Book your Eastern Taiwan activities and tours with the promo code <TTIGOESTAIWAN> to enjoy a 5% discount on any of the activities we’ve experienced in this itinerary.
The Best of Eastern Taiwan
Public transport: In more developed cities like Taipei and Kaohsiung, public transportation is both time and cost-efficient. Get the rechargeable Happy Cash Card (S$4) for use on both transport as well as payment in convenience stores such as Family Mart found all over Taiwan!
Staying Connected: Traveller’s Sim Cards and 4G Wifi devices are readily available for purchase or rental at Taoyuan International Airport’s arrival hall.
Car rental: Renting a car (S$62/day) to self-drive around eastern Taiwan is the easiest and most efficient way! Alternatively, take the scenic TRA (Taiwan Railway Administration 臺灣鐵路) trains from one county to another.
D1 – Taipei
Lunch at Crazy Cart Café
Other than having food, the Crazy Cart Café is a unique go-cart concept store that brings a speedy adventure to meals! The cafe is located slightly out of the touristy belt of Taipei and may not be the easiest to find, but is sure worth the effort!
Each meal session lasts 2.5 hours only, so do plan your time well between carting and eating!
Cost: NT$650 (NT$500 for Go-Cart), NT$300 min. order for patrons not doing go-cart.
Tuesday, Saturday – Sunday: 11:30AM – 2PM, 3 – 5:30PM, and 6 – 8:30PM
Wednesday – Friday: 12 – 2:30PM, 3 – 5:30PM, and 6 – 8:30PM
Closed on Mondays
Address: No. 300, Yangguang Street, Neihu District, Taipei City, Taiwan 114 [300號陽光街內湖區臺北市]
Read also: 25 Unique Experiences in Taiwan
Hunt Down a Locals’ Hideout — MAJI MAJI
A new kid on the block, MAJI Square (MAJI集食行樂) is a conglomeration of local stalls from food to little trinkets such as in handmade earrings and bracelets. Walk around the hipster carnival set-up for some shopping.
Opening Hours: 11AM – 9PM
Location: No. 1, Yumen Street, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 10491 [臺北市中山區玉門街1號]
Tsay Chuen Kuan Massage Treatment 再春館
My first Taiwanese massage at Tsay Chuen Kuan Massage has opened me up to a whole new world of physiological indulgence. Unlike the Thai-style massage that we’re familiar with, Taiwanese massage is more of a therapy that alleviates aches, targeting specifically at lymph nodes and the circulatory system. Choose either foot reflexology or a full body massage and you’re guaranteed to feel rejuvenated after the therapy session.
Opening Hours: 9:30AM – 11PM
Location: No. 8, 2/F, Section 2, Nanjing Dong Lu, Zhong Zheng District, Taipei City [臺北市中正區南京東路二段8號2樓]
Accommodation in Taipei
Booking of accommodation was through the Skyscanner app was a breeze as it filters the “best”, or most worth it, by price points and ratings. With that, we found ourselves a luxurious yet affordable option, Taipei Marriott Hotel, situated in a quieter side of Taipei.
Cost: From S$274/night for a double room
Address: No. 199 Lequn 2nd Road (intersection with Jinye 4th Road), Zhongshan District, Taipei, Taiwan [臺北市中山區樂群二路199號 (與敬業四路交叉口)]
D2: Taipei – Yilan
Breakfast at Lailai Soy Milk 來來豆漿
We started the day with traditional Taiwanese breakfast at Lailai Soy Milk that’s just a short 10min walk away from Taipei Marriott Hotel. We ordered a bowl of savoury soybean milk (NT$32/bowl) out of curiosity having heard so much about Taiwanese soy milk.
Well, it’s definitely an acquired taste not many can stomach. If I were to best describe the taste, it’s like drinking a bowl of egg-drop soup with youtiao. Also recommended is the pan-fried beef puff (牛肉餡餅) generously stuffed with juicy beef within.
Opening Hours: Opens 24h
Address: No. 93, Section 1, Neihu Road, Neihu District, Taipei City, Taiwan 114 [台北市內湖區內湖路一段93號]
Day Tour to Yilan from Taipei
Some interesting stores we saw included an ornamental glass shop where a skilled craftsman intricately sculpted tiny glass leaves from molten glass.
