greenery of trees and mountains

Is Taroko Gorge in Taiwan Really Worth Visiting?

Before visiting Taroko Gorge, I had read many stories about it. Some people seemed to be completely in love with it, while others thought it was underwhelming. So, is it really worth visiting I wondered.

After visiting Taroko Gorge, I would say it’s definitely worth visiting. Especially for travelers who are into hiking, adventures and beautiful nature.

It’s safe to say that Taroko Gorge isn’t overrated. It’s home to the world’s largest marble canyon and its sights are incredible.

The blue colors of its rivers, the amount of marble, its ancient history, there are so many reasons to visit. In this article, we’ll dive into why you should visit Taroko and what places are worth exploring.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below may contain affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase.

Update April 2024: There has been an earthquake in Taiwan. The Taroko National Park has unfortunately been damaged due to this earthquake. It won’t be possible to visit Taroko Gorge at this time. Follow the recent news updates to know when it will reopen again. My heart goes out to Taiwan and its citizens.

Canyon with blue waters at Swallow Grotto Trail

Key takeaways

  • Taroko Gorge, located in Taiwan, is a natural masterpiece known for its largest marble canyon in the world. Its history connects deeply with the indigenous Truku tribe, adding cultural significance to its breathtaking scenery.
  • The gorge offers a variety of activities including hiking scenic trails and exploring historical sites. Here you can witness geological wonders along with crystal clear waters against marble rocks.
  • Without a doubt, Taroko Gorge is definitely worth visiting due to its magnificent nature.

Overview of Taroko Gorge

Located in the East of Taiwan, Taroko Gorge stands as a natural masterpiece, its history as captivating as its cliffs.

History and origin of the name

The name “Taroko” takes its meaning from an indigenous word that translates to “magnificent and splendid”. This description perfectly captures the inspiring beauty of Taroko Gorge.

The Truku tribe, whose ancestors settled in this breathtaking region, gave it this name. They were originally part of the Atayal people but formed their own identity in the rugged landscapes of Taroko Gorge.

This connection between the land and its traditions adds another layer to your visit. It’s not just about stunning views but also about understanding a bit of the history that has shaped this place.

Whether you’re exploring deep canyons or admiring marble cliffs, remember that you’re walking through an area with rich cultural roots dating back centuries.

sign about aborigine land

Geological features

Taroko Gorge is home to astonishing landscapes, carved over millions of years by the Liwu River. This river sliced through marble and limestone, creating a deep, narrow gorge that is majestic.

Its walls tell the story of its oceanic past when these rocks were deposited as calcareous sediments before Taiwan as we know it came into being.

As you explore, you’ll notice how the river continues to shape this stunning scenery. Here you’ll find towering marble cliffs, dramatic canyons and crystal-clear rivers.

The contrast between the lush greenery and the marble creates a beautiful spectacle that’s truly worth visiting.

river and boulders

Is Taroko Gorge Worth Visiting?

Exploring Taroko Gorge offers you an adventure through one of Taiwan’s most amazing landscapes. Its stunning natural beauty and unique geological features make it a must-visit destination. Especially if you’re a nature lover, you will absolutely love it.

Reasons to visit Taroko Gorge

Taroko Gorge truly stands out as one of Taiwan’s most stunning natural wonders. With its rich history, geological beauty and breathtaking views, it’s definitely worth visiting.

Here are some compelling reasons why you should add Taroko Gorge to your travel itinerary in Taiwan:

  • Discover over 200 million years of history: The gorge is not just filled with amazing views but is also a journey back in time. Its rocks and formations tell stories from millions of years ago, making it a fascinating visit for those interested in geology and natural history.
  • Learn about the culture of the Truku tribe. The indigenous Truku people have called this area home for centuries. Visiting Taroko offers you a chance to learn about their rich cultural heritage and traditions firsthand.
  • Explore scenic hiking trails. From beginners to experienced hikers, Taroko Gorge has trails for everyone. Each path offers its own unique view of the park’s stunning landscapes. From high mountain ridges to deep valleys filled with lush greenery.
  • Keep your eyes out for species of butterflies fluttering around or birds flying high above the canyons. The park’s diverse ecosystem is home to many creatures that enhance the magical ambiance of the gorge.
  • See crystal clear waters and marble rock faces. The Liwu River cuts through the gorge, creating surreal scenes with crystal clear waters flowing against marble walls. It’s a perfect spot for photography lovers or anyone looking to capture nature’s beauty.
river carving a way through the rocks
boulder surrounded by greenery and blue waters

Potential drawbacks

Exploring Taroko Gorge might require a bit more effort than you first expect. The gorge sits over five hours’ drive from Taipei, meaning you’ll need to set aside at least a day for travel alone.

Therefore, I don’t recommend exploring the area on a day trip. It’s way too beautiful to wander around its sights in a very hurried way.

Without access to private transportation or a motorbike, getting around the park becomes significantly harder. There are buses available, but this will be a lot less comfortable than having your own car or driver.

Always check whether the trail you’re interested in is open before heading out to avoid disappointment. Trails sometimes close without much notice due to weather conditions or safety concerns, which could disrupt your plans unexpectedly.

