Taroko Gorge National Park Guide

It’s easy to pass by the small island of Taiwan on a map of the world. When most westerners think of Taiwan, they rarely, if ever, think “tropical island” and all too often think of the “made in” tags on their computers and electronics. What many people don’t realize is that Taiwan is actually one of the most stunning islands on earth that nobody is talking about.

Ilha Formosa, the name written in the logs of a passing Portuguese merchant ship in 1544 simply means, “beautiful island”. An appropriate name for a green gem nestled in the Pacific Ocean, hugging the Tropic of Cancer and covered with verdant green tropical and subtropical forests, towering mountains, sandy beaches, sparkling blue rivers and more waterfalls than one could even imagine.

Yet amidst all this abounding natural beauty, one place stands out above all others. Taroko Gore National Park.

History Of Taroko Gorge

Taroko Gorge Guide
Swallow Grotto Canyon

With a geologic story that begins 145 million years ago in the early Cretaceous Period, the towering stone canyons of Taroko Gorge are awe inspiring in their height and grandeur. Though often referred to as the largest marble canyon in the world and nicknamed “The Marble Gorge” because of the large quantities of the stone in it, the rock is actually a unique combination of marble, granite and quartz micas, giving it a wide range of colors and textures.

From the narrow canyon of Swallow Grotto, where the Liwu River has carved an almost gravity defying slot through the Earth, to the towering waterfalls of Baiyang, known to the Truku tribe as da-ou-la-ss, “waterfall of the cliffs”, the rich geologic diversity of Taroko Gorge make it one of the more surprising National Parks in Taiwan, that never ceases to amaze.

Taroko Gorge Guide
Truku Tribe

Taroko Gorge takes its name from the Truku tribe, one of the 16 tribes of Taiwan and a splinter group of the Atayals.

The Truku settled in the gorge between 1680 and 1740 having come from the Nantou area near Sun Moon Lake. Prompted to relocate, likely due to the scarcity of hunting grounds in the west, the Truku crossed the Central Mountain Range and settled in the mountainous areas of Hualien. Isolated from their Atayal brethren in the west for 250 years, they soon developed customs and dialects of their own. A fierce but unified tribe, they lived communally by sharing the land, livestock and harvest equally.

The remains of 79 old Taroko villages have been found within Taroko Gorge National Park, and learning about their history can be one of the most fascinating aspects of a Taroko Gorge Tour. The Zhuilu Old Trail offers a unique experience walking on a former Truku hunting path, carved 700 meters up into the cliff side!

Taroko Gorge Guide
Zhuilu Old Trail

Originally founded in 1937 as the Tsugitaka-Taroko NP by the ruling Governor General of Taiwan under the Empire of Japan, the park was abolished after Japans defeat at the conclusion of World War II in 1945. Reestablished in 1986, through huge infrastructure investments by the government, Taroko Gorge National Park has become one of the premier attractions in all of Taiwan.

Flora and Fauna of Taroko National Park

Taroko Gorge Guide
Formosan Macaque

It has often been said that there are only two primates indigenous to Taiwan, humans… and the Formosan Macaque.

One needs only spend a day in the wilds of the Taroko National Park to get a glimpse of both of them! Drawn to the fruits of the abundant fig trees in Taroko and other fruit bearing plant species, the Formosan Macaque (also called the Formosan Rock Monkey), thrives in Taroko and are a unique species to Taiwan. But they are certainly not alone…

Sambar deer, countless lizard and spider species, 144 bird species, more than 250 kinds of butterfly, rivers teeming with fish, freshwater shrimp, crab, numerous species of frog and so much more fill the jungles and forests of the Gorge. Taking a walk through the forests of Taroko, it becomes pretty obvious at once that you are not alone!

Tips When Visiting Taroko Gorge National Park

Here at Island Life Taiwan, we love showing people around Taroko Gorge National Park. One of the most scenic and naturally beautiful areas in Taiwan, Taroko Park is home to some of the most stunning locations on the island. With the worlds largest marble canyon and a rich history and culture, Taroko Gorge has become a must see region for travelers looking to get away from the urban centers while in Taiwan. As local experts, here are 10 of our top tips for visiting Taroko Park. For an outstanding visit to the Gorge, we highly recommend our top rated, small group Better Taroko Gorge Tour.

1. Go Early

Taroko Gorge National Park

By 10am, most of the walking paths throughout Taroko Gorge National Park begin to fill with large tour groups. Many of their guides even bring megaphones to yell information to their groups. So when trying to enjoy the serene grandiosity of Taroko and the sounds of nature, this can be quite distracting. Also, who likes having to wait in line to get to that perfect photo location and then having twenty people in your shot! For these and many other reasons we suggest getting to Taroko as early as possible.

One great option is hitching a ride with Island Life Taiwan Adventures & Experiences who offer a fun filled, and affordable, Taroko Gorge Tour that leaves Hualien at 7:30am making their guests among the first few people in the park. Thus having many trails all to themselves to start the day and having a much better chance of seeing wildlife in the park.

2. Bring an Umbrella

Taroko Gorge National Park

Some days the sun can be blindingly hot… other days a cloud can roll through the gorge and dump rain unexpectedly. Having a small umbrella with you can protect against both! Like our parents always said, it’s better to have and not need, than need and not have!

3. Avoid the Large Tour Busses

Taroko Gorge National Park

While the low prices of the large tour busses visiting Taroko Gorge each day can make them tempting, take a look at what you’re actually getting for the money. Most of the busses don’t have an English speaking guide to explain anything. They typically all use the same route at the same times so you can expect 2-10 other bus loads of people to be at any place you are at the same time. That can mean 200 people at the same viewing area as you. They only give you a few minutes of time at each stop, and only visit a tiny percentage of the numerous wonderful places in the park.

And worst of all, on an 8 hour Taroko Gorge National Park tour, expect to spend only a few hours in the park and the rest at high pressure gift shops off the highway. The reason they can charge so little is because they receive commissions from the gift shops they visit. We highly recommend small group tours, private tours or if you’re feeling spunky, DIY!

