How to get to Taroko Gorge from Taipei & Hualien

A magnificent marble gorge carved by the turquoise river stream, plunging canyons in varying shades of gray, and soaring cliff with luscious forest. Featuring this dramatic scenery and pristine nature, Taroko Gorge trails are the most beautiful and desirable hiking destination in Taiwan.

Taroko National Park near Hualien, Taiwan, has more than 30 hiking trails. Some are mountaineering trails that require permits and training. But others are family-friendly and easy for leisurely day hikers. 

This article features the best Taroko Gorge hikes for beginners. It explains how to get to Taroko Gorge from Taipei and Hualien and the best lodging in and near Taroko Gorge.

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9 Best Taroko Gorge Trails for Beginners | Taroko National Park in Taiwan | #TarokoNationalPark #TarokoGorge #HikingTravel #TravelTaiwan

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Taroko National Park

Taroko Gorge is believed to begin forming four million years ago when the Eurasian and Philippines Sea tectonic plates started to push each other. As a result, the deposition of limestone underneath the water from tens of million years ago had been pushed up. The intense heat generated by the plate movements pressured and molded limestone into marble. The Liwu River streams and etches a narrow path in the middle, creating the marble gorge we see today.

Back in the day, more than 70 Taroko (Truku) communities – one of 16 recognized aboriginal tribes in Taiwan – resided in the mountain. When the Japanese came to the country, the Truku resisted and fought against the colonial Japanese in the 1914 Turuku War. They lost and sadly got kicked out of their habitat. 

The Empire of Japan first designated the area as the Tsugitaka-Taroko National Park in 1937. After the Japanese left Taiwan in 1945, Taroko was forgotten in the political turmoil. It was not until much later in 1986, Taroko National Park was re-established by the Taiwan government.

How to go to Taroko Gorge from Taipei

1. Hualien from Taipei

Taipei to Hualien by Flight

The Uni Air flight from Songshan Airport to Hualien takes about 50 minutes and costs about $NT900. It is the easiest and fastest way to get there. Book your Taipei to Hualien flight here. 

Day Trip to Taroko Gorge from Taipei

>>  Pssst. Do you have only one day to experience Taroko Gorge? Take this Hualien & Taroko Day Tour with a roundtrip flight from Taipei to maximize your precious time to hike Taroko trails and marvel at the pristine nature.

Taipei to Hualien by Train

The train is the most popular (and scenic) way to get to Taroko from Taipei. The express trains (Taroko Express or Puyoma) take 2 1/4 hours and cost $440NT (one-way). The regular trains can take 3-4 hours but slightly cheaper, around $280 – 340NT (one-way). On weekends or holidays, they can be quickly sold out. 

Book your tickets here (English) or use this app (Chines only).  

Note: You may also take Puyoma Express or regular trains to Xincheng Station, closer to Taroko National Park than Hualien Station.

Taipei to Hualien by Car

The road from Taipei to Hualien is not the easiest route to drive but can be a scenic journey. To fully enjoy this scenery, I recommend hiring a private car charter service. But if you prefer to go on your own, rent a car from Taipei. 

Taipei to Hualien by Bus

Taking a bus would not be my first choice because this journey requires a transfer in Yilan. However, when flight or train tickets are booked, it can be an alternative. Take 1570A Holiday Express to Luodong (Yilan) from Taipei City Hall Bus Station, then transfer to 201A to Hualien Station.

Book your tickets here or here. If you can’t read Chinese, your best bet is to visit Taipei City Hall Bus Station in person.

2. Hualien to Taroko Gorge

Once you are in Hualien, rent a car or scooter (e-scooter) from Hualien Station to get around. 

If you are not comfortable driving on winding mountain roads, I recommend hiring an experienced driver (private charter). These drivers know exactly where to take you. And you don’t have to worry about parking, which can be a hassle in the park!

You may use public buses (schedule here). Use EasyCard (you can use this card for public transportations all over Taiwan) or prepare exact changes. I am hesitant to recommend using public buses, though. Based on personal experience, they are scarce and unreliable.

