40 Unmissable Things to Do in Hualien, Taiwan

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Few people visit Hualien without falling completely in love with it. The vast east coast county is beloved for its wild scenery (including the star attraction, Taroko Gorge) and adventure activities. It is the largest county in Taiwan, though one of the least populated, and homeland of the Amis, the country’s largest aboriginal tribe.

Spend at least one full day at Taroko Gorge, but stay longer to enjoy the many cultural & culinary attractions Hualien City has to offer. Next, pick from coastal highway 11 or inland highway 9 to travel south to equally awesome Taitung County in the southeastern corner of Taiwan.

I’ve compiled this exhaustive list of places to visit in Hualien based on numerous trips made in my 10+ years of living in Taiwan. There’s no way you’ll be able to visit all these places on one trip, but feel free to pick and choose and create your ideal Hualien trip. To figure out the best way to piece the below sights, see my recommended Hualien itinerary and Hualien visitor’s guide.

For the ultimate east coast road trip from Hualien to Taitung & Kenting on the southern tip of Taiwan and back, make sure to also check out my two-part guide to the east coast of Taiwan and guide to Kenting.

Table of Contents

Hualien Travel Tips

2024 Update: On April 3, 2024, a huge earthquake struck the Hualien region. Taroko Gorge is heavily damaged and Taroko Gorge remains totally closed to visitors. It is expected that the gorge will be closed for six months to a year.

Trains are now running again from Taipei to Hualien and onward to Taitung. Damage in Hualien city is less serious, but some hotels have closed for repairs. See my newer guide here: things to do in Hualien which are currently still open.

– Book your train from Taipei to Hualien up to 28 days in advance. The train often sells out, especially on weekends/holidays, and especially the faster express train. Here’s my train booking guide.
– Use Klook to find discounts on Hualien activities, such as this popular Taroko Gorge tour. Sign up for Klook here first to get a TWD100 credit!
– Don’t visit Taroko Gorge after heavy rain or especially a typhoon.
– Read my Taiwan travel tips and favorite places to visit in Taiwan.

– Hualien’s Amis aboriginal tribe hosts a harvest festival in summer. Find out more here.

How Long to Spend in Hualien

How much time do you have? It may never seem like enough!

Although I wouldn’t recommend this, you can even visit Taroko Gorge as a day trip from Taipei. Taking this flight from Taipei to Hualien and/or taking this organized Taipei to Hualien day tour can help, but you’re going to be extremely rushed.

At the bare minimum, I’d recommend traveling to Hualien and checking into your hotel on day one, then spending the whole next day at Taroko Gorge. A second night would give you a third day to explore more sights in the area or in Hualien City.

To travel down Highways 11 or 9 from Hualien City to Taitung, you can ride a scooter (one full day, including stops) or take the train (2-3 hours). But to really appreciate the area, I’d recommend adding at least two days for this, making four total days in Hualien.

On Highway 11, aim to reach chilled out Dulan Surfing Beach (Taitung county) and spend the night in one of its many guesthouses. On Highway 9, Ruisui or Yuli in Hualien (see below), or Chishang, Guanshan, or Luye in Taitung all make great stops to spend the night. See my east coast road trip guide part 2 for more info on each village.

With a full week, you could really do the area justice, traveling down one of the highways, spending some time in Taitung, and traveling back to Hualien via the other highway.

Also find my recommend things to do in Yilan (the county north of Hualien) and things to do in Taitung (the county south of Hulien).

Getting to and Around Hualien

Riding a scooter in Taroko Gorge, Taiwan
Riding scooters in Taroko Gorge, an unforgettable experience

Taking the train or flying from Taipei’s city center airport are the two main ways to reach Hualien from Taipei. The train ride takes around three hours (regular train, standing tickets available even if the seats sell out) or two hours (express trains, reserved seats only). These trains frequently sell out, especially the express ones, so make sure to reserve up to 28 days in advance. Flying isn’t necessarily faster once you factor in the time for getting to the airport and checking in.

