Visiting Taroko National Park and Taroko Gorge is one of the top things to do in Taiwan—especially for first-timers to the country!
Taroko is one of Taiwan’s nine national parks, and it is an incredibly wild and scenic part of the island with towering peaks, deep canyons, and lush forested hiking trails.
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We stayed overnight in Taroko Gorge and waking up to that rugged, untouched landscape made me feel like I was staying in the Misty Mountains from The Lord of the Rings… it was epic!
In this guide, I’ll detail everything you need to know about visiting Taroko Gorge—whether you want to go on a day trip from Hualien City or wish to stay overnight inside the park, this post covers it all!
Read more below to find out how to get to Taroko Gorge from Taipei, where to stay, what to do, and more.
Guide to Taroko National Park + What to Do in Taroko Gorge (Itinerary)
What to Know Before Visiting Taroko
- 🏡 Accommodation: Taroko Gorge itself is pretty wild and therefore has very limited accommodation options. You may be better off basing yourself out of Hualien City and taking a day to visit Taroko Gorge from there. Search hotels near Taroko National Park here.
- 📱 Data: If you need data while in Taiwan, you can very easily get it by using Airalo’s Taiwan/Asia eSIM. This literally saved me on my Asia trip and it was so uncomplicated to get!
- 🚌 DIY vs Tours: Taroko is chock-full of trails and attractions. It can be a lot to see in one day on your own. Plan your road trip and start the day early, if you can. However, the hassle-free way to visit Taroko may be on a guided tour from Hualien.
- 🚗 Renting a car: Foreign visitors with international driver’s permits can rent a car in Taiwan (you must have a valid international license).
- 🧿 Travel insurance: Protect yourself while exploring Taroko! I used SafetyWing’s nomad insurance to cover my trip to Taiwan. Costs only $40/4 weeks!
Getting to Taroko Gorge
Assuming that you’ve flown into Taipei to start your Taiwan travels, you’ll need to transfer by train from Taipei to the city of Hualien first to reach Taroko National Park. You can also drive there if you rent a car in Taipei.
Hualien is a beautiful coastal city on the rugged eastern side of Central Taiwan.
The time it takes from Taipei to Hualien by car is around 3+ hours and by train from Taipei Main Station to Hualien Station just over two hours.
Taroko Gorge is inside the Taroko National Park—one of the nine national parks of Taiwan.
The national park itself is huge, but the “tourist” area you are most likely going to visit is concentrated around the landmark Taroko Gorge carved out by the Liwu River.
For more freedom and flexibility, I highly, highly recommend renting a car (or scooter) and exploring Taroko Gorge on your own OR booking a guided private tour.
🚂 Train from Taipei to Hualien
To get from Taipei Main Station to Hualien City, we booked a local train online via Taiwan Railways.
As you can see in the screenshot below from my email, we booked the Tze-Chian Ltd. Express, train # 408. Total travel time only took 2 hours and 10 minutes. (Cost: $28 USD for two people.)
Once at Taipei Main Station, we simply went up to the counter window and showed our e-tickets to receive the printed versions.
We decided to visit Taroko Gorge first thing after arriving by train at the Hualien Train Station (花蓮火車站) since we were spending the night in the gorge.
However, in hindsight, I would recommend staying and relaxing in Hualien for a day before exploring and hiking in Taroko National Park on a day trip from Hualien.
In any case, getting from the Hualien Train Station to Taroko Gorge is fairly simple. If you don’t have a rental car, you will need to take the bus to Taroko which will take more or less one hour, depending on where you get dropped off.
🚎 Bus from Hualien to Taroko Gorge
Fortunately, the bus station is just a 2-minute walk away from the Hualien Train Station. Head outside and walk across the lot to Hualianqiche Bus Station.
Here, you can purchase your ticket to Taroko Gorge on a first-come, first-served basis in cash (bring exact change). You can also pay by Taiwan Metro EasyCard.
NOTE: There are three bus companies that run routes into Taroko from Hualien Main Station and three ways to reach Taroko National Park by bus.
- TaiwanTrip (Ubus Company, Bus #310) — These are one or two-day bus tickets (NT$250-$450) that gives you hop-on, hop-off flexibility to visit Taroko Gorge (view route).
