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Thrills, Spills, and a Chance of Drowning: River-Tracing at Jia Jiu Liao

River-Tracing at Jia Jiu Liao

Jia Jiu Liao river is a stunningly devilish waterway. The most appealing section stretches out for hours between Chenggong and Wulai. For the sensible, there are a number of popular barbeque and swimming spots. For the less sensible, there’s river-tracing.


River-tracing at Jia Jiu Liao is both fantastic and challenging, at once tranquil and perilous. It is possible to traverse vast sections of the river, but it takes determination, and a fair bit of grit, to complete the hike. Here is a list of pretty scary stuff that you’ll need to be able to manfully overcome on your watery adventure. The faint of heart may want to read no further.

Can you…

– Keep your balance on caddishly slippery rocks?
– Submerge yourself in nipple-deep chilly water?
– Haul yourself up rock faces on precarious and unsuitable ropes?
– Keep your footing against waist deep white water?
– Avoid a lengthy and scary-looking snake?
– Climb substantial waterfalls?
– Navigate a brief but claustrophobia-inducing tunnel?
– Hike for bloody hours?
– (optional extra) For the truly intrepid, there is a natural water slide and many points from which to jump.

If, like Charlie, you’re unable to do any of the above, determination alone will (slowly) get you most of the way through. Jia Jiu Liao boasts a handful of unique and isolated swimming pools deep in the heart of lush Taiwanese greenery, and is worth all the energy it takes!


Practical notes: We hiked upstream from a spot just to the right of the big red bridge near the Chenggong bus stop. If you go on long enough you’ll reach a fork in the river. We went left. Only a little further on, you’ll come across a makeshift bridge over the water. This is the best place to exit the stream, as you are now past the most interesting features of the river. From here you can hike back on dry land by using an aboriginal hunting trail, which is a pretty incredible (and hazardous) trek in its own right. It only takes half an hour or so to complete the return trip.


Browse: We are very grateful to the brilliant Richard of Taipei hikers. This is certainly his hike, and  it was an excellent adventure. Check out Taipei Hikers Google group. This was our first hike with them, but we’ll definitely be doing another.
Browse more: If this floats your boat, check out Taiwan Adventures. They have a number of awesome looking things available online.
Eat: There’s nothing upriver, so make sure you pack something up beforehand.
Drink: On the way back, we convinced an old lady to sell us some beer! Her house is right next to the end of the hunting-trail, and she has a cool-drinks display, despite looking inhospitable. Try it (NT$40).
Wear: River tracing booties are essential. Here are the Chinese characters you need: 溯溪鞋. NT$420 and completely worth the moneys.
Stay safe: This is genuinely a dangerous hike. Take all necessary care.

Get There: From Taipei, take the MRT all the way to Xindian Station. Take the bus to Wulai and get out at the Chenggong stop 成功站. It’s a little walk to the river. The Google Maps marks the location of the big red bridge.


4 thoughts on “Thrills, Spills, and a Chance of Drowning: River-Tracing at Jia Jiu Liao

  1. Did y’all go with a tour group when you did this? We are going to Wulai on Thurs, and want to try it out, but not sure if we should brave it on our own or not..

    • We went with a hiking group (Taipei hikers), but they do a different hike every weekend, so you couldn’t go with them.

      I’d say you could do it if you felt brave enough, but leave early in the morning, take plenty of water/snacks, and go slowly! Good luck!

      Charlie: The one in Wulai is hard, difficult to climb, and even more difficult to find your way out of other river once you’re in. Maybe not worth going alone…

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