker.

* This post includes affiliate links and any purchases made through these links will earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you. *

Essential Tips For Visiting Taroko National Park

Before diving into the nitty-gritty details, these are a few helpful tips to consider when planning your visit to Taroko National Park.

 

Not all trails are open all the time

 

For me, this was the biggest frustration as so many of the hiking trails I had earmarked for my visit, including the Shakadang and Lushui-Wenshan Trails, were actually closed.

As it turns out, this is fairly common.

Typhoons, strong winds and heavy rain can be seriously destructive within the narrow canyon and, at any given time, it’s likely that a number of the Taroko Gorge trails will be closed, either due to weather damage, routine maintenance or environmental rehabilitation.

As your trip approaches, I’d highly recommend checking the national park website to confirm which trails are open. This list covers the entire Taroko National Park, but the official trails that lie within Taroko Gorge are:

Scenic Trails  |  Taroko Terrace, Shakadang, Xiao Zhuilu, Buluowan, Yanzikhou (Swallow Grotto), Lushui, Baiyang and the Tunnel of Nine Turns.

Hiking Trails  |  Dali-Datong, Dekalun, Changchun Shrine (Eternal Spring) and Huoran Pavilion.

Mountaineering Trails  |  Zhuilu Old Trail and Lushui-Wenshan Trail.

baiyang waterfall trail. taroko gorge taiwan. taroko national park. taroko gorge tour.
baiyang trail. taroko gorge taiwan. taroko national park. taroko gorge tour.
baiyang trail. taroko gorge taiwan. taroko national park. taroko gorge tour.

Taroko National Park Is Free To Enter, BUT You Do Need A Permit For Some Hikes

 

The devil is in the detail, and this one is crucial!

If you’re an avid hiker, the one thing you absolutely MUST DO is apply for a permit to hike the stunning Zhuilu Old Trail in advance.

As beautiful as many of Taroko’s other trails are, most are relatively short, paved and flat and just don’t give that feeling of being off on an adventure. The Zhuilu Old Trail is one of the few ‘real’ hiking trails in Taroko Gorge that will see you clambering through dense forest and scuttling along a narrow, cliff-hugging trail high up in the mountains.

The permit itself is relatively easy to acquire, provided you apply in time. Applications open 30 days in advance and close at 3 p.m. on the working day prior to the hike. The entry fee is $200 (€6).

Apply for your permit here and select ‘Standard Application’ if your visit is within 30 days. A new system also allows a limited number of foreign tourists to apply via ‘Advance Application’ between 35 days and 4 months ahead.

There is a daily quota of 96 hikers on weekdays, plus 12 from advance applications, and 156 hikers on weekends and holidays. As some sections of the trail are tortuously narrow, this helps to maintain safety and limit numbers which is refreshing given how crowded many other parts of Taroko can become.

Once your dates are locked in, apply as soon as your application period opens. I tried to apply 10 days in advance after discovering I even needed a permit and was unable to secure one at all, even for a day mid-week and in low season.

If all this sounds like too much hassle, this hiking tour will take care of the process for you provided you book early enough and includes a fun guided experience of the Zhuilu Old Trail.

pudu bridge. taroko gorge taiwan. taroko national park.

It’s Perfectly Manageable As A Day Trip, Unless You Do The Longer Trails

 

My day trip to Taroko Gorge from Hualien was fantastic and allowed a decent amount of time to enjoy a handful of the shorter trails and iconic sights of the area. But had I tackled any of the longer trails which would have taken up the better part of my day, there’s a good chance I’d have wanted to return to explore a little further. 

If you think this might be you, consider factoring a second day into your itinerary, or at least arrive early enough to squeeze in a few extra stops in the afternoon.

Reconsider Visiting Taroko National Park As A Day Trip From Taipei

 

Despite being one of the most popular ways to see Taroko National Park, a day trip from Taipei is not something I would recommend.

