The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Hualien, Taiwan

The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Hualien, Taiwan

It was just a day after our tour of Taroko Gorge, and we were already talking about coming back. There’s so much natural beauty to be found here that the two days we spent in Hualien felt hardly enough.

But as breathtaking as Hualien is, it wasn’t just its natural beauty that resonated with us. We fell in love with the atmosphere too, and its vibe. Compared to other cities we visited in Taiwan, Hualien felt the most laid back. It has a mountain town feel that’s even-paced and unrushed, perfect for middle-aged travelers like us. If you’re drawn to nature and partying isn’t part of your vocabulary anymore, then you’re going to enjoy spending time in Hualien.

Before our trip, I read how Hualien and the eastern coast of Taiwan is a special place for many Taiwanese. As short as our trip was, it was more than enough time for us to understand why.

GUIDE TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Hualien at a Glance
  2. Best Time to Visit
  3. What to Wear
  4. Traveling to Hualien
  5. Where to Exchange Currency
  6. Where to Stay
  7. Things to Do
  8. Taiwanese Food Guide
  1. Where to Eat
  2. Points of Interest (Map)
  3. How to Get Around Hualien
  4. How to Get to Taroko Gorge by Bus from Hualien
  5. How Many Days to Stay / Sample Itinerary
  6. Budget / Summary of Expenses
  7. Travel Tips
  8. For Filipinos (Visa Info)

HUALIEN AT A GLANCE

The name Hualien can refer either to the city or the county that it’s in. Hualien County is the biggest county in Taiwan by area, while Hualien City is Eastern Taiwan’s second largest city. Even then, it feels more like a small town than anything, much more laid back than any city in Taiwan’s west coast.

Many travelers visiting Hualien use it as a base to explore Taroko Gorge, a 92,000 hectare national park which spans Hualian, Taichung, and Nantou counties. If you’re reading this, then chances are it’s the exact why you’re planning a trip to Hualien.

BEST TIME TO VISIT HUALIEN

I read that it’s known to rain throughout the year in Hualien. I got that feeling even though we were there for just two days in March. Something in the air made me feel that sunny days aren’t as common. Most if not all travelers to Hualien visit Taroko National Park, so it’s best to go when precipitation is at its lowest. Based on my research, that would be around November to April.

NOV-APR: Weather in Hualien is most ideal from around mid-November to the first week of April. Temperatures are cool and it doesn’t rain as often. Even then, it’s advisable that you bring a raincoat or a foldable umbrella just in case. We were there in March, supposedly one of the drier months, but it still rained while we were at Taroko Gorge. Bummer.

MAY-OCT: It’s rainier and warmer during these months so it’s best to avoid them if you can. July to September is typhoon season. On average, Hualien sees 3-6 typhoons during that stretch. Oddly enough, October seems to have the least number of rainy days but it’s total amount of precipitation is one of the highest. I guess it doesn’t rain as frequently in October but when it does, it pours.

It’s worth noting that the Taroko Music Festival happens in October or November every year. It’s a live classical music event held somewhere in the park. You can watch this video from a previous festival. It must be incredible to listen to live classical music in that environment so it’s something you may want to consider when planning your trip.

Climate: Annual Monthly Weather in Hualien

To help you better understand the weather in Hualien, I’ve included average temperature and annual rainfall graphs below. Suggested months to visit are indicated in orange.

Average Temperature
Annual Rainfall in Hualien, Taiwan

Annual Rainfall
Annual Rainfall in Hualien, Taiwan

WHAT TO WEAR

Hualien is a laid-back city with little night life so you can leave the Louboutins at home. Instead, bring hiking boots. As described, most travelers will probably visit Taroko National Park so it’s advisable to wear proper hiking attire. Even if you go on a guided day tour, it’s still best to wear appropriate footwear, something that will allow you to walk comfortably on uneven terrain.

