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The Best Things To Do In Hualien (Including Taroko Gorge)

Hualien is a city located on the beautiful east coast of Taiwan. We spent 3 days in Hualien and used this relaxed city as a base to explore the famous Taroko Gorge and the gorgeous Qingshui Cliffs.

Besides these impressive natural phenomena, there are lots of other fun things to do in Hualien.

Stroll around the Hualien night market and sample the local cuisine, visit Nanbin Park, and explore the East Coast National Scenic Area.

The best things to do in Hualien: travel guide

Qingshui Cliffs Taiwan East Coast

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What to do in Hualien in 3 days

Read about the best things to do in Hualien and Taroko National Park, on the East Coast of Taiwan. Rent a scooter and follow this 3-day itinerary! Includes a map with Hualien highlights, travel budget, advice about accommodation and transport information (how to get from Taipei to Hualien and from Hualien to Taroko Gorge). #Hualien #TarokoGorge #Taiwan

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Are Taiwan's East Coast and Hualien worth visiting?

Yes absolutely! In fact, eastern Taiwan was my favorite part of the country! Taiwan's East Coast is home to steep cliffs, a stunning blue ocean, marble mountains, and a dense green jungle.

Furthermore, this area of Taiwan is much less populated than the rest of the country, only 4% of the Taiwanese live here!

During our 1 month Taiwan trip, I was surprised about the very limited number of (Western) tourists in Taiwan (except in Taipei), it's such a beautiful country and well worth a visit!

When I was researching where to go in Taiwan, Hualien was the first place on my list. Why? Because the Taroko Gorge is a very popular day trip from Hualien and the pictures on Google made it immediately clear this beautiful place was a must-see!

But that wasn't the only reason to visit Hualien, because besides the amazing Taroko Gorge there were lots of other things to see and do in and around Hualien!

Taroko Gorge on the East Coast of Taiwan

Things to know when planning a trip to Hualien

What is the best time to visit Hualien?

In general, November until April is the best time for a trip to Hualien and the Taroko Gorge because these are the driest months.

December to February receive the least rain but temperatures are also a bit lower (21-22 degrees Celsius).

We visited at the end of May and as I mentioned earlier in this post: this is the start of the monsoon season and not the best time to visit if you don't like rain.

Which currency is used in Hualien?

The official currency in Taiwan is the New Taiwan dollar (NT$). 

Here you can find the current exchange rates, at the time of writing €1 is approximately 34NT$ and $1 approximately 30NT$.

How to travel to Hualien from Taipei?

There are several ways to travel from Taipei to Hualien city. The fastest way is to take the express train, tickets are 440NT and the journey takes about 2 hours. However, these tickets are often sold out.

We traveled to Hualien with a combo ticket, you can buy this ticket at the Taipei bus station. From Taipei, we took a bus to Luodong and at Luodong we boarded the train to Hualien.

A combo ticket costs 222NT and the trip takes around 3 hours. Altogether it was a very comfortable trip and in my opinion, the lower ticket price is worth the extra travel hour.

Train in Taiwan

How to travel in Hualien?

For our sightseeing activities, we rented a scooter. As I explained in my Kenting National Park post, it isn't easy to rent a scooter in Taiwan as a foreigner.

You either need a Taiwanese license or an International Driver's License which clearly states you can drive a motorcycle. However, in Hualien, we were in luck because the friendly owner of Honey B Trip B&B helped us!

She went with us to the scooter rental company and talked with them in Chinese. I am 100% certain we wouldn't have gotten a scooter if she hadn't vouched for us.

But don't worry if you cannot get your hands on a scooter (or don't want to drive one), you can still visit Taroko Gorge!

You could rent a car (be sure to bring International Drivers Permit from your home country) or travel to Taroko Gorge by public transport.

Taiwan has excellent public transportation and there are several buses a day from Hualien to Taroko Gorge. More information and the bus timetable can be found on this site.

Alternatively, you can also visit Taroko Gorge via a tour from Hualien or a Taroko Gorge tour from Taipei.

Taroko Gorge Taiwan

Where to stay in Hualien: Honey B Trip B&B

We stayed at Honey B Trip B&B and it was our favorite accommodation in Taiwan because of the cute Bee theme design!

Our room was very big with a super comfortable bed. We even had a sofa and a small desk. The bathroom was modern with an excellent shower.

