The 10 Best Trails In Taroko Gorge National Park

Taroko Gorge National Park

One of the most scenic and naturally beautiful areas in Taiwan, Taroko Gorge is home to some of the most stunning locations on the island. With the worlds largest marble canyon and a rich history and culture, Taroko Gorge has become a must see region for travelers looking to get away from the urban centers while in Taiwan. Here are 10 of our favorite trails and scenic walks when visiting the Gorge. Most these and more are visited in the top rated Better Taroko Gorge Tour.

For more information, be sure to download our 2019 Hualien Visitors Guide. We hope you enjoy!

Hualien Hotel Guide

The Best Neighborhoods & Where To Stay In Hualien

Hualien Street Layout

Squeezed between the mountains and the sea, most of Hualien follows a rough grid pattern with primary roads going East-West and North-South. Zhongshan Road bisects the city from east to west and is the primary road to know in Hualien. Most things of importance are within 3-4 blocks of Zhongshan Road and there are always taxis driving up and down this wide road. Don’t know which way to go on Zhongshan? If you see giant green mountains in front of you, you are walking West! It’s that easy.

We believe these are the three best neighborhoods in which to stay in Hualien. Beibin, Downtown, Train Station. Each are good for different reasons as we will outline below.

The Best Things To Do In Hualien

Our Favorite Hualien Attractions

Basecamp Hualien City

One of the most scenic and naturally beautiful areas in Taiwan, Hualien County sits like a green jewel nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the grandiose Central Mountain Range. Home to some of the most stunning locations in Taiwan with a rich, unique combination of traditional cultures, Hualien has become a must visit region for travelers looking to get away from the urban centers while in Taiwan.

From dramatic marble gorges and towering green mountains, to idyllic sandy beaches and turquoise waterfalls and swimming holes, there are countless Hualien attractions worth exploring. It’s sure to take your breath away… likely more than once. Searching for what to do in Hualien? Here are the best things to do in Hualien, Taiwan.

The 5 Best Hualien Beach Spots!

Your Hualien Beach Guide

From the mountains to the sea, Hualien is a spectacularly beautiful region with plenty to explore. Looking for a place to gaze out at the ocean or maybe take a dip? Here are the 5 best Hualien Beaches!

20 Delicious Hualien Restaurants

Your Hualien Food Guide

Updated: February 26, 2020

A Taste Of Hualien

It’s difficult coming to a new city and not knowing where to get a good bite to eat. Guide books can be outdated, and review sites can be rigged. So here at Island Life, we’ve made a great list of all of our favorite restaurants from our time living here in Hualien. International Cuisine and Local Taiwanese Favorites. You can find it below! All of this and SO MUCH more can be found in our 2019 Hualien Visitors Guide. We hope you enjoy!

Ten Tips When Visiting Taroko Gorge National Park

1. Go Early

Taroko Park tour in Taroko Gorge National Park

By 10am, most of the walking paths throughout Taroko Gorge National Park begin to fill with large tour groups. Many of their guides even bring megaphones to yell information to their groups. So when trying to enjoy the serene grandiosity of Taroko and the sounds of nature, this can be quite distracting. Also, who likes having to wait in line to get to that perfect photo location and then having twenty people in your shot! For these and many other reasons we suggest getting to Taroko as early as possible.

One great option is hitching a ride with Island Life Taiwan Adventures & Experiences who offer a fun filled, and affordable, Taroko Gorge Tour that leaves Hualien at 7:30am making their guests among the first few people in the park. Thus having many trails all to themselves to start the day and having a much better chance of seeing wildlife in the park.

2. Bring an Umbrella

Taroko Park tour in Taroko Gorge National Park

Some days the sun can be blindingly hot… other days a cloud can roll through the gorge and dump rain unexpectedly. Having a small umbrella with you can protect against both! Like our parents always said, it’s better to have and not need, than need and not have!

3. Avoid the Large Tour Busses

Taroko Park tour in Taroko Gorge National Park

While the low prices of the large tour busses visiting Taroko Gorge each day can make them tempting, take a look at what you’re actually getting for the money. Most of the busses don’t have an English speaking guide to explain anything. They typically all use the same route at the same times so you can expect 2-10 other bus loads of people to be at any place you are at the same time. That can mean 200 people at the same viewing area as you. They only give you a few minutes of time at each stop, and only visit a tiny percentage of the numerous wonderful places in the park.

And worst of all, on an 8 hour Taroko Gorge National Park tour, expect to spend only a few hours in the park and the rest at high pressure gift shops off the highway. The reason they can charge so little is because they receive commissions from the gift shops they visit. We highly recommend small group tours, private tours or if you’re feeling spunky, DIY!

