Hualien Travel Guide
Situated a short distance from one of Taiwan’s greatest natural attractions, Hualien is where you’ll be sleeping before spending your days exploring the Taroko Gorge. There is plenty of other things to go in the area, as there are beaches, cliffs, and museums that are well worth your time.
If you are taking time out of your busy travel schedule to visit Hualien, chances are good you will be coming here to pay a visit to the world-famous Taroko Gorge. Carved by a series of rivers and tributaries tumbling down from the lofty mountainous interior of Taiwan, these waterways have carved deep canyons and channels in the limestone rock over millions of years.
Today, a park full of dramatic vistas is the end result of this erosion. Plan to set aside at least one full day to explore this place, but if we’re being honest, you’ll want to spend at least two to three days here to walk every major trail and visit every vantage point.
Its popularity, however, means that this attraction is besieged by tour buses, especially on weekends. As such, save this attraction for the middle of the week, unless you enjoy wading through throngs of people to get to popular viewpoints.
Once you have gotten your fill of Taroko Gorge, head to the coastal portion of Taroko National Park to check out Qingshui Cliff. A gargantuan set of sea cliffs which jut almost 800 metres straight out of the ocean in spots, you will struggle to find a more dramatic example of this geological feature elsewhere in the world.
Chongde Beach is the best place to take in this natural wonder, and the multicoloured waters which crash at its base. Note that due to severe currents, swimming is prohibited here.
If the humidity of the lowlands of Hualien is starting to get to you, head up to Sixty Rock Mountain. Situated 800 metres above sea level, the coolness of this elevated place and the views it affords aren’t the only attraction you’ll find here – in the months of August and September, the fields on this plateau explode with blossoms of daylilies.
This makes it a very popular place among locals during this time, as photographic opportunities abound and the smell of fresh flowers lingers in the air.
Learn how the Japanese used the Hualien area as a lumber camp during their colonial period in Taiwan at the Lin Tian Shan Cultural Museum. Walk through the ghost town which once bustled with forestry workers as recently as 50 years ago, and along the former rail line which once transported the raw cut logs to the coast.
Apart from this, there is a small museum where you can take in a few exhibits, carved wood works made by locals, and a spot of coffee in an attached cafe.
Closer to the city of Hualien, one can enjoy a day beside the ocean by visiting Chishingtan Scenic Area. Formerly the site of a fishing village, it is a park which offers plenty of open lawn and palm trees behind a pebble beach.
Many locals come here to enjoy a picnic lunch and families are often seen flying kites here. One thing you won’t see are people going into the water – like Chongde Beach further up the coast, waves are too high and currents too strong for swimming to be done safely.
Take advantage of a beautiful sunny day in Hualien by spending it on the shores of Liyu Lake. Located just 20 kilometres outside the city, it is the preferred chill out spot for many locals. With paddle boats for rent, vendors selling a variety of foods, amazing mountain views, and fireflies which lazily dance about the lake surface after dark, you will be sure to have a wonderful time.
Take in the works of this city’s best artists by spending an hour or two exploring the Hualien Cultural Creative Industries Park. Originally the site of a wine bottling factory, this 100-year-old complex provides space for a variety of creatives to do their thing, whether that is selling crafts or pieces of artwork, or engaging in live musical performances.
There are also a number of restaurants and cafes on the grounds of this park, so be sure to stop for a bite to eat at some point.
While the ocean is not safe for swimming in the Hualien area, there are other ways the locals cool off on steamy days. For many, Farglory Ocean Park is the most popular option, as this water park offers flume rides which will drench riders, and bumper boats which accomplish the same goal. A dolphin show is also offered, which will prove to be entertaining for those with travelling with kids.