How to Plan an Independent Trip to Taroko Gorge

How to Plan an Independent Trip to Taroko Gorge National Park Taiwan

It’s no secret that Veeran and I are partial to a wee hike every now and then. It’s been one of our favourite hobbies here in Korea and we have big plans to do lots of it on our future travels. When we started planning our big trip to Taiwan, there was one place that really stood out to us and that was Taroko Gorge National Park. Just take a look at it for yourself and you’ll understand. If that isn’t #mountainporn, then I don’t want to know what is!

We did our hike independently and, if I’m being honest, there are a few things that we would do differently on our next trip. Yup, while we spent a lot of time ogling our photos on IG, we overlooked the more important side of trip planning.. So, to help future travellers make the most of their trip, I’ve put together this handy guide filled with all the information that I wish I had managed to find before we went. Enjoy!

The Most Important Thing to Consider before your Trip to Taroko Gorge

If there is one thing that I wish we had known before we went, it’s the sheer enormity of the national park. We (stupidly) went expecting to be able to turn up and just hike and didn’t really realise that it didn’t exactly work that way. The hiking trails in the park are spread out so it’s best to choose a few that you think look good before you go. When you get there you can use the public bus service to get between them. (More on that later.)

How to Plan an Independent Trip to Taroko Gorge National Park Taiwan

Mountains for days…

We shunned the public bus thinking that was cheating but ended up just cheating ourselves. If you want to see the most beautiful parts of the park, take the bus and get off at the spots you want to see. Don’t try and hike on the highway between each spot, it’ll take you forever.

There are a few areas worth staying in around the gorge, and each place has its own benefits. Here’s a breakdown.


Hualien is the closest “city” to Taroko Gorge. This is where most trains from Taipei will take you to. (Some can take you closer to the park, but they’re not as frequent and sell out quickly in the high season.) It’s most likely that you’ll start your trip to Taroko in this area and there is a fair amount of decent budget accommodation here. This area also has a wider selection of restaurants than other areas.

The only negative? You’re an hour away from the entrance to the national park. However, the public bus that can take you right through the park starts here. If you purchase an all day ticket for 200 NTD then you don’t need to worry about any additional travel costs that you might incur. You just need to worry about that extra hour of travel time.

Check these budget accommodation choices near Hualien station:

Bayhouse Comfortel Hualien Hostel, Hualien, Taiwan

Hualien Wow Hostel, Hualien, Taiwan

On My Way Hualien Hostel Backpacker, Hualien, Taiwan


Xincheng is half way between Hualien and Taroko Gorge and is the area that we decided to stay in. This area is close to the beach which is a beautiful place to visit if you want to have an extra day relaxing near the ocean. The beach is stunning with crystal blue water and mountains in the distance. To get to Taroko Gorge, you can take a bus that stops near the beach and, as above, you can get an all day ticket and not worry about travel costs. There is also a dedicated train station in the area where there are some trains that you can take to Taipei and beyond.

The downside? Well, you’re kind of in the middle. You’re not really in Taroko Gorge and not really in a particularly convenient city. In saying that, there is a fair selection of restaurants, convenience stores and (of course) bubble tea shops so you don’t need to worry about going hungry. Commuting between Hualien and Xincheng, then Xincheng and Taroko Gorge is a bit of a pain, though. We ended up spending unexpected money on taxis.

Accommodation is a little bit more expensive here but these are a couple of good picks!

Fanlin House, Xincheng Township, Taiwan

Creekside No 22 bnb, Xincheng Township, Taiwan


If I could do it all again, this is the area that I would stay in. Tiancheng is at the back entrance of the park and is truly in the heart of the gorge. If you want to wake up surrounded by mountains with everything on your doorstep, this is the place to stay. I didn’t actually consider this as an option when we were planning our trip and wish I had known of it sooner.

The main reason why we didn’t even consider staying here is, ironically, that we thought it looked really out of the way. And it is out of the way of train stations. To get here, you’ll need to take a bus from Hualien station (over an hour) but when you’re here, you’re here. This area is even served by (a less frequent) train so you can explore the gorge without even having to go via Hualien.

Tienhsiang Youth Activity Center is, undoubtedly, the best pick in the area!


