In this installment of our Taiwan Travel Guide Series, we introduce to you the top things to do in Hualien, Taiwan.
Located along the east coast of Taiwan facing the Pacific Ocean, Hualien is one of the most beautiful and scenic places to visit in Taiwan. We recommend staying at least one night in Taiwan to experience this beautiful county. However, it is also possible to make Hualien a day trip from Taipei if you are strapped for time.
What to do in Hualien
1. Visit the Taroko Gorge
More than 99% of visitors who come to Hualien are here for the Taroko Gorge, the second largest National Park in Taiwan. Iconic sites in Taroko Gorge are the Qingshui Cliff (清水斷崖), Shakadang Trail (砂卡礑步道), Eternal Spring Shrine (長春寺), Swallow Grotto (燕子口), Buluowan Recreation Area (布洛灣) and Seven Stars Lake (七星潭). Budget at least 8 hours to cover the Taroko Gorge.
You will need transportation to travel to the various points within Taroko Gorge. These are your options:
Public Bus to Taroko Gorge
Public buses are the best option if you intend to do any hiking within the Taroko Gorge. They are inexpensive, and offers a great deal of flexibility for the traveller. However, you do need to plan carefully and check against the bus schedule. Bus 302 is the bus you should be looking at. It makes a round trip between Xincheng Train Station and the various sites within the Taroko Gorge.
Day Tours to Taroko Gorge departing from Hualien
If your intention is to cover the main sights of the Taroko Gorge within a day, day tours are the best option.
Day tours from Hualien to Taroko Gorge are cheap and covers the major sights in the Taroko Gorge. They are the perfect solution for those who do not have time to plan their journey within the Taroko Gorge. You can choose to be picked up from your hotel in Hualien, at the Hualien train station or at the Hualien Airport.
Day Tours to Taroko Gorge departing from Taipei
There are day tours to Taroko Gorge for those making a day trip from Taipei, i.e. those who do not intend to stay a night in Hualien. The day tour to Taroko Gorge includes return train tickets from Taipei, hence saving you the trouble of having to book the train tickets yourself.
Private Charter to Taroko Gorge
A private charter to Taroko Gorge may be more convenient and makes better sense if you are travelling in a group or have young children with you. The price of 4 in a chartered vehicle is almost the same as joining a group day tour.
Read more on our detailed review of each attractions on our Taroko Gorge (太魯閣國家公園) Tour:
2. Explore the Golden Triangle Business District (金三角商圈鬧)
The liveliest and busiest part of downtown Hualien is the Golden Triangle Business District (金三角商圈鬧) bounded by Zhongshan Road （中山路）, Zhongzheng Road (中正路), and Zhonghua Road （中华路). Here, you will find various restaurants, shops and local cafes. It also offers the best shopping for residents staying in the east coast of Taiwan. After a trip to the Taroko Gorge in the day, the Golden Triangle Business District is the best place to go for dinner and shopping.
3. Indulge in great food at Dongdamen Night Market (花蓮東大門國際觀光夜市)
Dongdamen Night Market is located within a short cab ride from the Golden Triangle Business District. Thus it is best to cover both attractions together in a single trip. Dongdamen night market used to be called Ziqiang Night market a few years ago. It has since expanded greatly and offers cultural performances as well.
4. Eat the best Muah Chee (mochi) in Hualien
Hualien offers the best Muah chee in Taiwan. We recommend Ah Mei Muah Chee （阿美麻糬） which is available in many places in downtown Hualien. Ah Mei Muah Chee is also available at the Hualien Train Station. The biggest player in the market is however Zhen Ji muah chee (曾记麻糬). It is worth a try as well. Freshly-made Muah Chee taste the best when eaten immediately. The taste does deteriorate drastically once they are pre-packed for longer term storage.
Discover Book Travel Tips:
The above 4 activities can be completed within a day, provided you are staying for a night at Hualien. If you are making a day trip from Taipei, you will only be able to cover the Taroko Gorge only. If you have more than 1 night to spare in Hualien, consider the below activities as well.
5. Experience River Rafting at the Xiugulun River
The Xiugulun River is the longest river on the east coast of Taiwan. It is also one of those which has sufficient water volume for river rafting all year round. With its breath-taking scenery between rocky ravines, the Xiugulun River is a very popular place for river rafting.
6. Tour the East Rift Valley
The East Rift Valley is located between Hualien and Taichung. Part of it is like an open geology classroom. A tour here will bring you to Shitiping (Stone Stairs Platform), a site with extensive sea erosion. Make the East Rift Valley part of your itinerary as you travel from Hualien to Taitung or make it a day trip from Hualien.
We hope you find this article useful in your trip planning. We love to hear from you. Please drop us your comments in the comments box below.