Hualien Trip

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Category: Taiwan

December 19th, 2012. Currently in: Taipei, Taiwan / GMT+8

This blog post is also available in Japanese.


Last week my best friend visited me from Japan so we took a short trip together to Hualien, a town in East Taiwan, together.



There is a train you can take if you would like to go straight to Hualien from Taipei, but we stopped by at Jiufen on our way to Hualien.

Taking a bus from Zhongxiao Fuxing station, it is about an hour trip from Taipei to Jiufen. The driver spoke Japanese and helped us from getting off at a wrong station!


Jiufen, unfortunately, was raining quite hard. We have rain pretty much every day in Taipei in December but it seems like it rains even harder in Jiufen.

We quickly walked through the arcade full of small shops, went to see the famous tea house from the movie Spirited Away by Miyao Hayazaki and ended our Jiufen sightseeing.

You should be able to see the great view if it was sunny. And even if it is raining hard and cold, it was definitely worth going.


Stay in Hualien

We took taxi from Jiufen to Ruifang then got on the train from there to Hualien. After 2.5 hours of train ride in which my friend and I did not stop talking catching up each other’s stories of the last two months, we arrived at Hualien station. One of the owners of the hostel we stayed in came to pick us up at the station.

We stayed at Shin-i Sei-chi Minshuku, a very clean hostel (more like a hotel) ran by a Japanese and Taiwanese couple. It’s a Japanese-friendly hostel (I believe the website is only available in Japanese) however the owner told me that about half of their customers are Japanese and the other half is a complete mix. The owners can also speak English.

The beautiful room renovated just two years ago had pretty much everything you need – wifi, a double bed, TV, small table with two chairs, fridge, quite big bathroom with wonderful water pressure (I find this quite rare in Taiwan), and all the goods including toothbrush, shampoo, soap, towels and hair dryer. 1,200 NT (about 36 USD) for a room / night for two people.

Although I was really happy to find this comfortable room, it was not the best part. The owners were very kind and knew exactly what we need. As soon as we arrived, the Japanese owner, Katagiri-san, welcomed us and gave us all the details about where to see and eat with his handmade map. The two restaurants we went from his list were both amazingly delicious: a goose restaurant and a seafood restaurant, both specialty of Hualien.


Taroko Tour

We had asked for the Taroko Gorge tour on our second day when we made our reservation. Leaving the hostel at 9am, the tour took the whole day until our return at 5pm. Katagiri-san, our hostel owner, was our wonderful guide.

It is not a surprise that his tour is so good, now I know that he has taken over 4,000 people on his tour!


The Ocean in Hualien

The first stop of our tour was the seashore of Hualien, so beautiful in color with huge waves. It’s hard to tell by the photo but the waves were so big I was even frightened a little.

Because the sea deepens down close to the shore, Katagiri-san told us that the nets we saw not too far from the shore can catch fishes in deep ocean such as headfishes and bonitos. Hualien is actually famous for headfish, which we enjoyed at a seafood restaurant for our second dinner at Hualien.

It’s hard to believe such a beautiful ocean and the amazing mountains can be seen in a single view!


Katagiri-san tells us so many stories as we go. He also gives us his original 10 quizzes, so difficult that the average score he says is 2.5 and the highest is 5.5 of 10 points, but really interesting and you can learn so much about Taiwan, also about Japan.


Taroko George

Here we come! We arrived at the Taroko National Park, where the famous Taroko George is in. I can hardly tell how amazing it is just by the words of photos.


Driving through the magnificent gorge, we stopped and walked around at certain spots, had lunch, listened to Katagiri-san’s talk. But really, we were just blown away by this nature.


It is not just tourists who take the road at Taroko National Park. This is the only road to go to Taichung from Hualien therefore used by many locals however with this dynamic nature, the road is often damaged by rockfall or mudslide, especially after typhoon. We too saw a lot of signs “Beware of Rockfall!” and traces of the damages.


I would highly recommend Taroko National Park if you ever have a chance to visit Hualien. I’m not sure how much information he would be able to give you in English, but Katagiri-san’s tour was great indeed. It was 1,500 NT (about 45 USD) per person for more than two.


The Native Dance

We went to see the dance by natives at night, held daily for free of charge. The girls were very pretty with colorful costumes and the men’s dance were very powerful.


I really liked Hualien, so glad I had a chance to visit. It is not very far from Taipei, highly recommended!


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