Things to do in Taroko Gorge Taiwan: One Day Visit Guide

Taroko Gorge is a 19-kilometer-long narrow valley located on the east coast of Taiwan. You will find Taroko Gorge at the vast Taroko National Park, which spans over three counties in Taiwan, Hualien, Taichung, and Nantao. 

Taroko National Park is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the country. According to Taroko Authorities, there were 4.82 million people who went to Taroko National Park in 2019. That’s a massive number! My sister and I were two of the million people counted in the statistics.

Taroko Gorge, Taiwan

The gorge is full of breathtaking sceneries, such as the spectacular unconformities etched at the canyon walls, impressive tunnels, and mesmerizing turquoise rivers at its deepest parts.

Taroko Gorge has an intriguing history regarding the construction of the roads in the park. Your exploration in Taroko Gorge will uncover the story of the passionate workers who made Taiwan’s first-ever cross-island highway. Taroko Gorge will not only be a sightseeing or an adventure destination, but it will also teach you a bit of Taiwanese history and culture.

Taroko Gorge, Hualien, Taiwan

TRIVIA: Do you know that Taroko is a word from the aboriginal Truku tribe meaning magnificent and Splendid?

What to do in Taroko Gorge

There are only a few destinations in Taroko Gorge, but it has many trails in and around it with stunning views which you could trek. See all of the Taroko National Park trails in the Taroko National Park Trails section of this blog. Among all the attractions in Taroko Gorge, here are the five places I recommend for your one-day tour in the park.

Taroko Arch Gate

First thing to do in Taroko Gorge: Visit Taroko arch gate.

Taroko arch gate is the first landmark you will see before the actual gorge in Taroko National Park. It serves as the entrance to the eastern portion of the park.

Taiwanese built the gate to commemorate the construction workers who have gone into extreme hardship to finish their first Central Cross-Island Highway. It was Chiang Kai Shek’s ambitious project that connected the eastern portion of Taiwan to the west.

Taroko Gate

The Central Cross-Island Highway or Taroko Gorge Road became open to the public on May 9, 1960, after a four-year construction carving the tunnels and building roads in the middle of marble cliffs.

Taroko Arch Gate was our first stop. We stayed in the area for about ten minutes to read something about the gate and breathe some fresh air. We just waited for our turn to photograph ourselves with the arch gate without photobombers and left the place after.

There are shops near Taroko Arch Gate where you can buy snacks and beverages. These shops are helpful if you forgot to have breakfast or to bring bottled waters. Your destinations in Taroko Gorge will make you walk for a whole day so keep in mind that you need to pack enough supplies for the day.

Eternal Spring Shrine (Changchun Shrine)

Across the Liwu river, you will see a picturesque shrine with a waterfall flowing from it. The name of the structure is Eternal Spring Shrine. To visit Eternal Spring Shrine is a thing to do in Taroko Gorge mostly to know about the 220+ veterans who died at the construction of Taroko Gorge Road.

Changchun Shrine

Eternal Spring Shrine is already visible from the road or the parking lot just before the Changchun bridge. The scene is lovely from afar, but I did not felt any wow factor when we arrived. If the weather was better and the sunlight hit the shrine, it would look epic like the ones we can see from some Chinese movies.

Changchun Shrine

You can reach the main shrine in 5 to 10 minutes through a tunnel that comes after the stairs from the end of the Changchun bridge. The tunnel gives a little taste of adventure and perhaps could be a way to warm up for a day of hiking all over the park.

There is part of the small tunnel where you can see the three gold-painted statues of the Buddha, and below them is the list of names of the construction workers who have died from the accident in making the Central Cross-Island Highway.

Changchun Shrine

There’s nothing much to see in the shrine. But it’s relaxing to hear the cascading water while admiring the view of the gorge behind Zhangchun Bridge from the shrine. Eternal Spring Shrine will give you an appetizer for the more spectacular views of Taroko Gorge.

Jiuqudong (Tunnel of Nine Turns)

The Tunnel of Nine Turns, for me, is an architectural gem and a marvel of engineering. A structure like this tunnel will surely amaze people who have an understanding of basic engineering or physics. Going to Jiuqudong is one of the best things to do in Taroko Gorge.

