If you’ve heard of only one natural attraction in Taiwan, it’s probably the magnificent marble defile in Hualien called Taroko Gorge. This 19km-long gorge, centerpiece of Taroko National Park, is a natural wonder that mustn’t be rushed.
The best possible way to appreciate its impossibly steep sides and twisting bends is to have a driver who drops you at certain spots so you can walk for a while, then pick you up and take you on to the next scenic highlight. Don’t forget to look down into the vividly blue river, which is littered with bungalow-sized boulders.
Swimming in the river isn’t allowed, but Taroko Gorge has its own entirely natural hot springs at Wenshan. Lingering there after stretching your legs on one of the area’s many hiking paths – the cliffside Old Zhuilu Road offers heart-stopping views, but the Shakadang Trail is more family friendly – is a tradition among repeat visitors.
The national park entices high-altitude hikers with peaks such as Nanhudashan (3,740m) and Hehuanshan (3,416m). The first is rated one of Taiwan’s most beautiful mountains, while the second – accessed from Nantou County via a high-altitude highway – often sees snow in December and January.