I’m throwing this in just to make you aware that this is a very plausible option. A lot of people explore Taroko Gorge as a day trip from Taipei and, although it would be a bit rushed, it’s definitely doable. The train takes around 3 hours so you could leave the city at 6am then leave Taroko around 6pm and get back to Taipei by 9pm. You’d definitely be tired, but it’s worth considering if you only have a short amount of time in Taiwan and don’t want to move around hotels too much.

My accommodation choice would be Eight Elephants and Dreaming Dragon’s Hostel!

Getting Around Taroko Gorge

As I mentioned, Taroko Gorge National Park is a huge place and, although you might think you can explore it all on foot, you’ll be spending a lot of time walking on the motorway. There are a few ways you can get from place to place.

How to Plan an Independent Trip to Taroko Gorge National Park Taiwan


Taking the bus around Taroko Gorge is definitely the most budget-friendly option. The bus frequencies are every hour so you’ll have a bit of time to explore each area before moving on to the next place. You can buy an all day ticket for 200 NTD.

Car Hire

Car hire is the most comfortable and most flexible way to get around the park. Although it’s expensive, it could be worth considering if you’re travelling in a group of 4.


Like hiring a car, hiring a taxi for the day is another option to consider if you don’t want to worry about bus schedules. This is fairly expensive but ok when shared among a group.


If we ever come back to Taroko Gorge, we’dprobably hire some bikes. The main motorway area doesn’t have too much ascent so it’s definitely doable. Much quicker than walking, much more budget friendly and a bit more active and exciting than taking the bus.

Scooter Hire

We saw a few people on scooters and wished we had thought of it. All the same benefits of a bicycle, but a fair bit quicker. This option is much better value for money for solo travellers or couples who want the flexibility of having a car but don’t want to spend too much.

Drivers in Taiwan seem pretty considerate of their two-wheeled friends so don’t worry too much. Although you should always travel with insurance, this should be even more of a priority if you plan on hiring a scooter on your holiday. I recommend World Nomads.



Unless you have a load of time or just want to check out a few trails in the same area, I wouldn’t really recommend walking through the park. You’ll save so much time and see so much more beauty if you take one of the other options.

How to Get to Taroko Gorge

How to Plan an Independent Trip to Taroko Gorge National Park Taiwan

There are 3 train stations that serve Taroko Gorge National Park and I’ll explain a bit about each one.


This station has the largest frequency of trains from around the country and it’s most likely that you’ll come here. Taroko Gorge’s main entrance is about an hour away by bus.

Beipu Station

Close to the main entrance of Taroko Gorge. If you come here, it’ll take 10 minutes by bus to get to the national park. Trains to this station are much less frequent than trains to Hualien and can sell out quickly. Book ahead! Taiwan’s railway website is easy to use. I had no problem booking a train with my international card.

Tianxiang Station

Tianxiang Station has a similar frequency of trains to Xincheng so, again, book ahead. I recommend this station if you want to stay in this area. Also, it might a good idea to take the train into either Xincheng or Tiancheng and take your return journey from the other station. Tiancheng Station is at the back of the park and Xincheng is at the front so this will save you a return bus journey to get to the train station at the end of your trip!

Food and Drink

Taiwan 1 Week Itinerary

It’s possible to buy food or drink in the park. At the Taroko Gorge visitor centre, there is a restaurant selling (very over-priced) lunch sets and drinks. Good for a last resort.

The tianxiang area has a few different restaurants and food is reasonably priced. There is also a 7/11 here where you can pick up snacks for your trip.

Halfway through the national park there is an area called Bulliwon. Again, this area has a 7/11 but I’m not sure about the exact dining options as we didn’t make it there. (If anyone has been, leave me a comment and let me know so I can keep you guys updated!)

How Many Days should you Dedicate to Taroko Gorge?

We had 2 full days in the area. One day we spent relaxing around our hotel and one day was spent in the park itself. We took the train back to Taipei at the end of the night. This was a nice amount of time but we never managed to see everything that we wanted to because we spent so much time walking along the motorway (like a couple of idiots….)

