Taroko Gorge is an amazing canyon formed by the river Liwu. The river Liwu cut its path into the marble and formed an incredibly narrow canyon since marble is very hard and resistant and difficult to be eroded. Taroko Gorge is one of the top sights in Taiwan and is a part of the Taroko National Park. We were lucky to be there offseason and during the week so sometimes we had the views to ourselves. In this travel blog, we give you some ideas what to visit in Taroko.
There are several must-see points in the Taroko Gorge. We researched them carefully and decided to visit three sights – more was not possible due to the timetable of the buses. We write about each of the sights in the following paragraphs.
Baiyang trail – an easy walk with fantastic views
There are several hiking opportunities in Taroko. We were on holidays and did not feel like walking much, so we decided for the Baiyang trail which is around 2 km long and offers fantastic views over the Taroko gorge. The walk is mostly flat, but sometimes you have to be careful because rocks are falling on the trail. (At the entrance of the National Park you can rent a helmet for free.) There were only a few tourists there, and we had the trail mostly for ourselves. The path goes along the river and ends with a waterfall. Unfortunately, a part of the trail was closed, and we could not walk through a waterfall curtain – one more reason to come back to Taiwan. At the beginning of the trail there are some shops and a 7/11 where you can have lunch – do not expect much, the food here was bland and sad (as opposed to all other places in Taiwan where the food was terrific!).
Swallow Grotto – where the canyon is the narrowest
The Swallow Grotto gets its romantic name by the swallows that live in the walls of the canyon. This is the place where the gorge is narrowest and you can almost jump to the other side. We walked along the gorge and then had a mango ice-cream with a view over the river. It was really beautiful! Allow at least one hour for a walk along the river.
The Eternal Spring Shrine – the memorial to the workers
The Eternal Spring Shrine is a very picturesque place at the beginning of the gorge. It was built as a memorial for the workers who died during the construction of the Central Cross-Island Highway. Honestly, we expected the shrine to be larger but it can be visited in 20 minutes.
You can travel through Taroko with the tourist shuttle bus which is a very convenient way to see all the scenic points in the gorge. The bus departs from the Hualien train station approximately every hour and stops at all the main sights. You can buy a one day ticket and stop several times. We suggest ending the trip as high up the valley as possible and then returning back to Hualien, otherwise, you have to stand the whole ride back. If you are not planning some hard-core hiking, it is possible to see Taroko in one day, even if you start and end your journey in Taipei.
If you plan to go there in season, you should start your visits early as the gorge is very popular with Chinese tour groups.