Most tours use the local trains to get between Taipei and Hualien which means 2.5 to 3 hours of travel each way before you even reach the gorge. While you’ll thankfully get a dedicated bus to shuttle you between the main attractions, you won’t be left with many opportunities to actually walk around.

Attempting to make the trip independently would mean an even longer affair with far too much time spent juggling transport and not enough time to actually enjoy and explore the beauty of the gorge.

Even if you’re exceptionally pushed for time, cramming just one night in Hualien into your itinerary will allow for a much better experience. You could travel to Hualien from Taipei in the evening, visit Taroko Gorge either independently or as a tour the following day and then return to Taipei in the evening.

If a trip from Taipei is really the only way for you to visit, this tour is available in English and includes stops at Qixingtan to take in the dramatic sea cliffs along Taiwan’s east coast as well as Swallow Grotto and Chimu Bridge within Taroko Gorge.

tianfeng pagoda. taroko gorge taiwan. taroko national park. taroko gorge tour.
tianfeng pagoda. taroko gorge taiwan. taroko national park. taroko gorge tour.

If you’re visiting by bus, have a game plan for the day

 

If you’re visiting Taroko Gorge by bus, I would highly recommend planning out your day beforehand.

Most buses come just once an hour and if you were to miss one, it would be a shame to have to waste a whole other hour, potentially multiple times in one day, just to reach the next stop. Figuring out which hikes you’re interested in (and are actually open), where they start and how long they take and roughly coordinating this with the bus schedule will allow for a much more pleasant day and mean you hopefully won’t miss out on any of the highlights.

Generally, I’d suggest starting as far from the entrance as possible and working your way back, but if you’re doing any of the longer hikes, I would make these your first stop before travelling elsewhere in the park.

Avoid Visiting On Weekends

 

Taroko National Park is one of Taiwan’s most popular destinations, especially among day-trippers from Taipei and Hualien, and so it should come as no surprise that the place can get incredibly crowded, particularly on weekends and holidays.

If you can plan your visit around weekends, you’ll have a much better experience.

Even if you’re visiting during the week, I’d still suggest making your way to the favourite spots either early in the day or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. The gorgeous Baiyang and Shakadang Trails both receive plenty of visitors, while the Swallow Grotto is frequently swamped by tour buses.

There’s far more to Taroko National Park than Taroko Gorge

 

Given its popularity and how easy it is to access, you’d be forgiven for thinking this stunning canyon makes up the entirety of Taroko National Park.

But continue on beyond Tianxiang and you’ll quickly find yourself weaving through a sea of rugged mountains and lush alpine pastures as you make your way across the stunning Central Mountain Range of Taiwan.

Though there are numerous places along this ridiculously scenic drive that will have you diving for your camera, on the far side you’ll find Hehuanshan, a spectacular cluster of peaks that soar above 3,000m. It’s also one of few high altitude areas in Taiwan that doesn’t require a hiking permit and one of the best places catch the sunset, sunrise and a magnificent night sky.

Travelling beyond the gorge is somewhat challenging though with just one daily bus from Hualien reaching as far as Lishan, several kilometres short of Hehuanshan. Private transport is the best way to travel between the two although it is rather pricy. Otherwise day tours also make the journey into a full-day adventure.

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Bring Plenty of Water And Snacks

 

Dining options are very limited in Taroko Gorge and the ones I did see were either fairly pricy or didn’t seem to have much choice.

Instead, I’d recommend bringing a packed lunch or enough snacks to tide you through the day. This will also allow you to eat anywhere in the park rather than having to backtrack to the rest stops when your belly begins to growl.

There aren’t all that many places to fill up with water either so I’d suggest bringing plenty with you, especially if you’re tackling any of the major hikes.

If you are in need of somewhere to eat, you’ll find a few small cafes in Tianxiang, one cafe at Jinheng Park near Yanzikou/Swallow Grotto, a cafe at the Eternal Spring Shrine and a few options at the Taroko Visitor Centre.