Tunnel of Nine Turns

I could not imagine how they calculated everything to find the perfect balance for the tunnel, not to collapse even if seismic tremors happen. Anyway, Enough with the nerdy stuff! LOL.

On the 700+ meter long Tunnel of Nine Turns, you will see some of the most fantastic sights from the gorge. The epic rock formations, Gatorade blue cascading Liwu river, and mesmerizing unconformities evident to the rocks’ walls will surely make your jaws drop in awe. The sights from the Tunnel of Nine Turns manifest the spectacular creative craftsmanship of nature.

Tunnel of Nine Turns

At a walking pace, you should finish exploring the tunnel in 20 to 30 minutes. However, you must not forget to wear a hard hat while inside the tunnel. Rockfall sometimes happens suddenly, though.

The only way you could come here is through a bus. There is no parking lot for cars near the tunnel. If you rented a car, you may park it somewhere then hop on a bus instead.

Swallow Grotto Trail

Of all the places in Taroko Gorge, Swallow Grotto Trail is my favorite. Here, I saw the most spectacular sights of the narrowest and deepest gorges of the park. Swallow Grotto Trail stretches for a kilometer, which for me was a pretty short walk for an endless and gorgeous view of the gorge.

Swallow Grotto Trail is one the best things to do in Taroko Gorge – I truly recommend.

Rock of the Indian Cliff, Swallow Grotto Trail

Two of the best spots that you must not miss are the Rock of the Indian Chief (photo from above) and the hundred potholes at the opposite marble rock wall (see the following image).

Potholes, Swallow Trail

Actually, in the first photo, I still could not find where the Indian Chief is. My sister perfectly captured me while wondering where that rock is. I guess I spent more than five minutes looking for it?? haha! I don’t know. But I’m sure I found the Rock of Indian Chief sooner after she took the picture. Well, how about you? Do you see it now too?

The second photo shows our silhouette in front of the hundred potholes. These potholes have become the home of many swallows. It is where they make nests and give birth to their babies. Hence the name of this trail is Swallow Grotto.

It’s head-scratching to think how these potholes appeared. I wondered if some giant worms or animals created those holes. It’s both puzzling and marvelous at the same time.

Swallow Grotto Trail

What captivated me so much in Swallow Grotto Trail is the spectacularly deep and zigzag path of the water between the towering rock walls. It’s an eye-opening view that would make you ask yourself, how was that formed?!

Taroko Gorge, Hualien, Taiwan

There are also good photo opportunities here for both professionals and Instagram addicts. But, before you enter the trail, be sure to put your safety helmets in your head first. Yes, safety must come first. See all locations where you can borrow helmets in the FAQ section.

Lastly, the road you’ll be hiking in Shallow Grotto Trail is narrow and used by large vehicles as well. Please be careful and always make a safe distance from the center of the road.

Shakadang Trail

Unlike the other parts of the gorge, Shakadang Trail is the part of Taroko Gorge where the water in the river flows slowly and calmly. It was the most relaxing hike I had in Taroko Gorge. My sister and I finished the whole four-kilometer trail (back and forth) in three hours.

Going to Shakadang Trail is a nice thing to do in Taroko Gorge, especially if you plan to spend a couple of days in the park.

Shakadang Trail

It was time-consuming indeed, but I enjoyed walking with the trees and with the sound of flowing water coming from the nearby river. If you are like me who want to spend more time with nature, you will surely love Shakadang Trail.

In the Philippines, the oldies tend to stay at home, and most of them would not prefer hiking at all! So when I saw tens and tens of senior citizens in Shakadang Trail, I am more than amused! Some of them even have hair that’s all gray! I remembered my parents then, even though they aren’t old as these senior citizens. I wish my parents were with us on the trail.

RELATEDBenefits of Hiking

Shakadang Trail

In Shakadang Trail, when you get tired from strolling, you can find wooden platforms or stations where you can sit and breathe for a while. It’s where I found most of the old but strong people, though. Most platforms give you views of the crystal-clear turquoise water plunge pools made still by the river’s boulders.

