The Best Things to do in Taiwan

The East Coast

A small Island nation located in the Pacific Ocean with the Philippines to the south, Japan to its northeast, China to its west, and the vast Pacific Ocean to its east, Taiwan is home to vibrant culture, modern cities, sandy beaches, ornate temples, natural hot springs and dramatic mountain terrain. The presence of such beautiful landscapes and rich culture have made the country one of the top havens for international tourists in recent years. Here are the Top 5 things to do on the East Coast.

All of this and SO MUCH more can be found in our 2019 Hualien Visitors Guide. We hope you enjoy!

Taroko Gorge National Park

The Jewel of Taiwan

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.

Ancient History of Taroko Gorge

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Swallow Grotto in Taroko Gorge National Park

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.

Flora and Fauna of Taroko National Park

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!

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The Truku Tribe (Taroko 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 National Park Recent History

Shakadang Trail walking into the Mysterious Valley

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.

Taroko Gorge Tours vs. Public Bus

Taroko Park tour in Taroko Gorge National Park
Crowded Busses in Taroko

Taking a Taroko Gorge tour is a must while in Taiwan. Though there is a public bus that travels through parts of the park, with such a wide range of sites and trails, one would have difficulty seeing much of the parks diversity while restrained to the hourly (at best) bus schedule. Also, there are large parts of the park busses can’t reach including the Changuang Temple, the Bell Tower Trail and the Yue Suspension Bridge. In addition, with such a rich history and a number of hidden gems nestled about, taking a small group tour can add many layers to experiencing all the park has to offer.

For additional information check this nice article about Taroko Gorge National Park.

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!

Shihtiping

Taiwan’s Coastal Spectacular

At first glance, the word Shihtiping (Shi-tee-ping) may invoke chuckles from those English speakers among us, and yet in the language of the locals, the name perfectly describes the spectacular landscape of this stretch of mesmerizing Eastern Taiwan coastline. Meaning “stone steps” in Mandarin, millions of years of natural erosion and massive tectonic upheaval along the seacoast have created exactly that. A stunning natural stone staircase, rising to the sky and descending down into the azure sea below.

In this magical place where nature has created such amazing scenery, life thrives. Both in the abundant sea creatures in Shihtiping’s tidal pools and coral reefs, but also in the Amis tribespeople who live a traditional Taiwanese lifestyle in rustic villages along this enchanting shoreline. This is Shihtiping.

What is Shihtiping?

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Shihtiping is a geologically unique coastal region in the Eastern part of Taiwan that has remained well preserved and culturally traditional, despite recent tourist interest. This Hualien County must-see consists of a sprawling geologic nature park, a vast marine preserve, a quaint village, a fishing harbor, and clusters of fisherman’s homes along the coastline. The people who live in this area are primarily of the indigenous Amis tribe, and most of them make a living as fishermen or craftsmen. Smoked flying fish is one of many delicious local specialties of the area and can be had at several haunts along the shore.

What to do in Hualien? Check out these Hualien attractions: Hualien East Coast Tour with Shihtiping

While there, curious visitors can witness the grandiose sweeping scenery, while taking in the everyday life of Shihtiping area residents as they go about their daily lives; a weather-worn fisherman praying silently for a good catch as he walks along the beach, a woman sweeping out her house, children laughing and splashing in the shallows. Although the modern world has rolled in on tour buses over the years, traditional life still goes on in this misty coastal enclave.

Geology of Shihtiping

Shihtiping East Coast Tour Hualien

Shihtiping is both a place of geologic curiosities and picturesque natural beauty. The settled area outside of the park lies on a green plateau between rolling verdant mountains and the sea, where the rich volcanic soil has created the perfect environment for a lush, green landscape.

The natural stone steps meanwhile are a result of ages of erosion in the limestone and the continued collision of the Eurasian Tectonic Plate and the Philippine Sea Plate. The same erosive processes have created innumerable tidal pools and bizarre crater-like holes along the coast. This is the perfect environment for coral reef and marine life, drawing anglers, divers and scientists alike to the area.

