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.
Best Time To Visit
Best time to visit Hualien is from November to December
How To Reach
Book a Package Tour
My first stop in Taiwan was Taroko Gorge, where marble cliffs reached dizzingly up towards the sky and rushing rivers ran beneath. Here was our opportunity to hike and walk one of the trails, visiting: Swallow GrottoThe Tunnel of Nine Turns Eternal Spring shrine Trekking opportunities are both plentiful and exciting here, and range from short picturesque nature walks to longer, more rugged paths for the more adventure-seeking. In just a half-day self-guided tour, we hiked past lofty mountains, deep canyons, head spinning precipices, elegant waterfalls and wild rapids.
Taroko National Park
One of the most beautiful places in Taiwan, Taroko National Gorge is also rich in aborigine history. Taroko National Park is one of the eight national parks in Taiwan and was named after the Taroko Gorge, the landmark gorge of the park. The park spans three counties including Hualien County. The park was originally established in 1937, was shut down in 1945, and opened again in 1986. It features a plethora of geographic wonders, including crystal clear-rivers, plummeting marble gorges, and climbing, steep cliffs. Special permits are required for people wishing to hike deep into the Taroko Gorge wilderness, but there are plenty of fantastic stop off-points for visitors who want to stick to the main tour route.
Qingshui Cliff, located on the section of the Suao-Hualien Highway that stretches between Heping and Chongde stations, is one of the most spectacular sights on Taiwan's Pacific coast. The cliff is more than 1,000 meters high and drops almost vertically into the sea. The highway snakes along its curving face more than 20 kilometers, with the sheer cliff rising on one side and a sheer drop to the ocean on the other.
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.