As you can see in the graph above, it never gets that cold in Hualien, not even in winter, so there’s no need to bring heavy winter attire. A sweater or light jacket is fine. However, the area is prone to outbursts of rain throughout the year so it’s a good idea to bring a raincoat or small umbrella no matter when you go.

TRAVELING TO HUALIEN

We traveled to Hualien from Kaohsiung by train. The train system in Taiwan is so efficient that I wouldn’t even think of traveling any other way. We traveled between five cities in two weeks, all by train. Unless you’re in an extreme rush or couldn’t purchase train tickets, then traveling to Hualien by train is the best way to go.

By Train

Intercity travel in Taiwan is serviced by two types of trains – high-speed trains (HSR) and regular trains (TRA). The HSR is faster and more expensive but it only services the western half of Taiwan. For Hualien, you’ll have no choice but to take the TRA, which is just fine. The train ride from Kaohsiung to Hualien took around 5 hours and cost us NTD 705 each. I imagine the majority of travelers will be coming from Taipei so you can check the TRA website for fares and schedules.

Keep in mind that trains in Taiwan run in a loop around the perimeter of the country, so it’s important to look at journey times when looking at train schedules. If a particular train’s estimated journey time seems too long, then it means it’s running the opposite way. For the Taipei-Hualien route for example, most trains take just 2-3 hours but one train takes almost 11 hours. Unless you have a train fetish, then you won’t want that one. Only choose trains that have the shortest estimated times.

You can purchase tickets from the TRA website as early as two weeks in advance. I read that train tickets do run out, especially during peak seasons, so it’s advisable you purchase them as soon as possible. Once you make the purchase, you’ll be issued a confirmation and a ticket pickup form. You’ll need to take this, along with the ID you used to purchase the ticket (passport in my case), to the train station ticketing office or any convenience store (7-11, FamilyMart, Hi-Life, or OK Mart) no later than 30 minutes before your departure time to claim your train ticket.

By Plane

Unless you’re in an extreme rush, then I don’t see the point in flying to Hualien. It’s considerably more expensive plus you’ll need to deal with the hassle of checking in, going through security, etc. But if you really need to fly, then you can take Uni Air or Mandarin Airlines, depending on which city you’re flying from.

By Bus

With the convenience of trains, the only time intercity bus travel makes sense is if you couldn’t purchase train tickets. From the looks of it, there are often no direct routes by bus between cities as is the case from Taipei to Hualien. But if you really need to travel by bus, then you can take the Kamalan Bus from Taipei Bus Station to Luodong Bus Terminal. You can then transfer to Luodong Train Station and take any train to Hualien.

That’s so much more complicated than traveling exclusively by train! This is why I think it’s important to plan ahead and secure your train tickets early.

WHERE TO EXCHANGE CURRENCY

Taiwan’s unit of currency is the New Taiwan Dollar (NTD). Most travelers will probably arrive in Hualien with NTD already in hand. But if you need to exchange currency in Hualien, then you can do so at any bank. Currency exchange service is strictly regulated by the Taiwanese government so you won’t find any independent money changers like you would in other Asian countries, which is a relief.

It’s best to exchange your currency at big local banks like Bank of Taiwan, China Trust Bank, or South China Commercial Bank. We walked in to a smaller bank once and they advised us of a service charge, so I made sure to look for a Bank of Taiwan every time. They have many branches throughout the country, including Hualien.

Alternatively, you can also withdraw NTD from an ATM. The rates are competitive. Just be sure to advise your bank you’ll be using your ATM card overseas so you don’t run into any problems. In my experience, my ATM card works in some machines but not in others.

WHERE TO STAY IN HUALIEN: Cozy Homestay

When we booked a room here through AirBnB, I thought we were renting a room in someone’s home. But as it turns out, Cozy Homestay isn’t a homestay at all but a fairly new boutique inn. Cool! As you can see in the picture below, the rooms are huge and sparklingly clean. There’s cable TV, a small refrigerator, and a hotpot. In the lobby is a water dispenser as well as packets of shampoo, shower gel, and other free amenities you may need during your stay.