To visit Taroko Gorge, you can get off at Xincheng Station (also called Taroko Station), a small town that is closest to Taroko Gorge but has few services. There are far more amenities and hotels in Hualien City (Hualien Station), but it’s also further away from Taroko Gorge.

To get to Taroko Gorge, you can rent a scooter at Xincheng station (7 minutes to Taroko entrance gate) or at Hualien Station (40 minutes). An IDP is needed for the rental. Alternatively, you can take the local bus (slow and infrequent), hire a driver for the day or join this highly recommended Taroko Gorge day tour.

Going south of Hualien City towards Taitung, you’ll need to hire a car in Hualien for coastal Highway 11. If you take Highway 9, you can travel between towns on the train. You’ll miss some of the sights in between as a result, but you can hire a scooter or bicycle at individual towns to explore each area.

Where to Stay in Hualien

Pool backed by mountains at Silks Place, the best hotel in Hualien
Silks Place, the most luxurious hotel in Taroko Gorge

Deciding where to stay in Hualien will be one of your toughest choices. One option is to stay right in or near Taroko Gorge.

Silks Place (see on Booking / Agoda / Klook / TripAdvisor) in Taroko Gorge is one of the most beautifully located luxury hotels in Taiwan. It’s at the top of the gorge. You can stay in wood cabins at Taroko Village Hotel (see on Booking / Agoda / Klook / TripAdvisor) roughly in the middle of Taroko Gorge. Budget travelers can choose Liwu Hotel (see on Booking / Agoda / Klook / TripAdvisor) just outside the entrance to Taroko Gorge.

Xincheng is the closest town to Taroko Gorge and you can get off the train there. However, there are few amenities and hotel choices there. Taroko Liiko Hotel (see on Booking / Agoda / Klook / TripAdvisor) stands out as best.

Man visitors stay in Hualien City, even though it is a 40-minute drive away from Taroko Gorge. Hualien has some of the best hostels I’ve stayed at in Taiwan, such Just Walk Backpacker Hostel (see on Booking / Agoda / Klook / TripAdvisor). Find more hostels in Hualien here.

For a good mid-range option in Hualien, try Happiness is My Home or 1999 B&B (see on Booking / Agoda). The best oceanside resort with a pool in Hualien city is Hualien Farglory Resort (see on Booking / Agoda / Klook / TripAdvisor).

If you travel south from Hualien City toward Taitung, I’d recommend spending the night somewhere along the way. On Highway 11, Dulan in Taitung County is the best place to spend the night.

For Highway 9, Ruisui has hot spring hotels, and Yuli is a great base for explore the local countryside. Chishang, Guanshan, and Luye in Taitung are all also great choices. See my east coast guide for where to stay in each village.

Things to Do in and Around Taroko Gorge

For more details about all the Hualien activities in this section, make sure to read my detailed guide to Taroko Gorge.

Qingshui Cliffs (清水斷崖)

Qingshui Cliffs, Hualian, Taiwan

The Qingshui Cliffs are a series of landmark coastal bluffs on the Suhua Highway, which connects Yilan and Hualien counties. The cliffs stretch for some 20 kilometers along the coast.

There are several lookout points where you can view the cliffs. Most Taroko Gorge day tours, such as this one, include a stop at the cliffs at the end of the day. The nearest decent viewpoint with safe parking is here, about 15 minutes’ drive north of Taroko Gorge entrance.

Taroko Gorge National Park (太魯閣國家公園)

Taroko Gorge in winter

Breathtaking Taroko National Park is the number 1 reason people come to Hualien. The dramatic 19-kilometer gorge was carved by the Liwu River and features awe-inspiring vertical views, great hiking, and a secret hot spring.

You’ll want to budget at least half a day, if not a full day in Taroko Gorge to take in the following eight sights. It is best to join a day tour like this one or hire a driver to make that possible.

Shakadang Trail (砂卡噹步道)

Shakadang Trail, Taroko Gorge, Taiwan

This easy in-and-out two hour-return hike features stunning sapphire blue waters of the Shakadang stream.