There are few places in the world that boast such magnificent views and striking scenery. Gaze along the horizon to the point where the mountains meet the sea for a view unlike anything you’ve ever imagined.

Visiting Shihtiping

Shihtiping East Coast Tour Hualien Tour

Island Life Taiwan leads awesome tours to Shihtiping as part the very popular East Coast Explorer tour. Tasting local delicacies, visiting beaches and hidden spots, and of course spending a good amount of free time exploring beautiful Shihtiping!

Shihtiping on a Hualien East Coast Tour
East Coast Hualien tour Shihtiping tour

So Much More to Discover in Hualien!

Download Your Free 2019 Hualien Visitors Guide Here

 

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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!

The East Rift Valley

Taiwan'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

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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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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!

Explore More Hualien Fun With Island Life!

Download Your Free 2019 Hualien Visitors Guide Here

 

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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!

Niushan Huting

The Hidden Hualien Beach!

There are few places in the world like Niushan Huting. This hidden beach cove and recreational area along Taiwan’s scenic East Coast could be one of the more memorable things you can experience during your visit to Hualien County. If you appreciate the little charms in life and enjoy getting off the beaten path, Niushan Huting just might be one of  your favorite things to do in Taiwan.

So come, answer the call of the wind and sea. Surround yourself with natural beauty and rustic simplicity. Peace and tranquility will never be a stranger when you take a visit to Niushan Huting

History of Niushan Huting

“Niushan Huting,” translates to cow mountain, a rather odd name for a beach one would think. Yet long ago, before this area was on the map, the rolling green hills surrounding this small bay were a place for local aboriginal tribespeople to graze their cows and other livestock. Then, in the mid 20th century, an outpost for the Taiwanese military was constructed here in the hidden cove, before eventually being destroyed by a typhoon. It wasn’t long before nature reclaimed the land, sweeping away the remains of the base to leave the beautiful rural area we can all now enjoy.

Niushan huting on an east coast explorer tour from hualien

Today, nestled on the property is a rustic bed and breakfast built by aboriginals from the area. Formed as a small group of cabins along the hillside and adorned with driftwood art, it is a perfect escape into the rural world of Taiwan. In fact, Martin Scorsese even filmed scenes here in 2016 for his film Silence, the rustic structures of Niushan Huting on the picturesque cove serving as a stand-in for 17th century Japan!

Don’t Forget the Camera!

Known for its stunning views, one can gaze out at the endless blue expanse of the Pacific Ocean, or turn your chair the other way and marvel at the grandiosity of the Coastal Mountain Range. Niushan Huting offers endless photo ops, and is a great place for travel bloggers and avid Intagrammers. You’ll also love photographing all the quirky corners of this beautiful place. Everything is made of driftwood, from the cabins to the décor. It’s outdated in the best way—cozy and comfortable, while maintaining a quaint antique feel. You won’t find silk sheets and a spa tub here, but you will find the whispers of the wind in a still rural setting and a certain feel of communing with nature. There is also a sprawling hillside lawn with aboriginal wood carvings to explore.

Go Off the Beaten Path

You’ll also have plenty of space to take it all in at Niushan Huting, as you’re not likely to run into anybody who will disturb your reveries while you are here. Not many tourists, especially foreigners, know about this place, and the steep cracked winding road down from Highway 11 is certainly not tour bus friendly. Niushan Huting is truly a rustic paradise nestled into the beautiful lush greenery of the Eastern Taiwan coastline you just can’t miss!

Where is Niushan Huting?

Niushan Huting is located at the edge of the Pacific Ocean off Taiwan’s famed scenic Highway 11. Here, you can enter the recreational area for just 50 NT Dollars. This price is well worth it for the private beach and grounds alone, but you can also redeem it at the eclectic café for food and beverages. Sipping a coffee while out for a stroll on the gold-sand beach is the perfect way to while away a relaxing morning!