The hotel is a little hard to spot since they don’t seem to have any clear signage. Luckily, the owner offered to pick us up from the train/bus station. Cozy Homestay is only about ten minutes away from the station so it’s easy to get there on your own on foot.

As described, we booked a room here through AirBnB but you can make a reservation through Booking.com or Agoda as well. Be sure to check all three sites to find the best deal. If Cozy Homestay isn’t right for you, then you can go through those websites to find alternate listings in Hualien: AirBnB | Booking.com | Agoda. If you’re new to AirBnB, then you can get USD 31 free travel credit when you sign up via this link.
Cozy AirBnB, Hualien, Taiwan

Approximate Room Rate: USD 40 per night (as of Apr 2018)



Booking.com

THINGS TO DO IN HUALIEN

1. Explore Taroko National Park

A trip to Taroko Gorge is the best thing you can do in Hualien. I’d say it’s what the vast majority of travelers come here for. Taroko National Park is one of nine national parks in Taiwan, covering an area of over 92,000 hectares. It features many natural wonders like mountains, gorges, rivers, and cliffs. Many people feel that the eastern half of Taiwan is the country’s most beautiful, and I’m pretty sure Taroko National Park has a lot to do with that.

We went on a guided day tour of Taroko Gorge through Kkday, but you can explore the park on your own by renting a car or taking the bus. Check out my post on Taroko National Park for more pictures and information.

Tour Duration: 8 hrs / Cost: Starts at NTD 1,000 per person

2. Take a Stroll Along Qixingtan Beach

We visited Qixingtan Beach as part of our Taroko Gorge Tour. Qixingtan Beach is a beautiful crescent-shaped pebble beach in Xincheng Township. It’s between Hualien City and Taroko Gorge so you can make a quick stop here en route to (or returning from) the park. You can get to Qixingtan Beach from Hualien Station via the Taroko Tourist Shuttle Bus (1133A).
Qixingtan Beach, Hualien County, Taiwan

Estimated Time to Spend: 1 hr / Cost: FREE

3. Go River Shrimping at Night

We went urban shrimping in Taipei a few years ago and had a lot of fun catching our dinner. This time, we did it for real in a river on the outskirts of Hualien City. So much fun! And don’t worry, catching the shrimp is just for entertainment. Any shrimp you catch is released into the river unharmed. Your real dinner – either hot pot or surf and turf barbecue – will be waiting for you by the side of the river.

Like the Taroko Gorge tour, we booked this river shrimping activity through Kkday. Check out my post on River Shrimping in Hualien for more pictures and information.
River Shrimping, Hualien County, Taiwan

Activity Duration: 3 hrs / Cost: NTD 852 per person

4. Go Whale and Dolphin Watching

If you like marine mammals, then you should definitely do this. Hualien is an excellent place to go whale and dolphin watching as there’s a very high likelihood of successful sightings. We didn’t have time to go on this tour but I’ve read that between April and October is the ideal time to do this. It’s the best time to spot cetaceans like sperm whales, beaked whales, Fraser’s dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, and spinner dolphins, among many others. Follow the link to book this whale and dolphin watching tour on Kkday.
Dolphin and Whale Watching, Hualien, Taiwan

Activity Duration: 2 hrs / Cost: NTD 750 per adult
Picture borrowed from Kkday.com

5. Enjoy Eastern Taiwan’s Breathtaking Landscape from the Sky

I really, really wanted to do this. In fact, I had it on our itinerary till the very last minute. Unfortunately, we decided to spend an additional day in Kaohsiung so we had to scratch this from our itinerary. In Hualien, you can enjoy Eastern Taiwan’s breathtaking landscape from the sky. In fact, there are a few ways you can do it. You can go paragliding, ride a motor glider, or soar through the sky in a sling light aircraft. If you enjoy doing adventurous things, then you may want to do this. It looks AWESOME.
Hualien Motor Glider, Hualien, Taiwan

