After 4 days of Taipei we continued our journey in Taiwan towards the Taroko Gorge National Park. You can do this by public transport as well (about 3 and a half hours), however given that our plan was to travel around the island we decided to rent a car.
Renting a car in Taipei and driving in Taiwan
Unlike other places we visited, we could not find much information about renting a car. Most people either go by guided (group) tour, hire a driver or go by public transport. The international car rentals are not really represented here. After some research we found Car Plus https://www.car-plus.com.tw/EN/ugC_AboutUs.asp. Even though they spoke only limited English and the communication by phone was rather difficult, we had a good experience with them and would recommend it. They also provided us with a child car seat. The would have provided us with a GPS, but as this was only in Chinese, we decided to used Google Maps on the smartphone using internet from the rented mobile Wi-Fi hotspot and got everywhere we wanted to. Technology certainly made driving around Taiwan a lot more convenient! Car Plus is located next to the Taipei airport (the airport at the city centre). If you encounter the same issue with renting a car just choose Carplus. Also, driving in Taiwan was quite easy, even in Taipei. The roads are very good and traffic rules are generally respected:).
Where to stay with kids
We drove for about 3 hours to Taroko Gorge. The route is definitely not scenic. Most of it appears as industrial terrain, there are many construction sites and the air is quite polluted. However, once you get to Taroko Gorge, the scenery changes dramatically. The road through Taroko Gorge is outstandingly beautiful with stunning views from every corner. We were looking forward to explore the place the next day. Our stay for the coming 2 nights was the Silks Place http://www.silksplace-taroko.com.tw/en/aboutus.php . Such a pity we only stayed here for 2 nights. This is one of the most beautiful hotels I have ever been to. Besides its perfect location, delicious food and special design, it had a huge playroom with everything you could imagine a child would love and 2 huge pools and a kids pool full with rubber ducks. During our stay in Taiwan I noticed that Taiwanese are so creative when it comes to play facilities for kids. This hotel was no exception. We had a blast here. Not to mention that every night they set up a fireplace by the pool and organised traditional music performances of very good quality. These were one of the most special nights. After dinner and a great swim amidst a thousand rubber ducks:), we cosied up on the terrace with blankets, under a sky full of stars, watched the campfire, had the most delicious ginger tea ever and listened to deep sounds of Taiwanese aboriginals music. Our toddler slept the entire time. A blessing to be there together!
For the next day, we were planning to walk the Shakadang trail. This is a very easy trail, very clearly marked. It is about 4 km. You walk along the Shakadang river and beside the beautiful, serene nature surrounding you will be amazed by the crystal clear turquoise colour of the water and the white marble of the boulders. Our son really loved it and he could walk about 75% of the trail. It is not possible to do this trail with a stroller, so we had to carry our toddler some parts of the way back.
Driving though the gorge is also spectacular.
We could have stayed a lot more here. There are several amazing tracking trails.