The natural beauty of Taiwan's Taroko National Park
With friendly people, great food, and a number of attractions, Taiwan is a destination that should be on every tourist's travel plans for 2011.
What should really persuade potential tourists to visit are Taiwan's natural attractions, with the Taroko National Park near Hualien getting top billing.
Here are some of the park's top spots.
The Taroko Gorge is a spectacular 19-kilometer long canyon in Taiwan's east coast a short drive from Hualien. The climate is usually cool and humid, but again perfect for any of the trekking options at any of the long or short trails available, biking or whitewater rafting.
It's just over 60 kilometers from the coast, yet it is home to some of the highest peaks in Taiwan at over 3,400 meters.
It can be easily visited by bus, car or scooter and has enough treks to keep you busy for several days, but most people usually only visit it on one.
How to get there
Taroko Gorge is close to Hualien, so an early morning start is recommended. That is unless it's raining or you're traveling with kids, in which case I recommend renting a scooter.
Be aware that most of the rental agencies will ask for an International Driver's License, and the drive from Hualien to the Gorge will take about 30 minutes along a beautiful (and dangerous) road snaking next to the Liwu River.
Beaches near Taroko Gorge
One of the best ways to call off a day at the gorge is by heading to any of the great nearby beaches: Hualien beach, picture-perfect QiXingtan beach (reachable along the bike trail from Hualien too) or Jici beach for those who want to hit the surf when in season.
Tunnels, shrines and waterfalls
More Taroko National Park highlights include the Tunnel of 9 Turns (a man-made pedestrian-only tunnel that follows the river offering dramatic views), a dip in the Eternal Springs Shine during the unbearably hot summer months, a walk up the steps to Hsiang-Te temple and getting wet in the Water Curtain Tunnels along the trail to Baiyang Waterfall (currently closed due to landslide danger).
For more information please visit the Taroko National Park website.
Federico submitted this piece as part of CNNGo’s CityPulse section. To find out what other stories we are looking for, go to our CityPulse page.