Activity Duration: 1-2 hrs / Cost: Starts at NTD 1,750
Picture borrowed from Kkday.com

6. Get Artsy at Hualien Cultural & Creative Industries Park

Everyone knows about Taiwan’s night markets. But did you know they have many of these creative parks as well? In every city from Taipei down to Kaohsiung, we visited creative parks which are basically abandoned industrial spaces that have been converted to art and music venues. There you’ll find art exhibits, craft shops, music shows, even street performers. Admittedly, Hualien Cultural & Creative Industries Park was the least interesting of all the creative parks we visited in Taiwan, but it still merits a quick stop if you have the time.

Check out my post on creative parks in Taiwan for more pictures and information.
Hualien Cultural & Creative Industries Park, Hualien, Taiwan

Time to Spend: 1-2 hrs / Admission: FREE

TAIWANESE FOOD GUIDE

Taiwan is all about night markets and street food. There are so many delicious and interesting things to eat in this country. If you’re wondering what to eat in Hualien, then check out our list of 57 things to eat in Taiwan. Many of the dishes listed there are available throughout the country, including Hualien.

WHERE TO EAT IN HUALIEN

1. Dongdamen Night Market

We’ve been to seven night markets in Taiwan and Dongdamen Night Market is one of our favorites. Unlike some night markets, the area is closed off entirely to traffic. The alleys are wide and it’s easy to make your way through the market. Some night markets we visited had just food, which is perfectly fine, but Dongdamen has a good mix of food and game stalls which made for a more fun environment. Don’t miss this!
Dongdamen Night Market, Hualien, Taiwan

Dongdamen Night Market has a few of these large gate entrances. They’re open from 5:30 till 11:30PM every night.
Dongdamen Night Market, Hualien, Taiwan

Dongdamen Night Market

Address: No. 50, Zhongshan Road, Hualien City, Hualien County, Taiwan 970
Operating Hours: 5:30-11:30PM, daily
How to Get There: Dongdamen Night Market is near the end of Zhongshan Road, which is one of the main thoroughfares in Hualien City. Just walk down Zhongshan Road until you see it.

2. Mr. Goose

If you’ve been to Hong Kong, then you’ve probably tried their famous roast goose. But have you ever tried steamed goose? We hadn’t, until we tried it here at the often recommended Mr. Goose restaurant.

Unlike roast goose which can be fatty and unctuous, steamed goose tastes cleaner, like Hainanese chicken, but it’s still gamey and flavorful. Our server recommended the steamed goose with chicken so that’s what we had. It’s served with finely julienned ginger and a soy sauce, basil, and goose fat dipping sauce that really brought out the flavor of the meat. Delicious! Be sure to order the deep-fried fish eggs with mayonnaise as well. They’re like crunchy little umami bombs that go very well with the steamed goose.
Mr. Goose, Hualien City, Taiwan

Mr. Goose is along Zhongshan Road. Just look for the shop pictured below with the goose logo on its signage.
Mr. Goose, Hualien City, Taiwan

Mr. Goose

Address: No. 259, Zhongshan Road, Hualien City, Hualien County, Taiwan 970
Operating Hours: 11AM-8:30PM, Fri-Wed (closed Thurs)
What to Order: Steamed goose and chicken, deep-fried fish eggs with mayonnaise
Expect to Pay: Around NTD 400-500 for two with drinks
How to Get There: Mr. Goose is located on Zhongshan Road, between Jieyue Street and Zhongzheng Road.

