Five star scenery, five star lunch, five star driver between our hotel and the train station, four star bus. Barely half a star for Josephine, the host. And zero stars for the accuracy of the tour description!! The write-up implies a fully guided tour lasting from about 6:30 am until 7:30 pm. Well, don't get your hopes up! They pick you at the predetermined time, and were bang on there, with a quick trip to the train station. The driver then walked us to the platform and there we were to wait for 30 minutes until the train came. He then left. We sat there and it was not exactly warm until the train came. We road the semi-fast train about 2 hours to the destination. We had expected a guide explaining things along the way - should have brought our guide book to read it ourselves. We were met as expected by Josephine who told us she knew everything so we would not stop at the gorge's visitor/info centre. Well, she told us about five things the whole tour. The scenery was spectacular, and we are glad we went, but this was not a guided tour. And to top it off, she hustled us along as usual with these tours and then we stopped at another train station so SHE COULD BUY TICKETS FOR HER HOLIDAY!! we waited on the bus about 10 minutes for this, which was not long, but still...and the last place, she described as a jade factory, was the usual high priced, high pressure sales of jade and other jewelry. To be fair there was about 5 minutes of information about jade, granite, etc., but then the pressure sales. Despite their assurances of the best prices, I had bought a bracelet at Taipei 101 a few days earlier for about half the price they had it at. One of the guys on our bus said he haggled and got a small figurine for half of the starting value, so maybe that could work? We did not buy anything there.
long day, the gorge area is beautiful, lunch was brilliant, poor guide, we didn't get Josephine, our guide Alicia had very poor English language skills, not very knowledgeable, had to ask about local landmarks, there were two Japanese couples on the tour who had a separate guide, majority of the time they received a comprehensive explanation of local area and landmarks while the rest of us were left to ponder?
The tour was fantastic regardless of the heavy traffic and construction. Wonderful sites to see and if you like nature, you'll love this tour. The main drawback was the tour guide. She only narrate areas to be seen. No comments along the drive or extra commentaries. She spent most of the travel time on her cell phone.
The trip was well planned and executed. Ideally for this tour a 2 day itinerary is better but I had no choice. Nevertheless, Josephine and her team was very competent and pleasant to deal with. She knows the Gorge inside out and speaks decent English. Taiwan is a beautiful country and i strongly recommend opting for this tour.
If you're limited on time, as I was, this is a good tour. You'll be rushed along as others have noted, but you still have ample time to enjoy. The 3 star rating is not for the nature part, that was fantastic and amazing. What happened at the end of our tour for the last 1 or 1.5 hours, wasn't listed and wasn't appreciated. We went to a mochi cake store and a precious stone showroom/jewelry store. The jewelry store especially was a high-pressure sales situation. Not appreciated, when what I wanted to see was nature and felt rushed seeing the nature. Would encourage this information be disclosed. But, Josephine, as others have noted, makes the trip funny and lighthearted. Others have noted that the group doesn't take you directly to the platform on both sides, but I experienced that they did. They brought us to the waiting area of the car for our train both going there and coming back. When we arrived in both cases, our guide was outside our car door, with a sign. Well organized. The lunch was great! I had a special request and they accommodated it easily. At lunch you will have an opportunity to see a templedo it. It is wonderful.