When it comes to Hualien, the first place people have in mind is usually Taroko National Park. In fact, there are still a lot of places that are worth visiting in Hualien. We will show you something different and interesting, so you can plan your another trip to Hualien right now!
1. First Stop: Learn how to become a Amis hunter
Go to Cidal Hunter School (吉籟獵人學校) to experience the lifestyle and traditional knowledge of Amis tribe.
After 30-minute drive south from Hualien City, you would get to this Amis community and start the hunter experience course. The hunter will teach you how to weave a headdress, symbolic of the unity of the Amis tribe, from coconut leaves. The next lesson is weaving rope and creating a container for holding water from natural plant materials. After this, you are taught how to start a fire without the use of matches or a lighter. It is quite hard but very interesting. All of these skills are needed for surviving and hunting in the mountains. These activities will brings to the fore the wonderful harmony relationship between the human race and mother earth.
Danongdafu Forest Park is located in Guangfu Town of Hualien County, the southern area of Hualien. The mild bike trails are attractive to people who love cycling and people who’s not very good at cycling. It seem like you can temporarily throw all your worries away when cycling. What else you will ask for when cycling along the secretive trails and lush trees with wild sky above. Once you visit here, you will never want to leave (or never want to get back to work).
Liyu Lake is only 18 kilometers from Hualien City. To be frank, here is not a prosperous attraction, but it’s a nice place with peaceful atmosphere to relax you. Every year around March to May is the best time to spot fireflies and butterflies in the area. If you’d like to do some light outdoor activities, don’t miss Liyu Lake.
The bicycle path that circles the lake is around 5 kilometers long, and allows cyclists to experience the pleasant natural beauty of the lakes and mountains from their vehicles. Liyu Mountain has many forest footpaths which allow hikers to enjoy the birds, flowers, and scenery, making it one of the best exercise choices. Besides, here are also some water activities such as kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and paddle boat experiencing. If you are looking for a place which is suitable for the whole family, Liyu Lake would be a good choice.
When looking for restaurant recommendations abroad, travelers always fantasize about a “local” who will guide them to the best and authentic meal. Today, as locals like us, would like to show you what we love to eat in our real lives.
Stir-Fried Dishes Restaurant 台式熱炒
Stir-friend dishes restaurant is the right place for you if you don’t want to eat with the tourists and want to try something local. Having hands of beers and some stir-fried dishes with friends could be considered as the local night life for Taiwanese. The environment of the stir-fried dishes restaurant is noisy, but it also means you can be fully relaxed and laugh as loud as you want when having meals with your friends, colleagues or family.
Each dish in the restaurant costs only 100-300 TWD , which is a very reasonable price! Some stir-fried dishes restaurants provide fresh seafood and you can pick fish or shrimp which is still alive by yourselves before the chef cook the cuisine for you.
What’s more interesting, some dishes are dubbed with really fancy names such as Ants Climbing a Tree, Old Skin Soft Flesh or Flies’ Head.
Ants Climbing a Tree
Ground meat cooked with glass noodles with soy sauce. It looks like tiny little ants climbing up the branches.
Old Skin Soft Flesh
Fried egg tofu. It looks like old people’s wrinkled skin on the outside and new-born babies’s soft skin on the inside.
Cooked with minced meat, chopped chive and fermented black beans. The big black beans look like there are some visitors on your dish.
Hot Pot / Spicy Hot Pot / Twin-side Hot Pot 火鍋
I believe hot pot is definitely one of Taiwanese favorite cuisine since we have a variety of hot pot restaurants here in Taiwan from spicy hot pot, twin-side hot pot, all-you-can eat hot pot, sukiyaki, hot pot BBQ and shabu-shabu. Oh! We even have stinky tofu hot pot!
There will be a simmering pot of soup stock at the dining table, containing a variety of ingredients such as thinly sliced meat, leaf vegetables, mushrooms, wontons, egg dumplings, tofu, and seafood…etc. The cooked food is usually eaten with a dipping sauce.
Taiwanese also pay attention to the matching the temperature of foods to the body’s needs, so in the winter, ginger duck with rice wine, mutton hotpot and Taiwanese sesame oil chicken stew are the popular hot pot as well. They are SO aromatic that will make you can’t wait to taste them.
Braised Dishes 滷味
Taiwanese people love eating braised food as it’s quick, convenient and delicious. There are two kinds of braised dishes mainly, cold and heated braised dishes.
The ingredients of braised dishes is various from vegetables, mushrooms, eggs, dried tofu to tempura. If you like to weird food (locals like us feel tasty), you can also order some animal’s entrails such us pork liver, chicken heart or duck’s gizzard.