Another shop sold soaps of every scent you can imagine — including unusual scents like coffee and vinegar.
2) Dong Shan River Park (冬山河親水公園) — Accessible by a boat ride from the arts centre, explore the park either on a quadracycle with your friends or simply cycle solo. The cycling path starts from the iconic red Lizejian Bridge (利澤簡橋) and loops at Dongshan Railway Station (冬山車站). The one-way distance is about 5km, and a slow loop ride will take about 1.5–2 hours.
3) Kavalan distillery (噶瑪蘭酒廠) — the only whisky distillery in Taiwan, Kavalan made headlines internationally in 2015 with its Solist Vinho Barrique being named the “World’s Best Single Malt Whisky” by the World Whiskies Awards.
Within the distillery, you’ll be able to see the processes of whisky-making and the history of Kavalan. Tasting and DIY Blending tours are available daily from 10:10AM – 4:10PM upon advanced successful registration.
Fun fact, “Kavalan” is the olden indigenous name of “Yilan” where the distillery sits at now!
Entrance Fee: FREE
The visit to Kavalan Distillery was definitely the highlight of our day tour, and it will take up to 4 full hours including the tasting session and shopping. Do communicate with your driver on places you’ll want to visit. The day tour is very flexible, and drivers are usually very accommodating.
Day Tour from Taipei: Yilan
Cost: S$201 (Chi-speaking driver) / S$223 (Eng-speaking driver) per vehicle (up to 4 persons).
Pick-up & Drop-off: Any address within Taipei city. As this tour is flexible, you can also request to be dropped-off at Yilan.
Accommodation in Yilan
Activities continue into the night as we checked ourselves into Art Spa Hotel (中冠礁溪大飯店) in Jiaoxi (礁溪), a rural township of Yilan that’s most famous for its underground hot springs. It’s said that Jiaoxi residents even pipe the spring water into their homes!
Art Spa Hotel has 50 hot springs facilities within the hotel’s compound, and every room has its own hot spring tub!
The highlight would be a 5-storey high spiral pool slide that leads into a hot spring pool. Thankfully, my morbid thought of being boiled alive like a prawn sliding into a pot of hot oil slowly turning into tempura didn’t happen.
While the hot spring pools are open daily from 7:30AM – 10:30PM, the spiral slide only operates hourly at 10AM, 2PM, 4PM, 7:30PM, and 9PM.
Address: No. 6, Deyang Road, Jiaoxi Township, Yilan County, Taiwan 262 [宜蘭縣礁溪鄉德陽路6號]
Day Trip to Toucheng: Turtle Island & Whale-Watching 宜蘭龜山島登島賞鯨之旅
Taiwan’s eastern seas often see dolphins and whales during the warmer months, and we heard Turtle Island (龜山島) is the place to go. Not wanting to miss the opportunity of seeing wild dolphins, we pre-booked the Turtle Island & Dolphin Watching Tour.
A 35-minute ferry ride brought us to Turtle Island (龜山島) — a volcanic island dating back to 7,000 years ago. The guided walk brought us through a couple of abandoned buildings that hint of a past in an otherwise empty land.
After the one hour guided tour at Turtle Island, we hopped back onto the ferry and started our dolphin-watching cruise. The seas were very calm and we managed to see a lot of dolphins at close proximity.
Many times, the dolphins were right beneath our boat, swimming playfully as though playing a game of catch with us. Dolphin-watching is only available during the months of March through November.
Day Tour from Yilan, Toucheng: Turtle Island Whale Watching Tour
Cost: S$58/pax (excl. on-site island cleaning fee of NT$100/pax)
Duration: 3.5 – 4 hours
Onwards to Hualien via Rail
After a fruitful day in Yilan, we took a rail train to Hualien (花蓮). The journey takes about 1.5–2 hours, depending on the type of train you choose. Do book your train tickets online (~NT$240) in advance or risk not being able to get on a cross-county train!