How to Get There

Niushan Huting is a about 40 minutes from Hualien City in a rural area or Hualien County. You can take a day trip here as part of Island Life Taiwan’s East Coast Explorer Tour while visiting Hualien, or make a whole weekend out of a visit to this place. Whichever you decide, just be sure to visit! You’ll never again find a place quite like Niushan Huting.

Discover So Much More in Hualien!

Download Your Free 2018 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!

Taiwan for Nature Lovers

For lovers of nature, Taiwan offers a shocking wealth of unique natural beauty and landscapes. From soaring green mountains to sprawling beaches, spectacular rivers to bizarre geologic wonders, there are countless adventures to keep you busy in the great outdoors. Here are just a few of the must-see destinations for nature lovers in Taiwan.

1. Taroko Gorge: 1-3 days

Taroko gorge trails in Taroko Park

The number-one item on anyone’s Taiwan nature agenda has to be Taroko Gorge National Park. Easily visited from Hualien City on Taiwan’s green East Coast, here you will have your choice of beautiful nature hikes amidst the largest marble canyon in the world. Towering cliffs, gushing waterfalls, turquoise rivers, and hundreds of species of butterflies, birds, insects, reptiles and mammals make this one of the most abundant natural areas in Asia.

While there you can add a day to hike the famed Zhuilu Old Trail,  a, former tribal hunting path carved into a cliff 700 meters above the gorge. Or, drive up 3,000 spectacular meters to the Hehuanshan Mountains to see rolling hills of pygmy bamboo high above the tree line. The massive Taroko Gorge National Park can’t be missed!

2. Hot Springs: 1-2 days

Taiwan sits along a geothermal hotbed and is home to countless rejuvenating natural hot springs. The Hualien-Taitung area alone boasts more than 20 different wild hot springs and hot spring resorts that you can visit! Looking for a relaxing day away from Hualien? Look no further than the Butterfly Valley Hot Springs in Fuyuan National Forest.

Feeling more adventurous? Be sure to take the long journey to the wild Lisong Hot Springs from Taitung. Nestled at the base of a river valley, the green mineral covered cliffs around Lisong are unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. The trip is not for the faint of heart, but well worth the effort! 

3. Kenting National Park: 2-3 days

This national park is a natural treasure filled with an impressive array of plants and animals. The forested park is fringed with beautiful beaches along the Bashi Channel, and people come from all over the world to swim, snorkel, and surf in the brilliant blue water. The interior of the park is no less beautiful, so don’t spend all your time at the beach if you visit! Be sure to take a stroll or a hike along the paths so you can appreciate the unique biodiversity around you.

4. The Beaches: 1-2 days

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Taking a dip at Jici Beach

Taiwan is an island, so there are plenty of opportunities to relax on beaches. While the beaches of Taiwan aren’t all great for swimming, many being rock beaches rather than sandy beaches, they are still wonderful for relaxing and enjoying the tranquil sounds of the ocean. The Kenting area has the best sandy beaches, Baisha Beach and Little Bay being two of the best, but there are other sandy beaches throughout the island.

Niushan Huting (Cow Mountain) beach south of Hualien is one of the more beautiful.  This along with Jici Beach and others can be visited on this Epic East Coast Explorer tour from Hualien. 

5. Shihtiping: 1/2 day

Shihtiping on east coast explorer tour in hualien

A unique geologic wonder, Shihtiping is a bizarre coastal landscape where volcanic rock burst from the sea, and then was eroded over countless eons. Towering rock formations and incredible tidal pools teaming with sea life abound in this strange world between Taitung and Hualien. Off the shore, you can snorkel amidst coral reefs and see countless sea creatures, or just wander on the rocks among the crystal pools spying fish, crabs and more in natures aquariums.

This spectacular location is also visited on this popular Epic East Coast Explorer tour from Hualien. 

6. Lao Mei Green Rock Troughs: 1/2 day

If you enjoy the ocean, this is another special twist on your typical beach day. Lao Mei Beach in Xinbei, near Taipei, is home to a wild vista unlike any other in Taiwan. Here, the rocks at the edge of the sea appear as though there are a thousand nearly-straight trenches carved from the beach to the water! In the late winter and early spring, the rocks are covered with green algae that add a bit of magic to this already interesting place.