For cold braised dishes, the ingredients are braised with soy sauce. You can eat them directly after picking what you want to eat from the vendor. For heated braised dishes, the only different is that the vendor will cook your food in hot water with soy sauce or some Chinese herbal so that the food will be tasty. You can also order the noodles and the vendor will cook them with the ingredients you pick together. Choose whether to add pickle and chopped spring onion to add some flavor.
Kenting is located at Hengchun township, Pingtung. In Chinese, “Hengchun” means that it feels like Spring all year round in that area. So even though you wrap yourself up like a ball with heavy clothes in winter, you can throw them all away and change into bikini and slippers and run towards the sunshine and beaches when you are in Kenting.
Taroko Gorge is one of the must-visit attractions for many travelers who come to Taiwan, so our travel consultants often answer all sorts of questions and provides suggestions about visiting Taroko. Today we have collected the frequently asked questions to share with you. If you can’t find your questions here, you are welcome to leave a message below!
Brad is a senior executive at a multinational company. He frequented Asia a lot on business trips but this was his first time in Taiwan. Since he only planned a weekend in Taiwan, he hoped to use this limited time to travel to Taiwan’s landmarks as well as experience the life as a Taiwanese. Therefore Amy the tour consultant, helped him organize a basic one day trip in Taipei and a one day trip in Yangmingshan (Yang Ming Mountain). What Brad enjoyed the most was when we took him to experience Taipei’s very own UBike!
My name is Lukas. I am 19 and from Germany. I worked at Topology for four and a half months. My tasks were about organizing and hosting tours as well as promoting and improving them together with my colleagues.
Photo: I am the one in the middle of the first row.
I chose Taiwan because I wanted to experience Asian culture. In my opinion Taiwan has the best mix of it. Furthermore Taiwan offers a lot of nice landscape and huge choice of activities.
Taiwan and Germany are very different starting with religion and cultural influences and ending with food and everyday working. Following I will give you a small insight into the Taiwanese everyday life and point out the main differences between Germany (or European countries) and Taiwan.
Photo: Taiwan has variety of fruits and most of them are pretty nice!
Taiwanese have a special relationship to food. They love to eat many different kind of good and clean food. Eating together and inviting a lot of people to share food and stories are common.
I was invited by the boss of the hostel I stayed several times to have dinner together with his grandma and once we did a barbecue during a typhoon. There is not really much that can stop Taiwanese from a good barbecue.
The food itself is very delicious but very uncommon for Europeans. Furthermore the overall preparation of food is different. Germans don’t eat rice and noodles that much and particularly pork tastes different. I think the difference is caused by the feeding and preparation of the animals. All in all it tasted so well that I ate tons of it.
But the main difference between here and Germany is the dinner itself. Taiwanese will meet their friends, buy a lot of food and have kind of a buffet. Additional they have the Chinese tables which have a rotating plate in the middle.I like that very much. You simply don’t have to eat what you don’t like.
Another advantage of having dinner here as a guest, you will get offered tons of food. They don’t accept a simple “No thanks. I’m full”. You have to say it 4-6 times before they understand that you cannot eat anything more without exploding.
And don’t be afraid of dirty food, it nearly doesn’t exists here. Nevertheless would have a small first aid set in my backpack in case I don’t stomach some food.
The environment in Taiwan is really stunning. Everything you want can be found. Hiking in the famous Taroko Gorge or even just in Taipei (e.g. Elephant Mountain), natural hot springs in the north and along the east coast (Beitou, Jiaoxi in Yilan or Chipen in Taitung…etc), surfing and swimming all over Taiwan, aboriginal culture, temples, huge cities and a lot of small fancy villages like Jiufen or Dulan. All this makes Taiwan one of the most worthy countries to travel. If I compare it with Germany, hiking in the Alps and visiting the north sea are amazing but Taiwan has more options, especially when it comes to activities and distance. The thing you should notice it that there may be typhoons during summer time.
The people in Taiwan are all very kind and helpful. It is amazing how they care about you even if you are a foreigner. Getting lost is very hard because everyone will try to help you. And don’t be afraid if you travel Taiwan as a European or American. It might be strange that a lot of people will eye you, because you are different. But no worries, the most smile back.
When it comes to language it is hard to communicate in English if you are not in Taipei. But there is always a solution. They will ask someone, who knows English, to come over and help or communicate with hand and feet. Taiwanese are great at that.
They also have a remarkable mix of culture and history. The Japanese ruled Taiwan for 50 years, so there is a lot of influence from there. Furthermore Chinese culture, of course. You also can visit aboriginal tribes in eastern Taiwan. Additionally Confucian values are very important. You can find huge plates with the characters for “honor your parents” and “loyalty” in elementary schools. You will find a lot of these values in the everyday life.