To access the hike, you’ll need to cross the bridge over the Liwu River (the main river that creates Taroko Gorge) at the Taroko Gorge East Entrance Arch Gate, then turn left at the National Park Visitor Center.

Note that the trail is sometimes partially or completely closed for maintenance (landslides are common during storms in Taroko Gorge). You can find information about current trail closures here. Click on Level 0 through 5 for the various hikes, rated according to difficulty.

Eternal Spring Shrine (長春祠)

Eternal Spring Shrine, Taroko Gorge, Hualian, Taiwan

The most iconic attraction in Taroko Gorge is the mighty Eternal Spring Shrine. The structure is built into a cliff with a waterfall pouring out in the middle of it. It was built to honor those who died while constructing the highway through Taroko Gorge.

You can usually walk through a small cave to enter the shrine itself, while a hike behind the shrine leads up to a bell tower and temple higher up the mountain (the trail is often partially closed).

Buluowan Terrace and Suspension Bridge (布洛灣遊憩區)

Aboriginal buffet restaurant in Taroko Village at Buluowan

Follow a side road to Buluowan, built on the former site of a Taroko (Truku) aboriginal village. There you’ll find a small Truku handicraft museum highlighting their history and culture. A walking trail leads to Buluowan Suspension Bridge (布洛灣吊橋), the tallest and longest of the several suspension bridges in Taroko Gorge.

You can also dine (we loved the buffet aboriginal meal when we visited) or spend the night in luxurious wooden huts at the Taroko Village Hotel with is located just a little further up the road from the service center.

Buses going through Taroko Gorge also stop at Buluowan.

Swallow’s Grotto (燕子口)

Riding a scooter in Taroko Gorge Taiwan with toddlers
My wife and kids on one of our many visits; read more about visiting Hualien with kids.

The next mandatory stop in Taroko Gorge is Swallow’s Grove (also called Yanzikou or Swallow’s Grotto), named after the birds who build nests in the dramatic cliff faces there. Take a stop to admire the vertical bluffs, then walk or drive through a series of tunnels carved into sheer rock.

Helmets are technically required for visiting Swallow’s Grove. Most tours should include them, or you can borrow them along the road before it reaches Swallow’s Grove.

Zhuilu Old Trail (錐麓古道)

Zhuilu Old Trail, Taroko Gorge

One activity you’ll need to plan book in advancing is hiking the incredible Zhuilu Old Trail. This tough six-kilometer hike follows a precarious trail along a 500-meter cliff face – with no rail guards!

You’ll need a guide and permit; I recommend Island Life Tours for this.

Tunnel of Nine Turns (九曲洞隧道)

Tunnel of Nine Turns, Taroko Gorge

After being closed for many years due to typhoon damage, the breathtaking Tunnel of Nine Turns is finally open again. Take a stroll through several tunnels and admire quintessential Taroko Gorge scenery from a number of lookout points. This is a stop you won’t want to miss!

Baiyang Waterfall and Water Curtain Cave

Baiyang Waterfall, Taroko Gorge

Another of the best hikes in Taroko Gorge is Baiyang Trail. The first portion of the hike leads to mighty Baiyang Waterfall (1-1.5 hours return).

When open, a continuation of the trail brings you to Water Curtain Cave, a tunnel which you can run through while water pours down on your head. Prepare to get wet, or take this tour, which provides flashlights and raincoats.

Wenshan Hot Spring (文山溫泉)

Wenshan hot spring Taiwan

One of the great “secrets” of Taroko Gorge is Wenshan Hot Spring. Once very popular, the creek-side hot spring was destroyed in a landslide then off limits for years.

There isn’t much left of it, but you can still sneak in for a hot bath in magnificent natural settings. Find out exactly how to find it here. I’ve also got this article introducing the most incredible Taiwanese hot springs, which of course includes Wenshan.

