waterfall surrounded by greenery

Guide to The Tunnel Of Nine Turns (Jiuqudong) 太魯閣國家公園

The Tunnel of Nine Turns (Jiuqudong) is a gem within Taroko National Park.

The Liwu River shapes its surrounding landscape, with grand marble cliffs rising sharply beside it. Small waterfalls cascade down the gorge’s sides, creating beautiful natural scenes.

This article will tell you more about its history and geology, how to get here and the best time to visit.

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.

partner of Danae looking at mountain views

Key takeaways

  • The Tunnel of Nine Turns offers a unique adventure within Taroko National Park, featuring stunning views along its 700-meter path. You’ll see small waterfalls, the Liwu River and towering marble cliffs.
  • Walking through the tunnel immerses you in breathtaking scenery and geological wonders, such as the “Fish Leaping over the Dragon’s Gate” rock formation.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and bring some water. The trail takes around 30 minutes back and forth.
  • Visiting during weekdays or early mornings can offer a more tranquil experience. This allows better appreciation of the natural beauty without crowds.

Overview of the Tunnel of Nine Turns

Dive into the heart of Taroko National Park as you explore the Tunnel of Nine Turns. Its winding paths offer breathtaking views and a mystical journey through Taiwan’s natural beauty.

Length and location

The Tunnel of Nine Turns stretches over a distance of 700 meters, providing a unique and manageable adventure for visitors. You’ll find this short trail located between the Lüshui area and Swallow Grotto within the expanse of Taroko National Park.

Its single entrance and exit point lies on its western end, ensuring a straightforward path.

partner of Danae looking at views

If you want to get here by public transport: from Hualien Station, take bus 310 (TaiwanTrip), 310A and 1133 bound for Tianxiang, or Lishan-1141 (served one bus daily), and get off at Tunnel of Nine Turns (Jiuqudong). This is a convenient site to check the bus schedules.

Personally, I recommend hiring a driver for the day. This allows you a lot of flexibility, at your own pace. We booked a driver for 8 hours, which cost us around 80 USD in total. You’ll be able to see around 4-5 sights in one day.

If you’re coming here with your own car, it’s good to know that there’s no parking lot available except for scooters parking. The trailhead is for dropping off and picking up only.

Danae on the trail with a background of mountains

Impressive views of Liwu River

As you walk along the Tunnel of Nine Turns, you’ll find yourself gazing down at the Liwu River. This river carves its way through a gorge, creating breathtaking views.

river carving a way through the rocks

My favorite part of the short trail was admiring the small waterfalls. They were really beautiful and almost looked surreal.

One of these small waterfalls is called “Fish Leaping over the Dragon’s Gate (Yuyao Longmen)”. The stream of water continually erodes the marble walls of the gorge, creating a curved and narrow ravine.

The huge marble on one side of the ravine resembles a big fish leaping over the stream, that’s why it’s called “Fish Leaping over the Dragon’s Gate”. 

Waterfall in between rocks
small waterfall
One of the waterfalls you’ll see during the trail

Also keep your eyes open for poems inscribed in the rocks. One of them is a quatrain by Mt. Liang Hanchao called “Coiled Dragon the Nine Turns”. You’ll find it in between the two tunnels.

Poem at Tunnel of Nine Turns
One of the poems

Tips for visiting the Tunnel of Nine Turns

When you plan your journey to the Tunnel of Nine Turns, remember to wear comfortable shoes. Pack light but don’t forget water and a camera to capture nature’s impressive beauty along the way.

waterfall between rocks

The best time to visit to escape the crowds

To escape the crowds, consider visiting during off-peak times. Weekdays or early mornings are your best bet for a more peaceful exploration.

Read about its history and geology

Your visit will be a lot more interesting if you have a bit of background knowledge of this fascinating, yet short trail.

Before the opening of the Tunnel of Nine Turns in 1996, it was part of the Central Cross-Island Highway (Provincial Highway 8). This part of the Old Highway was subsequently converted to a trail.

You can still see traces of the Old Highway, particularly in the central part of the trail where the original stone tunnel that cuts through the mountain remains. You can clearly see the manual effort it took to pick out the hard marble here.

information board about the Tunnel of Nine Turns

Additionally, during the Japanese Occupation of Taiwan (1895 – 1945), roads for gold mining were built along the outer walls of the trail. These narrow paths can still be seen today.

At the trail entrance, you’ll notice plenty of faults – cracks in the rocks reaching up the mountain walls. These faults are typically caused by the movements of tectonic plates beneath the Earth’s surface, known as orogenic movement.

Because the eastern coast of Taiwan experiences frequent seismic activity, faults are quite common and easily visible within Taroko National Park.

river view with boulders

More places worth exploring

East Taiwan is so beautiful, it would be a shame to not visit more incredible places in the area. The impressive nature here is what makes Taroko Gorge truly worth visiting.

There are so many sights worth seeing here. However, to keep things simple, I’ll list some of the best places to visit nearby:

Swallow Grotto Trail

The Swallow Grotto Trail is not that long (around 30 minutes) and is a very doable trail in the Taroko National Park. Besides, it has some very impressive views.

It’s great for nature lovers and can easily be combined with a visit to the Tunnel of Nine Turns, as it’s not too far away.

man admiring gorge

Shakadang Trail

If you’re visiting Taroko National Park, don’t miss the popular Shakadang Trail. The trail takes a little longer, but it’s also not too long. It takes around 3 hours, depending on your own pace and how often you would like to stop.

The colors of the water on this trail are absolutely beautiful. If you like to be surrounded by nature and you don’t want to hike for more than 4 hours, then this trail is excellent for you.

Danae admiring the views on the trail

Qingshui Cliff

I’m sure you’ll won’t forget the views at Qingshui Cliff. Definitely visit the viewpoint here. It’s not a trail, but it’s a sight where the ocean meets the mountains. The color of the ocean doesn’t look real and pictures don’t really do it justice.

During a day trip, you can combine several sights such as Qingshui Cliff, Shakadang Trail, Swallow Grotto Trail and the Tunnel of Nine Turns. If you have time left, you can also admire the views from the Buluowan Suspension Bridge.

blue waters meet green mountains at Qingshui Cliff

In conclusion

Explore the Tunnel of Nine Turns to see small waterfalls cascade into the river. It’s definitely worth visiting and doesn’t take too long: only 30 minutes back and forth.

This journey promises breathtaking views within Taroko National Park. Take the time to admire the surroundings and make sure to discover more lovely places nearby.

Away with Danae

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