The Best Things To Do In Hualien

Our Favorite Hualien Attractions

Island Life Taiwan is your #1 resource for all things Hualien! Our blog is loaded with informative articles by locals and our unique tours and experiences are top rated in the area. Check out all we have on offer!

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.

Ten Tips When Visiting Taroko Gorge National Park

Here at Island Life Taiwan, we love showing people around Taroko Gorge National Park. One of the most scenic and naturally beautiful areas in Taiwan, Taroko Park 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. As local experts, here are 10 of our top tips for visiting Taroko Park. For an outstanding visit to the Gorge, we highly recommend our top rated, small group Better Taroko Gorge Tour.

All of this and SO MUCH more can be found in our 2019 Hualien Visitors Guide. We hope you enjoy!

The Zuilu Old Trail

A Walk on the Edge of Insanity

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…

Taroko Gorge National Park

The Jewel of Taiwan

It’s easy to pass by the small island of Taiwan on a map of the world. When most westerners think of Taiwan, they rarely, if ever, think “tropical island” and all too often think of the “made in” tags on their computers and electronics. What many people don’t realize is that Taiwan is actually one of the most stunning islands on earth that nobody is talking about.

Ilha Formosa, the name written in the logs of a passing Portuguese merchant ship in 1544 simply means, “beautiful island”. An appropriate name for a green gem nestled in the Pacific Ocean, hugging the Tropic of Cancer and covered with verdant green tropical and subtropical forests, towering mountains, sandy beaches, sparkling blue rivers and more waterfalls than one could even imagine.

Yet amidst all this abounding natural beauty, one place stands out above all others. Taroko Gore National Park.

Ancient History of Taroko Gorge

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

With a geologic story that begins 145 million years ago in the early Cretaceous Period, the towering stone canyons of Taroko Gorge are awe inspiring in their height and grandeur. Though often referred to as the largest marble canyon in the world and nicknamed “The Marble Gorge” because of the large quantities of the stone in it, the rock is actually a unique combination of marble, granite and quartz micas, giving it a wide range of colors and textures.

From the narrow canyon of Swallow Grotto, where the Liwu River has carved an almost gravity defying slot through the Earth, to the towering waterfalls of Baiyang, known to the Truku tribe as da-ou-la-ss, “waterfall of the cliffs”, the rich geologic diversity of Taroko Gorge make it one of the more surprising National Parks in Taiwan, that never ceases to amaze.

Flora and Fauna of Taroko National Park

Formosan Macaque

It has often been said that there are only two primates indigenous to Taiwan, humans… and the Formosan Macaque.

One needs only spend a day in the wilds of the Taroko National Park to get a glimpse of both of them! Drawn to the fruits of the abundant fig trees in Taroko and other fruit bearing plant species, the Formosan Macaque (also called the Formosan Rock Monkey), thrives in Taroko and are a unique species to Taiwan. But they are certainly not alone…

Sambar deer, countless lizard and spider species, 144 bird species, more than 250 kinds of butterfly, rivers teeming with fish, freshwater shrimp, crab, numerous species of frog and so much more fill the jungles and forests of the Gorge. Taking a walk through the forests of Taroko, it becomes pretty obvious at once that you are not alone!

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So Much More to Discover in Hualien!

The Truku Tribe (Taroko Tribe)

Taroko Gorge takes its name from the Truku tribe, one of the 16 tribes of Taiwan and a splinter group of the Atayals.

The Truku settled in the gorge between 1680 and 1740 having come from the Nantou area near Sun Moon Lake. Prompted to relocate, likely due to the scarcity of hunting grounds in the west, the Truku crossed the Central Mountain Range and settled in the mountainous areas of Hualien. Isolated from their Atayal brethren in the west for 250 years, they soon developed customs and dialects of their own. A fierce but unified tribe, they lived communally by sharing the land, livestock and harvest equally.

The remains of 79 old Taroko villages have been found within Taroko Gorge National Park, and learning about their history can be one of the most fascinating aspects of a Taroko Gorge Tour. The Zhuilu Old Trail offers a unique experience walking on a former Truku hunting path, carved 700 meters up into the cliff side!

Taroko Gorge National Park Recent History

Shakadang Trail walking into the Mysterious Valley

Originally founded in 1937 as the Tsugitaka-Taroko NP by the ruling Governor General of Taiwan under the Empire of Japan, the park was abolished after Japans defeat at the conclusion of World War II in 1945. Reestablished in 1986, through huge infrastructure investments by the government, Taroko Gorge National Park has become one of the premier attractions in all of Taiwan.