4. Try an Aboriginal Sausage at the End of Shakadang Trail

Taroko Gorge National Park

Yes, you’ve probably already tasted a Taiwan sausage on a stick by the time you visit Taroko Gorge National Park, but not like these! The old Truku man who sells them, claims they’re the best in Taiwan, and while we can’t go that far, they certainly are up there. Made with black peppercorns grown in the park, they are unlike any others in Taiwan. Near the 1.5 km mark on the Shakadang Trail you’ll find several aboriginal stands selling their wares. You can’t miss the sausage man!

5. Don’t Plan on Walking Between Trailheads & Viewpoints

Taroko Gorge National Park

While some guidebooks foolishly suggest that you could walk completely through Taroko, we highly advise against it. The distance from trail head to trail head can often be 5-10 kilometers on winding narrow roads with NO shoulder. Add to that, speeding tour buses, tunnels with no lights and you have a recipe for a terrifying and LONG walk.

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So Much More To Discover in Hualien!

6. Book a Zhuilu Old Trail Tour

Taroko gorge trails in Taroko Park, Zhuilu Old Trail tour

Do you like heights?! Do you like the idea of walking on a 90cm wide trail carved into the side of a cliff, 700 METERS above the canyon floor?! Did we mention, no ropes or guardrails? Welcome to the Zhuliu Old Trail. An old Truku tribe hunting path, widened slightly by the Japanese military during their occupation of Taiwan, this trail is a once in a lifetime experience for the daring amongst us. Book ahead as only a few permits are issued each day. See Taroko from an entirely new perspective.

7. If You Decide to DIY, Check for Trail Closures

Taroko Gorge National Park

Taiwan is Typhoon country and the mountains throughout Hualien County are notorious for landslides during big storms. Taroko Gorge is no different and several trails are closed every month for maintenance. If you decide to DIY it, be sure to check for the latest trail closures. The Taroko Park Service website has reasonably updated information, though it’s best to consult with a ranger at the visitor center to confirm or use a tour company that will take you to the best places currently available.

8. Spotting Wildlife

Taroko Park tour in Taroko Gorge National Park

There are over 300 kinds of butterflies in Taroko Gorge National Park, 150 kinds of birds, 46 large mammals including the Formosan Black Bear, the Formosan Macaque (Grey Rock Monkey) and the Sambar Deer, and countless lizards, snakes, insects and other wildlife in the park. As suggested before, the best time to see wildlife is early in the morning before throngs of tourists enter the park and scare them into the hills.

While you probably won’t spot any bears or deer, the Formosan Macaque tends to hang around throughout the park. Good places for spotting them include the trees behind the 7-11 in Tianxiang, the small path behind the visitor center, and in the trees around the Qingshui Cliffs.

9. Bring a Wide Angle Lens for Your Camera

Taroko Gorge National Park

The views through the gorge can be sweeping beyond words. If you have a DSLR camera or even an Iphone with a lens kit, a wide-angle lens can really help capture the grandiosity of the park. While tripods are typically unnecessary, a wide angle can help you get that towering mountain above you, the sprawling cliff to your left and the river below into one spectacular shot.

Want to see Taroko Park and more on Taiwan’s wild East Coast? Island Life Taiwan offers well-constructed day trips to numerous wonderful places in the area. There are so many things to do in Hualien, why would you not?

Help A Rescued Taiwan Dog Get To Their New Home!

Are you flying Direct to SFO, LAX, SEA, YVR or YYZ from Taipei, Taiwan with EVA or China Airlines? Find out how to help the “Adopt Dogs From Eve” nonprofit by volunteering to help transport rescue dogs from Taiwan to the North American west coast. It’s free and easy as the program takes care of all the paperwork and arrangements. Check out their Facebook Pages here and here to ask about details.

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Hualien Travel Blog

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About Island Life Taiwan

Based in Hualien, Taiwan (adjacent to Taroko Gorge National Park), Island Life Taiwan designs all of our unique daily itineraries to help you discover the rich natural beauty and culture of Taiwan, in the most enjoyable, and most immersive way possible. We’re dedicated to showing you the most amazing locations in eastern Taiwan, while having the most fun and avoiding the crowds. More than just a tour operator and adventure outfitter, our team truly loves showing this awe-inspiring part of the world to our guests, and when you love what you do, it shows.

So what are you waiting for? Contact us and let us help you pick the tour or adventure that’s right for you!

Hualien tours, taroko gorge tours, taroko park and more
We Hope You Enjoy Your Visit!

The Zuilu Old Trail

A Visitors Guide

High in the mountains above Taroko Gorge National Park near Hualien, Taiwan lies a trail unlike any most people ever see or experience in their lives. Carved into the flat face of a massive cliff of solid marble, the Zhuilu Old Trail sits perilously more than 700 meters above the canyon floor below.

With limited (often no) guardrail or fencing along the trails edge, one can stare down past their toes at the great Liwu river winding like a little creek over half a mile down. As if that wasn’t enough, the 500-meter-long cliffside portion at the top is only 90cm wide!

This…is the Zhuilu Old Trail…

Hualien Hotel Guide

The Best Neighborhoods & Where To Stay In Hualien

Welcome To Hualien

Welcome to Hualien, a city located on the east coast of Taiwan, known for its stunning natural scenery, including the Taroko Gorge National Park. As a popular tourist destination, Hualien offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit all types of travelers. In this guide, we will highlight the best hotels in Hualien, from luxurious resorts to budget-friendly guesthouses. Whether you’re seeking adventure in the great outdoors or a relaxing getaway, Hualien has something for everyone. Let’s explore the top hotels in Hualien and plan your perfect trip.

Hualien Layout at a Glance

Most of Hualien follows a rough grid pattern with primary roads going East-West and North-South. Zhongshan Road bisects the city from east to west and is the primary road to know in Hualien. Most things of importance are within 3-4 blocks of Zhongshan Road and there are always taxis driving up and down this wide road. Don’t know which way to go on Zhongshan? If you see giant green mountains in front of you, you are walking West! It’s that easy.

