Day trip from Taipei to Wulai

Wulai is a mountainous jungle area to the south of Taipei that has activities like swimming and hiking, and some cable cars to allow you to ascend up the steep sides of the valleys for views of the mountains and impressive waterfalls.  It comes highly recommended as a day trip from Taipei, but I think you need to include a hike or swim / visit to the spas to get the most out of the visit.  My error was to turn up and just generally have a walk around and take the cable cars, which left me feeling a bit underwhelmed

Getting Spirited Away in JiuFen

Jiufen is very cute.  With its narrow lanes, ornamental crafted roofs and whimsical tea houses, it’s no wonder Hayao Miyazaki was inspired to make the famous Japanese animated movie Spirited Away here.  Very much worth the time to make a day trip from Taipei.  Just two main tips:

 

  1. Try to stay overnight, or at least arrive super early in the morning – the place gets very crowded, especially considering the narrow streets, by around mid to late morning.  Yet you’ll have it to yourself in the early morning and evening
  2. Make sure to climb nearby Mount Keelung – its only half an hour or so to reach the summit, and the walk through the long flowing grass and views down on Jiufen and the surrounding area from the top make it a great option.  Plus, it is less busy once the day tourists arrive in Jiufen

Cycling down the Taroko Gorge

Taroko Gorge on the east coast of Taiwan is stunning.  Steep, bright and beautifully cut marble walls, lush vegetation, mountains, and cascading waterfalls all the way down.  Cycling this is one of the highlight experiences for any trip to Taiwan

 

One big tip – stay at the Taroko Lodge who can drop you off at the top of the gorge for a nicer cycle downhill.  Whilst not super hard, the cycle up from the Visitor Centre, at the entrance to the valley, to just past the Tianxiang area, where most people finish, is around 20km / 1.5miles and with a net uphill of around 500m / 1650ft.  For sure its a nice challenge for the 1.5 hours or so, but it can be a little bit of a slog uphill.    If you stay at Taroko Lodge, which is a nice old-school homestay, they can arrange to rent you bikes and drop you off anywhere on the gorge, which takes the slog out of the whole experience.  I took a very leisurely 2.5 hours to cycle from the bridge by Tianxiang back down to the Lodge.  Bloody loved it