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5D4N Taiwan Itinerary Under S$500 — A Lesser-known Scenic Road Trip From Taipei to Yilan

taipei to yilan day trip

River rafting, animal farms and secret hiking trails — uncover an overlooked side of Taiwan with this 5D4N itinerary!

taipei to yilan day trip

Taiwan’s a destination we’ve personally been to multiple times before. And each time we peel back a layer off of the island, it rewards us with another enriching experience. Honestly, it’s the healthiest relationship we’ve been in.

This time though, we challenged ourselves to dig deeper into Taipei City and unearth hidden gems we’ve overlooked (think cat cafes and secret mountainous viewpoints). We also ventured further east to Yilan, exploring six of its townships in three days by car.

taipei to yilan day trip

We uncovered so much this time, it’s safe to say we already want to go back for more.

After splitting transport and accommodation costs four ways, total expenses came up to less than S$500 per pax, not too shabby.

4N Accommodation:  S$164.17 Transport:  S$86.14 (excl. flights) Activities:  S$136.51 Food & Misc:  S$106.07 (incl. insurance) Total:  S$492.89 (~S$98.50/day) (1SGD = NTD22.68)

( detailed breakdown for one pax here )

Here’s how our 5D4N Taiwan itinerary went!

Day 1: Luodong, Yilan | Day 2: Nan’ao and Su’ao, Yilan | Day 3: Jiaoxi, Yilan | Day 4: Beitou, Taipei | Day 5: Taipei City

Taiwan Itinerary Route

taipei to yilan day trip

A scenic drive in Yilan

After our red-eye flight, we figured it’d be best to get from Taipei to Yilan via a pre-booked bus (~S$5).

In Yilan, we rented a car and drove along the scenic Eastern coastline — covering these six townships: Nan’ao, Su’ao, Luodong, Sanxing, Yuanshan, and Jiaoxi.

*Pro-tip: It’s best to get around Yilan by car. Without the Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR), travel times are lengthened if you depend on railway trains and buses.

On the last two days of our Taiwan itinerary, we got around Taipei via Taipei Metro and buses which are super efficient. And this way, we’d avoid driving on the city’s busy roads!

Taiwan Itinerary Pre-trip Essentials

taipei to yilan day trip

Getting around: Pre-book your EasyCard and collect it at Taoyuan International Airport . Stored credit can be used on transport, vending machines and convenience stores.

*Pro-tip: Collect your card at the Ezfly counter at Terminal 2 if you land before 9AM cos counters at Terminal 1 open later.

taipei to yilan day trip

Taipei to Yilan: Pre-book your bus tickets online . You’ll have to exchange your e-booking for a physical ticket at level 1 of Taipei bus station!

Day 1: Sanxing and Luodong, Yilan

taipei to yilan day trip

Despite being the smallest township in Yilan, Luodong is quite frequented for the Luodong Forestry Culture Park and art festivals in the summer.

It’s also just a 30-minute drive to the farms and picturesque nature in Sanxing township.

Read also: The Gateway to Nature’s Best Adventures (Yilan, Hualien, Taitung and Kenting)

Cherry Blossoms in Sanxing

taipei to yilan day trip

Cherry blossom trees are synonymous with Japan and Korea . But it’s not a very well-known fact that these pink flowers can be seen all over Taiwan too.

We got a tip from a local that we’d be able to see cherry blossoms during the scenic drive to Chungpi Lake in Sanxing — and we did!

To keep to our schedule, we didn’t actually continue on to the lake! But if you do, expect a long, serene walk on the boardwalk. You’ll most probably see some swans there! 🙂

Opening hours: 9:30AM – 5:30PM (Wed – Mon), closed on Tue Address: Sanxing Township, Yilan County, Taiwan 266

Read also: Ultimate Taiwan Spring Guide 2023 — Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in Taiwan

Zhang Mei Ama’s Farm

Taiwan Itinerary — Zhang Mei Ama's Farm

Excited to spend more time with the alpacas, sika deers, kangaroos and capybaras, we left the cherry blossoms and made a 15-minute drive to Zhang Mei Ama’s Farm .

Taiwan Itinerary — Zhang Mei Ama's Farm Capybara

After exchanging our e-ticket for a physical one at the entrance, we were given a handful of long grass to feed the animals there.

The deer will tail you and gobble it all up if you let them. But the capybaras seem to have attained nirvana and will wait to be approached 🧘

Fun fact: We were told during the safety briefing that the sika deer will not take grass that has saliva of other deers on it! So only hold one blade of grass out at a time.

*Pro-tip: Spread out the grass feed as you’ll have to make it last for three walk-through exhibits! You’re able to buy more while in the last exhibit but you can’t U-turn back to the first one.

Taiwan Itinerary — Zhang Mei Ama's Farm

All tickets come with a free dessert which you can claim before you exit the farm — I recommend trying Yilan’s famous scallion pancake here!

There are also cooking classes available — depending on the season’s harvest, you’ll be making local delights like taro balls and bamboo rice.

Cost: From S$9/pax Opening hours: 9AM – 5:30PM Address: No.26, Aly.11, Ln.141, Sec.2, Xingjianxi 1st Rd, Sanxing Township, Yilan County, Taiwan

Luodong Night Market

taipei to yilan day trip

After getting our dose of cuteness at the animal farm, we drove 20 minutes to get dinner at Luodong Night Market .

Luodong Night Market might be smaller than the ever-popular Ximending Night Market in Taipei, but it’s still jam-packed with food, games, photo-booths, and clothing stores.

Taiwan Itinerary — Luodong Night Market

If you come across stalls selling ice-cream rolls (~NT$45), please say yes to the cilantro. I didn’t want any at first but was convinced by the sweet stall vendor.

With every bite of the soft, chewy, crepe comes a delightful burst of light mint that complements the crunchy, peanut-covered vanilla and pineapple ice cream.

taipei to yilan day trip

And no trip to any Taiwan night market is complete without some stinky tofu (NT$70). I was glad I tried some — so now I know what to avoid.

Some say the stinkier it smells, the better it tastes though. It’s an acquired taste, so don’t hold back and let your nose lead the way!

Opening hours: 3PM – 12AM Address: 265, Xingdong Rd, Luodong Township, Yilan County, Taiwan

Day 2: Nan’ao and Su’ao, Yilan

taipei to yilan day trip

On day two, we drove to Nan’ao and Su’ao ; two of Yilan’s southern townships.

Optional detour: from Nan’ao, it’s only an hour more of driving south before you’ll hit the famous Taroko Gorge National Park in Hualien! It could be a good idea to spend more days along the East Coast and include Hualien in your road trip 🚗

River Rafting

Taiwan Itinerary — River Rafting

We arrived at the mountainous Nan’ao after an hour’s drive from our hostel in Luodong for a thrilling ride down the river 🏞️ 

Attempting this in 13°C weather was slightly unnerving — but the full-body wetsuit and booties really helped counter the cold! It turned out to be an extremely relaxing cruise along the river with a waterfall at the end.

Taiwan Itinerary — River Rafting

There’s a huge rock along the stream so we scaled it and did a mini cliff dive!

Having pre-booked this adventure , we just had to show up for our designated time-slot and the friendly guides took care of us throughout the experience.

Cost: S$44/pax for a 3-hour activity Activity time slots: 9AM or 1PM Address : Na Sun Na Gu Leisure Farm, No.2, Jinyang Rd, Nan’ao Township, Yilan County 27246, Taiwan

*Pro-tip: Book the 9AM slot so you’ll be able to fit in the other activities for the day.

ATV Adventure

Taiwan Itinerary — ATV Adventure

We drove on some pretty rough terrain during this ATV adventure — good thing there was a practice run! The route took us through a shallow river, along the beach, and finally through a rocky jungle — how thrilling!

taipei to yilan day trip

I got banned from riding the ATV because I kept ramming it into the bushes during practice — so I was politely asked to sit in the backseat for safety reasons. But it wasn’t too much of an issue as the view from the back was still great!

Cost: S$22/pax for 1 hour Time slots: 10AM, 11AM, 1PM, 2PM, 4PM Address: Camping Super Chill East Side, Suhua Rd, Sec.5, Nan’ao Township, Yilan County, Taiwan

*Pro-tip: Although not mandatory, we feel that some driving experience will come in handy when tackling this ATV route!

Fenniaolin Fish Port

taipei to yilan day trip

Fenniaolin Fish Port is a pebble beach just 10 minutes from our ATV adventure — a gorgeous spot where we could plop down and enjoy the sea-breeze.

Fun fact: Pebbled beaches are often formed when strong waves continuously erode rocky cliffs. Pebbles are bits of rocks that have smoothed over time!

Taiwan Itinerary — Fenniaolin Fish Port Food

It’s known for freshly cooked seafood — which we were hoping to have. Unfortunately, we got there pretty late in the afternoon so most food stalls were closed except for this one — lifesaver!

taipei to yilan day trip

Looking back, we could have stocked the car with food and had our own mini picnic on the pebbled beach!

* Pro-tip: Although the port doesn’t close per se, it’s best to come in the day when it’s sunny as more food stalls will be open.

Cost: Free entry, NT$50 for parking Opening hours: 24 hours Address: Suhua Rd, Sec.3, Su’ao Township, Yilan County, Taiwan 270

National Center for Traditional Arts

Taiwan Itinerary — National Arts Centre Yilan

The National Center for Traditional Arts is a cultural village built to preserve Taiwan’s rich heritage. The Egret performance seems to be especially well-liked so do check the schedules and catch it if you can.

Visitors can purchase and DIY traditional food and crafts in the shops that line these artificial streets. DIY activities require a supplementary coupon to participate in !

Taiwan Itinerary — National Arts Centre

We used our DIY coupon to make ‘Squid Game candy’ traditional hard sweets. Under the guidance of the super friendly staff, we boiled a concoction of sugar and water before mixing in baking soda — it was really fun!

Taiwan Itinerary — National Arts Centre

I was most looking forward to this boat ride along Dongshan River — a 24km long river which flows through the cultural village. ‘Dongshan’ loosely translates to East Mountain and legend has it that this river is guarded by two dragons!

But we got to the river 5 minutes before closing time and were told that rides had ended for the day. So be smart and join the queue way before 6PM!

Taiwan Itinerary — National Arts Centre

90 minutes might be just enough time to explore the grounds. But visitors who are particularly into traditional arts often spend half the day here.

If that’s the case for you, extend your stay in Yilan and spread out the day’s activities into two!

Cost: S$6/pax for admission , NT$45 for parking Opening hours: 9AM – 6PM Address: No.201, Sec.2, Wubin Rd, Wujie Township, Yilan County, Taiwan 268

* Pro-tip: Purchase your open-date tickets online to avoid peak season queues 😉

Day 3: Yuanshan and Jiaoxi, Yilan

taipei to yilan day trip

Apart from its natural hot springs, Jiaoxi is also a foodie haven and we wanted to go on a food hunt there!

It’s about a 25-minute drive from Luodong to Jiaoxi. But we decided to make a 20 minute detour to Yuanshan and visit Kavalan Whisky Distillery ! Yuanshan is an especially rural part of Yilan with long open roads — perfect for a road trip karaoke session.

Kavalan Whisky Distillery

Taiwan Itinerary — Kavalan Whiskey Entrance

Kavalan Distillery has been pioneering the art of making single-malt whisky in Yilan since 2005. Other than holding the title of the world’s Distillery of the Year in 2023, Kavalan has also made a debut in Sweden’s whisky market this year.

Fun fact: Kavalan is a sister brand of Mr. Brown Coffee — a coffee brand found in every 7/11 and FamilyMart in Taiwan 🍷☕

taipei to yilan day trip

Going on a free tour around the distillery is great as you’ll be guided along by a trained staff.

We couldn’t make it there during tour timings though, so we walked through the exhibition at our own pace!

* Pro-tip: Call in a week prior to your visit to book an English tour because tours are conducted in Chinese by default.

Taiwan Itinerary — Kavalan Wine Distillery

Whisky tasting sessions are at NT$800 for four glasses of whisky with varying strengths — I could only handle the lightest flavour! But between the three of us, we downed all four glasses with no regrets (our designated driver didn’t get to have any😁).

Each session entitles you to claim a trio of pre-packed 20ml bottles which you can easily fit into your carry-on luggage.

Taiwan Itinerary — Kavalan Whiskey Bottles

If you really enjoyed the wine tasting and decide to bring a 700ml bottle home with you, do it! Prices range from NT$3,600 and can go up to NT$9,000.

Cost: Free entry and parking, NT$800 for whisky tasting Opening hours: 9AM – 6PM Tour timings: 10AM, 11AM, 1PM, 2PM, 3PM, 4PM Address: No.326, Sec.2, Yuanshan Rd, Yuanshan Township, Yilan County, Taiwan

Weng Yao Chicken

taipei to yilan day trip

Our first food find in Jiaoxi is Weng Yao Chicken — a popular specialty chicken place often recommended as a must-try while in Yilan!

Here, chicken is roasted in a clay oven lit under fires fuelled by longan wood — a traditional cooking method preserved over centuries that supposedly makes the meat extra tender. And it really was!

taipei to yilan day trip

We got a salted egg tofu dish and some stir-fried vegetables to complete our meal. Prices for a spread like this start from S$12 per person — a reasonably good deal to us!

Cost: From NT$282.50/pax Opening hours: 9AM – 10PM (Mon – Fri), closes at 11PM on Sat and Sun Address: No.23, Sec.7, Jiaoxi Rd., Jiaoxi Township, Yilan County, Taiwan

Chilli Hunter Ice Cream

Taiwan Itinerary — Chilli Hunter Ice Cream

Being a novelty ice-cream store with chilli pepper as their feature ingredient, everything in Chilli Hunter has spice in it!

It was safe to say that our taste buds were annihilated by the spicy strawberry ice-cream — their spiciest specialty flavour. Try it if you’re up for a challenge but in my opinion, self-love is choosing the less spicy taro flavour instead.

Taiwan Itinerary — Chilli Hunter Ice Cream

Chilli Hunter used to be a small ice cream stall in the Sun Moon Lake area but is now a shop with a multitude of pre-packed products. There’s chilli-infused chocolates, crisps, and even beer!

Cost: From NT$80/scoop Opening hours: 10AM – 10PM Address: No.61, Sec.5, Jiaoxi Rd, Jiaoxi Township, Yilan County, Taiwan

Jiaoxi Private Hot Spring Room

taipei to yilan day trip

Photo credit: Klook

Although we’re heading to Beitou (the town of hot springs) on the next leg of our trip, it’s good to know that Yilan can provide the same experience — at less than half the price!

taipei to yilan day trip

This private hot spring room in Jiaoxi is only a 10-minute walk from Jiaoxi Bus Station — perfect for that last-minute relax-sesh before heading back to Taipei! Each booking secures you a fully furnished room for two, inclusive of a hot meal.

Cost: From S$15/pax for 1.5 hrs Opening hours: 9AM – 11PM Address: Donglv Tangsu Hot Spring Hotel, No.28, Deyang Rd, Jiaoxi Township, Yilan County, Taiwan

Day 4: Beitou, Taipei

taipei to yilan day trip

Beitou’s famous for hot springs but before rewarding ourselves, we checked out a little hidden gem of a hike that not many tourists know of.

After the hike, some of us needed a simple hot soak, others wanted to try a private bathhouse, while I wanted to chill in the Beitou public library — it was Taiwan’s first library with an environmentally-friendly design after all.

The answer to this was simple — we split up! Luckily they were all within walking distance of each other.

Junjianyan Hiking Trail

taipei to yilan day trip

Us looking at Taipei 101 from Battleship Rock.

Junjianyan Hiking Trail is mostly visited for the views from Battleship Rock — a picturesque cliff overlooking Taipei city.

This trail is not very known amongst tourists and a true hidden gem — because we got lost and hiked for 2 hours when it should’ve been 10 minutes. To save you from the same fate, please take the entrance from National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University!

taipei to yilan day trip

Elated that we finally found the stairway to Battleship Rock.

From Battleship Rock, you’ll see a path which you can continue on and eventually end up at an exit behind Veteran’s General Hospital where Shipai train station is.

taipei to yilan day trip

Having been to Elephant Mountain before, Battleship Rock takes the crown for me! It’s serene, there are fewer stairs, the view from the cliff is breathtaking, and it’s definitely less crowded!

Address: 112, Beitou Dist., Taipei City, Taiwan How to get here: Alight at Qilian Station to start from National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University entrance

Beitou Public Hot Spring

taipei to yilan day trip

Although this place often comes up as Beitou Hot Spring when researching online, the name on the signboard says Millennium Hot Spring — so just be aware of this as we got a little confused!

taipei to yilan day trip

There’s no nudity here but there’s a rather specific dress code so I’ll make it more succinct — only swimwear material is allowed and the more covered it is, the better. For women, a conservative one-piece is a safe bet.

If you’re denied entry, they sell an array of approved swimsuits at the entrance so don’t fret!

taipei to yilan day trip

We were glad to see that lockers and washrooms are readily available — good thing we had some coins ready!

Being a popular stop for locals and budget travellers, there’s usually a small crowd. But we found it’s still possible to secure a little nook in the communal pool for a quick therapeutic soak.

Cost: NT$60/pax by EasyCard Opening hours: Varies Address: No.6, Zhongshan Rd, Beitou District, Taipei City, Taiwan 112

Private Bathhouse for Two

taipei to yilan day trip

We loved the exterior, but the interior of this private hot spring room was an even more comforting sight. It was clean, modern, and the cute wooden bath ladle is a nifty tool for a head-to-toe rinse!

taipei to yilan day trip

Ah, zen. Need we say more?

Although it costs more than the public bath, it’s the clear choice for those who prefer privacy.

*Pro-tip: You’ll need appropriate swimwear to enter these rooms, so do pack some as they don’t sell any on-site.

Cost: ~S$32/pax for 2hrs Opening hours: 24 hours Address: Water House, No. 248, Guangming Rd, Beitou District, Taipei City, Taiwan 112

Beitou Public Library

taipei to yilan day trip

Running on solar-power and recycled water, the Beitou Public Library is an eco-sanctuary where you can crash at for free.

Unlike most libraries, this one has a cool outdoor deck — a prime spot to catch up on that travel read you’ve been lugging around in your daypack!

taipei to yilan day trip

I could easily find seats here during various times of the day — an almost impossible feat in literally every library in Singapore! There’s minimal lighting outdoors though so grab a seat indoors if you’re there late.

Opening hours: 8:30AM – 9PM (Tue – Sat), 9AM – 5PM (Sun – Mon), closed first Thu of each month Address: 251, Guangming Rd., Beitou District, Taipei

Day 5: Taipei City

taipei to yilan day trip

After soaking in the serenity of Beitou, we returned to Taipei — a city whose hustle and bustle is something we’re familiar with.

We set a personal mission for ourselves here — to look past the busy streets and scour for hidden gems amidst the concrete jungle.

Kitten Coffee Garden

taipei to yilan day trip

Having been in operation since 1998, Kitten Coffee Garden earned a Guinness World Record in 2022 for being the oldest cat cafe still in existence!

taipei to yilan day trip

Meow I take your order?

Entry comes at the cost of a drink (NT$200) and your best baby-voice. Settle in for cuteness overload because the cats (and one very friendly dog) will take turns to come and say hi to you.

The cats are so docile and lovely that even the dog-person amongst us became a convert (although she’ll never admit it).

taipei to yilan day trip

If your kitty game is weak, you can get snacks (from NT$30) to lure the felines. Personally having been to several cat cafes around the world, I can honestly say this is my favourite. The place has an extremely calming vibe, the cats are extremely well-cared for and the owners are very friendly.

There’s also a little library where you can grab a book to read while you hang out here (I didn’t see any English books though!)

*Pro-tip: Be the first customers there and you might just have the whole place to yourselves for an hour or so before more people stream in!

Cost: NT$200 min spend/pax for entry Opening hours: 12PM – 10PM (Thu – Mon), 12PM – 10:30PM (Tue), closed on Wed Address: No.129, Fuhua Rd, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan 111

Huashan 1914 Creative Park

taipei to yilan day trip

A wine factory in 1914, Huashan 1914 Creative Park has now evolved into a thriving arts scene. We came across this Mickey Exhibition (S$17/pax) where works of art commemorating the history of Mickey Mouse were displayed.

Exhibitions change frequently so keep an eye on their Facebook and Instagram pages for updates. There’s an arts and culture exhibition called “Absorb the Sun” coming up in the third week of May this year!

taipei to yilan day trip

We abused the photo opportunities this place provided. Album release date pending.

As someone who enjoys strolling along Singapore’s Haji Lane, I really liked Huashan and can see myself spending hours here. It’s also a good photo-op spot!

Unlike the exhibitions, cafes and shops are permanent but merchants here operate independently of each other — so check their website for updates and opening hours .

Address: No.1, Sec.1, Bade Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100

Snow King Ice Cream

Taiwan Itinerary — Snow King Ice Cream

Left to right: pork floss, watermelon, strawberry (seasonal flavour), basil

Just an ice cream cart in 1947, Snow King is now a local gem offering unique flavours such as bitter gourd — so go bold or go vanilla!

Basil is a crowd favourite but I personally loved the simplicity of the seasonal strawberry flavour (ok, call me basic).

Taiwan Itinerary — Snow King Ice Cream Menu

We also had pork floss — which is perfect if you want your dessert to taste like lunch 😉

Fun fact: Their ice cream is intentionally less sweet in order to cater to their older clientele who’ve been supporting them from the start (awww, now that’s too sweet).

taipei to yilan day trip

I’m told that the words on these steps say, “Snow King Ice Cream, Please Go To The Second Floor.” How cute!

Cost: From NT$80/scoop Opening hours: 12PM – 8PM Address: No. 65, Wuchang St, Section 1, Zhongzheng District, Taiwan 100

Raohe Night Market

taipei to yilan day trip

Raohe Night Market is an alley lined with scrumptious food and game stalls but it’s especially known for fortune readings.

taipei to yilan day trip

Don’t have the time to go to Sun Moon Lake? Get the tea instead (NT$40). It’s brewed from tea leaves grown in the namesake region and loved for its sweet, aromatic flavour.

taipei to yilan day trip

We were so full after spending about NT$260 (~S$11) each on assorted street snacks from various stalls that we even decided to skip a sit-down dinner and call it a night!

taipei to yilan day trip

Before leaving, we just had to have our fortunes read! It’s NT$100 for a ten-year forecast in areas of career, wealth, love and health. I’m now looking forward to good fortune that’s heading my way in the coming year of the horse 🐴

Different night markets have different vibes so don’t shy away from dropping by more than one when in Taiwan!