4. Try an Aboriginal Sausage at the End of Shakadang Trail

Taroko Park tour in Taroko Gorge National Park

Yes, you’ve probably already tasted a Taiwan sausage on a stick by the time you visit Taroko Gorge National Park, but not like these! The old Truku man who sells them, claims they’re the best in Taiwan, and while we can’t go that far, they certainly are up there. Made with black peppercorns grown in the park, they are unlike any others in Taiwan. Near the 1.5 km mark on the Shakadang Trail you’ll find several aboriginal stands selling their wares. You can’t miss the sausage man!

5. Don’t Plan on Walking Between Trailheads & Viewpoints

Taroko Park tour in Taroko Gorge National Park

While some guidebooks foolishly suggest that you could walk completely through Taroko, we highly advise against it. The distance from trail head to trail head can often be 5-10 kilometers on winding narrow roads with NO shoulder. Add to that, speeding tour buses, tunnels with no lights and you have a recipe for a terrifying and LONG walk.

6. Book a Zhuilu Old Trail Tour

Taroko gorge trails in Taroko Park, Zhuilu Old Trail tour

Do you like heights?! Do you like the idea of walking on a 90cm wide trail carved into the side of a cliff, 700 METERS above the canyon floor?! Did we mention, no ropes or guardrails? Welcome to the Zhuliu Old Trail. An old Truku tribe hunting path, widened slightly by the Japanese military during their occupation of Taiwan, this trail is a once in a lifetime experience for the daring amongst us. Book ahead as only a few permits are issued each day. See Taroko from an entirely new perspective.

7. If You Decide to DIY, Check for Trail Closures

Taroko Park tour in Taroko Gorge National Park

Taiwan is Typhoon country and the mountains throughout Hualien County are notorious for landslides during big storms. Taroko Gorge is no different and several trails are closed every month for maintenance. If you decide to DIY it, be sure to check for the latest trail closures. The Taroko Park Service website has reasonably updated information here, though it’s best to consult with a ranger at the visitor center to confirm or use a tour company that will take you to the best places currently available.

8. Spotting Wildlife

Taroko Park tour in Taroko Gorge National Park

There are over 300 kinds of butterflies in Taroko Gorge National Park, 150 kinds of birds, 46 large mammals including the Formosan Black Bear, the Formosan Macaque (Grey Rock Monkey) and the Sambar Deer, and countless lizards, snakes, insects and other wildlife in the park. As suggested before, the best time to see wildlife is early in the morning before throngs of tourists enter the park and scare them into the hills.

While you probably won’t spot any bears or deer, the Formosan Macaque tends to hang around throughout the park. Good places for spotting them include the trees behind the 7-11 in Tianxiang, the small path behind the visitor center, and in the trees around the Qingshui Cliffs.

9. Bring a Wide Angle Lens for Your Camera

Taroko gorge trails in Taroko Park, Lushui Trail

The views through the gorge can be sweeping beyond words. If you have a DSLR camera or even an Iphone with a lens kit, a wide-angle lens can really help capture the grandiosity of the park. While tripods are typically unnecessary, a wide angle can help you get that towering mountain above you, the sprawling cliff to your left and the river below into one spectacular shot.

10. Take an ATV Ride to the Qingshui Cliffs

One of Many things to do in hualien, a Taroko Gorge Tour in Hualien, Hualien Tour of Taroko Gorge National Park ATVs

The towering Qingshui Cliffs are a marvel to be seen on any visit to Taroko Gorge. Yet while most tours take you to a viewing platform located off the highway, now you can take ATV’s up the beach from the village of  Chongde and go right to the cliffs base! It’s a truly breathtaking way to view one of Taiwan’s most spectacular spots. Island Life Taiwan now offers ATV’s as an add on to their Taroko Tours.

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The Zuilu Old Trail

A Visitors Guide

High in the mountains above Taroko Gorge National Park near Hualien, Taiwan lies a trail unlike any most people ever see or experience in their lives. Carved into the flat face of a massive cliff of solid marble, the Zhuilu Old Trail sits perilously more than 700 meters above the canyon floor below.

With limited (often no) guardrail or fencing along the trails edge, one can stare down past their toes at the great Liwu river winding like a little creek over half a mile down. As if that wasn’t enough, the 500-meter-long cliffside portion at the top is only 90cm wide!

This…is the Zhuilu Old Trail…

How to Get from Taipei to Hualien

Train, Plane & Bus Info & Tips

Getting To Hualien

There are several options when making your way from Taipei to Hualien and back again. We’ve put together some info to help you along!

