Hualien is the largest county in Taiwan and is considered by many to be the most beautiful. It includes a breathtaking coastline along the Pacific Ocean, including cliffs thousands of meters high, marble gorges, fertile valleys, and a large section of Taiwan's central mountain range. Hualien is simply a must-stop location on your trip to Taiwan.
Hualien was first inhabited by Sakiraya aborigines and was known as Kilai. Later the Spanish came here to pan for gold for a brief period. Afterward, the first Han Chinese settlers came to the area in 1851, and named the place Hualien after the swirling delta of the Liwu River. During the Japanese era, many Japanese people were relocated here to develop agriculture.
Now Hualien is the key population center on Taiwan's East Coast.
Map: Please see the map below for the areas we will cover in the blog.
For a 360-degree view above Hualien City, please see below.
And you can also check out our drone footage of Hualien in the video below.
Places we will cover in this blog:
Let's get started.
Sixty Stone Mountain 六十石山
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 most picturesque and beautiful views anywhere in Taiwan can be seen from this mountain...(read more)
Jingpu Tropic of Cancer Monument 靜浦北迴歸線界標
The Jingpu Tropic of Cancer Monument is a special geological marker along the road on the coast of Hualien County, and is a must stop for a selfie. There are also some fruit stands and shops nearby. It is a beautiful and unique monument to commemorate your journey around the island...(read more)
Shitiping Geopark along Taiwan’s east coast, literally meaning Stone Step Plain, because it looks like a bunch of stone steps. Some special geological forces have created this rock that resembles a bunch of stone steps on the east coast of Taiwan. Did I mention that there are stone steps? It is still a beautiful and unique stretch of coastline...(read more)
Here you can see rice fields right next to the ocean in Hualien, with Shitiping in the background. Rice fields sitting right next to the ocean is actually a common sight along the east coast here.
Shihmen Recreation Area 花蓮石門洞
Shihmen Recreation Area (aka March Cave, Mochi Cave, Shimen, or Shimendong) is a unique geological area on the coast of Hualien County (not to be confused with Shimen in New Taipei). It is famous for it's large, car shaped cave. It is still a beautiful and unique stretch of coastline...(read more)
Dawan Recreation Area 大灣遊憩區
Further down the road we made it to Dawan Rest area, another beautiful place along the coast.
Qinbuzhizi Old Trail 親不知子海上古道
Then we came to Qinbuzhizi Old Trail along the coast, which is an abandoned section of the Suhua Highway that has been converted into a trail and museum. Here you can soak in amazing views from Hualien's rugged coast.
Jiqi Beach 磯崎海水浴場
Jiqi Beach in Fengbin Township of Hualien County is one of the best surfing spots in Taiwan. This is one of the few sandy beaches on the east coast between Hualien and Taitung. It is definitely worth a visit if you are looking for an exquisite and less crowded beach...(read more)
Fanshuliao Canyon 蕃薯寮峽谷
Fanshuliao in Hualien is the most unique looking canyon on the east coast, and is a popular river tracing spot. The canyon is over 100 meters deep, and metal steps have been hammered into the canyon wall for those brave enough to walk down them...(read more)
Baqi Rest Area 芭崎休息區
Baqi Rest stop along Coastal Highway 11 in Hualien has some of the best views of the East Coast, right alongside the road. The rest stop also includes hiking trails, a restaurant, gift shop, bathrooms, viewing platforms, and covered seating areas...(read more)
Emerald Valley 翡翠谷
Emerald Valley is a popular river tracing spot near in Xiulin Township of Hualien County. It is also home to the Emerald Valley Old Trail, a trail used by Taroko Aborigines and Japanese to connect to Taiwan's central mountain range. The Dam, tunnel, and suspension bridge here are all remnants from the Japanese era...(read more)
Dongshan Mountain above the east coast in Hualien provides amazing 360 degree views of Hualien City, the central mountain range, and the east coast. You can also find Farglory's Hotel and Fargolry Ocean Park here. It is worth a visit if you have time...(read more)
Shanling Haowangjiao Hostel 山嶺好望角民宿
Shanling Haowangjiao Hostel in Hualien is a small hostel on top of a mountain above the east coast in Hualien. It provides amazing 360 degree views of Hualien City, the central mountain range, and the east coast, as well as a bunch of themed props to take selfies with. It is worth a visit if you have time.
Farglory Ocean Park 遠雄海洋世界
Farglory Ocean Park was the first marine theme park constructed in Taiwan, and was completed in 2002. The area is 51 hectares and features a theme park and an aquarium. It includes roller coasters, a Ferris wheel, waterpark, dolphin shows, an aquarium, restaurants and other events and shows.
