Monday, 10 June 2013

Taiway Day 30: Taraoko Gorge and Hualien

Day Thirty

It is only 11:30pm right now but feeling sleepy as I'm typing this because Hui Chee and I woke up at 4:30am this morning to arrive in time for our 6:10am train to Hualien. We were lucky to ride the newest train from the Tze Chang line which got us to Hualien by 8:15am.




We joined a local tour agency in Hualien which offered a one day tour of Taraoko Gorge for NT1000 per person (agency contact below). There are supposedly shuttle buses in the national park but I didn't see any during our entire day there. It is not possible to walk to the main points of the park because there are no street lights so one must be out before dark. Most people opted to drive, ride a large tour bus or rent a private taxi, although I did see some motorbikes and bicycles as well.

Our tour guide picked us up from the Hualien train station and then four others in his van before setting off for the park. We stopped at a place called "Clear Water Cliff" on the way. The silhouettes were really beautiful.

Clear Water Cliff
Clear Water Cliff
Tour guide taking photo for our tour mates
Soon we were at the entrance to Taraoko National Park which is actually the arch in the background but the rock was created so tourists could take photos without standing in the middle of the road.

Entrance to Taraoko National Park
First stop inside Taraoko was this bridge which is made of marble and lions of different expressions. Hualien is known as the city of marble because the Taraoko area has a large deposit of marble. On the side of the bridge was the door to a trail along the mountain. We were given an hour to walk along there.

Marble bridge
Marble lion
Entrance to trail from the bridge
The trail itself was easy to walk because it was paved nicely although it might be a bit cramped for those nearing 6 feet tall because the rock roof overhead isn't that high.

Walk along the trail
It started raining as we approached our next stop which was this Eternal Life Temple situated on top of a waterfall. We took a 10 minute walk along the mountain to reach the temple and it felt so nice to stand on the bridge that covers the waterfall.

Eternal Life Temple
Entrance of the walk to the temple
Top of the waterfall
This next place was my favourite stop at Taraoko: Swallow Grotto Trail. Free helmets are provided for tourists because there is the danger of rocks falling overhead but we didn't use them because we  took the cave route.

Swallow Grotto Trail
Cave trail
Parent putting on helmet for child
On this trail I was able to see swallows fly in front of me and the depth of the mountains up close. The only problem with this trail was that it was filled with tourists so one could not enjoy the vastness of nature in peace.

Swallow Grotto Trail
Lunch was included in the tour which we had the Buluoge area visitor centre. Originally we were going to eat at the first train station stop in Taraoko but the road there was closed for maintenance.

Buluoge Visitor Centre
Lunch!
Back in Hualien, we went to this dried squid museum which had many tasters for us to try! It is located next to the seaside and by Hualien's airforce base but we didn't go to the seaside since it was raining heavily.


The tour ended at 4:00pm at the Hualien Train Station. On our way back to Taipei, we stopped briefly at Luodong to see what the nightmarket was all about. I read online that it is really big but when we were there it was relatively uncrowded and it didn't seem to be that special. I can find the same food sold in Taipei's nightmarkets without having to make a trip out to Luodong.

Luodong
It is possible to do a one day trip to Hualien, see Taraoko National Park and make it back to Taipei by the evening without taking a plane like many tour agencies promote! The train is very convenient and you can return to Taipei within 2 to 4 hours depending on the train you pay for.

Despite the rain, I'm glad I got to see such a beautiful side of Taiwan.


Take care,





Tour Agency Contact
Taiwan phone number: 0972501921
Note: I do not have the exact name of the agency because it was recommended by a relative of a friend. But their company was affiliated with a 5 star hotel in Hualien to bring the hotel guests on tours so they are credible.
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18 comments:

  1. Hi Vivien, where did you book the daily tour to the Taroko? at taipei or hualien? also, did you use your 5 day pass TR to travel from taipei to hualien? Thanks so much for your info!

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    1. hello! I booked the day tour for Taroko by phone while in Taipei and just paid them in person when I arrived. I bought a train ticket from Taipei to Hualien because I needed to arrive in Hualien by 9am and the 5 Day Pass TR trains would be much too slow.

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  2. Thanks so much for the info, Vivien! I really like your travel blog!

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  3. I forgot to ask you: do you have the agency info? Thanks!

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    1. I am so sorry for the uber late reply! Thank you so much for your compliment and I finally found the agency info (couldn't find it for the longest time ><). It's updated at the bottom of the post. Hope you still got to Taroko okay!

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  4. Hi Vivien, could you provide the telephone number of the Hualien/Taroko tour agency that you used please ?

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    1. Hello P Ch, I just updated the blogpost, the information is at the bottom. Have a good day :)

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  5. Hi,I want to ask is the guide can speak English? Thank you

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    1. Hello Marcelli, this particular guide did not speak English but I am uncertain if the tour company has anyone else that can speak English!

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  6. Hey Vivien may I ask if the tour u called the person the other 4 person with u in the van . Did u find them or they found the tour guide them self and may I ask if the tour fee is it no matter how many people it's jus 1000

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  7. Hey Vivien may I ask if the tour u called the person the other 4 person with u in the van . Did u find them or they found the tour guide them self and may I ask if the tour fee is it no matter how many people it's jus 1000

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    Replies
    1. Hello! Sorry for my late reply. The other people in the tour were other participants that I did not know. No matter how many people are in the tour, the fee is flat 1000. But the car only fits 7-8 passengers maximum, therefore the tour is still small.

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  8. Hi vivien. Just want to know, when u reach hualien, did they approach u or u need to find the tour guide?

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    1. Hi Angeline, we had booked the tour guide ahead of time and met him at Hualien station so he could pick us up.

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  9. Hi Vivien, thanks for your blog post! It's very helpful. By the way, I found out that the tour agency is called 春悅旅行社, in case anyone needs it.

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  11. Hi Vivien,

    Just wondering, do you know whether its possible to get a private tour from your agency? It is possible to limit the no. of people you head out to Taroko with?

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    1. Sorry for the late reply. I'm sure you can call and ask for a private tour. Our tour only had 3 other people excluding the driver so it was relatively small already. You price will just increase if you want a private car.

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