Just when we thought Taiwan couldn’t get any more beautiful or green or mountainous… we went to Taroko National Park. Our jaws dropped once more.
The gorgeous Gorge
Taroko National Park is not too far from Hualien and a 2hr direct train from Taipei took us very close to the entrance of the park (Xincheng station). The biggest attraction of the park is a deep gorge carved by the Liwu River. It might sound not very accessible but it actually is. Serpentine roads carved in cliffs, tunnels digged in mountains and countless bridges, provide the most scenic route… and the most frightening at the same time.
By bike & on foot
Buses on Taiwan require a certain dosage of patience and those in the gorge even more. Renting a car was not really an option for us and in many spots it’s difficult to park it anyway. So we decided to explore a big part of the park by bike and the rest on foot.
For 800 Taiwanese dollars (around 23 euros) per person we got amazing mountain bikes with great breaks, helmets and sets of lights. Everything necessary to survive a day biking in the gorge. The price included also a drop off at the end of the route close by Wenshan spring, which meant we would be biking just one way and 90% down. It was a huge relief from a physical point of view because otherwise we would have to cycle up the whole time but also a challenge for our adrenaline. Going down on serpentine narrow roads, often looking over sheer drops from the cliff is not really an entertainment for everyone. With my vertigo I was both petrified and fascinated. As you can all imagine I forgot to take pictures on the most scenic/scary parts of the trip.
Having our own pair of wheels gave us the flexibility to stop wherever we wanted and enjoy few hikes on the way.
Falling rocks are not uncommon and sights and trails close because of them frequently. Sometimes it’s really difficult to check beforehand if something would be open or closed.
When we stopped at the Baiyang Trail and walked for 1.5 km to get to the water curtain in a tunnel, we were pretty disappointed it was closed because of the collapsing ceiling.
From there we went to the “main” village in the park- Tianxiang which is really just a few houses and not much more. It wouldn’t even be worth a stop if not for a convenient store… The only one in the park. We knew we wouldn’t see another one for at least half a day so it was a nice stop to buy some snacks and pour some caffeine into our bodies.
The village is also famous for an amazing hotel called Silks that has a very beautiful pool with views on the mountains. We heard it’s possible to have a drink by the pool there even if you’re not a guest.
Just leaving the village we spotted a beautiful temple with a pagoda (Xiangde temple) above us on a mountain. We were hoping to get some views over the surrounding mountains but it turned out to be pretty covered by trees. Still the temple itself with statues and the pagoda was quite a treat and we would definitely recommend stopping there.