I'm not sure what's on your list of places you must visit before you die, but I have two words for you: Taroko Gorge. Think I'm exaggerating? Read on, and you decide.
Start your engines and drop in on Yilan, the place with rare activities on offer, from hot springs to whale-watching. With the Hsuehshan Tunnel -- the Snow Mountain Tunnel -- easing travel, you must go there and discover its splendors for yourself!
Without a doubt one of the most spectacular natural areas in Taiwan must be the majestic Taroko Gorge.
It's still early (not even 9 am) when we arrive, yet the car park at the entrance to Wufengchi Waterfalls (五峰旗瀑布) is packed with cars this fine Saturday morning in June, and we're forced to find an empty roadside place to leave the car.
The Yakou Tunnel (啞口隧道) is the middle point of the Southern Cross-Island Highway and it is also the highest point of the highway at 2,722 meters above sea level.
There is a small road just past the large resorts at the mouth of the Chihpen (知本) Valley, located where the road begins to climb towards the deeper hot springs and the national forest park.
You can look, but you can't touch. Sounds like advice you might hear regarding certain beautiful girls in Taiwan. However, when in Taimali (太麻里), Taitung (台東) County, this wisdom applies to an amazing stretch of beach along the coastal highway.
The trail is less than a meter wide and five hundred meters long, but as our group gingerly follows the narrow strip, suspended halfway up the sheer face of Taroko Gorge's highest cliff face, I think the feeling is unanimous that this is probably the most spectacular, easily accessible hike in Taiwan.
I almost didn't want to go back to this valley, that's how much I love it. Between 2000-2004, I river-traced and camped in this gorge twelve times.
One of my students remarked that when you visit Taitung (台東) County "it feels like nobody lives there." That's one of the main draws, in my opinion, but, time and again, I feel as if I'm being magnetically pulled back to the far-away county by the call of its mountains.