Today we are going to Hualien by TRA train (The train ticket can be purchased via online around 2 weeks before the due date). The train tickets to Hualien are easily sold-out so we suggest for those who want to travel to Hualien should purchase the tickets immediately at the time when they are available to purchase.
From our hotel, we walked to Taipei Main station and searched for the Sign of TRA train to take the train to Hualien. After arrived at TRA station, we take the number 4 platform.
Just for information, there are no train available to cross central of Taiwan because there are mountains in the middle of Taiwan that also called as Central Mountain Range that runs from the north of the island to the south. So, all the train just circling around the Taiwan (clockwise or counter-clockwise).
The other option, You also can choose to travel by car from Taichung to Hualien via Central Cross – Island Highway but this option maybe a little bit dangerous due to mountainous road across mountains, you need a profesional driver to this journey.
There are 2 type of TRA trains : express and ordinary train. You can choose based on your desired time, but the express one usually easily sold out. Our depart tickets to Hualien was the express ticket that took time 2 hours and 7 minutes.
In our Hualien trip, we book a private car charter from Klook about 2500 NTD for 8 hours. When we arrived at Hualien Station, the driver already waited for us in front of the Hualien Visitor Center. Unexpected, the car we rented wasn’t a van car/ minibus but a local Taxi, maybe KLook have a cooperation with the local Taxi.
The driver can’t speak English, so for who doesn’t understand Mandarin, can rent a car with a driver that can speak English but the price is a little bit expensive.
Tarako gorge is a must visited place in Taiwan .The scenery at Tarako Gorge is very spectacular, such a refreshing view. You can enjoy the fresh air and see mountain, various types of rocks, cliffs and many plants that is hard to find in big city.
Our journey started from:
1. Qingshui Cliff
Just one word to describe the Qingshui view “Amazing” ! The view is really beautiful, it seem the sky blending with the sea. Really impressed me and my husband ❤️
2. Shakadang Trail
Shakadang trail (砂卡礑步道) is well-known for the crystal-clear turquoise water. But in 2012, the Typhoon Soala attacked Taroko Gorge so some of the scenery of the Shakadang Trail was severely damaged and most of the crystal-clear turquoise water was filled by landslides but its still beautiful and you will be amazed by nature’s creations in here.
One thing to keep in mind, please watch out your head when passing under overhanging rocks.
We walked along the trail with this beautiful scene, and before we knew it we already walked for 1 km. A little bit tiring but this is a pleasant moment to enjoy.
Our taxi driver told us to just walk until 1 km and head back to starting point because its probably not enough time to visit another places if we walked more.
3. Swallow Grotto
Before we continue our journey to Swallow Grotto, the taxi driver took us to a local restaurant to take lunch. I don’t remember the restaurant’s name but I clearly remembered it’s near Taroko Gate. And the food costed NTD 1200 for 4 people meals which i can say, was really overprice, fortunately the taste were not bad! Well if they taste bad, that would break my heart 😅. The restaurant serves local menus like: wild meat boar, fish, vegetables, soup etc. (Too bad i didn’t take any pictures because we’re so straving that time)
In Taroko Gorge, the food choices or restaurant are limited so the price is very expensive, I suggest to bring your own lunch or snacks when visiting the Taroko Gorge.
After finished our lunch, the driver took us to Swallow Grotto or so called Yanzikou trail (燕子口步道). Before arrived Yanzikou, the driver stopped at safety helmets collection point to pick up safety helmets for us (no charged fee, but the helmets must return back to the place we borrowed). The driver said, there was a risk of rockfalls from the rock cliff in this area so wore helmet more safety.
I purposely do not wear the helmet because the helmet is so hard and uncomfortable to wear on my head. But for your own safety, just wear the helmet. 😉
The trail is share between pedestrians and automobiles (one-way traffic), so we must beware of the vehicles passing by.
The wall on each sides of the river, have holes which form natural nesting places for spring swallow bird. And if you pay attention on east side from Grotto, the rocks color aren’t grey-black color but yellow-brown color.
Not far from Grotto, we can see Jinheng Bridge and statue of the chief engineer Jinheng.
The original bridge name was Bailong Bridge but was renamed to commemorate the Chief engineer Jinheng that have died because a landslide swept him while he was inspecting some damages that caused by an earthquake in the very same day.
Buluowan is a large hill-top terrace home to a grassland great for a picnic and resting, in here we can see several exhibition halls where visitors can learn about aboriginal culture and specifically the Taroko tribe and have several trail to see the unique plants, flowers, rocks, tree, etc.
- In Firethorn Trail (狀元紅步道), you can see Formosa Firethorn trees which bloom in April and May and whose white flowers resemble the Mumeplant Japanese Apricot. The trees produce bright red and yellow fruits in late fall which attract high-mountain birds during the winter.
- In Bamboo Groves Trail (竹林步道), you can see the Bamboo Forest (桂竹林) and well as an interesting sight of a large rock being completely embraced by the Strangling Figs Tree (樹抱石, or tree hugs rockin Chinese).
- In Meander Core Trail (環流丘步道), you can see the huge rocks and Interesting flora along this trail include the Formosa Lily, Azalea, Subsostate Crape Myrtle, and the Formosan Ash.
Due to the time constraints, the driver just took us to The Meander Core Trail (環流丘步道). We spend about 20 minutes in this place.
5. Changchun Shrine
The Changchun Shrine was built to commemorate 212 veterans who died while constructing the Central Cross-Island Highway. The temple was built right on top of the natural waterfall streams and the waterfall is known as the Changchun (eternal) Waterfall because the water never stop flowing all year long.
For the people who want to visit the temple (the driver told us, the temple is not open to public), you can go through the Changchun Trail which located at the base of the Old Changchun Bridge (舊長春橋), near with the Changuang Temple (禪光寺).
6. Changchun Trail
In order to arrive at the entrance gate of the Changchun Trail, we must through the Suspension Bridge and the bridge is made by wood. The bridge can only load 5 peoples or maximum 350 kg.
For people who have high phobia, it’s better for you not to cross the bridge because when another people walk across the bridge, you could feel the bridge swing and not stable.
After through the bridge, we can go to Bell Tower, Guanyin Cave and Changchun Shrine. The trail takes around 1 hour to complete with a distance of 2,030 m.
7. Qixingtan beach
Talking about beach, first thought that come out from our mind is the sand, however at Qixingtian beach, It’s hardly found any sand on the area, there are only contain rocks and pebbles.
We visited in winter, the wind blows very strong and Please note that swimming is forbidden at Qixingtan beach due to extreme tide, high waves and strong currents.
Our legs are too tired to walked around the beach again so we just sat at the beach and listen to the water break against the shore. So relaxing! We had a lot of fun in there.
From Qixingtan, we head back to Hualien Station and took train back to Taipei City! Bye Hualien! And thankyou Mr. Wang for your good service. 👍