We believe these are the three best neighborhoods in which to stay in Hualien. Beibin, Downtown, Train Station. Each are good for different reasons as we will outline below.

Neighborhoods To Stay

Beibin

This oceanfront neighborhood along Beibin Street (actually two one-way roads a block apart) offers a growing collection of boutique hotels and guesthouses right by the ocean. Beibin Street begins at Zhongshan Road and is only 5-6 blocks long so it’s impossible to get lost (see map below). Beibin is a very short walk from the Dongdamen Night MarketBeibin Oceanfront Boardwalk and Nanbin Waterfront Park. The seafront bicycle path goes directly in front of Beibin street as well, making this area a great jumping off point for bike rides. If you want to be by the sea and within short walking distance to downtown restaurant and shopping areas, this is a wonderful neighborhood.

Downtown

The Downtown area can loosely be defined as the area of Zhongshan Road from the sea to Linsen Road and 4 blocks on either side (see map below). This is the area where you will find the primary shopping areas, most of the restaurants, Dongdamen Night Market, the outdoor craft markets and food vendors, several small walking roads and more. This is also the area with most of the banks, coffee shops, all the bars/nightlife and more. Really, if you want to walk from your hotel to do stuff, being in downtown is the best place to be. Most of the bars are along Linsen Road.

Train Station

This budget friendly area around the train station is where you will find most of the hostels and inexpensive accommodations. That being said, you are a hearty 20-30 minute walk into downtown for most of the action. Not ideal in hot summer heat or in the rainy season. Taxi’s to downtown are only $100 TWD each way but of course these can add up if you do it a lot. There are some decent restaurants in the train station area but nothing compared to the variety in downtown. If price and proximity to trains is your priority, there are hundreds of inexpensive places to choose from in this neighborhood.

Budget Hotels

Travel Charger Hostel

Price: $          Average Rating: 4.7/5

The Travel Charger Hostel is located in Hualien City, close to the rear exit of Hualien Railway Station. The hostel offers free wifi throughout the property, and unlike many tourist areas downtown, this hostel has a local feel. Located in a quiet, less busy part of Hualien, it still has plenty to do nearby. The stylish common area is great for relaxing with a good book or doing some work. The hostel also offers comfy beds, hot showers, and friendly service. An outdoor terrace is a favorite place for guests to hang out and have a few drinks.

Hualien Hotels

World Inn

Price: $       Average Review: 4.8/5

The World Inn is a hostel inspired by traveling the world and welcoming travelers from all over the globe to explore beautiful Hualien. The friendly owners of the hostel love to give guests tips on all the best local sights and dining options. The hostel has even more guest space in its new location, and the World Inn Coffee Shop is onsite. They serve freshly ground coffee and homemade cakes using only locally sourced ingredients. The World In is an excellent place for travelers and locals to meet, make new friends, exchange travel stories, and take a relaxing break from their adventures!

Hualien Hotels

Hualien Dropby International Backpacker Hostel

Price: $             Average Rating: 4.8/5

If you are looking for a place that feels like home, look no further than Hualien Dropby International Backpacker Hostel, your home away from home in Hualien City. The hostel offers free wifi access in the public area. Each room at the Hualien Dropby provides air conditioning, a balcony, and private bathrooms with a shower. You can cook in the shared kitchen or relax in the comfortable lounge. If you want to explore the city, the staff at the tour desk can assist with tour arrangements. You can also rent bicycles at this hostel for a great way to get about Hualien. You may be asked for a deposit via bank wire or Paypal within 48 hours to secure your reservation.

Hualien Hotels

Pure B&B

Price: $           Average Rating: 4.7/5

During your stay at Pure B&B in Hualien City, you will be within a 10-minute drive of the famous Hualien Dongdamen Night Market and ShenAn Temple. Each comfortable room offers air conditioning and Egyptian cotton sheets. Featured amenities include express check-in and luggage storage for guests. For easy access to this B&B, a roundtrip airport shuttle is complimentary during limited hours, and train station pick-up service is also free. Make sure to take advantage of the complimentary continental breakfast!

Hualien Hotels

Chateau De Chine

Price: $         Average Rating: 4.3/5

Chateau de Chine in Hualien is the first green resort hotel in Eastern Taiwan, implementing ecological, energy-saving, and carbon-reducing initiatives. The hotel offers a complimentary roundtrip airport shuttle, an outdoor terrace, and a coffee shop/cafe where guests can fuel up before exploring. Situated near the Hualien Port and Hualien Cultural Center, you will have easy access to a wide range of activities in the Taroko Gorge and Eastern seafront, making the Chateau de Chine a great base while in Hualien. Keep an eye out because, throughout the hotel, you will find Jimmy’s (Taiwan’s famous artist) installations.

Hualien Hotels

Midrange Hotels

1999 B&B

Price: $           Average Rating: 4.5/5

The 1999 B&B is located in the heart of Hualien City and is close to some of the city’s most beautiful landmarks, including the Japanese General House. Rooms at this B&B are spacious with thoughtful touches that make you feel right at home. Each room has a private bathroom, air conditioning, and complimentary amenities like stocked minibars, WiFi, and laundry facilities. Enjoy the complimentary continental breakfast each morning or the rooftop terrace in the evenings. Make sure to visit the famous Taroko Gorge during your visit! 

Hualien Hotels

Azure Hotel

Price: $           Average Rating: 4.8/5

The Azure Hotel is centrally located in the downtown area of Hualien City, just a 4-minute walk from the Japanese General House. Featured amenities include complimentary wifi, flat-screen TVs, a fitness center, an onsite restaurant, and complimentary newspapers in the lobby. You can also get a roundtrip airport shuttle or train station pick-up service for an additional charge.

