Getting to Hualien

Option 1: Take the Train

This is the most popular and affordable method of getting to Hualien from Taipei.  The express trains will get you to Hualien in about 2 hours, while the non-express trains can take 3-4 hours. It is important to book your train tickets ahead of time, especially on weekends and holidays, as the trains do sell out.  A one way ticket will cost NT$440 per person. 

You can book train tickets online here.

UPDATE: 2/26/18: The Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) announced in February 2018 that it will be operating two additional Puyuma Express train services each day to and from Hualien County starting March 2018, to promote tourism. The TRA is adding two additional Taipei-Hualien direct service trains each day from March 1 to June 29 that will give priority to tourists traveling to Hualien County. According to the TRA, visitors will have the option of booking their train tickets while booking their hotels.The Hualien Commercial Hotel Union, which encompasses all the registered hotels, motels and hostels in the county, will get tickets from the TRA 20 days before the scheduled train departures and they can sell those tickets to tourists who have made hotel reservations in the area. Remaining seats that are not sold will be open to the general public for purchasing, without a hotel reservation, 12 days before the scheduled train departures. This would guarantee that all tourists with a reservation have a seat on the Puyuma express train on their intended date of travel, the TRA said. The two train services leave Taipei City at 8:57 a.m. each day, arriving in Hualien County at 11:08 a.m., and departs Hualien at 5:30 p.m., returning to Taipei at 7:41 p.m. The TRA has estimated that this will make room for 80,000 additional seats on trains between Taipei and Hualien.


Option 2: Take a Plane

This option can save you time and is easily booked online. The Uniair flights take around 50 minutes and typically cost around NT$850 per person. It should be noted that these flights depart from Taipei Songshan Airport (TSA), NOT Taoyuan International Airport.

You can book plane tickets here.


Option 1: Any 7-11 convenience store in Taiwan

This is the most popular and easiest way to pick up your tickets, as there are 7-11’s practically everywhere in Taiwan! Simply go to the counter and tell them you want to pick up your train tickets. If they don’t understand in English, you can say it in Chinese “Wo yao na huo che piao”, then just show them your online booking code and your booking passport number and they will help you with it. Please note that there is a service fee of NT$8 per ticket when picking up tickets at a 7-11.


Option 2: Any train station

While this is also relatively easy, there can be lines at train stations during busy hours of the day. Also, if the booking passport number isn’t yours, you cannot retrieve tickets at the ticket counter of train station unless you show the passport with the same passport number as the booking.


It is very common for train tickets to sell out in Taiwan. We highly recommend buying tickets as soon as they go on sale 14 days prior to the travel date, BUT, if you do end up in a situation where all the trains are sold out, you have a few other options to try out.


Option 1: Take a Plane

This option can save you time and is easily booked online. The Uniair flights take around 50 minutes and typically cost around NT$850 per person. It should be noted that these flights depart from Taipei Songshan Airport (TSA), NOT Taoyuan International Airport.

You can book plane tickets here.


Option 2: Combo Transfer

If you can’t get tickets with an express or direct train from Taipei to Hualien, you can try a train to train combo or a bus to train combo.

Combo Option A: Express Train to Express Train Combo

With this technique, you purchase the whole trip in advance but in two sections, taking the same train the whole route but changing seats in Yilan. As many people get off the train in Yilan, this can be a way to beat the computers automated seat selection system. This technique doesn’t work unless you can purchase BOTH legs of the trip in advance, but it does work surprisingly well.


First Leg: Express Train No. 202: Departs Taipei at 6:05 am, arrives in Yilan at 7:12 am

Second Leg: Express Train No. 202: Departs Yilan at 7:15 am, arrives in Hualien at 8:14 am


Combo Option B: Express Train to Local Train Combo

With this technique, you purchase the first leg of the trip in advance, taking different trains and changing trains in Yilan. This technique doesn’t work unless you can purchase the express train for the first leg. The local train can be purchased at the station and doesn’t need to be booked in advance.


