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Old Oct 5, 08, 2:36 pm   #1
 
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Day trip from Taipei to Taroko Gorge & Hualien?

I'll be in Taipei for 3.5 days over the Double 10th Holiday and would like to spend one day exploring Taroko Gorge and Hualien. Is the best way for a non-Chinese speaker to visit those sites by using a car and driver? If so, can anyone recommend a specific English-speaking driver? Or a particular agency to contact to attempt to arrange same? How easy is it to rent a car and drive to the east coast -- specifically, are the road signs beyond Taipei only in Chinese characters? What about travel by train -- is that a viable option? I'm not a big fan of organized tours, but will consider them if necessary.

When I booked the trip, I didn't realize that there would be a Taiwanese holiday while I was there, and only realized that there was when I started to seriously plan for the trip yesterday (at least I started planning before I got on the plane!). Since next weekend will be a holiday weekend, how crowded are the Gorge and surrounding area likely to be on the Saturday and Sunday? Or should I plan to visit the Gorge and Hualien on 10/10, and spend the weekend and Monday morning visiting the sights in and around Taipei? Also, any particularly special 10/10 related events I should try to see?

Finally, any specific recommendations on how best to spend my time on my day out?

Thanks in advance for the help.
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Old Oct 6, 08, 2:03 am   #2
 
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Hi, can't help with the driver but can answer a few of your other questions.

Signs throughout Taiwan are in Chinese as well as English so you can quite easily find your way around. The motorways are big and easily navigable and drivers are mostly sane

There is also a new(ish) tilting train that goes to Taroko and takes about 2 hours to Hualien from Taipei. Pays to book in advance especially on a public holiday!

Like much of Taiwan the highlight of Hualien is the food - try the Nanpin night market if you have time (not sure if you'll be there at night?). If you decide to stay over the Quality Inn (not the chain) is a good hotel and the staff speak a little English.

The Taroko Gorge is one of my favourite places in Taiwan to drive through. Great scenery as you drive through the mountains with good views from the top (with the clouds below you).

Hope this helps!
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Old Nov 4, 09, 10:19 am   #3
 
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I figured I would dredge up this older thread since its along the same lines as to what I'm looking for.

I have an extra day in Taipei and wanted to make the trek out to see Taroko NP. I won't have access to a car out there but would like to make a day trip out of it. I've been looking at a couple of tours:

1. Merry Travel Service
http://www.taiwantourbus.com.tw/lang....php?tourId=99
This tour uses the train to and from Hualien so there's less time on the actual tour, but is only about $65USD a person.

2. Tour through Viator.com
http://www.viator.com/tours/Taiwan/T...f=02&aid=g3172
This is a lot pricier at $153USD a person, but has a flight from Songshan to Hualien going there and the train coming back. While there is more time for touring, it seems like part of it is a tourist trap with "granite factory tour"

Anyways, looking for input from anyone who has experienced either for going out to the park. Thanks in advance for the help!
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Old Jan 26, 10, 8:22 am   #4
 
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When I went to Hualien, I had more time. So I didn't have to book any tour; I just went down to the train station and bought the next departure. I stayed overnight in Hualien. But I went on a week day. Mostly, I just wanted to say that taking the train was the best part of the trip. The train tracks hug the cliffs on the coast and you get a nice view. Sit at the window on the left side southbound or on the right side northbound. I live near the Grand Canyon, so I guess I was not much impressed with Taroko Gorge itself.
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