2016 Nov 22nd
- Visited: Weekday
- How to get there: Train to Hualien station, then bus to Taroko park
- NTD 880 (~ USD 30) for roundtrip from Taipei station to Hualien station
- NTD 250 (~ USD 8) for 1-day bus pass for Taroko park
- Tip: It’s a big park. Either budget time very well and get there early, or stay nearby the park overnight.
I bought the train ticket the night before because I read somewhere the tickets may sell out. The express tickets indeed sold out so I bought a 9AM ticket for non-express train, which takes an hour longer.
When I got to Taipei main station I had just enough time to buy the popular railway bento and a bottle of Pocari Sweat (NTD 78 ~ USD 3). I had not had anything that day so I started eating as soon as the train started.
Unfortunately, it didn’t taste that great. The green vegetable was fermented so that one wasn’t for everyone. The meat felt a little too salty as well. I didn’t feel hungry after but the portion was definitely on the small side.
I arrived at Hualien train station around noon and I wasn’t sure how to get to the park although I knew there was some bus. I walked to the information centre near the station and was told that there were tour buses that go around the park. I headed over to a scary-looking bus terminal and bought a day pass (NTD 250 ~ USD 8).
The bus, surprisingly, was very clean and comfortable.
The bus driver gave me a schedule of the bus routes. The bus goes to Tianxiang and back, and for some stops, the bus stops either only on the way to Tianxiang or only on the way to Hualien station. The bus runs approximately every hour.
I don’t remember why, but I got off at some random stop and started hiking. It kept going up and up and up, without a sign of turning West (which was what I was expecting), so I gave after a while and turned around. It turned out to be Dekalun trail, which apparently takes about 3 hours(!!!). I got back on the bus.
Next time I was more careful and got off at the Shakadang trail. It was a small path that was carved out of the mountain, which was really unique as I had never seen such trail before. It was raining but since the trail was covered it wasn’t too bad. The scenery along the trail was amazing! I felt like I was in some Asian historical fantasy fiction.
Yanzikou Trail (Shallow Grotto)
It was a very narrow valley with pitch-black caves that required flashlight. The scenery wasn’t as good as Shakadang trail but it was more fun and felt more adventurous. People from group tours had helmets on, and I later on saw some warning signs for falling rocks.
Chang Chun (Eternal Spring) Shrine
I arrived a little before 5 PM and the main trail to the shrine was already closed because it was near sunset. The other trail to a different shrine was still open, but since it was very steep and rain was heavy, I turned around in the middle.
I took the bus back to the Hualien bus terminal and had a bit of time before the return train. I walked a while and found a place called Boloking and bought a pineapple bun with butter (NTD 30 ~ USD 1) and it was delicious! The bread was hot (temperature wise) and slightly sweet with a bit of cookie-like crumbles on top. I walked back to the station, umbrella in one hand, bread in the other, dripping butter everywhere.
When I got back to the station I saw 7-eleven and bought some interesting looking latte drink (which turned out to be black tea latte) and a rice ball (salmon + mayonnaise + spicy flavour) for NTD 55 (~USD 2). They were both pretty good.
The day trip itself ended here, but I managed to lose my umbrella when I went back to Taipei. I was visiting another 7-eleven in the city (for something other than food) and left my umbrella outside the store, as was customary. However, somebody stole the umbrella and I had to get a cheap replacement. I actually did not have this issue before even though I left my umbrella outside multiple stores, so I was very disappointed.
Anyway, the Taroko national park was absolutely amazing. I really wished I had more time and I would love to visit again (hopefully on a sunny day).
If you’d like to see more posts from this trip, please visit here!