Saturday, September 1, 2012

Taroko National Park, Taroko Gorge, Leader Village Hotel - Highlight Of My Taiwan Trip

It was my first trip to Taiwan, and also my first trip with my hunny. We tried sheep innards and Chou Tofu aka Smelly Tofu for the first time. 

And so it was a trip of many firsts!!

To me, the highlight of this Taiwan trip is our visit to Taroko Gorge, a national park situated at the northern-eastern part of Taiwan. It was beautiful and we stayed at Leader Village Taroko Hotel for 3 days 2 nights. It really was the best part of my trip.

We took a train from Taipei to Hualien and rented a car from Hualien. Our initial plans were to stay at Taroko Gorge for 3 days before driving across westward to Taichung. However, due to the typhoon and the dangerous road conditions, we decided to head back to Hualien after our stay in the gorge. :| Nonetheless, it was still a fantastic stay.

Here's some pics on our way into Taroko National Park.

We first headed towards Qingshui Cliff before checking into the hotel.  The sight of the Pacific Ocean was gorgeous.

The water was crystal clear and I'm sure that's where its Chinese name 清水 (Qingshui) came from. It was a perfect drive with the azure blue sky above and crystal blue waters besides. 

In case you're wondering where Qingshui Cliff is, here's a map of Taroko Natinal Park taken from their official website.

Basically, we drove in from Hualien (bottom right of map) and headed straight all the way to Qingshui cliff before turning back to enter the National Park.

Our next stop was the Eternal Spring Shrine. It was break time for a cuppa of ice-cream!

To show you how bad the weather conditions were, here's a pic of the muddy river; a result of the heavy rainfall from the impending typhoon.

The last stop before checking into the hotel was the Swallow Grotto Trail. We had to drive past the Leader Village Hotel to reach it.

The Swallow Grotto Trail spot has one of the most amazing sights to me.

Look at that teeny weeny waterfall. ;)

It was drizzling and extremely windy by the time we reached Swallow Grotto Trail. But the weather was still good enough for us to walk around.

White helmets for protection are available for loan as you take a walk through the trail.

Gorge Erosion From Huge Boulders

It's my first visit to a gorge and somehow I really love it; much more than the ocean. It brings about a totally different set of emotions. 

When I was in the gorge surrounded by the mountains and mist, I was immersed in a sense of calm that I have never felt before when by the sea. I felt small as I was awed by the grandeur of nature...

As the rain pelted down, we headed to the hotel. It was a winding drive up to the Leader Village Hotel @ Buluowan.

Hotel Entrance & Driveway

How not to fall in love with this view and the thought of more relaxing days to come?

Hotel Entrance & Lobby

The rooms look simple but it was well designed and thoughtfully planned. It has everything you'll need for a comfortable stay. I really love how they integrated the natural look and feel with the stony flooring in the shower.

It was pure enjoyment with the rain and cool air at night; hugged by the mountains as, we slept our cares away.

My Morning View With Misty Mountains in Sight

After settling down with a short nap, we took a stroll around the hotel grounds.

And I'm thankful for times like these. It's when time slow down that you'll notice and enjoy the simple thing of life. Like this furry worm we spotted:

And the view of the river from a pavilion...

with a signage showing our exact thoughts!

"What a spectacle except for the dam."

So funny. Heh!

Breakfasts and dinners are all provided for in the Leader Village Hotel and we had bbq wild boar meat on the first night. Boy was it good! Another lasting impression this hotel left me was the delicious meals it serves. That night, we had a really gratifying dinner that warms both the heart and tummy in the cool and wet weather.

After dinner, we were told to gather at the activity room for some performances. However, we were too worn out and wanted to laze the night away in our room. So, we quietly sneaked off...

Our Delicious Breakkie With Local Food

We started the next day with a hearty breakfast. And I came to realised that it was a good decision to stay over at Taroko National Park as we could have a slow morning. Moreover, the area is quieter early in the morning with less tourists. At many attraction spots, we were the only one there to take in the sights as we drive around after breakfast.

We went to Cihmu Bridge, Tiangxiang and even this museum that explains the how the gorge is formed. Soaking in all the breath-taking sights and enjoying the serenity it brings.

When we got a little bored, we went to check out the grander looking hotel in Taroko National Park called Silks Place Hotel. Basically, there's only 2 options for hotel if you intend to stay in Taroko National Park.

Grand looking it was and it cost about 100SGD more per night.

 Rooftop Swimming Pool Surrounded by Misty Mountains

But I still prefer the humble looking Leader Village Hotel that gives a more indigenous feel.

With the rest of the day available, we just went back to the hotel to do some leisure reading until dinnertime. Once again, we were treated to a delectable dinner.

BF was impressed that they managed to serve some good steak.

Rice Wine In The Little Boar Cup

To drink the rice wine, we had to kiss the boar. So cute right??! Haha...

On this second night, the hotel had a smaller group of guest as it was a weekday night. This time around, we couldn't sneak off to our room before the night performance starts. And I'm glad we didn't. 

The hotel staff put up some interesting performances that showcase indigenous music. In fact, most of the hotel staff are Taroko aborigines. And the singer above is one of the few remaining Taroko aborigines that has kept the tradition of facial tattooing.

After this, we went on a discovery trail led by the hotel staff to show us the fauna and flora of the area. It was interesting but scary at the same time. 'Coz frogs and toads were hopping around! Argh!!

One thing I strongly remember was the glowing tree branches. The staff picked them up and when they switched off the torched, the tree branches actually glowed in the dark; in luminous yellow! It was so unusual... He explained that these glow-in-the-dark bacteria are very fragile and can only survive in places where the air quality is very clean. They're like living indicators of superb air quality. 0_0

The night ended with that educational nature tour before we went back to our cozy room. I'm impressed by how the hotel makes our stay so personal yet not intrusive. It's self-contained with simple comforts, adding to us the wonderful memories of Taroko National Park in Taiwan.

I strongly recommend a visit to this National Park and staying overnight if you can. I simply love this place!


Alicia Yap said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alicia Yap said...


Thanks for the information.

Sounds like you guys had a great time and the scenery looks amazing.

My boyfriend and I are going to Taroko National Gorge in September so your tips will definitely come in handy.

Cheers again!