Travel guide to visiting Taroko Gorge in Taiwan

A breathtaking natural site


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291 Fushi Village, Xiulin Township 97253 Hualien County, Taiwan

GPS: 24.195065291823, 121.4917591459

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Visiting Taroko Gorge, a most valued destination of the nature lovers for its spectacular landscapes with deep canyons, is part of the most visited sites in Taiwan. Between the sea and the mountains, it offers an original alternative to the mostly urban destinations of the archipelago. The geological formation of the gorges dates back several million years to the effect of plate tectonics on the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Located on the north-eastern coast of the island of Taiwan, near the town of Hualien, the Taroko Gorge has been part of the Taroko National Park since 1986. The latter covers an area of 920 km² rich in geological formations and rock faults. Its lush nature, tropical climate and rugged terrain have made it a difficult adventure land for the public to access. A good physical condition is required to free oneself from the paths criss-crossing the high marble and granite cliffs of the park. In total, the Taroko Gorge forms an impressive canyon 19 km long and some parts are around 100 metres high. During your exploration, you will discover temples, caves and pagodas on the mountainside, perched above waterfalls and suspension bridges.

The vegetation in Taroko National Park is constantly changing with the steep relief of the area. At its lowest point, close to sea level, a subtropical forest invades the steep valleys, but as you approach the highest peaks of the archipelago, rising to more than 3,400 metres, this vegetation gives way to a subalpine coniferous forest, typical of rugged high mountain environments. With vertiginous precipices and winding tracks, the Taroko gorges are ideal for hiking and rafting. Meaning “magnificent” and “beautiful” in the Truku language (from the name of an aboriginal group on the island of Taiwan), the Taroko Gorge has an exceptional geological heritage that is subject to the vagaries of nature. Typhoons, rock falls and ground movements are commonplace in the region.

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  • Rocky outcrops, chaotic marble cliffs, narrow canyons and steep valleys makes the topography of Taroko Gorge exceptional.
  • The Tunnel of Nine Turns (Jiuqudong); the series of footbridges and suspension bridges of the Taroko Gorge spanning the Liwu River.
  • The Yen Tze Kou and Chiu Chu Tung natural sites; the park’s waterfalls (Pai Yang, Yin Tai, Chang Chun and Lu Shui); the Qingshui coastal cliffs; the Hehuanshan mountain range (or Mount Hehuan), Zhongyangjian Shan Mountain and Qilai Mountain.
  • The Eternal Spring Shrine (also called Changchun Temple), the Xiangde and Daxiong Baodian Temples and the Tianfeng Pagoda clinging to the mountain walls.
  • The Yenzikou trail leading to the Swallow Grotto; the view of the Pacific Ocean from Qingshui Cliff; hikes of varying difficulty (Shakadang, Baiyang, Zhuilu, Dekalun, Lushui, Dali-Datong…); grueling cycling tours (single or multi-day); rafting and abseiling activities in the eastern part of the valley.
  • Wild fauna (150 species of birds, 15 varieties of amphibians, 300 types of butterflies, 35 species of reptiles, 21 categories of fish and 46 types of large mammals including black bear and deer); population of Formosan rock macaque, a species of monkey endemic to the archipelago; flora rich in changes in vegetation due to differences in altitude, relief and climate.
  • The picturesque village of Tienhsiang, its traditional temple and the remote villages of Datong and Dali.
  • Chi Hsing Beach north of Hualien town and its mountain backdrop; Wenshan Hot Springs (sometimes inaccessible due to rock falls).
  • The marathon and half marathon which takes place annualy in November; the Taiwan KOM Challenge cycling race (organized in October or November over one day – considered to be one of the most difficult cycling events in the world).
  • The rapid uplift of the Philippine Plate and Eurasian Plate, combined with the presence of abundant water (rain, rivers and streams), has favoured the erosion of a large amount of rock. This phenomenon resulted in the sinking of valleys, formation of canyons, transformation of limestone cliffs into marble strata and the stunning landscapes of the Taroko Gorge.
  • The Central Cross-Island Highway (or Provincial Highway 8), crossing Taroko National Park from east to west, is considered one of the most dangerous and scenic roads in the world.
  • Recently, it has become possible to reach the mountain village of Lishan, famous for its orchards (apples, pears, plums, persimmons and peaches). Between 2000 and 2020, this remote area of central Taiwan remained mainly cut off from the rest of the country due to a series of earthquakes, landslides and typhoons that ravaged several sections of the Central Cross-Island Highway before it was extensively repaired although access remains restricted. A bus service (numbers 865 and 1141) between Hualien and Lishan is back in operation, allowing visitors to enjoy the stunning mountain scenery at around 2,000 metres. On your way, you can stop at the Kukuan hot springs or at the Fushoushan farm with its cherry blossom trees.
  • The Eternal Spring Shrine (or Changchun Shrine) is a memorial built in honour of the more than 200 workers that died during the construction of the Central Cross-Island Highway in the late 1950s. Heavily damaged by landslides, it was rebuilt in 1989. This monastery protects a sacred cave dedicated to Guanyin, the sea Goddess of Mercy in the Buddhist religion.
  • The Taroko region is easily accessible by train from Taipei (approximately 2 hours of travel).
  • Visit the Taroko Visitors Centre to confirm the the conditions of visiting and accessing trails, some may be temporarily closed to the public. A permit may be required to access certain paths.
  • Taroko National Park is very exposed to earthquakes, landslides, tremors and typhoons (the most important climatic events usually occur between July and September). Occasionally, rock falls can make several areas inaccessible, while some sections can be very slippery in wet weather. Be careful if you want to explore the park on your own.
  • The park’s reception desk is the starting point of the main hiking trails and shuttle buses.
  • The park rangers can provide you with a free helmet if you plan to cycle through the gorge.
  • Renting a scooter equipped with a rain coat and a torch is the most practical autonomous way to discover Taroko Gorge.
  • The major hiking trails of Dali-Datong Trail (9.5 km) and Zhuilu or Jhuilu Old Trail (10 km) will allow you to explore the gorge environment away from tourist groups (narrow and rugged trails with steep gradients).

Where to eat

  • Jiaxin Bingguo House
    (simple and fast)
  • Mu Ming Restaurant
    (original cuisine)
  • Kimamaya Japanese Bbq
    (Japanese-style grills)

Where to go

  • Hehuanshan
    (sublime mountain landscapes)
  • Wuling Farm
    (pretty cherry blossoms)
  • Mukumugi Valley
    (refreshing walks)

Where to stay

  • Crossing the Rainbow Bridge B&B
    (welcoming guest house)
  • Taroko Village Hotel
    (prime location)
  • Silks Place Taroko
    (luxury resort)