Guishan Island (literally Turtle Mountain Island) is a turtle shaped island off the coast of Yilan in Eastern Taiwan. Once inhabited by fisherman, it is now a coast guard base, but is open for day tours. The island tour includes beautiful sea cliffs, hiking, a lake, abandoned village, military tunnels, and whale watching just offshore.
Turtle Island has been inhabited since at least the Qing Dyansty. When the ROC took over Taiwan, the island had one elementary school and no hospital. Many people relied simply on religion to cure their sicknesses. During typhoons, the dock would sometimes be destroyed, leaving the island without food for days or weeks. Also, there was way more men on the island than women, and it was hard to convince prospective wives from Taiwan to go live an such a remote island with harsh conditions. As a result, the government relocated everyone living on Turtle Island to the main island of Taiwan in Toucheng township of Yilan in 1977. The people could have chose to stay, but they went without protest. The ROC then made the island into a restricted military base. In 2000, the Island was opened for tourism, the military aspects of the island were phased down, and it was made into an ecological reserve. Now the island allows for Tourists to come during the day, but no one is allowed to stay overnight.
How to get there:
The only way to get there is by boat from Wushih Harbor in Yilan.
To get to Wushih Harbor from Taipei, you can take the TRA train to Toucheng station, and then take a taxi from there. Otherwise you can drive on National Highway 5 to Toucheng; there is free parking at the harbor (drive to the very end of the harbor).
You can purchase a ticket at the harbor or book online in advance via KK Day or a similar website.
Whale watching on a boat around the island: 800-1000 NT per person.
Once around the island on a boat and 2 hour tour of the island: 800-1000 NT per person.
Whale watching and island tour: 1200+ NT
Island tour including hiking to the top of the island: 1200+ NT
For more information, look at KK Day or other tour/ferry sties or book a personalized tour with My Taiwan Tour.
Hours: 2-4 hour tours start from 8:00 AM or later and end in the afternoon until about 4:00 PM.
When to go: March-November. These tours are generally closed from December to February due to rough seas and cold weather.
Map of Guishan Island:
Floral Seas in Taiwan (aka sea of flowers; flower sea; flower/floral ocean) are a popular attraction for locals all around the island. Many farmers actually harvest these flowers during winter months and allow tourists to come take photos with a backdrop of and ocean of flowers, usually for free. If you'd like to take a few photos of these places, there are quite a few options.
You can find fields of flowers all over rural Taiwan during winter. For the more touristy places, you can to search 花海 into Google Maps and a bunch of places should pop up.
Floral Seas that I have visited include Guanshan Floral Sea, Liugui Floral Sea, and Xinshe Sea of Flowers. Another one is 60 Stone Mountain (see our full blog on 60 Stone Mountain here).
When are floral seas open?
Liugui Flower Sea: December-February
60 Stone Mountain: July-September
Others: go find them! Floral seas can be found literally all over Taiwan.
Maps: please see below:
Guanshan Floral Sea:
Disclaimer: We are not affiliated with any hotel or hostel in Taiwan. The following FAQ is only based on our opinion after years of booking accommodation in Taiwan, and should not be considered absolute fact.
What is the average price of a hotel in Taiwan?
According to Hikersbay.com, the average price of a hotel in Taiwan is 2,197 TWD.
In our experience, a fair price for a hotel in Taiwan that I like to stick to is around 1,500 TWD (about 45 USD).
What is the average price range for hotels in Taiwan?
The following prices are from personal experience booking over tens of hotels in Taiwan over 5 years (Please note 1000 NT is roughly equal to 31 USD):
Typically, the cheapest of the cheap hotels will go from 700-1000 NT
Lower range Hotels will go from 1000-1700 NT
Mid Range Hotels will go from 1500-2500 NT
High Class Hotels will go from 2500-5000 NT
Super Fancy Hotels will go from 5000-30,000+ NT per night!
Please note these prices also vary by location.
Sixty Stone mountain (aka Liushidan Mountain) is a beautiful flower and mountain landscape on the eastern flank of the eastern rift valley in Hualien County. The annual Daylily flower blooms and amazing views of the Eastern Rift Valley attract thousands of tourists each summer. Some of the picturesque and beautiful views anywhere in Taiwan can be seen from this mountain.
The main crop on Sixty Stone Mountain is the Orange Daylily (aka tawny dayliliy, hemerocallis, golden needle flower, etc.). Orange Daylily is a nutrient and iron-rich plant, and is traditionally used as a garnish, spice, and preservative. In addition it is also added as raw materiel for rice paper and Chines medicine. You can buy dried bags of the stuff all over the mountain and surrounding areas.