3. Gongzheng Baozi

Baozi is a Chinese steamed bun filled with a variety of ingredients like meat and vegetables. In Hualien, one of the most popular places to have it is Gongzheng Baozi. They offer soupy pork and green onion buns served with a delicious homemade garlic dip. These buns are filling and cheap, just NTD 50 for a basket of ten! We were watching the locals eat and everyone seemed to be enjoying them with a bowl of what tasted like hot and sour soup. It made for a tasty and hearty pairing.
Gongzheng Baozi, Hualien City, Taiwan

Gongzheng Baozi is just a block away from Mr. Goose on Zongshan Road. It’s the shop right at the corner pictured below.
Gongzheng Baozi, Hualien City, Taiwan

Gongzheng Baozi

Address: No. 199-2, Zhongshan Road, Hualien City, Hualien County, Taiwan 970
Operating Hours: 6AM-9:30PM, Mon-Sun
What to Order: Baozi
Expect to Pay: NTD 50 per basket of 10
How to Get There: Gongzheng Baozi is a block away from Mr. Goose, at the corner of Zhongshan Road and Gongzheng Street.

4. Tzen’s Mochi

Hualien is known for its mochi. It’s one of the county’s signature products and you’ll find many mochi shops along Zhongshan Road. According to our Taroko Gorge guide, the best mochi in Hualien is made by Tzen’s Mochi. Made fresh daily, their mochi contains no preservatives and is meant to be eaten within two days. We didn’t get to try it but people online rave about its soft and perfectly chewy texture.
Tzen's Mochi, Taiwan

Tzen’s Mochi has several branches in Hualien. You can spot their shops easily by their distinctive yellow-orange branding. I borrowed both pictures posted here from the Tzen’s Mochi website.
Tzen's Mochi, Taiwan

Tzen’s Mochi

Address: Multiple branches
What to Order: Handmade fresh mochi
Expect to Pay: NTD 225 per box

POINTS OF INTEREST IN HUALIEN

To help you get your bearings, I’ve created this map so you get a better sense of where everything is. Most of the places recommended in this guide are pinned on this map.

HOW TO GET AROUND HUALIEN

There’s no metro system in Hualien but it’s small enough that you can easily get around on foot. If I remember our guide correctly, he described how the three major roads in the city intersect to form a triangle. Most of the shops and restaurants seem to be around Zhongshan Road and this triangular area so you shouldn’t have any problems finding your way through the city.

If you have mobility issues or prefer not to walk, then you can take a taxi. There are no ride sharing services like Uber in Hualien and I read that the bus system is confusing and not the most convenient for tourists either, especially with the language barrier. In Hualien, the taxi flag down rate is NTD 100 . You probably won’t have to pay much more than that if you’re only traveling within the city. We took a taxi twice and we paid just NTD 100 both times.

HOW TO GET TO TAROKO GORGE BY BUS FROM HUALIEN

If you want to explore Taroko National Park on your own by public transportation, then you can catch the Taroko Tourist Shuttle Bus (1133A) from Hualien. This is the cheapest way to do it. The bus leaves from a bright orange building next to Hualien Train Station. You can get a 1-day pass for NTD 250 or a 2-day pass for NTD 400. This bus will take you from Hualien Train Station all the way to Tianxiang in about one and a half hours, making multiple stops at scenic areas in Taroko Gorge along the way. You can hop on and off at your own leisure, and take the same shuttle bus back from Tianxiang to Hualien Train Station.

You can check the Taroko National Park website for more information about this shuttle bus. Based on the timetable, bus 1133A runs every hour or so from Hualien to Tianxiang from 7AM till 3:10PM. From Tianxiang back to Hualien, it runs from 8:40AM till 5PM. Here’s a quick rundown of all the stops it makes:*

HUALIEN-TIANXIANG: Hualien Station – Qixingtan – Xincheng Station – Taroko Arch Gate – Taroko Visitor Center – Shakadang Trail – Buluowan – Yanzikou (Swallow Grotto) – Lushui – Tianxiang

TIANXIANG-HUALIEN: Tianxiang – Lushui – Yanzikou (Swallow Grotto) – Eternal Spring (Changchun) Shrine – Taroko Visitor Center – Taroko Arch Gate – Xincheng Station – Qixingtan – Hualien Station

*Note that the stops vary slightly between the inbound and outbound routes.

