We began our third day early because we had booked a Taroko Gorge Day Tour through Klook. The tour package cost approximately S$50+ per person and included coach pick-up and drop-off at A-Zone (Hualien Cultural and Creative Industries Park), a Mandarin-speaking tour guide, and lunch.
Book the tour via Klook
If you want to book this same tour, you can use my link to sign up for Klook and receive a S$5 discount.
Pine Garden 松園別館
After a short drive, the coach dropped us off at Pine Garden on Songyuan Street. Our tour guide informed us that we only had 30 minutes here. The admission fee to Pine Garden was NT$60 and was not included in the tour price.
Pine Garden was built in 1942 as a military command centre for the Japanese army in Hualien. The building used to be located within a pine forest, hence the name. Pine Garden now serves as a history museum as well as a cultural venue, hosting art exhibitions, art lectures, and/or performances on a regular basis.
We chose to explore what was nearby rather than going into Pine Garden because it didn’t sound particularly exciting, and because time was limited.
Next door was this place (臥松園區) with a lot of interesting outdoor wood carving art pieces. The setting reminded me of a garden and the pine trees create a zen-like atmosphere.
Moving inside, there was a larger selection of wooden art pieces, decorative objects, furniture, and paintings for sale.
We were then taken to what appeared to be a private residence for lunch. It was most likely a private kitchen that collaborated with the tour agency to cater lunch for tour participants, rather than a restaurant open to the public.
Imagine living here and waking up every morning to this breathtaking mountain view. Oh, my goodness! The atmosphere was just so relaxed.
At the point of booking the tour on Klook, we were requested to indicate what we wanted for lunch and we chose pork curry and vegetable curry. According to the tour guide, the meal was farm to table, and the spices used were organic and non-toxic (在地小農契作無毒香料咖喱).
This was probably the healthiest meal we’ve had since coming to Taiwan, lol!
The pork curry was flavourful, with a rich coconut milk flavour. The curry sauce was creamy and thick. The meat was tender. It also contained carrots and potatoes.
The vegetable curry was also delicious. It included mushrooms, sugar snap peas, bell peppers, and broccoli. The curry sauce was a little thinner and watery, but it was still flavourful.
If you book the tour without lunch, you should bring some food with you because there was nowhere to buy food where we ate.
Qingshui Cliff 清水斷崖
We continued on the Chongde Trail after lunch to see Qingshui Cliff, a towering cliff that rises above the Pacific Ocean and provides breathtaking views of the coastline.
This is one of Hualien’s most well-known scenic spots.
What makes this location unique is that we will be able to see the three distinct colour tones that comprise the Pacific Ocean.
Taroko Gorge / Taroko National Park 太魯閣國家公園
We then proceeded to Taroko Gorge, the main attraction of this day tour. Taroko Gorge is a scenic canyon with marble cliffs, rivers, cascading waterfalls, and lush forests. The Liwu River carved the canyon, which is located within Taroko National Park.
Visitors to Taroko Gorge can take a scenic drive along the canyon road, go hiking along the canyon trails, and explore the area’s temples and shrines, which are dotted throughout the area. It is a popular tourist destination in Taiwan, attracting millions of visitors each year.
Taroko Gorge is also a popular destination for rock climbers, who come to scale its towering cliffs and take in the breathtaking views from the top.
We were unable to visit the Eternal Spring Shrine because it was undergoing maintenance. It’s a beautiful temple nestled into the hillside, atop a waterfall stream that, according to legend, never stops flowing (hence the name of the shrine). We could only photograph it from the Zhangchun Bridge.
After donning safety helments, we went on the Swallow Grotto Trail, also known as Yanzikou, and travelled deep into the national park, passing through tunnels and stopping at the best viewpoint for viewing the river’s most dramatic parting of the gorge. This trail is named after the gorge’s resident swallows. The total hike distance was approximately 1.3km.
Buluowan was the settlement built by Taroko’s aborigines near the Liwu River.
We went to this large hill-top terrace, which houses the Buluowan Service Station and an exhibition hall where visitors can learn about aboriginal culture, particularly the Taroko tribe, after whom the gorge and park are named.
Qixingtan (Seven Stars Beach) was the final stop of the tour. It is named Qixingtan because its shape is like the Big Dipper. The beach is known for its clear blue waters, pebble stones, and breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
It was a lot of fun stacking rocks to make cairns, haha.
The day tour lasted approximately 8 hours. It was a wise decision to join the tour because it allowed us to visit several scenic locations on the same day.
Taroko Gorge was breathtaking. We wished we had spent more time there. The hike along the Swallow Grotto Trail felt pretty rushed. We’d love to return when we next visit Hualien. But we’d probably go on a hiking tour instead so we could make the most of our time at the gorge. Nonetheless, if you’re visiting Hualien for the first time, this is a good tour to take because having transportation provided from point to point is very convenient and saves a lot of time.
Those who are not staying in Hualien can also book a day trip to Taroko Gorge from Taipei.
Taroko Gorge is a must-see destination for all nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts!