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In one my week in Taiwan I knew I wanted to visit a National Park and go Hiking in Taiwan. After a quick bit of research, I realised that Taroko National Park on the Eastern Coast of Taiwan is Taiwan’s most popular and famous National Park and that it’s easy to reach from the City of Hualien.
After 2 days in Taipei I caught a train 2.5hours to Hualien and spent the following day exploring the National Park on my own.
Taroko National Park is most famous for Taroko Gorge and a popular way to see Taroko is via Moped or via Car. However, I do not ride mopeds and was travelling Taiwan solo so I did not want to rent a car.
My only options were either doing a Taroko National Park Tour or to go on my own via bus from Hualien which is what I decided to do!
If you’re wanting to visit Taroko National Park by bus from Hualien here are some points to help plan your day, my suggested walks and Taroko Gorge Itinerary to help you!
First up you need to get yourself to Hualien City and get accommodation there. I stayed at World Inn Hostel in Hualien City for 2 nights which I loved.
It’s in a great location just minutes from the train station which is most definitely the best place to stay in Hualien. The staff there are lovely and gave me so much information on Hualien and the National Park and I never would have been able to have such a smooth-running day without their help! They have a great social area downstairs and organise bike trips and night market trips throughout the week. Plus their dorm rooms have been thoroughly thought about and their private rooms are really comfy!
When it comes to what to do in Hualien, I didn’t find that there are many things to do in Hualien itself however I also didn’t give it much time. I did visit its night market though which I loved so you definitely need to go as Hualien is known for its good Taiwanese food!
Note – Taroko is not possible to visit on a Taipei Day Trip organised by yourself as it will be too rushed, so you’ll need to stay overnight and ideally for 2 nights unless you get a late train out.
With that being said, if you are tight on time in Taiwan you can do an organised day trip to Taroko National Park from Taipei like this day tour from Taipei!
You can watch my visit to Hualien’s Night Market in my YouTube video here:
The morning buses you can get are 7:00am, 8:30am, 9:10am and 10:00am. I got the 8:30am bus which worked well.
The public bus from Taroko National Park leaves outside the train station in front of the orange building. I would suggest getting there early as if the bus fills up and you’re not on, you’ll need to wait until the next one!
There is a 7/11 supermarket in the train station where you can buy drinks and snacks for the day.
You can either purchase a 1 day Taroko National Park Pass in the orange building, I believe this is 210NTD or you can use your Easy Card which you’ll have if you’ve been in Taipei or any other City in Taiwan. I topped up by 500NTD just to be safe but I only used 200NTD in my day in the National Park.
Be sure to get an Easy Card at the start of your trip in a metro station or pick an Easy Card up in their airport via this service.
It takes 40 minutes to reach Taroko Visitor Centre by bus from Hualien and I got off there.
From the visitor centre I headed onto the main road, turned right and walked through the tunnel under the mountain in front of me. Halfway through the tunnel on the left is a pathway exiting the tunnel bringing you fully into the National Park!
There’s a cool rope bridge and from here I followed the signs for the Shakadang Trailhead Route which was my first Taroko Gorge Walk.
This pathway does go on very far but in order to have enough time to see the rest of the park I turned around when I got to the cabins. This route was nice and it is suggested that you walk along it slowly taking in the scenery however it was very busy when I went and I’m glad I got there as early as I did because it seems to be the first stop for many Taroko Gorge Tour Groups.
To SEE my day in Taroko National Park, have a watch of my YouTube video here and keep reading for my Hualien Travel Blog:
I headed up the stairs onto the big red bridge I had just passed under earlier on and waited for the bus at the bus stop opposite the car park (there are toilets at the car park too) which came at 10:45am.
It’s worth noting that the buses around Taroko National Park are not that regular. Each sign details what time the bus comes and how long it takes to get to the next stop. When walking from a bus stop if you plan to walk back to it and catch it to the next place in the park I recommend checking on the sign what time it comes so you don’t just miss it or have to wait a long time for it.
I also recommend double-checking these bus times with your accommodation in case they have changed since I visited in March 2019. World Inn have them all noted on a board in the common area!
