Taroko Gorge is one of my must go places in Taiwan because it looks extreeeeeeeeemly pretty in photos and videos.
Because we are going there, directly from the airport, we couldn’t meet the timing for the package KKDay offers at a relatively low price of S$30 per person. As tour packages start from S$200 per car of maximum 4 pax, which works out to more than S$50 per person. Thus, we decided to just go using public transportation. Contrary to beliefs, public transportation is slow, not worth the money, etc. However, we managed to cover a total of 5 locations, in our 4 hours there.
It might not be the best way to truly experience Taroko, but, for 4 hours, and on a budget travel, it is definitely worth it. When we were trying out this route, we actually met with our tourists, like us, who are there to explore the area. And definitely, striking a conversation is simply the best thing ever.
The ticket costs NT$250 (S$11.40), for a day worth of unlimited traveling in and out of Taroko is pretty worth it. And there are many buses and services which you can use, as follows.
Those highlighted are the buses that we took, in and out of Taroko. Which, sums up to 5 stops in Taroko, and it is more than enough for a short 4 hour trip. The drivers at Hualien station were pestering quoting us NT$2000 (S$90.90) for a 4-hour trip for me and my friend. And literally following us from the station, till we cross the road to drop our luggage. We kinda lied that we are waiting for friends. The drivers ended up communicating in Taiwanese, about us, and as I understand Hokkien, it wasn’t pleasant to hear what they have to say.
#1 – Tianxiang (天祥）
Initially, we wanted to skip this location, as it is too deep inside, and the ride was really full of turns and very bumpy. However, we totally did not regret just taking the bus all the way in, as this stop is really beautiful. To the extent, we even missed 2 buses, so to explore this stop instead of rushing to other stops.
We crossed the bridges, to reach to a temple, which gave us amazing view from the top of the temple.
#2 – Swallow Grotto (燕子口)
Another popular spot, especially for trekking. You can literally see people trekking from one end to another, and there was a period of time they will calling like swallows, which kinda caught attention from a some of us. There were also people flying drones to capture the view around. Trekking, unfortunately, requires a permit, to be applied few weeks in advance!
As we are more interested in the next stop, we decided not to explore much here, and catch the next bus.
#3 – Eternal Spring Shrine (長春祠）
This shrine is built to commemorate the 212 workers who died during the construction of the Central Cross-Island Highway. It is actually around a 20-minute walk to the shrine, and behind the shrine, there is actually a 2.2km trail with steep stairs to lead you to Guanyin Cave, Taroko Tower, and Bell Tower. It was actually closed when we were there, due to the recent rain.
But even without trekking, the view of the shrine is already very pretty. It is one of the most picturesque places in Taroko.
Rest stop for tourists.
#4 – Taroko Visitor Center
#5 – Taroko
Because there are so many people at Changchun Shrine, people literally squeeze to board the bus. Anyways, we went to Taroko Visitor Center, to walk to the Taroko Gate, was the driver told us that it is nearer that way. And, we get to visit 2 places, instead of 1. Turn out, it’s really nearer from the visitor center to the gate.
The famous sign of Taroko GorgeOf course, a photo with it.
After taking all the shots that we want to take, we walked to the bus stop for #5, to wait for the bus. A random bus came, and instead of going to Hualien Station, we managed to get to the night market, which is our next location on our itinerary. Yes, with the unlimited bus coupon.
If there is another chance for me to go to Taroko, I will definitely go, and this time, I would definitely love to trek at Changchun Shrine, also, to Cingshuei Cliff and Boluowan. If I can choose, I will still definitely take the bus, instead. However, I will not be able to reach Cingshuei Cliff with the bus.