Things to Do if You Only Have One day in Taiwan’s Hualien County
Taiwan has become one of the most visited destinations of Filipinos today. The proximity of Manila to Taipei made it easy for us to afford traveling to the country. But aside from Taipei, Kaohsiung, and Taichung, I feel like I haven't been seeing enough visitors of Hualien County on my feed. For me, it’s a perfect place for nature and food lovers, just a few hours away from the city. One day is indeed not enough to explore the whole county. But I think I can help you plan out a day of adventure in Hualien to make your short stay worth it.
Hualien County Day Tour: A Summary
If you only have one day in Hualien, I suggest starting your day with the Taroko National Park Tour. There are tours which generally begins at 8 AM until 4 PM. After this, you will still have time to explore other spots in the county before capping the day off at the Dongdamen Night Market. Then, you can either continue partying at one of Hualien county’s youth hostels or head back to Taipei for the night.
Taroko National Park
You can take the earliest train from Taipei Main Station to Hualien Station if you don’t plan to stay at Hualien for at least a night. The tours usually start at 8 AM anyway. (I also started at 8 AM during my 2015 visit.) So, if you have no problems with waking up and preparing early in the morning, taking the train would be just fine.
The Taroko National Park is one of Hualien’s pride. A lot of local and international visitors come to Hualien county to explore one of Taiwan’s nine national parks. And because I’ve seen the place with my very eyes, I think I’m entitled to say that it’s a must-visit.
Even the train ride from Taipei going to Hualien county is scenic. The view of the Pacific Ocean from the Qingxi Cliff is breathtaking. The cliff is also a popular prenuptial photoshoot area in the province. I don't blame them, I am technically an island girl, but seeing mountains and seas still excites me.
True to its name, there are a lot of gorges in Taroko Gorge. I’ve once seen a friend’s post where she was standing in one of them. However, I didn’t get the chance to do the same. During my visit, there were closed parts of the national park because the rocks were falling. It’s one of the things that you must take note of when visiting. They regularly check the area for falling rocks. So, don’t be surprised if you won’t be able to see everything in one day.
Aside from the gorges and the breathtaking scenery of the Pacific Ocean, there are also a lot of hanging bridges inside the national park. I don’t know about you. But even though it’s a little nerve-wracking to walk on those, I’m quite fascinated with them.
The Eternal Spring of Shrine is also a must-visit place at the Taroko National Park in Hualien County. It is a memorial complex in the county showcasing the view of the mountains and the waterfalls. In here, you will see the list of the names of 212 veterans who died while constructing the highway between 1956- 1960.
Other places to visit in Hualien County
If you like biking, visiting the Qixingtan beach via bicycle must be a real adventure for you. The southern part of the beach is much closer to Hualien City. The beach is a perfect spot for stargazing during the night. Just note that setting up fireworks in the vicinity is against the rules.
If you have more time to explore, you can try visiting one of Hualien's temples. The county is also famous for whale watching and water sports. But that's more feasible during an extended stay.
Dongdamen Night Market
If you've been doing your research about Taiwan, you must already know that they love night markets. And of course, Hualien has its contender. They, too, have their very own night market. And Dongdamen night market is the largest night market in the country. So, don’t be surprised if you find yourself exploring here for hours.
There are a lot of stalls there that sells varieties of food from scallion pancakes to desserts. If you have an idea of how much Taiwanese love their street foods, you will not let the opportunity of visiting this place go. If I were not alone during my travel, I would have been able to try more food. But I had no one to share the meal with, so it was hard for me to buy everything I wanted.
Dongdamen night market isn’t just for the food lovers, but for shoppers as well. You will find endless shops that sell products from novelty socks to clothing. There are tons of Totoro items here, too. More than what I saw in Japan. I guess Totoro is popular in Taiwan. So of course, I had to buy some for myself. This trip was, after all, I have embraced the art of minimalism.
There is also an area for games where you can win prizes and of course, acts to entertain visitors. Even during the weeknights, the night market already had a lot of visitors so I can only imagine when it’s the weekend.
Dongdamen night market opens at 5.30 PM and closes at 11.30 PM.
When I thought of visiting Hualien county during my first solo international travel, I was hesitant at first. That’s why I opted for a paid English tour even though it was costly. But looking back, I think that it was worth it. I had a lot of fun. Of course, the hiking trails were great exercises for me, too.
Visitors these days have it easy, though. There’s already KKDay which provides English guided tours which are way cheaper than renting a whole van all to yourself. (That's what I did, and it cost me almost PHP 7,000 in 2015!) They even have a selection where you can opt to have your local lunch served.
At this day, Hualien is far more accessible than during my visit. That’s why if I had it fun and comfortable during my time, I’m sure you will, too. So, if you’re still deciding if you should go or not, consider this. Let the photos do the talking and let the natural beauty of Hualien county convince you.