- Hualien Bus Company (Bus #1133) — The one we used to get a one-way ticket into Taroko to reach our hotel at Buluowan stop (see timetable).
- Taroko Bus Company (Bus #302) from the Xincheng-Taroko Train Station (NT$150).
As a reminder, Taroko Gorge attractions and hikes are all spread out and require transport to reach, which is why I recommend driving yourself or taking a guided tour from Hualien City (there are also full-day Taroko tours from Taipei you can take).
For more transport info, head to Taroko’s website.
🚌 Tour to Taroko from Hualien
To save time and a bit of planning on your part, there are full-day tours to Taroko from Hualien City that you can take.
Some of these tours are customizable to suit your preferences, but will typically take you around to see the must-see sights of Taroko Gorge, including but not limited to:
- Chishitang Scenic Area
- Baiyang Waterfall
- Yanzihkou Trail (Swallow Grotto)
- Shakadang Trail
- Eternal Spring Shrine
- Tunnel of Nine Turns Trail
Plus, most tours include a stop over at the Qingshui Cliffs (one of the top natural attractions to visit in Taiwan) which we personally didn’t get the chance to see—again, due to lack of personal transport!
If I had the chance to visit Taroko a second time, I would base myself out of Hualien for four nights and spend one day touring the majestic Taroko Gorge on a bicycling tour.
Getting Around Taroko Gorge On Your Own
You should know that Taroko Gorge isn’t easy to navigate by simply hopping buses between each attraction or trailhead. We were hoping this was the case, but it wasn’t.
Not only is the bus timetable schedule a little hard to follow but the waiting times are extremely long because the schedule is infrequent.
It’s hard to estimate how much time visiting or hiking a particular trail will take you exactly, too.
From our experience, it just felt rushed to hop around on the bus, and not very convenient.
All of which is why I recommend visiting Taroko via one of these options:
- 🚙 Rent a car or scooter and take an early all-day trip into the gorge to explore at your own pace.
- 🚌 Take a private guided tour day trip from Hualien that is customizable and gives you a much more relaxed and informative way to visit Taroko in one day.
- 🚴 For the active adventurers out there, I’d recommend this cycling tour.
Is it Worthwhile to Stay Overnight in Taroko Gorge?
That said, while most of the tours and all-day excursions are only one day, Taroko National Park is massive and is full of peaks, hiking trails, waterfalls, shrines, and temples to visit.
So, should you spend a night in Taroko Gorge, or not?
If your Taiwan itinerary allows, it would definitely be worthwhile to spend at least two nights in Taroko Gorge for easier access to the trails and attractions, since it does take time to drive back and forth from Hualien.
We personally spent one night and about 1.5 days in Taroko and it felt very rushed due to hotel check-in and check-out constraints.
Next time, instead of going into the gorge without a personal car, I would either:
- A) Commit to only a day trip to Taroko from Hualien, but do so on a guided tour.
- B) Spend two nights camping inside Taroko National Park with a rental car or scooter for easy exploration.
Below is a quick list of accommodation options should you decide to stay inside Taroko National Park!
Hotels in Taroko Gorge
For a luxurious experience of the gorge, you can stay at the only 5-star hotel inside Taroko — Silks Place.
Again, hotel lodging is limited inside Taroko Gorge itself so if you’re looking for more options, you’ll need to backtrack to the mouth of the Liwu River and the coastal side of the Xiulin township, near Chongde, which is just 10 minutes from the Taroko National Park entrance.
- 🏡 Li Wu Zuo Cun B&B (rating 9.1/10)
- 🏡 Taroko Tkijig Ocean B&B (9.4/10)
- 🏡 崇霖覓境-花蓮崇德瑩農場 (7.9/10)
- 🏡 Crossing the Rainbow Bridge B&B (9.1/10)
- 🏡 Yu Shou Hao Hsien Guesthouse (9.2/10)
We stayed at the Taroko Village Hotel and, while we loved our cabin-style lodging, didn’t end up spending so much time here so I think we could’ve saved quite a bit of money basing ourselves elsewhere. The lunch/dinner was a highlight, but non-guests can also come and enjoy this as the hotel is easily accessible from the Buluowan bus stop.
