What to do in Hualien (Taiwan) and other useful things to know
Just 2 weeks before leaving Taiwan, Ethan and I finally made it to Hualien, only 2 hours away from Taipei by train, and it was frankly the most beautiful place I saw here in 9 months! Have I had know before, this would have been my favorite escape from the city! It is definitely worth more then a trip.
So what to do in Hualien? Many things, here are some of my favorite!
Where to stay
I can’t say that we were too happy with our choice of hotel. It was a 40m walk away from downtown. Not dramatic and only 150 NT$ for a cab ride, but still, if I’d do it again, I’d chose something closer to the center. See map below.
The area in the circle (I would even say the lower part of it), is close to the markets, the restaurants, the shopping, etc. Plus our hotel was by the water, yes, but in front of it it’s an industrial port, nothing very nice to look at, so try to stay on the west side of it.
Unless you find a very nice and fancy hotel, then it might be worth it. It’s good to know that most of them offer to pick you up from the airport or the train station so don’t forget to ask.
What to do
There is a lot of things to do in Hualien. Unfortunately, pool and swimming doesn’t not seem very popular. I did not find where to swim, although I’m sure there are places, I just did not have enough time to find it. If you know some, by all means, please share with us in the comments below!
Dolphins & Whales
One of my favorite things in Hualien was clearly to see the dolphins. I have never seen them swimming playfully in the ocean before and that was an item of my bucket list – so I’m happy I had the chance to do it. In fact we liked it so much that we did it twice!
There are many compagnies that offer those two-hours cruises, usually for 800 NT$. They have departure time at 8am, 10am or 2pm. The company you’ll chose can make a big difference on your overall experience. We tried two of them. One was great and the other…. well not so much. Unless you want to hear some taiwanese guy yelling « woooaaaahhh » in a mic for 40m.
The one I strongly recommend is Turumoan. They positioned their whale and dolphin watching tours as Ecology Tour (minimized impact and responsible travel). There have a team of specialists on board to answer all questions. As the other ones I have seen though, most of it is in Chinese, but I could chat with a biologist on board who answered all my questions.
The group of dolphins we saw must have been at least 100, maybe more. It was wonderful to look at them swim and do all kind of jumpings around the boat! The chances of seeing them is 90%. The chances of seeing whales is much less, 10%. We did not have the chance this time, but still, we were very happy with our experience.
Taroko National Park
We could have easily spent more then one day here. It’s absolutely fantastic and you can’t leave Taiwan without a visit here! Nature at it’s best!
For visiting Taroko National Park, you an either join a tour in a big tourist bus (around 1000NT$/person) or hire your private cab for the day (3500 NT$). We did the cab thing with another couple, so the cost for each person was 875 NT$ and I think it’s a much better option.
We made a list of places we wanted to see, but the driver (driver/guide in fact, because he seemed to really enjoy it and taking it seriously) already knew where to take us.
The first stop was to admire Quingshiu Cliff and its fabulous, as you can see below! We stopped at two different places to look at the view and take pictures.
You can visit this beautiful gorge through a very easy trail. Going to the Damp back and forth took us a little bit more then 1h30. The walls of the mountains are made of marble and the water is absolutely wonderful.
Before you get on the trail, you’ll want to have a look at that bridge. There is a hundred marble lions on it and not a single one is the same.
Changchun Shrine – Eternal Spring Shine
Changchun Shrine is a memorial shrine that commemorates the memory of 212 veterans who died while constructing the highway.
Around that place there are other temples to visit. The one below is a 15m walk through some pretty steep stairs, you’ll be sweaty when you get up there! First, you’ll have a cross that beautiful suspended bridge.
Once there, you can make a wish and ring the bell, as you’ll see everybody doing it.
Dongdamen Night Market
This is a fun night market with all kind of seafood and fish and all kind of things to munch on. There are also a lot of games to play, if you are into it!
My favorite place was this seafood shack, at the south-east corner. They also have very good beer, but it’s not cheap (250 NT$ a beer, so around 10$ CAD). I tried one of those giant oyster but the truth is I didn’t like it very much…. could not eat it all!
Either by bike or walking, there are lots of parks here and flowers and things to see. We enjoyed walking around and taking our time to explore the town.
There is a good restaurant scene too. In addition to Chinese and Taiwanese restaurants, we saw Mexican food, Japanese food, even an African cuisine restaurant.
A stop at Qixingstan Beach is a must. You can’t swim here but you can admire the blue water of the Pacific ocean. There is no sand here, this is a pebble beach.
This town is super bike friendly. There is a bike path going all along the ocean. We did a two hours ride there until we got to Qixingstan Beach and back to the hotel. Most of the hotels have bikes to rent and some even lend them for free.
So there you go! I know there is more to do but for us that was it for this trip! We really enjoyed it and I recommend it strongly! It’s refreshing to be outside the city and by the sea!
Josianne aime profiter de la vie et adore dénicher pour vous des endroits fabuleux! Elle partage avec vous ses découvertes, que ce soit un restaurant, une escapade de rêve, une sortie originale ou une marque qui l’a conquise. Découvrez ses coups de cœur à travers son blogue.