According to some of the locals, Sixty Stone Mountain gets its name from the fact that instead of producing 50 stones (or dan, measure of flowers) per field, the fields on this mountain can produce 60 stones. Other people say that it is because during the Japanese Era, all the trees were cut down and there were 60 large boulders left on the mountain.
Nowadays the Mountain is a major tourist attraction, and has been highly marketed by the Taiwan tourism bureau. You can find pictures from this mountain on almost any Taiwan tourism brochure.
How to get there:
BY Car/Scooter: Take highway 9 south from Hualien. When you reach Dongzhu, there will be a sign to Sixty Stone Mountain just after the police station. The road up the mountain is small and closes after 6:00 PM. Only cars, small vans, and scooters are allowed up the road.
There are many tour groups that offer van rides up the mountain.
Hours: Technically open 24/7.
When to go: We suggest going during the Orange Daylily flowering season, which is from about July to September. If you go from 3-5 PM you should see an awesome view of the sunset if the weather is good.
Map: Please see below:
Sanxiantai is one of the most beautiful spots on the East Coast, an area full of beautiful geology and natural scenery. It is known for its iconic arching footbridge that leads to the island of the three immortals (Sanxiantai, literally three immortals platform). The ocean views and unique rock formations make it an ideal place to take a stroll and enjoy nature's beauty.
Sanxiantai island is mostly made of coral and volcanic rocks. The wind and waves over time have turned the rocks into unique shapes, including tunnels, holes, and crevasses. According to Amis tribal legend, a sea dragon once lived here. According to Han Chinese legend, three of the eight immortals (Toaist Deities having power over life and evil) rested on the island, leaving three pairs of footprints.
How to get there: From Taipei, take national highway 5 down to Yilan, then travel from Highway 9 to Hualien, then take highway 11 south along the coast. It will be on the left.
Also available by bus from Hualien or Taitung, though this may take a few hours.
Price: Free, but parking is 50-60 NT for cars and around 15-20 NT for scooters.
Hours: 24 hours a day.
Map: Please see below:
Dulan is a quiet coastal town just 20 km north of Taitung City. It has become a major surfing destination as well, especially for foreigners. Some would even say that it is the coolest beach hangout in Taiwan! There is no public transportation to Dulan other than by bus, so do not expect large crowds. It is for sure one of Taiwan's most beautiful and uncrowded seas side destinations.
Dulan is a village of the Amis Aboriginie Tribe (阿美族) which have lived there since at least 1500 BC, and most of the people that live there now are Taiwan Aborigines. The area is still a center for Amis rituals and traditional ceremonies, as well as aboriginal culture.
How to get there:
By Car/Scooter: We recommend taking highway 11 from Taitung north 30km to the town. Feel free to stop and enjoy the scenery along the way.
By Bus: You can take bus 8102 or 8103 from Taitung, but according to Google this will take about 3 hours.
Map: Please see the map below:
Water Running Up is a gravity defying stream that appears to run uphill in Donghe Township near Dulan, Taitung County. As one of the stranger sights in Taiwan that seems to defy nature and the laws of physics, it attracts people year round. Does the water really run uphill? Let's find out.
Water Running up was originally built as an irrigation ditch by the Amis Aboriginal Tribe in 1870. The area around the trench was an important ritual training ground, but also a storage hub for food and water. Later on (I'm guessing in the past decade or two) people noticed that the water in the irrigation ditch appeared to run uphill when seen against a sloping background, and the Taitung County government quickly pounced on it, making it into a full fledged tourist trap. I mean tourist site.
How to get There:
By Car: From Taitung, take provincial highway 11 north to Dulan. Just before you enter Dulan it will be on the left.
By Train: Take the TRA to Taitung station, then take scooter or taxi via provincial highway 11 to Dulan.
By Bus: Take bus 8101 from Taitung Station to Yu Bridge. From there you will have to walk about 300 meters north, and up hill to the left. The bus ride takes just under 2 hours according to Google Maps.
âMap: Please see below:
Little Yehliu (aka Xiaoyeliu) Geopark is a unique geological area on the coast of Taitung City. It bears the same name as Yeliu Geopark (famous for the Queen's Head Rock), because the rocks look similar to its more famous namesake. However Little Yehliu is much smaller as the name suggests, and its rock formations less spectacular. Despite this, it is still a beautiful and unique stretch of coastline.