Hualien Hotels

LakeShore Hotel Hualien

Price: $            Average Rating: 4/5

An excellent option for families, the Lakeshore Hotel Hualien is in the downtown area overlooking the Pacific Ocean to the east and mountains of green to the west. Guests can enjoy exclusive access to the onsite sauna and Kids’ Haven. Additional amenities include complimentary wifi and a gym. All rooms are air-conditioned and equipped with cable/satellite channels, a flat-screen TV, a refrigerator, and a minibar. In addition, guests can enjoy local cuisine served daily at the modern onsite restaurant.

Hualien Hotels

Li Shiuan International Hotel

Price: $$               Average Rating: 4/5

The Li Shiuan International Hotel is a short walk from the Hualien County Stone Sculpture Museum in the downtown area. The hotel has a rooftop terrace, free wifi, valet parking, and a free shuttle service. Additional amenities include fitness classes, a coffee bar, and 24-hour room service. All rooms are air-conditioned, and the hotel provides various in-house dining options with the Tastefulness Cafe and Karaoke Lounge.

Hualien Hotels

Kindness Hotel

Price: $$         Average Rating: 4.5/5

At this family-friendly hotel in Hualien City, you will find that the Kindness Hotel feels like home. Each room at the Kindness Hotel offers free wifi, a refrigerator, and air conditioning. Take advantage of some amenities during your stay, including a concierge and breakfast provided onsite. While staying at Kindness Hotel, you can check out The Tropic of Cancer – BinfengJingpu, Gangtiangong, and some of Hualien City’s top attractions. During your visit, check out one of Hualien City’s popular dumpling restaurants, including Gongzheng Baozi, Zhoujia Steamed Dumpling, and Dai Ji Wonton, all just a short distance from the Kindness Hotel.

Hualien Hotels

High End Hotels

Just Sleep Hualien

Price: $$            Average Rating: 4/5

Just Sleep is in a great location in Hualien City, with many restaurant and food cart options nearby. Each comfortable and spacious room at this hotel offers air conditioning and a private bathroom. Guests can also enjoy Just Sleep Hualien’s playground, library, and laundry facilities. In addition, you will be close to the beautiful Nanbin seashore and the Hualien Cultural and Creative Industries Park. Consider visiting the Hualien Cultural Center nearby for the dazzling ocean and gorgeous mountainside views.

Hualien Hotels

Fullon Hotel Hualien

Price: $$            Average Rating: 4.3/5

The Fullon Hotel Hualien is located in downtown Hualien near the Hualien Harbor. The magnificent building that houses the hotel is now a landmark of Hualien and one of the most gorgeous spots in Eastern Taiwan. All the spacious rooms at this hotel offer air conditioning and plenty of room for the whole family. Additional guest amenities include the La Fontaine SPA, sea view swimming pool, karaoke, and bar. Rent a bicycle to explore the downtown area or take the kids to the playground.

Hualien Hotels

Parkview Hotel Hualien

Price: $$             Average Rating: 4.3/5

Parkview Hotel is located in the heart of Hualien. As the first five-star luxury hotel, it is situated to embrace the dazzling blue sea and dense hill ridges. Each individually furnished room has homey touches, including comfortable bedding and air conditioning. Relax at one of several pools at the hotel, including a children’s pool perfect for splashing with the family. Whether you want to enjoy the enchanting Taroko Gorge, enjoy delicious foods, or collect fantastic souvenirs, Parkview is the ideal base for your Hualien travels.

Hualien Hotels

Before Sunrise B&B

Price: $$           Average Rating: 4.9/5

Before Sunrise B&B provides unique beachfront accommodations in Hualien City. The B&B offers free wifi throughout the property, and each room has a balcony with gorgeous mountain views. Enjoy your outdoor terrace, air conditioning, and flat-screen TVs. Each room also has a private bathroom with a shower and comfy slippers to lounge in. Breakfast is offered each morning with warm dishes, fresh pastries, and fresh fruit. The area surrounding Before Sunrise B&B is popular for cycling, and free use of bicycles is available onsite. Popular points of interest around the Before Sunrise B&B include Nanbin Park Beach, Beibin Park Beach, and Pine Garden.

Hualien Hotels

Gaeavilla Resort

Prince: $$                  Average Rating: 4/5

The Gaeavilla Resort in Hualien offers a unique and immersive experience you’ll never forget. The resort offers many amenities, from its mind-purifying teahouse to the yoga room and organic spa. Not to mention the health-enhancing food served at the onsite restaurant. Each room is designed with tranquility in mind and features free wifi, a flat-screen tv, and a private terrace or balcony.

Hualien Hotels

So Much More To Discover in Hualien!

Map of Neighborhoods

*Map Not To Scale – From the train station it is a 20 minute walk to Linsen Road and a 30-35 minute walk to the Dongdamen night market,

best hualien hotel
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About Island Life Taiwan

Based in Hualien, Taiwan (adjacent to Taroko Gorge National Park), Island Life Taiwan designs all of our unique daily itineraries to help you discover the rich natural beauty and culture of Taiwan, in the most enjoyable, and most immersive way possible. We’re dedicated to showing you the most amazing locations in eastern Taiwan, while having the most fun and avoiding the crowds. More than just a tour operator and adventure outfitter, our team truly loves showing this awe-inspiring part of the world to our guests, and when you love what you do, it shows.

So what are you waiting for? Contact us and let us help you pick the tour or adventure that’s right for you!

Hualien tours, taroko gorge tours, taroko park and more

We Hope You Enjoy Your Visit!

The Best Things To Do In Hualien

Our Favorite Hualien Attractions

Island Life Taiwan is your #1 resource for all things Hualien! Our blog is loaded with informative articles by locals and our unique tours and experiences are top rated in the area. Check out all we have on offer!

Basecamp Hualien City

One of the most scenic and naturally beautiful areas in Taiwan, Hualien County sits like a green jewel nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the grandiose Central Mountain Range. Home to some of the most stunning locations in Taiwan with a rich, unique combination of traditional cultures, Hualien has become a must visit region for travelers looking to get away from the urban centers while in Taiwan.

From dramatic marble gorges and towering green mountains, to idyllic sandy beaches and turquoise waterfalls and swimming holes, there are countless Hualien attractions worth exploring. It’s sure to take your breath away… likely more than once. Searching for what to do in Hualien? Here are the best things to do in Hualien, Taiwan.

