On Taiwan’s east coast is Hualien, a small but beautiful city. The city is a common jumping off point for a visit to Taroko National Park, within which you’ll find Taroko Gorge, a canyon of jagged cliffs 19km in length.
The founding of Taroko, Taiwan was in the 30s while Taiwan was part of the Japanese Empire. From Taiwan’s capital, it’s possible to catch one train all the way to Hualien in just two hours. Having a seat on the left side of the train will reward you with stunning views of the ocean as the train travels along the coastline for most of its trip.
With the Portuguese name, Ilha Formosa, beautiful island, Taiwan doesn’t disappoint, and Taroko Gorge is no exception. There is plenty of scope for exploration in the area of the canyon along hiking trails, many of which are marked as closed, but still get visits from backpackers. Fog often descends over the canyon and covers the gorge, creating a wonderful effect. If you are interested in wildlife, Taroko Gorge is a good place to indulge that interest, as it is home to several varieties of fauna, including several species of boar.
There are three main options for getting to Taroko, Taiwan. The first option is to sign up and ride one of the tour buses lined up outside the station. Several companies will compete for your business to charter you to the gorge. This approach is easy but lacks freedom.
The second option is to rent a scooter to visit Taroko Gorge. As it’s only twenty minutes from Hualien, many feel that this is the best way to see the gorge. However, it may be difficult to rent a scooter if you don’t have a Taiwanese license, but it’s still worth trying.
Finally, finding a taxi is not difficult at all. There are several drivers who speak English and are more than welcome to take you to stunning lookout points along the coast as well as Taroko Gorge itself. A full eight-hour day with a personal chauffeur will run to around US$20.