A Guide to Dulan, Taitung: Taiwan’s Coolest Beach Hangout

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If you’re traveling down Highway 11 on Taiwan’s east coast from Hualien to Taitung looking for good surf, want to hang out with artists, or just seeking an antidote to nearby Kenting’s beach resort scene, Dulan is your spot.

Dulan is located in a remote and very beautiful corner of Taiwan, but even from Taipei, you can reach the area quite quickly if you fly from Taipei’s Songshan airport to Taitung. While beaches in the north of Taiwan tend to only attract crowds in summer, you can actually swim or surf at Dulan year-round.

This small aboriginal village lining highway 11 in Taitung County about 20 kilometers north of Taitung City has been a haven for artists, both local and foreigners living in Taiwan, for over a decade now, but the word is out and the scene is no longer the secret it once was. I consider Dulan to be one of the best places to visit in Taiwan, and you can see how to fit it into your Taiwan travel itinerary here.

You can also visit Dulan by taking this day tour from Taitung. Also see my general Taitung visitor’s guide.

Incredible black sand beach at Dulan, Taitung, Taiwan
Incredible black sand Dulan Beach

To be honest, the first few times I passed through Dulan I didn’t see what all the hype was about, but recently I decided to give it a fair chance and spent a few days there as a part of my round-Taiwan trip with kids, and I can finally see why people rave about it so much.

If you want to get the best taste of Dulan, try to come on Saturday night, when a concert and arts & craft market take place at the Sugar Factory, the focal point of the local arts scene.

On Highway 9, the parallel but inland highway through Taitung, we also loved cycling through the rice paddies at Brown Boulevard in Chishang.

Another great place that we really love in Taitung county is Luye, site of the awesome Taiwan International Hot Air Balloon Festival every summer. See my complete article on Luye and the hot air balloon festival for all the details, including hot to get from Dulan to Luye.

Heads up that Dulan can be prone to typhoons in summer, especially in August and September.

Want to save money on your Taiwan trip? We always find lots of great discounts and deals on transportation, activities, and more on Klook. Sign up using this link and you’ll get NT$100 off your first booking.

Why is Dulan So Cool?

If you just drive through, the short stretch of shops on either side of the highway looks like just every other town you pass through in Taiwan.

But spend a bit of time here, get off the highway, and you’ll soon notice that the town is beautifully situated between a stretch of beaches, coastal bluffs and towering peaks of Dulan Forest, considered sacred to the local Ami and Taibalang aboriginal tribes.

Find other cool places to visit in Taitung in this article.

If you are interested in experiencing Taiwan’s unique aboriginal cultures, also check out Orchid Island (also in Taitung), Sun Moon Lake in Nantou, or try this aboriginal cooking course in Hualien.

The region is comparable in beauty to Hualien, where Taroko Gorge is located, but minus the tourist crowds.

Taitung county was one of the last regions of Taiwan to be colonized; even today it retains a remote, rural feel and is the breadbasket (or rice basket?) of Taiwan.

Dulan has an industrial past, and while many original inhabitants left long ago to find work in the city, the town is now a magnet for artists, hippies and increasingly these days, backpackers, with the main meeting places being a repurposed sugar factory, now a miniature arts village called the Sintung Sugar Factory Culture Park.

The vibe here is more like what you would expect in a Southeast Asian backpacker beach community, but to say it is an exact copy of that would be to deny its strongly Taiwanese, aboriginal, and Taitung flavor. You really won’t find anything like this anywhere else in Taiwan. Currently, there are about 40 expats living in Dulan, and the area will most likely continue to become more popular in years to come.

Dulan is also one of Taiwan’s top surfing spots, and expansive, black-sand Dulan Beach seldom has more than a couple dozen beachgoers. Even if you aren’t into surfing or the arts, they are more budget hostels in town than anywhere else between Hualien and Taitung, or many tasteful, secluded B&Bs in and around Dulan for those looking for a quiet escape, many with sweeping Pacific views.

Things to Do in Dulan

The following are some of the things we did during our stay in Dulan. Even though Dulan is small, you’ll need a bicycle or scooter for getting to several of these spots, unless you don’t mind long walks.

Hit the Beach

Dulan Beach, Taiwan
My kids playing on Dulan Beach. We were some of the few people there…

Just beyond the bridge on Highway 11 at the northern end of town, watch for the sign for Dulan Beach Road. Even the short stretch of road from the Highway down the beach is lovely, passing coastal rice paddies before you meet the long stretch of black sand at Dulan Beach (called “鉛橋海灘” on GoogleMaps). If you walk, it will take you 15-20 minutes to get here from the Dulan town center.

