Get closer to the Taiwanese culture, food, and friendly locals!
Hualien City is eastern Taiwan’s second-largest city and one of the more pleasant small towns in Taiwan. According to a 2015 survey on national happiness index, Hualien was rated as the happiest place to live in Taiwan among twenty other domestic cities due to the resident’s prioritization of work-life balance, living conditions, education, environmental quality, and the performance of the local government.
Travellers like to base themselves in Hualien because the range of food and accommodation is greater than other nearby small towns and also because of the proximity to the mountains and the coastline, both of which are within 30 minutes’ drive. There is a public transportation network that offers great accessibility to the main attractions in Taroko National Park, the East Rift Valley, and the coastline as well.
For travellers who prefer a slower place of travelling and would like to spend more time get closer to Taiwanese culture, Hualien City would definitely be the best place to hang around. You can explore the city easily by cycling around and meet friendly locals who will give you all the best suggestions and tips about Hualien.
Qixingtan Cycling Path 七星潭自行車道
Located north of Hualien on Highway #9 right past the airport, the Quixingtan Scenic Area allows you to cycle quite comfortably along the Pacific Ocean. You’ll be immersed in palm tree and beach scenery while also riding past public art and peaceful parks. The total distance of the cycling path from town center to Qixingtan would be approximately 15 kilometers. If you want to see the sunrise at the beach, it’s suggested to take a short cut through town to Qixingtan in the dark (approximately 6 kilometers only) and then come back on the cycling path after the sun rises.
Tourist Shuttle #1133A Taroko Route from Hualien to Tianxiang 太魯閣線
Departs from Hualien Station: 07:00 / 08:30 / 09:10 / 10:00 / 11:10 / 12:00 / 13:20 / 14:10 / 15:10
Return from Qixingtan: 09:37 / 10:57 / 11:37 / 12:37 / 13:47 / 15:07 / 15:57 / 16:47 / 17:57
Bus fare: NTD$46 each way
Journey Time: Approx. 15mins
Detailed Time Table: http://www.hualienbus.com.tw/bus/userfiles/files/149826391848833.pdf
On the way to Qixingtan, you will pass 48 Heights on the cycling path. 48 Heights is named as such because it’s 48-meters in height. You can get a great view from it if you go all the way to the top.
77 Heights is situated on Highway#11 on a small hill, offering a fantastic 360-degree panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean, Central and Costal Mountain Ridge, and Hualien city. It’s the best spot to see the town bathed in golden sunlight during sunrise and moonlight during moonrise.
Cycle from Hualien city along the cycling path southward for 10KM, pass Hualien Bridge onto Highway #11, ride another 5 five minutes, and you will see the small entrance on the opposite side of the highway. Park your bicycle at the entrance and walk for 20 minutes further inside until you see an abandoned military building. Go to the top of the building. You will get a great view from there.
ZuoCang Trail & ZuoCang Waterfall Trail 佐倉步道 & 佐倉瀑布
These two trails are only 5 kilometers outside of town. ZuoCang Trail (nicknamed “Monkey Trail”) used to be a concrete road in a cement factory for mining. Later, it was built into a beautiful walking trail. It takes about 2 hours to reach the top (3.95 K). Once at the top you have a panoramic view of Hualien town and the Pacific Ocean. As the nickname implies you have many opportunities to view the Formosan rock macaque in the lush mountain foliage. The other trail head located 50 meters from the ZuoCang Trail is the ZuoCang Waterfall Trail. One path is around 750 meters and the other path is around 350 meters so it’s your choice which one to take to reach the waterfall. The longer path has many steps and is more vertical while the shorter path is more leisurely.
No public transportation is available. The best way to get there is to cycle from town. It takes about 20 minutes.
Liyu Lake(Cycling Path) 鯉魚潭 (自行車道)
Liyu means “carp” in Mandarin. Liyu Lake is the largest one in Eastern Taiwan. Every year around April, thousands of fireflies buzz above the lake, creating a beautiful shimmer along the cycling route. You are also guaranteed to get some encounters with locals if you come.
It’s about 15 kilometers from Hualien City, you can either take a bus or cycle there, and either way will take similar amount of time.
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
Return from South Liyu Lake Recreation: 11:56 / 12:56 / 13:56 / 15:26 / 16:56 / 17:56 / 18:56
Bus fare: NTD$59 each way
Journey Time: Approx. 40mins
Detailed Time Table: http://www-old.taiwantrip.com.tw/upload/1507799247Do7Y1.pdf
The Emerald Valley stream offers a gorgeous river tracing opportunity perfect for beginners. Crystal clear waters flow over massive marble boulders and past waterfalls into a perfect natural swimming pool. The entrance of Emerald Valley is actually an old tunnel. A short hike through the tunnel and some shrubbery is all it takes to arrive at the stream’s edge.
It’s about 15 kilometers from Hualien City, and you can either take a bus or cycle there. Either way it will take similar amount of time.
Bus # 1131 from花蓮 Hualien to 銅門 Tungmen
Departs from Hualien Bus Station: 07:30 / 10:20 / 12:20 / 14:20
Departs from Tungmen Bust Stop: 11:20 / 13:30 / 15:20 / 17:10 / 18:00 / 19:10
Bus fare: NTD$59 each way
Journey Time: Approx. 50mins
Detailed Time Table: http://www.hualienbus.com.tw/bus/userfiles/files/151200968931567.pdf
Emerald Valley is about 3.5KM away from Liyu Lake, but there are no buses connecting these 2 spots. As such, if you want to visit Liyu Lake and Emerald Valley on the same day, the best way would definitely be by bicycle (or scooter).
Pine Garden 松園別館
Located on the flat land to the south of Meilun District at the north-eastern corner of Hualien City, the Pine Garden overlooks Hualien City and the estuary of Meilun River. Outside the Pine Garden, there are a dozen aged pine trees. The natural ecology and the marks left by time have become the unique features of the garden. The combination of various artistic activities has further turned the garden into a space for art and literature exhibitions and performances, setting a good example for museums’ innovative operations.
Entrance fee costs NTD$50 per person. You can easily walk or cycle to Pine Garden.
Cultural Creative Park文化創意園區
Located in the center of Hualien City, the creative park’s grounds were originally built 100 years ago as part of a wine-making factory complex. Occupying 33,000 square meters of land next to a major intersection in downtown Hualien, the park’s 26 factory warehouses have been repurposed into a public exhibition space and creative industry hub for the area. As the largest creative market in Hualien and the east coast, various markets are set up around the grounds from Wednesday to Sunday for visitors to enjoy, and events are regularly held in the area, especially on the weekends.
Entrance is free for visitors. You can easily walk or cycle to Cultural Creative Park.
Tung-Da-Men Night Market東大門夜巿
The largest night market in Hualien, Tungdamen Night Market is located nearby the downtown area and next to the Pacific Park. Officially part of the 6TH Rezoning Area, the night market is located on the grounds of the old train station. Tungdamen means big east gate and is located at the eastern coastal edge of the city. You can easily walk, cycle, or take a bus from Hulien train station to get there.
There are some authentic foods that you should try during your stay in Hualien. Check our blog post “10 Must-eat Taiwan food and where to find them in Hualien!” for more information.