Opening hours: 5PM – 11PM Address: Raohe St, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan

Read also: The Ultimate THSR Taiwan Food Guide: 25 Must-eats in Taipei, Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung

Where to Stay in Yilan and Taipei

Across the four nights in Taiwan, two were spent in Yilan and two in Taipei.

Happiness Yes Hostel 2 — Luodong, Yilan

taipei to yilan day trip

This standard room at the Happiness Yes Hostel 2 has all the basic necessities you’ll need for a comfortable stay. Plus, it’s just a stone’s throw away from Luodong Night Market !

taipei to yilan day trip

Getting around by public transport is easy as it’s only an 8-minute walk to Luodong Transfer Station . For those who are driving, the hostel has a parking spot in the vicinity that’s reserved for guests.

Cost: From S$46/night Address: No.83, Anping Rd, Luodong Township, Yilan County, Taiwan 265

Tango Inn — Zhongshan, Taipei

Taiwan Itinerary — Tango Inn Bedroom

We splurged a little for our stay in Taipei to recuperate from all the hikes and road-tripping.

At ~S$60/pax for this Charm Room , we had no regrets. Cos, come on, the Japanese toilet, rain shower, and luxurious bed made me not want to leave the room.

taipei to yilan day trip

Plus it’s only two bus stops away from Taipei Main Station — so getting around was convenient.

Cost: From S$122/night Address: No.7, Lane 83, Sec.1, Zhongshan N Rd, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan

Exploring Hidden Gems from Yilan to Taipei

Taiwan itinerary - roadtrip in yilan

Driving while in Yilan saves time and offers flexibility on your route — plus it’s the best way to cover all these activities in five days.

*Pro-tip: Choose Luodong for car pick-up and Jiaoxi for drop-off if you’re following the exact route in this Taiwan itinerary.

Non-drivers can plan routes around Kamalan buses and public transportation. These will take you to any of the places mentioned in this Taiwan Itinerary. Or, you could always charter a private-hire car !

taipei to yilan day trip

And just cos you’ve frequented Taipei City a few times, it doesn’t mean there aren’t still hidden gems to uncover and include in your Taiwan itinerary 💎

Read also: Muslim-friendly 4D3N Taipei Itinerary — A Solo Traveller’s First Time in Taiwan

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Yilan, Taiwan: Your Next Perfect Getaway from Taipei

Kellin Chew

Aerial,View,Of,Dongshan,River,And,Guishan,Island,In,Yilan

After my first visit to Taiwan, I quickly realised that this place has so much more to offer than I had ever imagined. This time round, I ventured to the northeastern corner of the island–Yilan County during April – and it did not disappoint. Sprawling rice paddies against the backdrop of rolling hills – it was indeed a charming sight.

Far from the hustle and bustle of city life, Yilan County offers a chance to escape into nature and enjoy some laid-back island living. With its stunning coastlines, mountainous terrain, paddy fields, onion pancakes, relaxing hot springs, cold springs, and farm activities, Yilan County is a soothing balm for the busy urbanite.

And the best part? Yilan is just a 1.5 to 2-hour train ride away from Taipei.

Aerial,Panorama,Of,Beautiful,Farmlands,Bathed,In,Warm,Sunlight,In

Stay connected and share beautiful moments with Changi I-SIM from as low as $1.59 daily!

So, how do you get there from taipei.

The most economical way is via the train. But if you’re travelling in groups and carrying several luggage, I’d recommend booking a taxi which is more convenient.

You can take a train from Taipei Main Station to Yilan Station. The journey takes around 1.5 hour and costs around NT$220-300 (approximately SGD 10-15). Take the window seat to enjoy the scenic views of the coastline and catch a glimpse of Turtle Island (Gui Shan). Trains run regularly, so you don’t need to worry about missing your ride. Once you arrive at Yilan Station, you can take a bus or a taxi to your desired destination.

Another way to get to Yilan is by taking a taxi or driving. If you choose to take a taxi, it will cost you around NT$1,800-2,500 (approximately SGD 82-113) one way. The journey takes around 50 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic. If you’re driving, you can rent a car in Taipei and drive to Yilan. The journey takes around one hour, and you can enjoy the scenic views along the way.

Once you arrive in Yilan, there are plenty of things to see and do. If you’re a nature lover, visiting the stunning Wufengqi Waterfall, hiking Mt Sanjiaolun (a.k.a Matcha Mountain), and sailing to Turtle Island (Gui Shan) should be at the top of your list. And if you’re in luck, you might catch sight of dolphins in the Pacific Ocean!

There’s something incredibly relaxing about being by the ocean, isn’t there?

taipei to yilan day trip

For those looking for a more relaxing experience, Yilan’s hot springs are a must-visit. There are many hot spring resorts in the area. My personal favourite is ‘ Hostel Tomato 番茄温泉青旅 ‘, located right next to Jiao Xi station and has a rooftop hot spring bath! They also offer single or double bedrooms if you’re not comfortable with sharing bunk beds with other travellers.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Hostel Tomato 番茄溫泉青旅 (@hosteltomato.tw)

Day Trip to Yilan from Taipei

Alternatively, consider booking a day trip to Yilan from Taipei if you’re travelling with families and kids! You can choose between 5 and 9-seater private chartered cars!

There are several route options available:

  • A. Wufengqi Waterfall, Linmei Rock Trail, Meihua Lake, Traditional Art Center, Toucheng Coffee Castle
  • B. Grandma Zhang Mei Farm, Plum Blossom Lake, Rabbit Maze, Whiskey Distillery, Jiaoxi Tangweigou Hot Spring Park
  • C. Toufen Coffee Castle, Bambi Hill, Crayon Castle, Traditional Art Center, Qingshui Geothermal
  • If the above scenic spots need to be adjusted, the driver arranges the itinerary on the same day, mainly in the same route area.

Pro tip: If you’re a fan of Bami deers and Capybara, you should definitely check out Bambi Hills which is also in Yilan County!

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by 斑比山丘 Bambiland (@bambiland.yilan)

taipei to yilan day trip

Day Trip to Yilan & JiaoXi!

Other articles on Taiwan:

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  • Cycling in Chishang: Exploring Taiwan’s Rice Paradise on a bike
  • Matcha Mountain Bakery – A Charming Cafe in the Countryside of Yilan, Taiwan
  • Taipei’s Top 10: The Most Iconic Destinations to Visit in This Vibrant City
  • Everything you need to know about the Taiwan High Speed Rail Pass
  • Discover Taipei: Top Sights & Places to Stay From $114
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  • Discover Daybreak – Jiufen’s Luxurious Homestay with Stunning Views
  • Destination Taiwan: Top 5 Cities to Visit via Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) Pass
  • A Guide to Yilan Taiwan for First Timers

taipei to yilan day trip

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  • Travel tips

Yilan Travel Guide: 43 Things to Do in Yilan Taiwan

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Yilan is a small county located in northeastern Taiwan. The area is known for its historical towns, hot and cold springs, black sand beaches, and ancient trails around the mountainous region .

While there are many townships in Yilan County, all the best things to do in Yilan are concentrated around few cities like Toucheng, Jiaoxi, Yilan City, Luodong and Su’ao .

If you want to get out of the busy capital city of Taipei and want to explore something off the beaten path, then keep reading. I’ll show you all the best Yilan attractions and how to see these tourist spots on your own.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something through them, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost. Thank you for supporting this website. For more information, please read the disclosure for more info.

Before you travel to Yilan Taiwan

Before visiting all the Yilan attractions, take a look at my post on everything you need to know before going to Taiwan . I included information like getting a Taiwan SIM card and other travel tips and getting around Taiwan.

Here are some additional travel tips for visiting Yilan Taiwan:

  • Buy a rechargeable smartcard called EasyCard or iPass . You can use either card for taking the train and buses in Yilan and most public transportation throughout Taiwan. You can get a rechargeable card at any major train station or convenience store in Taiwan.
  • Yilan Hot Air Balloon Carnival (June) – see an aerial view of northeastern Taiwan from a hot air balloon near Dongshan Station.
  • Toucheng Ghost Grappling Competition (last day of the 7th lunar month) – the biggest ghost grappling competition in Taiwan
  • Nanfangao Mackerel Festival (October) – parade and festivities at the height of mackerel season.
  • Jiaoxi Hot Spring and Lantern Festival (December) – enjoy a hot spring experience around colourful lanterns.

How to get to Yilan Taiwan

The closest airport to Yilan County is Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) near Taipei.

Ubus 1661 starts from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and goes to Jiaoxi, Yilan City, and Luodong . There are 4 buses per day (7:30am, 11am, 4:30pm and 6:30pm).

Bus from Taipei to Yilan

There are several highway buses that can take travellers from Taipei to Yilan. Each bus company starts from a different part of the capital city.

Capital Bus has multiple buses that travel from Taipei City Hall Bus Station to Toucheng, Jiaoxi, Yilan City, and Luodong .

Kuo-Kuang Motor Transport buses start from Yuanshan Bus Station and travel to Toucheng, Yilan City, Luodong and Su’ao .

Kamalan Bus has several buses that goes from Taipei Bus Station to Jiaoxi, Yilan City and Luodong .

Train from Taipei to Yilan

Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA)  is the other option if you travel from other parts of Taiwan to Yilan County.

To get to Yilan, take a local or express local train (with your EasyCard or iPass) to Toucheng, Jiaoxi, Yilan City, Luodong or Su’ao . Check the TRA train schedule and cost here .

Yilan Station

Where to stay in Yilan Taiwan

Yilan County is quite big and all the attractions are spread out; I would suggest staying in one or two cities like Toucheng and Jiaoxi , and using either one or both cities as a base for sightseeing around Yilan.

  • Kailan Hotel (開蘭行旅) ($$) – the basic hotel is great for a few nights. However, it is a bit of a walk from Toucheng Station. Check prices and reviews: Agoda
  • Hotel Lounge (朗居文旅) ($$) – new hotel in Toucheng with stylish rooms. Check prices and reviews: Agoda .
  • East Hostel (東旅背包客) ($) – the budget hostel has clean dormitory rooms and bathrooms. Check prices and reviews: Agoda
  • Yunoyado Onsen Hotspring Hotel Deyang (東旅湯宿) ($$) – enjoy a private hot spring experience in your modern guestroom. Check prices and reviews: Agoda .

Yunoyado Onsen Hotspring Hotel Deyang

Yilan Attractions: 43 Things to Do in Yilan County

As mentioned, Yilan County is located on the east side of Taiwan and covers the majority of the northeast part of the country. While there are many townships in Yilan County, the majority of attractions are in Toucheng Township, Jiaoxi Township, Yilan City, Luodong Township and Su’ao Township.

In this post, I listed all the best attractions in Yilan County in the following sections:

  • What to do in Toucheng Township
  • Best attractions in Jiaoxi Township
  • Things to Do in Yilan City
  • Tourist attractions in Luodong Township
  • Things to see in Su’ao Township

What to do in Yilan: Toucheng Township

Toucheng (頭城) is the first of several cities you must visit while exploring the east coast of Taiwan. The city is in Toucheng Township , the northernmost township in Yilan County.

While in Toucheng, you can learn about the history of Yilan County and experience nature in the mountains and by the sea.

1. See historic buildings on Toucheng Old Street

Toucheng Old Street (頭城老街) is the oldest street in Toucheng Township. The short street runs north to south and has many different types of architectural styles. There are also important buildings along Toucheng Old Street, like Fude Temple (South Gate and North Gate) and Qingyuan Temple , the first temple in Yilan.

While it was an important trading hub, the old street is now a popular Yilan tourist spot where you will find retro coffee shops, colourful murals and many Instagram photo spots .

Toucheng Old Street

2. Enjoy a relaxing stroll along Toucheng Seaside Forest Park

Toucheng Seaside Forest Park (頭城濱海森林公園) has a nice beach, a few campsites and an octagonal viewing tower right by the water. If you continue north, a long boardwalk/ bike path will eventually lead you to Wushi Harbour .

The park may not be something you see in travel guidebooks, but I like it as it is one of the few beaches in Yilan. It is quite serene and relaxing.

Octagonal viewing tower

3. Eat ice cream at the popular shop in Toucheng

阿宗芋冰城 is a popular ice cream shop that has been around for 50 years. Locals love this place!

They sell unique ice cream flavours, including purple rice, red bean, pineapple, peanut and taro . One serving has 3 scoops of homemade ice cream, which only costs NT$55.

Ice cream shop in Toucheng

4. Learn about the history of Yilan at Lanyang Museum

If you don’t know anything about Yilan County, you must start your Taiwan east coast itinerary by visiting the Lanyang Museum (蘭陽博物館) . Learn about the history of Yilan, the topographical landscape, the indigenous Kavalan people, and many interesting facts about the region at this large museum is in a modern building with an asymmetrical profile.

Lanyang Museum

5. Surf at Waiao Beach

This black sand is popular amongst local Taiwanese surfers as it is the country’s best-kept secret. Waiao Beach (外澳沙灘) has consistent waves all year round and the monsoon season brings taller waves. Whether you are a first-time surfer or a pro, try surfing at one of the best surf beaches in Yilan.

Parallel to the beach are cafes, restaurants and several surf shops . Plus, you can try out paragliding at Waiao Beach too!

Waiao Beach

6. Take a boat trip to Guishan Island (Turtle Island)

Guishan Island (龜山島) , or known as Turtle Island , is an active volcano island off the coast of Toucheng. During a day tour, you will see the sulphur cliffs, caves around the perimeter of the island and primitive wildlife , including many types of whales, dolphins, and many more. And it is possible to hike some of the nature trails on the island.

You can only see the island with an unusual profile with a boat tour. A half-day Guishan Island tour includes a boat trip around the island and whale watching. Bring gravol – it is a rocky boat ride!

Guishan Island

7. Hike the ancient Caoling Historic Trail

Caoling Historic Trail (草嶺古道 ) might be one of the best hiking trails along the northeast coast of Taiwan. You can see a lush forest, historic relics, and panoramic east coast views .

The best way to hike the 8.5km trail is to hike south to north from Dali Station to Fulong Station.

If you visit in November, check out the annual Silver Grass Festival . This is when the northeast wind is the strongest, and you will see a mountain full of swaying white silver grass.

Caoling Historic Trail in Taiwan is an easy day trip from both Taipei and Yilan County.

8. Enjoy some fun in the sun at Fulong Beach

Another beach option near Toucheng is Fulong Beach (福隆海水浴場) in New Taipei City. The 3km golden sand beach is perfect for swimming, windsurfing, kayaking and canoeing. And it is the site for the Fulong Sand Sculpture Festival and Hohaiyan Rock Festival every year.

If you hop on the fast local train at Toucheng Station, Fulong Beach is one stop away and takes only 18 minutes.

Fulong Beach

Best Yilan attractions: Jiaoxi Township

Some of the best things to do in Yilan are in Jiaoxi (礁溪) , a hot spring town located within Taiwan’s largest hot spring area .

The township is located in a fault zone with underground sources of heat. The geothermal heat rises and heats up the groundwater, the source for all the hot springs in Jiaoxi.

The hot springs in Jiaoxi have carbonic acid and no sulphur smell . The minerals in the water are good for your skin. Even the Jiaoxi farmers use spring water for crops like spinach, water bamboo, and tomato.

While the hot spring in Jiaoxi is the main attraction, there are plenty of other things to do, including hiking trails and waterfalls.

9. Have little fishes nibble on your feet at Tangweigou Hot Spring Park

Tangweigou Hot Spring Park (湯圍溝溫泉公園) is a popular hot spring park with free foot baths and fish foot baths (NT$80). Sit on one of the benches and soak your feet in the warm pools.

And the fish foot bath is something else! Little fishes nibble on your feet and eat all the dead skin. It sounds gross and pretty ticklish, but it is a unique experience, that’s for sure!

Relaxing atmosphere

10. Soak your feet at one of the free foot bathing pools in Jiaoxi

One of the best things to do in Yilan is to enjoy the hot springs! And there are free foot bathing pools (免費泡腳池) around Jiaoxi. These are the perfect places when you are tired of walking and want to relax and soak your feet.

One is in Jiaoxi Hot Springs Park , and another one in Jiaoxi Landscape Square . And there are other ones scattered around Jiaoxi as well.

It is absolutely free to use the footbath. Just remember to rinse your feet before putting them in the water. And also, don’t soak for too long – the water is boiling hot!

Free foot bathing pool in Jiaoxi Hot Springs Park

11. Indulge in a traditional hot spring experience at Jiaoxi Hot Spring Park Forest Bath

For a bit more of a full hot spring experience, try soaking in Jiaoxi Hot Spring Park Forest Bath (礁溪溫泉公園-森林風呂) . The hot spring has typical Japanese-style bathing facilities and an outdoor hot spring open all year round.

As per tradition, the men’s spa and women’s spa are separated. They both have indoor and outdoor spa facilities. It costs NT$120.

There are plenty of hot springs facilities around Jiaoxi, but this one has an outdoor amphitheatre to host cultural events and an elaborate garden at the entrance.

taipei to yilan day trip

12. Soak and swim at Jiaoxi Public Hot Spring and Swimming Pool

Jiaoxi public hot spring and swimming pool (礁溪鄉公所溫泉游泳池) are very popular with locals as they can use the facilities for free. For visitors, it costs NT$100 to swim in the giant outdoor swimming pool and soak in the spacious outdoor hot spring.

13. Eat ramen while soaking your feet

I can’t think of anything else better than eating a bowl of ramen while soaking my feet. At Rakuzan Ramen ( 樂山溫泉拉麵) , you can do exactly that!

I had a seafood ramen, one of the best I ever had! And besides ramen, you can order sushi, Japanese rice bowls or other Japanese dishes. There are two locations in Jiaoxi. Give it a try, and let me know what you think.

Rakuzan Ramen

14. Hike Paoma Historic Trail

When you are not relaxing in hot springs around Jiaoxi, walk north and find some of the best hiking trails in Jiaoxi.

Paoma Historic Trail (跑馬古道) was built during the Qing Dynasty. The trail was used to transport lumber with a “wood horse”, hence the name of the trail “Mu Ma Road” (meaning Horse Road).

The ancient trail is quite long – it crosses into New Taipei City! Even if you only trek the first half of the trail, you can see a great view of Jiaoxi, Guishan Island and the ocean.

The start of Paoma Historic Trail in Jiaoxi

15. See Wufongci Waterfall

Another amazing hike in Jiaoxi is the hike to Wufongci Waterfall (五峰旗瀑布) . When you follow the path to Wufongci Waterfall, you can see a series of three waterfalls . The guided path includes several stairs to the pavilion at the top, where you will see the 100-meter waterfall.

Buses GR11 and 112A both go to Wufongci Waterfall, but it is possible to walk from Jiaoxi. The trek starts with walking up Wufeng Road until you reach the pavilion. Then follow the signs and guided path.

The path leading to the waterfall

16. Hike Shengmu Hiking Trail

After hiking to Wufengqi Waterfall, follow the signs for Shengmu Hiking Trail (聖母登山步道) .

The uphill trail leads you to the Catholic Sanctuary of Our Lady of Wufengqi Church (五峰旗聖母朝聖地) and a gorgeous view of Jiaoxi.

And if you hike further, you will come across beautiful mountainous terrain and reach Sanjiaolun Peak   (三角崙山) , where there is a scenic platform looking to Lanyang Plains.

The trail is over 10km long . And with the different terrains, be prepared to spend most of the day hiking Shengmu Hiking Trail. But the views are worth it!

Catholic Sanctuary of Our Lady of Wufengqi Church

Best Things to Do in Yilan City

Yilan City is one of the bigger cities in Yilan County. With many things to do in Yilan City, good food and affordable accommodations, Yilan City is one of the best cities in Eastern Taiwan for budget travellers.

While many activities are within Yilan City, a few attractions outside the core are worth visiting. And the public bus is the perfect option for solo travellers.

However, the frequency of buses is few and far in between. Even though all the buses have specific schedules for weekdays and weekends, Google Maps doesn’t capture the schedule properly. So you must rely on the actual timetable at the bus stop. You may have to wait half an hour or more if you miss a bus.

17. Find whimsical sculptures at Jimmy Square

Jimmy Square (幾米公園) is a long and narrow park just south of Yilan Station . What is interesting about the park is the whimsical characters and settings.

A Taiwanese illustrator, Jimmy Liao, produced several illustrated books, including Starry Starry Night and Turn Left, Turn Right. The characters in both books are turned into 3d models in the park. Look for these colourful characters and the playful settings for your Instagram photos.

Jimmy Square in Yilan City

18. Visit the weekend market at Diu Diu Dang Forest Park

Diu Diu Dang Forest Park (丟丟噹森林) is a small park across from Yilan Station and it has a steel-frame iron tree forest. There are nine metal frame trees with different colours of green leaves made with glass. Like Jimmy Park, Diu Diu Dang Forest Park has a train with playful characters suspended in the trees .

The park is a popular gathering place for locals and tourists. Moreover, many vendors sell handicrafts and other knick-knacks during the weekend . Check out the coffee shop inside the Baiguo Tree Red Brick House while you are there.

Diu Diu Dang Forest Park

19. Eat skewers at Dongmen Night Market

There are way too many choices when it comes to eating at Dongmen Night Market (東門夜市) . Food vendors under the Donggang Bridge and surrounding streets sell the best Taiwanese food. Or find one of the local restaurants in the market for a sit-down meal.

When you are in Yilan, try a local favourite: meat skewers . They have many options for different types of meat, vegetables, and other unknown skewers. But trying food is all part of the adventure in Taiwan!