If you love nature and plan to visit Taiwan, you will never run out of amazing places to explore. You really won’t find destinations like these anywhere else in the world.

Other Wonderful Nature Locations

Alishan National Park, Green Island, The Walami Trail, The Liji Badlands, The Mugua River Gorge, Yuemeikeng Waterfall, Sixty Stone Mountain, The Qingshui Cliffs and More!

So Much More To Discover In Hualien!

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!

The Stunning Mugua River Gorge

A River Valley Unlike Any Other

Literally meaning “papaya” in Mandarin, the sweetness of the Mugua River Gorge area is hard to miss. A region in Taiwan blessed with beautiful, crystal clear rivers, waterfalls, lush forests and unique aboriginal culture, this is one of the best ways to spend a day while in the Hualien area.

Listed as one of the East Coast “highlights” in the Lonely Planet Taiwan Guide Book, this area has earned an international reputation that is well deserved. Within the Mugua River Gorge itself and in the surrounding area, there are an astounding number of wild and wonderful places to explore, including Emerald Valley, Tongmen, Liyu Lake, Wunlan, Zimu Falls, the Miyawan River, Rainbow Falls and more!

So put on some comfortable clothes and your walking shoes, bring along your swimsuit and a towel, and let’s go on a journey together to explore the wondrous destinations in and around the Mugua River Gorge!

Basecamp Hualien

Shihtiping East Coast Hualien Tour

The classic jumping off point for adventures to the Mugua River Gorge, Hualien City is a mellow beach town located on the East Coast of Taiwan. Nestled amid the surrounding green mountains, this is the easiest place to access tours of the Mugua River Gorge, Taroko Gorge National Park and so much more. There are also plenty of great places to eat in Hualien, so grab some “dan bing” for breakfast (a green onion pancake wrapped around fried eggs), before taking off on a wild journey into the forest!

Emerald Valley

Mugua River Gorge Tour

Our first stop is Emerald Valley. This hidden valley, tucked away amidst the forest, is filled with several pristine swimming holes of clear, emerald coloured waters. Making one feel as if they’re in their own jungle hideaway. Though nearby Mugumuyu (a.k.a. Mugumuki) was long a hot spot for Chinese tourists, since it’s closure in 2016, the tourists have yet to discover the equally beautiful waters of Emerald Valley just 5 minutes away. It takes some hiking to get to, thankfully, so it’s not Tour Bus accessible!

Join our Mugua River Gorge Tour and we’ll take you to the best swimming holes without the crowds.

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So Much More To Discover!

Liyu Lake

Liyu Lake on Hualien tours
Liyu Lake

Lying at the foot of Liyu Mountain, this tranquil lake is the largest freshwater lake in Hualien County. The name Liyutan, literally means “Carp Lake”, and stories vary as to the origin of the name. Did the lake used to be filled with carp? Does Liyu Mountain look like a carp when viewed from across the lake? Is the entire lake the shape of a carp when viewed from the sky?! One thing is for sure, the beauty and tranquility of the lake is the reason so many travelers have stopped for a rest by its shores. Visit in April and enjoy a marvelous sight as hundreds of fireflies come out in the evening, making the whole lake shimmer with lights!

Check it out on a Hualien Rivers & Valleys Experience, a  Mugua River Gorge Tour or a Butterfly Valley Tour!

The Miyawan River

Hualien Rivers Velley tour in the Mugua River Gorge
Mugua River Gorge Fun

Well off the beaten path, the Miyawan River is another nearby jewel of Hualien. With some of the best swimming holes around and the secret Rainbow Falls trail, the Miyawan is a wonderful place to visit year round. For a fun time swimming at the Miyawan, check our exclusive Hualien Rivers & Valleys Experience!

