If you are visiting Taiwan, or if you are new to Taiwan, you have most likely heard of Hualian and Taroko National Park. It is an iconic destination, no less visually striking than Big Sur, Cape Breton, or the Coast of Brava and it is one of the most beautiful places in Taiwan. There are an incredible number of blogs, websites, and resources out there to help you plan your visit, but we wanted to create a post with a few of our favorite things in Hualian and Taroko that you should not miss

Visiting Hualian (A Prelude) 1
Photo by Kuan Liao on Unsplash



“I was bleary-eyed and ready to fall back asleep and somehow I found myself on a scooter at 5 am in the morning heading north up the coast to catch a view of the sunrise from the Qingshui Cliff… That view and that photo would be the picture on my phone screen for the next two years.”

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Photo by Chen Diego on Unsplash

Steamed Buns

Located downtown Hualian are two of the best steamed buns (包子) stands on the Island, perhaps anywhere. Both Gongzheng Baozi and Zhou Jia Steamed Dumplings make incredible xiao long bao, steamed buns, dumplings and more. You will often find long lines of both locals and foreigners alike queued up outside each establishment. It’s a bit of a heated debate about which place is better, so we will let you pass your own verdict and simply suggest that you try them both. While there are other things on the menus, it may take you a while to reach them as the prices for a basket of baozi or steamed buns is remarkably affordable and you may find that you can’t stop after just one. 慢慢吃 (enjoy).

Location: Zhou Jia Steamed Dumplings

Location: Gongzheng Baozi

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Photo Credit: Wandering Fel

The Swallow Grotto

When you make it to Taroko National Park, make sure to stop and walk through the Swallow Grotto. It is a winding trail carved into the cliff face located a few turns up from the Taroko National Park Visitor Center. The trail itself is named for the swallows and swifts that inhabit the carved marble cliff face along the river.

Location: Swallow Grotto Trail (燕子口步道)

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Photo Credit: Tour Hualien

“From the coast, the mountains are imposing — they seem rise almost straight out of the sea into the clouds. However, it wasn’t until I got into Taroko Gorge that I began to understand ‘this is a National Park on scale and par with some of the best that we have in the United States.’ The carved swirling marble walls felt like a strange echo to the curving redrock canyons of the American Southwest. I had both been here before and was completely blown away.”

— An American visitor commenting on a trip to Taroko National Park
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Photo Credit: Smithsonian Magazine
He Huan Shan

“You can drive from sea level up to ten thousand feet in a few hours.” 

— Peaking into the ‘Alps of Taiwan’ from the top of Taroko Gorge

Sunrise at Qingshui

If you have a car and can get out of Hualian early in the morning, it is worth making your way up to Qingshui Cliffs to view the sunrise. It’s about a 45 minute drive from downtown Hualian so give yourself plenty of time to get there. There are a few spots with pullouts as well as access to the beach that you can choose from. Regardless, it often will make for some very scenic photos with the sun rising over the ocean against the white cliffs and green hillsides.

Location: Qingshui Cliffs

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Photo Credit: Thunderbolt TW

Driving to the Top of the Gorge

This one doesn’t make it to the top of many lists regarding Hualian, but we believe it should. Most of the more popular tourist attractions in Taroko National Park are located towards the bottom of the gorge, but if you continue up the very windy road, you will eventually make to the upper reaches of the Taroko Gorge watershed and to Mount Hehuan or Hehuanshan (合歡山). This region is an entirely different bio zone from the coastal region of Hualian and a place to see spruce and pine trees, high alpine meadows, and even snow in the winter and spring time. To reiterate it is a long VERY WINDY drive. Go slowly, only in good weather, and make sure your car has a good set of brakes and a full tank of gas.

Location: Hehuanshan

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Photo Credit: Ryan Hevern

“My brother and I still talk that run from Crossing the Rainbow’s Bridge B&B up to the Swallow’s Grotto and back. Looking back, that jog may have been one of the best of our lives.”

— Memories of Adventures in taiwan

“Just make sure you don’t look down!”

– In reference to hiking the Zhuilu Old Trail

Hiking Zhuilu Old Trail

If you like heights, you will love this hike. The Zhui Lu Old Trail is a 6 km roundtrip hike on a cliff face 700 meters above a river. It was an old indegenous hunting trail the Japanese forcibly expanded during the Colonial Period. It takes 3-6 hours and has a few suspension bridges as well as a couple steep sections. Make sure you bring water and are physically and mentally able to take on this hike — there is no guardrail. The Park only allows a certain number of people on this trail per day and you need to make your reservation in advance. The reservation website can be found here. Happy sky-walking.

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Photo Credit: Planet of Adventures

Take a River Tour

Perhaps you have heard of River Tracing, a pastime in Taiwan and elsewhere around the globe where guides lead visitors on an adventure up a river. It often entails wading through the current, climbing over boulders, and jumping into pools as you make your way along the path of the river. It is a full day’s workout and it isn’t for the faint of heart, but it sure is fun. If you are in Hualian, and are looking for some excitement, think about taking a river tracing tour.

There are a number of companies out there, but these two could be good places to start:

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Photo by Anledry Cobos on Unsplash

More Hualian and Taroko Resources:

We hope you enjoyed perusing or selection of “must do and see” in Hualian and Taroko National Park. As we mentioned previously, this is by no means an exhaustive list. Check out a few of the blogs and websites below to get an idea of other things to do and see during your visit. Happy travels.

Hualian and Taroko Links:


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