A guide to Taroko National Park


Taroko Gorge is a National Park located on the Eastern Coast of Taiwan, around 150km away from Taipei.
The mountains are crossed by the Liwu River, forming a 20km-long canyon.

Shakadang Trail, one of Taroko's most popular hikes

Shakadang Trail, one of Taroko's most popular hikes

Where to stay

The easiest way to visit Taroko is to stay in the city of Hualien, located 25km away from Taroko. It is big enough (around 100,000 people live there) to offer plenty of accommodation options and is very easily accessible (train station, bus station and airport).

Visiting Taroko

Taroko Gorge is crossed by a long road. The starting point of all trails is somewhere on this
road. However, the trails are not necessarily connected to each other. You will have to take the bus (or any other means of transportation) to go to the starting point of the next trail.

There is no entrance fee in the Taroko Gorge, the National Park is entirely free.

Trails

There are around 15 trails and hikes in Taroko. Some of them are loops while the others will require you to take back the same route. The duration given for each trail is an approximation and can vary a lot depending on the weather, your fitness level, the stops you make, etc.

Map of Taroko National Park

Map of Taroko National Park

Chongde Tunnel North Opening Trail (1)

Length: 320m
Time required: around 20 minutes one way
Looping: no
Type: scenic
Bus stop: none
Notes: on the coast, located away from all the other trails, it is not easy to reach by bus.

Taroko Terrace Trail (2)

Length: 1km
Time required: around 30 minutes one way
Looping: no (other trails available to go back)
Type: scenic
Bus stop: Taroko Visitor Center
Notes: 700 meters of the trail is barrier free and can be accessed with a wheelchair.

Dekalun Trail (3)

Length: 1.3km
Time required: around 1h30 one way
Looping: no
Type: hiking
Bus stop: Taroko Visitor Center
Notes: 300m of ascent, quite challenging.

Xiaozhuliu Trail (4)

Length: 650m
Time required: around 20 minutes one way
Looping: no (other trails available to go back)
Type: scenic
Bus stop: Taroko Visitor Center
Notes: A part of this trail crosses a tunnel. Directly connected to the Shakadang Trail (5), you just have to follow the path.

Shakadang Trail (5)

Length: 4.1km one way
Time required: around 2h30 one way
Looping: no
Type: scenic
Bus stop: Shakadang trail
Notes: Quite beautiful and peaceful, you can turn back before the end if you find it too long. If you start this trail from the bus stop (instead of continuing the Xiaozhuliu Trail), look for the stairs going down from the bridge.

Shakadang trail entrance, on the Shakadang Bridge

Shakadang trail entrance, on the Shakadang Bridge

View from the Shakadang Trail

View from the Shakadang Trail

Eternal Spring Shrine Trail (Changchun) (6)

Length: 2km
Time required: around 1h
Looping: yes
Type: hiking
Bus stop: Changchun trail
Notes: the bus stop is only accessible one-way, when the bus goes back to Hualien.

Changchun Shrine, located at the beginning of the Eternal Spring Shrine Trail (view from the bus stop)

Changchun Shrine, located at the beginning of the Eternal Spring Shrine Trail (view from the bus stop)

Changuang Temple, located along the Eternal Spring Shrine Trail

Changuang Temple, located along the Eternal Spring Shrine Trail

Changuang Temple Bell Tower, located at the end of the Eternal Spring Shrine Trail

Changuang Temple Bell Tower, located at the end of the Eternal Spring Shrine Trail

Buluowan Swallow Grotto (7)

Length: 0.6km
Time required: around 20 minutes
Looping: no
Type: scenic
Bus stop: Buluowan
Notes: 120m of ascent. Walk 500m west along the road to connect to the Swallow Grotto Trail (10). The bus stop is only accessible one-way, when the bus goes from Hualien to Tiangxiang.

Buluowan Upper Terrace Trail (8)

Length: 400m
Time required: around 15 minutes
Looping: yes
Type: scenic
Bus stop: Buluowan
Notes: the bus stop is only accessible one-way, when the bus goes from Hualien to Tiangxiang. There is a service center where you can make inquiries, as well as a small museum.

Buluowan Lower Terrace Trail (Meander Core Trail) (9)

Length: 300m
Time required: around 15 minutes
Looping: yes
Type: scenic
Bus stop: Buluowan
Notes: the bus stop is only accessible one-way, when the bus goes from Hualien to Tiangxiang. There is a service center where you can make inquiries, as well as a small museum.

Small museum at the Buluowan Service Center

Small museum at the Buluowan Service Center

Swallow Grotto Trail (Yanzikou) (10)

Length: 1.37km
Time required: around 50 minutes one way
Looping: no
Type: scenic
Bus stop: Yanzikou
Notes: wearing a helmet is advised, inquire at the Taroko Visitor Center. Can be crowded since the road along the trail is taken by tour buses frequently dropping off tourists.