Zimu Waterfall

One of Many things to do in hualien, a Taroko Gorge Tour in Hualien, Hualien Tour of Taroko Gorge National Park
Rainbow Waterfall in the Mugua River Gorge

Speaking of waterfalls, there are so many amazing waterfalls in the Hualien area, and among them is the stunning Zimu Falls. Lying off a little trail near the aboriginal village of Tongmen, at Zimu you can find numerous blue swimming holes, only this time with a gorgeous waterfall to accompany them! There are no trail signs to Zimu falls, so it is highly recommended that you use a guide to get there.

Tongmen & Wunlan

East Coast Tour hualien tour

The aboriginal villages of Tongmen & Wunlan also lie deep within the Mugua River Gorge. While Tongmen is famous for its hand crafted Truku Machetes, Wunlan is famous for its traditional longbow archery! Maybe if you’re lucky, you can catch an archery competition while you’re there or even have a chance to try a traditional wooden longbow yourself.

Visiting The Mugua River Gorge

Mugua River Gorge Tour Hualien Tour

With so many amazing spots to explore, the Mugua River Gorge is a must see for anyone visiting Taiwan. Far and away the easiest way to see all of this is to contact Island Life Taiwan and take one of our two different all-day, one of a kind visits to the Gorge . Either our easy, fun day out with lots of swimming on our Hualien Rivers & Valleys Experience or the more difficult back country hiking on the Mugua River Gorge Adventure. If you’re not already planning on travelling there yet, put it on your bucket list, because it’ll be an unforgettable experience of nature and culture!

More Amazing Places & Less Crowds, That's The Island Life Way!

Download Your Free 2018 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!

The Qingshui Cliffs

Awe Inspiring Wonder of Eastern Taiwan

Along the Eastern seashore of Taiwan lies an awe inspiring testament to the sheer power of Earth plate tectonics. Massive cliffs of stone seem to defy reason in their precipitous plummet from Taiwan’s Central Mountain Range into the azure turquoise waters  of the Pacific Ocean far below. Established as one of the “Eight Wonders of Taiwan” in 1953, the Qinqshui Cliffs are a mesmerizing marvel, and truly something to behold. Come take a look with us as we explore Taroko Gorge National Park’s very own, Qingshui Cliffs.

Where the Mountains Meet the Sea

Comprising a wide 21km long stretch of coastal cliffs along a winding stretch of Taiwan’s Suhua Highway, the Qingshui Cliffs lie approximately 120km south of Taipei between the cities of Yilan and Hualien. The road leading to (and through) the cliffs is a bit heart-stopping, with hairpin curves and steep drops throughout. Yet, the views of the cliffs and the ocean beyond are more than worth the trip. You can easily find your breath taken away by the sheer wall of green and grey rising from the brilliant blue ocean.

Their are several well maintained viewpoints located on the Hualien side of the cliffs, near the small village of Chongde. Each offer stunning views of the massive cliffs and the sprawling Pacific Ocean far below. For the more adventurous, ATV’s can be driven on the beach out to the base of the cliffs!

This area is highly Instagrammable so bring your cameras and/or smartphones!

History of the Qingshui Cliffs

Qingshui Cliffs

From the mid 1600’s to the late 1800’s, numerous foreign visitors arrived at the cliffs. British and Dutch traders, Spanish explorers seeking gold and North American missionaries all tackled the area, generally with minimal success. Largely due to the impenetrable landscape, and largely due to conflict with the Truku indigenous tribe that inhabited the region. It was not until the 19th Century that a massive migration of Han Chinese immigrants finally created a viable community in nearby Hualien.

It wasn’t until relatively recently that a road was constructed to cross from one side of the cliffs to the other. Previously, only those traveling by water could see the stunning cliffs rising from the sea. Perhaps it was the unconquerable aspect of this edifice that intoxicated so many people with the magic of the region, drawing them to the rugged cliffs.

Today, visiting Taroko Gorge National Park and the Qingshui Cliffs is widely considered one of the best things to do in Taiwan.