Dongmen Night Market

20. Try traditional Yilan food: thick pork soup

In Yilan City, many local restaurants serve traditional Yilan food called thick pork soup . I’m not sure if that is the actual name, but it’s somewhat the translation or how it describes the dish.

One of the best places to try the traditional soup is at Mother’s Love Garlic Meat Soup (阿娘給的蒜味肉羹) . Their thick pork soup is tasty but has a lot of garlic. Bring mints if you are going to try this specialty.

Mother's Love Garlic Meat Soup

21. See art exhibits at Yilan Museum of Art

Yilan Museum of Art (宜蘭美術館) showcases local Yilan’s arts and crafts in an old building that used to be one of the branches of the Bank of Taiwan. Parts of the building were destroyed in the war, but many of the architectural details were restored.

Yilan Museum of Art

22. Learn about aboriginal culture at Yilan Cultural and Creative Park 

Yilan Cultural and Creative Park (蘭陽原創館-宜蘭市文創園區) is a new cultural and creative spot in Yilan. Nine buildings are grouped together and formed a centre that focuses on aboriginal culture .

There is a souvenir shop selling locally made products and several cafes that feature aboriginal cuisine. Whimsical sculptures can be found throughout the premise. See how many you can find.

Yilan Cultural and Creative Park

23. See Japanese architecture at Memorial Hall of Founding of Yilan Administration

Built with the cypress trees in the Taipingshan forest in Yilan, the Memorial Hall of Founding of Yilan Administration (宜蘭設治紀念館) building incorporated Japanese and Western architectural aesthetics.

Today, you can tour the inside of the building, the spacious courtyard and the Japanese-style rock garden.

Memorial Hall of Founding of Yilan Administration

24. See exhibits related to beer and wine at Yilan Distillery

Yilan Distillery (宜蘭酒廠) has a museum, gallery, shop and leisure facilities . You can walk around the grounds on your own and see many exhibits.

Check out the Chia Chi Lan Wine Museum , which focuses on red rice wine . Yilan’s red rice wine won numerous awards, and it is used to make red rice sausages, red yeast rice vinegar and many more products that are good for your health.

And look for Taiwan Anka Museum and roam around the rest of the distillery while you are there.

Chia Chi Lan Wine Museum

25. See the preserved Yilan Brick Kiln

Yilan Brick Kiln (宜蘭磚窯) is a century-old kiln along the riverbank near Yilan Bridge. There are 13 kilns in a row and a tall chimney. The kilns have been making bricks since the Qing dynasty.

And with the surge of new materials like concrete and other building material, they replaced brick, and the local brick-making industry dwindled. Today, you can still see the historical place with preserved kilns and it is only a 10-minute walk from the city centre.

Yilan Brick Kiln

26. Try whiskey at Kavalan Distillery

Kavalan Distillery (金車噶瑪蘭威士忌酒廠) is the only whiskey distillery in Taiwan and it produces many award-winning single malt whiskeys. It is open to the public where you can see the whiskey-making process and tour several buildings on the distillery ground. You can email to reserve a spot for an English tour or do a self-tour of the distillery like I did.

At the end of the tour, try some of the best whiskeys in the tasting room before you buy a bottle or two. And if you join the DIY blending tour (in Chinese only), you can blend a unique bottle of whiskey to bring home!

Bus GR12, 1743, 1744 and 1751 goes to Kavalan Distillery from Yilan Station.

Whiskey tasting station at Kavalan Distillery

27. Spend an afternoon hiking around Wanglongpi

Wanglongpi (望龍埤) is a gorgeous lake located west of Yilan City . From the main road, it is only a few minutes walk into the lake area, where an emerald green lake will greet you. Follow the guided path around the lake, and you will see a red-arched bridge, a bridge of nine turns and several cafes southwest of the lake.

On the east end of the lake, a hiking trail called Feilong Trail will lead you up the mountain for great views of the lake at the platform.

Take bus 755 from Yilan Station (but take note of the bus schedule as buses are not frequent) if you want to spend a leisurely afternoon at Wanglongpi.

Red bridge + green lake

Yilan Tourist attractions: Luodong Township

Luodong (羅東) is another urban area in central Yilan County. There are a handful of attractions around Luodong that are worth seeing but there aren’t a lot of budget accommodations within the city.

And most travellers think they need to stay-overnight in Luodong in order to visit Taipingshan. But you can also stay in Yilan City. The public bus goes to Taipingshan from Yilan City while many tour companies have Taipingshan tours that start from either Yilan City or Luodong.

28. Enjoy Taiwanese food at Luodong Night Market

Luodong Night Market (羅東夜市) spans several streets and blocks, covering all three sides of Jungshan Park . Food vendors sell local street food, including the famous Yilan green onion pancakes (more on that in the next section). Other food vendors have tables and chairs at their stalls where you can enjoy a delicious bowl of thick pork soup with garlic.

Besides food, other vendors sell clothing, shoes, umbrellas, and many more affordable trinkets.

Rain or shine, the night market will open regardless of the weather. And the market is super busy during weekends. Go early to avoid the crowd.

Luodong Night Market

29. Try Yilan’s famous green onion pancake

Luodong Night Market has many good eats, but the one you don’t want to miss is Sansing Green Onion Pancake (玉本舖三星蔥餅) .

Many people queue for this Yilan specialty and try their version of the scallion pancake . It is made with handmade dough stuffed with heaps of green onion and then deep-fried. Lots of people love this. There is a queue every night.

Sansing Green Onion Pancake

30. Spend the afternoon at Meihua Lake

Meihua Lake (梅花湖) , also known as Plum Blossom Lake , is a large natural lake with a 4km shaded path around it. You can rent a bicycle or walk around the guided path. Or walk up a hiking trail to Sanching Temple . Plus, there are local restaurants and shops to buy snacks for a leisurely afternoon at Meihua Lake.

Bus GR25 from Luodong Station takes 30 minutes. Or join an afternoon tour to Meihua Lake .

31. Soak your feet and cook food at Qingshui Geothermal Area

One of the most unusual things to do in Yilan is to visit Qingshui Geothermal Area (清水地熱公園) . Located south of Qingshui Village, the area has natural hot springs where you can soak your feet and cook food.

The area covers about 2.5 hectares of land with two-foot baths and three cooking pools . Visitors can cook eggs, corn, taro, and sweet potato by cooking the food in a bamboo basket (which you can rent). The clear alkaline hot spring water is safe for cooking.

Bus GR17 starts at Luodong Transfer Station (east exit of Luodong Station) goes to the hot springs and the bus ride takes over an hour.

32. Hike Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area

Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area (太平山國家森林遊樂區) is located on the northeast side of Yilan County. The area has many giant cypress trees, and you can hike along several hiking trails, including Cueifong Lake Circular Trail and Jianqing Huaigu Trail .

You will encounter many hot springs, lakes and waterfalls in the recreation area. Also, get a ticket for the Bong-Bong Train that will take you around the forest.

Travellers should stay in either Yilan City or Luodong for either a solo hike or an organized group hike in Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area .

For independent travellers, take the Kuo-Kuang bus 1750/1750A from Yilan bus station (7:40am) or Luodong (8am). It takes 2.5 hours to get there. Make sure you plan ahead and leave enough time so you can catch the bus back to Yilan or Luodong. The bus leaves Taipinshan at 2:30pm . A round-trip ticket costs NT$243.

Yilan: Things to do in Su’ao Township

Located in Su’ao township in southern Yilan County, Su’ao (蘇澳) is known for its natural cold springs. While the neighbouring town, Nanfangao (南方澳) , is a thriving port for fishing mackerel.

In this part of Yilan County, you will find scenic spots, including several cold springs , beautiful black beaches, lookout points, local temples and delicious seafood ! All major attractions in Su’ao and Nanfangao can be done on the same day.

33. Experience the natural cold springs at Su’ao Cold Spring Park

One of the highlights of Su’ao is the Su’ao Cold Spring (蘇澳冷泉公園) , the only calcium bicarbonate spring in Taiwan (the other one is in Italy). The cold spring has large outdoor public baths with water temperatures around 22 degrees Celsius all year around.

Unlike some of the other hot springs, the cold spring water has no smell at all . And it is safe to drink as well. In fact, cold spring water is used for making several local food products in Su’ao.

It might initially feel cold because your body temperature is higher than the water temperature. But your body will warm up in a few minutes. It is said that cold spring water can also cure some skin diseases and intestinal illnesses. But regardless, it is a delightful experience. And it only costs NT$120.

Su'ao Cold Spring Park

34. Soak your feet for free at Alishi Cold Spring

Alisli Cold Spring (阿里史冷泉公共浴室) is another cold spring in Su’ao but smaller and more local . It has the same water source as Su’ao Cold Spring but this cold spring is free.

You can soak your feet in the open-air outdoor cold spring (it looks like a long creek underneath the ground) or can immerse fully in the smaller indoor pool .

Alishi Cold Spring

35. See panoramic views from Qixingling Trail

Next to Su’ao Cold Spring, hike up Qixingling Trail (七星嶺步道) and see a gorgeous view of Su’ao and Nanfangao port to the south and Yilan plains to the north .

The 4.7km trail has several viewing platforms . “Qixingling Trail” means “seven star ridge” and the platforms are numbered and named with the word “star”. There are viewing platforms at the first star, the third star, the sixth star and the seventh star. All the views are spectacular!

The entrance is right next to Su’ao Cold Spring. Look for a sign near the cold spring.

View from third "star" on Qixingling Trail

36. Relax on Neipi Beach

At the southeast end of Nanfango, there is a gorgeous black pebble beach with crystal clear water called Neipi Beach (內埤海灘) . It is a popular beach for sunbathing and watching the sunrise. It is known as Lovers’ Bay, as many couples walk along the beach during sunset.

Bring a snack to the beach or dine at one of the restaurants at the north end of Neipi Beach.

Neipi Beach

37. Standup paddleboard at Tofu Cape

At the north end of Neipi Beach, there is a land-tied island with rows of hills called the Pen Holder Mountain . A bit further into the island is where you will find Tofu Cape (豆腐岬) .

Tofu Cape is a small bay with a seawall and a coastal trail . It is the perfect spot for snorkelling, standup paddleboarding and watching the sunrise. Or you can enjoy the view of the Pacific Ocean from the coastal window by the cape.

Tofu Cape

38. See an aerial view from Nanfangao Lookout

At the 108km marker of the Suao-to-Hualien highway, there is a viewing spot called Nanfangao Lookout (南方澳觀景臺) , where you can see Langyang Plains, Nanfangao Harbour, Neipi Beach and Tofu Cape.

It is the first sightseeing spot from Hualien to the Northeast and Yilan Coastal Scenic Area. The easiest way to get there is by car. However, I read online that there is a hiking trail from Xue Fu Road to the viewing deck, but I can’t confirm it.

Nanfangao Lookout seen from Nangfangao

39. Try fresh seafood at Nanfangao Fish Market

Local fishermen sell their catch of the day at the Nanfangao Fish Market (南寧魚市場) . You can buy fresh fish, shrimp, crab, and shellfish directly from the vendors.

I visited the old location several years ago. The building is still there, but all the vendors have moved to the new building.

If you are travelling alone, you can still try fresh seafood. Buy a fresh tuna and salmon sashimi tray and enjoy the freshest seafood for very little money.

Nanfangao Fish Market

40. Roam around Nanfangao Fishing Harbour

Nanfangao Fishing Harbour (南方澳漁港) is one of the three biggest fishery harbours in Taiwan. And the fishing port is known for its mackerel harvest all year round.

Besides trying seafood at the Fish Market, there are a number of seafood restaurants and shops selling food souvenirs.

Nanfangao Fishing Harbour

41. Visit the unique Sangang Ironworks Museum 

Three friends and technicians opened an iron factory back in 1962 when the fishing industry in Nanfangao was booming. They produced parts for making and maintaining fishing boats.

After the factory closed in 2004, Sangang Ironworks Museum (三剛鐵工廠文物館) became a cultural centre. You can see old fishing materials from the 1950s, old iron parts and instruments, and quirky artwork created with fishing materials.

Go peek inside and see what you can find. It is free!

42. See Mazu goddess at Nanfangao Nantian Temple 

Built in 1956, Nanfangao Nantian Temple (南天宮金媽祖) is the religious center of Nanfangao. It has a 200kg gold Mazu goddess in the center of the temple. Many locals believe that praying to Mazu will bring the fisherman home safely and with a big catch.

There is always some type of ceremony or large groups of visitors at the temple. But go in and check out the inside of the temple as well.

Nanfangao Nantian Temple

43. Try the unique fried shrimp cake in Nanfangao

Several shops in Nanfangao sell fried shrimp cake which starts with small shrimp and sweet potato sticks. The ingredients are added to the flour batter and deep-fried to perfection. The end result is a large crispy cracker that tastes super yummy!

Other varieties include oysters and meat, but the shrimp is the original version. And it only costs NT$35.

Shrimp cake in Nanfangao

Looking for tours around Northern Taiwan? Check out these experiences:

Is yilan worth visiting.

I absolutely think so! As much as I liked all the things Taipei has to offer, I often like to go off the beaten path and explore places that are not as well known to most travellers. And I found a lot of gems in Yilan County.

As much as I want to keep all of these a secret, I want people to know that there is a ton of things to do in Yilan. All you have to do is follow this list, go out there and see for yourself. I had so many amazing memories travelling solo to Yilan and I hope you will too.

Let me know in the comments below which Yilan attractions you are most excited to see. Or if you discover something that is not part of this list – let me know!

Thank you for reading my post on Yilan Taiwan

You might also like these other posts on solo travel in Taiwan:

Introduction to Taiwan

  • Things to know before visiting Taiwan  
  • How and where to buy a Taiwan prepaid SIM card
  • How to spend 3 weeks in Taiwan  
  • 22 must-eat food in Taiwan  
  • Top 10 must-try Taiwan 7-11 Food

Eastern Taiwan posts

  • Yilan Food Guide: Where and What to eat in Yilan County
  • Caoling Historic Trail: day trip from Yilan County or Taipei
  • Neipi Beach: how to get there and what to do
  • Hualien Travel Guide: 1-4 Day Itinerary
  • Hualien Food Guide: What and Where to eat in Hualien, Taiwan

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taipei to yilan day trip

queenie mak

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 20+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

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14 comments.

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Hi Queenie, its a long list of items to do in Yilan. Thanks for sharing. Would like to know if you have come across any recommended drivers to use for sightseeing in Yilan? Bringing my grandparents along with minimum walking… would really help if we have a driver. Thanks!

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Hi Terry, yes its a long list – even when I was putting this together I thought it was really long. As for drivers, I’m really not sure as I tend to focus my travel on independent solo travelling so I haven’t had to look into that. I would start looking at Get Your Guide or other group tour websites. Sometimes private drivers are advertised there (but mostly for airport transfer) but you could ask. Hope this helps!

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You can try to contact any of these drivers: – based in Taipei – Mr Yang @ +886 932-213-514 / Jay @ +886 983-248-613 – based in Taichung – Jerry 徐怡鵬 @ +886 933-499-313

Hi Esther, are these reliable contacts?

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Hi Queenie,

Thanks for sharing this insightful article. I am planning to travel to Jiaoxi once i landed in taoyuan airport in Jan 24. May i ask how can i buy tickets for Ubus 1661A from Taoyuan Airport to Jiaoxi? Can i buy the tix in advance? I cant find any site or platforms which allows me to buy in advance anf i am afraid the ticket might run out, u think so?

Hi Ashlee, I checked Ubus website – it doesn’t look like you can book ticket in advanced. However, I just travelled from Jiaoxi to Taipei and I saw many people buying their tickets right before the bus ride. So I think it’s quite easy to get a bus ticket on the spot (but there are more buses from Taipei to Jiaoxi). Although I don’t think it’ll be a huge issue to get a bus ticket when you arrive, please note that there are only 5 buses per day. Depending on when you arrive, you could get on a bus quickly or wait awhile for next bus. The alternative is to take airport express to Taipei Train Station and get the next bus to Jiaoxi from Taipei Bus Station (2 minute walk from train station). Hope this helps!

Thanks for your kind reply, Queenie. ☺️

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Hi Queenie, Ashlee,

Will visit Yilan in Jan 24, first time in the cold weather month. Any recommendations (advise) of places to visit or the list still stands? Thank you.

Hi Tham, it looks like the temperature in Yilan in January is about 13-19 degrees. It’s a great time for all the hiking trips and exploring cities. Might be too cold for surfing and water activities though. But there will still be lots of things to do in Yilan even if the weather is cooler. Enjoy your trip!

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Hi Queenie, How do you travel around within Yilan, like from township to another?

Hi Charmaine, I took the train around Yilan as it is the easiest form of transportation. If the train doesn’t reach where I’m going, sometimes I take the local bus too. Google Maps can help with some of the bus routes but just make sure to double check the bus route especially when it comes to the schedule. And top up your EasyCard or iPass to take either train or bus. It makes travelling around Yilan so much easier! Hope that helps. Enjoy your trip to Yilan!

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Hi Esther, what kind of vehicles do they provide? Thanks

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Is it practical to stay in one place e.g Jiaoxi and then travel to the other parts like Su’ao, Luodong as day tours? How many days will you recommend to stay in Yilan as a whole to experience it generally?

Hi Joan, Yes absolutely! I stayed in Toucheng during my last trip and use it as a homebase for visiting other parts in Yilan. I think Jiaoxi is another good homebase (was my second choice). I would see Toucheng (1-2 days), Jiaoxi (1-2 days), Yilan City (1 day), Suao and Nanfangao (1 day) at a minimum. And if you stay longer, you can take a train to Caoling Historic Trail and do some hiking, hike Bitoujiao trail, or join a tour for Taipingshan. Hope this helps! Happy travels! 🙂

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How to get to Jiufen from Taipei: 3 ways to Jiufen Taiwan

Yilan food guide: where and what to eat in yilan taiwan, ms travel solo.

taipei to yilan day trip

City Guides , Taiwan · August 6, 2022

11 Unmissable Things to do in Yilan, Taiwan

If you’re looking for things to do in Yilan, you won’t need to look too far. With mountains, hot and cold springs, waterfalls, and gorgeous beaches all within easy reach, Yilan County is the kind of place where you can have your cake and eat it too!

To make your trip to Yilan even more enjoyable, I’ve summed up the top things to do in Yilan for you here – some more touristy and some totally off the beaten track. Whether you’re into food, history, culture, or nature, this list covers a good mix of Yilan attractions, no matter your interests.

Read along to find out what to do in Yilan!

dogao bay things to do yilan

Disclaimer: This post probably contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase through one of these links, I might receive a tiny commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Table of Contents

Before you Go to Yilan

Yilan County is located in northeast Taiwan and covers a whopping 2,143 km 2 . While the county is home to several smaller townships, the main tourist spots are in and near Yilan City , Luodong , Toucheng , Su’ao, and Jiaoxi . 

Here are a few important tips to help make your trip all the easier.

  • Book accommodation at least two weeks in advance as hotels in Yilan fill up quickly. Yilan City and Luodong offer the best selection of hotels, shops and eateries. Find the best hotel deals here.
  • Rent a scooter . While good public transport connects you to all of Yilan County’s corners, the buses aren’t that frequent, and Google Maps doesn’t have the most accurate schedules. Pre-book a scooter for pickup at Luodong Station here. Alternatively, there is also a car/scooter rental company opposite Yilan Train Station. 
  • Get an Easy Card – Taiwan’s rechargeable transport card that you can easily use to tap and go on buses and local trains. You can buy (and top up) your Easy Card at any convenience store islandwide. 
  • If you want to visit Turtle Island , make sure to book a tour well in advance . A special permit is required to visit the island, and daily visitors are limited to 1800 people. 
  • Don’t forget to grab a tourist map of Yilan County at the Visitor’s Center next to Yilan Station.
  • Book this  Ancient Yilan tour  if you’d like to see some of Yilan’s top attractions without the hassle of planning a thing. 

How to Get to Yilan

Yilan is easily accessible by rail or bus from most major cities in Taiwan. 

If you’re coming from Taipei , the easiest way to get to Yilan is by train from Taipei Main Station. Snag a seat on one of the faster trains like  Puyuma, TZE-Chiang, or Taroko  for the quickest journey. While these trains are a bit more pricey (TWD218) than the local trains (TWD140), they are much faster. This means you’ll have more time to enjoy all the cool things to do in Yilan!

However, you should know that standing is not allowed, and you must have a seat. Since these trains fill up quickly, buying tickets a few days in advance would be wise. You can buy tickets directly at any train station or on the  Taiwan Railways website . Downloading the  Taiwan Railways App  on your phone will also be a game changer. The app is super easy to use, and I love how it shows all the trains going to your selected destination with their timings, costs and routes. For more tips, read my post on best travel apps for visiting Taiwan .

Alternatively, if you prefer to travel by bus , you can take Capital Bus  1571  or  1572  from  Taipei City Hall . The ride takes just over 1 hour and costs TWD131. 

Yilan Station

Getting around Yilan

Yilan is huge, and most of the attractions are quite spread out. Therefore the easiest way to get around is by car or scooter. You can rent a scooter here via Klook for pickup in Luodong, but there’s also a  vehicle rental company  opposite the Yilan Station, right next to the Formosa gas station.  Remember to bring your IDP or local scooter license , as you won’t be able to rent a scooter without it. 

If that’s not an option, you can still get around pretty easily by train, bus or taxi. Download the Taiwan Railways App to check train schedules and prices easily. You can use Google Maps to check bus schedules and routes, but it might be a hit and miss. There’s no Uber in Yilan, but you’ll find yellow taxis near all the touristy places.

Where to Stay in Yilan

Yilan City is a great base to explore the rest of the county. There’s a good selection of hotels and guesthouses, but if you don’t have your own wheels, it’s important to stay somewhere convenient. Here are my top choices for where to stay in Yilan City:

  • Luxe: Silks Place Yilan  is a luxurious 5-star hotel with a pool perfect for anyone looking for an upscale stay in Yilan. The hotel features spacious rooms with beautiful interiors and all the mod cons you’d expect from a 5-star property.  Check rates and availability here .  
  • Mid-range: Hangkhau Hotel  is a beautiful modern hotel conveniently located mere steps from Yilan Station. It features both dorm and double rooms for travelers who value their privacy.  Check rates and availability here . 
  • Budget:  If you don’t mind the 15-minute walk from the train station,  Late Hours  is a beautiful guesthouse with surprisingly affordable rates. The rooms feature simple yet modern interiors and are clean and spacious.  Check rates and availability here . 