HOW MANY DAYS TO STAY / SAMPLE ITINERARY

We only stayed two full days in Hualien but if I could do it over again, then I’d like to stay no less than three. Hualien City isn’t that big but there are a lot of fun outdoorsy things you can do in Hualien County. Unless you’re really into hiking and want to spend as much time as you can exploring Taroko Gorge, then I’d say 3 full days is ideal for most people. Here’s a sample itinerary to help you plan your trip, assuming you’ll only be spending one day at Taroko National Park.

DAY ONE

• Zhongshan Road
• Hualien Cultural & Creative Industries Park
• River Shrimping
DAY TWO

• Qixingtan Beach
• Taroko National Park
• Dongdamen Night Market
DAY THREE

• Dolphin and Whale Watching
• Paragliding / Motor Glider / Sling Light Aircraft Experience

BUDGET / SUMMARY OF EXPENSES

Assuming you’ll be traveling with one other person, then a budget of around NTD 1,200 per day for three days should be plenty. This takes into account a moderately priced hotel, inexpensive meals, transportation, and pocket wifi rental.

ACCOMMODATIONS

This is highly subjective. It depends on several factors like hotel preference and number of travel companions. We booked a room at a boutique hotel for about NTD 1,170 a night. Expect to pay much less if you’re staying in a dorm room.
MEALS

Again, this is subjective, but based on our experience, I’d say around NTD 200-300 a day per person with drinks. This is at inexpensive restaurants like Gongzheng Baozi or Dongdamen Night Market stalls. Budget more if you plan on dining at fancier restaurants.
POCKET WIFI RENTAL

If you’re sharing the cost with one other person, then you’ll each be paying NTD 40 per day.
TRANSPORTATION

As described, Hualien City isn’t that big so you can easily get around on foot. If you’d prefer to take a taxi, then the flag down rate is NTD 100 as described. If you’ll be exploring Taroko Gorge by shuttle bus, then the cost of an all-day ticket is NTD 250.
TOTAL

This comes out to about NTD 1,075 a day per person (without taxi fare). This assumes you’ll be exploring Taroko Gorge via the cheapest option which is by bus. If you plan on renting a car instead or going on any tours, then adjust your budget accordingly.

TRAVEL TIPS

1. Plan your Trip with Sygic Travel (formerly Tripomatic)

This free app is very useful. It enables you to plot points of interest on a map, including your hotel, so you can see exactly how far you need to travel between points. You can then group attractions together per day based on their location. With pocket wifi, it can turn your mobile phone into a GPS tracking device so people with a terrible sense of direction (like me) don’t get lost. Pretty cool right? Check out my post on the Sygic Travel app for more information.

DOWNLOAD: iOS / Android

Sygic Travel is what I used to create the location map above. You can view it as a day-to-day itinerary as well. Follow this link to check out our 2-day Hualien itinerary on Sygic Travel. You can also download our entire 2-week Taiwan itinerary in editable Word format by signing up for our FREE newsletter below.

2. Rent a Pocket Wifi Device

Having a constant and strong wifi connection is a must when traveling these days. You’ll need it to navigate, do research, convert currencies, and in the case of Taroko Gorge where you may find yourself in remote areas, send SOS signals.

We rented a 4G pocket wifi device through Kkday for NTD 80 a day. You can pick it up and drop it off at Taoyuan, Songshan, or Kaohsiung International Airports. It gave us a strong wifi signal no matter where we were in Taiwan. Beach, mountains, intercity trains, it didn’t matter. Our wifi signal was always good, even at Taroko Gorge. Battery life was decent, maybe 6-7 hours so I suggest bringing a power bank as you’ll probably need to charge it before the end of each day. Follow this link to rent a pocket wifi device in Taiwan through Kkday.
Pocket wifi rental, Taiwan

3. Buy Your Train Tickets Early and Plan Well

If you intend to visit Taroko Gorge independently, then be sure to plan ahead. Don’t just show up thinking you can figure it all out there. Taroko National Park is massive so you don’t want to waste valuable time figuring out which spots to visit and how to go from one place to the next. Consult the Taroko National Park website and map out your itinerary before your trip.

