The Best Things To Do In Hualien

Our Favorite Hualien Attractions

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.

Liyu Lake Visitors Guide 2019

Welcome To Liyu Lake

Lying at the foot of Liyu Mountain, the serene Liyu Lake is the largest freshwater lake in all of Hualien County, and a popular weekend recreation spot for those seeking a respite from the city. Considered one of the best things to do in Hualien, the name Liyutan, literally translates to “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 the western shore of 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.

So Come Take a Look with Us as We Explore the Many Wonderful Things You Can Do at Liyu Lake!

A Little About Liyu Lake

Liyu Lake hualien tour

At roughly 1.6 km in length and 930 meters in width, Liyu Lake is the largest inland lake in all of Eastern Taiwan. Located less than twenty kilometers from Hualien City in Shoufeng township, it has a total area of 104 hectares.

Surrounded by rolling green mountains on all sides, arriving at the lake one can easily see why it has become such a popular site for many different outdoor recreational activities.

Getting To Liyu Lake

Liyu Lake on Hualien tours
Liyu Lake

Liyu Lake is about 20-30 minutes from Hualien City and can be reached by car, scooter or the occasional bus. Most people however, visit Liyu Lake as part of a larger tour day that includes other beautiful spots in the area. Island Life Taiwan visits Liyu Lake as part of our Hualien Rivers & Valleys Experience, our Mugua River Gorge Tour or a Butterfly Valley Tour!

The Liyu Lake Visitor Center

Liyu Lake hualien

The charming visitor center at the North shore of the lake has many educational displays related to the lake and the gift shop and cafe are not to be missed. Especially for ice cream on a hot day!

Also at the Visitors Center:

  • BBQ areas
  • Viewing towers
  • Picnic tables
  • Jade souvenir shops
  • Several food stalls
  • Vendors renting paddle boats and kayaks to the public.

Activities at Liyu Lake

Liyu Lake kayaking
Water Sports

Activities such as paddle boats, kayaks and motorboats are all readily available on the lake. The relaxing and easy going nature of paddle boats and kayaks make them the most popular for a leisurely afternoon on the tranquil lake. However, motorboat hires are available if you want a faster tour of the area. Though be warned: the lake is small enough that a motorboat tour might be finished in just a couple of minutes!


Bicycling around Liyu Lake is an extremely popular way to enjoy the Liyu area. Available for rent at the visitors center, bicycles come in all sizes and rent for NT$100. The 4km long bicycle trail around the lake is as beautiful and scenic as they come.

Walking Paths and Trails

If you don’t want to boat or bike, you can take a stroll along the lake shore walkway, appreciating the scenery amidst the trees and nature. There are several resting and picnic spots along the way and it takes about an hour to circle the lake on foot. Also, Liyu Mountain at the south end of the lake has numerous mountain trails for exploring.

Mugua River Gorge Tour Hualien Tour
Liyu Lake Sculpture Park

Near the north visitor center is the Liyu Lake Sculpture Park. Take a leisurely walk through the numerous stone sculptures scattered about the grass and trees. Talk about tranquil!

Tasting Live Shrimp or Papaya Milk

If you are bold, you can try out the Live Jumping Prawns available at food stalls along the lake shore! Mini live shrimp dipped in a spicy sauce made of soy, rice liquor, ginger, lemon and chili. Yum! They are still jumping while you put them in your mouth! If this seems a bit crazy, be sure to try a Papaya Milk instead. Also a Liyu Lake specialty!

Mugua River Gorge Tour Hualien Tour

Annual Events at Liyu Lake

Dragon Boats
Dragon Boat Festival!

People come to Liyu Lake from far and wide each year during the Dragon Boat Festival in late May to watch the exciting dragon boat races. It is a traditional cultural festival you shouldn’t miss!


Every year around April in the evening, thousands of fireflies flash above the lake, making the whole lake shimmer with light. If you’ve never seen fireflies before, here is your chance.

Other Nearby Attractions

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

There are numerous other spots in the area worth exploring. Among them are the spectacular Mugua River GorgeButterfly Valley Hot Springs, and the vast East Rift Valley. The Mugua River Gorge is home to countless scenic waterfalls and swimming holes. While the East Rift Valley stretches from Liyu Lake all the way down to Taitung and contains beautiful pastures, lakes, hot springs, tea plantations and more. Visitors could combine these lovely sites into a multi day tour itinerary while visiting Hualien. There is so much to do at Liyu Lake and in the surrounding area. It’s time to get started!

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Download Your Free 2020 Hualien Visitors Guide Here


things to do in hualien

We Hope You Enjoy Your Visit!

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!

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

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.

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!

More From Our

Hualien Travel Blog

Download Your Free 2020 Hualien Visitors Guide Here


things to do in hualien

We Hope You Enjoy Your Visit!