Taroko Gorge Tours vs. Public Bus

Taroko Park tour in Taroko Gorge National Park
Crowded Busses in Taroko

Taking a Taroko Gorge tour is a must while in Taiwan. Though there is a public bus that travels through parts of the park, with such a wide range of sites and trails, one would have difficulty seeing much of the parks diversity while restrained to the hourly (at best) bus schedule. Also, there are large parts of the park busses can’t reach including the Changuang Temple, the Bell Tower Trail and the Yue Suspension Bridge. In addition, with such a rich history and a number of hidden gems nestled about, taking a small group tour can add many layers to experiencing all the park has to offer.

For additional information check this nice article about Taroko Gorge National Park.

About Island Life Taiwan

Based in Hualien, Taiwan (adjacent to Taroko Gorge National Park), Island Life Taiwan designs all of our unique daily itineraries to help you discover the rich natural beauty and culture of Taiwan, in the most enjoyable, and most immersive way possible. We’re dedicated to showing you the most amazing locations in eastern Taiwan, while having the most fun and avoiding the crowds. More than just a tour operator and adventure outfitter, our team truly loves showing this awe-inspiring part of the world to our guests, and when you love what you do, it shows.

So what are you waiting for? Contact us and let us help you pick the tour or adventure that’s right for you!

Hualien tours, taroko gorge tours, taroko park and more
We Hope You Enjoy Your Visit!

The Qingshui Cliffs

Awe Inspiring Wonder of Eastern Taiwan

Along the Eastern seashore of Taiwan lies an awe inspiring testament to the sheer power of Earth plate tectonics. Massive cliffs of stone seem to defy reason in their precipitous plummet from Taiwan’s Central Mountain Range into the azure turquoise waters  of the Pacific Ocean far below. Established as one of the “Eight Wonders of Taiwan” in 1953, the Qinqshui Cliffs are a mesmerizing marvel, and truly something to behold. Come take a look with us as we explore Taroko Gorge National Park’s very own, Qingshui Cliffs.

Where the Mountains Meet the Sea

Comprising a wide 21km long stretch of coastal cliffs along a winding stretch of Taiwan’s Suhua Highway, the Qingshui Cliffs lie approximately 120km south of Taipei between the cities of Yilan and Hualien. The road leading to (and through) the cliffs is a bit heart-stopping, with hairpin curves and steep drops throughout. Yet, the views of the cliffs and the ocean beyond are more than worth the trip. You can easily find your breath taken away by the sheer wall of green and grey rising from the brilliant blue ocean.

Their are several well maintained viewpoints located on the Hualien side of the cliffs, near the small village of Chongde. Each offer stunning views of the massive cliffs and the sprawling Pacific Ocean far below. For the more adventurous, ATV’s can be driven on the beach out to the base of the cliffs!

This area is highly Instagrammable so bring your cameras and/or smartphones!

History of the Qingshui Cliffs

Qingshui Cliffs

From the mid 1600’s to the late 1800’s, numerous foreign visitors arrived at the cliffs. British and Dutch traders, Spanish explorers seeking gold and North American missionaries all tackled the area, generally with minimal success. Largely due to the impenetrable landscape, and largely due to conflict with the Truku indigenous tribe that inhabited the region. It was not until the 19th Century that a massive migration of Han Chinese immigrants finally created a viable community in nearby Hualien.

It wasn’t until relatively recently that a road was constructed to cross from one side of the cliffs to the other. Previously, only those traveling by water could see the stunning cliffs rising from the sea. Perhaps it was the unconquerable aspect of this edifice that intoxicated so many people with the magic of the region, drawing them to the rugged cliffs.

Today, visiting Taroko Gorge National Park and the Qingshui Cliffs is widely considered one of the best things to do in Taiwan.

Geology of the Cliffs

Millions of years ago, the rock and land that now form the island of Taiwan resided deep at the bottom of the ocean. Then, around 6 million years ago, the Philippine Sea plate slowly began to slide under the Eurasian Continental plate, causing Taiwan to gradually emerge from the ocean into the island we see today. Taiwan continues to rise from the sea to this day!

Composed primarily of marble and schist walls, the rock in Qingshui Cliffs is thought to be the oldest rock in Taiwan. On average, the cliffs tower an incredible 800 meters above sea level, but reach almost a kilometer up in some places! The tallest of the attached mountain peaks is Qingshui Mountain, a 2408- meter vegetated behemoth rising from the Pacific Ocean.