Still need more choice? Find the best hotel deals in Yilan here on  Agoda . 

jimmy square

The Best Things to do in Yilan

Snap photos at jimmy square park.

jimmy square yilan

Scan any list of things to do in Yilan, and Jimmy Square Park is bound to be in the mix. 

Jimmy Square is an interactive park full of colorful murals and whimsical props depicting scenes from acclaimed illustrator Jimmy Liao’s picture books. Among the scenes and characters to spot here include works from ‘Turn Left, Turn Right,’ ‘Starry Starry Night,’ and ‘Sound of Colors.’

The park is just a three-minute walk south of the Yilan Station. There are many photo ops here, so don’t forget your camera! 

Visit Diu Diu Dang Forest Park

diu diu dang forest park yilan

Another highlight on any Yilan tour is the Diu Diu Dang Forest Park. 

Diu Diu Dang Forest Park is one of the first things you spot upon exiting Yilan Station. While the park is not very big, its centerpiece – a huge colorful train dangling from a metal-frame tree forest – draws the crowds. 

Like Jimmy Park, the characters and scenes are from Jimmy Liao’s books, with this scene adapted from ‘Starry Starry Night.’ 

After adoring the flying train, pop into Baiguo Tree Red Brick House for a drink.

Relax at Yilan Crossing

yilan crossing

Right next to the Yilan Station, you’ll find an old Taiwan Railways warehouse dating back to 1919, which has been converted into a cute bookstore/coffee shop. 

Inside you’ll find stacks of books, all kinds of interesting knick-knacks, cute souvenirs, and a cozy cafe where you can sit back and enjoy a cuppa. Definitely try the brownies while you’re at it, too! 

There are also some fun props to take photos with right in front of the building. 

Eat at Dongmen Night Market

Like any other city in Taiwan, Yilan has its very own night market. Dongmen Night Market might not be the biggest or best night market in Taiwan , but it’s got all of Yilan’s local specialty food to fill your belly. 

The market is located under the Donggang Bridge and it’s jam-packed with vendors selling various snacks. Try the dried tofu wrapped around a sausage, the scallion pancakes, and the fried donuts stuffed with taro and red beans. 

Browse the Yilan Cultural and Creative Park

yilan cultural and creative park

Few people know about the Yilan Cultural and Creative Park, making it a great place to visit with minimal crowds.

The park is basically an exhibition space showcasing aboriginal culture. It’s filled with cute cafes, souvenir shops, and art installations. It’s a cool place to learn a little more about the local tribes of Yilan, try aboriginal cuisine, or buy locally made crafts and souvenirs. 

For more details on upcoming exhibitions, check out the  Yilan Style website . 

Eat Japanese Shaved Ice

kakigori

I don’t usually dedicate an entire section to food in my guides, but you’ll miss out if you don’t try the snow ice at  小亀有 Kakigori Ice Cream . 

Kakigori is a famous Japanese shaved ice dessert flavored with syrup and a sweetener. And that’s exactly what you’ll get at this tiny Japanese-style ice cream parlor a few minutes’ walk from the train station. 

The menu is on the small side, but the shaved ice here is nothing but melt-in-the-mouth goodness. Definitely among the best I’ve ever tried in Taiwan! Try the matcha ice tower – it’s delicious! 

If shaved ice is not your thing, they also have baked rice cake, Japanese fern cake, caramel pudding, burnt cheesecake, and a small selection of drinks. 

Just a heads up, it’s super popular, especially during summer in Taiwan , so you might need to wait for a table. 

Join a Boat Tour to Turtle Island

Guishan Island Yilan County  taiwan

If there is one thing you must do in Yilan , it is visit Turtle Island. 

Turtle Island or  Guishandao  is a tiny Taiwanese island floating in the Pacific Ocean just 10km off the coast of Yilan County in Toucheng and Taiwan’s only active volcano. Don’t worry; the last eruption was in 1785, so it’s pretty safe to visit.

Turtle Island is an interesting place to visit, full of history and natural beauty. Once home to a few hundred people and later declared a military zone, the island is today better known as a nature lover’s hot spot. Since the island only has a coastline of about 10km, it’s pretty small and easy to explore on a half-day trip from Wushi Harbor in Toucheng.

Some of the highlights include learning about its unique history, wandering along its stunning hiking trails, spotting whales and dolphins offshore, and getting a close-up look at steamy hot spring water spouting up to the surface of its Milky Sea.

Turtle Island is  only open to the public from May to November.  Only 1800 people can visit the island daily, so booking well in advance is highly encouraged. For hikers who want to tackle the 1706 steps to the island’s summit, booking a tour at least 20 days in advance is recommended. Only 100 people can do this hike daily, so it fills up quickly! You can book a tour here .  

If you still have energy after your boat trip, you can learn a little more about Yilan at the spectacular Lanyang Museum or take a gentle stroll along Waiao Beach – a popular surfing spot in Taiwan.

Stroll Along Neipi Beach

neipi beach su'ao

Another awesome thing to do in Yilan is visit Neipi Beach .

Neipi Beach, also called Lover’s Bay, is a dreamy 1km long black sand beach just past the Nanfang’ao Harbor in Su’Ao .

Unfortunately, it’s not a good idea to swim here as the beach has some pretty dangerous undercurrents, but it’s still a nice place to stroll around, have a picnic on the beach, work on your tan, or kick back at one of the cute cafes overlooking the bay. 

We Cafe  has quirky interiors, but if you’re looking for something a bit more upscale, check out  Poseidon Cafe . And if you’re up to it, you can follow the walkway that extends all along the bay’s northern cape. 

Afterward, make a pit stop at the bustling Nanfang’ao Harbor , where you can eat fresh seafood and buy all kinds of local snacks. Alternatively, tackle the hiking trail to the Nanfang’ao Lookout , which offers panoramic views of the entire harbor and beach below. 

Marvel at Dongao Bay

dongao bay Yilan County

Okay, I’m not going to lie; Dongao Bay is totally off the beaten path and a bit of a mission to get to if you don’t have your own transport. But it will be so worth the effort! 

Located in the southern corners of Su’ao Township, just outside the tiny village of Dong’ao, Dongao Bay is a stunning 3km beach fringed by lush mountains and azure-colored water. The setting here is really tranquil, and since it’s quite a hidden beach in Taiwan , you’re likely to have it all to yourself! 

The beach is free to visit, but you should know there are no bathrooms or shops here. Stock up on snacks and drinks at the OK Mart in town before heading to the beach. You can also walk along the beach (about 30 minutes) to Fenniaolin Fishing Harbor , where you’ll find food and cleanish bathrooms. 

Visit Fenniaolin Fishing Harbor & Fenniaolin Beach

fenniaolin beach

If you’ve tackled the arduous journey to Dongao Bay, you should definitely add Fenniaolin to your Yilan to-do list. 

Fenniaolin is a tiny fishing harbor at Dongao Bay’s southern edge. Here you’ll find a local eatery frying up fresh seafood, a couple of vendors selling snacks, and a little shop where you can buy drinks, snacks, or ice cream.

After filling your tummy, walk to the end of the harbor, where you’ll spot the staircase leading to Fenniaolin Beach – a tiny pebble cove with clear water and interesting rock formations jutting out of the sea. Swimming is not allowed here, but it’s a cool place to snap photos and marvel at the scenery. 

Other Places to Visit in Yilan

If you still have some spare time on your Yilan itinerary, here are a few more Yilan attractions not to miss: 

  • Luodong Night Market is the most famous night market in Yilan County. It has a good selection of classic Yilan street food such as Sanxing spring onion pancake, thick pork soup with garlic, and deep-fried meat cakes. It gets crowded quickly, so go early. 
  • Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area  is a magical forest filled with giant cypress trees and stunning hiking trails. It’s also one of the best spots for leaf peeping during autumn in Taiwan. Don’t miss the Bong Bong train! 
  • Jiaoxi:  Like Beitou Hot Springs, Jiaoxi is a mecca for hot spring lovers. There are several public hot springs here but for the ultimate experience, book yourself into one of the fancy hot spring resorts.
  • Wufengqi Waterfall:  A gorgeous 100m tall waterfall and one of the top tourist spots in Yilan. 
  • The Center for Traditional Arts:  Step back in time as you wander through streets filled with red brick buildings. Perfect for shoppers and culture vultures. Skip the lines and grab an entry ticket online here . 
  • Kavalan Distillery  is Taiwan’s only whiskey distillery and famous for its award-winning single malt whiskeys. If you’re into whiskey, you can tour the distillery to learn a little more about whiskey-making and even do some whiskey tasting. 

nanfangao lookout

What to do in Yilan in Conclusion

If you were wondering what to do in Yilan, then hopefully, this guide has given you a decent mix of things to do in and near the city. Have a great trip!

Did I miss your favorite Yilan attraction? Let me know in the comments below!

If you enjoyed this guide on things to do in Yilan Taiwan, don’t forget to pin it for your future travels!

Planning a trip to Taiwan's dreamy Yilan County? Here are 11 fantastic things to do in Yilan, plus insider tips on transport, lodgings & more! Yilan County | Yilan Taiwan | Things to do in Yilan

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The Occasional Traveller

Yilan Taiwan guide: Yilan City, Yuanshan, Jiaoxi, Toucheng

By: Author Jaclynn Seah

Posted on Published: August 18, 2020  - Last updated: January 14, 2024

Categories Taiwan

Most people only focus on Taipei when they visit Taiwan but for those who are seeking out somewhere more relaxing, I usually recommend nearby Yilan County as an alternative. Just an hour away from Taipei on the northeastern end of Taiwan, it’s great for a day trip from Taipei, but you can easily spend much more time there. Here’s a guide to Yilan Taiwan that I put together about my favourite things to do in Yilan’s northern half: Yilan City, Toucheng, Jiaoxi and Yuanshan for your next Taiwan trip.

My Yilan Guide was so massive I had to break it up into two parts: Check out my Yilan southern half guide that covers Luodong, Wujie, Dongshan and Su’ao.

Where is Yilan, Taiwan?

Yilan can refer to Yilan County 宜蘭 that covers the larger northeastern region in Taiwan, but it can also refer to Yilan City 宜蘭市 which is one of the main hubs in the northern half of Yilan County, which is divided by the Lanyang River. This guide focuses on the towns in that northern half.

How to get from Taipei to Yilan City?

Yilan is about 50 minutes away from Taipei City by express coach or car thanks to Highway 5 and the Xueshan tunnel that cuts through the mountains. I usually take a comfortable coach from the Taipei Main Bus Station direct to Yilan City – a 1-way ticket costs 140 NTD (~S$6.30) .

  • Kamalan Bus #1916 from Taipei Main Bus Station to Yilan City Bus Station
  • Kamalan Bus #1915 from Taipei Main Bus Station to Jiaoxi Bus Station
  • Kuokuang Bus #1878 from Taipei Yuanshan Bus Station to Yilan City Bus Station
  • Kuokuang Bus #1877 from Taipei Yuanshan Bus Station to Wushigang Harbour (Toucheng)
  • Capital Star #1571 from Taipei City Hall Bus Station to Yilan City Bus Station

I usually prefer taking trains over buses, but it actually takes longer and costs more to take a train from Taipei to Luodong. You can take a Ziqiang or Puyuma Express from Taipei Main Station to Yilan Train Station that will take around 60-75 mins and cost about 238 NTD (~S$11.25) .

Transport in Yilan

Trains and buses connect Yilan to Taipei, Keelung up north or Hualien along the Eastern Coastline, and a highway cuts through the mountains in the central region and links to Taichung and Nantou.

In Yilan itself, you can take public buses to get to major sights, but if you can I highly suggest you rent a car or a scooter to get around as it will make exploring that much easier. Because Yilan is less crowded, bus frequencies are not as high so you might end up waiting quite long for the bus if you miss it.

You can flag down a taxi which is not too expensive in Taiwan overall – these are easy to find at the main train/bus station or popular tourist spots, but you may need to call or get someone to call a taxi for you if you are going somewhere more remote. You can also consider Tripool Taxi which works like Uber or Grab.

Yilan City 宜蘭市

Yilan City is the transport hub of northern Yilan and the most convenient jump-off point for most things in Yilan.

All things Jimmy Liao 幾米

Jimmy Liao is a Taiwanese artist and writer famous for his whimsical illustration style and stories – the most well known book being Turn Left, Turn Right 向左走, 向右走 which became a film in 2003 starring Takeshi Kaneshiro and Gigi Leung. I actually have several of his books in my shelves, having first been introduced to his works by my friends in secondary school. I was captivated by his poetic writing and fantastical illustrations, so I was pretty stoked to finally visit Yilan City which pays major tribute to his works with life-size dioramas and recreations of his most popular characters and scenes around the city.

Jimmy’s works are front and center the moment you step out of the Yilan Train Station in Jimmy Plaza 幾米廣場 – this stretch south of the train station used to be the old railway dormitory and now has many large statues of his works.

Yilan City Train Station

Across the road from the station is the Diudiudang Forest 丟丟噹森林 , a large plaza with a green roof and the train from one of his books Starry Starry Night suspended above.

Yilan City Diudiudang Forest Train Market

Turn left from the station and head south and you’ll come across the Happy Station 幸福轉運站 , featuring a whimsical elephant and giraffe playground structures as well as his works from Kiss and Goodbye.

Yilan City Happiness Station

How to get there: Everything is within 5 mins walk from Yilan Train Station.

Dongmen Night Market 東門夜市

Most people in Yilan will head to the more famous Luodong Night Market , but if you prefer somewhere a little less crowded, Yilan City’s Dongmen Night Market is conveniently located close to the Yilan train station, somewhat tucked under the Donggang Bridge flyover. Most of the food stalls are located on Shenghou Street while the shopping and sundry is along Hemu Road .

Yilan Dongmen Night Market Entrance

This night market is definitely a lot smaller than Luodong’s, but here are some of the stalls that were drawing crowds that you can check out:

  • Peng Cong You Bing 彭蔥油餅 : Crispy freshly fried pancake with Scallions with the options to add an egg
  • Dongshan Laodian Ya Tou 老店東山鴨頭: For those of you guys daring enough to eat duck head, tongue and other spare parts, pick what you want and it’s deep fried for you on the spot to snack on
  • Yaoyao Bing 搖搖冰 : this old-school shaved iced dessert stall has just a few selections (green bean, milk, lemon, passionfruit) but was super popular, but it’s a great way to cool down quickly
  • Duhaoshao 嘟好燒: this stall has quite a long history and sells duhaoshao, a stick of fried donut balls stuffed with taro and red bean
  • 30-year old store LongFengTui 30年老店龍鳳腿: Another long-time local favourite, this stall basically sells chicken and longfengtui (translates to Dragon-Phoenix leg, it’s really pork and cabbage stuffed into intestines) skewers as well as spring rolls.

Yilan Dongmen Night Market Underpass

How to get there: Dongmen Night Market is located at Shenghou Street . It’s a 5-min walk from the Yilan Train Station and open from 5pm-12am daily.

Yilan Distillery 宜蘭酒廠 / Chia Chi Lan Wine Museum 甲子蘭酒文物館

The Yilan Distillery is the oldest wine distillery in all of Taiwan dating back to 1909. This distillery focused on producing an award winning red rice wine made from red yeast. It is also known as the Chia Chi Lan Wine Museum – Chia Chi Lan being one of the old names for Yilan back in the day.

Yilan Chia Chi Lan Entrance

Currently it’s been converted into a museum cum market of sorts were you can buy the red rice wine and lots of other red-yeast infused products – I got myself some unusual sweets with the red yeast flavour as well as other souvenirs, but other than that there’s not much else to do here, so I wouldn’t plan on spending too much time here.

Yilan Chia Chi Lan Interior

How to get there: The Yilan Distillery is located at 3 Jiucheng West Road . It’s about 15mins walk westward along Wuying Street from Yilan Train Station. Alternatively, take a longer path along the Jiucheng South Road past Zhongshan Park and the Memorial Hall of Founding of Yilan Administration for a more scenic route. Open daily 8am – 5pm.

Yuanshan 員山

The main reason to visit this rather rural part of western Yilan is for the Whisky Distillery.

Kavalan Whisky Distillery 金車噶瑪蘭蘭威士忌酒廠

Whisky might not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to Yilan, but the pristine water from the adjacent Snow Mountain (Xueshan) has apparently contributed to the high quality whisky that is made here in Kavalan Whisky Distiller y and has been winning international awards in recent years.

You can visit the museum part of the distillery which shows you the machines and walks you through how whisky is made – free tours in English and Chinese are available, but the part most people are excited about is the free whisky tasting session that happens ever hour on the hour. This is where all the tour groups converge so it can get pretty hectic. No one is quite paying attention to the person talking and are mostly focused on sampling what they have on their table.

Yilan Kavalan Whisky Barrels

If you prefer something a little more exclusive, pay to do a smaller private tasting where you can choose some of the more premium options. I did a paid workshop where I got to make my own blend of whisky from 3 different whiskies, which I thought was quite fun!

Yilan Kavalan Whisky DIY Process

I last visited in 2019, but in 2020 they launched the fancy looking Kavalan Whisky Bar which I hope to visit soon! The selection of whisky-based cocktails looks really nice. If you’re curious about the name Kavalan, that’s an old name for Yilan County derived from the indigenous people.

How to get there:   No. 326, Section 2, Yuanshan Road, Yuanshan . It is a little bit out of the way amidst agricultural land – I rode there on a scooter but if you are taking public transport, you can take the E-Lan Bus #752 from Yilan Transfer Station and stop at Yuanshan Farmers’ Alliance Cheng Kung Branch 員山農會成功分部.

Read my original post about bottling my own customised whisky bottle at Kavalan Whisky Distillery

Jim and Dad’s Brewing Company 吉姆老爹啤酒工場

If you prefer craft beer over whisky, just further down the road from the whisky distillery is Jim and Dad’s Brewing Company which is worth checking out since you are all the way out in this rather rural spot already. It looks like a large mansion with a 5-storey rotunda viewing tower. It’s mostly a place where you can eat and drink craft beers – the main hall has lofty ceilings and a warm wooden finishing, but you can book a brewery tour beforehand if you have a large enough group.

Yilan Yuanshan JimAndDad Brewery

If you’re on your own and driving yourself, you can pick up a few bottles to enjoy at your own leisure back at your accommodation which is what I did – J&D sell their beers all around Taiwan as well.

Yilan Yuanshan JimAndDad Beer

How to get there:   No. 411, Section 2, Yuanshan Road, Yuanshan . I rode there on a scooter but if you are taking public transport, you can take the E-Lan Bus #752 from Yilan Transfer Station and stop at Xiashengou (Fengcaiguan)下深溝 (蜂采館).

Jiaoxi 礁溪

Two words describe Jiaoxi: Hot Springs.

Hot Springs

I headed to Jiaoxi on a rather cool evening to check out the hot springs that they had to offer. This town is famous for its sodium bicarbonate hot spring waters which have made it into quite a touristy hot spot. Everywhere you turn is a hot spring hotel in this town!

I was looking for a bit more privacy than the public hot springs at Tangweigou Hot Spring Park 湯圍溝溫泉公園, so I found this cute hot spring facility on Klook [affiliate link] called Hot Spring Onion 蔥澡 . Unlike your traditional hot spring bath facilities which tend to be very dark and grey stone-based, this one was youthful and hip, and I enjoyed my hour or so soaking in this lovely bath.

Yilan Jiaoxi Hot Spring Onion Bath

How to get there: No. 77, Section 5, Jiaoxi Road, Jiaoxi Township . Hot Spring Onion is a short 5-minute walk from the Jiaoxi train station. I rode on a scooter so I simply found the nearest parking and walked over.

Soaking in hot springs gets you really hungry, so the rest of the town is dedicated to feeding the hungry. I wandered down a nearby street and found myself at Yu Jen Babao Bean Thread 玉仁八寶冬粉 – which really translates into Yu Jen 8 Treasure glass noodles, the star dish in this little eatery. The hot bowl of noodle soup packed with 8 different yummy ingredients was the perfect end to a rainy night and a good hot soak.

Yilan Jiaoxi Yu Jen Glass Noodle

How to get there:   No. 131, Section 2, Zhongshan Road, Jiaoxi Township, Yilan County . Near the junction with Deyang Street and very close to the Jiaoxi Train Station.

Read about Hot Spring Onion and more about my favourite Hot Springs in Taiwan . I’d recommend checking out Su’ao Cold Springs in the southern bit of Yilan as well.

The northernmost county of Yilan

Lanyang Museum 蘭陽博物館

One of the places I definitely wanted to visit in Yilan is this rather unusual building that houses the Lanyang Museum . Lanyang is a name that refers to the plains of Yilan and its people, and this museum was built to look like the mountains that surrounded the area.

Yilan Lanyang Museum Reflection

Inside the building are several floors of exhibitions that show you the history and geography of Yilan which I found very interesting – mountains, oceans and the land come together in a unique natural combinations here in Yilan. There are English translations as well, so if you felt a bit lost while exploring spots like Su’ao or Turtle Island, the museum does a great job of explaining their origins and history in interesting ways.

Yilan Lanyang Museum Boat Display

How to get there:   No. 750, Section 3, Qingyun Road, Toucheng Township, Yilan County . Take the train to Toucheng Station and either take a 20min walk or local buses 1766, 1767, 1877 or GR18. The museum is located right next to the Wushi Harbour and Wushi Harbour Bus Interchange.

Wai’ao Beach 外澳沙灘

Wai’ao Beach is a stretch of black sand beach located just north of Wushi Harbour and the Lanyang Museum. This is a popular spot for surfers, though when I visited in November it was pretty rainy and kinda choppy, so no surfers and swimming happening while I was there. I imagine during the warmer summer days, this would be a nice spot to chill out.