Also check in advance whether you need a hiking permit for the trails you want to explore.

sign at Shakadang Trail: watch out for your head

Personal recommendations

Spend at least a few days in the area. The East Coast of Taiwan is too magnificent to explore in just one day. If you don’t have your own car, hire a private driver for at least one day. In this way, you’ll be able to hike several trails and see several places in one day.

Personally, we hired a driver for 8 hours in total, which cost us around 80 USD in total. Often you can personalize the itinerary of the day, so you’ll be able to explore the sights you want to see the most. For example, in one day you could see around 4 to 5 places in the area.

My advice to you is the following: spend at least 3 days in the area + hire a driver or car.

If time is no limitation, you could easily spend a week in the East of Taiwan and not get bored at all. You’ll have lots of beautiful sights to explore.

Danae taking pictures of the gorge

How to get to Taroko Gorge?

Getting to Taroko Gorge from Taipei involves a few simple steps. The scenic beauty of this natural wonder makes the journey absolutely worth it.

  1. Catch a train from Taipei to Hualien. This route offers the quickest access and lets you enjoy scenic views along the way.
  2. Once in Hualien, if you want to make use of public transport, opt for the Tourist Shuttle Bus (Bus 1133A) direct to Taroko Gorge.
  3. Check out local rental services for scooters or cars if you seek flexibility in your travel plans. This allows you to explore Taroko at your own pace.
  4. For a comfortable journey with someone who knows the area, opt for a private driver for at least one day.
Bus at beginning of the trail

Where to stay near Taroko Gorge?

Thankfully, there are several great accommodations in the area.

I recommend staying here for at least 3 nights, so you have enough time to explore the nature and the trails. Here are some of the best places to stay nearby:

  • Crossing The Rainbow Bridge B&B: for a unique accommodation, this is definitely it. It feels very luxurious, yet it’s still very affordable. Besides, its location is super. In less than 10 minutes, you can drive to the Shakadang Trail. If you want to be surrounded by nature, then check out this place here.
  • Lakeshore Hotel Hualien Taroko: for a luxurious hotel with fantastic views and an incredible swimming pool, oft for this hotel. They have a free shuttle service available and they even have bikes you can rent for free. Check its latest prices and availability over here.
the blue waters during the trail

Things to do in Taroko National Park and its surroundings

Taroko Gorge stands out as one of Taiwan’s most stunning natural attractions. Here are some examples of the best things to do while you’re here:

Hike the Shakadang Trail

This trail offers an easy yet rewarding hike with its clear turquoise waters and dramatic cliffs. It’s known for being one of the best things to do in Taroko Gorge, making it an excellent starting point for your adventure. It takes around 3 hours, depending on your personal pace.

large boulders surrounded by blue waters
Scenery at Shakadang Trail

Explore Swallow Grotto

Carved by the Liwu River, this part of the gorge presents a striking view where swallows nest in the spring and summer. Walk through tunnels and witness the power of nature that has shaped these marble walls over millennia.

light blue waters during the Swallow Grotto Trail
River flowing at Swallow Grotto Trail

Trek Baiyang Waterfall Trail

This trek leads you to several waterfalls, including the impressive Baiyang Waterfall. The Baiyang Waterfall Trail is characterized by the number of tunnels. It takes around two hours for a return trip.

Visit Eternal Spring Shrine (Changchun Shrine)

It’s dedicated to those who lost their lives building the Central Cross-Island Highway. This shrine features a picturesque waterfall that seems to flow endlessly from beneath it, symbolizing eternal spring.

the Eternal Spring Shine: shrine with waterfall in the mountains
The Eternal Spring Shine

Hike Zhuilu Old Trail

If you’re up for a challenge, this historic trail offers breathtaking views from high elevations. It also offers a peek into history through remnants like old Japanese inscriptions and settlement ruins. At the time of writing, you’ll need a hiking permit for this trail.

Witness Qingshui Cliffs

Drive or take a bus along the coast to see where the mountains meet the Pacific Ocean. The dramatic drop from cliff to sea is breathtaking and provides some of the most spectacular views in Taiwan.

Danae in front of Qingshui Cliff views
The color of the water is mesmerizing

Admire the Tunnel of Nine Turns

If you want to see a few small waterfalls cascading into the river, then explore the Tunnel of Nine Turns. The trail is short, so you can easily combine it with other sights in the area.

small waterfall
Waterfall at the Tunnel of Nine Turns

Stand on the Buluowan Suspension Bridge

For some awesome mountain views, head over to the Buluowan Suspension Bridge. It’s very accessible and only a 5-minute walk from the parking lot. You can easily add this to your Taroko itinerary.

Danae watching the mountain views from the Buluowan Suspension Bridge
Views from the suspension bridge

In conclusion

Taroko Gorge is absolutely worth visiting and should be added to your Taiwan itinerary. Its marble canyons and crystal-clear waters are incredibly impressive.

For adventurous travelers who love nature, this destination is a must-see in Taiwan. So pack your bags and set off to explore these surreal surroundings.

Away with Danae

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One Comment

  1. Your posts always make me feel like I’m not alone in my struggles and insecurities Thank you for sharing your own experiences and making me feel understood

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