The 10 Best Trails In Taroko Gorge National Park

Island Life Taiwan is your #1 resource for all things Hualien! Our blog is loaded with informative articles by locals and our unique tours and experiences are top rated in the area. Check out all we have on offer!

Taroko Gorge National Park

One of the most scenic and naturally beautiful areas in Taiwan, Taroko Gorge is home to some of the most stunning locations on the island. With the worlds largest marble canyon and a rich history and culture, Taroko Gorge has become a must see region for travelers looking to get away from the urban centers while in Taiwan. Here are 10 of our favorite trails and scenic walks when visiting the Gorge. Most these and more are visited in the top rated Better Taroko Gorge Tour.

The 5 Best Hualien Beach Spots!

Your Hualien Beach Guide

From the mountains to the sea, Hualien is a spectacularly beautiful region with plenty to explore. Looking for a place to gaze out at the ocean or maybe take a dip? Here are the 5 best Hualien Beaches!

1. Qixingtan Beach

Qishingtan Beach Hualien chishingtan beach

The most stunning beach area in the immediate Hualien City area, Qixingtan Beach is a sprawling stone covered beach with sweeping views galore. A common stop at the end of Taroko Gorge Tours, Qixingtan Recreation Area can have a small crowd in the late afternoon/evening. Thankfully, the beach and adjoining parks are so massive that it’s easy to get away and find your own quiet place to relax.

Swimming is NOT ALLOWED at Qixingtan, as the current is very strong here, but many people dip their feet in the cool, clean waters.

This is also a great place to ride a bicycle as there are many bicycle rental shops and paths throughout the abutting grassy park and bluffs. In addition, there are bathroom facilities, food vendors (think street snacks) and even showers to rinse the saltwater off your feet.

2. Jici Beach

One of Many things to do in hualien, a Taroko Gorge Tour in Hualien, Hualien Tour of Taroko Gorge National Park

There is a reason Coastal Highway 11 is so often listed as a one of the best stretches of road in all of Taiwan. About 30 minutes south of Hualien City is the best swimming beach in the Hualien Area. Jici Beach! Great for swimming in the summer time and surfing in the winter, Jici is one of only a handful of sand beaches along the central East Coast. Bathrooms, showers, changing rooms, snacks and drinks are all available at Jici. If a lifeguard is on duty, expect to pay a 100 TWD entrance fee.

To spend a killer day checking out some awesome stuff on the East Coast, we highly recommend this  Epic East Coast Explorer Tour which visits Jici beach and other amazing places along the stunning Highway 11.

3. Niushan Huting (Cow Mountain) Beach

What to do in hualien. East Coast Hualien tour Shihtiping on east coast tour

Niushan Huting or “Cow Mountain” sits hidden in a cove off Coastal Highway 11. The winding road down into the valley brings you to a hidden beach oasis surrounded by green mountains on all sides. A real “secret cove”.

An eclectic aboriginal B&B by the beach hosts a small cafe, bathrooms and an amazing collection of outdoor sculptures. Well worth the 50 TWD entrance fee. Enjoy an ocean swim (weather permitting) or take a lazy walk in the sand with your feet in the water. Lay out on the grassy hillside for a picnic or a little sunshine. One can easily spend hours relaxing in this stunning locale.

Cow Mountain beach is also visited on this East Coast Explorer Tour.

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So Much More To Discover in Hualien!

4. Chongde Beach

One of Many things to do in hualien, a Taroko Gorge Tour in Hualien, Hualien Tour of Taroko Gorge National Park ATVs

Just north of the entrance to Taroko Gorge National Park lies this wide swath of beach leading right up to the towering Qingshui Cliffs. The best way to visit this Hualien beach is with Island Life Taiwan’s exclusive ATV add on to all Taroko Gorge area tours. No bathrooms, no facilities. Just EPIC views.

5. Beibin & Nanbin Beaches

These two recreation areas are directly across the road from the Hualien Nightmarket in downtown Hualien City. Pressed for time? Rent a bike and explore these lovely parks and stone beach areas with views of the Hualien port and beautiful sunrises. Swimming is not permitted as there is a steep drop off just a few feet into the water.

More From Our

Hualien Travel Blog

More Amazing Places, Less Crowds. That's the Island Life Way!

About Island Life Taiwan

Based in Hualien, Taiwan (adjacent to Taroko Gorge National Park), Island Life Taiwan designs all of our unique daily itineraries to help you discover the rich natural beauty and culture of Taiwan, in the most enjoyable, and most immersive way possible. We’re dedicated to showing you the most amazing locations in eastern Taiwan, while having the most fun and avoiding the crowds. More than just a tour operator and adventure outfitter, our team truly loves showing this awe-inspiring part of the world to our guests, and when you love what you do, it shows.

So what are you waiting for? Contact us and let us help you pick the tour or adventure that’s right for you!

We’d Love to Help You Plan the Perfect Hualien Visit!  

Download Your Free 2019 Hualien Visitors Guide Here

 

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20 Best Hualien Restaurants

Your Hualien Food Guide

Island Life Taiwan is your #1 resource for all things Hualien! Our blog is loaded with informative articles by locals and our unique tours and experiences are top rated in the area. Check out all we have on offer!

A Taste Of Hualien

It’s difficult coming to a new city and not knowing where to get a good bite to eat. Guide books can be outdated, and review sites can be rigged. So here at Island Life, we’ve made a great list of all of our favorite restaurants from our time living here in Hualien. International Cuisine and Local Taiwanese Favorites. You can find it below!

International Cuisine

Salt Lick BBQ & Pizza  – Mouth watering American style BBQ. Our favorites include the slow cooked Pulled Pork (sandwich or plate), the Seasonal Salad (best in town), the Gumbo, the Chicago Deep Dish Pizza and the Smoked Ribs. Also home to Hualien’s largest selection of Taiwanese craft beers on tap.