First Leg: Express Train No. 202: Departs Taipei at 6:05 am, arrives in Yilan at 7:12 am.

Second Leg: Local Train No. 4124: Departs Yilan  at 7:34 am, arrives in Hualien at 9:22 am.


Combo Option C: Bus to Local Train Combo 

With this technique you take a bus to Luodong and then switch to a local or express train. This one can be a bit trickier to time as busses can contend with traffic. Typically it is recommended to not purchase any train tickets in advance, and instead purchase a ticket on the next available train in Luodong when you arrive.


First Leg: Kamalan Bus: Departs Taipei Bus Station at 6:15 am, arrives in Luodong at 7:35 am.

Second Leg: Local Train No. 4124: Departs Luodong at 7:45 am, arrives in Hualien at 9:22 am.



In Hualien


Restaurant Recommendations

Our List of the Top Restaurants in Hualien, Taiwan. Enjoy!

(Click restaurant names for more info)


Western Fare

Salt Lick Restaurant – American style BBQ. Our favorites include the slow cooked Pulled Pork (sandwich or plate), the Seasonal Salad (best in town), the Cajun Chicken Sandwich and the Smoked Ribs.

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.

Country Mothers – American/ European brunch restaurant. Our favorites include the European Omelet with Dijon Sauce and the Eggs benedict.

Farmers Kitchen – Vegetarian Restaurant. Our favorites include the spinach calzone, the Caprese salad, the Mexican veggie burger and the chick pea cottage pie.

Oh La La –French Crepery near the train station. 611 Zhongshan Rd. Many tasty crepes and small French dishes to choose from. We like the banana Nutella crepe and the Beef Bourguignon.

Summer Diner – American fare in a funky retro diner ambiance by the train station. Huge salads, Quesadillas and Buffalo chicken sandwiches are sure to please. Very large portions for the price.

Boom Burger – Affordable and tasty burgers and more. Near-ish the train station.

Louisa Coffee – Probably the best coffee shop in Hualien. Inexpensive coffee drinks (Fair Trade available), tasty breakfast sandwiches and comfy coffee house ambiance.


Taiwanese Fare

Dongdamen Night Market – Located downtown off Zhongshan Rd. All kinds of fun snacks and meals. The back section is primarily aboriginal food. Guided Island Life Night Market Tours are available. Stinky Tofu, Double Layer Sausage, Coffin Bread and more!

Old Banyan Tree Restaurant – No.84 Minguo Road. This bustling local place has an “English” menu with pictures. Dishes come in good portions for sharing. Everything is delicious.

Koufu Beef Noodle Restaurant – No.533, Fujian St. This is a local favorite for a Taiwanese classic dish!

Zhou Steamed Dumpling Stand – No. 4-20, Gongzheng St. – This decades old famous steamed bun shop serves the best Xiao Long Bao in Hualien. Grab a bag to eat on the street. Don’t forget the sauce!

Dai’s Wonton Soup Shop – No. 120, Zhonghua Rd. – Another Hualien institution. In a town where wonton soup is considered a specialty, Dai’s is widely considered the best.

Hai Po Oyster Omelet Stand – No. 88 Ziyou St. – Wanna try something really different? This Hualien specialty looks like a trainwreck but is surprisingly tasty. This is THE local spot.

Ba Fang Yun Ji Dumplings – No. 696 Zhongshan Rd. & No. 93 Guolian 3rd Rd – These small chain shops of fried and steamed dumplings are inexpensive and delicious. Vegetarian options available.

Lao Shao Restaurant – No. 3-2, San Min St.. Very good Chinese/ Taiwanese cuisine.

He Jia Restaurant – No.228, Zhonghe St. Very good Chinese/Taiwanese food.

MuMing Restaurant – No. 23, Ln. 10 Mingtan St. Xincheng Township – Nice Taiwanese place near Chishingtan Beach.

Cikasuan Restaurant –  Aboriginal Restaurant by Liyu Lake. Many traditional dishes.


Other Asian Fare

Medina – Indian & Pakistani food. Our favorites include the Chicken Korma, Biriyani and Saag.