Sanzhan Village (三棧部落)

Cliff jumping at Sanzhan (Sanjhan), Hualien, Taiwan

We now venture outside of Taroko Gorge. Sanzhan (Sanjan) is an aboriginal community of the Truku tribe on the Sanzhan River, about 10 minutes’ drive south of the entrance to Taroko Gorge. If you’ve been tempted by the turquoise waters of Taroko Gorge all day and want to finally jump in, come here to do it!

The Sanzhan riverside area (三棧溪戲水區) features numerous spots where you can jump into the river, while the legendary Golden Grotto river trace (see next entry) starts here as well.

Songyue Homestay is the only hotel in Sanzhan, and is a short walk from the river where the river traces begin.

Golden Grotto (黃金峽谷)

Man jumping off a waterfall at the Golden Grotto, a famous river tracing spot in Hualien, one of the best July things to do in Taiwan

The Golden Grotto river trace is one of the most renowned in all of Taiwan. The route follows the Shakadang river upstream for a few hours then veers off into a series of pools and waterfalls in a narrow canyon.

This is a full-day affair (6-7 hours) that requires river tracing shoes and safety equipment (including helmets), as well as careful planning. Never go after rain, and sometimes local authorities decide to make it illegal to visit.

For beginners, you can sign up for a guided river trek on the Sanzhan River (not to the Golden Grotto).

Looking for more adventure? You can also go paintballing with your friends in Hualien!

Things to Do in Hualien City

Hualien City is low-key compared to other cities in Taiwan, but there is still a surprising amount of things to do there. You may want to consider adding one or more days to your Hualien visit after taking in Taroko Gorge if any of the below appeal to you!

Qixingtan Beach (七星潭)

Qixingtan Beach, Hualian, Taiwan

Just north of the Hualien City limits, Chisingtan/Qixingtan Beach and Scenic Area (七星潭海岸風景特定區) is an incredibly scenic pebble beach. Like most beaches on the east coast, you can’t swim here due to strong currents, but you can surely admire the incredible scenery looking up and down the coast.

Since it’s only a short detour on the way from Hualien City to Taroko Gorge, most Taroko day tours, including this one, stop here. You can also hire bikes here and ride them to Hualien City, where they’ll pick it up for you (communication in Mandarin may be needed to arrange this).

Whale & Dolphin Watching Tours

Dolphins jumping out of sea on a whale and dolphin watching tour in Hualien

Hualien City is the best place to organize a whale and dolphin watching tour. This includes the chance of seeing humpback, killer, sperm, false killer, pygmy killer whales, and dolphins; in fact, Hualien is home to 29 of the world’s 60 species of cetaceans (whales and dolphins!)

The best time for viewing the whales and dolphins is April to October.

Aboriginal Cooking or Hunting Course

Aboriginal food in Hualien

One of the best ways to take a peek into Taiwanese aboriginal culture is through their food. In the course run by Amis aboriginals, you’ll get to tour their garden and a local market, learn how to cook wild plants, and sample aboriginal millet wine (小米酒).

The course can be booked here or here.

For a totally different experience, you can learn how to make and use traditional aboriginal weapons, start a fire, and more in this aboriginal hunting class. A traditional meal is included.

Dongdamen Night Market (東大門夜市)

Famous steamed dumplings at Dongdamen Night Market (Hualien night market)

Every city and town in Taiwan has a night market (here’s my guide to the best ones), and Hualien City is no exception.

You can find loads of local Taiwanese street food specialties that you would expect at any Taiwanese night market here. The market is set up into a games section, regional cuisine section, and aboriginal food street.

The night market is a 30-minute walk from Hualien train station and most hotels.

What to Do in Hualien at Night

You can expect quiet nights in Hualien, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. Besides Dongdamen Night market, try heading to Hualien’s Railway Pedestrian Street (舊鐵道行人徒步區), a district of cute cafés and shops built atop an old railway line.

For fancy cocktails, try Ginsman Bar, while Salt Lick (火車頭烤肉屋) has legit Chicago-style deep dish pizza and the best craft beer selection in town, with BBQ to go with it. Another option is to show off your vocals at Holiday KTV or take in a movie at Showtime Cinema.