The Weather Is Highly Changeable

 

The day may begin with wonderfully sunny skies, but afternoon cloud and rain are a frequent occurrence which is hardly surprising given how green the place is.

A rain jacket is essential and if you’re planning on doing any of the longer hikes a good pair of hiking boots are also a good idea in case of muddy trails.

It doesn’t happen often, but during bouts of severe weather, some trails way also be closed temporarily for safety which is something to keep in mind if you’re visiting during typhoon season (June to October).

Taroko Gorge Trails + Major Attractions

There are 14 official trails in Taroko Gorge divided into scenic trails, hiking trails and mountaineering trails based on their difficulty.

The majority are relatively short and flat and can be comfortably completed in around an hour, while just a few are proper hiking trails that cover more rugged terrain and will take up a bigger portion of your day. The longer or more scenic trails are outlined below but you’ll find the full list of trails marked on the park map. Keep in mind that all the trails might not be open during your visit and that you won’t be able to complete all of these in a one day visit.

 

Baiyang Waterfall Trail

 

With so many other trails being closed, this incredibly beautiful walk was my first stop and became the absolute highlight of my visit to Taroko Gorge. Weaving between pitch-black tunnels and soaring canyon walls, the trail ends in a scene fit for a fairytale where a trio of waterfalls tumble gracefully amidst the dense forest and a picturesque suspension bridge provides a sublime vantage point from which to take it all in.

On your return journey, be sure to take the short detour to the waterfall cave where you’ll walk alongside an icy river before emerging on the far side through a deluge of water. Obviously, a poncho or raincoat is a good idea, as is a torch.

To reach the trailhead, you’ll need to walk around 15-minutes along the main road from Tianxiang. The walk itself is 2km return and is flat and paved with a recomended walking time of 2 hours. If you’re a fast walker you can certainly complete it in less time, but I thoroughly enjoyed wandering this gorgeous area at a leisurely pace and snapping a gazillion photos along the way. The roundtrip from Tianxiang took me around 3 hours.

baiyang waterfall trail. taroko gorge taiwan. taroko national park. taroko gorge tour.
baiyang waterfall trail. taroko gorge taiwan. taroko national park. taroko gorge tour.

Zhuilu Old Trail

 

One of Taroko’s most challenging hikes, Zhuilu Old Trail begins along a suspension bridge that hangs across the lush walls of the canyon before climbing upwards through dense forest and emerging high upon the craggy cliffs. Some sections will have you scurrying along a precariously narrow cliff’s edge that is not for the faint-hearted – this is a big reason why hiker numbers are restricted on this trail – but the views are fantastic and provide you with one of few vantage points where you’ll get a birds-eye view of the canyon.

In the past, the trail was 10km and took the better part of a day, but since being damaged by a typhoon, just 3km is accessible – 6km return beginning from Yanzikou / Swallow’s Grotto – which can be completed in around 3 to 5 hours.

As mentioned above, permits are essential for this hike and must be applied for in advance. On the day, arrive in time to begin the hike between 7 and 10 a.m. armed with your passport and permit. Any later and you will not be permitted to begin the trail. Given the tricky terrain, the hiking trail can also be closed at the last minute due to bad weather.

To skip the fuss of applying for permits, this hiking tour will take care of the process for you provided you book early enough and takes you on a fun guided experience. If permits cannot be acquired, you’ll also be given a full refund.

zhuili old trail. taroko gorge taiwan. taroko national park. taroko gorge tour.

Lushui-Wenshan Trail

 

Not to be confused with the much shorter scenic Lushui Trail which is currently partially closed, the Lushui-Wenshan Trail is a 5.5km through hike and another of Taroko’s ‘proper’ hiking trail.

Climbing behind Lushui, the trail has plenty of steep sections, both up and down, which are occasionally aided by ropes and chains. The way is mostly shaded offering some reprieve from the intense Taiwanese sun and can be completed in 2 to 3 hours at a good pace.

