Hualien More Than Taroko – An Alternative Guide of What to Do

Hualien is deservedly one of the most popular counties in Taiwan and the new Puyuma express train now offers a whopping sixteen services a day to Hualien City which take just 2 hours, with an additional 3 Tarko trains taking just a few minutes longer (both services cost NT$440). Hualien has plenty to offer hikers, cyclists and drivers with the immensely beautiful Taroko Gorge in the north of the county and lush valley riding below Hualien City. There are hotsprings to soak in and rivers to raft down. There really is something for everyone in this East coast gem
by Nicole on June 17, 2015

The jewel in Hualien’s crown is often held to be the 19km long marble gorge – named Taroko from the local aborigine for beautiful and magnificent. There are myriad side hikes off the main road which wends its way through the gorge. Many are well trodden and suitable for all ages/capabilities but harder ones also abound for the more adventurous hiker.

Road from Hualien to Taroko

Road from Hualien to Taroko

Even just driving or cycling through the area by car, scooter or bicycle is a rewarding experience (although cyclists would be advised to avoid the heavier weekend traffic). The gorge itself is stunning and the surroundings lush. Do be aware that hiking paths and sometimes even the road may be closed off due to damage caused by earthquakes or typhoons, or imminent torrential rain. Be sure to check conditions before you set out.

Chingszu Temple
In a marked contrast to the many ornate temples that dot the towns and countryside of Taiwan the Chingzhu Temple- or The Abode Of Still Thoughts – is a simple affair with delicate carvings and a staid grey exterior. The temple is the original homeplace of Taiwan’s influential Buddhist organisation and charity the Tzu-Chi Buddhist Foundation. There is also a Japanese Garden at the temple, perfect for wandering around and enjoying some quiet reflections.

Just south from Hualien is a little beach called Nuishan where we stopped to play with Playing Arts cards that we grabbed on KickStarter.  The beach might have a few people next to the entrance but a few hundred meters down you’ll be guaranteed to feel like it’s a private beach.

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NiuShan 01
Head on down to Rueisuei for hotsprings – either in one of the old style Japanese Spa Hotels or river trace or hike to some wild hotsprings for a real immersion in the beauty of Mother Nature. The more adrenaline led can venture out on the Siouguluan river for a spot of white water rafting. Whale and dolphin watching trips also leave from Shiti harbour – the best months for sightings are said to be between June and August.

If you’re looking for some other options why not try Whale-watching? You can see dolphines and whales if you’re unlucky you’ll have the scenic view from the ocean to comfort you!  Ami Cultural Village,o is another options, here you can find the Ami tribe doing traditional aboriginal dances.

Hualien Farglory Ocean Park

Since you’re by the sea stopping by the Hualien Farglory Ocean Park could be a good way to send the afternoon. The Park has a unique twist since it is combines a Victorian style hotel resort with a nature park that offers sea mammal performances.  It’s an amusement part style that you really only see in Asia and if you keep an open mind, it’s people watching and far fetched juxtapositions in style are worth experiencing.

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Ruisui Sunshine Hot Spring B&B

Further down the coast towards Taitung you’re going to pass a few spots that are worth checking out. There are three Hot Springs in the valley south of Hualien, Ruisui, Hongye and Antong. Ruisui was developed in 1919 and has a public bathing area and Japanese-style hotel. The open air pool is 48Cand is rich in iron which gives the water a yellowish hue, so don’t think it’s dirty water, it’s just mineral rich. The water is also a little salty and you’ll often find salt crystals floating around on the waters surface.

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Another stop and great place to escape the heat should you be traveling in the summer is the Wuhe Tourist Tea Plantation. Don’t let me name fool you, In 2006 the “Honey Peach Black Tea”, won the gold medal at the First World Tea Award.  It’s with its gentle fruit and honey aroma in iced or hot form are a regional must.

 

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Don’t forget to feast on mochi; a delicious sweet made from pounded rice and filled with a variety of fillings such as black sesame, peanut or seasonal fruits. For a savoury sensation eat some dumplings – Hualien is particularly famed for their wonton – or try a bamboo rice stick; an aboriginal delight of rice steamed in bamboo, we liked the ones with mushrooms best.

If you haven’t checked out our drive down the east coast, here is our first episode of Out of the Box

If you’d like to see everything we’ve written about our trip down the East Coast of Taiwan, here is a link to our Out of the Box Tech and Travel Section.