Hualien Martyr’s Shrine (花蓮忠烈祠)

Hualien Martyr's Shrine

Martyr’s Shrine is a quiet and picturesque shrine honoring martyrs of WWII.It is built on the site of a former Shinto shrine called Karenkō Shrine which was sadly demolished in 1981.

The shrine is located on the east side of the Meilun River from downtown Hualien.

Hualien Pine Garden (松園別館)

Hualien Pine Garden, one of the more low key places to visit in Hualien

Near the Martyr’s Shrine, Pine Garden is a small collection of buildings that once served as an administrative office for the Japanese Navy and served as a command center during WWII.

The garden is a quiet place to explore and catch of glimpse of Taiwan’s Japanese colonial past. There are usually some kind of artistic or historical displays. Entrance is 50NT per person.

Hualien Railway Culture Park (花蓮鐵道文化園區)

Close up of train wheels at Hualien Railway Culture Museum

Near Dongdamen Night Market, Hualien Railway Culture Park (Eastern Railway Site) is dedicated to railway culture in Hualien and Taiwan. The site repurposes an old railway station on the decommissioned East Coast line built by the Japanese.

See more pictures here.

Hualien A Zone Cultural and Creative Park (花蓮文化創意產業園區)

An open space inside the Hualien A Zone Cultural and Creative Park

A Zone is Hualien’s answer to Huashan and Songshan Creative Arts Parks in Taipei. Originally a sake distillery built in the Japanese colonial era, the expansive 26-factory warehouse is now a public exhibition and creative arts space.

Take a stroll though the grounds, or check out the various markets and events often taking place on there from Wednesday through Sunday.

Starbucks Shipping Container Store (星巴克 – 洄瀾門市)

People dining in the Hualien Shipping Container Store, one of the coolest Starbucks in Taiwan
Three of my coworkers in one of the containers at Starbucks Hualien. Image by Szuyu Fan.

One of the coolest Starbucks in all of Taiwan is surely the Starbucks Shipping Container Branch in Ji An township, just south of Hualien City on Nanbin Road, near where Highway 11 leads of our town and along the coast going south.

The café is built out of 29 recycled shipping containers stacked on top of each other. It was built by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. Order a latte and take a seat in one of the containers for this unique architectural experience!

The container store is included on this Hualien half day tour.

Mukumugi Valley (慕谷慕魚生態廊道)

Beautiful blue green water at Mukumugi in Hualien
慕谷慕魚 (Mukumugi)” by myhsu is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Secluded Mukumugi Valley is just 20 minutes’ by car west into the mountains from Ji An township, but it feels worlds apart. Visitors come here to jump into the crystal clear turquoise waters of the Qingshui stream and experience local Truku aboriginal culture.

Unfortunately, this beautiful valley has been closed for years due to landslide damage and issues with land ownership. The 2024 Hualien earthquake only made it worse. Read more about it here.

Things to Do South of Hualien City: Highway 11

Several of the below sights are included on this full day tour from Hualien City.

Farglory Ocean Park (遠雄海洋公園)

Farglory Ocean Park in Hualien, Taiwan

Farglory is Taiwan’s only marine-focused theme park. It features a combination of amusement park rides and marine animal performances.

Although very popular, I’m not a fan of this kind of facility, and I would recommend seeing marine animals in their natural environment by taking a whale and dolphin watching tour (see above). Learn more about this and other theme parks in Taiwan here.

You can buy discounted Farglory tickets here. You’ll pass Farglory shortly after beginning your drive along Highway 11. If you’re planning to visit, you may want to consider staying in the adjacent Farglory Resort, the best resort hotel in Hualien City.

15 minutes’ drive south of Farglory, there’s a small aboriginal park called 水璉飛魚市集 where you can try archery here.

Baqi Observatory (芭崎休息區)

View of the east coast of Taiwan from Baqi Rest Stop in Hualien

Following Highway 11 south, the coastal scenery starts getting especially grand around Baqi Rest Stop, where you’ll get a chance to pull over and snap some pics looking south down the coast.