Visiting the Cliffs

taroko gorge tour in taroko gorge national park

With stunning views and fantastic photo ops galore, this famous Taiwan locale offers a spectacular destination when visiting the area. The Qingshui Cliffs are also one of the most popular stops on a Taroko Gorge tour.  They are also a wonder to behold from a the beach level. Visit them with this awesome ATV ride to the base of the cliffs! Either way, this unforgettable adventure will surely be a memorable part of your trip to Taiwan!

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

For further reading on Taroko Gorge National Park, check out: Taroko Gorge National Park: The Jewel of Taiwan

So Much More to Discover in Hualien!

Download Your Free 2019 Hualien Visitors Guide Here

 

things to do in hualien

About Island Life Taiwan

Based in Hualien, Taiwan (adjacent to Taroko Gorge National Park), Island Life Taiwan designs all of our unique daily itineraries to help you discover the rich natural beauty and culture of Taiwan, in the most enjoyable, and most immersive way possible. We’re dedicated to showing you the most amazing locations in eastern Taiwan, while having the most fun and avoiding the crowds. More than just a tour operator and adventure outfitter, our team truly loves showing this awe-inspiring part of the world to our guests, and when you love what you do, it shows.

So what are you waiting for? Contact us and let us help you pick the tour or adventure that’s right for you!

We Hope You Enjoy Your Visit!

Travelers Reviews Of Taroko Gorge

Taroko Gorge National Park is unarguably Taiwan’s biggest natural attraction and for good reason. Some have dubbed Taroko as one of the seven wonders of Asia, and visitors tend to agree. One reviewer even called Taroko “…the best experience I had in Taiwan!” and another “Hiking Jhuilu Old Trail in Taroko was a once in a lifetime experience.” The reviews of Taroko Gorge are in – It’s a must see!

We’ve culled through TripAdvisor and Google Reviews to give you a taste of what folks are saying about Taroko Gorge

Location and Where to Stay at Taroko Gorge

Taroko gorge trails in Taroko Park

Located on the eastern coast of Taiwan, the main entry point to Taroko Gorge National Park lies close to the pleasant beach city of Hualien, a few hours south of Taipei. It is very common therefore for travelers to use Hualien City as a base camp for explorations into and around the Gorge.

There are only a few accommodation options inside the park. The 5-Star Silks Place resort, the Tianxiang Youth Hostel and the Heilu Campground. Numerous reviewers complained of “bed bugs” in the Youth hostel and the lack of services in the area. “There is nothing to do in Tianxiang after 5pm.” expressed one reviewer. As for the campground at Heilu, be warned that it is first-come-first-served and can be very competitive during holidays and peak season. For these reasons and others, most travelers opt for a hotel outside the park. “For food and options, stay in Hualien.”

Visiting Taroko Via Public Bus vs. Small Group Tour

Taroko Park tour in Taroko Gorge National Park
Crowded Busses in Taroko

The bus system in Taroko Gorge leave a LOT to be desired. Most western travelers prefer to use private or small group Taroko Gorge tours to explore Taroko, as the public transportation through the park is widely regarded to be neither convenient nor time efficient. One reviewer had this to say about the public bus “I waited an hour for the bus to take me five minutes to the next trail. I would have walked but there are no sidewalks and the giant tour buses go flying on those roads!” Also, the public bus follows the same route as the large tour buses. One reviewer had this to say about the advantages of a small group tour “Our guides knowledge of the park allowed us to maximize our time while avoiding all the large tour bus groups. Highly recommended and worth it.”

Taroko Gorge Tour Types

Hualien Tour Guide
Small Group Tour in Taroko Gorge

Not getting the right Taroko Gorge tour however could be your undoing. It is important to ask what language the tour is offered in and how many people will be in the vehicle. One reviewer said “We were packed like sardines in a van much too small for our group. My legs still hurt!” and another said “The advertising online was in English so I assumed our guide would speak some. Won’t make that mistake twice.” Be sure to ask good questions if you opt for a Taroko Gorge tour.

Getting the right guide however can make your day, as this happy reviewer wrote “He brought us to a place on the trail where we could get traditional aboriginal sausages made with black pepper grown right there in the forest! Then he led us to a hidden swimming hole for swim after a long hike. Never would have seen either of those without him.”

Different tour companies have different packages for travelers depending on numbers of passengers and the places to be visited. Some Taroko Gorge tour companies have 1-day tours, while others offer 2-day tours or more. Nature walks, forest treks and high mountain treks are all available depending on what you want. It is best to get in touch with the tour company beforehand and plan with them to book the tour style that suits you best. One reviewer had this to say “We had two days for Taroko Gorge and told ******* what we were interested in. They planned everything perfectly and even got our Zhuilu Old Trail permits sorted before we arrived in Hualien saving us a LOT of time.”

