Destination Guide: Taroko Gorge & Taroko National Park
The Taroko Gorge is one of the most famous natural wonders in Taiwan. Located on the East Coast, the Taroko National Park is definitely worth a visit. In this extensive guide, we’ll explain what you need to know about a trip to the fascinating Taroko Gorge!
Taiwan is somewhat lesser known than many other countries in Asia when it comes to tourism. However, especially the nature in Taiwan is really beautiful and more than just fascinating. The Taroko Gorge is supposedly one of the most famous spots to visit, yet it’s worth noting that due to weather circumstances, visiting might not be possible from time to time.
How to get to Taroko Gorge?
Taroko Gorge is located on the East Coast of Taiwan, not far away from the medium-sized city of Hualien. You may reach this town by either flying in from Taipeh (not from Taoyuan Airport though) or from Kaoshiung or Tainan on the West Coast. The most practical way to get here though is either taking a train from Taipeh (about 2 1/2 hours) or self-drive in about the same time.
Getting to the Gorge per se requires other transportation anyways as there’s only one bus line that allows you to visit using public transportation. The much easier way is to either have your own car or have a driver. I did the later and thought that the price for the service (about 80 Euros for a day) was absolutely fine as the driver took us to all major spots in the Taroko National Park.
What’s the best seasons to visit Taroko Gorge?
As the Taroko Gorge is a natural monument there is no entrace fee whatsoever. What you need to be aware of though is that the weather at Taroko Gorge can be a problematic factor. During periods of snow, which hardly happen, or strong winds and rain, the National Park can be closed temporarly. Furthermore, earthquakes hit the area harder in some seasons. Other than that, there’s not really a limiting factor to visiting Taroko Gorge all year long. The best time is probably spring or fall, when it is neither too cold nor too warm and the risk of earthquakes isn’t too high.
What should you see when visiting Taroko National Park?
We probably spent about eight hours touring Taroko Gorge and the surroundings. I’d recommed connecting a drive there from Hualien with a stop with a view point on the coast as the scenery is really beautiful!
The Taroko Gorge as such is already beauty when you are just driving through, but there are a couple highlights and spots that you shouldn’t miss.
One is Shakadang Trail, which gives you a great impression of the small rivers flowing through the National Park and is amazing spot for hiking.
Another spot that you definitely have to see is the Swallow Grotto, which often is mentioned as the most fascinating sight in the Taroko National Park. Here, you can see a very deep gorge with a large river flowing through it – it’s definitely fascinating to walk by here and enjoy the scenery. However, be aware that you need to wear a helmet!
Depper into the Taroko National Park, you can find the Xianghe Temple, which is a large complex connected to the street through a fascinating bridge. Definitely worth visiting!
If you are looking for another really nice hiking trail, you should drive further to Lushui Trail, which is located very deep in the National Park and is also very nice.
If you are more into the temple complexes in the Taroko National Park and not so much into the Taroko Gorge(s) per se, you should stop at the small, but very nice Changchun Shrine.
Not far from here, you can also find Changhuang Temple. What’s particularly interesting about this place is that you can go over a somewhat windy bridge and up a hill to another small temple, which is an amazing view point!
If you feel like you’ve seen enough beautiful nature in the Taroko Gorge and visited enough temples, you might want to stop at Chongde Beach on the way back to Hualien – it’s very beautiful and definitely worth seeing even though you might be confused by the black pebble.
Generally, I thought that the many sights in the Taroko National Park are really nice and the whole place is much more than just “one” Taroko Gorge!
Overall impressions of Taroko Gorge
While I wasn’t really sure what to expect of the Taroko Gorge, I was pleasantly surprised by how many different nice spots the Taroko National Park has to offer. From great view points near the entrace to various temples, nice hiking paths and much more, I really enjoyed visiting the Taroko National Park and would definitely recommend doing so as well when visiting Taiwan!