East Rift Valley – a stunning green valley of rice fields between mountains.
East Rift Valley, located between the Central and Coastal Mountain Range in Eastern Taiwan, offers visitors an experience of real, unspoiled Taiwan at its best. The area is characterized by soaring, rugged mountains, and vast, green rice-paddies. The valley extending from Hualien to Taitung is less populated, laid-back and even sleepy, compared to the densely populated West and North Taiwan.
Blessed with clean water and fertile soil, the valley is home to many hot springs and outdoor activities like hiking and cycling. Located between the Eurasian and Philippine tectonic plates, the East Rift Valley is characterized by some truly fascinating and beautiful landforms, including waterfalls and hidden ponds. The valley is also a great place to view fields of beautiful flowers. During the winter months from December to the end of February, the areas of rice paddies are transformed into seas of rapeseed flowers, tempting colorful butterflies to the area. In March, Pomelo blossoming begins and beautiful white flowers start to appear in the trees. In August, golden Day-lilies bloom on Sixty-Stone and Chihke Mountains.
Besides the amazing natural landscapes that are in East Rift Valley you can also familiarize yourself with local aboriginal culture. For example, one of the tribes, Amis, hosts a harvest festival every summer and the local inhabitants are usually very hospitable towards visitors. East Rift Valley is perfect for those looking to get away from the big city to enjoy the natural beauty and hospitality of eastern Taiwan.
Take highway #9 or route #193 south through the valley to enjoy one of the most astonishing agricultural vistas on the island. The magnificent mountains on both sides give way to a green plateau patch-worked with rice paddies and meandering rivers that cut through the landscape. Here you will discover Taiwan as you hardly imagined it could exist— sleepy, rural and full of natural beauty.
East Rift Valley is truly a treasure in the heart of Taiwan’s most beautiful surroundings!
HOW TO GET THERE?
From Hualien you can access the attractions of East Rift Valley quite conveniently by bus. The ending point of the bus line is Danongdafu Forestry Park. The first bus leaves from Hualien Railway Station at 8:30 and the last one at 15:30. The bus stops for example at Liyu Carp Lake, Lintianshan Forestry Park, and Hualien Sugar Factory along the way. A 1-Day Pass costs NTD$250, and you can hop on and off at any bus stops along East Rift Valley Line.
Tourist Shuttle #303 Hualien Route along East Rift Valley from Hulien to Danongdafu 花東縱谷線
Departs from Hualien Bus Station: 8:30 / 9:30 / 10:30 / 12:00 / 13:30 / 14:30 / 15:30
Detailed Time Table: http://www-old.taiwantrip.com.tw/upload/1507799247Do7Y1.pdf
It is also possible to take a train to any of the stations in the East Rift Valley, but the stations are usually away from the attractions listed, and you have to either walk or cycle to the attractions from the station.
To access the day-lily mountains, you can take a train to Yuli town and then hire a taxi for a day-trip that usually cost $3000, or join a mini tour (maximum 8 passengers) from Hualien City that usually cost around $1400~$1600 per person. Biking up there is possible as well, but it can be a real challenge since the slop can be over 10% degree in certain sections.
It is highly recommended to take a bicycle trip all the way from Hualien to Taitung, to access these attractions easily along the way. By cycling you can enjoy the ultimate freedom and see all of those sights without caring about timetables. Check our blog to find out how to make the cycling trip! (You can also rent a scooter/car for this route if you’re unsure about your fitness level.)
Lintianshan Forestry Culture Park 林田山林業文化園區
Lintianshan Forestry Cultural Area, located in Hualien Fenglin township, is a large park and recreation area with hiking trails and museum exhibitions about Taiwan’s rich forestry traditions.
In the 1940s, Lintianshan was one of the largest forestry centers in Taiwan. After the government lifted the ban on lumbering, the township became abandoned. In recent years, the remaining buildings were renovated into a forestry exhibition center by officials and have become a popular tourist attraction in eastern Taiwan. You can see many old building from the old logging era, for example, the old factory, auditorium, dormitory, exhibition halls for wooden sculptures, and movie theaters. Here you can also buy some souvenirs made of famous Formosan Cypress wood or enjoy a cup of coffee in a cafe located in the area.
If you would like to experience the historical atmosphere of forestry, Lintianshan Forestry Culture Park would be a great place to stop by!
GuangFu Sugar Factory 光復糖廠
During the Japanese occupation, a big Yamato Sugar Factory was set up in Guangfu Township. Towards the end of the Second World War, this factory was badly damaged and later rebuilt and named the Hualien Sugar Factory or also the Guangfu Sugar Factory due to its location. The factory became the major sugar manufacturing center for east Taiwan and later a very popular tourist destination in the East Rift Valley scenic area. Vast sugar cane fields can be found in Xincheng and Fuli Townships have become unique East Rift Valley sites.
