The Dajin Waterfall (大津瀑布 [Dàjīn Pùbù]) was a pleasantly tall waterfall directly east of the busy cities of Kaohsiung and Tainan right on the border of the Kaohsiung and Pingtung Counties. The pretty typical tall and slender falls was where the Dalu Guanliao Stream (大路關寮溪 [Dàlùguānliáo Xī]) dropped some 25-30m into a shady cove that we were able to see from a lookout shelter at the apex of the trail as well as from its shady base. Apparently, there were also more drops further downstream of this waterfall, but we saw some locals trying to erect fences and tape to prevent visitors from getting too close to the edge and falling over. In any case, Mom and I enjoyed a pretty serene experience at this waterfall as we came here first thing on a Sunday morning pretty much before the crowds had gotten started. Even though Mom and I started this hike early, we still shared the falls with many locals and elders either doing their morning exercises or psyching themselves up for a jolt of pressure and cold water by standing right beneath the base of the falls (as a pair of guys were doing during our visit).
Our hike began from a temple right across from a small car park (see directions below). After a few minutes of walking on a somewhat flat or gently upsloping paved track, the hike then started climbing in earnest over a series of steps amidst some fern-draped foliage as well as bamboo stalks (attesting to the tropical environment here). Given how muggy it was during the morning of our hike, the uphill induced a lot of sweat from us as we persisted on. Eventually as we got closer to the top of the ascent, we were able to look back over the valley in the direction of Dajin, where the skies were hazy but we could also see the rooftops of a temple that was much larger than the one by the trailhead.
After about 700m of walking (with about 100m of elevation gain), we reached the apex of the trail where there was a shelter as well as some hazy views back down towards the Dajin Township. On the inland side of the hill, we were able to catch a partial view of the Dajin Waterfall, which left us wanting more. There was also a trail junction here, where it was possible to continue up this trail deeper into the forest. We didn't do the other trail so we can't say anything more on that. However, we did take the path that descended towards the base of the Dajin Waterfall, where we chilled out for a bit while soaking in the cool air before heading back.
My Mom and I wound up spending about an hour and 15 minutes away from the car on this excursion. The hike covered a distance of about 1.6km round trip (or 800m in each direction). Of course, the nice thing about a hike like this was that the return was all downhill with another opportunity to enjoy the elevated views towards the Dajin Township and its surrounding valleys.
The Dajin Waterfall Trail offered us some nice (albeit hazy) views towards the Dajin Town as well as the surrounding valley
The night before our visit to Dajin Waterfall, we sampled the food at the Liuhe Night Market in the heart of Kaohsiung
On the outskirts of Kaoshiung was the more serene Lotus Pond, which was fringed by a series of modern temples and pagodas
Just to the north of Kaoshiung City was Tainan City, which was said to be the cultural capital of Southern Taiwan. Shown here is the historically important Chihkan Towers
The front facade of the temple at the car park for the Dajin Waterfall
Looking upstream at the Daluguanliao Stream
Initially, the Dajin Falls Trail meandered gently uphill on a concrete path flanked by fern-draped foliage and bamboo stalks
Then the trail ascended in earnest going up several steps like this
The higher up the trail we went, the more we could look back down the valley towards Dajin Town
The waterfall trail continued climbing
Eventually the trail's climb finally topped out at this shelter
This was the partial view of the Dajin Waterfall that we got from the shelter at the apex of the hike
The trail then descended down these steps leading to the base of the Dajin Waterfall
Finally at the base of the Dajin Waterfall, where a pair of guys joined us and were busy psyching themselves up to go right beneath the falls
Looking downstream towards other early morning people relaxing downstream from the Dajin Falls while trali workers were erecting barricades to prevent visitors from getting too close to the dropoff over a lower tier of the falls
Context of the plunge pool and bottom half of the falls
The pair of guys immersing themselves at the base of the Dajin Falls
After having our fill of the Dajin Falls, we had to head back up before going back down to the car park
Lots of people were heading up to the Dajin Falls while we were heading down
Mom making it back to the temple at the car park
Checking out the worshipping area inside the temple before returning to the car
The Dajin Waterfall was probably the closest waterfall that we visited to the cities of Tainan (台南 or 臺南 [Táinán]) and Kaohsiung (高雄 [Gāoxióng]) so far. It also happened to be close to the famous Maolin National Scenic Area (茂林國家風景區 [Màolín Guójiā Fēng Jǐng Qū]). We visited this falls after leaving Kaohsiung so we'll describe what we think would be the quickest route from there first. We will then describe how we would have driven from Tainan to here as well.
So from Kaohsiung, we took the Tai-10 Expressway east from the Lotus Pond towards its end, which would deposit us onto the Qibing Road 1 (旗屏一路 [Qíbǐng Yílù]). After going about 1.5km, we would then turn right onto the Route 28 and follow this road for just under 20km before turning right to go south on the Route 27/185. We then followed this route (continuing south on the Route 185) for just under 4km before reaching the signposted turnoff on our left for the Dajin Waterfall (the sign was in Chinese). We then turned left onto the local road towards its end where there was a car park right before a temple. There was also spillover parking further down the road if this lot would be full. Overall, this drive would take between 60-90 minutes depending on traffic.
Coming from Tainan, we would go east towards the National Route 1 Expressway heading south before taking the Tai-86 Expressway. Then, we'd head east on the 86 towards the National Route 3 Expressway heading to the southeast for about 26km to the National Route 10 heading north. We then would take this expressway to its end, eventually getting onto Qibing Road 1, and then following the directions as above to make it all the way to the Dajin Waterfall Trailhead. This drive would also take between 60-90 minutes depending on traffic.
As for some geographical context, the Maolin Visitor Center (just north of the Dajin Waterfall turnoff) was about 62km northeast of Kaohsiung (a little over an hour drive) and 81km east of Tainan (under 90 minutes drive). From a more macro scale, Tainan was 318km southwest of Taipei (under 3.5 hours by both car or train).
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