Dongdamen Night Market 東大門夜市
Dongdamen Night Market is made up of four adjacent smaller night markets, and there’s nothing you can’t find here with 400 vendors selling traditional aboriginal treats to the highly raved brown sugar bubble milk tea.
Unlike typical Taiwanese night markets that are a squeezy and sweaty mess, Dongdamen Night Market’s walking paths are almost three times the size of regular night markets.
One interesting stall that caught our eyes was “Taiwan Hamburger” (NTD65) that sold Chinese buns with stir-fried noodles encased within. And we thought we’ve seen it all with fusion food! We guarantee an explosion of flavours in your mouth with this one!
Opening Hours: 5:30PM – 11:30PM
Address: No. 50, Zhongshan Road, Hualien City, Hualien County, Taiwan 970 [花蓮縣花蓮市中山路50號]
Accommodation in Hualien
Taiwan has been famous for their homestays, or minsu (民宿), before bed and breakfast management companies became a thing for budget travellers. In Taiwan, homestays are not just cheaper lodging options, but also a way for travellers to experience an authentic Taiwanese lifestyle.
We stayed in Jinghua Homestay 菁華河畔民宿, a clean and spacious space perfect for a travelling party of 2-6. If you’re looking for a true experience of staying with a local yet not invading their space and privacy, Jinghua Homestay is a lodge just like that. Also, the host Mrs. Hsu makes the best breakfast every morning.
Costs: From S$116/night for a double room
Address: No.18, Aly. 1, Ln. 35, Jinghua St., Hualien, Taiwan 970 [花蓮縣花蓮市菁華街35巷1弄18號]
River Trekking in Hualien 花蓮溯溪冒險體驗
Hualien is known to be one of Taiwan’s most scenic county and the gateway to nature by the eastern coast. Our quest for adventure led us to a river trekking activity (a.k.a canyoning) in Hualien.
Be prepared to be blown away by the views of the stunningly clear emerald waters. Being physically fit is a must, as walking upwards a stream is not as easy as it seems.
River Trekking Tour in Hualien
Pick-up & drop-off: Any location in Hualien
Must-Eats & Must-Sees in Hualien
Food choices are aplenty along Zhongshan Road from Hualien Railway station till Dongdamen Night Market. Below are some of the noteworthy foods we tried in Hualien!
1) Guosheng Fried Chicken 國聲沾醬香雞排: These addictive fried chicken comes in two flavours — plum sauce or their own homemade signature sauce.
Opening Hours: 7PM – 1AM
Address: No. 226, Linsen Road, Hualien City, Hualien County, Taiwan [花蓮縣花蓮市林森路226號]
2) Old Bombing Egg Green Onion Pancake 老牌炸蛋蔥油餅: Scallion pancakes are ubiquitous in Taiwan, but if you’re looking for epic, try Old Bombing Egg. For only NT$30, you’ll get a golden crispy scallion pancake that has runny yolk oozing out. Get there early or expect to queue up to an hour for it!
Opening Hours: 1PM – 7PM (Closed on Wednesdays)
Address: No. 2, Lane 110, Fuxing Street, Hualien City, Hualien County, Taiwan 970 [花蓮縣花蓮市復興街110巷2號]
3) Hualien Bo’ai Special Zone 花蓮博愛特區(逃。花蓮): This small alley of Bo’ai Street in Hualien is the true meaning of “hidden gem”. Tucked away in a quiet street, this alley is a collective of hipster pop-up stalls and cafes remodelled after Taiwan of the 1960s. Walking down memory lane never felt more literal!
Address: Lane 159, Bo’ai Street, Hualien City, Hualien County, Taiwan 970 [花蓮縣花蓮市博愛街159巷]
4) NANIWA MARU 浪花丸 かき氷•島食
A minute’s walk from Jinghua Homestay is this adorable Japanese shaved ice shop we couldn’t say no to. From shop setting to menu design, every little detail of NANIWA MARU 浪花丸 かき氷•島食 fascinates. Our shaved ice bowls came shaped like a teddy bear’s head!
