Getting To & Getting Around Taroko Gorge
Getting a rental car from any of the major cities to Taroko Gorge isn’t too difficult or arduous, but traffic within the gorge often makes driving less than fun. Those driving to the area may want to leave their car at their hotel or homestay and use taxis, buses, or bicycles to explore the gorge itself. An alternative is to arrange a Life of Taiwan private tour and let one of our expert driver-guides deal with the logistics.
Visitors who neither rent a car nor join a tour will likely arrive in Hualien by train, then take a bus or taxi into Taroko Gorge. The fastest express trains from Taipei to Hualien take just over two hours but not all of them stop at Xincheng, which is closer to the gorge than Hualien itself. For travellers coming from Taiwan’s south, consider taking a train through the East Rift Valley. It’s one of Taiwan’s most scenic rail journeys.
A domestic flight is much quicker, it taking just 50 minutes to fly to Hualien from Taipei. However, following improvements to the rail service, flights have become so infrequent as to be inconvenient. What’s more, the airfare is around four times the train fare.
There are also a few bus options. In each direction, one bus per day connects Nangang in Taipei with Hualien. This service is numbered 1071 or 1663 depending which company is operating it; travel time is 3 hours 20 minutes. The daily 1141 bus between Lishan in Taichung and Hualien goes right through Taroko Gorge, stopping at Swallow Grotto, Changchun Shrine, and other major tourist spots. Local buses run between Xincheng and Tianxiang, the village at the top of the gorge, several times per day, stopping en route at several attractions including the entrance to the Shakadang Trail and Buluowan. Travel time to Tianxiang is around an hour.
Taroko Gorge by bike is an option for the fit and adventurous. It’s a way of avoiding parking problems, but anyone considering it should be prepared for some challenging gradients, as the road climbs steadily to Tianxiang, 480 m (1,575 ft) above sea level.