Yilan Toucheng Waiao Beach

This is the furthest north I got in Yilan so far though – I was on an electric scooter and a bit concerned about running out of electricity if I went too far. Also, it got dark quickly in winter. I would like to see some of the other smaller towns along this stretch some day.

Yilan Toucheng Waiao Scenic Area

How to get there:  No. 6, Section 2, Binhai Road, Toucheng Township. You can walk over from the Lanyang Museum / Wushi Harbour or take a train that stops you at Wai’ao Train Station on the northern end of this long stretch of beach.

Guishandao / Turtle Island

One of Taiwan’s offshore islands, Guishandao actually does look like a turtle and makes for an interesting day trip with several activities like cruising through undersea sulphur hot springs that change the colour of the water, exploring an abandoned village, or climbing up the 401 Peak. If you love nature and up for something quite local, I highly recommend visiting Turtle Island.

Guishandao Yuanyangsea boat

NOTE: you need to apply for a permit/tour to visit the island, but it’s really not difficult to get, especially now that you can book directly through services like Klook [affiliate link] – this wasn’t available when I visited, so my guesthouse owner made the calls for me. If you go to the visitor centre at Wushi Harbour they can help you too, but you might need to prebook during peak holiday periods to guarantee a spot.

Guishandao Village

The island which is usually only open from March to November and most people like to combine it with a dolphin or whale watching tour and typically takes about 4 hours. I did something a little different and signed up for the 401 Peak tour which saw me climb up over 1,600 steps to the 401m high peak of Turtle Island – read more about that experience .

How to get there: Head to Wushi Harbour in Toucheng. You can book a tour at the harbour or prebook online via Klook [affiliate link] to take the boat to Turtle Island.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to visit Guishandao or Turtle Island as well as more on the Lanyang Museum

Other things to do

There’s still a lot of Yilan left to see! Here’s a list of things that I have yet to check out – tell me whether I should go see them or not:

  • Toucheng north of Wai’ao: there looks like lots of scenic hiking spots around Dali and Beiguan. I’m just curious to see this quieter coastal stretch of Yilan
  • Wufengqi scenic area: I didn’t have time to visit these natural spots around Jiaoxi, like the Linmei Shipan trail and Wufengqi waterfall
  • Toucheng seaside forest park: there’s an interesting 8-sided tower people like to take pictures with here

Best time to visit Yilan

When it comes to the best seasons to travel in Taiwan, Spring (April-May) and Autumn (October-November) are usually a little cooler and less wet – check out this article I wrote for Skyscanner about the best times to visit Taiwan . For Yilan though, you have to be prepared for rain at anytime because of its coastal valley surroundings which makes the weather a bit more unpredictable.

Also another note about Yilan’s coastline: be very careful on the beaches at all times, particularly during the monsoon periods around mid June to September as Yilan has experienced some extreme weather and rogue waves sweeping people away in recent years. I’ve been warned by locals about keeping an eye out even just walking along the beach.

Yilan Festivals

If you want to experience some of Taiwan’s culture and Yilan customs, here are some unique Yilan festivals worth considering braving the crowds for:

  • Qianggu 搶孤 [July/August]: On the last day of the seventh month on the Lunar Calendar (usually July or August), Toucheng hosts a festival called Qianggu of the Ghost Grappling Festival, a unique tradition that sees people compete to climb up giant greasy poles, all in the name of scaring away the wandering spirits during the “ghost month”. It sounds like an incredible bizarre sight to see but also gets immensely crowded.
  • Jiaoxi Hot Spring Festival [December]: Hot spring town Jiaoxi has a month full of hot spring promotions and packages, perfect when it gets chilly

See the full calendar on the Yilan Tourism website .

Where to stay in Yilan City?

Yilan City is of course the most convenient option in this part of Yilan because of connectivity with the train and bus stations. Jiaoxi which is a little further north is also quite well connected as it is a popular hot spring spot and has many hot spring hotels.

I’ve mostly stayed in Luodong to date, but recently found a cute hotel in Yilan City that I adore:

Hotel/Hostel in Yilan City: Hangkhau Hotel 行口文旅

This boutique hotel has a perfect hipster cafe lobby and dining area, and also has an excellent location right next to the train station in Yilan City, as well as the quieter Dongmen Night Market. There are private rooms, but I stayed in a shared 10-bed dormitory which had spacious bunk beds with curtains and individual plugs. No. 14, Kangle Road, Yilan City, Yilan 260宜蘭縣宜蘭市康樂路14號 [ Google Maps ]

taipei to yilan day trip

Feeling fishy? Things to do in Nanfang’ao 南方澳, Yilan

Matsu Beigan Qiaozai Blue Tears Beach Wave

How to see the Blue Tears in Matsu Islands, Taiwan 马祖蓝眼泪

taipei to yilan day trip

48 Hours in Taipei for first time visitors to Taiwan

Thursday 22nd of December 2022

Thank you ms seah. you information provided about yilan is most helpful for our next travel. we will stay in the hostel you recommend. thank you very much again. mei mei

Jaclynn Seah

Friday 23rd of December 2022

have a great trip!

A Travel Guide to Yilan, Taiwan’s Family-Friendly County

Yilan (宜蘭, formerly spelled Ilan) is a favorite weekend getaway for Taipei people, especially families. It is close enough for day trips but has enough things to do to justify spending multiple days there. Consider stopping in Yilan on your way to Taroko Gorge in Hualien !

But don’t only come to Yilan if you’ve got kids. The county has a surfing beach, excellent hot and cold springs , tasty food (especially green onion cakes!), waterfalls, leisure farms, museums, DIY activities, Kavalan distillery , and one of Taiwan’s best mountain resorts, Taipingshan .

I’ve been to Yilan 20+ times, for hot spring, beach, and hiking day trips with my friends, weekend getaways with my family, field trips with my students, and as a starting point for road trips down the east coast .

In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know for planning an Yilan trip: how to get there, best hotels and minsus (local guesthouses), top and less famous attractions, best tours, how to plan your itinerary, what to eat, and events.

Table of Contents

Yilan Introduction

The name Yilan comes from the Ketagalan Taiwanese aboriginal tribe , who originally inhabited the area. You can learn about them at the free Ketagalan Culture Center in Beitou.

Although it is quite close to Taipei, the Yilan plain (also called Lanyang Plain or 蘭陽平原), where the vast majority of the Yilan population lives, is separated from Taipei by mountains. In the distant past, people would hike to Yilan on what is now the Caoling Historic Trail.

The Yilan plain is filled with rice paddies, green onions, and fruit farms. Yilan-style green onion cakes are enjoyed across Taiwan. The small village of Sanxing (三星) in Yilan is especially famous for its green onion cakes.

For many years, the slow and winding Highway 9 was the main way to reach Yilan. It passed through Pinglin (a tea growing area) and took around two hours. In 2006, travel to Yilan became much faster thanks to Xueshan Tunnel (雪山隧道), one of the longest tunnels in the world, at 13 kilometers. Now you can get to Yilan in only one hour from Taipei.

Yilan has three urban centers. Driving or taking the bus from Taipei, you’ll emerge from the tunnel at Jiaoxi (礁溪, also spelled Jiaohsi or Chiao Hsi). This hot spring village has some of the most kid-friendly hot springs in Taiwan, plus some great waterfall trails.

After Jiaoxi is Yilan City (宜蘭市). This is the capital and largest population center in Yilan, with just under 100,000 people. For travelers, it has some of the best hotels in Yilan but fewer things to do.

The furthest town is Luodong (羅東). Here you’ll find the best night market in Yilan and some great minsus. It is also close to some of the best family activities in Yilan, so it makes a good base.

Most of Yilan is actually mountainous and not easily accessible. Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area is the top attraction. Visitors flock here for hiking, to ride the cute Bong Bong Train, and on rare occasion, to see snow in winter. Mingchi National Forest Recreation is also popular among locals, but smaller than Taipingshan and less visited by foreign tourists

Getting to Yilan

Driving from Taipei to Yilan through Xueshan Tunnel (Highway 5) can take anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours, depending on traffic.

The same thing goes for buses to Yilan . Under normal conditions, they are faster than the train. But if you get stuck in rush hour, they can be slower than the train (and don’t have toilets!) The seats are very comfortable, though, and they are never crowded like the train.

Buses depart regularly from Taipei Bus Station, Taipei City Hall Bus Station, Technology Building MRT Station, and Banqiao ( New Taipei City ). You can usually just show up and buy a ticket for the next bus. You may have to wait a while at busier times.  

Expect (on average) about 1 hour 15 minutes to Jiaoxi and 1.5 hours to Yilan City , and 1 hour 45 min to Luodong . You can book a ticket online here , but you’ll still have to wait in the line when you get there.

Taking the train to Yilan is more reliable, because there is a schedule, but usually a bit slower than the bus. But local trains can get uncomfortable crowded at peak times. On the plus side, they have toilets. Search the train times and find out how to book your train tickets online .

From Taipei Main Station, traveling time by train will be anywhere from 1 to 2.5 hours, depending on the train type and where you’re going in Yilan.

The fastest trains are the Puyuma Express , Taroko Express , and Tze Chiang Limited Express 3000 , but these require seat reservations. They are almost always sold out because they are the most popular way for getting from Taipei to Hualien quickly.

Tze Chiang Limited Express (any of them except for 3000) and Chu Kuang take seat reservations, but you can also just show up and buy a standing ticket or swipe your EasyCard . Local trains are the slowest, and seat reservations are not possible – just buy a ticket at the station or swipe your EasyCard.

For traveling between Yilan and Hualien, take the train, as there’s no bus. Book tickets early (up to 28 days) as Taipei to Hualien is a very popular route.

Taipingshan is one of the more difficult places to get to in Yilan. There’s only one bus per day ( bus 1750 ) in each direction. It departs Yilan Station at 7:40 AM and Luodong Station at 8 AM, arriving at Taipingshan at 10:30.

Going back, the bus departs Taipingshan at 2:30 PM, arriving at Luodong at 5:30 and Yilan Station at 5:50.

Renting a Car/Hiring a Driver

Yilan’s attractions are quite spread out. What’s more, buses there are slow/infrequent and don’t go to some of the attractions. Taxis are also very limited, except in the Yilan city center. Therefore, many visitors, especially families, decide to rent a car or hiring a driver in Yilan.

If you rent a car , you can start at Taoyuan Airport or in Taipei. But people who are not used to driving in Taiwan will often take public transportation to Yilan, then start their car rental there. I recommend that you rent a car here on Klook .

If you’re going to Taroko Gorge, it’s a beautiful drive along the coast from Su’ao in Yilan to Hualien , called the Suhua Highway (蘇花公路). On very rare occasion, this highway can be affected by landslides. See the latest updates here .

By car, you can also drive the slow and winding (but very scenic) Northern Cross-Island Highway (Highway 7) to Taoyuan . Expect to spend a whole day on the road with stops.

Or you can drive Highway 7甲, Highway 8, and Highway 14甲 through Taichung and all the way to Hehuanshan , Cingjing Farm or Sun Moon Lake in Nantou , with possible stops like Wuling Farm, Lishan, Hehuanshan, and Wuling Pass on the way. See my guide to getting to Hehuanshan and Cingjing Farm for more info.

These are very slow, winding, high altitude roads, so make sure to check their current conditions, drive carefully, time it well, and bring carsickness medication if needed.

If you hire a driver , you can visit multiple places in Yilan without worrying about the logistics. Popular stops that people include are Zhang Mei Ama’s Farm, this DIY green onion experience, Lucky Art Crayon Factory, National Center for Traditional Arts, Dancewoods Japanese Garden, KIli Bay Peark Milk Tea Center, and Jiaoxi Hot Springs.

Hiring a driver is very useful for Taipingshan , since there’s only one bus per day. With a driver you can also make stops at Cuifeng Lake and Jiuzhize Hot Spring, which wouldn’t be possible if you took the bus. It’s also best for Mingchi, which has no bus.

You can also rent a scooter outside any of the train stations in Yilan. They’ll want to see a Taiwanese motorcycle license or an IDP. With an IDP, they may also ask to see a motorcycle license from your home country. You can get to Taipingshan by scooter.

Where to Stay in Yilan

Before you choose a hotel in Yilan, you’ll need to decide which city you’re staying in.

Choose Jiaoxi if you want to stay in a hot spring hotel. Jiaoxi is also a suitable place to base yourself for exploring Yilan by car.

Art Spa Hotel (see on Booking / Agoda ), Chuan Tang Spa 1 (see on Booking / Agoda ), and Chuan Tang Spa 2 (see on Booking / Agoda ) are my three most recommended hot spring hotels for families (or anyone really) in Jiaoxi. They all have excellent hot spring facilities, including children’s water play areas kids. You can visit these spas without staying in the hotel.  

On the edge of Jiaoxi, Hotel Royal Chiao Hsi (see on Booking / Agoda ) is the most famous hot spring hotel in Jiaoxi. It’s not cheap, but it’’s great for families.

North of Jiaoxi, Toucheng Leisure Farm (see on Booking / Agoda ) is a popular place for families to spend the night.

Yilan City is the largest but has fewer attractions. Usually when people stay in Yilan city it’s because they want to stay at Silks Place (see on Booking / Agoda ), which is one of Taiwan’s top luxury hotels .

The hotel features rooftop pool, movie theater, kids playrooms, and hot springs. Red Lantern restaurant in the hotel has what some say is the best Peking duck in all of Taiwan.

Luodong is especially known for its family-friendly minsus (local guesthouses). There are hundreds of them, mostly just outside the city.

Try The House of Water (see on Booking / Agoda ), Cabin de Kite (see on Booking / Agoda ), North Zart (see on Booking / Agoda ), 星晏親子民宿 (see on Booking / Agoda ), 宜蘭綠之庭民宿 (see on Booking / Agoda ), or Yun Tien Feng Chuan (see on Booking ).

A little further out of town, Moment Hotel (see on Booking / Agoda ) is another great choice with family rooms. It is connected to National Center for Traditional Arts, which has lots of children’s activities.

If you want to be close to Luodong Night Market, I had a good stay at this budget hotel . For a nicer stay, try Cuncyue Hot Spring Resort (see on Booking / Agoda ), a hot spring hotel.

If you want to spend the night at Taipingshan, there’s an official accommodation at Taipingshan and another at Cuifeng Lake . You can book them online here , but make sure read all the instructions and book as soon as the rooms become available if you want a chance to get one.

Mingchi Village (see on Booking / Agoda ) is especially popular among local tour groups when visitng Mingchi National Forest Recreation Area. We enjoyed our stay in a cabin at Locasu (see on Booking / Agoda ), which is on the way to Taipingshan.

Top Things to Do in Yilan

I’ll separate the below into Jiaoxi & Northern Yilan, Yilan City, Luodong & Southern Yilan, and Mountain Areas.

Jiaoxi & Northern Yilan

In Jiaoxi town center, it’s all about hot springs. You can soak your feet or let fish nibble the dead skin off them in Tangweigou Hot Spring Park (湯圍溝溫泉公園). Watch for local draft beers in the park and hot spring ramen, where you can soak your feet while you eat (see the “What to Eat in Yilan” section at the end).

Art Spa Hotel has a colored/scented hot springs and steamrooms, lots of massage jets, kids water play area, and a tall hot water slide (minimum height requirement). You don’t need to be a guest to go for a soak.

Chuan Tang (2 locations here and here ) is another great spa, with even more colored/scented pools than Art Spa, massage jets, feet nibbling fish pool, and children’s play area.

Just outside of Jiaoxi, the hike to Wufengqi Waterfall (五峰旗瀑布) is easy enough for kids. Get there by taxi from Jiaoxi town center. The hike to Yuemeikeng Waterfall (月眉坑瀑布) starts at the same spot but is longer and more difficult.

Northeast of Jiaoxi on the coast, Lanyang Museum (蘭陽博物館) is a beautifully designed, meant to mimic the a coastal ridge. It covers local history and culture.

Wai’ao Beach (外澳沙灘) is the best surfing beach in Northern Taiwan, also good for swimming. Get there by taking the local train from Taipei. It’s my favorite beach within day tripping distance of Taipei. You can also do horse riding on the beach .

Dolphin/whale watching boat tours to Turtle Island set sail from Wushi Harbor next to Wai’ao. Turtle Island (龜山島 or Guishan Dao ) is a distinctive island 10 km off the coast that is visible from much of the Yilan coast. Read more about it in my guide to the islands of Taiwan .

North of Wai’ao, Toucheng has the popular Toucheng Old Street (頭城老街), while Toucheng Leisure Farm (頭城農場) is a popular place for families to spend a night or just do a half-day farm experience .

Caoling Historical Trail (草嶺古道) is a popular day hike to coastal bluffs. It starts at Fulong Beach in New Taipei City and ends at Dali Station (main hike) or Daxi Station (if you do a longer add-on) in Yilan. The hike is especially popular when the silvergrass blooms in November.

Yilan City is the capital and largest urban center in Yilan. A few sights in town include Jimmy Park (宜蘭幾米公園) at the train station, which has some cute sculptures, Yilan Distillery Chia Chi Lan Wine Museum (甲子蘭酒文物館), and the LEGO-inspired Brick Ark Museum (積木博物館) in the south of the city.

The very popular Kavalan Distillery (金車噶瑪蘭威士忌酒廠) is west of Yilan City in Yuanshan district. This is Taiwan’s most famous and award-winning whiskey distillery. It is owned by the same company that as Mr. Brown Coffee, so those cafés usually have some whiskey-based drinks.

You can just show up and join the next tour (Mandarin only), which includes a small tasting at the end. For an English tour or to blend your own bottle of whiskey, you’ll need to book it online in advance. Some Yilan tours include a stop there (see “Best Yilan tours” section below).

Just down the road from Kavalan, Jim & Dad’s Brewing Company (吉姆老爹啤酒工場) is an excellent Yilan brewery that also runs a taphouse in Taipei. They use local Yilan ingredients in their beers.

If you need to add something for the kids that doesn’t involve booze, try Up Leisure Farm (可達休閒羊場). Artemis Garden (香草菲菲), a beautiful greenhouse, is also nearby.

Luodong & Southern Yilan

The main highlight of Luodong city center is Luodong Night Market (羅東夜市), one of the best night markets in Taiwan. The Luodong Forestry Culture Park (羅東林業文化園區) is also popular.

Some of the best family-friendly activities in Yilan are around Luodong. These include National Center for Traditional Arts (宜蘭傳藝園區), Kili Bay Pearl Milk Tea Museum (奇麗灣珍奶文化館), and Lucky Art Crayon Factory (蜡藝蜡筆城堡).

Zhang Mei Ama’s Farm (張美阿嬤農場) is a super popular leisure farm, while this DIY green onion cake experience is close to it. Dancewoods Japanese Garden (綠舞日式主題園區) is a Japanese themed leisure farm where you can rent kimonos.

One fun outdoors activity in Yilan is cycling on Dongshan Mr. Brown Avenue (宜蘭三奇美徑), which is Yilan’s version of the famous Brown Boulevard in Chishang , Taitung . Another is kayaking in the rice paddies.

Dongshan River Water Park (冬山河親水公園) hosts many events (see final section below) and has a children’s waterpark in summer.

Southwest of Luodong, Meihua Lake (梅花湖 or Plum Blossom Lake) is a small, pretty lake with a walking and cycling path around it.

South of Luodong, Su’ao (蘇澳) is famous for its cold springs, best visited in summer. At the start of the coastal highway to Hualien, Nanfangao (南方澳) is a very large fishing harbor (see the “What to Eat in Yilan” section below).

Even further south, Dong’ao has a cold spring in a more remote and natural setting than Su’ao. Sea kayaking is also popular in the area.

Mountain Areas

Driving west from the Yilan plain on Highway 7, stop in Sanxing (三星) for green onion cakes . A side road leads up to Water Geothermal Square (清水地熱公園), where you can soak your feet or cook hot spring eggs. There are also wild hot springs here .

You can also cook hot spring eggs or take a full soak at Jiuzhize Hot Spring (鳩之澤溫泉), which is on the long and winding drive up to Taipingshan (太平山). There’s also a short but lovely nature trail (鳩之澤自然步道) with a suspension bridge beside the hot spring. See the “Yilan tours” section for tour options to get here.

Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area (太平山國家森林遊樂區) is one of Taiwan’s most popular. You can see colorful maple trees here in autumn and even snow once in a while in winter. If it does snow, expect it to be super busy.

At the main tourist area, there is a collection of hiking trails, café, temple, and the popular Bong Bong Train (蹦蹦車), a small, old logging train. The 20-minute ride goes to a walking trail. See the train details here . The train is not covered, so dress warm, especially in winter!

Even further up the mountain, and not accessible by bus, is a pretty alpine lake called Cuifeng Lake (翠峰湖), with a walking trail most of the way around it.

There’s a small entrance fee (200 weekends/holidays, 150 weekdays, 100 age 6-12, free under 6) for enter Taipingshan. Parking is 100. If you buy it on Klook , it’s always 150 and free parking is included.

Up Highway 7, the Northern Cross Island Highway, Mingchi National Forest Recreation Area (明池國家森林遊樂區) is another popular spot, especially among locals. It’s closer to Yilan’s cities but less accessible because there’s no bus.

Mingchi is smaller than Taipingshan. Mainly it consists of one lake, but a very pretty one, and an easy walking trail around it.

Best Yilan Tours

There are quite a few good day tours which make Yilan more accessible.

This Yilan day tour from Taipei includes Zhang Mei Ama’s Farm and Lanyang Museum . This one includes Kavalan and some spots on the coast.

For Taipinghan , this day tour from Taipei or Yilan includes the Bong Bong Train, cooking eggs at Jiuzhize, and the option to add Cuifeng Lake.

This one focuses mainly on Taipingshan, with more time for hiking. On this tour , you’ll have time to actually take a bath in the hot springs.

And here is a two-day Taipingshan tour if you want to spend the night on the mountain.

This is a popular dolphin and whale watching boat tour to Turtle Island . The boat tour starts at Wushi Harbor (烏石港) in northern Yilan. It’s very common to see dolphins but not so common to see whales. The tour includes a stop on the island, where you can hike to its tallest point. This tour is most popular in late spring and summer, and may not run at other times of the year.

Here’s a half-day tour to Meihua Lake .