How to Plan an Independent Trip to Taroko Gorge National Park Taiwan

If you want to do a few different trails in the park, you could easily spend 3 days there. If you just want to do 1, a half day would be fine, but a bit rushed. It all depends on how much of the park you want to see and how much time you have. If we ever come back (which we probably will), we’ve both agreed that we’d like to spend 2 full days in the park and really take our time hiking some of the longer trails.

Tips for your Taroko Gorge Trip

  • Book your train ahead if you want to take a train to Xincheng or Tiancheng station.
  • Although you will see people in jeans, flip-flops and heeled boots, I’d recommend wearing proper hiking gear. At the very least, bring a rain jacket as the area is prone to heavy rains. Wear appropriate footwear as the paths can get slippy and some of the rocks are shaky underfoot.
  • Choose your transportation wisely. Only commit to walking or cycling the full length of the park if you truly have the time. Otherwise, take a bus, taxi or hire a car or scooter depending on your budget.
  • Pack plenty of snacks and water as there can be large distances between refreshment stops.
  • Decide which area appeals most to you- do you want to stay in the heart of the park? Then, head for Tianxiang. Want to stay in the city with good dining options but have access to the park each day? Then head for Hualien. Want to be near the beach with access to some dining options? Go to Xincheng. Just keen for a day trip? Although you’ll be exhausted by the end of the day, it’s perfectly possible to stay in Taipei.

I hope this post will help you prepare for your trip to Taroko Gorge. If you do decide to go, please leave me a comment and let me know all about it. I really want to visit again but, for now, I’ll have to live vicariously through you guys!

How to Plan an Independent Trip to Taroko Gorge National Park Taiwan

Planning a trip to Taiwan? Don’t miss our 1-week itinerary!

This post contains affiliate links. As always, all opinions are my own.

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  • Reply
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    13th February 2017 at 7:15 pm

    […] We returned to the vibrant, capital city after getting acquainted with the mountains of Taiwan at Taroko Gorge National Park. As we were coming back for such a short time, we wanted to stay somewhere central and close to all […]

  • Reply
    7th March 2017 at 4:08 pm

    Very nice article… I like your writing skills & nice collection!

  • Reply
    13th August 2017 at 11:59 am

    Thank you so much! This is so helpful as I’m a solo traveler coming to Taiwan this September. I have 8 days but don’t like too rushed itineraries so I opt to Taipei, Hualien, and Tainan.

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      26th August 2017 at 8:54 am

      Thanks Hana- I hope you have an amazing trip! I never visited Tainan but that sounds like the perfect itinerary for 8 days 🙂

  • Reply
    19th September 2017 at 8:15 am

    Great post nicole, I am planning to take this trip but can’t manage to find trains to and fro. But lets say I do, how easy is it to find the public tour bus in hualien. I do see availability of onward train and not much return options but I am hoping I can find something back to Taipei.

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      20th September 2017 at 9:27 am

      Hi Chandan, Thanks so much for reading! That’s so exciting that you’re going to Taroko, it’s an amazing place. For trains, I used this website http://www.railway.gov.tw/en/index.aspx and booked them myself. It was simple, straight forward and meant I didn’t have to worry about anything getting lost in translation or trains selling out. There’s also the option to take a train to Luodong or Yilan and take the bus from there back to Taipei. When you exit Hualien station, you can’t miss the public tour buses so you should have no problem there! I’m sure they’ll be easy enough to spot.

      Hope this helps and that you have a great trip 🙂

  • Reply
    Kim Florendo
    6th October 2017 at 12:25 am

    Hi Nicole, thanks for this article! My friends and I are planning for an independent trip to Toroko Gorge on March 2018 and this article just gave us the much needed information. If you have more tips, we’ll be more than happy to hear from you. Kisses!

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      12th October 2017 at 1:17 pm

      Thanks Kim! I hope you guys have an amazing time!

  • Reply
    6th October 2017 at 7:40 pm


    This post is super helpful.
    Question: would i need to apply for a permit to walk on each of the trails? A bit confused since i read that some needs applications.

    Which trails would you recommend for a solo day hiker? I will be spending a full day there and hope to complete at least 2 long ones or 3 short ones. Thanks


    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      12th October 2017 at 1:17 pm

      Hi Sal, I’m not too familiar with the walking trails so I can’t give you a personal recommendation. We didn’t need any applications because we stuck to the beaten path. Maybe you’d require one for some of the more remote trails?