Jiqi Beach (磯崎海水浴場)

View of Jici Beach in Hualien
磯崎海水浴場” by Ryan Ho @ pastwind is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

I have to admit that Jiqi Beach in Fengbin Township is not what it used to be. My family and I once stayed in an A-frame cabin (no longer there) on this beach and enjoyed great swimming in the quiet bay.

Today, it’s a pay-to-enter spot and the beach is mostly rocky. Swimming is only  sometimes permitted at “Chi Chi Swimming Resort” (磯崎海水浴場). It makes for an obvious stopping point, but isn’t a must.

Coastal Walks: Dashibishan Trail and Qinbuzhizi/Fengbin Skywalk

Coastal scenery in Fengbin, Hualien County, Taiwan

Heading south from Jiqi, keep an eye out for two epic coastal walkways: Dashibishan (大石鼻山步道) and further down, Qinbuzhizi (親不知子海上古道), also known as Fengbin Skywalk (豐濱天空步道).

Dashibishan is wooden stair cape walk that offers stunning views looking down on Jiqi Beach. Qinbuzhizi/Fengbin is a death-defying coastal skywalk with glass floors and bone-chilling views. Sadly, both walks are closed at the time of writing.

Xinshe Rice Terrace (新社梯田)

Strange straw statues at Xinshe Rice Terrace on the coast of Hualien

Xinshe Rice Terrace, a section of picturesque rice terraces backed by the sea, has quickly become one of the most popular stops along Highway 11 ever since the addition of some straw statues, huts, and swings. Perfect for your Instagram needs!

Xinshe is usually included on this day tour from Hualien City.

Shitiping (石梯坪)

Rocky coast of Shitiping in Hualien

To get right out on the rocky coast and explore its many pools and crevices, stop at Shitiping Scenic Recreation Area (石梯坪遊憩風景區). Admire the coastal scenery, and see what kind of creatures you can find in the rocky pools!

When you’re in the area, make a stop at Necklace Coastal Studio (項鍊海岸工作室), a small restaurant with creative cuisine using local ingredients and a cool swing facing the sea.

Jingpu Tropic of Cancer Landmark (靜浦北迴歸線界標)

Tropic of Cancer marker in Hualien

The last stop on the Hualien coast before it meets Taitung County is the Tropic of Cancer Marker. It’s not as cool as the one on Highway 11 (see below), but still fun to say you’ve been! The above image is a stock photo of it…it won’t look anywhere near as impressive in the daytime.

Things to Do South of Hualien City: Highway 9

The second route from Hualien City to Taitung is the inland Highway 9 through the East Rift Valley. This will be your only choice if traveling by public transportation.

Carp (Liyu) Lake (鯉魚潭)

Boats reflecting on Carp Lake (Liyu Lake), one of the most beautiful places to visit in Hualien

The first stop you may want to make when embarking south on Highway 9 is pretty Carp Lake. Take a stroll or cycle around the lakeside path, or get right out on the lake on a stand-up paddleboard.

Nearby Chinan National Forest Recreation Area (池南國家森林遊樂區) offers green space in a forest setting, with old train cars on display and views looking down on Liyu Lake.

Carp Lake is included on this Hualien half day tour.

Fenglin (鳳林)

Agricultural land in Fenglin (Fonglin) Hualien

Fenglin (Fonglin) township has been chosen by Cittaslow as one of the three “slow living, slow travel, slow food” spots in Taiwan (the other two are in Miaoli and Chiayi).

Ironically, there are also some thrilling adventures to be had in Fenglin, including paragliding over the East Rift Valley. Hop on a bike or scooter, which you can rent around the train station, to explore the local countryside. Lintienshan Forestry Culture Park (林田山林業文化園區) is a worthwhile stop for anyone interested in local forestry history.

Heading south from Fenglin toward Ruisui, many people like to stop for ice cream at Ice Cream at Guangfu Sugar Factory (光復糖廠冰棒).