Besides a few surfers in the water, there was hardly anybody else on the beach when we visited, in sharp contrasted to the seas of umbrellas and motorboats at beaches in Kenting at the southern end of Taiwan. (See my Kenting guide to find out the best surfing spot in Kenting)

If you really want to have the whole beach to yourself, then head to Jiamuzi (加母子), a cape located a few minutes drive down the hill on Highway 11 south of town. Watch for a large white house and take the little road beside it down to find a beach stretching along an entire cape that only locals know about.

If beaches and surfing are your thing, you may also want to check out my list of the best beaches in Taipei and my favorite beaches across Taiwan.

Take a Surfing Lesson

Surfing at Dulan Beach, Taitung County, Taiwan
Decent surf at Dulan Beach

Dulan has decent surf and is a great place for beginners, especially in summer when waves are smaller (except when there’s a typhoon coming, when they can be huge!) You can also surf in winter, but the waves can be rough so it’s not ideal for beginners.

Wa Ga Li Gong Surf Hostel offers lessons on Dulan Beach. Surf House Taiwan arranges rentals, classes, rides to the best waves, and has deals for long-term stays.

Ride a Scooter up Yuanshan Industry Road

Yuanshan Industry Road, Dulan, Taiwan
Drives like this are one of my favorite things to do in Taiwan

On GoogleMaps you’ll notice that Dulan has a one thicker white road that runs up towards the mountains and then back down to the highway. Despite the uninspiring name, it’s a gorgeous 20-minute drive by scooter.

There is one archaeological site along the way, but we didn’t bother to stop because reviewers say there’s nothing much to see. There is however one restaurant worth seeking out (see #6 in the ‘Places to Eat in Dulan’ section), and several B&Bs.

At the very top of the road, Moonlight Inn is a cafe housed in a Japanese era building with an incredible view over Dulan and the ocean.

See the ‘How to get to Dulan’ section for how to rent a scooter in Dulan or Taitung.

Chill at the Sintung Sugar Factory Culture Park

Dulan Sugar Factory
Market at Sintung Sugar Factory Culture Park

Besides the concert and craft market that take place every Saturday night, there is also a restaurant called Dulan 61, a café, and art gallery on site, as well as the Highway 11 Craft Beer bar.

If you are coming to Dulan to connect with artists or check out their work, this would be the obvious place to start, but it’s also just cool place to hang out for an afternoon and socialize or read a book.

Shop for Aboriginal Crafts and Clothing

When we visited, there were several stalls selling aboriginal crafts made of leather and bamboo within the Sugar Factory, as well as an aboriginal shop selling clothing and other goods at the southern end of town.

Also try Etolan Style (都蘭國入境大廳), which sells a selection of aboriginal handicrafts, artwork, essential oils, millet wine, and other locally made products.

Check out the Awesome View from Dulan Cape (都蘭鼻)

Dulan Cape, Taitung
View from Dulan Cape

Take the small road just north of the Dulan Garden BBQ (see #9 in the ‘Places to Eat in Dulan’ section below) down for a grand, cliff-top view of the sea and coast.

Water Running Up

Water Running Up, a curious attraction in Dulan

I wouldn’t call it a “must-do,” but a lot of drivers on the highway make a pit stop at the strange spectacle of a creek that appears to run up an incline just south of town.

Cycling Around Dulan

The east coast of Taiwan is a phenomenal place for cycling, so hope on a bike and explore! If you accommodation doesn’t rent bicycles, try the Groundnut Backpacker Hostel (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor).

Drive North to Chenggong Seafood Market (45 minuets)

Xingang Fish Market, Chenggong , Taitung
Colorful fish at the daily Xingang Fish Market in Chenggong

The Xingang Fish Market (新港漁市場) in Chenggong (成功鄉‭)‬’s‭ ‬small harbor has a fish auction right on the docks every afternoon.

Continue to the Platform of the Three Immortals (another 10 minutes)

Platform of the Three Immortals, aka Sanxiantai, Taitung
The visually stunning Platform of the Three Immortals, less than an hour away

Sanxiantai (三仙台, the Platform of the Three Immortals) is a beautiful curving bridge to a small volcanic island. It is one of the most impressive sights on the southeast coast of Taiwan.

Best Places Eat in Dulan

One of the things that sets Dulan apart from other small Taiwanese towns is the variety of international food on offer, thanks to the numerous expats and internationally minded locals who have settled in the area. There are of course restaurants specializing in the usual local Taiwanese foods as well.