Zhangxin Lamian –Japanese noodle house. Expect a bit of a wait at this favorite eating restaurant. Our favorite is the pork bone lamian. 4 doors East of The Moose Restaurant.

Siam Thai – Thai food. Tasty inexpensive spot popular with locals. Our favorites include the lemon pork slice, papaya salad, pad thai and the Holy basil pork rice.


Outside of Town

Ian’s Table – Farm to table, Ian and his wife Sabine greet you with true hospitality at this special countryside B&B in Shoufeng (30 minutes from Hualien). Almost everything is grown either on property or locally and the fusion of Mediterranean, Taiwanese and Moroccan flavors is unique to the island. Book a table ahead as there is no menu, they will ask you some dietary questions and then prepare you a 4-5 course meal full of delightful surprises.


No, we do not charge any extra fees or fuel surcharges. The listed price is the price you pay. Including tax.

That depends on what you want to do! Please contact us to get the latest information on your desired trip.

Please note that the “from” price listed on our tours is typically based on 6 person or more occupancy. If there are less than 6 people on any given tour, the per person pricing will be adjusted slightly to reflect that. We always try to keep our tours affordable to give our guests the best value possible, and are happy to discuss pricing when you contact us. We will do everything we can to make the price work for you!


Wear whatever is comfortable. It is recommended to have a sturdy pair of broken-in trail shoes, boots, or sneakers for our adventure tours. Swimsuits are a must for tours that involve swimming stops. No skinny dipping in Taiwan!

Each of our individual tour pages list what to bring for that particular tour. Generally we suggest you bring appropriate clothing to fit the season, sunblock, bug spray, a water bottle, a day pack to carry extra snacks and water and some money for food and souvenirs. If you have any questions about what to bring for your tour though, don’t hesitate to ask! 🙂

It really depends on what you order, but typically we take you to restaurants with affordable options. Prices vary, but NT$400 per person should be more than enough. Usually you can spend as little as NT$180.

There are many physical factors to consider before you book your trip. Zhuilu Old Trail & Lushui-Wenshan Trail, for example, have steep rises in elevation that require greater levels of stamina and physical fitness than other destinations. Mugua River Gorge meanwhile requires a good amount of  hiking on rocky terrain and boulder scrambling and shouldn’t be attempted by those with balance issues. On many of our adventures, you may also be faced with some uneven ground, especially on forested trails or when we venture a little more off the beaten track. For this reason we ask that you take a moment to examine our physicality levels below.
Physicality Levels

Easy – These trips are a relaxing break. You don’t have to worry about doing anything physically demanding unless you want to.

Moderate – Some physical activities included in your trip. A certain level of general fitness is required as significant walking or other activity will take place.

Moderate/Strenuous – Be prepared for some serious physical activity. The fitter you are, the more you’ll enjoy it, as most activities will be challenging.

Strenuous – Get ready for a heart-pumping adventure with plenty of challenges and some extreme conditions. You’ll be required to be quite fit for this trip as difficult activities are included.

Should you have any questions about a specific trip, don’t hesitate to contact us directly.



At Island Life, we offer a 100% Money Back Guarantee on tours cancelled by bad weather! If you decide to cancel your tour for other reasons, we ask that you let us know at least 48 hours ahead of your scheduled tour for a full refund. Within 48 hours you will assess a 50% termination fee. There are no refunds for cancellations within 24 hours of your tour, or if you decide not to show up.

Reservations and a deposit are required for guaranteed spots on all tours. Reservations help us determine the number of guides we need to ensure that our groups remain manageable and enjoyable, and they allow us to notify you of changes to the tour due to weather or anything that could disturb the tours.


Probably not. Taiwan is notorious for flash flooding and landslides. Safety is our number one priority. We do however offer an excellent Rainy Day Tour! If the weather is unsafe for any reason, the trip will likely be cancelled and you will be notified immediately via email and offered a spot in our Rainy Day Tour. Why waste a day in the hotel?!