Address: No. 151, Zhongshan Road

Hualien restaurants, best restaurants in hualien

Three Koalas Restaurant – Very reasonably priced American & Italian fare. Paninis, Personal Pizzas, Burgers and more. Our favorite is the steak sandwich with goat cheese and balsamic onion jam. A popular place for families.

Address: No. 122, Bo’ai Street

Farmers Kitchen – This delicious vegetarian restaurant serves a wide variety of dishes and grow their own organic produce locally. Our favorites include the spinach calzone, the Caprese salad and the chick pea cottage pie.

Address: No. 407, Zhongshan Road

Country Mothers – American/ European brunch restaurant with country home ambiance. Our favorites include the European Omelet with Dijon Sauce, the wholegrain waffles and the Eggs Benedicts with home fried potatoes.

Address: No. 34, Fuqian Road

Hualien restaurants, best restaurants in hualien

Boom Burger – Affordable and tasty burgers, pizza, salads and more.  Our favorites include the mushroom burger, the Hawaiian burger with fresh pineapple and the mozzarella sticks with garlic aioli. A good late spot near-ish the train station.

Address: No. 28, Zhuangjing Road

Dos Tacos – Classic Tex Mex cuisine such as tacos, enchiladas and burritos, this fun, sociable place is great for a beer and a bite. Several Mexican beers are available in bottles, and our favorite nibbles include the giant nachos and the sizzling fajitas. Not exactly authentic Mexican food but hey, it’s Asia! Salud!

Address: No. 92, Fuxing Street

Oh La La Crepery –French Crepery near the train station. Many tasty crepes and small French dishes to choose from. We like the banana Nutella crepe and the Beef Bourguignon.

Address:  611 Zhongshan Road

Kimamaya Japanese Cuisine – This hip Japanese BBQ spot is a favorite among both locals and visitors alike. With a large menu of meats and vegetables to choose from, it’s a great place for groups to gather around a table center BBQ grill. Kimamaya uses fresh coals, not propane burners, so the flavor is better than many of the other spots locally. Our favorites are the steak and the mushrooms.

Address: No. 144, Bo’ai St.

Siam Thai Food – Delicious homestyle Thai restaurant with a limited but authentic menu. Our top choices are the Papaya Salad, the Lemon Pork Slice, the Pad Thai and the Holy Basil Pork Rice.

Address: No. 71, Fuxing Street

Sushi Express – Yes it’s a chain and yes it’s essentially “quick eats” carousel sushi, but the quality is surprisingly high and the variety excellent. At $30 TWD per plate, mix and match fresh sashimi, nigiri and specials like crab claws and grilled shrimp. Downtown location makes for convenience across the board.

Address: No. 582, Zhongzheng Rd.

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So Much To Discover in Hualien!

Taiwanese Cuisine

Dongdamen Hualien Night Market – Located on the grounds of the old Hualien Train Station, this sprawling night market is the largest in Hualien County, and a must visit while in Hualien City. With hundreds of stalls of food, games, trinkets and more, prepare yourself for a wonderland of aromas as you pass by grilled steak and sausages, aboriginal delicacies, traditional Chinese favorites and of course… Stinky Tofu! With numerous carnival style games, this is a fun and safe place for families and all to enjoy a vibrant evening in Hualien.

Address: Located downtown off Zhongshan Road

Hualien Night Market,Hualien restaurants, best restaurants in hualien

Old Banyan Tree Restaurant –  This bustling local place has an “English” menu with pictures and dishes come in good portions for sharing. Everything is delicious as this is one of our favorite Hualien restaurants.

Address: No.69 Mingzhi Street

He Jia Huan Nan Bei Yao –  As if the name wasn’t already a mouthful, this well priced Taiwanese restaurant offers delicious meals that are a cut above the rest. From duck breast to pork feet, local greens to dumplings, this place is sure to have something for everyone. Though they don’t have an English menu yet, they do have pictures and the friendly staff are great at helping with suggestions.

Address: No. 228, Zhonghe Street

Dai Ji’s Wonton Soup – Another Hualien institution. In a town where wonton soup is considered a specialty, Dai Ji’s is widely considered the best. For 80 years this family institution has been preparing their dumpling soup and the recipe has never changed. Don’t fix what isn’t broken we suppose! With only a handful of tables, locals often sit on stools next to the shop slurping up their favorite soup after a long days work. Be sure to take advantage of the various condiments available to customize your soup with chili oil, vinegars and more!

Address: No. 120, Zhonghua Road

Hualien restaurants, best restaurants in hualien

Zhou Steamed Dumplings – This decades old famous steamed bun shop serves a local version of Xiao Long Bao and is widely considered the best in Hualien. Grab a bag to eat on the street. Lines form on weekend evenings. Don’t forget the sauce

Address: No. 4-20, Gongzheng St.

Koufu Beef Noodles – This is a local favorite for a Taiwanese classic dish! Beef Noodles are a mainstay of Taiwanese cuisine, large bowls of simmering broth, noodles, vegetables and slow cooked beef pieces.

Address: No.533, Fujian Street

Ba Fang Yun Ji Fried Dumplings – These small chain shops of fried and steamed dumplings are inexpensive and delicious. At $5 TWD per dumpling, mix and match or try them all! Be sure to check out the sauce station as well. Veggie options available.

Address: No. 696, Zhongshan Rd. & No. 93, Guolian 3rd Rd

Wang’s Tea House – This tea house and restaurant offers relaxing atmosphere and a wide range of teas and snacks to choose from. A few set meals are available as well but most just come for the tea and tranquility. English menu available.

Address: No. 565, Zhongshan Road

Hai Po Oyster Omelet Stand – CHALLENGE FOOD ALERT! Wanna try something really different? This Hualien specialty looks like a trainwreck but is surprisingly tasty. Scrambled eggs with oysters, green onion and hot sauce. This is THE local spot.