As previously described, we arrived in Hualien by train from Kaohsiung. If you’ll be arriving by train as well, then be sure to purchase your tickets early. You can purchase them as early as two weeks in advance from the TRA website. We traveled almost exclusively by train throughout Taiwan and I bought all our tickets two weeks early. I suggest you do the same.

4. Store Your Luggage with lalalocker

More and more travelers are staying at AirBnBs these days. We do, and it can be a problem when we can’t check in to our accommodations until 2PM, sometimes even later. We arrived by train early in every city we visited in Taiwan. It wasn’t a problem with hotels because we could leave our luggage at the front desk till check in. But in some instances, like in Kaohsiung for example, we were staying at an AirBnB so it wasn’t possible to leave our bags there. Thankfully, we were able to leave our bags at a luggage storage facility so we could tour the city before checking in.

If you run into the same problem, then you can use lalalocker to find places where you can temporarily store your luggage. Think of them as the AirBnB for luggage. They connect travelers with establishments like hotels, shops, and cafes where you can safely leave your luggage for a fee. They serve multiple areas in many cities throughout the country, including Hualien. Just go to their website to find a storage place convenient for you. You can then make a reservation directly on their website. Check out the lalalocker website for more information.
lalalocker, Taiwan

Bookstore that stores your luggage in Taipei

5. Stay the Night at Taroko Gorge

After our trip to Hualien, I realized that one day at Taroko Gorge isn’t enough. It’ll give you a taste of the park but it’ll leave you wanting more. Taroko National Park is huge with a lot to see and do so it’s best explored on your own. For an immersive experience, I suggest renting a car and staying the night at a hotel or campsite within Taroko Gorge. Renting a car is more expensive than taking the bus but it’ll give you the most freedom to explore the park at your own pace. Split between enough people, it may be worth it. Check out my post on Taroko National Park for more information.

6. Get Permission to Fly Your Drone

Taroko Gorge is a great place to fly a drone. If you’re planning on bringing your drone with you, then be advised that the fying of drones in Taroko National Park is allowed only if you have a permit. I applied for one before our trip and I was issued a PDF permit within seven days. You can apply via THIS LINK. It’s in Chinese but you can use Google translate to convert it to your native language. Fines for illegally flying drones in Taiwan can be hefty so I wouldn’t do it without getting permission first.

As perfect a place as Taroko Gorge is for aerial photography, be careful when you fly a drone here. I don’t know if it happens all the time but aside from Qingshui Cliff, the GPS signal on my Mavic Pro was weak. It went into Atti Mode a few times near trees, sending my stomach into my throat every time.

7. Check for Discount Passes

There are many websites that offer discount passes to tours and services. One of my favorites is Kkday. They offer deals to many destinations around the world, including Taiwan where they’re based. They’re a Taiwanese e-commerce travel platform so in my opinion, there’s no better website to purchase deals from in Taiwan than Kkday. They have the widest selection.

If you’re looking for deals on tours, shows, transfers, pocket wifi rental, etc, then you may want to search through Kkday’s website for a list of Hualien attractions. You’ll often find interesting activities that you wouldn’t normally think of yourself, so it’s definitely worth a look. Here’s a list of some of Kkday’s most popular deals in Hualien: (pictures borrowed from kkday.com)

8. Get Travel Insurance

To be honest, it was only recently when we started buying travel insurance. Back when we traveled just once or twice a year, travel insurance felt like a luxury, something we didn’t really need. But now that we travel more, I understand how important it is to have it. Fact is, you never know what can happen. It’s one of those things that you hope you never have to use, but if you do wind up needing it, then you’ll be thanking the gods that you had it (or cursing them if you didn’t).