Geology of the Cliffs

Millions of years ago, the rock and land that now form the island of Taiwan resided deep at the bottom of the ocean. Then, around 6 million years ago, the Philippine Sea plate slowly began to slide under the Eurasian Continental plate, causing Taiwan to gradually emerge from the ocean into the island we see today. Taiwan continues to rise from the sea to this day!

Composed primarily of marble and schist walls, the rock in Qingshui Cliffs is thought to be the oldest rock in Taiwan. On average, the cliffs tower an incredible 800 meters above sea level, but reach almost a kilometer up in some places! The tallest of the attached mountain peaks is Qingshui Mountain, a 2408- meter vegetated behemoth rising from the Pacific Ocean.

Visiting the Cliffs

taroko gorge tour in taroko gorge national park

With stunning views and fantastic photo ops galore, this famous Taiwan locale offers a spectacular destination when visiting the area. The Qingshui Cliffs are also one of the most popular stops on a Taroko Gorge tour.  They are also a wonder to behold from a the beach level. Visit them with this awesome ATV ride to the base of the cliffs! Either way, this unforgettable adventure will surely be a memorable part of your trip to Taiwan!

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

For further reading on Taroko Gorge National Park, check out: Taroko Gorge National Park: The Jewel of Taiwan

So Much More to Discover in Hualien!

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!

Destination Adventure

Explore Taiwan’s Wild East Coast!

One hardly thinks of adventure tourism when hearing the name Taiwan. “Don’t you mean ThaiLAND?” people often tell us. And though Taiwan’s western neighbor continues to garner most of the hubbub, the wild East Coast of Taiwan has quietly been developing some seriously epic activity options to offer adventure seekers and outdoor enthusiasts, while offering little of the tourist crowds and accompanying annoyances.

Towering 3,000+ meters mountains, check. Rivers, waterfalls and the world’s largest marble canyon, check. Epic wild and tamed coastline, check. Monkey filled jungles and wilderness hot springs, check. While one could spend weeks exploring the incredible adventures to be had in Hualien & Taitung counties, here are 7 of our favorite things to do in Taiwan to get you started.

1. Hiking & Trekking

Zhuilu Old Trail Tour on the Jhuilu Old Trail in Taroko Gorge in Hualien

There is an amazing variety of hiking and trekking locales for people of all skill levels throughout the East Coast. For the daring, take a walk along the cliffs edge on the infamous Zhuilu Old Trail, a narrow path perched high above the valley below. For nature lovers, take a long walk through the wilderness on the historic Walami Trail or the Lushui-Wenshan trail in Taroko Gorge National Park. For epic views, take a stroll above the clouds in the Hehuanshan mountains, one of Taiwan’s 100 peaks over 3,000 meters.

There are dozens (maybe hundreds) of exotic trails throughout the area just waiting to be explored! Whether crossing a planked suspension bridge in the Taroko mountains, taking a dip below a waterfall in the Mugua River Gorge, or spotting monkeys in one of the numerous vine covered tropical jungles, hiking in Taiwan’s wild east coast is sure to get your heart racing. Just watch out for snakes! Local outfit Island Life Taiwan offers numerous guided hikes, info and other adventures.

2. River-Tracing

A blast of a sport combining hiking, swimming, bouldering and climbing, river tracing (or river trekking) is one of the most adventurous ways to spend a day in the greater Hualien area! People come from throughout Taiwan (and the world) to experience this homegrown activity, and seldom leave disappointed.

With countless pristine blue rivers to explore, winding through green jungles and marble canyons, one is sure to have an excellent day out on the river making your way deep into the wilderness. Check out local outfit Hualien Outdoors, offering full day river tracing adventures for guests of all skill levels.

3. Wilderness Hot Springs

Taiwan is a literal hotbed of geothermal activity. As a result, there are countless hot springs throughout the country just waiting to be visited and they are especially plentiful on the rugged east coast! Among them, are numerous wonderful hot spring resorts who pump natural spring water into their man made pools, including the gorgeous Butterfly Valley Hot Springs in Fuyuan National Forest.