Address: No. 88 Ziyou Street

Cifadahan Traditional Amis Restaurant – 30 minutes from Hualien but worth the trip, at this unique restaurant, one can sample some of the finest Amis aboriginal food in Taiwan. Known for their “stone soup”, this treat is prepared beside you in a large bowl made of banana leaves. Local wild vegetables, prawns and fish are added to the broth, and then large, hot stones are added to the bowl, cooking the soup right beside you! Also, you can try salt cooked whole fish prepared in charcoal, wild mountain vegetables or various other traditional dishes. Try visiting it as part of this Butterfly Valley Hot Springs & Aboriginal Food Experience.

Address: No. 16, Lane 62, Daquan Street, Guangfu Township

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About Island Life Taiwan

Based in Hualien, Taiwan (adjacent to Taroko Gorge National Park), Island Life Taiwan designs all of our unique daily itineraries to help you discover the rich natural beauty and culture of Taiwan, in the most enjoyable, and most immersive way possible. We’re dedicated to showing you the most amazing locations in eastern Taiwan, while having the most fun and avoiding the crowds. More than just a tour operator and adventure outfitter, our team truly loves showing this awe-inspiring part of the world to our guests, and when you love what you do, it shows.

So what are you waiting for? Contact us and let us help you pick the tour or adventure that’s right for you!

We Hope You Enjoy Your Visit!

hualien restaurants hualien night market

Hualien Night Market

A Taste of Taiwan's East Coast

Island Life Taiwan is your #1 resource for all things Hualien! Our blog is loaded with informative articles by locals and our unique tours and experiences are top rated in the area. Check out all we have on offer!

Dongdamen Hualien Night Market

Get ready for the clinking of games and the steam and sizzle of food vendors as you stroll through the corridors of the lively Dongdamen Night Market and immerse yourself in local Hualien “nightlife”

Opened in 2015, the Hualien Night Market is the largest (and certainly most entertaining) market on the East Coast of Taiwan. Also known as the Dongdamen Night Market, the sprawling wide-laned marketplace is a must visit experience when spending an evening in Hualien.

With over 400 vendors at the night market, the amount of food on offer is incredible. And it isn’t just Taiwanese food either, you can find items from mainland China, America, Thailand, Japan and numerous other regions as well. Due to the enormous amount of food on offer and the variety you can sample, it is an easy place to get a unique, inexpensive dinner.

Along with food, you will find entertainers including singers, guitarists, drummers, dancers and more. Visitors can eat and drink while enjoying the musicians croon hit cover songs, traditional aboriginal songs and the occasional original ballad. There are also several sections of the night market featuring carnival style games such as dart throwing, ring toss or crossbow shooting. You may even be lucky enough to win a prize while there!

The Walami Trail

Take a Walk Through Central Taiwan

Plunge into a beautiful tropical jungle and immerse yourself in the lush world of Taiwan’s great outdoors! Taiwan’s famous Walami Trail winds deep into the heart of the jungle, where the air is filled with the perfume of warm greenery and the song of nature’s soundtrack.

If you’re looking for something special to do in Taiwan, this is one of your best opportunities to get out and see all that Taiwan’s natural world has to offer!

This… is the Walami Trail

A Little History of the Walami Trail

With a rich and sordid past that spans hundreds of years of Taiwanese history, the 14km Walami Trail (most people only hike the first 2-3 km) is in fact a preserved section of the much longer historic Batongguan Trail. Begun during the Qing Dynasty in 1875, the extraordinary Batongguan traversed 152 kilometers of rugged Taiwan backcountry from Yuli in Taitung County in the east, to Chushan in Nantou County in the west.

Walami Trail tour

Yet that isn’t even the beginning. The Batongguan Trail itself followed even older aboriginal paths that date back hundreds of years prior. In fact, it’s entirely likely that the first trees felled to form today’s Walami Trail, crashed to the ground during the time of Bach and Rembrandt!

Later widened and rebuilt during the 50 year Japanese occupation of Taiwan between 1895 and 1945, the Walami Trail as it exists today cuts through the jungle and across the mountains of Central Taiwan in spectacular fashion. Though it was primarily used to connect the wild eastern section of Taiwan with the more settled northwest, it was also a way for Japanese authorities to keep a wary eye on resistant local tribes.

The Walami Trail Today

walami trail

Today, of course, the Walami Trail is used for pleasure and the enjoyment of nature. Originating in the forest southeast of Yuli and high above the Nanan River, the trail follows an exciting path through the jungle, cutting along cliffs, over rivers, and through lush greenery all the while. During your visit to Taiwan, you should definitely consider taking a hike on the Walami Trail, typically as part of a Walami Trail Tour from Hualien City or Taitung City.

Things to See on the Trail

Suspension Bridges

Walami Trail Tour

Interesting things are found at every turn on the Walami Trail. Among them, numerous planked suspension bridges connect various legs of the trek throughout the mountains. Be sure to look down at the rivers and gorges far below as you walk across the swaying bridges!

Cliff Crossings

Walami Trail Tour

As if the bridges weren’t adventurous enough, there are several cliff crossings as well. Parts of the trail are literally cut directly into the faces of cliffs, making the path feel even more daring. It is far from treacherous though, and children often make this hike with big smiles.

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Waterfalls

walami trail you on a hualien tour

Some of the loveliest things to see on the Walami Trail are the various waterfalls that glitter as they cascade down the bare rocks from pool to pool beside you. If the weather is right, take a dip and splash in the clear water, enjoying the cooling energy as it flows over your shoulders.

Monkeys and Other Wildlife!

Walami Trail Tour

Along the trail, you’re likely to hear the constant chatter and crash of noisy monkeys playing in the trees above! Although they’ll be able to see you, you’ll be lucky to get more than a brief glimpse of their curious eyes or furry tails.

Other wildlife can be a bit friendlier, however. You’ll have ample opportunity to spot and photograph birds, butterflies, spiders and lizards along the way. And as always in Taiwan, watch out for snakes!

Good Things to Know

Although anyone can hike the first few kilometers of the Walami Trail, you’ll need to arrange government permits to do the entire 14km six-hour trek. For this reason, most people choose to do the beautiful first section as part of a tour of the area. Be sure to contact Island Life Taiwan if you’re interested in making the Walami Trail part of your Taiwan tour!

