Hualian

Travel Guide Asia Taiwan Hualian

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Introduction

Hualien (花蓮 Huālián) is a city in Taiwan situated near the spectacular Taroko Gorge. 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. Many tourists visit the city to enjoy the scenery and fresh air and also to tour the famous Taroko Gorge, which is located a several kilometres north of the city.

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Sights and Activities

  • Chishingtan Scenic Area (Qixingtan Scenic Area / 七星潭) (North of Hualien City. Follow the bike path from Nanbin Seashore Park.), ☎ +886 3 8221592. One of the most popular attractions of Taiwan, although maybe not the most spectacular one. Crescent bay and clear blue waters with a beach full of colorful agates. This used to be a small fishing village but has now multiple scenic trails, pagodas, beach pavilions, and a star-gazing square. Excellent vistas of the ocean, delicious seafood, friendly people and a restaurant specializing in goat milk coffee. The beach is not popular for swimming as the tides and currents are quite dangerous, the bottom drops off steeply, and doesn't have much sand (mostly pebbles). It is important to stay near the coast.
  • The Abode of Still Thoughts. This small Buddhist temple at the foot of Mount North Jialiwan is the original facility of the world-famous Tzu-zhi Buddhist foundation. In keeping with the foundation's ideals, the temple is very simple, and incorporates a Japanese style garden. Information on Tzu-chi's international activities is also available at the temple.
  • Yenpin Prefectural Temple (Near Zhongyang Road, sec 4.). Established in the Qing Dynasty, this is the oldest temple in Hualien. edit
  • Pine Garden (Zhongmei). A peaceful garden with 63 pine trees.
  • Hualien County Stone Sculpture Museum (At the Hualien County Cultural Center.). 9:00am-5:00pm. Displays both traditional and contemporary stone sculptures. NT$20.
  • Beibin Seashore Park, Nanbin Seashore Park and Meilun Seashore Park. A scenic area of palm trees and landscaped greenery that runs the full length of the city's foreshore. The views over the Pacific Ocean are especially spectacular at sunrise.
  • Hualien Ocean Park. M-F 9:00am-5:00pm, Sa-Su 8:30am-5:00pm. Hualien's biggest man-made tourist attraction. As well as ferris wheel and cable car, the park contains eight zones showing different aspects of marine life. Children, in particular, will have an enjoyable time but for the more adventurous or those wanting a more local experience, there are many places that are much cheaper and provide a better experience of Taiwan. Adults NT$890, children NT$790.
  • Hualien Outdoors, 2 Guo Lian 3rd Street, Hualien City (Near Train station). Offers trips to some of the wilder places in Hualien and also offers help with hiking permits and does river tracing equipment rentals.
  • Whale watching. The waters off of Taitung are abundant with whales and dolphins, allowing for many close-up encounters with the wildlife.

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Events and Festivals

Buddha Bathing Festival

The Buddha bathing festival takes place on April 8 and is a Buddhist religious ceremony celebrating the birth of the Lord Buddha. The faithful bow three times to the Lord Buddha and then pour water and flowers of a statue of the baby Buddha.

Tomb Sweeping Day

Tomb Sweeping Day usually falls in early April and is a public holiday in Taiwan. Taiwanese people pray and tend to the graves of their departed relatives. Willow branches are used to decorate graves and doors in some areas and the flying of kites, carrying of flowers, and burning of incense, paper and joss sticks is common.

Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat Festival is a June public holiday originating from China that is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The day is celebrated in Taiwan with dragon boat races, eating glutinous rice dumplings, drinking wine and writing spells.

Autumn Moon Festival

The Moon Festival talks place in late September or early October, on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The festival celebrates harvest time and is characterized by giving and eating moon cakes. Dragon dances, floating lanterns, fireworks and burning incense are also common.

Ghost Festival

September is Ghost Month in Taiwan with the gates of the underworld opening on the first day and closing on the last. Throughout the month, both Buddhist and Taoist religious rituals take place that include to offerings of food, drink and burnt paper money appease the dead. Many Taiwanese avoid moving house or getting married during this month.

Double Ten Day

Double Ten Day falls on the tenth of October and is the Republic of China National Day, celebrating the start of the Wuching uprising in 1911 that resulted in the defeat of the Qing Dynasty. Proceedings begin with the raising of the Republic of China flag and singing of the Republic of China national anthem. There is a Taiwanese presidential speech and celebrations include lion dances, drumming, and fireworks.

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Getting There

By Plane

Domestic airlines connect Hualien with all of Taiwan's major cities. It a thirty minute flight to Hualien from Taipei's Sungshan Airport.

By Train

There are frequent trains from Taipei, and depending on the type of train, the journey can take from two to four and a half hours. Express trains (Taroko Express) take 2 hours and cost NT$440. The train follows the coast for part of the journey, and the left side of the train offers the best views.

There are also frequent trains to Taitung (about 3 h ours and NT$400) and, less frequently, to Kaohsiung and then Tainan.