  • Reply
    Robert Blake
    1st November 2017 at 3:09 am

    Hi Nicole. My wife & I are going next week. We planned just to turn up at Taipei Main Station & take the next available train to Hualien. Find a hotel we fancy when we get there, and work out where to get the bus to Taroko for the next day. I guess we will find some sort of trail guide in Hualien? And if we take the day bus trip, can we just get on and off the bus at any stop – ie walk a trail then catch the next bus that comes along? Cheers, and thanks for the blog.

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      9th November 2017 at 12:36 am

      Hi Robert, that’s right! The all-day ticket allows you to do exactly that. We were also able to just turn up and take the train but I’d also look into booking online. The Taiwan train website is really user friendly and works perfectly!

  • Reply
    9th November 2017 at 11:23 am

    Hello Nicole,

    I am from the Czech republic. We are soon going to Hualien (by train) and would like to continue to Taroko by bus. What is the nearest hotel in Hualien to the bus station? Which bus station do we need to take. Is there any online timetable and possibility for reservation? Thank you very much. Stan

    • Reply
      Robert Blake
      9th November 2017 at 4:37 pm

      Hi. We are in Hualien and at the moment. The bus station and train station are in the same place. Plenty of cheap hotels around the station though we like Constellation Beach B&B about 5 mins away by taxi, and next to the famous night market. Take the bus no 1133 to Taroko Gorge. Leaves at 7 am, 8.30 am, then every hour or so. Costs ntd 250 for day ticket. Takes about 50 mis to Park Visitors Centre. No need tto book. We did several day trips up to do treks. Our favourite, and seriously challenging, is from the Visitor Centre up to the aboriginal village of Dali. Count on 6 hrs or so return if you are fit. Enjoy!

      • Reply
        Nicole Louise
        10th November 2017 at 6:13 am

        Thanks so much for sharing this info- I’m sure it will help out lots of travellers looking to fill in some of the gaps that I left in my post! 🙂

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      10th November 2017 at 6:14 am

      Hi Stan,

      Check out the tips that Robert has left! Hope you have a great time at Taroko 🙂

  • Reply
    12th November 2017 at 4:55 am

    Great tips! Thank you for your advice about “what you would have done differently”!

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      12th November 2017 at 11:18 am

      You’re welcome, Linda! Hopefully some of my mistakes can help other travellers out 🙂

  • Reply
    11th December 2017 at 7:06 pm

    Thank you for this! My mother, siblings and I are planning to go Taroko Gorge during out Taiwan trip in January. We prefer DIY than tours. But I have no idea which places in Taroko I would go to.

    Is it also easy to DIY with these places in mind? What do you think? Thanks so much.
    Eternal Spring Shine
    Mei Yuan Restaurant of the Silks Place
    Hualien Stone Sculpture Park
    Chi Hsing Beach
    Local marble factory

  • Reply
    25th December 2017 at 5:03 pm

    Thanks for this! I want to visit Taroko national park, and your information will help me so much to plan my trip further 🙂

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      5th January 2018 at 11:25 am

      Amazing, have a great trip Ailsa!

  • Reply
    7th February 2018 at 3:48 am

    Thank you for sharing more detailed information on this park 🙂 enjoyed your post

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      8th February 2018 at 11:30 am

      You’re welcome! Enjoy Taiwan! 🙂

  • Reply
    7th February 2018 at 10:42 pm

    Hi, thanks for sharing the tips. However, I can’t seem to find any station called Tiancheng nor Tiansiang on the train schedule? We’re planning to arrive early but the information center will only be open at 8am. Is it very important to visit the center before starting to explore Taroko?

    • Reply
      Robert Blake
      7th February 2018 at 11:22 pm

      The only reason to go to the visitor centre is that it seems to be the only place to obtain the trail guides (such as they are!).
      Are you sure everything is open, and that the rail link to Taipei is open? After yesterday’s earthquake, cerntered on Hualien, I doubt it very much!

      • Reply
        Nicole Louise
        8th February 2018 at 11:28 am

        Ohh, I’m not sure about that as I’m no longer in Taiwan! I visited last year. Maybe get in touch with Taroko Gorge National Park or Taiwan tourism board?

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