In the morning, there are two or three Taiwanese breakfast shops in town. There’s also a tiny grocery store if you prefer to cook, and a 7-Eleven and Family Mart for your modern conveniences. You can also find a handful of shops doing simple local noodle and rice dishes, best if you are on a budget.

Dulan Fish & Chips (Taitung Tea House)

Dulan Fish & Chips (Taitung Tea House), Dulan
Awesome fish & chips and Taitung Tea House

I put the Taitung Tea House (aka Dulan Fish & Chips or 台澢號) first on my list because it was our favorite (the others are in no particular order). This tiny 4-table outfit is truly a hole in the wall, and is run by a couple of friendly Taiwanese.  

The fish pieces were huge and you could choose regular or extra crispy. Their other specialty was an assortment of unique shaved ice desserts, including tea, pineapple, roselle, yam, and the real star of the show: “The Wave,” shaped like a frothy ocean wave and flavored with blue curacao and lime, and with sweetened seaweed and other jelly things hiding below.

Dulan Fish and Chips (Taitung Tea House), Dulan
“The Wave” shaved ice at Dulan Fish and Chips (Taitung Tea House)

Sugar Factory Café and Highway 11 Bar

Highway 11 Craft Beer, Sugar Factory, Dulan, Taitung, Taiwan
Highway 11 Craft Beer sold inside Dulan Sugar Factory

The small restaurant (都蘭小房子) in front of the Sugar Factory is a popular choice for food, while a few other vendors around it serve cocktails, beers, and snacks.

There’s also the Dulan Sugar Factory Cafe (located here) as well as this small cafe.

Further in, Highway 11 Open Studio (台11開放工作室) in the Sugar Factory sells clothing and other items, hosts concerts and events, and even services locally made Highway 11 Craft Beer (Indian Pale Ale, Lemon Wheat, Honey Ginger Ale, and my personal fave, the chocolate oatmeal stout). They also serve delicious (and strong) flavored meads.

Sophie’s Bistro (蘇菲的小酒館)

Sophie's Bistro, one of the great places to eat in Dulan, Taiwan
Sophie’s Bistro, a scenic place to eat in Dulan

Nearly at the top of Yuanshan Industry Road (see #3 of the “things to do in Dulan” section), you would never expect to find tiny Sophie’s Bistro with reservation-only dinners that Taiwanese bloggers such as this one rave about, with an emphasis on artfully prepared local dishes. We didn’t eat there but stopped for a look on our drive up. The setting is really pretty!

Other Restaurants in Dulan

  • Wa Ga Li Gong Surf Hostel Bar & Restaurant: Come to WaGaLiGong’s restaurant to satisfy homemade pizza and burger cravings, or drop in for their cocktail happy hour 6-7pm on weekends.
  • Vietnamese Restaurant: Every little town on the east coast of Taiwan seems to have a Vietnamese restaurant, and I’m not complaining! In Dulan, it’s called “都蘭.錦鸞越南美食Vietnam Food” and it’s located here. We found this to be a nice break after several days of eating the same kind of Taiwanese fried noodles on our trip (my kids insist on eating noodles for every meal).
  • Dulan Crap (法式創意料理): Super weird name (I think they mean crepe…Should we tell them?) But this place just north of town supposedly does excellent, authentic French cuisine.
  • Dulan Garden BBQ (都蘭院子大BBQ海鮮燒烤): At the southern end of town (watch for the brightly yellow building), this shop does good seafood BBQ, with a few tables inside and more in a garden outside.
  • Dulaner (海人上菜) at the northern end of town serves a mixed bag of seafood, Western, and Amis aboriginal dishes.

Where to Stay in Dulan

For budget hostels, try Travel Bug Bistro Inn (see on Booking / Agoda / Klook / TripAdvisor), Groundnut Backpacker Hostel (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor), or Wa Ga Li Gong Surf Hostel (Agoda / Klook / TripAdvisor).

For guesthouses/B&Bs, on Yuanshan Industry Road, the units at Stone Party (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor) looked so cool that we stopped to gaze at them for a while.

The Happy House (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor) or Pretty Dulan (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor) would be good options for families or large groups.

For a classy, secluded stay, try Dear Garden (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor).

We chose The Song of Eagle (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor) just out of town and up the road past the ‘Water Running Up’ attraction. Our simple but modern and clean room had a balcony with a commanding view of the ocean.

My only complaint is that while they had a refrigerator and hot water, their kitchen didn’t have a stove for cooking, so we always had to go into town (not a major problem), and their dog was a little annoying.

