The Stunning Mugua River Gorge
A River Valley Unlike Any Other
Welcome to the Mugua River Gorge
Literally meaning “papaya” in Mandarin, the sweetness of the Mugua area is hard to miss. A region in Taiwan blessed with beautiful, crystal clear river waters, waterfalls, lush forests and unique aboriginal culture, it is a terrific way to spend a day while in the Hualien area. Listed as one of the East Coast “highlights” in the Lonely Planet Taiwan Guide Book, this area has earned a reputation that is well deserved. Within the Mugua River Gorge itself and in the surrounding area, there are a huge number of wild and wonderful places to explore, including Emerald Valley, Tongmen, Liyu Lake, Wunlan, Zimu Falls, the Miyawan River, Rainbow Falls and more!
So put on some comfortable clothes and your walking shoes, bring along your swimsuit and a towel, and let’s go on a journey together to explore the wondrous destinations in and around the Mugua River Gorge!
The classic jumping off point for adventures to the Mugua River Gorge, Hualien City is a mellow beach town located on the East Coast of Taiwan. Nestled amid the surrounding green mountains, this is the easiest place to access tours of the Mugua River Gorge. There are also plenty of great places to eat in Hualien, so grab some “dan bing” for breakfast (a green onion pancake wrapped around fried eggs), before taking off on a wild journey into the forest!
Emerald Valley: The Best Swimming In Hualien
Our first stop is Emerald Valley. This hidden valley, tucked away amidst the forest and filled with several pristine swimming holes of clear, emerald coloured waters, makes one feel as if they’re in their own jungle hideaway. Though nearby Mugumuyu (a.k.a. Mugumuki) was long a hot spot for Chinese tourists, since it’s closure in 2016, the tourists have yet to discover the equally beautiful waters of Emerald Valley just 5 minutes away. It takes some hiking to get to, thankfully, so it’s not Tour Bus accessible!
Lying at the foot of Liyu Mountain, this tranquil lake is the largest freshwater lake in Hualien County. The name Liyutan, literally means “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 across 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.
The Miyawan River
Well off the beaten path, the Miyawan River is another nearby jewel of Hualien. With turquoise swimming holes aplenty and the secret Rainbow Falls trail, the Miyawan is a wonderful place to visit year round.
Speaking of waterfalls, there are so many amazing waterfalls in the Hualien area, and among them is the stunning Zimu Falls. Lying off a little trail near the aboriginal village of Tongmen, at Zimu you can find numerous blue swimming holes, only this time with a gorgeous waterfall to accompany them!
Tongmen & Wunlan
The aboriginal villages of Tongmen & Wunlan also lie deep withing the Mugua River Gorge. While Tongmen is famous for its hand crafted Truku Machetes, Wunlan is famous for its traditional longbow archery! Maybe if you’re lucky, you can catch an archery competition while you’re there or even have a chance to try a traditional wooden longbow yourself.
With so many freshwater splendors and verdant jungles to explore, the Mugua River Gorge is a must see for anyone visiting Taiwan. Far and away the easiest way to see all of this is to contact Island Life Taiwan and take one of our all-day tours of the Mugua River Gorge. If you’re not already planning on travelling there yet, put it on your bucket list, because it’ll be an unforgettable experience of nature and culture!
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