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.

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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.

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things to do in hualien

We Hope You Enjoy Your Visit!