Another surprise that I met in Shakadang Trail is the Farmer’s Market. It was my salvation! The shops sell delicious sausages and cold refreshing drinks in the middle of the trail.

They are truly, truly helpful, especially if you forgot to bring trail food and bottled water to Shakadang Trail. The food shall keep you energized for the upcoming impressive towering sights in the trail.

Shakadang Trail

You must be careful to always look on your path in Shakadang Trail, especially if you got height. Some parts of the trail have low and overhanging rocks. Surely it will hurt if you bump onto it!

Shakadang Trail

You will find a picture-worthy bridge opposite the entrance of Shakadang Trail. You can go and stay under the bridge for a while to relax and take good photos.

Where to Eat in Taroko National Park

There are only a few places in Taroko Gorge where you can buy food and eat. I suggest that you buy packed lunch from 7-11 and other food shops from Hualien City before proceeding to the park unless you want to taste the delicacies from the gorge.

Please note that there are other places in Taroko Gorge where you can eat aside from the five spots I listed below. I recommend these because they are the nearest shops or have the nearest food stalls from the destinations I gave above.

Jinheng Park (Swallow Grotto Trail)

Jinheng Park is in the middle of the Swallow Grotto Trail and definitely an excellent stop to get refreshments for a short time. There is a shop in Jinheng Park where you can buy drinks and food when you need one.

Jinheng Park, like other parts of Swallow Grotto Trail, has beautiful sceneries of towering rock mountains covered with thin vegetation. You can find seats with shades from the trees here. It’s going to be a pleasant snack time unless you arrived in the park at peak hours when many tourists flock to the park to rest or eat as well. If you need toilets along Swallow Grotto Trail, Jinheng Park has them.

Farmer’s Market (Shakadang Trail)

Shakadang trail is a destination where you can hit two birds with one stone. Here you can do forest bathing and eat the best sausages in all of Taroko Gorge! They also sell Grilled Mochi, which many reviews rate as a must-taste meal in the gorge.

And if you are coming to Shakadang Trail during summer, Farmer’s Market shall save your drying throat by their super delicious and refreshing iced coffees and teas! Farmer’s Market is in the middle of the Shakadang trail, which I think has the perfect position to help the visitors finish the 4-kilometer track back and forth.

Taroko Village Hotel (Buluowan)

The restaurant of Taroko Village Hotel captivated me so much, by both its food and its ambiance. The food they offer is a combination of Chinese, Western cuisine, and delicacies from the indigenous Taroko.

Taroko Village Hotel

From 7 until 10 in the morning, the restaurant serves a breakfast buffet (western and Chinese). Then, from 12 noon to 2 in the afternoon, they offer lunch dishes with Taroko Flavor, same in the evening from 6 until 7:40 pm. You can book your accommodation in their hotel and get your breakfast for free using Agoda

When we entered the restaurant, I saw that there are wood carvings placed on the shelves. I felt I need to check it. So after we had our lunch, I started roaming around to see what else might interest me. And I was right! There was something fantastic hiding here.

Taroko Village Hotel

I saw a gallery of the Truku tribesmen at the back of the wall divider near the restroom, and their faces reminded me of the people from Sagada, Philippines. It seemed that these guys share the same ancestors with the indigenous people from our country.

The indigenous song playing while I’m browsing the gallery made me more amazed by the small but remarkable discovery I found. Our lunch was an excellent one, by the way. The food satisfied my eyes, mouth, and stomach.

I like the way they served rice in bamboo tubes, though. It’s similar to how my grandparents cooked rice in my hometown. My bad, I forgot to capture the food with my camera, but you can check more photos of the food by checking the Taroko Village Hotel food gallery from Agoda.

Taroko Village Hotel

After we ate our lunch, I went outside with my sister to walk for a bit. A walk after a meal is good for digestion!

Taroko Village Hotel

Just in front of the restaurant, we saw charming wood carvings and statues revealing more details about the culture in Taroko. There are also beautiful plum trees just across the entrance where visitors can stroll around after eating.

Taroko Visitor Center

Almost all tourists visit Taroko Visitor Center before going anywhere else in the park. It is where you get a brief overview of Taroko Gorge. The Visitor Center is an excellent place where you can plan your day in the Taroko National Park.