Hualien Taroko Gorge Tours

>> Hop on a Private Charter Car Tour of Taroko Gorge from Hualien. Pick your own spots chauffeured by an experienced driver or have him/her take you to the uncrowded hidden sites.

>> Join this Taroko Gorge Day Trip from Hualien Train Station. Get awed by the incredible marble gorge from the Swallow Grotto (#3 below), Cimu Bridge (#8), and Eternal Sunshine Shrine (#6). Swing by the Qixingtan pebble beach.

>> Select one of two Taroko Day Trip itineraries to discover the beauty of Taroko National Park.

Best time to Visit Taroko Gorge

You can visit the park any time of the year. But the trails will be closed if there is a typhoon, earthquake, or any natural disaster. 

It is worth noting that Taroko National Park in Hualien locates slightly above the Topic of Tropical Cancer mark. What that means is that the area frequently rains even if no typhoon. On rainy days, the trails are still open. But be aware of the slippery ground and proceed with extra caution.

Earthquakes also hit the region frequently. I mean, think about how this marble gorge was created in the first place. That unstable geographical landscape also causes earthquakes! 

After living in Taiwan for five years, I got used to receiving earthquake alerts on my phone. More often than not, it usually comes from Hualien or Yilan. One time, I barely escaped an earthquake in Hualien. I received an earthquake alarm and felt my bed in Taipei shaking after I came back from Hualien only three hours ago.  

Taroko Gorge Map

As you can see from this Sun Moon Lake Map, you can make one big circle around the lake. I will list things to do in Sun Moon Lake in the clockwise direction, starting from Shuishe.

Taroko Gorge Hikes

9 Best Taroko Gorge Trails for Beginners | Taroko National Park in Taiwan | #TarokoNationalPark #TarokoGorge #HikingTravel #TravelTaiwan

You can rent a helmet for free here to protect you from falling rocks. Don’t forget to return it after use. 

Important: After a typhoon or earthquake, the land can change considerably. Taroko Gorge trails are often closed. Check the latest road and trail conditions here before you head out. 

9 Best Taroko Gorge Trails for Beginners (Taroko National Park in Taiwan) | 1. East Arch Gate | #TarokoNationalPark #TarokoGorge #HikingTravel #TravelTaiwan

#1. East Entrance Arch Gate

Duration: 15 min.

Level: Easy 

Admission: N/A

Permit: N/A

Location: [Open Google Map] 

Taroko National Park East Entrance Arch Gate (太魯閣峽谷馬拉松活動) is a Chinese-style gate structure at the entrance to the park. While technically not a hiking trail, it is a great photo spot to stop by before going into the park. 

The surrounding area exhibits the verdant leafy terrains and Liwu River stream. Across the road from the Arch Gate, you will find a line of food stalls and souvenir shops.  

9 Best Taroko Gorge Trails for Beginners (Taroko National Park in Taiwan) | 2. Zhuilu Old Trail | #ZhuiluOldTrail #TarokoNationalPark #TarokoGorge #HikingTravel #TravelTaiwan

#2. Zhuilu Old Trail 

Length: 6.2km roundtrip

Altitude: 1,100m

Duration: 4-6 hours

Level: Intermediate (Mountaineering Trail)

Admission: NT$200 (NT$100 for age 6-12)

Permit: Park permit is required.

Location: Trail entrance near Swallow Grotto [Open Google Map]

If you must choose one hiking course, let it be Zhuilu Old Trail (錐麓古道), also known as Zhuilu Old Road. The narrow path carved above the canyon cliffs offers the best marble gorge view in Taroko and an unparalleled (and thrilling) hiking experience you will never forget.

I highly recommend this hike if you are physically capable. Although this is the only non-beginner trail in this posting, I don’t think you need any training. Maybe just need extra preparation and hiking time. 

9 Best Taroko Gorge Trails for Beginners (Taroko National Park in Taiwan) | 3. Swallow Grotto Trail (Yanzikou) | #SwallowGrotto #TarokoNationalPark #TarokoGorge #HikingTravel #TravelTaiwan

#3. Swallow Grotto Trail (Yanzikou Trail)

Length: 1.37km (0.83 mile)

Duration: 30 min.