If nothing close to the park is available, I recommend simply basing yourself out of Hualien. We stayed at the Boy Apartment in the heart of Hualien.
As for camping in Taroko, check out these campgrounds which are free to use on a first-come, first-served basis:
- Heliu Campground (free of charge, 12 wooden platforms available, toilets, cold showers)
- Lushui Campground (free of charge, open grassy area for tents)
To find hotels and local B&Bs across Taiwan, I used Booking.com. Being a Booking.com Genius member earns you some perks on select properties such as free cancellation, free breakfast, or discounts on upgraded rooms.
Best Things to Do in Taroko Gorge
Between the towering marbled canyon walls, hiking trails, wispy waterfalls, and temples tucked away in the lush hillside, there is plenty to do and see in Taroko National Park. It is one of Taiwan’s raw natural gems, after all!
You could easily spend a few days exploring the whole park, but most visitors stick to the main sights around Taroko Gorge.
Here is what you can’t miss when in Taroko Gorge (particularly for day trips and overnight itineraries—you could fit in more with more days!).
Eternal Spring Shrine & Bell Tower
One of my favorite views inside the whole gorge is of the Eternal Spring Shrine (also known as Changchun Temple Shrine).
There is just something so striking about this red-tinged temple. Is it the towering mountain backdrop? The cascade of water flowing beneath it? Or all of it all at once?!
Whatever it is, make sure not to miss out on the chance to see it for yourself. You can easily drive off the main Taroko Gorge road to reach the Eternal Spring Shrine located here.
The panorama from the parking lot across the river is beautiful, but you can also hike there to explore up close on foot via the short but steep Changchun Shrine Trail (40m–1hr roundtrip).
Hike One of Taroko’s Famous Trails
Taroko National Park is wild and therefore chock-full of gorgeous hiking trails. One of the best ways to experience this beautiful national park of Taiwan is on foot!
Hiking one of the trails in Taroko is a must-do, even if you only have time for one or two.
The Shakadang Trail is nearby the Eternal Spring Shrine, so you could do both in one go. It is an easy 4km out-and-back trail (no need to do all 4km!) for all ages that will give you a great “intro” to the beautiful vistas and unique geology of Taroko Gorge.
Tunnel of Nine Turns
This hiking trail is popular for its walk-thru tunnel following the Liwu River and overlooking the narrowest portion of Taroko Gorge. It takes around 30 minutes to complete and is a
Swallow Grotto (Yanzikou)
Swallow Grotto is another super popular hiking trail in Taroko Gorge because it takes you under carved-out tunnel passes. It is home, as you may guess, to native swallows that reside in the canyon.
⚠️ Due to unpredictable landslides and rocks, it is advised to wear a hard safety helmet for this hike. You can pick one up for free at the Xipan check-in/out Helmet Service Station.
Other trails you might want to consider depending on your time/interest are:
- Baiyang Trail (features waterfalls, unique caves, suspension bridge)
- Luishui Trail (cliffside trail featuring stone tunnel)
Cross the Buluowan Suspension Bridge
The longest bridge in all of Taroko Gorge is none other than the Buluowan Suspension Bridge (布洛灣吊橋).
This bridge offers views of Taroko Gorge you won’t get anywhere else—after all, you are suspended up HIGH (152m to be exact).
The bridge does get a little crowded, especially before/after noon when folks are finishing up lunch at Taroko Village Hotel just above the Buluowan Terrace.
Not to miss during its opening hours is the museum that displays crafts and artifacts from the indigenous of Taroko (opening hours are from 9am to 4pm).
“Buluowan, meaning “echo of canyon”, used to be a tribal village of the Taroko aborigines. With its upper and the lower terrace, Buluowan serves as an important recreational area in Taroko Gorge. The lower portion houses the Tourist Center of Taroko National Park, providing information and multimedia demonstrations on the history and culture of the Truku tribe. The Taroko handicraft museum displays Taroko fabric, baskets, and other traditional crafts.”Round Taiwan Round (source)
Visiting Taroko Gorge and Taroko National Park doesn’t have to be complicated!
There are lots of ways to go about it, but you will really simplify your time there if you plan ahead.
If you have any leftover doubts or questions about what to do in Taroko, getting there, etc., please let me know in the comments below and I’ll get back to you!
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