The Easy Options

Option 1: Take the Train

This is the most popular and affordable method of getting to Hualien from Taipei.  The express trains (Taroko Express or Puyuma Express) will get you to Hualien in about 2 hours, while the non-express trains can take 3-4 hours. It is important to book your train tickets ahead of time, especially on weekends and holidays, as the trains do sell out.  A one way ticket will cost NT$440 per person.

You can book train tickets online here.

How to get from Taipei to Hualien

Liyu Lake Visitors Guide 2019

Welcome To Liyu Lake

Lying at the foot of Liyu Mountain, the serene Liyu Lake is the largest freshwater lake in all of Hualien County, and a popular weekend recreation spot for those seeking a respite from the city. Considered one of the best things to do in Hualien, the name Liyutan, literally translates to “Carp Lake” and stories vary as to the origin of the name.

Did the lake used to be filled with carp? Does Liyu Mountain look like a carp when viewed from the western shore of the lake? Is the entire lake the shape of a carp when viewed from the sky?!

One thing is for sure, the beauty and tranquility of the lake is the reason so many travelers have stopped for a rest by its shores.

So Come Take a Look with Us as We Explore the Many Wonderful Things You Can Do at Liyu Lake!

A Little About Liyu Lake

Liyu Lake hualien tour

At roughly 1.6 km in length and 930 meters in width, Liyu Lake is the largest inland lake in all of Eastern Taiwan. Located less than twenty kilometers from Hualien City in Shoufeng township, it has a total area of 104 hectares.

Surrounded by rolling green mountains on all sides, arriving at the lake one can easily see why it has become such a popular site for many different outdoor recreational activities.

Getting To Liyu Lake

Liyu Lake on Hualien tours
Liyu Lake

Liyu Lake is about 20-30 minutes from Hualien City and can be reached by car, scooter or the occasional bus. Most people however, visit Liyu Lake as part of a larger tour day that includes other beautiful spots in the area. Island Life Taiwan visits Liyu Lake as part of our Hualien Rivers & Valleys Experience, our Mugua River Gorge Tour or a Butterfly Valley Tour!

The Liyu Lake Visitor Center

Liyu Lake hualien

The charming visitor center at the North shore of the lake has many educational displays related to the lake and the gift shop and cafe are not to be missed. Especially for ice cream on a hot day!

Also at the Visitors Center:

  • BBQ areas
  • Viewing towers
  • Picnic tables
  • Jade souvenir shops
  • Several food stalls
  • Vendors renting paddle boats and kayaks to the public.

Activities at Liyu Lake

Liyu Lake kayaking
Water Sports

Activities such as paddle boats, kayaks and motorboats are all readily available on the lake. The relaxing and easy going nature of paddle boats and kayaks make them the most popular for a leisurely afternoon on the tranquil lake. However, motorboat hires are available if you want a faster tour of the area. Though be warned: the lake is small enough that a motorboat tour might be finished in just a couple of minutes!

Bicycling

Bicycling around Liyu Lake is an extremely popular way to enjoy the Liyu area. Available for rent at the visitors center, bicycles come in all sizes and rent for NT$100. The 4km long bicycle trail around the lake is as beautiful and scenic as they come.

Walking Paths and Trails

If you don’t want to boat or bike, you can take a stroll along the lake shore walkway, appreciating the scenery amidst the trees and nature. There are several resting and picnic spots along the way and it takes about an hour to circle the lake on foot. Also, Liyu Mountain at the south end of the lake has numerous mountain trails for exploring.

Mugua River Gorge Tour Hualien Tour
Liyu Lake Sculpture Park

Near the north visitor center is the Liyu Lake Sculpture Park. Take a leisurely walk through the numerous stone sculptures scattered about the grass and trees. Talk about tranquil!

Tasting Live Shrimp or Papaya Milk

If you are bold, you can try out the Live Jumping Prawns available at food stalls along the lake shore! Mini live shrimp dipped in a spicy sauce made of soy, rice liquor, ginger, lemon and chili. Yum! They are still jumping while you put them in your mouth! If this seems a bit crazy, be sure to try a Papaya Milk instead. Also a Liyu Lake specialty!

Mugua River Gorge Tour Hualien Tour

Annual Events at Liyu Lake

Dragon Boats
Dragon Boat Festival!

People come to Liyu Lake from far and wide each year during the Dragon Boat Festival in late May to watch the exciting dragon boat races. It is a traditional cultural festival you shouldn’t miss!

Fireflies

Every year around April in the evening, thousands of fireflies flash above the lake, making the whole lake shimmer with light. If you’ve never seen fireflies before, here is your chance.