You can get almost anything that you need here. Like, brochures, safety helmets, toilets, recent announcements, souvenirs, and of course, food. There are a few restaurants near the Visitor Center. But, I’m telling you they are expensive and not worth it for the price. I just included Visitor Center on this list in case you need more options.

Dongdamen Night Market

Well, this is not really inside Taroko National Park. But I think this is worth mentioning because Dongdamen Night Market could be the perfect place you can eat affordable dinner after using up all your energy in Taroko Gorge.

Dongdamen Night Market

Dongdamen Night Market is a spacious place loaded with shops selling items and food you can find in mainland China, Thailand, Japan, or even America! In a normal travel situation, Dongdamen Night houses more than 400 vendors giving you varieties of food and stuff in just one spot.

Dongdamen Night Market

What’s exciting about going to Dongdamen Night Market are the festive activities that occur in the area. There are band performances and tons of amusing games to play. The atmosphere of the night market is just incredible. You will enjoy eating here too for sure.

Dongdamen Night Market

Speaking of the food, you can find traditional Taiwanese steaks, fried tofu, grilled pork, and refreshing fruit juices in Dongdamen Night Market. You must not miss the Taiwanese bubble milk tea! My sister loved it so much. I bet you’ll love it too.

Taroko Gorge Map Details and Itinerary

Map of destinations

For your convenience, I created a map showing the exact location of the places I mentioned above. My map includes the service stations where you can borrow safety helmets and ask for more information about Taroko Gorge.


There are 15 places pinpointed on the map. You can open the map legend from the upper left corner of the widget. You can use this, but you can also always get your brochures and guide booklets from the visitor center if you prefer a more traditional journey.

There are several ways in which you can move from a destination to another in Taroko Gorge. But if you plan to take the bus as your primary transportation, I suggest that you follow my itinerary below.

Please note if you only rely on the bus (particularly Taroko Tourist Shuttle Bus) as your means for transportation, it will be impossible to visit in one day every place I mentioned in the What to see and explore in Taroko Gorge section. You have to make compromises.

I prefer Taroko Tourists Shuttle Bus (#1133) over Taroko Bus 302 as the Shuttle Buses stop directly on the destinations I mentioned above, or I liked going. The timetable of the Taroko Tourists Shuttle Bus company is the basis of the itineraries I made below. See all bus schedules in the How to Go to Taroko National Park section of this blog post.

Taroko Gorge Itinerary A

With this itinerary, you will have a chance to taste the mouth-watering food served by Taroko Village Hotel Restaurant. But, you won’t be able to visit the Tunnel of Nine Turns here. No packed lunch is required.

No Packed LunchArriveDepartRoute
Hualien Station 7:00Outbound
Taroko visitor center7:409:10Outbound
Shakadang Trail9:1111:51Outbound
Buluowan (Taroko Village Hotel)12:0514:15Outbound
Yanzikuo (Swallow Grotto Trail)14:2315:12Outbound
Changchun Shrine15:2216:12Inbound
Visitor Center & Taroko (Gate)16:2017:32Inbound
Hualien Station18:10 Inbound

Taroko Gorge Itinerary B

Similar to Itinerary A. However, you’ll miss Changchun Shrine instead of the Tunnel of Nine Turns. No packed lunch is required.

No Packed LunchArriveDepartRoute
Hualien Station 7:00Outbound
Taroko visitor center7:409:10Outbound
Shakadang Trail9:1111:51Outbound
Buluowan (Taroko Village Hotel)12:0514:15Outbound
Yanzikuo (Swallow Grotto Trail)14:2315:13Outbound
Tunnel of Nine Turns15:1615:59Outbound
Visitor Center & Taroko (Gate)16:2017:32Inbound
Hualien Station18:10 Inbound

Taroko Gorge Itinerary C

You have to bring your packed lunch if you follow this itinerary (No Taroko Village Hotel). You will be able to visit all the places in Taroko Gorge that I mentioned with this. I suggest that you use this itinerary to save more money.

