Once very isolated and home to a substantial portion of Taiwan's aborigine population, Hualien is now a popular tourist destination, though there are many off-the-beaten-path treasures to discover. It will take at least three days to see some of the best sights Hualien has to offer. When I used to visit, I would stay at the artsy and friendly Formosa Backpackers Hostel, located near the Hualien Train Station. The hostel owners speak English and provide ample suggestions for what to do. There are also numerous maps available.
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Taroko National Park
Suspension bridges take you across these streams and the lush green forests in Taroko National Park (home to Taroko Gorge) make for an amazing sight. Moreover, because of the geology of the place, there are natural hot springs and volcanic mud baths that you can get into and relax and refresh yourself. Really works!
Points of interest include the Chingshui Cliffs and Taroko Gorge National Park, which I will talk about more in the itinerary. The rocky beaches alongside the Chingshui Cliffs were empty each time I visited, though the towering road above was frequented by large trucks passing through the winding tunnels. This stretch of highway is one of the best places for taking photos, but it also is somewhat dangerous. People should be on alert for gargantuan falling rocks as well as speeding motorists.
What reflects a nation’s culture is its culinary repertoire to which Taiwan again scores. Every meal I ate was all about celebrating that diverse and rich gastronomic wealth of the country. That the country fiercely promotes family-run enterprises is heartwarming. Like the family-run dumpling joint in Huwalien, on the East coast of Taiwan, about three hours’ drive from Taipei, where I had one of the most sumptuous and authentic meal. I slurped on those fresh helpings of wantons or dumplings floating in a clear soup garnished with chopped coriander made with passion. There were framed photographs of a young man clad in a military gear and enjoying a meal. The serving staff volunteered to be my guide and told me that the young man was Chiang Kai-Shek’s son who often came to enjoy this simple delicacy with his friends
Tunnel of Nine Turns
Some of the best stops are the Tunnel of Nine Turns, the Eternal Spring Shrine, Swallow Grotto, Jihneng Park, The Bridge of the Kind Mother, gorgeous Tiansiang, the Jhueilu Precipice, Lioufang Bridge, Hill of Yu the Great, and Buluowan -- a settlement where the Atayal tribe of Taiwan originally lived.
Hualien Train Station [ Taroko ]
If you know how to drive a scooter, the best thing to do would be to rent a scooter at Pony Scooter Rental, which is also near Hualien Train Station. You will be required to leave either your license or ARC (Alien Resident Card) in order to purchase a scooter for the duration of your stay. The process is very simple, but be warned -- You DO need to know how to drive a scooter and they WILL watch you take off to make sure you aren't going to crash the bike the instant you get on it! A scooter will cost about $17 U.S. dollars per day to rent.
Located at the southern part of Suhua Highway in Hualien County, the Chingshui Cliff (Chinese: 清水斷崖; pinyin: Qīngshuǐ Duànyá) is a 21 kilometer length of coastal cliffs averaging 800 meters above sea level in Hualien County, Taiwan. It connects the counties of Yilan and Hualien in eastern Taiwan. It's also home to the highest coastal cliff in Taiwan. An extremely beautiful and soul-inspiring area! I advise making a trip to the Chingshui Cliffs from Formosa Backpackers Hostel and enjoying an afternoon relaxing on the rocky beaches below.