This four day tour of the East Coast includes stops in Yilan, Hualien, and Taitung.

To make your own customized tour in Yilan, I recommend renting a car or hiring a driver .

How to Plan Your Yilan Itinerary

Yilan is most commonly visited as a day trip from Taipei , 2-3 night getaway from Taipei , or on the way to Hualien .

Because Yilan has SO MANY attractions and they are quite spread out, you really need to start by making a shortlist of the places you want to visit . This will help you determine how much time you need there and also which town to stay in.

As a day trip from Taipei , visit Jiaoxi for hot springs and hiking or Wai’ao for the beach. For Zhang Mei Ama, travel to Luodong then take a taxi from there. If you want to visit many spots in Yilan in one day, hire a driver for the day .

It’s not possible to do a day trip to Taipingshan from Taipei by public transportation . The Taipingshan bus leaves before the first train gets there. You’ll have to do a Taipingshan tour or spend the night in Yilan first.

For two days in Yilan , consider to spend one day touring your shortlisted attractions and one day for visiting Taipingshan.

Spend the night in Jiaoxi for the best hot springs, in Yilan City if you have room in your budget for Silks Place, or Luodong if you care most about the night market.

The driving time between Jiaoxi, Yilan, and Luodong is not too far. So no matter which one you choose, you can easily visit the others by taxi, train, or bus.

What to Eat in Yilan

Yilan is most famous for its green onion cakes (蔥油餅). Compared the regular kind in Taiwan, these ones usually deep fried (including the optional egg), so they are greasier. They are made with local green onions are a super delish.

The small village of Sanxing (三星) is expecially famous for its green onion cakes, and you’ll see green onion cake stalls with this name throughout Yilan and even in other parts of Taiwan. This vendor is especially famous, while this one does them like a wrap.

You’ll also see two other unique variations of green onion cake. One is the spiral version (宜蘭蔥餅), which has in inner layer of green onions. Another is green onion pie (蔥餡餅), which is round and is stuffed with even more green onions and sometimes meat. You’ll see them all over Yilan.

In Jiaoxi, I recommend going for hot spring ramen & sushi , where you can soak your feet while you eat. There are two locations of the same shop, here and here .

Locals love getting whole roasted chicken (烤雞) when driving to/from Jiaoxi. Here is a popular spot on the road into town, but there are several other similar ones around it.

In Yilan City, Red Lantern restaurant at Silks Place is said to have the best Peking duck in Taiwan, as well as some unique duck nigiri .

Whiskey lovers shouldn’t miss Kavalan , and the same goes for beer at Jim & Dad’s . You can also find some interesting green algae beer and others, available in draft form in Tangweigou Hot Spring Park in Jiaoxi.

At Jiuzhize, makesure to try making your own hot spring eggs (溫泉蛋). Because of the lower cooking temperature, then turn out deliciously soft inside. They provide little packets of salt and pepper.

In Luodong, it’s all about Luodong Night Market . The night market’s specialties are green onion cakes (heads up to vegetarians in Taiwan – some of them contain meat or lard) and mutoon herbal soup. Find veggie friendly ones in my vegetarian night market guide .

Yilan Events

Dongshan Riverside Park east of Luodong is usually the venue for Lantern Festival and Dragon Boat Festival races in Yilan. Also visit this park in summer, when the open up the large children’s water park.

Yilan Green Expo (宜蘭綠色博覽會) is an environment focused event, with flower displays and other activities. It also takes place at Dongshan Riverside Park, usually in May.

Yet another event at the same park is the annual Yilan Hot Air Balloon Carnival in June. It’s a smaller version of the more famous Taitung International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Luye, Taitung.

The Luodong Fringe Festival (羅東藝穗節) usually happens in August, with a focus on local arts and music.

If you want to see autumn foliage at Taipingshan , go there in November. It’s rare to see snow at Taipinghan, so you’ll need to be lucky. It only happens once every few years or so, and when it does, masses of locals try to visit all at once.

A Travel Guide to Taitung, Taiwan’s Rice Basket County

What is the currency of taiwan, 5 thoughts on “a travel guide to yilan, taiwan’s family-friendly county”.

Hi! You so have many useful information! Thank you very much!

I am wondering whether you know how much it costs to hire a driver for a day in Yilan? My family and I (3 adults and 2 children) are going to stay in Luodong in 2 week’s time, and we are trying to figure out the costs of our stay there.

Any information would be really helpful. Thank you!!!

The cost of hiring a driver for the day ranges from around 3500 to 6500 per day in Taiwan, depending on size of vehicle and mileage. Take a look at my article on how to find a driver in Taiwan in the transportation section of this site for my recommended drivers.

This is super helpful! 🙂 thanks a lot for sharing such useful information!

Hi, is it possible to do a day trip from Taipei To taipingshan (take the Bongbong train), then head to Zhang amei farm then back to Taipei? Is the road up winding and carsick inducing?

It’s not possible by public transportation. Because there is only 1 bus per day from Yilan city to Taipingshan, departing 7:40AM, which is too early to reach from Taipei. If you drive a car and start your day very early, then yes, it’s doable, including stop at Zhang Mei Ama. The road up Taipingshan is very winding for about 1 hour.

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Veronica's Adventure()

Full-Day Private Custom Yilan Tour From Taipei

The Full-Day Private Custom Yilan Tour from Taipei offers travelers a unique and personalized experience. With a knowledgeable driver guide, visitors can explore the beautiful region of Yilan at their own pace.

The tour provides flexibility and convenience, with a full refund available for cancellations made up to 24 hours in advance. However, no refund or changes will be accepted for cancellations made less than 24 hours before the start time.

Starting at $270.00, this tour promises stunning landscapes and cultural highlights for an unforgettable adventure in Taiwan.

Good To Know

Full-Day Private Custom Yilan Tour From Taipei - Good To Know

  • The Full-Day Private Custom Yilan Tour From Taipei offers a customizable itinerary, allowing visitors to explore Yilan at their own pace.
  • The tour includes a knowledgeable driver guide who can provide insights and information about the attractions visited.
  • The itinerary highlights include Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area, Dongshan Old Street , Wushi Harbor , and a visit to Jimmy Park to learn about indigenous culture.
  • The tour offers convenient transportation options, including pick-up service in Taipei City, parking facilities for those who drive, and alternative transportation options like public transportation or taxi.

It's also worth checking out some other tours and experiences nearby.

  • Private Taroko Gorge National Park Day Tour
  • Taipei Walking Evening Tour With Local Guide
  • The 10 Tastings of Taipei With Locals: Private Street Food Tour
  • Private Custom Taipei Airport Layover Tour

Tour Overview

Full-Day Private Custom Yilan Tour From Taipei - Tour Overview

The tour overview provides a rundown of the Full-Day Private Custom Yilan Tour from Taipei, highlighting its key features and attractions.

This tour offers the perfect opportunity for travelers to fully customize their itinerary and explore the beautiful region of Yilan at their own pace.

With a knowledgeable driver guide, participants can visit a variety of local attractions , including hot springs , stunning natural landscapes , cultural sites , and more.

Whether it’s soaking in the soothing waters of a hot spring, admiring the scenic views of the countryside, or immersing in the rich history and culture of Yilan, this tour allows visitors to curate their own unique experience.

From start to finish, the Full-Day Private Custom Yilan Tour ensures a memorable and personalized adventure for all.

Itinerary Highlights

Full-Day Private Custom Yilan Tour From Taipei - Itinerary Highlights

One of the highlights of the Full-Day Private Custom Yilan Tour from Taipei is the opportunity to explore a variety of local attractions and take in the beauty and culture of the region.

With customization options available, travelers can tailor their itinerary to their preferences and interests.

Yilan, located in northeastern Taiwan, offers a range of attractions to discover. Visitors can explore the stunning landscapes of Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area, visit the historic Dongshan Old Street, or relax at the scenic Wushi Harbor.

The tour also includes a visit to the famous Jimmy Park, where visitors can learn about the unique indigenous culture of the area.

With so many Yilan attractions to choose from, this tour ensures an unforgettable experience for every traveler.

Transportation and Pick-up

Full-Day Private Custom Yilan Tour From Taipei - Transportation and Pick-up

Travelers on the Full-Day Private Custom Yilan Tour from Taipei can enjoy convenient transportation and a pick-up service at their preferred location in Taipei City. Here are some key details about transportation and pick-up for this tour:

Pick-up service: The driver guide will wait for you at your preferred pick-up location in Taipei City, making it easy for you to start your tour without any hassle.

Parking facilities: If you choose to drive to the pick-up location, there are parking facilities available nearby where you can safely leave your vehicle during the tour.

Alternative transportation options: If you prefer not to drive or use your own vehicle, you can consider alternative transportation options such as public transportation or hiring a taxi to reach the pick-up location.

With these transportation and pick-up arrangements, travelers can have a seamless and stress-free start to their Full-Day Private Custom Yilan Tour.

Cancellation Policy

Continuing from the previous points on transportation and pick-up, travelers can familiarize themselves with the tour’s cancellation policy. The refund policy for the Full-Day Private Custom Yilan Tour From Taipei is as follows:

It is important to note that the cut-off times for cancellations and changes are based on the local time. Travelers should make any necessary adjustments to their plans before the 24-hour mark to receive a full refund. Any cancellations made after that time will not be eligible for a refund. Plus, changes to the tour itinerary or start time will not be accepted within 24 hours of the scheduled start time.

Pricing and Inclusions

The tour price for the Full-Day Private Custom Yilan Tour From Taipei starts at $270.00. This price includes a driver guide who’ll wait for you at your preferred pick-up location in Taipei City. The tour also offers customizable activities , allowing you to tailor the experience to your preferences.

Here are some inclusions and benefits of the tour:

Private transportation: You’ll have a private vehicle and driver guide at your disposal throughout the day, ensuring a comfortable and convenient journey.

Flexibility: The tour is fully customizable, allowing you to choose the attractions and activities you want to visit in Yilan. This gives you the freedom to create a personalized itinerary that suits your interests.

Cost comparison : By booking a private tour, you can potentially save money compared to joining a group tour. This is especially true if you’re traveling with a group of friends or family members, as the cost can be shared among the participants.

With the Full-Day Private Custom Yilan Tour From Taipei, you can enjoy a personalized and cost-effective experience, exploring the beautiful region of Yilan at your own pace.

Reviews and Ratings

Based on reviews and ratings, the Full-Day Private Custom Yilan Tour From Taipei has received positive feedback from customers. Online reviews play a crucial role in decision-making, as they provide valuable insights into the experiences of others. The impact of ratings on customer perception cannot be underestimated, as it influences their expectations and overall satisfaction with the tour. To give you a clearer picture, here is a table summarizing the reviews and ratings received for this tour:

These ratings indicate that the majority of customers have had a highly positive experience, which is a testament to the quality and value provided by the Full-Day Private Custom Yilan Tour From Taipei.

Here's a few more nearby tours and experiences we think you'll like.

  • 8-Hour Private Taipei Day Tour: PLANLESS
  • Xiao Long Bao, Beef Noodles & Boba Tea Cooking Class in Taipei
  • Ultimate Taipei Sightseeing Tour
  • Pingxi and Jiufen Day Trip From Taipei With Sky Lantern Experience
  • Full-Day Private Custom Taipei City Tour
  • Tea of Taipei: Small-Group Tour With Taipei City Sightseeing

Frequently Asked Questions

Are meals included in the tour.

Meals are not included in the tour. However, the tour can accommodate dietary restrictions . Travelers are advised to inform the driver guide in advance to ensure suitable meal arrangements.

Is There a Minimum Age Requirement for the Tour?

Yes, there is a minimum age requirement for the tour. The tour offers child-friendly activities to ensure that younger participants can enjoy the experience.

Can I Bring My Own Car Seat for My Child?

Yes, you can bring your own car seat for your child. The tour prioritizes child safety and adheres to car seat regulations . It is recommended to inform the driver guide in advance about bringing a car seat.

Are There Any Additional Fees or Expenses During the Tour?

Yes, there may be additional costs during the tour. The payment options will depend on the specific expenses incurred. It is recommended to discuss and clarify these details with the tour operator beforehand.

Is There a Limit on the Number of People That Can Join the Tour?

Group size restrictions may apply to ensure a personalized experience. However, the exact limit depends on the specific tour and availability. It is best to check with the tour provider for more information.

Not for you? Here's more of our most recent tour reviews happening neaby

  • Half-Day Muslim Friendly Tour in Taipei City
  • Northern Taiwan (Taipei, New Taipei City, Yilan County) 3-Day Tour
  • Keelung Shore: Taipei Private Tour (English Licensed Guide)
  • 2-Day Family Fun: Taichung, Sun Moon Lake, Leofoo Village Theme Park
  • 【Local Taiwanese Specialty】Tu Hsiao Yueh – Taipei Zhongxiao Store
  • Taipei Tour Pick up From Keelung Port Private Group
  • N102 Yangmingshan Beitou Freshwater Day Tour (10h)
  • N109 Wulai Old Street Wulai Hot Spring Wulai Waterfall Bitan Scenic Area Day Tour (10h)
  • N111 New Three Gorges Old Street Yingge Ceramics Hand Dirty DIY Day Tour (10h)
  • 1 Day North Coast Yehliu Jiufen and Shifen Private Tour
  • One Day Hike Around Yangmingshan
  • 2-Day Trip to Yilan (Or Pingxi Sky Lantern) and Sun Moon Lake (Ending in Taichung City)
  • Private Cruise Tour From Keelung: Trip to Taipei
  • N115 Taipei Keelung Day Tour Elephant Trunk Rock Forget Worry Valley Buddha Hand Cave Miaokou Night
  • Pingxi Day Trip From Taipei With a Local: Private & Personalized

To sum it up, the Full-Day Private Custom Yilan Tour from Taipei offers travelers the opportunity to explore the beautiful region of Yilan at their own pace. With a knowledgeable driver guide and the flexibility to customize the itinerary, this tour promises an unforgettable adventure in Taiwan.

The tour’s cancellation policy provides convenience and peace of mind for travelers, making it a great choice for those looking for a personalized and hassle-free experience.

Don’t miss out on this chance to discover the stunning landscapes and cultural highlights of Yilan.

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Yilan 1 Day Tour

Yilan 1 Day Tour

Known as the backyard of Taipei city, Yilan will provide you a good blend of culture and nature, mountains and sea.

  • Child safety seat available
  • English service available
  • Private tour, flexible pick-up time
  • Up to 8 guests per vehicle only. More than 8 guests require 2 or more vehicles.
  • Pick up at Taipei City

Hotel, BnB or any place within the city

Luodong Forestry Culture Park is a great place to learn about the old timber industry in Taiwan. The culture and history of Taiwan can be relived through this amazingly well-preserved garden. It is also a beautiful nature reserve.

Everything about Mr Brown Castle Cafe is magnificent - from the European-style manor, which houses the cafe, to the fantastic, panoramic views from the cafe itself. A beautiful place for an afternoon coffee break.

Get drawn to the natural underground hot spring here, as well as the Wufenqi waterfalls and wild honey

A cute place with various art installations. Great place for pictures!

Dongshan River Water Park is great for families with young kids, or for the young at heart. A great place to relax by the river and have some fun with water.

  • Drop off at Taipei City

Wanna make changes to the itinerary?

Cancellation policy.

Cancel 7 days before the trip and get a full refund.

  • $5040 TWD per group
  • Book You won't be charged yet
  • Available tomorrow
  • Confirmation within 24 hours

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Spiritual Travels

The Stunning East Coast of Taiwan Part 1: Yilan to Hualien and Taroko Gorge

Dear reader: This article contains links to products and services that I may be compensated for, at no extra cost to you.

Where should you go if only visiting Taiwan for 1-2 weeks ? Most say that if you like history and culture, stick to the west coast. If you like scenery and nature, head to the east coast of Taiwan.

While this is a simplistic breakdown of Taiwan’s diverse and abundant attractions, but there’s no denying that Taiwan’s east coast boasts a vast, sparsely populated coastline of unparalleled beauty, making it the ideal place for a Taiwan road trip.

In Part 1 of this, 2-part Taiwan east coast guide, I’m going to cover the northern half of the east coast of Taiwan, from Yilan County to Hualien City (or you could follow it in reverse, from Hualien to Yilan).

I’m going to cover all the sights along the coast from Yilan to Hualien, though in reality the vast majority of people visit the two separately: Yilan as day trips from Taipei , then taking the train from Taipei straight to Hualien City for visiting the region’s most famous sight, Taroko Gorge .

In Part 2 of this guide, I cover how to continue south along the east coast from Hualien City through southern Hualien County to Taitung County in the southeastern corner of Taiwan, and finally reaching Kenting National Park at the southern tip of Taiwan.

The tips and photos I present below come from multiple visits over many years. It is my hope that this guide shall provide everything you need to know about planning the ultimate Taiwan east coast road trip, though you’ll also have options for doing it by public transportation.

Table of Contents

East Coast Essentials 

  • Read my Yilan travel guide , Hualien travel guide , and general Taiwan travel guide
  • Reserve your train tickets to Hualien 2 weeks in advance. They always sell out!
  • You can rent a car in Taipei or Hualien , or a rent a scooter in Yilan , Taroko Gorge , or Hualien City
  • You can also hire a car with driver for the day in Hualien

How Much Time Is Needed for the East Coast of Taiwan?

Qingshui Cliffs, Hualian, Taiwan

At the absolute minimum, you need one full day just to see Taroko Gorge , and make that 2-3 days if you also want to check out the sights in Hualien City or do some activities in and around the city, such as whale watching , sea kayaking , or taking an aboriginal cooking course .

For many visitors to Taiwan, this is the extent of their east coast trip. See my detailed Hualien itinerary for more information on how to plan such a trip, with 40+ ideas for things to do in Hualien City.

But if you want to follow the east coast trip I’m going to describe below, you’ll need more time, as well as your own wheels. In fact, few people actually travel along the coast from Yilan to Hualien because the cliff-hugging road has a tendency to be destroyed once in while by landslides, and some consider it unsafe during or after heavy rain or typhoons. This is also why there are no public buses that cover this route.

Having said that, the highway from Suao in Yilan to Hualien (called the Suhua Highway) is gorgeous to drive or bike ride. It’s a two-hour journey, but with stops you can easily make a half or full day of it.

Therefore, I’d recommend one day for getting from Yilan to Hualien, one day for Taroko Gorge, and 1-2 days for further exploring Hualien City and the area around it. That means you’ll need 3-4 days to see and do everything I mention in this article . If you’re living in Taiwan , then you could consider making multiple weekend trips to the area instead of doing it all as one road trip.

For Part 2 , traveling from Hualien City south to Taitung and/or Kenting, you’ll need another 1-4 days, depending on how you go about it. Besides the places introduced in this guide, you can find more things to do in Hualien and things to do in Taitung in these articles.

What Are the Best East Coast Tours?

Coastal scenery in Fengbin, Hualien County, Taiwan

For Taroko Gorge tour, I recommend this day tour from Island Life Tours . They have English speaking guides, hit all the best spots in Taroko Gorge, and an aboriginal lunch is included.

For tours running down the coast from Hualien to Taitung, try this one .

Why is Taiwan’s East Coast so beautiful?

Taiwan is a geologically active island nation that sits on a convergent boundary between multiple tectonic plates. The subduction of the Yangtze Subplate of the Eurasian Plate beneath the Philippine Sea Plate has produced the Central Mountain Range, the highest mountains in Northeast Asia.

From the peak of Yushan (Jade Mountain) (3952m), the Pacific Ocean to the east is so near that it can be seen on a clear day. The drop from Yushan down to the east coast of Taiwan (50 kilometers) continues below the sea at the same rate, so that another 50 kilometers out from the coast it drops another 4000 meters, constituting one of the most dramatic overall drops in the world.

This explains the rugged seaside cliffs at Qingshui (see below) just north of Hualien, as well as the breathtakingly immense scale of Taroko Gorge , Taiwan’s premier scenic attraction.

South of Hualien City, a smaller and geologically more recent chain of mountains, the Coastal Range, runs parallel to the coast. The coast here is rocky and pretty, with a few surfing beaches such as Dulan , but the real highlight in southern Hualien County and Taitung County is the East Rift Valley. This visually stunning valley sits between the Coastal Range and the Central Mountain Range of Taiwan. It is a vast area rural scenery and rice paddies flaked by mountains on either side, and is considered the rice basket of Taiwan.

South of Taitung, the scenery remains rocky and dramatic on the coast, but then transforms to sand dunes and open, dry expanses as you approach Kenting National Park , occupying the southern tip of the country and home to the best beaches on the Taiwanese mainland.

The Route of this East Coast Guide

I’ve decided to start my guide from the first point on the east coast (excluding the far north) where the mountains meet the sea, at the southern end of the rice-paddy-filled Yilan plains.

This winding coastal route from Suao township in Yilan County to Hualien City is called the Suao-Hualien/Suhua Highway, or Provincial Highway #9.

Route covered in parts 1 and 2 of this guide

This map shows the total distance covered by my two east coast guides (in blue), spanning Yilan, Hualien, Taitung, and Pingtung counties.

Map of Taiwan Suao to Kenting

Route covered in this article only

As you can see, there isn’t a whole lot of ground to cover in part 1, but the road between Suao and Hualien is a rough one, and is not covered by public transportation. Also, you’ll need several days for this part of the east coast, because there is just so much to see and do, including Taroko Gorge.

Map of Taiwan Yilan to Hualian

Route covered in part 2

This map shows the two options covered in part 2: coastal highway 11 (in blue) and inland highway 9 (in gray) through the East Rift Valley.

Map of Taiwan Hualian to Kenting

When to Do this Trip

You can do this road trip at any time of the year. In winter in Taiwan , the northern east coast, including Yilan and Hualien, can be chilly and windy, but in Taitung and the far south, it can still be warm enough to swim or surf in the sea.

Spring and autumn are probably ideal, but heads up that the Plum Monsoon can bring more rains in June , while in July through October typhoons can strike, especially in August and September . If a typhoon hits, avoid traveling or being anywhere near the coast. Summer in Taiwan can also be extremely hot, so make sure to protect your skin and avoid the midday.

