Taroko Gorge will blow your mind. Taiwan’s top tourist attraction will completely floor you with its vastness and beauty, making a day exploring Taroko National Park one of the highlights of your time in Taiwan.
How you choose to explore Taroko Gorge will greatly impact the type of experience you have. We think the best way to discover Taroko is on a scooter at your own pace (see details of where we hired our scooter below). Sure, you can join a tour but you might find you won’t get an opportunity to walk many of the trails, nor spend much time taking in the spectacular environment. If a tour really is the way you’d like to go, opt for a private tour company with small groups and a more tailored itinerary.
But if you’ve decided to go it on your own, good for you! Here are our must visit spots and tips for Taroko National Park plus where you should eat once you get back to Hualien after your epic day.
Note: all addresses & directions for restaurants, activities and sights are listed at the bottom of this post. This post contains affiliate links, thank you for supporting our blog by using these links.
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Aim for an early start so you can get ahead of the big tour groups. Pick up your scooter around 8:30am and then make a stop at a 7/11 or Family Mart to stock up for lunch. There aren’t many places to eat in Taroko Gorge so it’s easier to take your own food (there’s also a 7/11 outside the entrance to the Gorge). It’s about a 45 minute scooter ride out to Taroko Gorge and you take one road the whole way (it’s quite well sign posted) so get driving!
Your first port of call is the Tourist Information Centre where you can grab a map and plot your route. Start with the Shakadang Trail which winds its way alongside the crystal blue Shakadang River. It’s about an hours walk to the end and back and the pure air and untouched beauty of your environment will see you eager to discover more of this magical place.
Hop back on your scooter, pass the Cimu Bridge and make your way to Swallow Grotto, which affords you the best views of the Gorge. Swooping swallows, waterfalls that spring from rock faces and gigantic chalky white boulders make for brilliant photo opportunities. Be prepared to be wowed by your surroundings as you ride through the Gorge- sound of the gushing river, the mossy dampness in the air which is so strong that you can almost taste it- you feel completely at one with your environment.
After a lunch stop, jump back on your scooter and head to the Baiyang Trail- we can guarantee it’ll be one of the highlights of your day. You’ll encounter a number of gloomy, often pitch black tunnels (be sure to take a flashlight) during this walk until you emerge onto a bridge to find yourself surrounded by waterfalls, the roaring silty grey river, a swing bridge and stark cliffs. It’s truly awesome.
It’ll be getting into the late afternoon now and from the Baiyang Trail it’s about a 45 minute drive back to the entrance of the park so your final stop before you head back to Hualien is the Eternal Spring Shrine. We think the shrine is best admired from afar, from across the river and it makes for stunning photos.
Hualien might not have the ‘bright lights big city’ atmosphere of Taipei but as a transit city it has more than enough food options to keep you satisfied during your short stay.
Eat at Mister Goose a small local restaurant that specialises in poached goose. Dip the thin slices of meat in their house-made garlic and soy sauce, add some julienned ginger and prepare to order another plate! The meat is moist and has a great flavour and bite to it. Come before 8:30pm as they close pretty early.
Or, if goose doesn’t appeal, just down the road from Mister Goose are some of Hualien’s best dumplings. Located at the entrance of a small lane off Zhongshan Street are two dumpling restaurants that sit side by side. Both are equally popular with the locals but we prefer Zhoujia Steamed Dumplings the second restaurant in. Here you’ll find juicy, thin-skinned pork dumplings and xiao long bao which differ from the traditional, at Zhoujia they’re pillowy soft buns rather than dumplings. Wash it all down with some house made soybean milk and you’re away!
If you have a sweet tooth, Hualien is your kind of town. You’ll soon realise that you can’t walk 20 metres in Hualien without stumbling across a mochi shop so grabbing a couple for dessert is ideal! The Japanese rice cakes are famous here and the shops operate like bakeries opening early at 6:00am but they stay open late too. The peanut mochi and brown sugar mochi are particularly good. Yum!
Stagger home with a full belly and a mind swimming with the wonderous, jaw dropping vistas of your day at Taroko Gorge.
24 hours in Taroko Gorge, DONE!
We hope this Taroko Gorge travel guide has helped you eat and explore like a local, not a tourist.
Found this post useful? Check out our Taipei Travel Guide, What to eat in Taiwan and Kaohsiung Travel Guide…
No matter where you’re travelling to we always recommend you have travel insurance. We use and love World Nomads.The great thing about them is that you can purchase travel insurance while you’re already travelling!
Hualien is a relatively small city so if you don’t mind a walk it’s easy to get around and there’s a lot to see. Otherwise hop in a taxi, or if you have a scooter, zip around town that way. We hired our scooter from this shop (the orange signed one) and paid 500TDW for 24 hours.
We use the app Maps.Me for offline maps to navigate our way around cities.
Chasing a Plate’s Pricing Guide
$ under 150TWD/$5USD for a meal for 2 pax
$$ around 500TWD/$15USD for a meal for 2 pax
Eat like a traveller:
Mister Goose $$
No. 259, Zhongshan Rd, Hualien
11:00am to 9:00pm
Zhoujia Steamed Dumpling $
No.4-20 Gongzheng Street, Hualien
Explore like a traveller:
Taroko National Park (free entry)
8:30am to 5:00pm