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Taroko Gorge National Park


I can quite see why this is regarded as one of Taiwan’s most spectacular sights, Taroko Gorge reaches a height of 10,800 feet with spectacular mountains, high waterfalls and varied marble canyons. Cliffs and canyons stretch along the Li Wu River which is cluttered with massive rocks the size of chalets. Taroko became a national park in 1986 that covers 92,000 hectares with mountain peaks rising across Hualien County, Nantou County, and Taichung County. It is the second largest national park in Taiwan.


Four million years ago, the island of Taiwan was formed by the collision of plates. After millions of years of wind erosion, the marble rocks were exposed and cut by the Li Wu River, creating impressive grand canyons. From Tsing Shui to Nan Hu Peak, the drop height is 3,742 meters. The special geography has bred special flora and fauna in this area with swallows nests on the cliffs.


Shakadang Trail - situated close to the visitor centre at the entrance of the gorge.

Known in the past as the Mysterious Valley, the gentle trail follows the Shakadang River towards the 3D Cabin (9km round trip).  There’s no need to do the whole route and 30 minutes of walking is more than enough to see the gorgeous colours of the river.  Whilst swimming here is technically prohibited, it’s rare not to see people cooling off in the water during the summer months.

The Eternal Spring Shrine was built to honor those who died during the construction of the Central Cross- Island Highway. There is a hidden gem of a Changchun trail that goes up the mountain behind the Shrine. Crossing the Changchun Bridge, one soon reaches the middle shrine and the trail starts across a suspension bridge over the ravine. The gurgling sound of water rushing over the cliff edge matched with the cool shade offered by the shrine has a most relaxing effect.The trail is a little challenging, especially in the rain!


Swallow Grotto This part of Taroko Gorge is composed of a massively high marble cliff face covered with small holes; the result of long-term erosion by river and ground water. House swifts and Pacific swallows often forage and nest here, giving the place its name. No longer open to traffic, pedestrians have to wear hard hats (provided free) and can only walk a few hundred metres along the road.


Tunnel of Nine Turnscurrently closed

The tortuous course cut by the river has produced a gorge of many curves, and the path of the highway that has been carved out of the cliff face here seems to be an endless aerie of turns, hence the name. The gorge is so narrow that only a very narrow width is open to the heavens, in what the Tiawanese call ‘a thread of sky’. The marble cliff face opposite the highway varies in colour from deep grey to pure white in a multitude of changing designs. A walk through the Tunnel of Nine Turns (30 minutes) is one of the most scenic parts of the gorge, and the best place to observe the gorge's ecology. Sadly it’s closed!



This 2km short, gentle trial (40 min) provides views over the gorge and roadway below. It passes through a small, narrow tunnel where you need a torch (The light from your mobile phone is usually good enough to get you through).



This is the site of an old Atayal village at the confluence of the Liwu and Dasha rivers. Its name commemorates Wen Tian-siang, who lived in the 13th century and was the last prime minister of the Song Dynasty. Scenic spots at Tiansiang include Siangde Temple, Tianfong Pagoda, a suspension bridge, the Wen Tian-siang Memorial Garden, the Plum Garden, and Tiangsiang Church. In winter each year the Plum Garden blooms forth, forming a sea of white blossoms stretching from the highway to Siangde Temple. Shanyue Village at Bulowan, another old tribal settlement in the gorge, offers a new and unique type of accommodation for the area.


Silks Place Hotel, Tianxiang

Overlooking the deeply ravined confluence of two rivers that become the Liwu River, it is built on the site of one of Chiang Kai-shek’s 27 guesthouses. A short walk across the ravine takes you to the Hidden Summit Pagoda where you can admire the 10 faces of Bodavista.