As a traveller, altruism is the most present. I experienced to be invited to family dinners, being driven to the next train station, showed around the city and doing activities together. I didn’t experienced something like this in Germany yet. Particularly asking people if they need help finding the way and taking them to their destination is what Taiwanese makes so special.
Additional you can talk and discuss almost everything. The people are very open minded. Also the way of dealing with conflicts is different from other Asian countries. Talking directly about the things you don’t like or criticize is more common here, still not that hash as in Germany, but it was very easy for me to adapt to it.
Travel Guide Book vs. Real Life Experience
Getting lost while travelling is not something very spectacular. During my trip around Taiwan I got lost many times but this was mostly caused by non-existent skills in Chinese.
I travelled with Lonely Planet, Bradt and several online Blogs as well as with the advice from Topology Travel. But the main difference between the travel book and the experience is that you will meet several inconveniences which don’t show up in the book. Sights are described very beautifully but they do not mention how to get there by public transport. For example at the east coast of Taiwan, public transport is very limited. Sometimes there is only one bus a day but the travel guide doesn’t mention it. Or the famous Walami trail in Hualien, which is described as one of the best hiking trail. The travel books never mentioned that getting there is very complicated if you don’t have a car or a scooter.
I wouldn’t recommend driving there if you are not used to Taiwanese roads and driving style. The roads are very narrow and can be very dangerous. In my opinion only experienced drivers should drive there.
Concluding travel guides are good to get an impression of your destination and the surroundings, but for actual travelling, I recommend to use more than two different travel guides, several blogs and get help from locals!
A local travel agency offers you the best advice and some of them, like Topology travel, offer customized tours. This may cost money, but you can be sure to get the most reliable information. Hiring a travel agency is also the easiest way to get good information.
If you are travelling low budget, the staff from your hostel and other travellers you meet are also really nice opportunities to get advice.
Furthermore I really recommend to get a SIM card and mobile internet. Google maps was one of my best friends while travelling!
With all these experiences I made, I would really recommend to get some help. If you can speak Chinese you might don’t have a lot of these problems, but a few spots are a bit tricky and you will need help. The choice is up to you!
Natalya from the Philippines reached out to us in March, 2017. She mentioned that her mother was not able to walk for a very long time and needed to rely on wheelchair to move. This made it difficult for the travel consultant to create a suitable trip for them. Of course, she hoped that this limitation would not affect the great opportunity for the family to travel and explore Taiwan together.
Natalya’s travel consultant was Shirley. Since Shirley’s mother relies on wheelchair to move as well, they had a lot to talk about. First of all, Shirley carefully checked Natalya’s requirement based on her own experience, including the need to book a wheelchair-friendly room, the daily necessities, and the things to pay extra attention to when going out. For example, Shirley’s mother always runs into an issue; that is, the car’s chassis is too high for her to get in and out of the vehicles easily.
After checking the details over and over again, Shirley recommended suitable destinations according to the condition of Natalya’s mother. For instance, the Erzihping Trail of Yangming Mountain, the Chung-Shan Building, and the Yehliu Geopark are all touristic spots full equipped with wheelchair-friendly facilities. In the beginning, Natalya wished that Sun Moon Lake could be included in the 4-day trip, but Shirley was worried that the family might be too tired due to their flight schedule. Therefore, she recommended them to stick with Taipei and the cities nearby. In the end, Natalya agreed on Shirley professional advice.
What’s more interesting was that not until after a few e-mails did Shirley know that Natalya’s parents had come to Taiwan for their honeymoon. Visiting here with new family members definitely will create new meaning for them.
On their first day setting foot on Taiwan, Shirley visited Natalya’s family personally in order to understand the real condition of Natalya’s mother. This way, she could make sure that the wheelchair, crutch-chair, and other equipment that we had prepared are suitable for them. In addition, Shirley also bought the famous dessert, taro balls, from the NingXia Night Market as a treat for the customers.
After the trip, Natalya also shared her experience on TripAdvisor. She mentioned that Taiwan was not their first choice; however, after visiting here in person, she was moved by the beauty of Yehliu and the cultural atmosphere of Jiufen. Even the National Palace Museum alone was enough for them to come back to Taiwan for a few more times. More importantly, because the tour guide took good care of them and introduced Taiwan in an interesting way, they were relaxed and able to enjoy every single spots at their own pace.
Seeing Natalya bringing her family to Taiwan regardless of the difficulties inspires Shirley to try to bring her mother abroad. This mutual inspiration is not what the travel consultant expected but is the most precious memory for the both.
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