This is truly one of the most wonderful hikes in Taiwan. Be sure to check it your during your visit to Taiwan’s Wild East Coast!

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About Island Life Taiwan

Based in Hualien, Taiwan (adjacent to Taroko Gorge National Park), Island Life Taiwan designs all of our unique daily itineraries to help you discover the rich natural beauty and culture of Taiwan, in the most enjoyable, and most immersive way possible. We’re dedicated to showing you the most amazing locations in eastern Taiwan, while having the most fun and avoiding the crowds. More than just a tour operator and adventure outfitter, our team truly loves showing this awe-inspiring part of the world to our guests, and when you love what you do, it shows.

So what are you waiting for? Contact us and let us help you pick the tour or adventure that’s right for you!

Download Your Free 2018 Hualien Visitors Guide Here

 

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The East Rift Valley

Hualien's Green Countryside

Nestled between the Chungyang (Central) Mountain Range and the Haian (Coastal) Mountain Range in Eastern Taiwan, the East Rift Valley is an emerald treasure in the heart of Taiwan’s most beautiful locale. Driving Highway 9 or Route 193 south through the valley, one can gaze out on the most verdant agricultural vistas in the country.

The jutting mountains on either side give way to a green plane patch-worked with vegetable fields and rice paddies. Snaking curls of river cut through the earth, festooning the green landscape with ribbons of blue.

Here, you will discover a Taiwan you hardly imagined could exist—a sleepy, rural world of delicious isolation and virgin beauty.

Things to Do in the East Rift Valley

One of Many things to do in hualien, a Taroko Gorge Tour in Hualien, Hualien Tour of Taroko Gorge National Park Danong Dafu Forest Park
Danong Dafu Forest Park
East Rift Valley, Butterfly Valley and Mugua River Gorge on our Hualien Rivers & Valleys tour
Fenghuang Waterfall
East Rift Valley, Butterfly Valley and Mugua River Gorge on our Hualien Rivers & Valleys tour
Taking a Walk in the Fuyuan Forest

You’ll never run out of things to do when visiting the valley. Rent a bike and take a ride in Danong Dafu Forest Park, hunt for pieces of jade and take a swim in Bai Bao Creek, relax in the soothing natural spa of one of the many hot springs in Ruisui, Fuyuan National Forest or Antong, walk through the wetlands of Matai’an Ecological Area, visit the gorgeous Fenghuang Waterfall,  or just revel in the beauty of country life in Taiwan.

Much of the above & more can be experienced on Island Life Taiwan’s popular Rivers & Valleys Experience which visits the East Rift Valley, Butterfly Valley & the Mugua River Gorge in a fantastic day out!

Where is the East Rift Valley?

East Rift Valley, Butterfly Valley and Mugua River Gorge on our Hualien Rivers & Valleys tour
Looking Out at the Valley

The East Rift Valley, also known as Huatung Valley, is located between the Central and Coastal mountain ranges, and is a must-visit location for any tour of Taiwan.

The long valley stretches 160km from Hualien City in the north to Taitung City in the south, making up a respectable slice of Eastern Taiwan. You’ll have plenty of space to enjoy yourself and countless activity options when you tour the East Rift Valley.

Geology of the Area

East Rift Valley, Butterfly Valley and Mugua River Gorge on our Hualien Rivers & Valleys tour
The Verdant East Rift Valley

The East Rift Valley was created as a result of complex tectonic plate movement known as the Philippine Mobile Belt. The Valley itself is located on the seam of the vast Philippine and Eurasian tectonic plates.

Slowly, inch by inch, the mountains on either side of the valley have been ripped apart from one another. A process which continues to this day.

In addition, ancient volcanic activity left behind extremely rich soil, making the East Rift Valley a prime producer of fruits, vegetables, rice and other crops. The result of all this wild geologic action is the verdant East Rift Valley.

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So Much More To Discover In Hualien!

Natural Beauty 

What to do in hualien. Liyu lake a Hualien attraction. One of the best things to do in hualien
Boats & Kayaks at Liyu Lake

There is beauty in every direction here and something new to appreciate everywhere you look! From the jutting green mountain peaks to the sweeping sea of golden daylilies, there will be no lack of color and beauty to delight your senses.

The reflection of the mountains in Liyu Lake, the jungled mountainside locale of Funghuang Waterfall, sunset over the lake in Yunshanshui, and the sight of the misty mountains in the morning will be enough to make you wonder if you’ve entered paradise.

Naturally, an uncommon geologic formation like Taiwan’s East Rift Valley is full of surprising natural treasures to enjoy. Dotting the valley are numerous hot springs as well which you can visit and enjoy when you take a tour of Taiwan’s most beautiful valley.

How to Get There

East Rift Valley, Butterfly Valley and Mugua River Gorge on our Hualien Rivers & Valleys tour
The Beautiful East Rift Valley

The East Rift Valley is accessible via Provincial Highway 9 or old Route 193. Island Life Taiwan offers a wonderful day tour of the East Rift Valley and the Mugua River Gorge from Hualien taking you to many of the places listed above. With so much beauty to explore in the East Rift Valley, why wouldn’t you make a day of it!

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Explore More Hualien Fun With Island Life!

Download Your Free 2019 Hualien Visitors Guide Here

 

things to do in hualien

About Island Life Taiwan

Based in Hualien, Taiwan (adjacent to Taroko Gorge National Park), Island Life Taiwan designs all of our unique daily itineraries to help you discover the rich natural beauty and culture of Taiwan, in the most enjoyable, and most immersive way possible. We’re dedicated to showing you the most amazing locations in eastern Taiwan, while having the most fun and avoiding the crowds. More than just a tour operator and adventure outfitter, our team truly loves showing this awe-inspiring part of the world to our guests, and when you love what you do, it shows.

So what are you waiting for? Contact us and let us help you pick the tour or adventure that’s right for you!

We Hope You Enjoy Your Visit!