Most visitors to Taroko Gorge visit the gorge itself and stop there. However, there’s far more to the area than just the magnificent marble cliffs and hiking trails complemented by gorgeous turquoise waters. Here’s how to spend an incredible eight days in and around Taroko Gorge and down Taiwan’s east coast. (Read more: Beauty in the east: five days on Taiwan’s east coast)
Day 1 – Taipei to Hualien
Depart Taipei and drive down Taiwan’s scenic east coast – one of the most beautiful parts of the country and arguably Asia as a whole. Along your way down the Suhua Highway, you’ll stop off at Qingshui Cliff before visiting the wonderful Qixingtan Beach. After lunch, enjoy a relaxing afternoon at Liyu Lake before having the chance to explore Hualien’s urban side.
Day 2 – Hualien and east coast
Roast your own coffee while overlooking the Pacific Ocean with Haian Coffee (“Haian” in Chinese means “coast,” so it’s literally coastal coffee). Visit the fascinating, naturally eroded Baxian Cave after your indigenous-style lunch and then stop off to see an incredibly interesting member of the Yongfu tribe – an 80-year-old grandpa who is a master of making crystal sea salt, also known as fleur de sel. See your day out in style, dining at a Michelin-star restaurant that uses locally sourced ingredients for a true Taiwanese taste. (Read more: Coffee in Taiwan – How an Island of Tea-drinkers came to love the bean!)
Day 3 – Hualien to Taitung
Head to Sanxiantai to see the incredible eight-arched cross-ocean bridge, before visiting the Pisirian (比西里岸) tribe and taking in their excellent drum show. After lunch, brave the monkeys of Donghe Bridge before a hands-on indigenous experience making either soap or millet wine known as kavava.
Day 4 – Taitung Luye to Taitung Chishang
Blow your mind with the panoramic view of the beautiful East Rift Valley from the Luye highland before driving to Chishang, home of Taiwan’s best rice, for lunch. Next, cycle through the Chishang rice paddies before a chill end to the day at the Dapochih Wetlands. (Read also: The Chishang Autumn Harvest Festival: Culture, Beauty And World Class Entertainment)
Day 5 – Taitung to Hualien
Stop at the Tropic of Cancer Marker before heading to the Tafalong (太巴塱) Amis tribe. They’ll take you on a tour of a local market before you enjoy a locally-inspired cooking class. Take in a local performance before digging into a feast with the Tafalong community, and, if you’re lucky, they’ll teach you a traditional tribal dance. (Read more: 3 tribes you need to visit in eastern Taiwan)
Day 6 – Hualien to Taroko Gorge
Probably Taiwan’s most beautiful natural scenic spot, on the sixth day of your tour, you’ll finally make it to Taroko Gorge. Your entire day will be spent exploring and trekking through the gorge before you spend the night and have dinner at a luxury hotel within the national park itself.
Day 7 – Taroko Gorge to Yilan
Drive along Qingshui Cliff on the way to the stunning crystal-clear waters of Dong’ao Bay. Next, take in some folk culture at the National Center for Traditional Arts at Yilan Park, before spending the night in Jiaoxi at a hot spring hotel.
Day 8 – Yilan to Taipei
Start the morning by stretching your legs and taking in some fresh forest air with a leisurely walk along the Linmei Shipan Trail. After lining your stomach with some local Yilan delights, head to the Kavalan whisky distillery for a tour and a tasting before heading back to Taipei. Drink as much as you like, you’re not driving! (You might also like: A Tale of Cocktails: Five of Taipei’s Freshest Bars)
Like the sound of this incredible eight-day experience? You can book your spot here.
(Cover photo: MyTaiwanTour)