Taroko National Park is located in Hualien. The park is surrounded by mountains and is famous for its landscape and gorge. From Taipei, it would take more than 3 hours to be there by train. That meant 6 hours for round trip. Some people chose to stay overnight in Hualien, while others made it as a day trip from Taipei.
I chose the latter choice. I made an appointment with my friend at Taipei train station. We started the day quite early because we knew that we would spend hours on the train. We were a little bit confused with the Chinese language on the ticket, so it took us for a while to find the platform. I was really surprised that the train came on time (as you may know, the trains in Thailand are always delay). On the train, most of the seats were vacant.
After around 3 hours on the train, we finally reached Hualien train station. From there, there were several options to go to Taroko National Park. The first choice was private car which was impossible because we did not have a car in Taiwan. The second choice was taxi. At that time it costed around 1,000 to 1,500 NT$ depending on negotiation with the driver. The third choice was the bus tours. If you choose this choice, you could buy a ticket from either Taipei or Hualien. And the fourth choice was free shuttle bus.
And of course I chose the last choice because it was FREE. This shuttle bus offers 12 pick-up points. The drawbacks of this option were limited route, limited number of pick-up points, and waiting time for the next shuttle bus. If you want to go to another route or get off at other points, you have to choose other choices.
We decided to get off at Buluowan because we saw the sign of fork, spoon, and plate and many people got off there. We did not have many choices because we were so hungry and there was only one restaurant.
After that we walked around and got lost.
We managed ourselves to be back to the pick-up point and waited for the shuttle bus. And our next stop was Swallow Grotto. This spot was worth getting off the bus.
From there we took the shuttle bus back to Hualien train station because it was getting dark and we did not want to wait for a shuttle again. We did not see much there like we planned (I wanted to get off at Tunnel of Nine Turns) because we spent a lot of time waiting around for a shuttle.
We tried to buy tickets back to Taipei, we then realized that the train was full every round until midnight. Anyway, the ticket sellers told us that we could buy tickets, but there was no seat available which means we had to stand for 3 hours while boarding. Well, we wanted to go back, so we had no choice. We bought the ticket with the same price when coming, but without seat. 🙁
When boarding, I saw many people who got “no seat” ticket finding some corners in the train to sit. So, we did so! And finally we were back to Taipei safely.
All in all, it was a tiring day. The place is worth visiting. But, if I could turn back time, I would still go there as a day trip, but I would book the train ticket back to Taipei in advance and I would not choose the free shuttle bus option. The shuttle bus was free, but it did not allow me to see things that I wanted to see. If you plan to go to Taiwan, I recommend you to visit Taroko, but do not take the free bus. I do recommend the taxi, because many things are worth seeing.
Have you ever been to Taroko National Park? Have you stayed overnight in Hualien? Do you like it there? Share your experience with me in the comments!