The hike ends in Wenshan which lies 3km north of Tianxiang and is unfortunately not served by bus meaning you’ll need to make your way back along the road.

Jiuqudong or Tunnel Of Nine Turns

 

Following a 6 year closure period for renovation and maintenance, the Tunnel of Nine Turns reopened in June 2019 and takes in one of the most dramatic stretches of Taroko Gorge.

Built within the cliff walls, the paved trail follows the old mountain highway for 700m each way and can be completed in 40 minutes return at a leisurely pace with plenty of photo stops. It is fully accessible and also recieves far fewer crowds than the Swallow’s Grotto which takes in similar landscapes.

tunnel of nine turns. taroko gorge taiwan. taroko national park. taroko gorge tour.

Yanzikou Trail or Swallow Grotto

 

Without a doubt the most popular stop in Taroko Gorge, the Yanzikou Trail or Swallow Grotto is carved within the mountain and takes in one of the narrowest sections of the canyon where the far wall seems close enough to touch and the Liwu River gushes by far down below.

It’s an incredibly scenic spot that puts you right in the belly of the canyon, but it’s also one of the few places where you’ll be swamped by crowds and spend much of your time weaving between selfie-stick waving tour groups that seem to have little regard for anyone else around them which can detract heavily from the beauty of the place.

Normally I’d suggest waiting it out, but during busier times of the day, the stream of tour buses is almost constant with each arriving to drop off their groups before moving on the waiting area a short way down the road.

Of course, that’s not to say this spot isn’t worth visiting, but arriving later in the day when many of the day-trippers have left will certainly make the experience more enjoyable.

The trail is 1.3km ending at Jinheng Park where you’ll find a small cafe and a shaded area with picnic tables which makes a good spot for a break if you’ve brought a packed lunch. The path hugs the road which is not ideal given the level of traffic so keep an eye out and if you’re visiting by bus, you’ll need to return the way you came.

swallow grotto or yanzikou. taroko gorge taiwan. taroko national park. taroko gorge tour.
swallow grotto or yanzikou. taroko gorge taiwan. taroko national park. taroko gorge tour.
swallow grotto or yanzikou. taroko gorge taiwan. taroko national park. taroko gorge tour.

Shakadang Trail

 

Tracing the contours of the brilliant turquoise river of the same name, the Shakadang Trail funnels you away from the main canyon weaving through rocky overhangs and lush forest.

It’s one of the longer hikes in the park and is mostly flat making it a great option for those looking to get a little off the beaten path and enjoy the beautiful nature found in this part of Taiwan without too much of a challenge. It’s a popular trail, however most visitors walk just the first section so by getting an early start and completing the entire walk, you’ll be able to avoid most of the crowds.

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Changchun Or Eternal Spring Shrine Trail

 

Nestled amidst a sea of greenery, Eternal Spring Shrine commemorates the military veterans who died during the construction of the Central Cross-Island Highway. At its centre, spring water cascades beneath a white archway to join the Liwu River.

Set right beside the main road, Changchun is another icon of Taroko Gorge and a very popular spot for visitors.

Across the red Zhangchun Bridge, you’ll find the Guanyin Cave and entrance to the Changchun Shrine Trail though at the time of visiting the trail was inaccessible from here. Instead, you can follow the road uphill to the Changchun Temple, cross over the suspension bridge and climb the steep rocky staircase to the Changchun Temple Bell Tower perched high above the valley. Beyond here the trail is closed but don’t miss climbing the bell tower for sublime views a rare opportunity to see the gorge from above.

Changchun Temple to the bell tower takes around 15 minutes and if you arrive here late in the day you may be lucky enough to have the place all to yourself.

eternal spring shrine or changchun. taroko gorge taiwan. taroko national park. taroko gorge tour.

Dekalun Trail and Dali-Datong Trail

 

Departing from behind the Taroko Visitor Centre, the Dekalun and Dali-Datong Trails are unique in that they pass through the last remaining villages of the Truku aboriginal tribes that once resided in Taroko Gorge.

