The island of Taiwan is split geographically among mountain ranges, rolling plains, and lush marine paradises. No matter where you go, its unrivaled beauty is sure to steal your breath away. With so much culture and majesty to experience, it can be difficult to know where to start. If you're heading to Taiwan on your next Asia cruise, take time to explore the Taroko Gorge National Park and Hualien's Pine Garden — two of the best places to visit in Taiwan.
Taroko Gorge National Park
It is easy to see how Taroko Gorge National Park got its name, which means "magnificent and beautiful." The walls of this 12-mile-long canyon are lined with cascading water and hidden caves. A tour through this captivating geological marvel will give you a front-seat view of subtropical forested canyons and subalpine ecosystems — plus a chance to see some of its 34 mammal species (including the sambar deer, black bear, and Formosan rock monkey).
While you're in the park, don't miss Swallow Grotto or the Tunnel of Nine Turns. Swallow Grotto boasts one of the best views of the gorge, as well as limestone formations that have been eroded by streams of water. Look for the famous Chieftan's Profile Rock (also called Indian Head Rock), a rock formation that's said to look like an American Indian chief. While Swallow's Grotto is the work of time and water, the Tunnel of Nine Turns is a man-made marvel that is etched into marble cliffs. Take the time to walk the Tunnel of Nine Turns and enjoy one of the most scenic parts of the gorge.
The Pine Garden
After immersing yourself in the beauty of Taroko Gorge National Park on your Asia cruise, look for an afternoon to visit the Pine Garde, whose natural landscape and historical buildings combine for a must-visit half-day trip. The Pine Garden, located in the eastern city of Hualien, was originally built in the mid-1940s as a military outpost for the Japanese and was acquired by the Chinese government after World War II. Built along the southern slopes of Meilun Mountain, the garden is home to large pines that lend the grounds a feeling of quiet and serenity. Because of its trees, and to maintain the historical value of the structures, the Pine Garden has become a center for the arts, hosting a poetry contest every November, and exhibiting pottery and art throughout the year.
On a Taiwan shore excursion, celebrate history, art, and nature with a visit to both Taroko Gorge National Park and the Pine Garden. Attune to nature and indulge your eyes on your next cruise to Asia, at two places that are sure to reinvigorate your senses and steal your heart.