Similar to Yehliu, the geology of Little Yehliu is made up of volcanic rock placed over sandstone. This makes for a unique structures and shapes, with large sturdy volcanic rock sitting upon easily weathered sandstone below, worn away by wind and water. Taitung County has become masterful at creating major tourist destinations out of what would normally go unnoticed, and this is no exception (for instance there are tons of this kind of coastline in northern Taiwan).
How to get there: Take highway 11 from Taitung City about 6km north and it will be on your left. If you do not have a scooter or car, buses also stop along this route.
Price: Parking is 50-60 NT for cars, and 15-20 NT for scooters. Otherwise entrance to the park is free.
Hours: 24 hours a day
Map: Please see below:
Liji Moon World (aka Liji Badlands) is a rare geological formation right next to Taitung City in eastern Taiwan (not to be confused with the larger and better Tianliao Moon World). It is composed of easily eroding clay deposits, that erode faster than plants can grow on them, creating a unique moon-like landscape. If you are in Taitung, you should take the short trip across the Beinan River and enjoy these beautiful eroding masses of clay and dirt.
Typical badlands are found in dryer climates, are composed of sedimentary rocks, typically have very little vegetation, and have deep valleys or ravines. The badlands in Taiwan are unique in that they are in a tropical rain forest. How is this possible?
The soil at Liji Badlands formed under the ocean millions of years ago, forming a layer of sediment called a melagne. Over millions of years, the land was lifted up due to plate tectonics until it became dry land. The rocks are composed of mudstone, sandstone, shale, and chalk. Because of high alkaline levels due to chalk in the soil, trees and grass cannot grow, and basically the only plant that can grow in the soil is spiny bamboo. The lack of vegetation as well as high rainfall gives way to quick eroding hills, or badlands. The Beinan River (卑南溪) also helped to carve out the landscape and bare hills.
Because of the white greyish color, the hills seem to glow when in moonlight, hence the name "Moon World." However to the casual observer, the landscape looks like the surface of the moon as well. The name "Liji" comes from the name of the village where the formations are located.
How to get there:
By car: From Taitung City, take the East 45 highway out of the city, across Beinan River and the badlands will be on your right.
By train: Get off at Taitung Station, and from there you can literally walk to the badlands; its only 2KM away. Alternatively you can rent a scooter or take a taxi.
By plane: From Taitung Airport, hire a scooter or taxi and then take highway 11 then the East 45 Highway to the badlands.
Hours: 24 hours a day!
Map: Please see below:
Luye Highland (aka Luye Platform, Luye Gaotai), is a hill in Taitung County's Eastern Rift Valley, and is one of the most popular spots in the country for hot air ballooning and paragliding. Every summer since 2011, the longest running hot air balloon festival in Taiwan has been held here. Even if you are not a fan of going high in the sky, the area has beautiful scenery, especially of the surrounding eastern rift valley.
Luye Highland rests on a hill in Luye township of Taitung County that is about 350 meters above sea level. In 2011, the Taitung government organized the first "Taiwan International Balloon Festival" with over 350,000 people in attendance, which has been held every year since. Because the festival lasts for more than a month, according to Taiwan Everything this makes it the longest hot air balloon festival in the world.
Apart from the festival, Hot Air balloons and para-gliders take off from Luye Highland year round, weather permitting. There are paragliding lessons and rides daily which you can sign up for on site. There is also a large grassy area in the center of the hill for public use, such as push car rides.
How to get there:
By Car: From Taipei, take National Highway 5 to Yilan, then drive south on provincial road 9 until you get to Luye. See the map below for the location of the Highlands. It will be hard to miss.
By Train: Take the TRA to Luye station, and then walk, take a taxi, or take a bus to Luye Highlands (the train station is roughly 2 kilometers away from the highlands).
By Plane: Fly into Taitung Airport from Taipei, then take a taxi to the highlands.
Paragliding: 1800-2500 NT
Hot Air Ballooning: 500 NT and above depending on time
Push Car Rides: 100 NT per ride
The grounds are open 24 hours, but if you want to paraglide or ride in a hot air balloon, you should go between 8:30 am and 6:00 pm.
When to Go:
The Taitung balloon festival runs from June to August, which is when we recommend going. For exact dates of the festival, check here.
Other than that, go when the weather is good. However, we cannot guarantee that you will be able to ride in a hot air balloon any day of the year, but it is much more likely you will be able to paraglide.
Please see below:
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living and working in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.