For the more adventurous however, hiking to a wild hot spring and taking a soothing soak amidst nature is an especially wild experience. Some, including one of the east coast’s best, Lisong Hot Springs, even offers spectacular mineral deposits making the cliffs around them vibrant colors from green to orange! A magical landscape unlike any you’ve likely ever seen.

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So Much More To Discover In Hualien!

4. Paragliding

Wether in the quaint village of Wanrong, or the Sanjan river valley near Taroko Gorge, there are a number of amazing locales to try one’s hand at this daring sport. Strap yourself into your seat, and let the guide, parachute and wind take up above vibrant green rice paddies, over gushing blue rivers and alongside towering green mountains. It’s a ride you’ll never forget!

5. Surfing

Though you may not be of the caliber to enter the international annual Open of Surfing competition in Donghe, just north of Taitung, there are numerous breaks along the east coast for surfers of all skill levels. Or those just hoping to learn in a chill, friendly environment. From Jici beach near Hualien, to Donghe and Dulan by Taitung, take a day to rent a board, throw on some boardies and head to the water for one of the island’s favorite water sports.

6. Cycling

Cycling on the coastal road which lines the island has become somewhat of a pilgrimage for cyclists from around the world. With spectacular ocean vistas on one side and green mountains bestrewn with waterfalls on the other, a multi-day cycle ride down the coast from Hualien is sure to tickle your giddy bone. Or if the ocean isn’t your thing, make your way up to one of Taiwan’s mountainous peaks (either by riding or bussing) and take a wild winding ride 3000 meters downhill back to the coast. The choice is yours! Taiwan is very bicycle friendly, so there are bike paths for riders of all ilks.

7. Scuba Diving/ Snorkeling

Green Island Scuba

Though there is some so-so snorkeling and diving to be done from the east coast shores themselves, take a ferry ride from Taitung to one of two small adjacent islands, Green Island and Orchid Island, for clear waters and a great collection of sea life. With colorful tropical fish, turtles, eels, and even an annual hammerhead shark migration to check out, the East Coast’s tiny neighbors offer some of the best diving in the country.

Discover Hualien With Island Life Taiwan!

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!

Hualien Tour Guide

10 REAL Reasons Why Using a Tour Guide in Hualien is a Great Idea

We’re often asked: “Why should I use a tour guide or adventure service in Hualien when I’m a DIY-er with loads of travel experience? Why would I need someone to show me around when I can just explore on my own?”And the truth is, you don’t. But we think you can see a heck of a lot more and have a way better experience when you do! Here are 10 REAL reasons using a tour guide in Hualien is a great idea.

1. Much More Efficient

Hualien tour guide

Unlike Thailand, Central America or other popular DIY travel locations, Taiwan has very little tourist infrastructure in place to facilitate DIY style travel. Slow infrequent buses, a lack of English signage, license restrictions for renting scooters, etc.

That’s not even mentioning what it’s like to drive a rental car or scooter in Taiwan. Yikes!

The possibility that you could spend half your precious time in Hualien just trying to figure out where to go and how to do it is very high. A guide knows where to go, how to get there, the best time to go to beat the crowds and more.

It is very possible you will see and experience more on an 8 hour tour with an efficient guide than a full day or two trying to figure it out on your own. Vacation time is precious, why waste it!

2. Up to Date on Trail & Road Closures

Taroko Park tour in Taroko Gorge National Park

The newest Lonely Planet Taiwan that arrived in May 2017 lists at least three highlights on the East Coast that have been closed for more than a year. Guidebooks are outdated long before they’re even published.

While it might be easy to find out online if the Eiffel Tower is closed, trails and parks in the Hualien Area have no such online presence. Hualien is typhoon country, so imagine spending half a day trying to get to the “perfect swimming” hole you read about, only to find it was destroyed by a typhoon over a year ago. Guides know what’s closed and can often take you to awesome alternatives the guidebooks don’t know about!