Farglory Ocean Park:
890 NT per adult
9 AM to 7 PM
Hualien Nanbin Park 花蓮南濱公園
Hualien's Nanbin Park is one of the most accessible beach location in Hualien. It also features a night market and a large grassy park and bike path to enjoy the oceanside views. It is definitely worth a stop on your next trip to Hualien...(read more)
Qixingtan is the best beach in Hualien City. It is a few KM long and also features a long grassy park next to it. It is famous for its oval shaped stones which tourists like to stack together. It is definitely worth a stop on your next trip to Hualien...(read more)
Liyu Lake 鯉魚潭
Liyu Lake is a scenic lake in Hualien. Here you can paddle across the lake, or take a scenic bike ride around the shore. There are also many food options here. It is like the Sun Moon Lake of eastern Taiwan...(read more)
Dongdamen Night Market 東大門夜市
Hualien‘s Dongdamen Night Market is the largest night market in Eastern Taiwan. It is actually four night markets in one. The night market lies on the spot of a former train station, and is also connected to the beach via pedestrian bridge. Popular delicacies here include fried chicken, shish kabab, coffin bread, and braised duck head...(read more)
Hualien Old Railroad Pedestrian Area 花蓮舊鐵道行人徒步區
Hualien's old railway pedestrian area in the middle of the city has taken a 1.8 km old railway line and transformed into a pedestrian shopping district, much like an old street or night market. It is a worthwhile stroll on your next visit to Hualien...(read more)
Yuemei is a nice quiet agricultural area in the East Rift Valley of Hualien. Here you can enjoy the wide open spaces, as well as mountain and river scenes of Hualien. Unfortunately, this blog does not explore much south of here in the East Rift Valley, but we hope to add more in the future.
Shapodangxipan Park 砂婆噹溪畔公園
Right west of Hualien City is the mountain valley with Shapodangxipan Park at the mouth of it. Here you can continue up the canyon to continue to explore the river, canyons, and waterfalls.
Hake Art Village 吉安好客藝術村
You can also visit Haka Art village, which includes art exhibitions and a flea market. This is also the site of an old Shinto shrine.
For more photos, check out the gallery above.
When in Hualien, you can also check out Meilunshan Park, which sits on a hill overlooking the city on the east side. It doesn't offer the most spectacular views, but it is a nice place for a stroll.
For more photos of Meilunshan, see above.
Gongzheng Buns 公正包子
Gongzheng Buns in Hualien has perhaps the best Xiaolongbao's in all of Taiwan for the unbeatable price of 50 NT for a ream of 10! There are usually huge lines here even in the pouring rain. Well worth the wait.
Taroko National Park 太魯閣國家公園
If you only have a few days in Taiwan and you want to go somewhere outside of Taipei, you should definitely go to Taroko National Park. On an island full of mountains, rain forests, beaches, and abounding natural beauty, Taroko might just take the top spot as the most beautiful scenic area in Taiwan...(read more)
Swallow Grotto 燕子口
There are many tunnels on the road up to the gorge, but one section called the Swallow Grotto is especially breathtaking, and is a popular spot for tourists. Helmets can be rented at the beginning of the tunnels...(read more)
Zhuilu Old Trail 錐麓古道
Zhuilu Old Trail (aka Jhueilu/Zhuilu Old Road) is known as "the best day hike in Taiwan" and has a trail on "the No. 1 cliff in east Asia." It is for sure one of the most beautiful and exciting hiking trails in Taiwan. It features a vertical cliff section with amazing views 500 meters above the world's deepest marble gorge (read more).
Eternal Spring (Changchun) Shrine Trail 長春祠步道
The eternal spring shrine is a Buddhist shrine built on the eternal spring shooting out of the mountain near the entrance of the park. The shrine was originally built to reverence those that died building the cross island highway. There is a trail tunneled through the mountain to the shrine, and an additional trail up the bell tower. As of 2018, the trail to the bell tower was closed off...(read more)
Tianxiang Recreation Area features the widest and most flat terraces within Taroko Gorge. Here you can find Xiangde Temple, Tianfeng Pagoda, Pudu Suspension Bridge, and Silks Place Taroko, which are all surrounded by amazing high canyons and beautiful deep river ravines. It is a must see spot inside Taroko Gorge...(read more)
Baiyang Falls 白楊瀑布
Baiyang Falls are a beautiful set of waterfalls in Taroko National Park. The trail is only 2 KM long and is flat and paved with no steps. It is an easy and relaxing way to enjoy some of the best scenery in the park...(read more)
Qingshui Cliffs 清水斷崖
The Qingshui Cliffs in Taroko National Park on the coast of Hualien are some of the most spectacular geological features in the country, and the world. The tallest peak on the cliffs is 2,408 meters (7,900 feet) above sea level, and drops straight into the Pacific Ocean. It is a spectacular sight to behold.
For our full blog on the Qingshui Cliffs, click here.
For more photos of Hualien, see above.
Places we missed:
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more of our blogs to come!
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling 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.