The hotel also has a really cool family room with a castle, I can imagine it must be a great place to stay with little kids. I don't have a picture of this room but you can see it on Agoda.

Honey B Trip B&B Hualien

On the 2nd floor, there is a hot and cold water dispenser, plus any additional items you might need during your stay (towels, toiletries, water bottles, maps of the area, bus schedules, etc). WiFi was very fast.

Click here to book via Agoda | Click here to book via Booking

Hualien 3 day itinerary: map & attractions

Click here for the interactive map

What to do in Hualien

  • Drive the scenic coast road
  • Marvel at the amazing Qingshui Cliffs
  • Visit the famous Taroko Gorge
  • Hike the Shakadang Trail
  • Hike or drive the Swallow Grotto trail
  • Have lunch in Xiulin Township
  • Check out the Eternal Spring Shrine
  • Make a stop at Nanbin Park
  • Explore the East Coast National Scenic Area
  • Check out Liyu Lake
  • Eat your way around Hualien

Hualien itinerary day 1

The weather forecast hadn't been great for this day (unsurprising since monsoon season was about to start), but we were very lucky: blue skies and only a bit of rain at the end of the day.

Drive the scenic coast road

Road trip along Chisingtan area

After picking up our scooter in the city center (read about transportation to and around Hualien below), we drove to Chisingtan, then turned north and followed the scenic road along the coast.

In the distance, we could already see the famous Qingshui cliffs…

Marvel at the amazing Qingshui Cliffs

Qingshui Cliff (one of the Eight Wonders of Taiwan)

And the views kept getting better and better…

I couldn't stop marveling at the beautiful color of the ocean. And the impressive steep cliffs of course!

Visit the famous Taroko Gorge

After peeling our eyes away from the breathtaking cliffs and natural scenery we turned our scooter around and drove to Taroko Gorge, one of the nine national parks of Taiwan.

We picked up a map of the area at the Tourist Information Center and entered the famous gorge, known as one world’s natural wonders.

From steep marble cliffs and huge rock formations to the swirling waters of the Liwu River, Taroko Gorge will take your breath away…

Hike the Shakadang Trail

Shakadang Trail in Taroko Gorge National Park

Our first stop in Taroko Gorge National Park was the Shakadang Trail. This easy trail leads along the Shakadang River, it was a fairly busy trail but still very nice!

Hike or drive the Swallow Grotto trail

Next up was the Swallow Grotto trail (pictured above), you can either drive this path or walk (20 minutes one way).

Have lunch in Xiulin Township

Xiulin Township Beef Noodle Soup Taroko Gorge

We had lunch in Xiulin Township (beef noodle soup, of course, a Taiwanese specialty;-) before turning around and driving back the same way, all the while admiring the steep marble cliffs around us.

Check out the Eternal Spring Shrine

Eternal Spring Shrine Taroko Gorge Taiwan

On our way back we quickly stopped at the Eternal Spring Shrine, but by that time it had started to rain and we quickly drove back to Hualien to relax in our cozy hotel room.

Want to get off the beaten track in the Taroko Gorge? Check out this post about hiking to a secret tribal village.

Hualien itinerary day 2

The next day we hopped back on our scooter and instead of driving north, we went south. I really liked this Southern loop because, unlike the Taroko Gorge, there were very few other tourists!

Make a stop at Nanbin Park

We passed Nanbin Park which is a nice place to spend some time. Also, if you're looking for an original way to propose, check out the ‘Marry Me' art installation at the entrance;-).

Explore the East Coast National Scenic Area

Via the bridge at Ji’an we entered the so-called ‘East Coast National Scenic Area' and scenic it was!

We drove along the coast and came along the Farglory Ocean Park. We didn't go in but it looked like a lot of fun!

Farglory Ocean Park - East Coast National Scenic Area Hualien

At the tiny village of Shuilian, we turned inland, a very adventurous drive! The road kept getting bumpier and muddier so we drove very carefully…

But the views along the way made it worth the effort!

East Coast National Scenic Area

If you decide to drive on this road, be careful and make sure you have enough petrol. We didn't come across any other people and the road didn't look like it was used a lot.

East Coast National Scenic Area Hualien

Nevertheless, we had a lot of fun driving this deserted road and eventually made it to the West side of the peninsula.

Check out Liyu Lake

Liyu Lake Sightseeing around Hualien East Coast Taiwan

Via the Yuemei bridge, we crossed back to the mainland and drove to Liyu Lake, our final stop of the day (because it started to rain again).