Though I do find it more necessary now, it’s still up to you if you think you need it. A 3-day trip to Seoul just shopping and eating may not really call for insurance but if you plan on doing more active things like skiing, snowmobile riding, or even going on a city bike tour, then I’d say travel insurance is a must. We went bike riding twice in Taiwan so we did get travel insurance for this trip.

We buy travel insurance from World Nomads because every long-term traveler I know recommends it. From the sound of it, they’re the best in the industry by a mile. Not only do they provide a high coverage limit for medical expenses (up to USD 5 million with the Standard package), they also cover things like trip delays, missed flight connections, theft/loss of passport and luggage, etc. Follow the link or use the widget below to learn more and get a free travel insurance quote from World Nomads. It’s super quick and easy.

9. Bring the Right Power Adapter

Taiwan has Type A and Type B electrical outlets so be sure to bring the right power adapters for your devices. Electrical voltage is 110V and the standard frequency is 60Hz.

For Filipinos

VISA-FREE TRAVEL TO TAIWAN

In 2017, TECO implemented a 9-month visa-free trial program for Filipinos. From 1 November 2017 till 31 July 2018, Philippine passport holders will be able to travel to Taiwan visa-free for stays of up to fourteen (14) days, provided the following requirements are met.

  1. The applicant’s passport is valid for at least six months starting from the date of arrival in Taiwan.
  2. The applicant has an onward/return air/ferry ticket and a visa for that destination (if required).
  3. The applicant has no criminal record in Taiwan.
  4. The applicant can provide proof of accommodation (or host/sponsor’s contact information or arrangements of tour, travel, visit, events and meeting etc.) in Taiwan.

HOW TO GET CHEAP AIRLINE TICKETS

Ever since I scored my first piso fare from Cebu Pacific, I’ve been hopelessly addicted to cheap airline tickets. Our tickets to Taipei with a shared 20 kg baggage allowance came out to about PHP 4,587 each roundtrip. How awesome is that?

These piso fare tickets are limited and sell fast, so you have to be quick. To give yourself an advantage, I suggest liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter to quickly find out about these seat sales. If you check off “Get notifications” on Facebook, then you’ll receive instant alerts every time they post something new.

Other airlines that have direct flights from Manila to Taipei are Philippine Airlines, EVA Air, AirAsia, and China Airlines.

Have fun!

I’m not an expert on Hualien but I do hope that you find this post useful. I’m only sharing some of the things that I learned from our trip. If you have any suggestions or simply want to share your own experiences, then please feel free to do so in the comments section below. You’re welcome to join our Facebook Travel Group as well. We’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for stopping by and have an awesome time exploring Taroko National Park!

OUR GEAR

These are some of the things we brought with us to Hualien. As you can tell, I document a lot of content for this blog so most of the things I bring are photo and video equipment. 😆 If you’d like to see what other gear we use, then you can check out our “What’s in Our Backpack?” post. (NOTE: The following links are Amazon affiliate links.)

Disclosure

We’re a Kkday affiliate and worked with them on this trip. We paid for our airfare, accommodations, and incidental expenses like transportation and food, but we were allowed to go through their website and choose activities and services in exchange for an honest account of the experience. They gave us vouchers to the Taroko Gorge Day Tour, River Shrimping Tour, and Pocket Wifi rental. They didn’t ask us to do any of these things. We chose them on our own volition. As always, all words and opinions expressed in this post are mine and mine alone.

Some of the links in this guide are affiliate links, meaning we’ll get a small commission if you make a purchase at NO extra cost to you. We only recommend products and services that we use ourselves and firmly believe in. We really appreciate your support as this helps us make more of these free travel guides. Thank you!




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There are 3 comments for this article
  1. Golden triangle tour 4 nights 5 days at 6:52 pm

    Thanks for sharing this amazing guide about timer travel Hualien Taiwan, I glad to read your thought Really amazing guide. Taiwan boasts the largest collection of Chinese art in the world. great post.

  2. Daniel at 6:36 am

    The most comprehensive write up about hualien! Thanks alot for this.

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