10 must-visit places along the east coast of Taiwan
Away from the hustle and bustle of hotter tourist areas like Taipei, there are more localised spots that are equally exciting.
Perhaps due to its night market food and scenic views, Taiwan often comes up as a usual pick for the perfect getaway. It was even the seventh most popular travel destination for Asian Pacific travellers, according to the Mastercard Economics Institute’s Travel Industry Trends 2023 report.
Far from areas like Taipei and Kaohsiung – that are often marketed as ideal tourist destinations – places along the east coast like Yilan, Hualien and Taitung may turn out to be more preferable not just for its peace and quiet atmosphere, but the nature and more localised offerings found there.
1. Tangweigou Hot Spring Park
Located in Jiaoxi, a township in the north of Yilan County, this historical attraction is located by a natural underground hot spring with numerous bathing facilities. For those looking for better maintained foot baths with doctor fishes included, a small paid entry fee around NT$200 applies.
In the vicinity are also street stalls selling snacks and trinkets, and the park also holds performances and entertainment at night.
Located at No. 99-11, Deyang Rd, Jiaoxi Township, Yilan County 262, the park is accessible 24 hours daily. The public free foot baths are open 8am to 10pm daily, with pool cleaning conducted from 8am to 10am on Tuesdays and Fridays.
2. Luodong Night Market
The largest night market in Yilan by size and footfall, local delicacies like mutton soup, dragon phoenix rolls and onion pancakes can be found here. Initiated by the local government in 1990, the market began as a post-movie food spot for cinemagoers and slowly grew into what it is today.
Although the walkways are rather narrow and easily congested, ample space and seating can be found in some eateries and at the nearby park.
Located at No. 100, Gongyuan Rd, Luodong Township, Yilan County 265, the market is open 6pm to 12am daily.
3. Diu Diu Dang Forest Park
Located conveniently right opposite the Yilan Train Station, this urban forest features physical recreations of famed picture book author Jimmy Liao’s illustrations.
Originally designated for commercial malls to be built, the small land was redesigned to provide a place that blended nature and local life, spacious enough to host group activities.
More of Jimmy’s physical recreations can be found in Jimmy Square Park, found a three-minutes walk away from the train station.
Located at No. 236, Section 1, Yixing Rd, Yilan County, Taiwan 260, the forest park is open 24 hours.
4. Taroko National Park
One of Taiwan’s nine national parks and named after its main feature, the Taroko Gorge, this place is famous for its mountains and marble canyons along the Liwu River. These rock formations are a result of years of wind erosion, along with several other features including the Baiyang and Changchun Waterfalls.
For those looking for stress-free transport options to the park, which is located far from the city centre, private car charters or day tour packages are a safe and reliable option.
Located at No. 972, Xiulin Township, Hualien County, the national park is open to the public at all times and days of the year. Entrance to the park is free.
5. Qixingtan Scenic Area
Close to Taroko National Park, it is one of the most popular beach sightseeing spots of Hualien, known for its pebble strewn coastline. The strait is naturally made, with clean blue waters and black and white gravel on the shore.
A 21km walking and cycling path, named Hualien Liangtan Bicycle Route, can be found in the vicinity that goes along the bay.
Located at No. 5, Lane 79, Qixing St, Xincheng Township, Hualien County, the area is open 24 hours daily.
6. Mei Lun Market
Aside from tourist attractions, Hualien also has localised areas worth exploring, such as the wet market with both indoors and outdoor stall vendors selling fresh produce to dry goods.
Located at No. 5-3, Huadao Rd, Hualien County, the morning market is open 6am to 12pm daily and closed on Mondays.
7. Xiuguluan River
Hualien’s Xiuguluan River, the eight longest river in the country spanning 104 km, provides one of the best rafting experiences, with rapids of various intensities to traverse.
The journey, suitable for beginners, is solely run by Hsiangsun Rafting, a company with years of experience and led by professional instructors. Each boat takes six to nine people and participants ranging from children to adults are welcome.
The Xiuguluan River Rafting Service Center, where the journey begins, is located at No. 216-1, Section 3, Zhongshan Rd, Ruisui Township, Hualien County, Taiwan 978. Packages can be booked via Klook and kkday.
8. Brown Boulevard
Named after the ads of famous local brand Brown coffee, this long road is located between rice paddies and offers an unobstructed view of high mountains and green fields. During autumn, these paddies turn golden brown, offering a varied experience.
Halfway down the boulevard is a winding path, Paradise Road, where the Chishang Autumn Rice Harvest Arts Festival is hosted annually since 2009 towards the end of October. During that period of time, live music shows will take place among the paddies.
Located at No. 958, Taitung County, Chishang Township, the boulevard is open 24 hours daily.
9. Dapo Pond
An inland freshwater swamp formed as result of a geographical fault, the 28-hectare natural wetland is located in a park outfitted with bike routes, footpaths, pavilions, fishing areas, bird watching areas and gardens.
Located at No. 23, Chifu Rd, Chishang Township, Taitung County, Taiwan 958, the pond is accessible 24 hours daily. Watersports equipment rentals are available between 8am to 5pm daily.
10. Railway Art Village
Aside from natural sceneries, the central area of Taitung also has other forms of entertainment to offer, including live performances and an art market all within walking proximity.
Converted from an abandoned old dormitory for Taiwan Railways Administration, the cultural centre cum art village is a musical, cultural and historical combination showcasing local culture.
Located at No. 369, Tiehua Rd, Taitung City, Taitung County, the village is accessible 24 hours daily. The Tiehua Music Village is open 5pm – 10pm from Wednesdays to Sundays.