Liya Lake is the largest inland lake in Hualien County and a popular spot for locals to visit during the weekend. If you happen to travel to Hualien in April or May, be sure to visit this lake.

These months are firefly mating season and the whole lake is lit by fireflies which create a magical atmosphere.

Hualien itinerary day 3

Eat your way around Hualien

Unfortunately, it rained almost the entire day, but we made the most of it by sampling the local cuisine.

We found the best baozi and located Hualien's famous onion egg pancake (see pictures below, the exact location is marked on the map at the start of the post).

I'm a huge coffee addict, but every once in a while I try to mix things up. In the cute Seven Beans coffee shop, I tried their signature hot chocolate which was divine and perfectly suited for the rainy weather.

We also found a great Japanese restaurant serving big bowls of steaming ramen, yummy…

And of course, we couldn't skip the famous Dongdamen Night Market in downtown Hualien!

Luckily the rain stopped around 6 pm and we sampled several delicious street food dishes and tasty snacks at the market.

Dongdamen Night Market Hualien Taiwan

Hualien travel budget

Average daily travel budget Hualien and Taroko Gorge Taiwan

I mentioned this in my other Taiwan posts as well, but traveling in Taiwan is surprisingly affordable!

During our 3 days in Hualien, we spent approximately €68 per day (for us as a couple, so €34 per person).

This budget includes the scooter rental (and petrol), transport from Taipei to Hualien and back to Taipei, our accommodation, and all the costs for food.

Hualien itinerary: in conclusion

That’s everything about our 3-day trip to Hualien! We had a great time and I hope I've inspired you to visit Hualien county.

You can download the Hualien things to do checklist below.

Looking for more Taiwan travel tips? Check out these posts:

This post was updated in February 2023.

John Piper

Wednesday 29th of November 2017

Hi Lotte, I will be making a solo budget trip mid Jan to Feb 2018. Thanks for the great info. Just a few question. 1) are there cheap guesthouses in Kaoshiang city, preferably with windows that you have come across? I have booked online hotels in the past and always the photos don't match the real thing.

2) What is the maximum ATM withdrawal in Taiwan dollars per one time.? I am using my Visa debit card.

3) any problems using simple english with the locals?

4) are the street signs in chinese and also english for tourist to get around?

Thank you James


Friday 1st of December 2017

Hello James,

Thanks for reading my Taiwan post:-). Great you'll be going there in Jan/Feb! About your questions:

1. The Airbnb I stayed at in Kaohsiung had big windows and even a balcony. Since that's the only place I stayed in Kaohsiung I don't know about other hotels. You can find all the information in my accommodation post: 2. The maximum withdrawal is 20.000NT, not all banks work with all bank cards so just try a couple and see which branches work with your visa card (I have a Maestro and Mastercard so unfortunately don't know which banks accept visa). 3. It depends on where you are but yes, that could very well be a problem. In Taipei most people speak a little English, but even there we came across small restaurants or shops where people didn't understand us at all. It helps to have a internet, you can use google translate to communicate. Taiwanese people are extremely friendly and always willing to help even if they don't speak English so don't worry about it! You can mine and sign your way around. It sometimes means you'll end up eating a very surprising dish;-). 4. Many signs are only Chinese, I recommend downloading the app and make sure you have the offline map for Taiwan. Mark your hostel/hotel on the map so you'll always know where to return to. Or take a business card if the hotel has one so you can give it to a taxi driver and he'll know where to take you.

Taiwan is a beautiful country with amazing people and delicious food, I'm sure you'll have a great time! Enjoy:-) Lotte


Thursday 7th of September 2017

Thank you for existing! You make me travel in my mind :) ! Much love, please continue! Ange


Thursday 7th of September 2017

Hi Ange, thank you so much for your kind comment, you made my day! I'll write many more travel stories for you:-) Lotte


Friday 1st of September 2017

What an adventure, Lotte! Ever since I went to Hong Kong I have wanted to explore more of Asia. The color of the sea in your photos takes me back to the crystal blue ocean in the Bahamas. Stunning!


Friday 1st of September 2017

It was definitely an adventure! I love Asia... The people are so kind, the temples are beautiful, the food is the best in the world and nature is spectacular. Though you make the Bahamas also sound pretty good;-)