The Dakalun and Dali Trails intersect and climb steeply through dense forest to Dali where you’ll find an abandoned church and spectacular views across the surrounding mountains. Onwards, the trail continues along a more gentle slope towards the remote village of Datong. As a protected area for indigenous land, it important to be respectful of the local culture and considerate of their property. 

The full hike is 9.4km one way to Datong and takes around 9 hours round trip at a good pace, though it can also be broken up into shorter sections, either as a two-day hike or by only going as far as Dali which takes 2 to 3 hours one way. There are a couple of different trails that lead between the villages so if you are doing the full hike it’s possible to go in and out along different paths.

If you’ve done any amount of hiking in Taiwan, you’ve likely become accustomed to seeing warning signs for venomous snakes on the trail. While I never encountered any snakes in Taiwan, as one of the least visited trails in Taroko Gorge, there is a higher chance of spotting them here. Keep an eye out!

Read this post for further information.

How To Get From Hualien To Taroko Gorge

Hualien To Taroko Gorge By Bus

 

There are 9 buses a day between Hualien Station and Tianxiang at the far end of Taroko Gorge. The trip takes 40 minutes to reach the Visitor Centre or an hour and 15 minutes for the full journey.

The bus departs from outside the Hualien Station in front of a large orange stand to the left when facing away from the station. You’ll find a small information booth here where you can buy a bus ticket if you need to and collect a map which includes a list of all the hiking trails and the current bus timetable.

Bus passes are available for 1 or 2 days ($250/€7.50 or $400/€12) and allow you to hop on and off the bus anywhere along the route. However, depending on how many buses you take, it can actually work out much cheaper just using your EasyCard which is what I’d recommend doing.

An EasyCard is essentially a top-up card that can be used on transport throughout Taiwan by tapping on and off for each trip. You can buy one at any convenience store or order one in advance here for collection at the airport on arrival. Using an EasyCard for visiting Taroko Gorge will also give you a discounted fare compared with paying in cash.

On a day trip, I would highly recommend aiming to be on the very first bus of the day so you can hit the trails before the tour buses arrive and enjoy the empty roads as you weave your way between the narrow cliffs. Trust me, catching those early morning rays gleaming through the canyon will be well worth the early alarm.

Weather also tends to be best in the morning so you may as well make use of the sunshine before the afternoon clouds blanket the mountains.

Also be sure to be back in time to catch the last bus out of the park! It departs at 5 p.m. from Tianxiang and 5:30 p.m. from the Visitor Centre.

As of October 2019, the bus schedule was:

Hualien Station to Tianxiang  |  7:00, 8:30, 9:10, 10:00, 11:10, 12:00, 13:20, 14:10 and 15:10.

Tianxiang to Hualien Station   |  8:40, 10:00, 10:40, 11:40, 12:50, 14:10, 15:00, 15:50 and 17:00.

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Hualien To Taroko Gorge By Scooter

 

Scattered around Hualien Station, you’ll find plenty of shops renting out scooters and bikes.

Although this is a great way to explore the area and would give you far more freedom than relying on the bus, like many other places in Taiwan, following a slew of unfortunate accidents involving tourists, regulations are becoming stricter. Officially foreigners renting scooters need an International Driver’s Permit that states that you’re allowed to ride a motorbike, though of course this isn’t always enforced.

Scooters can be rented for around $500 (€15) per day and it’s 30km along the main road from Hualien Station to the entrance to Taroko Gorge.

It’s also possible to visit Taroko Gorge by car, but the roads are narrow and windy and get very congested with buses and cars having to reverse and manoeuvre around each other in order to pass so this is not something I’d recommend unless you’re going with a private driver.

Taroko Gorge Tour

 

While I’ll always choose to explore independently if I can rather than take a tour, it’s certainly the more popular way to visit Taroko Gorge, so if you’d rather remove the hassle of planning out your day or would prefer to have a knowledgable guide by your side, these are a few of the best tour options.