See more information in my guide to the best months to visit Taiwan .

Getting from Taipei to the East Coast

Taking the train from Taipei to Hualien

If you’re coming from Taipei, be sure to check out my recommended Taipei hotels , Taipei 4-day itinerary and Taipei traveling guide .

For the majority of visitors, they don’t do the Yilan section of my below guide. They take the train directly to Hualien to see Taroko Gorge and perhaps travel south down the east coast of Taiwan from there. Still, I include the Yilan section below for those who really want to to do it!

Use a Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass to save money while traveling around Taipei. In this Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass article , I explain how the pass works and who should get one.

Getting to Suao in Yilan

If you follow my below guide, you’ll see that it begins in Suao, where Highway 9 along the coast of Yilan and Hualien starts. While you can reach Suao on the slow local train from Taipei, or by taking a faster train to Luodong in Yilan then transferring to a bus, there’s no public transportation from Suao on to Hualien.

Therefore, if you really want to cover this section of my guide, you’ll have to bring a bike on the train, rent a scooter in Yilan , or rent a car in Taipei and drive there yourself.

You could also do my below guide in reverse. Take the train to Hualien City first, then rent a scooter or car there, and drive north up the coast to Yilan and back.

If you hire a driver to take you from Taipei to Hualien , the vehicle will actually drive along this route and stop at a few of the most scenic spots on the Suhua (Yilan and Hualien) coast, so you can kill two birds with one stone (get to Hualien, and see the coast along the way).

Flying from Taipei to Hualien

The fastest and most convenient way to reach the east coast is to book this flight from Taipei to Hualien , departing from Taipei’s Songshan airport in the city center. However, if you add the time needed for getting to the airport on either side, it’s barely faster than taking the train.

Taking the train from Taipei to Hualien

The Taipei to Hualien train route is one of the most popular in the country, so it almost always sells out. This is why it is essential to book your train tickets in advance . You can book TRA (Taiwan’s regular) trains up to 28 days in advance. Try to do it the moment they go on sale if you’re hoping to travel on a weekend or holiday. They can sell out in minutes! Also keep in mind that they go on sale at midnight, so you’ll actually want to book it on the night of 29 days before your trip (Taiwan time, of course).

The express (Puyuma/Taroko Express) trains from Taipei to Hualien only take 2 hours 15 minutes, but they sell out especially fast, and standing tickets are not allowed. Non-express trains take 2.5 to 3.5 hours, but even if their seats sell out, you can still always buy a standing ticket and just stand or sit on the floor between train cars. It’s not ideal, but at least you’ll still get there.

When booking your train ticket, you need to first decide whether you’ll get off at Xincheng (Sincheng/Taroko Gorge) Station or Hualien Station. Xincheng is a small town very close to the entrance of Taroko Gorge. There are few hotels or amenities there, but if you’re going directly to Taroko Gorge or staying at a hotel inside Taroko Gorge, it makes sense to get off there. You can also rent a scooter at Xincheng station and drive to the entrance of Taroko Gorge in less than 10 minutes.

If you continue on to Hualien Station in Hualien City, the county capital, there are loads of amenities, hotels, hostels, and attractions there, but it’s about a 40-minute drive to reach Taroko Gorge. Most Taroko Gorge tours take off from Hualien City, but should be able to pick you up from Xincheng as well.

Taking the bus from Taipei to Hualien

It is impossible to travel all the way from Taipei to Hualien by bus because no buses do the Suao to Hualien coastal highway, and there are no highways through the mountains; only the train goes through tunnels in the mountains.

Many locals do have a trick for slightly shortening their trip from Taipei to Hualien by taking a bus from Taipei to Luodong in Yilan, then transferring onto train from there (or the same thing in reverse). It doesn’t save much time, but getting a seat on a bus for part of one’s trip can be more comfortable at times when trains are packed and only standing tickets are available.

Cycling from Taipei to Hualien

For cyclists, you can actually cycle all the way around Taiwan, including to and from Hualien. See this super detailed guide to cycling around Taiwan for all the details.

Riding a Scooter to Taroko Gorge

It is possible to rent scooters at Hualien or Xincheng (Sincheng/Taroko Gorge). You’ll need a local or international driver’s ID.

Note that riding scooters or even bicycles in Taroko Gorge is a risk. Several people have been injured or died in landslides, and some local tour companies no longer recommend it. If you do decide to do it, definitely avoid going after or during any kind of heavy rain or typhoons, and drive carefully. Also watch out for those big tour buses hogging the narrow road.

Riding a scooter in Taroko Gorge, Taiwan

Where to Stay on the East Coast

Pool backed by mountains at Silks Place, the best hotel in Hualien

One of the toughest choices you need to make when visiting the east coast of Taiwan is where to stay. Hualien City is the most obvious choices, with loads of accomodation options and some of the best hostels in the country.

However, it’s also possible to stay in Xincheng, closer to the entrance of Taroko Gorge, or right in Taroko Gorge.

Hostels in Hualien City

There is a high concentration of hostels in Hualien, and their quality and value for money is better than anywhere else in Taiwan. It is a 40-minute ride by scooter from Hualien City to Taroko Gorge.

Some top rated hostels include Just Walk Backpacker Hostel ( see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor ) and View Hostel ( see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor ).    

Xincheng (Taroko Train Station)

Staying near Xincheng (Taroko Gorge) train station is very convenient for accessing Taroko Gorge. Most hotels are only a few minutes by car to the entrance of Taroko Gorge.

Taroko Liiko Hotel (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor ) is the best hotel in Xincheng. Liwu Hotel ( see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor ) is the closest you can get to Taroko Gorge without actually being in the gorge.

In Taroko Gorge

Silks Place Hotel ( see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor ) is the most luxurious hotel in Taroko Gorge and all of Hualien, while the wood cabins at Taroko Village Hotel ( see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor ) offer a more down-to-earth experience in Taroko Gorge.

Budget travelers who want to stay right in Taroko Gorge can try Tienhsiang Youth Activity Center ( see on Agoda / TripAdvisor ) at Tianxiang village in Taroko Gorge.

Find more information in my Taroko Gorge article.

Camping in Taroko Gorge

This is your cheapest option. Heliu Campground is first-come-first serve, with a dozen wooden platforms (NT200 per tent) 16.5 kilometers up the valley. I stayed here several years ago with my family; the facilities are very basic but the setting is awesome. There’s a self-pay system, and some even more basic overflow sites nearby at Lushui campground.

Off-the-beaten-track

Sanzhan (Sanjhan), Hualien, Taiwan, starting point of the Golden Grotto river trace

If you want to get off-the-beaten track, you can stay at Songyue Guesthouse ( see on Booking ) in Sanzhan (Sanjhan). Sanzhan is a small aboriginal village 10-minutes south of the Xincheng train station, in the direction of Hualien City. You can rent scooters in Xincheng to get there (IPD needed).

The relaxed one-street town of Sanzhan sits on a lovely stretch of the scenic Sanzhan River with a stunning mountainous backdrop, with many good spots for jumping into blue-green pools of water. It is a 15 minute ride by scooter from Sanzhan to the entrance of Taroko Gorge. It is also the starting point of the famous river trek to Golden Grotto (see the end of the article).

There are only a few tiny shops and informal restaurant-slash-KTV joints with limited hours in Sanzhan, so you may want to pick up supplies at the 7-11 on the highway just south of Xincheng train station.

They don’t speak much English and the hotel is basic but clean. I love it for its location and the town’s non-touristy atmosphere. I’ve never seen other guests staying there, but do be aware that it can sometimes be filled with river tracing groups, so advance reservations are strongly recommended in summer.

East Coast Road Trip: Yilan to Hualien

Dongao Bay in Yilan County between Suao and Hualien

Now, let the road trip begin! We set out from Suao in southern Yilan County, following Highway 9, the Suhua (Suao to Hualien) Highway. The following are the sights you’ll encounter in order.

Suao (Su-Ao) Cold Springs

Su'ao Cold Spring, Yilan

Starting in Yilan County , at the point where the northeastern plains meet the coastal mountain range, Suao Cold Springs (蘇澳冷泉) is Taiwan’s most famous cold spring town. The town looks very similar to hot spring towns found all over the island , with multiple hotels and spas offering a full range of experiences, from cheap and gritty to posh and upscale, but the natural spring water itself in this case is cold.

Obviously, the town is only popular in summer, and attracts many families with kids. I’ve never stopped Suao Cold Springs because I like the natural setting of Dongao Cold Spring south of Suao (see below), but if you want a convenient place to cool down in summer on the way to Hualien, Suao may be for you!

You can get from Taipei to Suao slow local train, by taking a faster train to Luodong then transferring to a bus, or as a stop if you charter a private car from Taipei .

If you have more time in Yilan before traveling down the coast, don’t miss Jiaoxi Hot Spring , or see my 40+ tips for other things to do in Yilan .

Nanfang Ao Harbor

Nanfang Ao Harbor

Nanfang Ao (南方澳) harbor is located just south of Suao, where the largest isthmus on the east coast of Taiwan provides a perfect natural harbor, which just happens to be adjacent to a stretch of coastal water rich in migratory fish. The harbor is abuzz with activity, especially around the main fish market in the morning.

The market caters to tourists, especially domestic ones; you can buy sample packs of extremely fresh sashimi, or buy a whole fish or any other kind of seafood and have one of the adjacent quick fry shops cook it up for you for only TWD100 per dish.

The rickety-looking boats bobbing about in the teal waters of the harbor make for great photos, and for the best vantage point of the entire harbor and adjoining Suao port, there is a lookout point when you continue south along the highway, which ascends steeply above the harbor.

Nanfangao made international headlines on October 1, 2019, when the steel arched Nanfangao Bridge collapsed , killing six fishermen in boats below. The bridge is visible on the far left of the image below, which I shot several years before the bridge collapsed.

If you only want to visit Nanfangao, you can get there by public transportation. Take a bus or train from Taipei to Luodong, then transfer to a local bus to reach it. You can also get there as a stop along the way if you charter a private car from Taipei .

Nanfang Ao Harbor from above, Taiwan

Dongyue (Dong’ao) Cold Spring

Dong Ao Cold Spring, Yilan, Taiwan

After the turnoff for Nanfagao, the highway winds upward for some time and reaches its crescendo, upon which you will suddenly be rewarded with an incredible view of the wide Dong Ao Bay to the south. After you descend and reach the small aboriginal town of Dong Ao, watch for a small sign (or ask around if you can’t find it) to the rustic Dongyue Cold Spring (東岳湧泉) sometimes called Dong Ao Cold Spring (東澳冷泉).

Here a small cold spring stream has been dammed up to create a pool of chilly, crystal clear water that provides a much-needed cool-down on a scorching, Taiwanese summer day. Kids love it, evidenced by the mobs of children splashing around in the water. Many local aboriginal families come here to picnic, and don’t be surprised if they call you over and offer you a chilled can of beer from the water like they did to me.

The pool sits below a train overpass, causing the kids to scream every time a train passes overhead. Beside the pool there is a large grassy field, and at peak times, vendors set up, selling cold beer, sausages, and other snacks. Strangely, the spring was packed with people and food stalls the first time I went, about three years ago (photos below), and nearly deserted when I went last year (photo above). Both visits were on summer weekend days.

It is only possible to visit Dongyue Cold Spring with your own transportation.

Dong Ao Cold Spring, Yilan, Taiwan

Continuing south from here, you can visit remote Nan’ao Beach Waterfall (南澳滴水坑瀑布) and Aohua Waterfall (澳花瀑布) before reaching the border of Hualien County.

Qingshui Cliffs, Hualien County

Qingshui Cliffs, Hualian, Taiwan

The Qingshui Cliffs (清水斷崖) have been designated as one of Taiwan’s “Eight Wonders”, and stretch for more than 21 kilometers along the coast of northern Hualien County. Some of the best views are only a 10 to 15-minute drive north of the entrance to Taroko Gorge and are often included on Taroko Gorge day tours, so you don’t have to drive all the way down the coast from Yilan to see them.

There are multiple lookout points and places where you can park at the side of the road or follow stairs down toward the sea. Just be careful for passing traffic, since many drivers’ eyes are on the sea and not the road. Another magnificent experience is to visit the cliffs while sea kayaking below them.

If you are visiting Taroko Gorge by van tour or on this private tour , the Qingshui Cliffs are included. The cliffs are best seen in the early morning, when the rising sun casts softer rays on them, but you may also be rushed to get into Taroko early to beat the crowds. Some tours only visit them at the end of the day, if there’s still time.

Qingshui Cliffs, Hualian, Taiwan

Taroko Gorge: The East Coast’s Most Famous Attraction

Taroko Gorge, Hualien, Taiwan

Taroko Gorge, one of Taiwan’s most famous scenic attractions. It is the star attraction of Hualien and the east coast, and many visitors travel to the east coast just to visit it. There’s a lot to see and do in Taroko Gorge, so you’ll definitely want to set aside a whole day for it. For more information on how to plan your visit, where to stay, and how to get there, see my detailed Taroko Gorge itinerary .

Taroko Gorge is even doable with young kids. Whether you take the local bus and just visit one or two spots, or hire a car or scooters like we did, there are plenty of easy, kid-friendly trails to enjoy in Taroko Gorge.

To make planning easier, here is a highly recommended Taroko Gorge tour .

Riding a scooter in Taroko Gorge Taiwan with toddlers

Funny side note: There is one more place in Taiwan that claims to have the “Grand Canyon of Taiwan”, although it is much smaller and few people know about it. Find out where it is in my article on day trips from Taichung .

Eternal Spring Shrine, Taroko Gorge, Hualian, Taiwan

Wenshan Hot Spring

Wenshan hot spring Taiwan

For those who love to get off the beaten track, there’s a secret wild hot spring that used to be popular many years ago, before it was mostly destroyed in a landslide. There are still some rock pools you can bathe in, and it’s an adventure to find it. To find out exactly how to get there, read my guide to Wenshan Hot Spring .

Hualien City

Famous steamed dumplings at Dongdamen Night Market (Hualien night market)

Hualien City, the capital of Hualien County and largest city on the east coast of Taiwan, is located about 35 minutes south of the entrance to Taroko Gorge by car. As the region’s main city, most visitors base themselves here for visiting Taroko Gorge and other scenic attractions and outdoor activities in the area. Most tours in the area take off from Hualien City.

There are enough things to do in and around Hualien City to warrant staying here for 1-2 days after you visit Taroko Gorge. Most people reach Hualien by direct train from Taipei City.

Qixingtan Beach

Qixingtan Beach, Hualian, Taiwan

“Seven Star Lake” (七星潭) is not a lake but a picture-postcard pebble beach on the northern edge of Hualien City, with incredible views of mountains looming over the sea looking north along the coast.

There are a dozen or so food stalls set up here and it’s a great place to lie on the beach and gaze at the sea, but note there is no swimming permitted due to strong tides, and yes, they will stop you.

As it is a short detour off the Hualien City to Taroko Gorge highway, most day tours to Taroko Gorge include a stop at Qixingtan. You can also rent bikes at Qixingtan and ride them to Hualien City, where someone will pick them up for you (or the same in reverse).

The Taroko Gorge van tour from Hualien includes Qixingtan.

If you’re looking for sandier beaches on the east coast of Taiwan, check out my articles on the best beaches on the Northeast Coast of Taiwan or Dulan Surfing beach in the far south.

Other things to Do in Hualien City

People dining in the Hualien Shipping Container Store, one of the coolest Starbucks in Taiwan

Hualien City (花蓮市) is a convenient base for exploring the area and has some of the best hostels in all of Taiwan. There are several fascinating cultural, artistic, and historical sights in Hualien City, so many people opt to stay here for an extra day after visiting Taroko Gorge. Here’s my detailed guide to the best places to visit in Hualien City .

Some of the best things to do in Hualien City include:

  • Martyr’s Shrine: One of the city’s most beautiful pieces of architecture
  • Dadongmen Night Market: The best place for tasting Taiwanese street foods in Hualien
  • Farglory Ocean park , a marine ecology theme park
  • The Starbucks shipping container store (picture above)
  • Taking an aboriginal cooking course
  • Hopping on a dolphin and whale watching tour

Also see my suggested Hualien itinerary for the finer details of planning your trip.

River Tracing in Hualien

River tracing the Golden Grotto in Sanzhan, Hualian, Taiwan

River tracing (aka river trekking) is a very popular summertime activity in Taiwan. Basically, you walk up a river, jumping in various spots, playing in the water, sliding down rock slides, and more. It’s really fun and a great way to cool off in summer.

If you are a first timer, you can consider trying this river trekking in Hualien guided adventure.

The small aboriginal village of Sanzhan/Sanjhan (三棧) , which I will mentoned above as my favorite place to stay in the Taroko Gorge area, is also the starting point for one of Taiwan’s most renowned river traces: the Golden Grotto (黃金峽谷) , but this is not recommended for beginners, and as times it is illegal to visit.

This 6 to 7-hour return trace requires some experience and equipment, and it is at times technic fally illegal to the visit due to the very real danger of falling rocks, especially after heavy rainfall. Here is a guide to river tracing to the Golden Grotto .     

If you’re visiting the area just to go river tracing, it makes most sense to stay at Moon River Guesthouse , from where it’s a short walk to the river.

Cliff jumping at Sanzhan (Sanjhan), Hualien, Taiwan

But if all you want to do is jump into some cold water, Sanzhan is also a great place to do so. The Sanzhan Riverside (三棧溪戲水區) has several spots where you can jump into the water. You can also walk from Sanzhan Village upstream for about 10 minutes in the direction of the Golden Grotto, to find more great spots to jump into the water. This part of the river is popular for Taiwanese river tracing groups, so you may see lots of them.

Sanzhan village is only a 10-minute drive from the entrance to Taroko Gorge, and just off Highway 9 between Hualien City and Taroko Gorge.

River tracing the Golden Grotto in Sanjan, Hualien, Taiwan

Other Outdoor Activities in Hualien

Dolphins jumping out of sea on a whale and dolphin watching tour in Hualien

There are loads of other outdoor activities to enjoy in Hualien County. Many activity tours take off from Hualien City, making it the most convenient base. Here are some popular choices:

  • Whale watching
  • Sea kayaking
  • SUP (stand up paddle boarding) at Liyu (Carp) Lake
  • Paragliding in Fenglin
  • Taking a scenic flight over the East Rift Valley
  • White water rafting on the Hsiukuluan River

Cycling is extremely popular in the area. For more detailed info I would recommend searching cycling blogs online, of which there are many, or checking Lonely Planet Taiwan .

For a more leisurely ride, you can cycle along the coast from Qixingtan beach (see below) to Hualien City. You can hire your bikes at one end and drop them off at the other.

Aboriginal Culture on the East Coast of Taiwan

Taiwanese aboriginals, aboriginal festival in Hualian, Taiwan

Nearly 30% of the population of Hualien county is aboriginal, including the Amis (Taiwan’s largest tribe), Atayal, Bunun, Truku or “Taroko”, Sakizaya, and Kavalan. As such, many aboriginal festivals take place on the east coast of Taiwan, including the most famous, the week-long Ami Harvest Festival in summer.

Dates of festivals can change, so if you want to see if anything is coming up, you can try contacting the Hualien County government . All of my photos above and below were taken at the Hualien County Joint Aboriginal Festival in Hualien City in 2014. At any authentic aboriginal festival, you can expect song and dance performances, curious smiles, and profuse consumption of millet wine (小米酒 or xiaomi jiu ).

The best way to experience aboriginal culture on the east coast is to take t his aboriginal cooking course . The class includes visiting an aboriginal garden maintained an Amis tribe, learning how to cook wild herbs, and tasting millet wine.

You can visit a small aboriginal museum or enjoy an aboriginal buffet feast at Buluowan Visitor Center (布洛灣管理站) in Taroko Gorge, on the site of a former aboriginal village of the Truku (Taroko) tribe. You can even spend the night there at Taroko Village Hotel ( see reviews / check prices ). Finally, you can also meet aboriginal people if you visit Sanzhan village (三棧) near the entrance to Taroko Gorge (see the river tracing section above).

Taiwanese aboriginals, aboriginal festival in Hualian, Taiwan

Other great places to experience aboriginal culture in Taiwan include Orchid Island and Sun Moon Lake .

Aboriginal leader, aboriginal festival in Hualian, Taiwan

Well, I hope that the information here helped you to plan your Taiwan East Coast trip. Enjoy your Taiwan road trip! Please continue on to Part 2 of this guide for Hualien to Taitung and Taitung to Kenting National Park!

Related Posts

Wenshan Hot Spring, Taroko Gorge, Taiwan

20 thoughts on “The Stunning East Coast of Taiwan Part 1: Yilan to Hualien and Taroko Gorge”

Hi, Nice guide !!! I drove my scooter from Taipei to Kaohsiung along the east coast 6 years ago. here’s the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1ErG8mZVL4

Nice one! Makes me want to get on a scooter and head back there right now!

So much diversity! Great pictures, thank you 🙂

Thank you!!! 🙂

When can we expect part two?

Hey Nick, I’m a Taiwanese tried to help my foreigner friend plan their trip. And your blog is so helpful even I have known most of the places and things you mentioned. Not just for the language is in English also the info is well organized and very detail. I appreciate all your writing for people who want to travel in Taiwan. I tried hard to search your part 2 for telling the rest part of east coast but I can’t find it, and also I can’t find others with the same quality as yours! Can you plz finish your part 2 for all of us? I crave for that!

Many thanks for this excellent guide!

Thank you so much for your travel inspiring blogs of Taiwan east part. I myself also recommend my friends to visit these places since they are just amazing! Thank you and love to immerse into your next travel blogs!

Enjoy reading your story very much. Easy to find the various places you named in your blog on Google map, only one place gave a small problem. It is called Dongyue (東岳)Cold Spring instead of DongAo CS.