Swallow Grotto Trail

Swallow Grotto Trail

Tunnel of Nine Turns Trail (Jiuqudong) (11)

Length: 700m
Time required: around 30 minutes one way
Looping: no
Type: scenic
Bus stop: none
Notes: wearing a helmet is advised, inquire at the Taroko Visitor Center.

Lushui Trail (12)

Length: 2km
Time required: around 1h
Looping: yes
Type: scenic
Bus stop: Lushui
Notes: the trail passes through a 25m-long tunnel, bring a flashlight or a phone able to do so.

Baiyang Trail (13)

Length: 2km
Time required: around 40 minutes one way
Looping: no
Type: scenic
Bus stop: Tianxiang
Notes: the entrance is 700m away from Tianxiang, on the west side. Flashlight and rain gear advised.

Huoran Pavilion Trail (14)

Length: 500m
Time required: around 30 minutes one way
Looping: no
Type: hiking
Bus stop: Tianxiang

Lianhua Pond (15)

Length: 3.59km
Time required: around 3h one way
Looping: no
Type: hiking
Bus stop: none
Notes: wearing a helmet is advised, inquire at the Taroko Visitor Center.

Old Zhuilu Trail

Length: up to 10km (some parts might be closed)
Time required: up to a day
Looping: no
Type: hiking
Bus stop: Yanzikou
Notes: requires a park entry permit, a mountain entry permit and a ticket (adults NTD200, children NTD100), apply here. Entry allowed between 7am and 10am.

Entrance of the Old Zhuiliu Trail

Entrance of the Old Zhuiliu Trail

Taking the Taroko 1133A Shuttle Bus from Hualien

The easiest way to visit Taroko is by taking the Taroko Shuttle Bus (1133A). It starts at the Hualien Train Station (on the left when exiting the station), and crosses Taroko Gorge up to Tianxiang. You can buy a 1-day pass (NT$250) or a 2-day pass (NT$400, only works for 2-consecutive days) that allows you an unlimited number of trips, very handy to go from a trail to another.

There are 9 buses everyday, the first one leaves Hualien at 7am and the last one arrives back in Hualien at 6:10pm. Some buses are accessible with a wheelchair. Inquire at the station for the schedule and details. The 1 and 2-day passe also offer access to buses 1126 and 1141. Bus passes can be refunded if not used.

Do not plan you day according to the bus schedule given to you! Buses can be very late, you might also very well catch the previous bus if you arrive too early at your stop. The later it gets, the more chaotic the schedule. The time between 2 buses is on average one hour.

Buses are equipped with a screen showing the name of the next stop both in English and Chinese, audio announces are also made in the two languages.

Taroko 1133A bus map (English station names in the pictures)

Taroko 1133A bus map (English station names in the pictures)

Bus route

Be careful, as you can see on the map, some station are only accessible one-way. Plan your itinerary accordingly.

From Hualien Station

  • Hualien Station
  • Qixingtan
  • Xincheng Station
  • Taroko
  • Taroko Visitor Center
  • Shakadang
  • Buluowan
  • Yanzikou
  • Lushui
  • Tianxiang

To Hualien Station

  • Tianxiang
  • Lushui
  • Yanzikou
  • Changchun Shrine
  • Taroko Visitor Center
  • Taroko
  • Xincheng Station
  • Qixingtan
  • Hualien Station

Weather in the Taroko Gorge

The weather in the Taroko Gorge is often bad: grey, humid and rainy. Even if the forecast is optimist, weather can change quickly, so be prepared just in case.

Starting your day

It is advised to start by getting off the bus at the Taroko Visitor Center to get some up-to-date information. Some trails can be closed because of the weather or for safety reasons. They might also advice that you wear a helmet, depending on where you plan to go, which can be provided. The Taroko Visitor Center also offers a small exhibition hall.
Even if it is recommended to drop by the Visitor Center for last minute changes, you can check the roads and trails status ahead of time on the official Roads and Trails status page.

Flying a drone in the Taroko National Park

You'll need a permit to fly a drone in the Taroko National Park, all the information to apply is here. Download the .docx file, fill it and send it to the email address that you'll find on the application page. The form will ask you the specific areas of operation: please do not fill in “Taroko National Park”. So be prepared, because you'll need to decide that in advance.

Taroko Gorge International Marathon

The Taroko Gorge International Marathon is organized each year, around the end of November or the beginning of December. If you plan to visit the Taroko Gorge around that time, verify the date and make sure to avoid that day. And if you plan to participate, good luck to you!

Other useful information

The Taroko Gorge Nation Park entrance is free
There are free toilets at the beginning of most trails and at the Taroko Visitor Center
Rock falls cannot be predicted, inquire at the Taroko Visitor Center about the safety practices
Bring food. There are very few places to get a snack once there and it will be quite pricey.
Swimming is not allowed
Taroko Shuttle Bus hotline: 03-832-0431 or 03-836-0634 (from 8am to 8pm)
Visit the official website (English)

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Written by liu-tw

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