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 sometimes 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.
Visitors who neither rent a car nor join a tour will likely arrive in Hualien by train or airplane, then take a bus or taxi into Taroko Gorge. Express trains from Taipei to Hualien take between two and three-and-a-half hours. Some stop at Xincheng, which is actually closer to the gorge. For travellers coming from Taiwan’s south or southeast, consider taking a train through the East Rift Valley – it’s one of Taiwan’s most scenic rail journeys.
A domestic flight is obviously much quicker – it takes just 40 minutes to fly to Hualien from Taipei. Not surprisingly, the airfare is more than four times the train fare.
There’s no bus service from Taipei to Hualien or Taroko Gorge, although the one bus per day from Puli (service 6506) is a way of getting to the gorge if starting from Sun Moon Lake, although this means changing at Dayuling onto service 1141. It’s a whole day spent on buses, and reaching the gorge before dusk isn’t possible. Local buses run between Xincheng and Tianxiang, the village at the top of the gorge, six times per day, but they do make stops at several attractions. 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 above sea level.