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Taroko Gorge is one of the must see sites in Taiwan and one of the most popular destinations on the east coast of Taiwan. Close to the city of Hualien, a little over 2 hours on the train from Taipei, it is possible to visit Hualien in a day if time is tight.
I took this option as I didn’t have enough time to fully explore everything that Taroko Gorge has to offer, and there were other options closer to Taipei I wanted to see.
I had a rough idea of what to do, how to get there and the main sites I wanted to see, so keep reading for all the information you need to hike to Taroko gorge in one day.
Scroll to the bottom for a brief summary of the transport used and the sites I saw.
Getting to Taroko Gorge from Taipei
I took what is probably the easiest and quickest option. As the high speed rail line doesn’t run down the east coast of Taiwan, I knew I needed to get an express train to cut my travelling time down to a minimum. I made my way to Taipei Main Station and bought my ticket from one of the self service machines on the concourse.
Be warned, Taipei Main Station is massive so make sure you arrive with plenty of time before your train departs just to find your way around and to get to the right areas. Follow signs for TRA if you are unsure where to go.
There were trains at 0715, 0730 and 0755 that take just over two hours for the journey to Hualien. Tickets cost NT$440 one way. There are other trains that are cheaper at NT$238 but these can take up to 3 hours to cover the same distance and you aren’t guaranteed a seat.
I departed bang on time at 0755 in my very comfy seats and arrived into Hualien station at 1007. If you can get an earlier train, I would recommend it.
From the train station, I walked across the short distance to the bus station. Bus 310 acts as a tourist shuttle which will take you to the Taroko Gorge. I got the 1050 bus, but an earlier train will allow you to take the 0950 bus. Note that there are 10 shuttles per day on weekends and holidays but only 6 on weekdays. The fare is NT$79 to the Taroko Visitor centre, one way, which can be paid in cash (exact change only) or by tapping your easy card which is what I did.
From here there are now a variety of options. It is also possible to stay on the bus all the way to Tianxiang passing a number of other hiking routes if this is something you have the time for.
However, as mentioned, I got off the bus about 40 minutes later at the Taroko Visitor Centre. The visitor centre has some maps and members of staff have some limited English to explain basic routes to you. There are also toilets, a few diaramas and plenty of information and videos to watch on the formation of the gorge and its flora and fauna.
From there I followed the road into the gorge and where I probably took the wrong decision. I was told to walk through the tunnels to go past the start of the Shakadang trail and onwards to Changchun shrine. I think it would be a lot more picturesque, if not harder work to take a left before the tunnel and follow the Xiaozhuilu trail until you rejoin it on the bridge at the start of Shakadang trail. But you live and you learn and that is why I am telling you now!
Coming out of the tunnels to the bridge gives your first impression of how big the gorge truely is. I got serious vibes of my time in Franz Josef which the greenery on the steep sides of the valley and river running along the bottom.
I headed up the steep hill to the Changchun shrine, which wasn’t really worth it to be honest. There was nobody around and it just looked like a large building. I carried on and crossed the rope bridge and climbed the steep staircase to the bell tower which has sweeping, dramatic views across the valley as it bends around a corner.
Normally, it is possible to walk down the mountain to the Eternal Spring Shrine but as of early 2023, that route is now closed due to a landslide which meant that I had to retrace my steps back down to the main road and walk through another tunnel to get to the shrine.
The mini waterfall coming out of the shrine is beautiful to stare into for a while and the shrine itself is a very peaceful place to sit and relax for a while as well. I crossed the bridge, away from the shrine for a few more photos from across the river.
It was at this point, I decided to head home. I had been walking for around 3 hours in total and as luck would have it, the bus 302 was heading my way any minute now. If I hadn’t have decided to head back then, the rather infrequent buses meant that I may have been waiting for up to an hour.
The 302 bus took me back to Xincheng Taroko Train station where I had to change and wait for the 201 bus back to Hualien Train Station.
From Hualien, then are plenty of trains that run back to Taipei with the last one at 10pm.
Taroko Gorge is easily one of the best things to see in Taiwan and one of the most beautiful areas I saw on my travels there. It can easily be done on a day trip from Taipei but also as part of a longer trip that includes a stay in Hualien. To make the absolute most of it, spending 2-3 days in the National Park and taking in some of the longer trails would be optimal
Key Points – A Day Trip to Taroko Gorge from Taipei
- Express train from Taipei To Hualien
- Bus 310 from Hualien bus station to Taroko Visitor Centre
- Walk through the tunnels
- Hike up to the Bell Tower
- Hike to the Eternal Spring Shrine
- Cross the bridge for beautiful views of the waterfall coming out of the Eternal Spring shrine
- Take bus 310 or (302 and 203) back to Hualien for the train back to Taipei
Dan is an avid traveller from London. His first big adventure was in 2010 living in Malaysia for 3 months and becoming a divemaster. He has been on the road almost constantly since 2015 travelling to destinations that aren’t on the mainstream tourist trail.