Level: Beginner (Scenic Trail)

Admission: N/A

Permit: N/A

Location: [Open Google Map]

Swallow Grotto Trail (燕子口步道) is Taroko Gorge’s most iconic site. This picturesque walking trail features a turquoise blue river flowing through the stiff marble gorge in varying shades of gray. The cliffs are home to a colony of swallows, hence the name. You can still see fluttering swallows in a ravine foraging for food and return to their nests inside the potholes on the marble wall.

Located right off the Taroko’s main road, the trail is easily accessible and well-paved. Wearing a helmet is advised to avoid injuries from frequent rockfalls.

9 Best Taroko Gorge Trails for Beginners (Taroko National Park in Taiwan) | 4. Shakadang Trail | #ShakadangTrail #TarokoNationalPark #TarokoGorge #HikingTravel #TravelTaiwan

Image Credit: Taroko National Park

#4. Shakadang Trail

Length: 8.8km (5.3 miles) roundtrip

Duration: 3-4 hours

Level: Beginner (Scenic Trail)

Admission: N/A

Permit: N/A (The trail beyond 3D Cabin requires an entry permit.)

Location: [Open Google Map] 

Shakadang Trail (砂卡礑步道) is located near the park entrance. This easy, scenic trail takes you along the lowest tributary of the Liwu River. Hikers can observe exotic butterflies and birds native to the area. 

Although the fresh turquoise blue river would be tempting, swimming, camping, campfires, or river tracing is prohibited due to the unstable riverside. Hikers are asked to stay on the trail at all times. Please turn around at the 3D Cabin as you will need an entry permit to go beyond into the nature wildness areas.

Unfortunately, the entire Shakadang trail was temporarily closed during my visit. Once the railing renewal projects complete, I hope to return! 

9 Best Taroko Gorge Trails for Beginners (Taroko National Park in Taiwan) | 5. Baiyang Water Trail | #BaiyangTrail #TarokoNationalPark #TarokoGorge #HikingTravel #TravelTaiwan

Baiyang Trail is famous for its water curtain cave at the end. Bring a flashlight, raincoat, and water shoes.

#5. Baiyang Trail & Baiyang Waterfall

9 Best Taroko Gorge Trails for Beginners (Taroko National Park in Taiwan) | 5. Baiyang Water Trail | #BaiyangTrail #TarokoNationalPark #TarokoGorge #HikingTravel #TravelTaiwan

Length: 4km (2.4 miles) roundtrip

Duration: 1.5-2 hours

Level: Beginner (Scenic Trail)

Admission: N/A

Permit: N/A

Location: [Open Google Map] 

Baiyang Trail (白楊步道水㾾洞) is a unique scenic trail through a tunnel carved into the cliff. A pleasant walk passing through a series of tunnels, open-air paths, and a suspension bridge brings you to the water curtain cave.

Baiyang Waterfall at the end of the trail is the highlight of this journey. The cave exhibits stunning geological characteristics of the marble gorge.

Baiyang Trail is a fun and easy hiking experience. The path is well-maintained and family-friendly. But make sure to bring a flashlight (like this) as the inside of the tunnels is peach dark and slippery. I also highly recommend wearing non-slip water shoes (this affordable Speedo is the best investment ever!) for hiking and exploring inside the water cave. And you will want to wear a full-cover raincoat (like this); you will get completely soaked from head to toe!  

9 Best Taroko Gorge Trails for Beginners (Taroko National Park in Taiwan) | 6. Eternal Spring Shrine Trail (Changchun) | #EternalSpringShrine #TarokoNationalPark #TarokoGorge #HikingTravel #TravelTaiwan

#6. Eternal Spring Shrine Trail (Changchun Trail)

Length: 2.7km (1.9 miles)

Duration: 1 hour

Level: Beginner (Hiking Trail)

Admission: N/A

Permit: N/A (The trail beyond 3D Cabin requires an entry permit.)

