One of the most common destinations to visit when backpacking in Taiwan is the Taroko National Park. There are quite a few day-hikes on this stunning nature’s masterpiece and I thoroughly recommend to stay Camping in Taroko to make the most of your days there!
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Over my 2 months backpacking in Taiwan I pitched my tent in many places and surely my days camping in Taroko National Park were some of the most memorable ones!
Although the most famous hikes/walks can be crowded at times, and the tour buses make their way regularly around the park, camping in Taroko didn’t feel crowded at all as most people head back to Hualien at the end of the day!
How to get to Taroko National Park?
The most common way to go to the Taroko Gorge is from Hualien city. You can rent a scooter for the day (around +400NT per day) or go by bus which is cheap and convenient.
I recommend to just go by bus with your Easycard and not buy the day pass that you can see being offered online, as I paid 56NT from Hualien to Lushui Bus Stop and viceversa. The few buses I took inside the Taroko Gorge were either 11NT or even free! the day pass is 250NT per day.
I stayed in Hualien at the Cave Hostel which is some 20 minutes walk from the train station.
Outside Hualien’s train station you can easily find the bus stop as there are a few signs mentioning the Taroko Bus. The bus 1133A takes almost an hour to arrive to the Taroko Gorge and stops at several point of interest and trailheads.
The departures from the train station at the time of writing were at: 7:00, 8:30, 9:10, 10:00, 11:10, 12:00, 13:20, 14:10 and 15:10.
The last returning bus from Taroko to Hualien is at around 17:00 from Tianxiang which is the final stop at the park (so it will pass a bit later on the other stops)
You can also easily hitchhike to and fro the park and between trails as the Taiwanese people are really friendly and the waiting times when hitchhiking in Taiwan are super short!
Camping in Taroko
One of the bus stops inside the National Park is at Lushui, where the Lushui Campsite is located and where I stayed camping in Taroko for a couple of nights.
Although there are a couple of other campsites in Taroko, including an unofficial one next to the toilets of the Baiyang Trail carpark, I chose to stay at the Lushui Campsite as this one is the only one free of charge.
Apart from being free of charge, the Lushui campground is conveniently located by the trailhead of the Lushui-Wenshan Trail, which was my favourite hike in Taroko!
There are toilets a couple hundred meters away from the campsite, no showers though.
When I first arrived to the Lushui Campsite there was no-one there so I was able to pick one of the two wooden platforms available. The rest of the campsite is on hard ground or gravel patches so prepare yourself for a hard night sleep if, like me, you don’t carry a sleeping mat.
There are a few picnic tables which are convenient for cooking and although there are many water taps, none of them were working when I was there so I had to walk to the toilets every time I needed water for cooking or drinking (I drank the tap water for a couple of days with no issues at all).
If you’d like some ideas for cooking when camping in Taroko take a look at my post about easy camping food ideas.
On both evenings I stayed at Lushui Campsite there were other campers but there’s enough space for everyone to spread out and not feel crowded.
Taiwan is a super safe country and I left my tent with my rucksack and all belongings every day at the Lushui Campsite while I’d go on hikes around the Taroko Gorge.
You don’t need to book anything or ask for camping permits at the Lushui Campsite.
There’s a restaurant next to Lushui Campsite but the meals tend to be priced for the tourists with everything starting at +250NT
Just a 5 minute walk down the road from Lushui you can find the Heliu Campground. This one is more “developed” than Lushui, with several wooden platforms, lights and toilets nearby.
However, this is a paid campsite. I understand it works on a first-come-first-served basis for the platforms and every morning someone will come to charge 300NT per platform.
What to bring when camping in Taroko
On my camping nights in Lushui I saw the typical overly elaborate camps from some local tourists that pretty much move their entire apartment to a campsite…so the following list will not apply if you’re one of those!
As I travel solo and as lightweight as possible, these are the basic items you need to go camping in Taroko:
MY CAMPING ESSENTIALS
– Tent (obviously), I absolutely love my MSR Elixir2
– Sleeping Bag
– Sleeping Mat (optional, I don’t use one)
– Cooking stove and gas (unless you bring ready made meals)
– Food that doesn’t need to be refrigerated (my menu was: ramen, dried mushrooms, peanuts and boiled eggs)
As you’re in Taroko, I assume you will also go hiking so this was on my rucksack as well:
What to do when camping in Taroko
The main thing to do in Taroko is to go hiking! In my couple of days in the Taroko Gorge I did a few hikes.
My favourite hike of all was the Lushui-Wenshan Trail which starts a couple hundred meters from the campsite. This short hike guarantees some good adventures.
I wrote more in detail about it on my post Hiking the Lushui-Wenshan Trail.
The Baiyang Trail is a touristy spot as it’s flat and short but with beautiful views. It also features the Water Curtain Cave and the Baiyang Waterfall. Check out my post about hiking the Baiyang Trail for all the details you need to know!
Another really cool hike was the Zhuilu Old Trail which is probably the most famous of all the trails in Taroko due to its incredible views from high up the narrow cliff path.
You need to apply for a permit in advance for this striking trail. I prepared for you all the information you need to know on my post about Hiking the Zhuilu Old Trail.
In between hikes you can also visit the Changchun Shrine, the Xiangde Temple and the Swallow Grotto.
While camping in Taroko, also remember to relax and enjoy this incredibly scenic gift of nature!
Planning to go Camping in Taroko?
Go for it! hike until you get tired and wait until the tour buses leave in the early afternoon for a peaceful and breathtaking place almost for yourself!
In a couple of months in the country I had so many backpacking adventures in Taiwan and the days camping in Taroko were surely some of the best!
If you’re looking for more inspiration check out my other camping adventures around the world for more ideas on your next backpacking holiday!