Song of Eagle guesthouse, one of the best places to stay in Dulan, Taiwan
Lavender at Song of Eagle guesthouse

How to Get to Dulan

It takes 3.5-4.5 hours to reach Taitung from Taipei on the regular train. If you’re coming from Taipei, check out my Taipei 4-day Taipei itinerary and list of 50 things to do in Taipei.

An even faster way to get from Taipei to Taitung is by taking this flight from Taipei’s Songshan airport. You could then rent a car in Taitung or take this east coast day tour, which goes up the coast as far a Dulan.

Dulan is a 30-minute drive north of the Taitung City train station by scooter. We drove slowly (I had two kids and our luggage on a scooter), so we did it in 45. You can rent a scooter here on Klook. There are also several spots in front of the train station where you can rent a scooter (NT350-400 per day, local or international license required).

You can also take public buses 8101, 8102, 8103, 8109, 8119 or 8120 (NT58), or the East Coast Line tour bus (NT82) from outside and just to the right of the Taitung Train Station.

Thanks for reading my Dulan guide, and please let me know in the comments below if you found that any of the information it is outdated!

11 thoughts on “A Guide to Dulan, Taitung: Taiwan’s Coolest Beach Hangout”

  1. What a cool spot. Taiwan has so much to do, and so many regions to explore, for a relatively small island. Inspired stuff. Yet it is not really big on the travel blogger circuit yet which is neat too. Keeps things quiet. At least for now. Tweeted for you.


  2. I can see we share some beach and spiritual values. I would love to make Taitung my home for a year or longer, ideally with some kind of self employment visa (also a digital nomad but not in the mood for visa runs). What you would say are the average Joanne’s chances to settle without speaking Chinese? Thanks!

    • Hi Ana,
      I don’t think there is such things a “self employment” visa for Taiwan. Your only options are to get an English teaching job and get a visa through your school, get married to a local, or do visa runs. Visa runs is not a bad idea though, as there are many extremely cheap flights out of Taipei, and you can explore some neighboring countries as well. You can certainly get by in Taiwan (or in a place with a lot of expats like Dulan), but learning a bit of Chinese will definitely make your day-to-day experience easier, and allow you to have a more local experience and save money, for example, being able to eat in cheap local noodle shops instead of expensive hamburger and pizza shops run by foreigners. I hope your trip works out, and let me know if you have any more questions!

  3. Stayed at Song of the Eagle. Great place if you want some comfortable living and to chill out away from the backpacker hostel scene. The Aunty who owns the place has now built a well equipped share kitchen at the end of the garden ( see Nic’s comments) Although SoE a bit out of town there is a back road that runs parallel to the main road that gets you into Doulan behind the Sugar Factory. It’s is an easy walk to town except for the 100m just before the entry to the Song of the Eagles – which is easy going down but hard going up. It’s a lot safer and pleasant than the main road. This back road also takes you past the Water Running Upward. We hired bikes from Groundnut Hostel and that made getting around very easy. Aunty from SoE has some bikes in her parking yard. They look a bit sad but a bike nut with a few tools and a can of WD40 should be able to get them going.

  4. Hi, Song of the Eagle guesthouse now has a stove in the shared kitchen & the dog seems to have matured a bit so may be less pesky….altho we like dogs & are not travelling with little kids, we’ve rented bikes from groundnut hostel & you can cycle in & out of doulan township
    Along a top
    Road saving too many steep climbs (it’s 1 road back from the main highway) thx for all yr useful
    Advice nick! cheers!

  5. Why does every little beach town in Taiwan have a Vietnamese restaurant?
    That’s because there are hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese (mostly) women who have married Taiwanese that are now Taiwanese citizens living in Taiwan…..and also because there are hundreds of thousands of contract workers from Vietnam in Taiwan working in manufacturing, fishing, construction etc

  6. Dulan was the most disapointing place for me in Taiwan. very few restaurants, few tourists but quite overpriced hotels. in most hotels there is no staff, you have to call. if you dont want dorm., you hae to pay at least 1800 TWD, even for a rotten place. nothing to see, nothing to do there

  7. “I had two kids and our luggage on a scooter”..
    is that possible?
    scooter would be the best for me, but I am with a 14 and a 9 yrs old.

    • My kids were toddlers on that trip, so I could fit both of them in front of me (one standing, and one sitting between my legs. Because we live in Taiwan, we only had a little luggage with us for this trip, which I wore on my back. With a 14 and 9 year old, there’s no way. You could take one of them, but not both.


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