With Packed Lunch ArriveDepartRoute
Hualien Station 7:00Outbound
Taroko visitor center7:409:10Outbound
Shakadang Trail9:1111:51Outbound
Yanzikuo (Swallow Grotto Trail)12:1314:23Outbound
Tunnel of Nine Turns14:2615:09Inbound
Changchun Shrine15:2216:12Inbound
Visitor Center & Taroko (Gate)16:2017:32Inbound
Hualien Station18:10  

Note:

  • Do not forget to return the helmets you borrowed to Visitor Center. 
  • Taroko Gate is a 10-minute walk from the Visitor Center. You can proceed immediately to the gate soon after you return your helmets to the Visitor Center.
  • The buses following Outbound Route are coming from Hualien and going to Tianxiang.
  • The buses following Inbound Route are returning from Tianxiang to Hualien.
  • You can always change the itinerary depending on your taste. I provided the bus timetable under the How to Go to Taroko National Park section.

Taroko National Park Trails

Taroko Gorge is vast and wide, and it could take you more than a week to explore every place, track, and spot in the National Park. Aside from the trails I mentioned a while ago, other attractions await you in Taroko National Park:

Taroko Gorge Scenic Trails

These are the trails that are suitable for everybody. The path is mostly flat, and the slopes are not steep and absolutely safe. Everyone can easily access these trails, and they have facilities nearby.

NameLength (meters)Time to finish (walking)
Taroko Terrace Trail100730 minutes
Shakadang Trail41004 to 6 hours (round trip)
Xiao Zhuilu Trail65020 minutes (one way)
Buluowan Trail40020 minutes
Yanzikuo Trail137210 to 30 minutes
Lushui Trail20001 hour
Baiyang Trail21002 hours (round trip)
Tunnel of Nine Turns Trail70030 minutes

Taroko Gorge Hiking Trails

Similar to Scenic Trails, Hiking trails are easily accessed, and the paths are mostly flat. However, the slopes in Hiking Trails are steeper, and they are at a higher altitude. Only people with good vitals should try Hiking Trails. Hikers must bring enough water, food, and extra light clothes at the trail.

NameLength (meters)Time to finish (walking)
Dali-Datong Trail94006 to 7 hours
Dekalun Trail13003 hours
Changchun Shrine Trail20001 to 1.5 hours (round trip)
Huoran Pavilion Trail5002 hours

Taroko Gorge Mountaineering Trails

Mountaineering Trails in Taroko National Park bring hikers to places with an altitude of more than 3000 meters in the remote mountains. Although the routes may be straightforward, they tend to be more difficult because of the weather and the rugged terrain.

Adventurous visitors who want to try mountaineering trails should first submit an application to the center before hiking. The visitor must have mountaineering gear, enough food, water, and medicines. Hikers should be in good shape and could navigate using maps too.

NameLength (meters)Time to finish (walking)
Zhuilu Old Trail103001 day
Lushui-Wenshan Trail55005 hours

Send your application for the mountaineering trails here:

  1. Online application for entry permission to Taiwan’s National Parks: https://npm.cpami.gov.tw/en/index.aspx
  2. National Police Agency: https://nv2.npa.gov.tw/NM103-604Client/

*Applications must be submitted 3 to 124 days before visiting.

How to Go to Taroko National Park

There are many ways you can go to Taroko. You can choose either the cheapest (bus), the most convenient (tours or private car), and the easiest way to move around (motorbikes). Either of the four, you must first arrive at Hualien City, where you can buy tickets and passes for the bus, rent motorcycles/cars, or meet up with a tour company.

Bus in Taroko Gorge

There are two bus companies that are plying in Taroko National Park. You can hop on either Taroko Tourist Shuttle Bus (#1132, #1133, #1142) with a Taroko Day Pass or Taroko Bus #302 with EasyCard. Please do note that they have different passes, and you cannot use them interchangeably.

Bus Station to Taroko

You can buy Taroko Day Pass from the orange building shown in the picture above. The orange building is just a minute away from the Hualien Train Station, and you can see it immediately after you go out of the station. You can use Taroko Day Pass with buses #1132, #1133, #1142 for a day as many times as you want.