During peak travel season, train tickets are sometimes are hard to get. It is recommended to book your trip early to ensure your seat. There is also the option to take a bus to Luodong and switch to the local train to Hualien. Combined tickets for bus and train can be bought at the Kamalan counter at Taipei bus station and the Capital bus counter at City Hall Station. The trip costs around NT$220 and buses and trains are frequent, so there is no need to book in advance.

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Getting Around

The city center is small and easy to navigate on foot, although scooters are available for rent several places around town for about NT$400 a day. Pony rental near chin yen hotel (across from the train station) is the only rental agency that will rent scooters to foreigners. Getting around by scooter is the best way to see the gorge.

Hualien is a small city without an extensive public transport system, and so it is worth considering taking taxis to areas outside the city center. Hualien station is at least a thirty-minute walk from the center of town.

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Eat

  • Nanbing Night Market (from the railway station south, following the main road towards the beach, 40 min walk). Not that spectacular compared to other cities - an attempt to put the market into a enclosed area at the edge of town, loosing the appeal of a chaotic inner city night market. Not that busy and versatile during weekdays
  • Laguardia. Good breakfast cafe across from the big post office near the train station on Chung Shan Rd. Amazing Hamburgers. Try the bacon cheese beef burger or the cod burger.
  • Country Side (accross the library, near train station.). A breakfast restaurant serving a big range of burgers, omelettes, toasts. English menu available.
  • Tosca Pasta, 95-7 Jung Mei Road. European style restaurant with European prices.
  • Irrawaddy Myanmar Restaurant, 11-1 Min Chuan Rd, ☎ +886 3-831-0077. Popular with many foreigners in Hualien.
  • Kalilaska Belarusian Cuisine (白俄羅斯餐廳~傳統菜餚), 花蓮市大同街54號, ☎ +886 963-413744. noon-9:00pm. Serves traditional Russian and Belarusian food.

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Drink

Hualien has an abundance of tea houses, cafes and bars, and also many stores specializing in locally produced tea.

  • Cafe Jade (璞石藝文空間), ☎ +886 3 834-5968. 8 Ming-li Road (花蓮市明禮路8號). A spacious and very pleasant art cafe offering regular live music and art exhibitions. Open: Mon-Thurs 8:00am-6:00pm Fri-Sun 8:00am-10:30pm.
  • Wang Ji Tea House, 565 Jong-Shan Road.
  • Bon Appétit (邦娜比堤), No.1, Ln. 176, Mingren 2nd St., Ji’an Township, Hualien County, ☎ +886 987059559, e-mail: bonappetit1014@gmail.com. daily 8:00am-9:00pm. Serves espresso, spaghetti, handmade waffles and other brunch items.

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Sleep

  • Amigos Hostel, No.68, Guolien 2nd Rd. (國聯二路68號), ☎ +886 3 8362-756, e-mail: amigoshostel.tw@gmail.com. Free WiFi, close to train station, complimentary sandwich breakfast, friendly and helpful staff. Dorms: NT$450.

1 Big Bear Hostel, No. 16, Guomin 9th Street, Hualien City, ☎ +886 978 650819, e-mail: 100bigbears@gmail.com. Cheapest hostel in the city, but smelly toilet and three level bunk beds. However, the common area is nice. You probably have to book online to get the best price. FB. Dorm bed from NT$221.

