Taiwan

Taroko in the Rain…

 Taroko Gorge - Cover

Taiwan is rainy.

I know this is not statistically proven (well, at least, globally. There are a lot more places, or cities, in the world that has a lot higher annual rainfall – like Colombia), but this is personal. I visit Taiwan a couple of times every year and 9 out of 10 times when I was there, it rained. Yes, I know, Taipei is my new London! What’s worse, London usually has an overcast and the rain comes and goes, raining in Taiwan is basically unstoppable (again, just for me, yay!).

I might not have written this opening if it hadn’t been three days straight since I arrived Hualien and it hadn’t stopped raining. I was really looking forward to visiting Taroko National Park, one of the most stunning landscape in Taiwan, and it seemed like I will be seeing it in the rain.

Taiwan’s heavy rainfall mainly comes from typhoons, and as part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, Hualien suffered from a magnitude 5.8 earthquake earlier in February, and it caused at least 6 deaths, and almost 100 missing. I hope the city will have a quick recovery and welcome worldwide tourist to the beautiful Taroko Gorge with open arms.

That morning, and of course, it was still raining heavily (and weather forecast said it would probably continue to rain like that for a next five days), we headed off to Taroko Gorge from the city of Hualien. The park is merely 30 minutes away from Hualien, and we had quite a lot of spots to cover in a day. While I was still, apparently, holding a grudge against the bad weather as I took off, I found my inner peace at the end of the day and began to appreciate the “fairy-like” quality of the mountains as they were surrounded by misty rain and filled with dramatic waterfalls.

Something about… Taroko


Taroko National Park is part of Taiwan’s Central Mountain Range and one of the nine national parks in Taiwan. The park is all about mountains and gorges – Nanhu peaks, Qilai peaks, and Hehuan Parks are the main mountain ranges and over half of the national park is covered by mountains over 2,000 meters high.

The most picturesque scenic spots in the park are the Taroko Gorge and the Liwu River, a river which basically carved Taroko Gorge over millions of years; the park is closed to the city of Hualien, the backyard of the island, and the region is always considered the best-kept secret for its stunning beauty, and less-developed tranquility.  The route that passes through Taroko is also part of the Central Cross-Island Highway, one of the three important highways in Taiwan that connects the eastern and western parts of the Island.

Like Jiufen, another famous mountain town in northeastern Taiwan, Taroko was a gold mine during the Japanese-era gold rush. While Taroko wasn’t as quite productive as Jiufen in gold, it has also an abundant supply of marble.

Taroko Gorge - 11
Qingshui Cliff

Qingshui Cliff


First, we stopped by at the Qingshui Cliff (or, Clearwater Cliff), which is layers of the precipitous rock face that rise from the Pacific Ocean. The cliff is one of the end results when Taiwan has formed around 6 million years ago, the collision between the Philippines and Eurasian tectonic plates caused the earth crust to lift and so – a long stretch of cliffs was created along the coast.

Trains could be seen running through the tunnels down the cliff, it was the railway link connects Yilan and Hualien as part of the major development project back in the 1970s. The railway passes through some of the most winding and steep cliff terrains in east Taiwan, yet I considered it a scenic train route that offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean between tunnels.

Taroko Gorge - 18
Swallow Grotto

Rain, Waterfalls and Rolling Stones


As we passed through the Taroko Arch Gate, we reached the Swallow Grotto, the highlight of Taroko. This is the best scenic spot to view the Taroko Gorge and Liwu River. The place is named the Swallow Grotto because the caves on each side of the cliffs are natural havens to spring swallows. As my friend said, it was somehow one of his most frightening road to drive through in his entire life – because it’s narrow, and the road is shared by vehicles and pedestrians. Besides, look out for falling stones, which is quite common on rainy days.

Taroko Gorge - 9
Lushui Trail

By this point, the rain and dripping water didn’t bother me that much anymore. As I was walking down the trails and tunnels, they are mostly covered, and I was fascinated by the rugged Taroko Gorge scenery. The overcast and clouds somehow filled the gaps between mountain and added a layer of mysteriousness to the gorge. The rainfall also created ephemeral waterfalls, which only formed when it rains, cascading down from the higher mountains.