3. Intimate Knowledge of the Area

Zhuilu old trail tour on taroko gorge national park tour jhuilu old trail

There is so much to learn about Hualien. It’s storied history, its geology and ecology, its culture and more.

From the geologic forces that created the largest marble canyon in the world (Taroko Gorge) to the Taiwanese aboriginal cultures that were the predecessors of indigenous cultures from Madagascar to Easter Island and everywhere in between. A good guide can impart information in a way that enhances your visit and educates as it entertains.

4. Equipment and Supplies

Hualien Rivers Velley tour in the Mugua River Gorge

Let’s say you find out the location of one of Hualien County’s numerous amazing waterfalls. Then when you go, you discover you have to hike through a long curving tunnel to get there, and you don’t have a flashlight. Then you get to the river and find out you have to hike up the river, but you don’t have the proper shoes.

Note: Western water shoes don’t work well on the slippery river rocks of Taiwan

Finally, you get near the falls, but you don’t a have a rope to get the last 20 feet up! A good guide will have everything you need. From proper water shoes, gear and safety equipment to toilet paper, hand soap and flashlights. A good guide’s got you covered.

5. The Food

When you’re traveling in a foreign country, sometimes it can be hard to find good food.

Maybe you take the easy route and just go for western owned restaurants with English menus, 7-11 curry bowls or pre-packaged rice boxes. That’s all well and good, but it just isn’t experiencing everything Hualien has to offer. A guide can introduce you to numerous local dishes and traditional roadside delicacies you otherwise may never have known about!

Taiwan has some of the best food in Asia, eat it up! 

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So Much to Discover in Hualien!

6. Safety

Hualien tour guide

Safety is always a concern when travelling in a foreign land. Taiwan is no different. For example:

Driving a rental scooter or car in Taiwan is a risky proposition. With large Tour buses hurdling down the road at dangerous speeds, the unpredictability of other drivers is more a concern than your own skills. Using a guide that provides transportation and is familiar with the roads and driving conditions takes the worry away.

There are numerous poisonous snakes in Taiwan. And all of them live in the forests in and around Hualien. A good guide will clear the path ahead on the trail for you and will also know where the closest treatment location is should someone need it.

Currents are strong and flash floods DO happen. The ocean is beautiful around Hualien and the swimming excellent. That being said, the currents can be deadly and a proper guide will know where it is safe to swim. Same goes for the rivers. Flash floods happen every year and a good guide will know where it is safe to swim and when it is time to leave the river.

7. Secret Spots

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

The tourist maps tell you one thing, the guide books another, and that other guest at the hostel another yet. But a guide who lives in Hualien year-round will know all the secret local spots.

And let’s be honest, those are usually the best! There are so many things to do in Taiwan, let someone who lives here show you the best of them.

8. Fun Activities

Mugua River Gorge Tour Hualien Tour

Going somewhere new and looking around can be a blast. But there are so many fun things to be done that you just might not know about. This is where a good guide can be especially helpful. A good guide will have activity ideas that maybe you never even thought of!

Tasting jumping live prawns, taking an afternoon swim in a secret swimming hole, eating lunch IN the river, not beside it! Without a guide, who knows what you might miss out on.

9. Ease and Convenience

what to do in hualien? One of the best things to do in hualien is a taroko gorge tour in taroko gorge national park

There is something special about taking a step back from the planning to just enjoy your vacation sometimes. Being picked up, taken for a wonderful day out and then returned to your hostel/hotel is one of the great pleasures in life.

Yeah, you could stay up in your hotel all evening planning the next day’s itinerary, OR you could just send an email or make a call and let a guide do all the work for you.  Allowing you extra time to go to the night market and try that stinky tofu everyone is talking about!

10. More Fun Together

Hualien Tour Guide

Whether you are a solo traveler, a couple, a group of friends or a family, joining a guide or small group tour can add a whole new quality to an experience. The quality of sharing in a wonderful day together.

We here at Island Life Taiwan, love what we do. We love the beauty and adventure of the East Coast and enjoy more than anything sharing it with our guests.

We hope you come join us soon!

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

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!