Taroko Gorge is one of, if not the number one tourist attraction in Taiwan. Situated just outside the city of Hualien on the country’s east coast, the 19 kilometre long canyon is home to many stunning views, various hiking trails and – if Google images are to be believed – bright blue water.
Our trip to the Gorge was a little different though. Here are three ways you can avoid an underwhelming trip to the undoubtedly beautiful Taroko National Park. Trust me, I’m speaking from experience here!
Do your research
As I repeatedly say, I genuinely believe that the best plan is usually no plan. It’s served me well over the years, but there are some exceptions where a bit of forward planning is required. Taroko Gorge is one of those times.
Our research of the Gorge stretched to a quick scan of the map on the bus. There wasn’t much information aside from the names of the routes and the time they would take so we settled on the Shakadang Trail which, according to the map, should have taken a couple of hours to navigate.
Unfortunately, what the map didn’t tell us was that due to typhoon damage, the latter part of the trail was too unsafe for hiking and has been closed off since 2013! Our ‘hike’ came to a very abrupt end after about 40 minutes of walking and we set off back.
Not to worry though, The Eternal Spring Shrine was just a quick walk away and the pictures of that looked pretty good. Plan B was sounding rather foolproof right now.
That was until – you guessed it – we found out that this trail was closed off too! That 2013 typhoon must have been a bloody big one.
After a few picture opportunities and admiring the shrine from a distance, we found ourselves at a bit of a loose end and, although I don’t think either of us wanted to admit it, a bit fed up! In the end we decided to head back to the visitor centre at the entrance of the park and try and piece together a plan.
In the end though, we just settled for a coffee and waited for the bus back to Hualien! Speaking of which…
Don’t rely on the buses
This may not be too much of an issue for anyone who isn’t an impatient arsehole like me, but the buses are fairly irregular and usually packed to the rafters. We took the 10.20am bus out of Hualien and there were a number of people standing in the aisles – not ideal on the winding roads!
The buses depart around once an hour both in to and out of the park. A return ticket costs $250NT, so it’s a pretty reasonably priced option. However I can’t help thinking splashing out for a scooter (if you can get one, unlike our Kenting adventure!) or even a taxi and a driver would be a much better option. You might even end up seeing a decent part of the park if you do this!
Don’t do this the night before
The main reason we left late in the morning, didn’t have the clearest of heads and in all likelihood, probably couldn’t be arsed with the hassle of finding a decent trail is because we were drinking in All Star Bar in Hualien until 2am in the morning.
If you listen carefully to the video, at 15 seconds in you can hear our new friend saying to Sam how good a singer I am.
So we may have had an underwhelming day at Taroko Gorge, but I got complimented on my karaoke skills. Swings and roundabouts, I guess.