The Best Things To Do In Hualien
Our Favorite Hualien Attractions
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.
1. Taroko Gorge National Park
The undisputed king of Taiwan’s National Parks, Taroko Gorge is the quintessential must experience destination on Taiwan’s east coast. Towering marble valleys, thundering waterfalls, forest hikes and mountain to mountain suspension bridges are just a few of the spectacular features of this grand park. Carved by the Liwu river over millions of years, the spectacular Gorge is the largest marble canyon in the world and boasts a wide variety of trails, temples and landscapes. While it is “possible” to see everything in one day, we highly recommend spending two or three days exploring the gorge to really see it all.
For an epic day exploring the best of Taroko Gorge, we highly recommend the top rated BETTER Taroko Gorge Tour. A small group tour that starts earlier in the morning to beat the crowds, this tour includes lunch, fun guides and more time on the trails.
2. Coastal Highway 11
There is a reason Coastal Highway 11 is so often listed as a one of the best stretches of road in all of Taiwan. From hidden beaches to wild mountain viewpoints, the winding palm lined coastal road will take you past dozens of breath-taking spots.
Go for a walk beside tidal pools in the dramatic lunar landscape of Shihtiping, then head down to the hidden beach oasis of Cow Mountain (Niushan Huting). Take an ocean swim at beautiful Jici Beach, and gawk at the precipitous depths of Fanshuliao Gorge. There is so much to explore along the coastal highway, you’ll see why it’s one of the best road trips on the island!
To spend a killer day checking out all this awesome stuff on the East Coast and more, we highly recommend this Hualien East Coast Explorer .
3. The Mugua River Gorge
Home to some of the best places to swim in Hualien, the Mugua River Gorge is blessed with mesmerizing, crystal clear waters, waterfalls, lush forests and unique aboriginal culture. A terrific way to spend a day while in the Hualien area. This area is listed as one of the East Coast “highlights” in the Lonely Planet Taiwan Guide book, and for good reason. Within the Mugua River Gorge itself and in the surrounding area, there are numerous places to explore, including Emerald Valley, Tongmen, Liyu Lake, Wunlan, Zimu Falls, the Miyawan River, Rainbow Falls and more!
Ready for a swim?! Island Life Taiwan’s Rivers & Valleys Experience is an awesome day out river swimming, forest walking and checking out some scenically beautiful areas around Hualien County. A can’t miss in Hualien!
The only way to describe this unique stretch of coastline between Fengbin and Changbin is “Wow”. Millions of years of volcanic activity and salt water erosion have transformed this incredible stretch of the coast into something truly remarkable. As if walking on the moon, the bizarre uplifted coral reefs and stone cliffs of Shihtiping feel otherworldly in their shape and texture. The name “Shihtiping” loosely translates to “stone steps”, and let’s just say, you’ll see why when you visit this natural phenomena. With hundreds of tidal pools and an offshore coral reef, Shihtiping is also a wonderful place to see countless species of sea creatures big and small.
Check it out on this East Coast Explorer.
5. The East Rift Valley
As one heads south on Highway 9 or scenic Old Highway 193 from Hualien City, it becomes clear, quite quickly, what a spectacular day is in store for you. With the Coastal Mountain Range rising on your left, and the Central Mountain Range on your right, the green and fertile East Rift Valley stretches south, littered with glistening rice paddies, wild rivers, waterfalls, hot springs and more. From the tranquil shores of Liyu Lake, to the tea fields and hot springs of Ruisui, there are tons of things to explore in this beautiful valley. Cool off under Fenghuang Waterfall, take a bike ride through Danong Dafu Forest Park, view countless orchids and critters in the Matai’an Wetlands, see many of Taiwan’s 450+ butterfly species at the Fuyuan Forest Recreation Area and so much more.
This Hualien Rivers & Valleys Experience takes you into the East Rift Valley for an incredible fun day out.
6. Take an ATV to the Qingshui Cliffs
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 now offers the ATV’s as an add on to their Taroko Tours.
7. Liyu Lake
This serene lake lies at the foot of Liyu Mountain and 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. There is a pathway alongside the lake’s shores where you can walk and enjoy seeing beautiful statues and other inspirations. 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.
8. Butterfly Valley Hot Springs / Fuyuan National Forest
The Butterfly Valley Resort sits nestled amidst the picturesque Fuyuan National Forest and is perfect as part of a day trip into the East Rift Valley. With numerous trails, rivers, manicured gardens and outdoor cold and hot spring pools to soak in, the Butterfly Valley is a lovely forested wonderland worth spending several hours exploring. Not a “resort” person? No worries, the soaking pools are away from the main complex and surrounded by trees and mountain views. Say goodbye stress.
9. The Zhuilu Old Trail
High in the mountains above Taroko Gorge National Park, lies a trail unlike any most people ever experience in their lives. Carved into the face of a cliff of solid marble, the Zhuilu Old Trail sits perilously more than 700 meters above the canyon floor below. With limited (often no) guardrail 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!
The easiest way to visit the Zhuilu Old Trail is with this Zhuilu Old Trail Tour.
10. Niushan Huting (Cow Mountain)
Niushan Huting or “Cow Mountain” sits hidden in a cove off Coastal Highway 11. The winding road down into the valley brings you to a hidden beach oasis surrounded by green mountains on all sides. A real “secret cove”. Enjoy an ocean swim, wander around the unique driftwood sculptures built by the local tribespeople, or lay out on the grassy hillside for a picnic. One can easily spend hours relaxing in this stunning locale.
Check it out on an East Coast Explorer.
While seeing all the Hualien Taiwan attractions on our list by yourself would be seriously difficult, Island Life Taiwan offers well-constructed day tours to all of these places and so much more. There are so many things to do in Taiwan, and Hualien County is such a diverse and beautiful region, why would you not?
About Island Life Taiwan
Based in Hualien, Taiwan (adjacent to Taroko Gorge National Park), Island Life Taiwan designs all of our unique daily itineraries to help you discover the rich natural beauty and culture of Taiwan, in the most enjoyable, and most immersive way possible. We’re dedicated to showing you the most amazing locations in eastern Taiwan, while having the most fun and avoiding the crowds. More than just a tour operator and adventure outfitter, our team truly loves showing this awe-inspiring part of the world to our guests, and when you love what you do, it shows.
So what are you waiting for? Contact us and let us help you pick the tour or adventure that’s right for you!