Ruisui Hot Spring (瑞穗溫泉)

Ruisui Hot Spring, Taiwan
Our own private thermal bath in a hot spring hotel in Ruisui

Ruisui is a hot spring village with the usual assortment of hot spring facilities and hotels to choose from, where you can usually have your own private tub in your room. Coffee is also grown around Ruisui, so the cafes in town are a good place to try it.

Ruisui Sunshine B&B (see on Booking / Agoda / Klook / TripAdvisor) offers beautiful rooms with a private tub on your own balcony complete with mountain views.

You also rent a scooter or bicycle around the train station to explore the countryside around Ruisui.

Rafting at Xiuguluan (秀姑巒溪)

White water rafting in Taiwan

The Xiuguluan (Hsiukuluan) River in Ruisui is the most popular place to do white water rafting in all of Taiwan. It’s suitable for beginners but wild enough to be exciting. Rafting ay trips like this one include a packed lunch.

Fuyuan National Forest Recreation Area (富源國家森林遊樂區)

Butterfly on a flower at Fuyuan National Scenic Area in Hualien County

Featuring camphor trees, waterfalls, and swarms of butterflies in spring and summer, Fuyuan National Forest Recreation Area is surely an area worth exploring. We didn’t have much luck spotting butterflies when we visited in early April, though, so you’ll want to aim for late spring or summer for the best experience.

Tropic of Cancer Marker Park (北回歸線標誌公園)

The Hualien Tropic of Cancer Marker monument

It’s not often you get a chance to stand on the Tropic of Cancer, so stop and take a pic here to prove it!

Just down the street, Satokoay (掃叭石柱) features huge stone monoliths that date back to pre-historic times.

Yuli (玉里)

Taiwan train crossing Kecheng Iron bridge in Yuli, Hualien

Yuli is one of the best places to base yourself for exploring southern Hualien and the East Rift Valley countryside. Here you can get off the train and enjoy the conveniences of town, then rent a scooter or bicycle to visit attractions 37-40.

Also don’t miss the Kecheng Iron Bridge (客城鐵橋), one of southern Hualien’s most photographed, just south of town. Chike Mountain (赤柯山) next to town is an alternative to Sity Stone Mountain (see below) for seeing seas of tiger lilies in summer.

Everyone raves about Wisdom Garden Home Stay (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor), the best guesthouse in town.

Nan An Waterfall (南安瀑布)

Nan An Waterfall, Yuli, Taitung

Following Highway 30 up to the start of the Walami Trail, you’ll pass spectacular Nan An Falls. You can easily get here by scooter or bike from Yuli town center.

Walami Trail (瓦拉米古道)

Walami Trail, Taiwan

Walami Trail is one of the most well-known hikes in all of Taiwan. It is the first section of an epic 10-day trek goes all the way to Yushan, Taiwan’s tallest peak.

Without a permit, casual visitors can ride a scooter or cycle to the trailhead and do the first two kilometers (budget two hours return) for a taste of the awesome scenery. We saw loads of macaques when we went!

Antong Hot Spring

Exterior of Antong Hot Spring in Hualien
安通溫泉旅舍” by WEI, WAN-CHEN is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Antong Hot Spring is a short drive east of Yuli on one of the handful of roads that cross the coastal mountain range between highways 9 and 11.

The facilities at Antong Hot Spring Hotel didn’t blow us away (the pools are a little dated and have a ceiling of colorful streamers to provide shade), but going for a soak is always a great way to finish a long day of exploration.

Sixty Stone Mountain (六十石山金針花海)

Mountain covered in lilies at Liushishishan (Sixty Stone Mountain) in Hualien

Sixty Stone Mountain (Liushishishan) is unforgettable for the fields of orange tiger lilies that covers its slopes in summer. You’ll have to drive to get there, and on busy days the small road up the mountain becomes a continuous traffic jam. Go super early if possible!

Well, that brings us to the end of this list of things to do in Hualien, Taiwan. I hope you’ve found more than enough ideas for your Hualien trip! If I’ve missed something, or anything has changed, please let me know in the comments, and thank you for reading this far!