Thank you so much for the correction. I’ll make the update!

appreciate your blog very much. can you recommend a purely Yilan + Hualien tour offer?

hope to hear from you, thank you

Hi Jeff, How many days are you looking for? And are you looking for low budget, or higher budget is OK? Feel free to send me an email at [email protected]

thank you for your reply, i am looki at 4-5 days, likely alone with low budget. i heard so much how stunning the scenery is. ( forests, hot spring, gorge)

but i will be flexible with your suggestions as you are more experienced and I have none,

i fall in love with taiwan, i think its going to be my favorite country. so far been to taipei only.

not willing to go down all the way to southern tip. ( Taitung, kenting) or am i missing something?

Hi Jeff, I have replied to you by email!

Hi. I’m reading almost every single article. Thank you so much for all this great information. I read your article about travelling with children but my question is. Is it doable to travel Tapei to Hualien and explore the area (Qingshui cliffs, gorge and Qixingtan beach) exclusively by public transportation with an 9 months old? Thank you so much!

Hi Aline, Thanks for you message and comments! To be honest, I think this would be tough to accomplish, even without a kid. Taroko Gorge only, then sure, you could do it. It’s just slower, and you won’t be able to see as much of the gorge because you’ll spend more time getting around and waiting for the bus. Qixingtan is also doable, since the local bus to Taroko stops there along the way. For Qingshui Cliffs, though, as far as I know, there is no bus that goes along that road because the road is considered a little dangerous. The only way you can see the cliffs is by driving on your own, taking a tour that includes them, or hiring a taxi. Even though the first two are doable, this is one day trip that, in my opinion, is worth paying a little more on to at least have a driver, especially if traveling with a kid. Then you can have more time and energy to focus on the sights in the gorge, instead of spending most of your time and energy just getting there and getting between the sights. The buses are not very frequent, too, so you really have to time it right to avoid long waits. I hope this helps! Nick

love all the recommendations you shared, especially between Hualien to Taitung. Your website is a good reference for many folks new to Taiwan.

I brought 2 kids to cycle South over 4D3N, slow and easy, and we love the EXPERIENCE! Have blog about our adventure too and link up to yours. -> https://sengkangbabies.com/holiday/4d3n-taiwan-east-coast-cycling-itinerary

Cheers to more exploration! Andy

Thank you so much for that, Andy. I really appreciate it, and great post!

Hi Nick! Thanks for your very informative blog. Our 1st time to taiwan with 2 kids (14 and 10). Do you think renting a car and driving for most of our trip (outside Taipei) is a good idea, or trains should suffice. We are mainly doing the East Coast: Taipei (3nights)>> Wulai (2n) >>Jiaoxi(2n) >>Hualien (3n) >>Taipei (1n)>>fly out. do you think this plan is doable? We don’t want to rush, and prefer a more relaxing, flexible holiday. Planning to rent a car when we leave Taipei, to drive to Wulai. is this advisable, is it easy/expensive to drive there?

On another note, would you know if the whale watching trips cause a lot of sea sickness? Would you recommend this for mid/end April?

Thank you so much for your time

Driving on public transport would be both be good for your plan, so it boils down to a personal choice. To reach Wulai by public transport, it’s 1 hr bus ride from Xindian MRT station. Driving would be slightly faster. Some people don’t feel comfortable driving in Taipei city (myself included, but I’m fine outside of the city), so that depends on what’s your used to. Generally, taipei is much easier to explore by MRT. Parking anywhere is notoriously tough. Going to Jiaoxi, it’s a pretty easy 1 hr drive. The bus or train is easy too, usuallu 60-90 min. Jiaoxi to Hualien is also easy by train (you would want to book the tickets early though), but if you drive, it’s a scenic route. Having a car for Taroko Gorge would be very convenient, otherwise you’d need to hire a driver, take a tour, or take the very slow bus. Renting a car vs taking trains plus a taroko tour probably won’t be a big price difference. The boats can be a little rocky, so seasickness is possible for anyone who is prone to it. Usually peak whale viewing time is summer, and it’s considered possible to see them May to September. So you might be a hint too early, or maybe you’ll be lucky. Hope this helps!

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Home » Travel Guides » Taiwan » 15 Best Day Trips from Taipei

15 Best Day Trips from Taipei

Taipei is the sprawling, urban heartland of Taiwan, a city of intriguing Taiwanese culture, where modern and ancient customs and architecture fuse together in the light of a welcoming, local atmosphere that leaves international visitors looking to stay for longer and to uncover more of the mysteries of this eclectic destination.

Taipei’s location gives visitors staying in the city unprecedented access to a multitude of beautiful locations which are all just a day trip away, and if you ever tire of the city’s streets, then there are countless national parks and epic, natural locations to visit.

Just a short journey outside the city will bring you to the scenic vistas of the northern coastline, while on the edge of the suburbs are natural hot springs, quaint regional towns and traditional villages.

There are wide lakes, deep gorges and excellent hiking opportunities wherever you turn.

There are countless day trip opportunities from Taipei, but here are our favourites.

Jiufen, Japan

Jiufen was once an old Japanese mining town, built as an industrial centre during the late 19th century.

The mine has long since closed, and today, rather than the sooty, industrial town you may be imagining, Jiufen is, in fact, a quaint array of winding alleyways and colourful streets that reflect the vibrant Taiwanese culture.

It’s not far from Taipei, and offers a small town escape from the big city, while at the same time giving visitors a journey through the history of Jiufen, from Japanese colonisation to modern-day tourism.

There are beautiful sea views, rolling hills and an abundance of tea houses and small shops to explore.

Recommended tour: Juifen and Pingxi Day Tour

2. Beitou Hot Springs

Beitou Hot Springs

The Beitou Hot Springs are found in the suburbs of Taipei and make for a relaxing day trip away from the city centre.

The Hot Springs are close enough to be accessible by the city’s public transport system, located close to an MRT station in the outskirts of Taipei.

This is a lovely green oasis in the urban confines of the city limits, and there are several bathing houses that channel water from natural hot springs.

The best one to visit is the Millenium Bath House, where there are several open-air bathing pools.

The Thermal Valley also needs to be visited, as this incredible hot spring is the source of the water in the bathing houses, although at this stage in its journey, the water is much too hot for bathing.

3. Yehliu Geopark

Yehliu Geopark

Yehliu Geopark is found near the coastal town of Yehliu to the north of Taipei, and it’s a spectacular place to spend the day.

This is a really beautiful area and a fine demonstration of the nature that’s waiting to be discovered so close to the capital.

The park is known for being the site of some really unusual geological rock formations, which are quite unlike anything else found anywhere else in the world.

The park extends for almost 2 kilometres from the mainland into the ocean, and along the length of it are strange and weirdly beautiful rocks, cliffs and other natural features.

Recommended tour : Private Full-Day Northern Taiwan Tour by Car from Taipei

4. Yangmingshan National Park

Yangmingshan National Park

Yangmingshan National Park is one of Taiwan’s most loved areas of natural beauty.

The park is found to the north of Taipei, and as with much of the surrounding beauty, it’s just a short ride away from the city and easily accessible on public transport.

The close proximity to the city though, shouldn’t faze you, as this is an unbelievably spectacular place to see.

There is a multitude of hiking trails that work their way through the scenery and over the peaks and old volcanos that make up the landscape.

There are hot springs, cherry blossoms and much more to waiting to be seen at Yangmingshan National Park.

Suggested tour : Taipei Sunrise Excursion: Yangmingshan National Park

5. Jinguashi

Jinguashi

Jinguashi is found close to the old mining town of Jiufen and has an equally intriguing history as an industrial centre set up by the Japanese.

It’s not quite as busy or as big as nearby Jiufen but offers an equally vibrant array of local history and culture.

It’s in spectacular surroundings too, and one of the best things to do here is to take on the Teapot Mountain hike, a trail which leads up to a nearby mountain peak from where you can enjoy vast vistas across the coast and the green landscapes that stretch endlessly into the distance.

Tamsui, Japan

Tamsui is a small town on the northern coastline of Taiwan that makes for a wonderful day trip from the city.

It’s not far at all, and Tamsui offers visitors a look at coastal life on the island, with a bustling old harbour and ramshackle streets that have stood here for generations.

Stop for some seafood, and stay for the sunset, because it’s said by locals that a sunset here, in the perfect position on the coast, is the best sunset that can be enjoyed in Taiwan.

Wulai

Wulai is found in the mountains near Taipei, and it offers an intriguing look at Taiwan’s indigenous culture, much of which has over the years been unfortunately displaced by colonizers and mainland Chinese.

Wulai is home to a large group of Taiwan’s true locals and it’s a great place to learn more about this understated aspect of Taiwan’s history.

There are many shops and restaurants with an indigenous flair, while many visitors also travel here from the city to experience the cool mountain climes and the many natural hot springs.

Yilan, Taiwan

Situated on the coast to the southeast of Taipei is Yilan, bordered on one side by rugged mountains and on the other by the open ocean.

It’s a stunning location and there is much to do here.

Explore the streets of Yilan City, visit the local markets, and as with everywhere in Taiwan, soak in the hot springs and baths.

Trek out to the countryside in search of the powerful Wufengchi Waterfall or take on one of the numerous hiking trails into the mountains.

9. Sun Moon Lake

Sun Moon Lake

Sun Moon Lake has the distinction of being Taiwan’s largest lake.

This beautiful area is found in the rolling hills of central Taiwan, and it makes for a long day trip from Taipei, but one you won’t regret.

There are hiking trails around the perimeter and into the mountains, while it’s easy to catch a ride on the ferries that travel across the water from one end to the next.

Included in : Best of Taiwan 5-Day Tour

10. Thousand Island Lake

Thousand Island Lake, Taiwan

A little closer to Taipei, the Thousand Island Lake is an equally unique and attractive destination to visit.

This isn’t really a lake, as such, but more a scenic panorama of the beautiful, turquoise waters of the river, which flow through a maze of inlets more reminiscent of a Norwegian fjord than a Taiwanese lake.

It’s a glorious sight, and the surrounding area is home to many tea plantations which can also be visited at the same time for a taste of culture and a refreshing drink.

11. Taroko Gorge

Taroko Gorge

To the southeast of Taipei is Taroko Gorge, a spectacular natural sight that stretches for almost 20 kilometres through rugged landscapes.

The gorge is protected as a national park because it’s quite unlike anywhere else in Taiwan.

The gorge stretches to the coast from the inland mountains, and there is a vast array of forests, hills and cliffs to be explored in an ever-changing environment.

There are some great hikes, including many which traverse the river that flows through the canyon on breathtaking, but slightly nerve-wracking suspension bridges high above the water.

Pingxi, Taiwan

Pingxi is another rural Taiwanese town that owes its origins to heavy industry.

The coal here in the countryside was exploited by the Japanese, but in recent years, Pingxi has seen a real resurgence as a tourist destination.

While you will find coal museums here explaining this integral part of the town’s history, the real reason to visit now is to walk the old streets, to pop into little tea houses and cafes and to generally enjoy the rural ambience.

In the area, you can enjoy some great waterfalls too, including the dramatic Shifen falls, where a cascade of water flows over the wide rock face into a pool below.

Chung Tai Chan Monastery

Puli is a charming town in the mountains of central Taiwan, and the perfect place to visit to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city.

It’s a quiet city and a place that is well known for being the home of the Chung Tai Chan Monastery, where modern culture meets with ancient Buddhist traditions in an unusual setting.

There are many other temples here to visit too, and nearby there are of course plenty of hikes through the spectacular scenery of this mountainous region.

 Longshan Temple in Lukan

Lukang has long been an important trading hub on the west coast of Taiwan.

Overlooking the strategic Strait of Taiwan, the mainland is never too far away, and through its history it has seen many colonizers and trading powers landing in its natural harbour.

Although it is not as important as it used to be, it’s a great little town to visit to experience the many multicultural influences that have over the years shaped both Lukang and the rest of wider Taiwan.

15. Keelung City

Keelung City

Keelung City is a big coastal destination on the northeast coast of Taiwan, and not far from Taipei.

It’s not hugely popular with tourists and day-trippers because most people just presume that is simply an industrial harbour city.

Actually, there is a lot to do here, and there are plenty of night markets serving up great seafood and Taiwanese specialities, as well as several historic forts, museums and plenty of hikes.

15 Best Day Trips from Taipei:

  • Beitou Hot Springs
  • Yehliu Geopark
  • Yangmingshan National Park
  • Sun Moon Lake
  • Thousand Island Lake
  • Taroko Gorge
  • Keelung City

10 of the best places to visit in Taiwan

Kaila Yu

Oct 23, 2023 • 6 min read

taipei to yilan day trip

Narrow down your travel plans with this guide to the best places to visit in Taiwan © kitzcorner / Getty Images

With dynamic night markets jam-packed with delectable street food, gorgeous beaches and soaring mountains, Taiwan offers lots in a small package.

Just 395km (245 miles) from top to bottom, travelers will find futuristic cities, historic temples and killer surf breaks – all connected by affordable high-speed rail. As one of the friendliest East Asian countries for LGBTIQ+ travelers, too, it's pretty much got everything. Here are the best places to visit.

1. Sun Moon Lake

Best place to bike

Located in central Taiwan, Sun Moon Lake is renowned for hiking, boating, romantic walks and countryside temples. It’s also famous for its bikeways, frequently found on lists of the world’s most stunning biking paths in the world. There are multiple options, but we recommend the Shuishang Bikeway . This 1300ft-long route wraps so closely around the lake that whizzing around its perimeter feels like floating on water. 

2. Beitou, Taipei

Best place for hot springs

Although 130 hot springs spill across this volcanic country island, Taipei locals love Beitou hot springs for their accessibility. Just a 30-minute train ride away from the center of the capital, you can luxuriate in geothermal heat-fueled hot springs. Veiled in the sulfur mist, you'll find hotels outfitted with bathtubs gushing hot water, public baths and a springs-obsessed culture. 

Planning tip: Visit Thermal Valley, aka Hell Valley, for one of the world’s only two green sulfur hot springs. It reopened in July 2022 after a renovation featuring improved accessibility, additional facilities and upgraded seating areas. 

A red iron bridge leads to a small riverside pavilion

3. Taroko National Park

Best place to chase waterfalls

Journey to this popular national park for its famed 19km (12 mile) canyon, Taroko Gorge , which features marble cliffs carved through centuries by the Liwu River. Located around 145km (90 miles) southeast of Taipei, the gorge contains  hikes of all levels where you can view an abundance of waterfalls towering and small. 

Make sure to hit the Yindai, Baiyang and Lushui waterfalls for the most stunning views. Intermediate hikers should trek the 4km round trip (2.6 miles) Baiyang Waterfall Trail, featuring eight tunnels and the Shuiliandong Water Curtain. For photo ops at Taroko National Park , check the waterfall and pavilion at the Eternal Spring Shrine, a picturesque veteran’s memorial. 

Best surf spot

Jinzun is located in Taitung County, which is home to the lengthiest coastline in Taiwan, running approximately 175km (109 miles). This little fishing village is a 40-minute drive from Taitung and hosts the Taiwan Open of Surfing . Surfing conditions are decent year-round, but the best time to go is in the autumn and winter, when typhoons create optimal waves. Professional surfers consider the waves here to be world-class, and since surfing is a newer sport in Taiwan, Jinzun is ideal for surfers trying to beat the crowds. If you don’t want to catch waves, go fishing or sunbathe on the sandy beaches. You can also pop 10 minutes south to Dulan to visit the Amis tribal village and Xindong Sugar Factory.

People watch the sunset over the ocean from the harbor in Kaohsiung

5. Kaohsiung 

Best place to temple hop

Taiwan’s second-largest city crackles with energy, and many consider it one of the best places to live on the island for its convenience and safety. Despite Kaohsiung’s zippy streets, you can find pockets of tranquility in its parks, pagodas and temples. Visit Lotus Pond to see more than 20 temples – enter through the Dragon pagoda and exit the Tiger pagoda for good luck. 

Located on the north side of the pond is the Kaohsiung Confucius Temple – the largest Confucius temple in Taiwan, designed in the style of a Song Dynasty-era temple. After temple-hopping, visit the romantic  Love River and indulge in street eats at the Rueifong Night Market.

Best place for quiet

This beautiful haven for nature fans rests on Taiwan’s northeast coast. Here, mountains meet the sea with cold and hot springs, whale and dolphin-watching, scenic hikes and black sand beaches. Highlights include the Hsuehshan Tunnel – the second-longest highway tunnel in Asia, connecting Taipei to Yilan in just 50 minutes – and the Divine Trees Garden at MaKau Ecological Park. The garden is home to over a hundred indigenous, millennia-old Taiwan red cypress trees, hinoki and benihi trees.

Planning tip: Head to the world’s first quiet trail, Cuifeng Lake Circular Trail – accredited by Quiet Parks International (QPI). It’s a 7.4km round trip (4.6 miles) hiking path, ranging from 1890–1980m (6200–6500ft) above sea level, abutting Sun Moon Lake and winding through floors of dense moss – said to absorb sound. 

A rainbow walkway painted on the street spelling out TAIPEI

7. Ximen district, Taipei

Best place for LGBTIQ+ travelers 

Taiwan has become one of the most progressive Asian countries for LGBTIQ+ rights. As the host of Asia’s biggest Pride parade, it’s also the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. The Ximen district in Taipei is renowned for its gay scene found behind the historic Red House Theatre , built in 1908. At this first openly gay place in the city, there are countless gay bars, saunas, restaurants and open-air plazas for hanging out. 

Planning tip: Ximen district is a well-known shopping area, great for people-watching stylish youth and the high-end fashion of those living in what’s considered the richest city in Taiwan. It’s also likely you'll see cosplayers, impromptu street dances, performances and celebrities and pop stars hosting meet and greets. 

Best place for fresh seafood

This port city overlooking the Donghai Sea is about 30km (19 miles) north of Taipei. Known for fresh seafood, Keelung Night Market is the perfect place to sample many dishes at once. Munch on butter crabs, thick crab soup, oyster omelets, tempera fish paste, ding bian cuo – a meat and seafood stew with rice batter noodles, deep-fried crab and braised eel, to name a few. 

Continue your eating spree by trying the local street food delicacy, chikuwa , a charcoal-grilled fishcake treat, and leftover remnant of the Japanese occupation at the Zhengbin Fishing Port. Afterward, night owls can hit the Kanziding Fish Market, a large frenetic seafood market open from 10pm to 6am. 

A boat loaded with tourists explores the natural stone features that line an island coastline

Best place to island hop

Locals love the southwest Penghu archipelago as a holiday destination for its white sand beaches, illustrious basalt columns, and pristine coral reefs. It’s speckled with islands and accessible from Taipei via an hour's flight. You’ll probably land in Magong City, where there’s plenty to explore, like the Penghu Tianhou Temple , Shanshui Beach, and the Du Hang Shih Cun military village. Don’t leave without trying local specialties, such as brown sugar cake, peanut candy, fresh oysters and cactus ice cream.

Planning tip:  Sign up for an island-hopping tour with everything from half-day to multi-day itineraries available. History buffs will enjoy Wang-an island for Zhongshe Village, an ancient fishing village. For sunbathers and swimmers,  Jibei is a great stop for its stunning beaches . Other famous islands include Wiyu, Baisha and Huxi.

10. Green Island

Best place to be underwater

Snorkelers, freedivers and scuba divers enjoy Green Island’s hundreds of species of brightly colored coral and fish. Located southeast of Taitung , this volcanic island is a diving destination with options for both shore and boat dives. If you prefer being above water, eyeball stunning views from the Lyudao Lighthouse , soak in the Zhaori Hot Spring  or relish the island’s natural vistas. 

This article was first published January 2023 and updated October 2023

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Cold wave school, office closures announced in north Taiwan

Class, work suspensions announced in taipei, taoyuan, hsinchu, and taichung.

taipei to yilan day trip

Tourists play in the snow on Taipingshan on Jan. 23. (Forestry and Nature Conservation Agency, Yilan Branch photo) Tourists play in the snow on Taipingshan on Jan. 23. (Forestry and Nature Conservation Agency, Yilan Branch photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — With a cold wave bringing temperatures to plains areas as low as 4.6 C in Miaoli County on Tuesday (Jan. 23) and expected to impact the country through Thursday (Jan.25), some counties and cities have announced closures.

The following areas will close offices and schools:

Taipei City

Taipei Municipal Yangmingshan Elementary School: Work as usual but classes cancelled Tuesday and Wednesday Taipei Hutian Experimental Elementary School: Work and classes cancelled on Tuesday

Taoyuan City

Taoyuan Fuxing District Sanguang Elementary School Affiliated Kindergarten: Work as usual but classes cancelled Wednesday Gaoyi Elementary School Affiliated Kindergarten: Work as usual but classes cancelled Wednesday Hualingli, Sanguangli, and Gaoyili: Work and classes cancelled Tuesday

Hsinchu County

Yu Feng Elementary School: Work as usual but classes cancelled Tuesday and Wednesday Shih Lei Elementary School: Work as usual but classes cancelled Tuesday and Wednesday Shiou Luan Elementary School: Work as usual but classes cancelled Tuesday and Wednesday Hsin Kwang Elementary School: Work as usual but classes cancelled Tuesday and Wednesday

Taichung City

Heping District kindergartens: Work and classes cancelled from 1:00 p.m. Tuesday Heping District middle schools, elementary schools, and kindergartens: Work and classes cancelled Wednesday

For more information, check the Directorate-General of Personnel Administration, Executive Yuan website .

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    Located on the north side of the pond is the Kaohsiung Confucius Temple - the largest Confucius temple in Taiwan, designed in the style of a Song Dynasty-era temple. After temple-hopping, visit the romantic Love River and indulge in street eats at the Rueifong Night Market. 6. Yilan.

  23. Cold wave school, office closures announced in north Taiwan

    By Keoni Everington, Taiwan News, Staff Writer. 2024/01/23 09:49. Tourists play in the snow on Taipingshan on Jan. 23. (Forestry and Nature Conservation Agency, Yilan Branch photo) TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — With a cold wave bringing temperatures to plains areas as low as 4.6 C in Miaoli County on Tuesday (Jan. 23) and expected to impact the ...

  24. Taiwan Yilan Taipingshan Day Tour from Taipei or Yilan

    Duration: 8 hr (s) Guided language: English/日本語/中文 Conditional cancellation Please present booking reference number Visit the lush forests of Taipingshan to indulge in nature therapy and stress release.