Other Nearby Attractions

Hualien Rivers Velley tour in the Mugua River Gorge
Mugua River Gorge Fun

There are numerous other spots in the area worth exploring. Among them are the spectacular Mugua River GorgeButterfly Valley Hot Springs, and the vast East Rift Valley. The Mugua River Gorge is home to countless scenic waterfalls and swimming holes. While the East Rift Valley stretches from Liyu Lake all the way down to Taitung and contains beautiful pastures, lakes, hot springs, tea plantations and more. Visitors could combine these lovely sites into a multi day tour itinerary while visiting Hualien. There is so much to do at Liyu Lake and in the surrounding area. It’s time to get started!

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The Walami Trail

Take a Walk Through Central Taiwan

Plunge into a beautiful tropical jungle and immerse yourself in the lush world of Taiwan’s great outdoors! Taiwan’s famous Walami Trail winds deep into the heart of the jungle, where the air is filled with the perfume of warm greenery and the song of nature’s soundtrack.

If you’re looking for something special to do in Taiwan, this is one of your best opportunities to get out and see all that Taiwan’s natural world has to offer!

This… is the Walami Trail

A Little History of the Walami Trail

With a rich and sordid past that spans hundreds of years of Taiwanese history, the 14km Walami Trail (most people only hike the first 2-3 km) is in fact a preserved section of the much longer historic Batongguan Trail. Begun during the Qing Dynasty in 1875, the extraordinary Batongguan traversed 152 kilometers of rugged Taiwan backcountry from Yuli in Taitung County in the east, to Chushan in Nantou County in the west.

Walami Trail tour

Yet that isn’t even the beginning. The Batongguan Trail itself followed even older aboriginal paths that date back hundreds of years prior. In fact, it’s entirely likely that the first trees felled to form today’s Walami Trail, crashed to the ground during the time of Bach and Rembrandt!

Later widened and rebuilt during the 50 year Japanese occupation of Taiwan between 1895 and 1945, the Walami Trail as it exists today cuts through the jungle and across the mountains of Central Taiwan in spectacular fashion. Though it was primarily used to connect the wild eastern section of Taiwan with the more settled northwest, it was also a way for Japanese authorities to keep a wary eye on resistant local tribes.

The Walami Trail Today

walami trail

Today, of course, the Walami Trail is used for pleasure and the enjoyment of nature. Originating in the forest southeast of Yuli and high above the Nanan River, the trail follows an exciting path through the jungle, cutting along cliffs, over rivers, and through lush greenery all the while. During your visit to Taiwan, you should definitely consider taking a hike on the Walami Trail, typically as part of a Walami Trail Tour from Hualien City or Taitung City.

Things to See on the Trail

Suspension Bridges

Walami Trail Tour

Interesting things are found at every turn on the Walami Trail. Among them, numerous planked suspension bridges connect various legs of the trek throughout the mountains. Be sure to look down at the rivers and gorges far below as you walk across the swaying bridges!

Cliff Crossings

Walami Trail Tour

As if the bridges weren’t adventurous enough, there are several cliff crossings as well. Parts of the trail are literally cut directly into the faces of cliffs, making the path feel even more daring. It is far from treacherous though, and children often make this hike with big smiles.

Waterfalls

walami trail you on a hualien tour

Some of the loveliest things to see on the Walami Trail are the various waterfalls that glitter as they cascade down the bare rocks from pool to pool beside you. If the weather is right, take a dip and splash in the clear water, enjoying the cooling energy as it flows over your shoulders.

Monkeys and Other Wildlife!

Walami Trail Tour

Along the trail, you’re likely to hear the constant chatter and crash of noisy monkeys playing in the trees above! Although they’ll be able to see you, you’ll be lucky to get more than a brief glimpse of their curious eyes or furry tails.

Other wildlife can be a bit friendlier, however. You’ll have ample opportunity to spot and photograph birds, butterflies, spiders and lizards along the way. And as always in Taiwan, watch out for snakes!

Good Things to Know

Although anyone can hike the first few kilometers of the Walami Trail, you’ll need to arrange government permits to do the entire 14km six-hour trek. For this reason, most people choose to do the beautiful first section as part of a tour of the area. Be sure to contact Island Life Taiwan if you’re interested in making the Walami Trail part of your Taiwan tour!

This is truly one of the most wonderful hikes in Taiwan. Be sure to check it your during your visit to Taiwan’s Wild East Coast!

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Hualien Travel Blog

Download Your Free 2020 Hualien Visitors Guide Here

 

things to do in hualien

We Hope You Enjoy Your Visit!