Afterward, we had a short walk in Lushui, a river terrace made by Luwi River. Lushui is where the offices and exhibition halls of Taroko National Parks located; the Lushui walking trail (which is part of the Old Cross-Hehuan Mountain Road from the Japanese Colonial Period) intertwines with the new Central Cross-Island Highway, offers breathtaking sceneries the Liwu River and surrounding mountains.

With its high mountains, deep gorge and precipitous terrain, the Central Cross-Island Highway lead up to Mount Hehuan, where the climate changes from sub-tropical, to temperate and even frigid; as the surroundings change from mixed coniferous and broad-leaved forest to coniferous forest, then alpine grassland.

Taroko Gorge - 4
Shakadang Trail

Shakadang Trail


There is two river streams in the Taroko Gorge that are quite distinctive, due to their composition of the water. While Liwu River, originated on Mount Qilai’s north peak, is steep and muddy grey. The Shakadang River, on the other hand, is a clam, beautiful turquoise water stream with crystal clear water, owing to its unpolluted water source, and the white marble boulders release calcium carbonate as the water flows by.

It was a joy walking through the mysterious Shakadang Valley Trail. The trail was carved down by the cliff of the valley, which leads to the upstream and passes through the Truku Tribal Village. Today, the Shakadang trail is still the main pathway for the villagers to commute (watch out for the motorcycles that drive by as you are walking on the trail). While entrance to the village is not allowed, there is a small market nearby that features local artisans and food vendors with some special indigenous delights.

Taroko Gorge - 3
Shakadang River

Qixingtan Beach


We dropped by the Qixingtan Beach at the end of the day while the wind and storm were quite unforgiving. The view of the Pacific Ocean was stunning.

Taroko Gorge has a diverse landscape that appeals to a lot of tourists, and some of the walking trails could be too crowded and they are occupied by the big tour groups coming from China. Hopefully, that won’t cause too much destruction to the environment.

Taroko Gorge - 6
Eternal Spring Shrine –
The temple is for those who died in the construction of the park

22 thoughts on “Taroko in the Rain…

  1. We visited Taiwan late last year for the first time and loved it! The food was incredible and Taroko Gorge was amazing. We were lucky to have a few sunny days in Hualien, but it pretty much rained our entire time in Taipei. We just thought we were unlucky. Perhaps not?!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! Such gorgeous scenery! Qingshui Cliff looks particularly stunning! Reading this reminded me of my time visiting Abel Tasman National Park in New Zealand. It actually has kind of a similar look to it, and complete downpour the eeeeeentiiiiiiire time. But glad you didn’t let it stop you from enjoying the beauty! 🙂

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  3. Taroko National Park is indeed a revelation. Also, the rains seem to have added a mystical quality to the surroundings. Looking at all the pictures, I can almost smell the fragrance of the earth when it rains. The views are really spectacular and a hike here looks really magical. I was reminded of hiking in the rainforests East Africa, looking at some of the photos.

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  4. I’d never heard of Taroko before but now its on my hiking bucket list for 2018. Taiwan is still largely off the beaten path and I’d love to visit this year. Though a rainy day isn’t ideal for hiking and exploring, sometimes low-hanging misty clouds over nature can add that little bit of drama to your views.

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  5. They say there no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear. It looks like the waterfalls were really pumping with the rain coming down but I was surprised to see so many people out on a rainy day. I guess if it is always raining, you learn to deal with it.

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  6. The scenery looks like it takes your breath away! Sucks to get stuck in the rain, especially when you’re on holiday, but I’m glad you made the most of your time anyway! And I actually think that the rain makes for more stunning photographs – like your Qingshui Cliff shot, where the fog makes the whole scene look more dramatic than it would have had you had clear skies. And then of course waterfalls are fuller, greens are more vibrant etc. Always a silver lining to sucky weather!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Meg, your comments comforted me and it worths going to the parks in the rain! ☔️ yes, there’s a different side of the nature that we could appreciate!

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  7. I’ve been in heavy downpours before and they can be a real downer on a trip. Glad you didn’t let it ruin your vacation or experiencing Taroko. I’m a huge fan of visiting parks when I travel and I so appreciate all the details in this post, including the history and what to expect. Great video too. So glad you included the patter of the rain as it is such a great sound.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. When you started your post, I thought, “Oh no, she’s going to have to visit Taroko in the rain after all!” I had hoped you’d be able to say the sun came out at the last minute for you. But your video was breathtaking and magical. It doesn’t seem to matter that it rained at all. It was gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person

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