Price:
1-Day Pass = NT$250
2-Day Pass = NT$400

You can buy EasyCard from any 711, and it can be used as a tap and go with Taroko Bus #302.

RELATEDMy tips for saving money on traveling

Taroko Tourist Shuttle Bus time table source: Travel Taiwan

Taroko Bus 302 time table source: taroko.gov.tw

Motorbikes in Taroko Gorge

You can rent a motorbike if you plan to explore Taroko without time constrictions to places where you want to go. There are tens of motorbike rentals in Hualien where you can borrow motorbikes for a day or more. Here’s the link to book a motorbike from Hualien.

Private cars in Taroko Gorge

If you are traveling with your family, there’s nothing much more convenient and easy when you have a private car. Go wherever you want in Taroko Gorge without hassle and time constriction. You can book a car and a driver to tour you around from this link.

Tours in Taroko Gorge

Traveling could be fun, easy, and educational if you have guides. Guides don’t only share the best spot to take photos; they also tell the history and facts of the places you are visiting. If you hate making itineraries and all you want to be feed with sights of wonders in Taroko Gorge, tours will be your best option. Book a tour here.

Best Time to Visit Taiwan and Taroko Gorge

Visit Taroko Gorge during spring (February to May) when the climate is not humid and when the temperature is not that hot. It is also a fantastic time in Taiwan when cherry and plum blossoms beautifully. However, avoid the monsoon season (July to September), when typhoons hit Taiwan more often, and more trails are closed because of the increased tendency for rockslides and accidents.

Important Notes When Exploring Taroko Gorge

  • Sometimes you have to walk on a narrow road where buses and scooters also pass. Always stay away from the middle of the road as much as possible, especially to the blind curves.
  • Always check the weather and seismic advisories before you proceed to Taroko Gorge. Heavy rains and earthquakes pose hazards in the park as they cause debris and rocks to slide off the cliffside.
  • Check if the trail you’re going to is open or closed through taroko website.

Taroko Gorge Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I borrow hard hats in Taroko Gorge?

Hard hats or safety helmets are free to borrow from these stations:

StationOpeningClosingOff-days
Xipan Service Station7:00 AM5:30 PM 
Tianxiang Service Station9:00 AM4:00 PM2nd & 4th Monday
Buluowan Service Station8:30 AM4:30 PM1st & 3rd Monday
Visitor’s Center8:30 AM5:00 PM2nd Monday
Park Headquarters5:00 PM7:00 PM 

See their location from the map that I created in the Map Details and Itinerary of this post.

Where can I leave my baggage in Taroko Gorge?

You can leave your baggage at Taroko Visitor Center. However, it is not a locker service, so you must still bring all your valuables with you. You can drop and fetch your baggage between 8:30 am and 5:00 pm on the same day.

Is Taroko National Park Headquarters Visitor Center open all year round?

No. The center is closed every Monday of the second week of each month, Chinese New Year’s Eve and holidays. However, if Monday falls into a public holiday, the visitor center will be open, and the closure will be moved to the next day (Tuesday).

Other Places you might be interested in visiting after Taroko Gorge

  • Taroko Gorge is just one of the many spectacular destinations in Taiwan. You must also check the dreamiest destination here, called Sun Moon Lake
  • There are also canyons in the Philippines, one of them is in Cebu. But instead of just sightseeing, it is an adventure that you will never forget in your whole life! 
  • National parks like Taroko are fun and exciting to visit. Discover the best national parks in Canada recommended by ten travel websites.

P.S. I just want to let everyone know that I love my sister so much. I always have her support in almost everything that I need. Like, education, travels, and even blogging – my ultimate passion. I do not know how I could repay her. I just could not wait for the moment that I repay all her love and care.

I regret the time when I was so obsessed with creating a perfect Instagram shot during our trip to Taroko Gorge. I forgot that I should be creating unforgettable quality moments with my sister during this trip. Hopefully, we can travel more and more so I can correct that mistake over and over again – to show her how much I love her. ;’)

That’s all! Thanks for reading my blog. I hope this helped you explore Taroko. Cheers!

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Taroko Gorge
Taroko Gorge

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