Taroko Gorge Day Trips From Hualien  |  This popular, top-rated day tour includes stops at the dramatic Qingshui Cliffs, Changchun Shrine, Swallow’s Grotto, Shakadang Trail and the famous Pudu Bridge at Tianxiang (may vary by what trails are open at the time). Unlike many other tours, there’s also the option for an English-speaking guide, while the Chinese tours follow a slightly different itinerary. Prices are also very reasonable starting from €27. Book your tour here.

Zhuilu Old Trail Hiking Experience  |  Hike Taroko Gorge’s most magnificent trail with an experienced guide and none of the fuss. They’ll arrange permits for you, provide helmets and make an early start to allow you plenty of time to explore in the afternoon if you’ve got any puff left. If permits cannot be acquired, you’ll also be given a full refund. Book your tour here.

taroko gorge taiwan. taroko national park. taroko gorge tour.
How To Get Around Taroko Gorge

While getting to and from Taroko National Park is simple, unfortunately the buses running within the gorge aren’t all that frequent.

Although it’s still perfectly manageable on a well-planned day trip, I would suggest planning your route out in advance with where you want to visit and which buses you’ll need to take to fit everything in.

Now, this may sound a bit pernickety (would doesn’t love that word) and admittedly I’m normally more of a fly-by-the-seat of your pants kind of traveller, not having at least a vague plan could mean you could end up wasting several hours of your day waiting by the roadside for the bus to arrive between hikes. That said, buses are also occasionally late, sometimes as much as 30 minutes late, so it’s a good idea to factor in some extra time in case of delays. 

Bus timetables are clearly listed on the Taroko Route map available from Hualien Station and at every bus stop with how long it takes to get between each destination. Aside from the orange Hualien Buses, there are buses from a different company which travel the Taroko Gorge route. If you have a day pass, it will not be valid on these other services, while an EasyCard can be used for either.

It’s also important to note that buses travelling inbound and outbound may stop at different stops and between the Visitor Centre and the Changchun Shrine there are two separate roads. When entering the park you’ll pass via the Shakadang Trail, but when exiting the park you’ll use a different road the other side of the river. The distances in this section are not far apart so you could easily walk between the different stops but, for example, if the day is wearing on, don’t wait at the Shakadang Trail for a bus to leave the park as there may not be one.

baiyang waterfall trail. taroko gorge taiwan. taroko national park. taroko gorge tour.
Where To Stay For Visiting Taroko National Park

Hualien Accommodation

 

Hualien makes an ideal base from which to visit Taroko National Park. It’s well serviced by transport, has plenty of great cafes and restaurants and has a comfortable laidback vibe which makes it an easy place to chill out for a few days.

Most options in Hualien are clustered around either the train station or the downtown area which are a few kilometres apart so consider which area will suit you best for your visit. If you plan to spend several days in Hualien and don’t necessarily need easy access to the train station, I’d recommend staying in the centre. For those only visiting for Taroko Gorge, you’ll be better off choosing somewhere near the station.

Wow Hostel  |  Located in the big green building opposite the train station, Wow Hostel is one of Hualien’s most popular options for budget travellers. The industrial-themed interior has plenty of chill-out space, dormitories are capsule-style, staff are friendly, a simple breakfast is included and there’s a guest kitchen available. It’s also perfectly located for an early morning departure to Taroko Gorge. Check rates and availability here.

Cave Hostel  |  Located in the downtown area, Cave Hostel is another great budget choice for those wanting to be near Hualien’s lively centre. Beds are large (seriously, I lucked out with a double in the dorm) and capsule-style, breakfast is included and there’s plenty of information available on exploring the area. The dumpling place a few doors down is also excellent and has plenty of veggie options. Check rates and availability here.

