With its natural gorges and breathtaking scenery, a visit to Taroko National Park seems an absolute must during a stay in Taiwan, and rightly so, as entering the park feels like stepping into another world. But not just any world, a magical one, filled with fog and wonder. Here’s a short guide to the main sites to visit in Taroko!

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Taroko National Park in a few words

Situated between three counties, the park boasts over twenty peaks, making it a “paradise” for hikers. But the park is much more than that. It also has a rich history: between Japanese occupation, gold mining, indigenous lands, ecological conservation…, it’s the kind of place that will stay etched in your memory.

Main Sights

If you only have a day or half-day in Taroko, here are the main sights I recommend you visit without rushing.

1. Changchun (or Eternal Spring) Shrine

Changchun in Taroko
Changchun Shrine at the back

A place of remembrance, since it was built to honor and celebrate the lives of those who died during the construction of the highway, the sanctuary is one of the park’s focal points. When you reach the top, you’ll have the opportunity to admire the splendid panorama while listening to the waterfall flowing just below.

> Don’t forget that the trail may be closed in bad weather. In any case, take care as the path is steep and can be slippery!

2. Yanzikou Trail (Swallow Grotto)

Swallow grotto in Taroko

Created by long-term erosion, marvel at the immense limestone cliffs and enjoy the view of the gorge and the power of the river beneath your feet. If you’re wondering why the so-called “swallow cave”, it’s simply because of the number of birds that spend their time around the holes in the cliffs. It’s one of the most picturesque places in Taroko, and when you see the beauty of the place, it’s easy to see why.

> It is recommended to wear a helmet when walking inside the cave (they are provided free of charge at the visitor center).

3. Tunnel of Nine Turns (Jiuqudong trail)

Tunnel of Nine Turns in Taroko

At first glance, walking through a tunnel doesn’t sound very charming, but I assure you it was quite the opposite here. Imagine the sound of the river, the mist-shrouded mountains and the beauty of the surrounding environment. It was even more magical than I imagined!

4. Cimu Bridge

Cimu Bridge in Taroko

One of the many bridges you’ll see in Taroko National Park, but a majestic one. What’s more, the red color contrasting sharply with the green and gray created an even more surreal landscape, much to my delight.

And if you want to admire the marble bridge from another angle, don’t hesitate to climb up to the pavilion on the side of the bridge. It’s the perfect place to sit back, take a break and recharge your batteries while gazing at the magnificent scenery.

5. Tianxiang

Taroko NP

A small village, this is where you can stock up on snacks, sleep in a hotel and catch the bus back to town. But this was my chance to discover the wonders of the park once again. Cross the bridge, take a look at the pagoda and temple nestled on the terrace and admire the view from the top!
You can even start your exploration from here and hike the Baiyang Trail!

6. Wenshan Park

With so many trails, it can be hard to know which one to choose, especially when you’re short on time and still want to see as much as possible. The hot springs no longer exist, but the panoramic views of the Dasha River, the mountains and the gorges make for an ideal and refreshing walk inside Taroko.

7. Heliu

Suspension bridge in Taroko

I discovered this place by chance while walking around and as soon as I saw the suspension bridge, I was seduced. Yes, I love suspension bridges!

Not only that, but the views from this campsite were simply breathtaking and stopping for a moment to appreciate them was pure bliss for me. The tranquility of the area combined with the natural environment is the best if you want to experience a pleasant sleep surrounded by pristine beauty.

How to get there

The best way to get to the national park is by bus from Hualien. Many buses run daily (302, 1126, 1129, 1133 or 1141) and you can check timetables and stops here. You can pay the fare directly with your EasyCard when you board the bus, give cash to the bus driver or at the service counter (a day pass is also available for NT$250). The journey takes about an hour and a half, which is perfect for getting some sleep before the exercise ahead!

How to get around

Tunnel in Taroko

For a more immersive and relaxed experience, I highly recommend walking around the national park. Whichever trail you choose, rest assured you won’t regret it, as Taroko is a place where you’ll discover all the charm that nature, wildlife and flora have to offer.

If you’d like more information on all the trails, here’s the link to the official website!

Where to stay in Hualien

As it’s more convenient to stay in Hualien before visiting the park, here’s my address for a good night’s sleep:

G.O.A.T Hostel

Just a 20-minute walk from the train station, this is the place to book if you’re looking for an affordable, clean and friendly stay. The rooms are comfortable and the hostel is located in a quiet area, ideal for a well-deserved rest after a long journey or a long hike.

Tips

It’s pretty easy to travel in Taiwan and Taroko is of course no exception, but as always, it’s best to be prepared, so here are a few tips!

  • Book accommodation in Hualien: it’s less tiring to travel from there (you wouldn’t want to be exhausted just before exploring Taroko, would you?), plus the town of Hualien is charming, so why not kill two birds with one stone and include it in your itinerary?!?
  • Top up your EasyCard before you leave or make sure you have enough cash: traveling with your travel card is the easiest way, but don’t forget to top it up beforehand or bring cash, as you won’t be able to use your credit card. Don’t forget that you’ll need the exact amount in cash, as no change will be given.
  • Check the bus timetable: this will save you long waits and you won’t have to worry about missed buses. Bear in mind that you should arrive at least 15 minutes before the next bus, especially for the return journey, as many people may be present and already queuing. If this is the case, you risk missing the first bus and having to wait for the next one.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes: this is always important when you’re hiking or walking for long hours. Blisters are the worst thing about spending time exploring a place.
  • Bring a raincoat: being in a mountainous region with a few points of altitude, the weather in Taroko National Park is often synonymous with rain, so it’s best to visit the place with a raincoat at hand in case of need.
  • Bring water and food, or buy some at one of the park’s two grocery stores: blisters and dehydration are every traveller’s worst enemies, aren’t they? What’s more, having a picnic in the gorge is a unique experience!

Final Thoughts

Taroko Park and its bridges

Whether you spend only a short time in Taroko National Park or not, you haven’t really seen Taiwan until you’ve been there. The gorges, the nature, the temples and the special atmosphere will make it a highlight of your trip. If you’re looking for a breathtaking adventure, look no further!

🎯 Would you like to go straight to my recommendations?

🛌 Hostel: G.O.A.T Hostel

🥾 Recommended Tours:
Hualien: Taroko Hiking Trail One-Day Tour
Hiking Tour at Zhuilu Old Road, Taroko National Park

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