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.

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…

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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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.

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 From Our

Hualien Travel Blog

Download Your Free Hualien Visitors Guide Here


things to do in hualien

We Hope You Enjoy Your Visit!