Location: [Open Google Map] 

The labor-intensive, manual construction process was required to build the road inside the Taroko National Park. In the xx-year process, many people lost their lives. After the construction was finally over, the Eternal Shrine (長春祠) was built to remember their sacrifice.

The shrine is tucked in the marble gorge. And the waterfall flows right below the shrine. It is quite a sight to see—no wonder why it is one of the most popular sites in the Taroko National Park.

While you can enjoy the picturesque shrine from afar, you can also hike behind the shrine to the Changing Temple. While you have to climb steep stairs, it’s only a 2km path with amazing scenery.

9 Best Taroko Gorge Trails for Beginners (Taroko National Park in Taiwan) | 7. Tunnel of Nine Turns Trail (Jiuqudong) | #TunnelofNineTurns #TarokoNationalPark #TarokoGorge #HikingTravel #TravelTaiwan

#7. Tunnel of Nine Turns Trail (Jiuqudong Trail)

Length: 1.9km (1.2 mile)

Duration: 30 min. – 1 hour

Level: Beginner (Hiking Trail)

Admission: N/A

Permit: N/A

Location: [Open Google Map] 

Tunnel fo Nine Turns Trail (九曲洞隧道) is an easy, pedestrian walkway carved through the cliff. It features magnificent scenery of the marble mountains and the pristine nature of fresh river streams through marble boulders.

It is one of the most famous scenic sites in Taroko National Park. This super-easy hike is suitable for all ages and athletic levels. At the newly renovated site, parking spots and bathrooms are also available. 

9 Best Taroko Gorge Trails for Beginners (Taroko National Park in Taiwan) | 8. Cimu Bridge & Cimuting | #TarokoNationalPark #TarokoGorge #HikingTravel #TravelTaiwan

#8. Cimu Bridge & Cimuting

Length: 200m?

Duration: 15 min.

Level: Beginner (Scenic Trail)

Admission: N/A

Permit: N/A

Location: [Open Google Map]

Cimu Bridge (慈母橋) is a scenic spot for an easy-breezy walking – not really a hike – that all skill levels can visit. The bright red bridge nicely contrasts the lush green backdrop, making this a popular photo stop for Instagram enthusiasts. Walk along the bridge, and you will get to a pavilion (Cimuting) in a blink of an eye. Enjoy this short stroll by the lush hillside with river views!

9 Best Taroko Gorge Trails for Beginners (Taroko National Park in Taiwan) | 9. Xiangde Temple Trail | #TarokoNationalPark #TarokoGorge #HikingTravel #TravelTaiwan

#9. Xiangde Temple Trail

Length: 1.2km (0.8mile)

Duration: 15 min.

Level: Beginner (Scenic Trail)

Admission: N/A

Permit: N/A

Location: [Open Google Map]

If you stay overnight inside the Taroko National Park, Xiangde Temple is an excellent destination for a peaceful morning walk. This antique temple bell tower is uncrowded and even appropriate for some self-meditation. 

The temple sits on top of the hill with the tallest Bodhisattva in Taiwan visible from Xianxiang Recreation Area, or nearby Silks Place Taroko hotel. You will need to cross a bridge and climb up some stairs. But who doesn’t mind getting some fresh morning air from the mountain? 

Also, try Buddhist vegetarian food at a small cafe here.

READ MORE | Don’t leave Taiwan without tasting its famous pineapple cakes! Find the best pineapple cakes in Taiwan >> 

Taroko Gorge Hotels

Hotels in Taroko Gorge

If you plan on Taroko Gorge hikes, I highly recommend staying overnight inside the park. You can save so much time driving in and out of the park. And you can go back to your hotel to recharge between hiking as well. 

Silks Place Taroko

Silks Place Taroko [Book here: Booking, Agoda] the only five-star resort inside the Taroko National Park. This elegant hotel offers Taroko Gorge views from rooms, many dining options, indoor and outdoor pools, a yoga studio, and a spa. Shuttle service is provided from/to Hualien Airport, train station, and all major attractions in Taroko National Park. 

