One of our major stops a long Taiwan's East-coast was the renowned Taroko Gorge which is located outside the City Hualien. I have long heard it's a must-visit as well as heard lots of colorful descriptions about the wonder of this Gorge.
Taroko means "magnificent and beautiful" in Truku which is the traditional language of the Truku Tribe in Taiwan. It's nickname is the Marble Gorge due to the massive amount of shiny Marble present everywhere here - you walk through marble caves and you just see piece after piece that you want to take home.
Today Taroko Gorge is considered a National Park and you can still get in and explore its many sights for free, though we read that they would start charging an entrance fee this year. And they should. Despite the unavoidable crowds Taroko Gorge is amazing. You can explore trails & tracks, temples, waterfalls, caves and not least and as already mentioned lots of marble.
We arrived at the entrance of Taroko Gorge early in the morning as recommended by The Lonely Planet and did one day of exploration. If you want to see everything 2-3 days are necessary but from my point of view it's really not a must.
After a long, happy and active day in the Gorge we continued to our final stop: Dulan. Here we had rented the same house as we stayed in a couple of nights last year. This house is located not far from Dulan Mountain and the renowned Water-Running-Uphill stream.
It's jungle'ish surroundings and ruralnesss makes this place such a sweet spot for rejuvenating and finding some peace of mind. It's in the mountains but only a 15 minutes drive from the beach. This year we were so lucky to see those wild monkeys we always hear near the house but unfortunately they were faster then my iphone could load my camera.
We stayed in Dulan 3 days filled with yoga, surfing, chiling, feasting and getting ready to go back to busy Shanghai. My boyfriends parents continued to the far south part of Taiwan - the famous Kenting National Park and from here they drove back to Taipei taking a more western route. They stopped by Taiwan's old capital Tainan on the West-coast which I highly recommended them as I had such a lovely stay here last year - this was also where I did my Yoga Cleanse Retreat.
I'm so in love with Taiwan. In my opinion it shares a lot of the best things with Mainland China but is less crowded, easier to get around without Chinese (but it is definitely so much easier with some Chinese skills), easier to get help by the locals and another plus is that Taiwan is super super cheap.
If you like China you will love Taiwan, I already can't wait to go back!