Travel Charger Hostel  | This funky hostel is set a short walk from the train station and comes with a slightly higher price tag but is a firm favourite among those looking for a trendy space to kick back. Check rates and availability here.

You’ll also find several top-rated homestays on offer. Among the best rated are Com InnHappiness is my Home and Hometown B&B which are all located near the train station and offer bright, excellent value private rooms with friendly hosts.

Check more options for Hualien here.

taroko gorge taiwan. taroko national park. taroko gorge tour.

Camping In Taroko National Park

 

Prefer to stay inside Taroko Gorge? It’s also possible to camp with two camping grounds available within the park. 

The Heliu and Lushui Campgrounds are less than 1km apart in the further reaches of the gorge and are relatively basic but provide a perfect spot for adventurous visitors looking to experience the beauty of Taroko by night or the increasing number of cyclists travelling Taiwan’s spectacular east coast. You’ll need to bring your own tent and spaces are given on a first come first serve basis. 

Heliu provides raised wooden sites for $300 (€9) per night, while Lushui is free and has a large grassy space.

See here for more information.

My Taroko Gorge Itinerary

Your Taroko Gorge visit will very much be determined by what is open at the time and how much hiking you’re keen to do, but for anyone looking to follow a similar route, this was my exact itinerary.

Firstly, it’s important to add that unfortunately the Shakadang and Lushui-Wenshan Trails were closed during my visit and I was also unable to secure a permit for the Zhuilu Old Trail despite attempting to apply days in advance. Had I been able to complete these longer trails, I likely would have planned my time very differently and even considered returning for a second day.

Regardless, it was an excellent trip and I’d still recommend this route for anyone looking to cover a lot of ground and discover some beautiful corners of the gorge but not necessarily tackle any of the major trails.

I left Hualien on the first bus of the day arriving at Tianxiang around 8:15 a.m. Here, I spent some time snapping photos of the iconic Pudu Bridge which leads across the gorge towards the perfectly situated Tianfeng Pagoda, before setting off along the road to start the Baiyang Trail.

With early morning light gushing over the mountain tops and waterfalls aplenty, this magical corner of the park made a perfect start to the day. Though the walk is short, I enjoyed it slowly, snapped hundreds of photos and took the detour through the waterfall cave which is quite an experience.

pudu bridge. taroko gorge taiwan. taroko national park.
taroko gorge taiwan. taroko national park. taroko gorge tour.

By 12:15 p.m. I was back at Tianxiang with plenty of time for a snack and a few more photos before the bus at 12:50 p.m., though unfortunately it was half an hour late.

My next stop was the dramatic and surprisingly quiet Tunnel Of Nine Turns before jumping straight on the next bus to Yanzikou or the Swallow Grotto. Weaving through the steep wall of the canyon along with what felt like half of Hualien, I made my way to Jinheng Park for lunch.

Next, I made my way over to Changchun or Eternal Spring Shrine and meandered back to the Visitor Centre on foot. A pagoda nestled high on the hillside caught my eye and I decided to go and investigate, crossing the large red bridge and climbing the steep hill to Changchun Temple.

changchun temple. taroko gorge taiwan. taroko national park. taroko gorge tour.

From here, a suspension bridge lead me into the forest and up a steep trail towards the Changchun Temple Bell Tower which offers up sensational views across Taroko Gorge.

With darkness quickly falling, I made my way back on foot via the Shakadang Trail to get a closer look at the turqouise water I ha been so eager to see before pushing on to the Visitor Centre in time to catch the final bus of the day back to Hualien.

Most of this section is within a tunnel and as it was so late in the day there wasn’t much traffic, but I wouldn’t suggest walking here at busier times of day.

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A Day Trip To Taroko Gorge: How To Plan The Perfect Trip + Essential Tips For Your Visit
A Day Trip To Taroko Gorge: How To Plan The Perfect Trip + Essential Tips For Your Visit
A Day Trip To Taroko Gorge: How To Plan The Perfect Trip + Essential Tips For Your Visit

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