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So Much More to Discover in Hualien!

Best Places to See in Taroko

Zhuilu Old Trail Tour on the Jhuilu Old Trail in Taroko Gorge in Hualien
Cloudy Days on the Trail are Still Beautiful

Taroko has many impressive formations and landscapes including a good number of nature walks and hikes (Note: Some hikes, including Zhuilu Old Trail, require permits). While there are several hiking trails leading to remote areas of the park, and these will certainly bring you away from the crowds, they might not take you to the more impressive locales. Four of the most popular trails are widely reviewed as four of the best. Shakadang Trail, Tunnel of Nine Turns Trail, Swallow Grotto and the infamous Zhuilu (Jhuilu) Old Trail.

Shakadang Trail

Avg. Review 4.5/5

Shakadang Trail in Taroko Gorge on a taroko gorge tour, Taroko gorge trails in Taroko Park
Blue Waters of Shakadang Trail

Shakadang Trail takes you several kilometers along a sparkling turquoise river on a spectacular winding trail carved directly into the rock. Said one reviewer: “Shakadang was our favorite. The blue water was unbelievable.”

Tunnel of Nine Turns Trail

Avg. Review 5/5

Taroko gorge trails in Taroko Park
Tunnel Of Nine Turns Trail

The Tunnel of Nine Turs Trail meanwhile, meanders through the most massive canyon of the gorge and passes through numerous tunnels along the way. Note that there is no where to park a car at the trail so it is typically advised to use a small group tour company that visits Nine Turns if you’d like to see it. “Thankfully our tour guide dropped us off and picked us up at the trail head!” said one reviewer.

Swallow Grotto

Avg. Review 4.8/5

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

Swallow Grotto also has a number of tunnels but this spectacular piece of towering canyon is the narrowest spot on the river and a geologic wonder. The curved cliffs reach a thousand meters up from here and it is truly a site to behold. Another reason a tour guide can come in handy was expressed by this reviewer “They taught us about local and national history, geology, entomology and the botanical wonders of the gorge as we hiked.”

Zhuilu Old Trail (aka Jhuilu Old Trail)

Avg. Review 5/5

Zhuilu Old Trail Tour on the Jhuilu Old Trail in Taroko Gorge in Hualien
The Historic Zhuilu Old Trail

For the more adventurous traveler, there is the amazing feat of engineering that is the Zhuilu Old Trail. This old Truku tribe hunting path is cut straight into the side of a cliff 700 meters above the Gorge! Though it was widened by the Japanese in the 1920’s, it is still only 3’ wide and has no guardrails. This trail requires permits so it is most often visited as part of a tour. “Jhuilu Old Trail was the craziest thing I’ve ever done!” said one excited reviewer.

Interested in a Zhuilu Old Trail Experience? Contact us Today!

Some Helpful Tips

As many reviewers pointed out “Make sure you bring a Poncho and good shoes as it rains all the time in Taiwan.” While this isn’t exactly true, it’s always best to be prepared!

To get the best out of your trip to Taroko Gorge National Park, do your research or try and book the best Taroko Gorge National Park tour you can find. Read reviews of Taroko Gorge National Park and don’t forget to bring a hat!

Also, while you are there and if you have some time, use a few extra days to explore other highly reviewed areas around Hualien including the East Coast Scenic Area south of Hualien City and the nearby Mugua River Gorge.

Average Visitor Reviews for Taroko Gorge

Trip Advisor: 4.5/5
Google Reviews: 4.6/5
Yelp: 4.5/5

More Amazing Places, Less Crowds. That's the Island Life Way!

Download Your Free 2019 Hualien Visitors Guide Here

 

things to do in hualien

About Island Life Taiwan

Based in Hualien, Taiwan (adjacent to Taroko Gorge National Park), Island Life Taiwan designs all of our unique daily itineraries to help you discover the rich natural beauty and culture of Taiwan, in the most enjoyable, and most immersive way possible. We’re dedicated to showing you the most amazing locations in eastern Taiwan, while having the most fun and avoiding the crowds. More than just a tour operator and adventure outfitter, our team truly loves showing this awe-inspiring part of the world to our guests, and when you love what you do, it shows.

So what are you waiting for? Contact us and let us help you pick the tour or adventure that’s right for you!

We Hope You Enjoy Your Visit!