1 Day Trip To Hualien

Headed to 花莲 (Hualien) after spending a day at Taipei.

Getting There
Take a shuttle bus from Taipei to Luodong (area of Yilan)
Take a local train from Luodong to Hualien
The shuttle bus stops at Luodong bus station (30 metres away from the train station)

We opted for the slightly more pricey train which gave us a guaranteed seat and travelling duration is slightly shorter

Looking at Taiwan from a different angle.

Located on a strip of land between the Pacific Ocean and the Central Mountain Range, Hualien is considered one of the most pleasant cities in Taiwan. The main attraction of Hualien is 太魯閣 (Taroko National Park). Apart from that, there isn't much to see and do at Hualien.

Travelling around Hualien is pretty inconvenient. Being tourists, its either you cab around of you book a private car. Knowing that this is a tourist attraction, drivers usually hike up the prices. So if you are spending the night here, it will be good to select accommodation that is located near the train station.

There were quite a few eateries near the train station, and we settled for a random one to have our lunch before heading to Taroko National Park.

Dry noodles with braised minced meat sauce.

Hualien is famous for its wantons which is also known as 扁食 (bian shi). Nothing special, just a bowl of comfort food. 

After filling our tummies, we took the tourist shuttle bus (任我行) to tour around Taroko National Park. That's the cheapest and easiest option if you're travelling in pairs like us.

Where To Purchase The Tickets (Unlimited Rides: NT250) :
Turn left when exiting Hualien Railway Station
Cross the road and walk a little to the obscure ticketing booth

There are a couple of tourist attractions around, so it is important to plan properly where to go first and you have to follow the bus schedule unless you want to spend the night among the mountains.

I couldn't exactly recall the sequence of the places that we went and which are the ones that we visited. But these are the places that is worth going:
  • 燕子口 - Swallow Grotto
  • 砂卡噹步道 - Sha Ka Dang Trail
  • 七星潭 - Qi Xing Tan
We headed to the furthest attraction first which was Swallow Grotto.
Nobody is allowed on the suspension bridge, the area was cordoned. And if I'm not wrong, a permit is required.

Then we walked further down and we have to walk past this 'cave' to get to the other side.
You're required to wear a helmet to walk past this in case of rockfalls.

I guess these holes are the swallows' home.

Taroko National Park is famous and unique for it's high cliffs and deep valleys. Nature is indeed amazing, those rocks and mountain surfaces are like beautifully craved. But we all know that this is the result from river erosion. 

If you need to take a break or get some food, you can visit the Tourist Centre, there's a cafe there.

Then we make our way to Sha Ka Dang Trail by walking because the bus schedule doesn't accommodate our time. If we were to wait for the bus, then we will be wasting quite some time. 
We had to walk past the tunnel.

Climbing up and down the trail and we got to enjoy these spectacular views. And the water is literally crystal clear.

Since it was getting dark, it's time to proceed to the last attraction, Qi Xing Beach.

I don't know how but look at the different colours of the sky which was taken within minutes difference. These were taken opposite Qi Xing Tan which is the Hualien Air Force Base.

Qi Xing Tan (direct translation: Seven Star Lake) is not really a pool of water as its name suggest. It is a costal stretch made up of stone pebbles, forming a crescent moon shape cradling the Pacific Ocean. It is named such because there used to be seven real pools of water in another location but the Japanese needed to use the site and filled the pools.
Credits: x

Crowned as the most popular beach in Taiwan, look at how gorgeous this place is during day time. And unlike your usual beach, the shore was bespeckled with pebbles instead of sand. Unfortunately, the sun has already set by the time we got there. But it was blood moon that night, so we were not that unlucky eventually.

Really really huge and round moon at like 5PM. The beach is an ideal location for stargazing. It was really comfortable to enjoy the breeze and chill by the beach.

Final destination of the day is 東大門觀光夜市 (Dong Da Men Night Market).

No. 50, Zhongshan Rd, Hualien City, Hualien County, 970

Our friendly shuttle bus driver told us that there's a public bus service at the ticketing booth where we got our bus tickets from. Thank god for his help, otherwise we had to walk about 20 minutes to get to the night market.

Once you spot this humongous water feature, it means you're at the right place.

This night market really wowed me. It was totally different from the usual night market. Look at how clean the place is and how organised the stalls are.

第一家烤肉串 (Number 1 BBQ) was one of the recommended stall to visit. If you're lucky, you only had to wait for about 5 minutes for them to barbecue. If there's a huge crowd, then you had to wait up to 30 minutes.
We got a few skewers like bacon rolls, chicken wings, beef and pork. The meat were well marinated but after awhile it got little too salty to my liking. 

We came across this stall with a really long queue, 北港春捲 (Bei Gang Spring Roll) .
Apart from adding meat which you get to choose from beef to pork to tuna, and the flavour like curry, chili, garlic etc, the spring roll is exactly similar to Singapore's Popiah. But the roll was much bigger and fatter. And I would choose our popiah over this anytime.

My new found love, fried sweet potato balls!
Purple and the usual orange sweet potato balls.

Other than the original flavour, some stalls actually offer sour plum, chocolate and seaweed flavour like this stall. All they do is to mix the balls with the different seasoning. The sour plum flavour is the best. I need this now!

Another favourite snack which I discovered during this trip, 炸蛋葱油饼 (Fried Egg Scallion Pancake).
Unlike the usual scallion pancake which is like plain and dry, this version with a sunny side up egg at the top of the pancake tasted so much better. Every bite was really fragrant and the sweet sauce that was applied to the pancake further enhanced the taste. The best thing was when the egg yolk bursted and the entire pancake was covered with it, yummy!

Lastly, we left the night market to look for 公正包子 (Gong Zheng Bao Zi), one of the must-eat at Hualien.

花蓮市中山路199-2號 199-2, Zhōngshān Rd, Hualien City

Hualien's Gong Zheng Bao Zi, also known as Xiao Long Bao is actually just steamed pork buns. It's nowhere similar to Xiao Long Bao maybe except for the same ingredients used for the filling. Nothing fantastic though, tasted like a ordinary pork bun that you can get anywhere. 

Although we didn't have like proper dinner with the usual rice or noodles but we were so stuffed after everything. I had a fun time trying so much food which I've never tasted before. Trips are more fun when you are adventurous! 



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