  • Chan Tai Hotel (east of the train station, on the first corner past the Visitors Centre). Tel: +886 3 8330 121/3. The more expensive rooms have a/c, TV, refrigerator ADSL and are double, with ensuite. They are very clean. Advertises with "as cheap as nearby hostel", which of course it is not, so do not fall for that. 24h reception. Double from NT$1,000.
  • Colorful Taiwan Hostel, No.121, FuQiang Rd (富強路121號), ☎ +886 955703456, e-mail: colorful_taiwan@yahoo.com.tw. (west [rear exit] of the train station, about 7 minutes' walk). Staff is very friendly, helpful and able to give tips about Hualien (transport included), that are the most economic for backpackers. Rooms are very clean and spacious, with bright & colorful decoration. Dorm rooms from NT$520, with long stay discount.
  • Formosa Backpackers Hostel, 206 Jian Guo Road, ☎ +1 886 913-810828, e-mail: formosahostels@yahoo.com. 600 books in English library, beautiful Art Deco living room with exhibition show all year around, a room with tropical garden, friendly staff. Twenty minutes walking distance from the train station and conveniently located in the city. Free WiFi, tea, etc. Don't let the "clean" look deceive you, there is a bed bug problem. NT$400 (Student NT$350).
  • Hualien Student Hostel, 40-11 Kungyuan Road, ☎ +886 3 832-4124. Offers dorms and twin rooms.
  • Hualien Monkey Surfing Backpackers Hostel (猴子衝浪背包客棧), No.5-1, Jinfeng Street (台灣 花蓮市 進豐街5-1號) (Bars area, Downtown, near the 7-Eleven (No.258, Linsen Road), located along a quiet street on Lin-Sen Road.), ☎ +886 938921330. Hostel is peaceful, spacious, clean and cozy. Beds are safe with sturdy wooden bed frames instead of metal. Every room has a private toilet equipped with strong shower jets. Dorm bed per night NT$498.
  • Mini Voyage Hostel, No. 103, Guolian 1st Rd., Hualien City (out of the railway station, take the main road to the right for about 80 m), ☎ +886 3 8321150, +886 987238150, e-mail: minivoyagehostel@gmail.com. Overall great ratings and even if they have a 16-bed dorm, it is far less scary than you think. New interior and great common area. One of the cheapest options in the city and conveniently located near the railway station. Dorm bed from NT$240.
  • Police Hostel, 15 Shuren Street (behind the main police station), ☎ +886 3 834-9433. ~5. Officially for officers of the law, this clean and pleasant hotel is also open to the public. Twin room - NT$1,000, double bed with single bed - NT$1,300.
  • Sleeping Boot Hostel, No.73, Jinfeng St (About 10 min walk from the train station. Watch out for the house number 73, the hostel is not obviously visible), ☎ +886-978-093-273, e-mail: info@sleepingboot.com. This hostel offers free WiFi, internet PC, kitchen, lobby with TV plus a very helpful and friendly owner who knows his way around the city. Dorm rooms for NT$430.
  • Yihua Daily Accommodation (located in Downtown, 10 minutes to Nanbing Night Market), e-mail: jape811@hotmail.com. Clean and convenient room type. Contact: Jackie. Single/Twin: NT$1,000; Double bed: NT$1,200.
  • Ching Yeh Hotel, 83 Kuolien-1 Road, Tel:833-0186. Near the train station. From NT$1,300.
  • Hua Tong Hotel, 165 Minkuo (Minguo) Street, ☎ +886 3 834-7568. A pleasant and centrally located hotel.
  • Your majest B&B (King Hotel), No.13, Jieyue St, ☎ +886 38 322666, e-mail: joe.hi@msa.hinet.net. Quirky rooms decorated in individualistic styles. Close to night market and general downtown. Deep bathtubs good for soaking sore muscles. All rooms have ethernet, but wifi is limited. Friendly, helpful staff - if you have a Mandarin speaker in the party. Mid-week rate from NT$1,500 do not include breakfast.
  • Fuyuan B&B (The Rosestone Inn), 48, Haibin Avenue, ☎ +886 3 8542317, +886 903 133711, e-mail: rosestone@gmail.com. Built in the style of a traditional Chinese house with courtyard.
  • Fisherman's Inn, 10 Chong Shan Rd, ☎ +886 9 55537142, e-mail: zacattack1313@gmail.com. # Sec. 1, Lane 115, Jian, Contact: Zac Harper. Weekend and weekday prices are the same, NT$2240/2640 for two person rooms, and NT$3040 for our 4 person room.
  • Sheep house B&B (hualien minsu), ☎ +886 931-297-277, e-mail: helen@sheep-chimney.com. Country style guesthouse with a beautiful garden and the lovely cottages in the site of the Sheep House, within 10 minutes you can also get to all the famous sightseeing spots in Hualien by car. BBQ area, bicycle and motorcycle rental, free breakfast, WiFi, free shuttle service to train station. Room rate NT$1,800-3,000.
  • Bellevista Hotel, 18 Shanling, Yanliau Tsuen, Shoufeng Shiang, ☎ +886 3 812-3999, fax: +886 3 812-3988. A sprawling resort-style hotel offering spectacular views over the Pacific Ocean.
  • Parkview Hotel, ☎ +886 3 222-2111. 1-1 Lin-Yuan. One of Hualien's most luxurious hotels.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes are plentiful, although you may have to wander around before finding one. Rather, Internet cafes in Taiwan should be called gaming cafes. These are often found on the first or second floor of a building, and equipped with very comfortable chairs and large screens. Each hour of Internet access/game play is cheap, coming in at around $20. For free internet access in big cities, try out the local libraries. In addition, a wireless internet accessing net covering all of Taipei City is available and Kaohsiung City is currently under construction. There is also a common wifi network available at every McDonald's.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The international calling code for Taiwan is 886. The emergency numbers include 110 (police) 119 (medical, fire) and the standard GSM emergency number 112 is supported in mobile networks. Numbers starting with 0800 are commercial toll-free numbers. Mobile phone coverage is generally excellent in Taiwan, with the exception of some remote mountainous areas. Among the major providers are Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile, Far EasTone and Vibo. Taiwan has both GSM 900/1800 and 3G (UMTS/W-CDMA 2100) networks and roaming might be possible for users of such mobile phones, subject to agreements between operators. If you bring your own cellphone, buy a local SIM-card for the lowest prices and be sure your phone is unlocked.

Post

Chungwa Post is the national postal service of Taiwan. It offers fast and reliable postal services, both domestic and internationally. Post offices are generally open from 8:00am to 5:00pm during weekdays, though some keep longer hours or are open on Saturday (morning). Prices for sending postcards or letters (up to 20 grams) start at NT$5 within the country, while postcards by airmail to other countries start at around NT$10-12 per item, and letters are slightly more expensive. There is a wide range in prices regarding international parcel sending, and other companies like DHL, TNT, FedEx and UPS offer similar services.

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This is version 3. Last edited at 15:12 on Mar 11, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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