I enjoyed my stay at Silks Place Taroko so much that I almost did not want to leave the property. The hotel offers diverse tour programs and activities (e.g., DIY soap-making class) to entertain guests of all ages throughout the day. I joined the Baiyang Waterfall Trail tour ($100NT). They went above and beyond a mere shuttle service, providing much-needed flashlights, raincoats, and a bottle of water with a strap (for easy carrying). 

Hotels near Taroko Gorge: Silks Place Taroko | #SilksPlaceTaroko #TarokoNationalPark #TarokoGorge #HikingTravel #TravelTaiwan

Hotel guests gather around a campfire to watch Taiwan Indigenous Music Performance.

What can you do after the sunset in the middle of the mountain? Silks Place Taroko hosts complimentary on-site entertainment programs daily. Guests are invited to gather around a campfire on the rooftop and listen to an engaging Taiwanese indigenous music performance. (It was so much fun!) Night owls can enjoy daily family-friendly outdoor cinema by the pool. Couples seeking a romantic night out can head to the Retreat Lounge for beverages and snacks. 

Silks Place Taroko is very popular with locals and often sells out. I recommend booking as soon as you know your dates. Check the latest rates here.  

Taroko Village Hotel

Taroko Village Hotel [Book here: Booking, Agoda]  is another lodging and recreational center in the park near Buluowan Service Center. Buluowan is the name of the original Truku settlement; the most staff here are Truku. Enjoy the song-and-dance performance in the evening!

Tienhsiang Youth Activity Center 

Tienhsiang Youth Activity Center [Book here: Agoda] is a budget-friendly lodging near Tianxiang Recreation Area. It has rooms ranging from twin beds to VIP suites for up to 220 guests, a restaurant, and a coffee shop.

Heliu Camping Site

If you are keen on outdoor camping, you may go to Heliu Campground [Location: Open Google Map] near Lushui Trail (綠水合流步道). Basic facilities such as wooden platforms, toilets, cold showers, and tap water are provided. It is first-come, first-serve at $300NT per person. Bring all your camping equipment, including a tent.

Lushui Campground [Location: Open Google Map] is a free campsite with lighting and water. It is much smaller than Heliu Campground, with only one wooden platform. You also need to walk out of the site to use a restroom.

Hotels near Taroko Gorge

Taroko Liiko Hotel

Taroko Liiko Hotel [Book here: Booking, Agoda] is s a sophisticated yet cozy hotel in Xincheng. Its proximity to the park entrance makes it an excellent choice for Taroko visitors. I dined in at its Sunrise Restaurant and loved its mountain vegetable dishes. 

Lakeshore Hotel Hualien Taroko 

Lakeshore Hotel Hualien Taroko [Book here: Booking, Agoda] is another excellent hotel near Taroko featuring mountain and ocean views. While the property is not on the beach, the elegant rooms face the Pacific Ocean and boast an unobstructed sea view. Bring your swimsuit to dip in the rooftop pool surrounded by mountains.  

Taroko Yan Hai Bo Villa

Hotels near Taroko Gorge: Taroko Yan Hai Bo Villa | #TarokoHotels #TarokoNationalPark #TarokoGorge #HikingTravel #TravelTaiwan

Taroko Yan Hai Bo Villa [Book here: Booking, Agoda] is a small property tucked in the small town of Xincheng. I enjoyed my stay at this family-owned property that only has three independent villas and a pond. Each second-story villa has a sizable bedroom, living room, bathroom, fenced lawn, and small private swimming pool. 

Hualien Hotels 

If you prefer to stay in Hualien City, consider a few of my picks: Kadda Hotel, HotelDay+Hualien, and Rose Garden. For more details, read Where to Stay in Hualien >> 

<Where to Go Next in Taiwan for Nature Lovers>

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>> Juming Museum: A mountaintop sculpture park with the famed Juming’s artworks

>> Wulai Hot Springs: A secluded aboriginal village tucked in a mountain famous for hot spring

>> Beitou Hot Springs: An urban retreat only a stone’s throw away from Taipei

Bon Voyage!

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9 Best Taroko Gorge Trails for Beginners | Taroko National Park in Taiwan | #TarokoNationalPark #TarokoGorge #HikingTravel #TravelTaiwan

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