I got off 2 stops up at Yanzikou also known as Swallow’s Grotto. There’s a cool looking rope bridge here and a good hiking trail but you need to get a permit in advance to walk it so if you are a keen hiker and want to do that be sure to look into it beforehand.
Instead I went along the road which forks to right and under the caves to Jinheng bridge. Just before the bridge is more toilets and a small cafe.
Taroko Gorge is the main attraction in Taroko National Park and in all honest I don’t think I saw the best of it on my day trip from Hualien by bus however this section of the gorge was pretty impressive and you can walk all along it.
Unfortunately, it is a case of having to walk alongside a road too and turn back once the road joins with another main road. So I got the bus again from the stop I had got off at Swallow’s Grotto.
My next stop was Heliu camping (which also has toilets.. Taiwan is great for people with small bladders!). From where the bus drops you off there is a trail that heads away from the road all the way to Lushui which is also the next stop on the bus. This is called the Lushui Heliu Trail and was my favourite part of the day.
It’s a 2km walk said to take an hour but I don’t think it took me that long. What I loved is that it was completely away from the road and I only saw a few other people, it’s definitely not a popular walking route and therefore I’d really recommend it rather than getting the bus to Lushui.
Towards the end, I came upon a 30m long tunnel which was completely black until I turned a corner to see the light at the end of the tunnel quite literally which was really cool. The trail runs to the side of the gorge pretty high up giving great views of Taroko River below and the Mountains above.
At Lushui I walked along the road to Tianxiang which was my final stop. This wasn’t that great as it was by the main road but it’s worth walking it to finish off the day.
Towards the end, before reaching Tianxiang is Xiangde Buddhist Temple which is worth a visit.
Tianxiang has a 7/11 supermarket, toilets & a few local food places. I reached here at about 14:00 and was just in time to catch the bus at 14:10 from Tianxiang back to Hualien City which took 1 hour 10 minutes as you go all the way back through the park.
Buses from Tianxiang after this are at 15:00, 15:50 and 17:00 and again it’s good to get there early as if you don’t get on because it’s full you’ll have to wait.
A popular stop on the way back from Taroko National Park to Hualien is Qixingtan which is by the coast. The buses pass through here in the morning and on the way back. It’s right next to Hualien Airport and the Coastline looks absolutely fantastic!
Unfortunately, when I went it was very grey and windy so I decided not to get off but had it been a nicer day it would have been great.
If you have an extra day in Hualien, a popular thing to do in Hualien is to go down to the Coast at Qixingtan and hire a bike.
The last 3 buses from Qixingtan are at 15:57, 16:57 and 17:57. It’s just 10 minutes back to Hualien City Bus Station and Train Station.
And there you have it! Your Day Trip to Taroko National Park!
If you would rather take an organised day trip around Taroko National Park which will enable you to see more and definitely see Taroko Gorge these are the tours I recommend which you can book online in advance:
Whether you’re going to hike or just go on a bit of a walk I suggest you wear trainers / walking shoes / sturdy sandals and wear gym/hiking wear.
It can get quite rainy in Hualien and in Taroko National Park so I would recommend taking a waterproof jacket and umbrella just in case.
I really enjoyed my day there and I’m glad I went. I won’t lie, it wasn’t the best hiking day I’ve ever had, mainly because of being so close to a road a lot of the time and having to double back on myself a lot but as a basic way to see the park it was good.
There are many other ways to see Taroko National Park more in-depth like via Moped, a Car, a Day Tour or a more planned Hiking Route but this was good for me!
I hope this helps you plan your day to Taroko National Park. This is a great way to see the park if you are on a budget and/or a solo traveller as it’s inexpensive and easy to do alone!
For more of my Taiwan posts see:
I stayed at World Inn complimentary however I do genuinely really recommend them.
I’m Ellie Quinn!
I’m a travel addict who has been travelling on and off since 2010. In the Summer of 2018 I quit my office job in London, left my flat and I now travel and blog full time! Yes, I’m living that dream!
NOV-DEC: PROBABLY INDONESIA
If you want to join or read more about the details of the group tour.