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.

Ten Tips When Visiting Taroko Gorge National Park

1. Go Early

Taroko Park tour in 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 Park tour in 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 Park tour in 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 Park tour in 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 Park tour in 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.

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 Park tour in 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 here, 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 trails in Taroko Park, Lushui Trail

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.

10. Take an ATV Ride to the Qingshui Cliffs

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

The towering Qingshui Cliffs are a marvel to be seen on any visit to Taroko Gorge. Yet while most tours take you to a viewing platform located off the highway, now you can take ATV’s up the beach from the village of  Chongde and go right to the cliffs base! It’s a truly breathtaking way to view one of Taiwan’s most spectacular spots. Island Life Taiwan now offers ATV’s as an add on to their Taroko Tours.

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!

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?

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

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