16 thoughts on “40 Unmissable Things to Do in Hualien, Taiwan”

  1. Very informative blog. I will be going to Hualien in a few months but am concerned how to get around. Do you need a license to rent a scooter?

    • Hi Tony, in recent years, it has become very common for scooter shops to require a license. However, it still totally depends on the shop and the person who happens to be working in the shop when you go. In some cases, you might be able to convince them accept an ARC or a license from your home country. Speaking Chinese will help. But it is increasingly common for them to require an international or Taiwanese license. You can also get around by hiring a car/vehicle for a day with friends, taking local buses, or cycling. Hope this helps!

  2. Just spent a beautiful day in Taroko Gorge National Park. We came to Taiwan this holiday because of your blog. Planned our trip according to your suggested itinerary and so far it has not disappointed. Thanks for the work you did to put all this information together.

    • Hualien city is relatively small, so you can walk to the main attractions. There are some local buses too. If you mean Hualien county, the county is very large, so it will depend where you are going. The train is the best way to reach places along Highway 9, but there are only slow buses along the coastal Highway 11. Cycling, driving, or riding a scooter and the best ways to explore the region.

  3. Hi Tony, I am currently planning to head from Hualien to Taichung for the sun moon lake then Alishan
    and was wondering if it’s sensible to take the TRA from Hualien to Taichung which is a 5 hours train ride or if I should head back to Taipei for a layover. I actually wished to stop by Cingjing from Hualien but it seems too tight of a schedule. Would like to hear from you, thank you.

    • Going via Taipei is the best way. If you want to go faster, take the express train Hualien to Taipei (2 hrs) then transfer to HSR Taipei to taichung (1 hr). If you want to go from Hualien directly to Cingjing, it’s not easy. There’s no public transportation across the mountains, and the highway above Taroko Gorge was severely damaged in 3 places by landslides. Currently, they are still fixing it, and they only let cars pass for a few hours each day. It’s better to go Hualien to taichung first (via Taipei), then Taichung to Cingjing (1.5 hrs driving or 2.5 hours by bus via Puli).

  4. Nick
    Very informative and detail. It will be good to number the Activities as you numbered them in the write up but I am not sure which activities you are referring. I can only assume the numbers activities are those that followed after the remarks.

    • Thanks for the feedback. It’s because I originally had them numbered, but then removed the numbers in all my articles because I now have table of contents. I will make the adjustments in this article. Thanks!

  5. Hello! Fantastic blog. Wondering if you wouldn’t mind sharing your knowledge as we struggle to craft an itinerary for our family of 5. (We have 3 young kids who are awful in the car and prone to car sickness.) We are thinking Taipei to Kenting … and then we don’t know what to do. My husband doesn’t want to backtrack the same route (train to Kaohsiung + private car to Kenting hotel) and we aren’t terribly interested in Sun Moon Lake. Taroko Gorge would be great except we’re looking at a 5.5 hour car ride (from Kenting) which seems killer.

    Any suggestions? (Basically, we want to hit up Taipei, Kenting, Gorge, back to Taipei.)

    • There aren’t too many solutions here if you want to travel all the way to Kenting, which is at the opposite end of the country from Taipei. The HSR can save you a lot of time from Taipei to Zuoying (Kaohsiung), as it is quite a bit faster than driving. Then it’s an easier 2 hour drive from Zuoying to Kenting. On the way back, consider to break up your journey halfway, perhaps by spending a night in Chishang, which is a lovely area with cycling by the rice paddies (see my Chishang guide on this site).

  6. Hi Nick first of all thank you for very informative blog. I’ve been following all your blogs for my 2 week trip of Taiwan. I wonder if you could suggest me anything in Hualein city since I have a train tomorrow to Hualein from Kaohsiung and will reach the city in late afternoon. I don’t want to waste my day in such beautiful county.

    • All my suggestions for Hualien city are in this article. Please take a look at the “things to do in Hualien city center” section.


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