Recently Guangfu Sugar Factory has been undergoing expansion and renovation. In addition to providing granulated sugar, the sugar factory also produces variety of popsicles and ice cream. These products are very popular with both local and foreign tourists. Sugar factory hosts also hold creative workshops at the former dormitories, allowing tourists and locals to exchange ideas and learn from one another. Handmade crafts are also sold here.
Next to the Hualien Sugar Factory, you can also find some Japanese-style bungalows, which are very rare in Taiwan on such a large scale. These residences, made of Taiwan Cypress wood, were built for the factory employees during the Japanese occupation, but recently they have been renovated and now serve as a Japanese-style hotels.
Danongdafu Forest Park (Cycling Path) 大農大富平地森林園區 (自行車道)
Located in Guangfu Town of Hualien County, between Taiwan Provincial Highways No. 9 and 193, Danongdafu Forest Park covers a large area of mesmerizing scenery that is home to lots of local flora and fauna, including fireflies, butterflies, reptiles, precious bird species and plants.
This recreational area of Danongdafu focuses on recreation, organic production, environmental healing and sustainable cultural development in the East Rift Valley. Through cooperation with the local agricultural community, the park’s green facilities promote sustainable development and create a quality ecological forest environment that all visitors should experience.
In April, many locals also come here to see the millions of fireflies flying in the dark. They look like stars in the dark forest since there is no light here nearby. It’s truly an amazing experience!
Chike Mountain (Day-Lily Mountain) 赤柯山
Chike Mountain, located in Yuli Township, is famous for the Day-lilies that blossom in August and September. The mountain (Quercus Morii Tree in English) is named after the plants that were growing there during the Japanese occupation. It offers a breathtakingly picturesque view of golden flowers all over the hills. Due to the altitude, the mist, lower temperature, and the fertile soil, the mountain boasts loads of lovely golden day-lilies. The plant is grown for consumption as well. It is not only high in nutrients, but also an effective treatment for calming the nerves.
YuFu Cycling Path 玉富自行車道
Yufu cycling path is located in the middle of Yuli town and traverses the border between the Eurasian and Philippine tectonic plates. The path follows an old railway line that has been renovated for cycling purposes. The route is 5.7 kilometers long, starts from Yuli train station, and ends in the old Antong train station. The route is quite flat which makes you feel easy and relaxed when riding. Also on the way you can marvel at the gorgeous Yuli Old Bridge. People say it’s the most beautiful cycling path in Taiwan!
There are bike rental shops outside Yuli Train Station where you can easily find suitable bicycle for you to start your journey.
Xiao Pan Bike Rental 小胖單車
No. 155, Guangfu Road, Yuli Township, Hualien County, Taiwan 981
TEL +886 3 888 5292
GIANT Bike shop 義宏車行
No. 47, Heping Road, Yuli Township, Hualien County, Taiwan 981
TEL +886 3 888 5669
Sixty Stone Mountain (Day-Lily Mountain) 六十石山
Liushishi Mountain (Sixty Stone Mountain) is located east of Zhutian Village. It is situated at an elevation of around 800 meters above sea level in the Coastal Mountain Range. There is a day-lily field of 300 hectares in size, and along with Chihke Mountain, this makes up Hualien County’s two large day-lily cultivation areas.
The vast field of day-lily looks like a big colorful carpet, spreading from one mountain ridge to another. The flower-packed fields create a natural scene of more beauty than one can take in. The day-lily season takes place in August and September of every year. This is when most tourists come to Liushishi Mountain. If you visit off-season, you can experience quiet, beautiful and mysterious scenery, especially during the winter. At that time, as you look down at the East Rift Valley from Liushishi Mountain, you will see vast yellow rapeseed flower fields! It’s unforgettable!
Standing in one of the pavilions built on Liushishi Mountain, facing the mountain wind, you will feel like a bird roaming this emerald green valley.
Chishang Brown Avenue (Cycling Path) 池上伯朗大道 (自行車道)
In Chishang, you will find Brown Avenue, one of the East Rift Valley’s most photographed roads. It was made famous by Japanese-Taiwanese pop-idol Takeshi Kaneshiro starred in Mr. Brown Coffee commercial.
The road has vast green rice fields without anything else on the roadside so you can truly feel how borderless it is. It will take your mind off all the hustle and bustle in the city. The avenue also has extremely good views for taking photos. This long open road is cyclists’ favorite and usually visitors wanting to ride do so comfortably through peaceful fields with beautiful mountain views along the way. Along route #197 and in the surrounding area are shops where visitors can rent bicycles and other equipment to explore the area.
There are also bike rental shops outside Chishang Train Station where you can easily find suitable bicycle for you.
Chishang Bike Rental池上環鎮自行車店
No. 48, Zhongzheng Road, Chishang Township, Taitung County, Taiwan 958
+886 919 139 020