Opening Hours: 1PM – 6PM (Closed on Wednesdays)
Address: No. 1-5, Lane 4, Jinghua Street, Hualien City, Hualien County, Taiwan 970 [花蓮縣花蓮市菁華街4巷1-5號]
River Shrimping with BBQ Dinner 花蓮夜間抓溪蝦體驗
At night, we signed ourselves up for a river shrimping tour to catch our own dinner. Unlike the usual prawning we’re used to in Singapore, this activity requires slightly more effort. After a quick crash course on catching shrimps in the dark, we were handed headlamps, wet boots, and nets.
The shrimps‘ tiny eyes will look like two bright little purplish orbs under our headlamps, and that’s how you can spot them little prawns in the pitch black stream.
After around 40mins of catching, or trying our luck scooping up some unlucky shrimps, we were gathered back to our meeting point for dinner. And no, we don’t actually eat the shrimps we caught as they are too small and not suitable to be eaten, so they’re released back into the stream. Instead, our guides had nicely prepared us some barbecued meat and bamboo rice.
River Shrimping with BBQ Dinner
Pick-up & Drop-off: Any location in Hualien
D5: Hualien – Taitung
Taroko National Park 太魯閣國家公園
We headed to Hualien Railway station to collect our rental car for our morning drive to Taroko National Park (太魯閣國家公園). If you are driving into Taroko like us, do check the road and trail conditions prior as certain roads could be closed due to weather conditions.
A must-visit for all travellers to Hualien, Taroko National Park’s majestic rocky mountains puts the stun in “stunning”. As we drove through the narrow and winding roads in Taroko, we felt immensely small against the gigantic rock formations.
It may be a national park, but unless you are a serious hiker, hiking through Taroko is no walk in the park. Putting the size into perspective, Taroko is 920km² while Singapore is only 721.5km². Permits are also required to hike the mountaineering trails.
As we did not have much time, we drove to several scenic spots such as the Cimu Bridge (慈母橋) and Yue Wang Pavilion (岳王亭) for some photo-taking opportunities with nature’s amazing backdrop.
Transportation: Driving is the fastest and most comfortable way to get here but a cheaper (but much slower) option is the shuttle bus (NT$170/pax) that runs to-fro Hualien station and Taroko Visitor Park four times a day. Alternatively, hop on a taxi. We got to know a taxi driver, Mr. Paul, who can be contacted at +886972507388.
Hualien Paragliding Experience 花蓮飛行傘體驗
Hualien’s breathtaking scenery of the East Rift Valley (花東縱谷) is best viewed from the top, and the best way to do so is paragliding (S$114) above the mountains. In mid-air, you’ll see the mosaic of colours from the paddy fields, houses, seas, and gorges. Gorgeous.
Get your pictures and video instantly as the GoPro footages will be transferred to your mobile phone after the flight. Be sure to have at least 4GB of space in your mobile, and you can instantly upload your amazing flight onto your social media accounts.
Meeting Point: No. 137, Zhangqiao Road, Fenglin Township, Hualien County
(Nearest station: East Line Railway’s Wan Rong Station 萬榮車站)
Lunch at Four-Generation Farmer 四代務農
Located far out in the countryside of Hualien is Four-Generation Farmer, an omakase-style family-run restaurant.
At Four-Generation Farmer, you pay NT$300 per head, and the chef will whip up dishes with whatever he has in his kitchen. When we were there, we had some homely stir-fried fish with roselle sauce, braised pork knuckles, and dried radish omelette.
Opening Hours: 11AM – 2PM (Lunch), 5PM – 8PM (Dinner)
Address: No. 1, Dazhong Road, Fenglin Township, Hualien County, Taiwan 975 [花蓮縣鳳林鎮大忠路1號]
Brown Boulevard 池上伯朗大道
We stopped by Brown Boulevard (伯朗大道) as we drove southwards to Taitung (台東). The big plains of paddy field are seemingly endless. The main street of Brown Boulevard has since been turned into a bicycle path and closed to cars, only allowing visitors to pass through via foot or bicycle.
Location: 958, Taiwan, Taitung County, Chishang Township [958台東縣池上鄉]
Siwei Night Market 四維夜市
Open only on Sundays, Siwei Night Market (四維夜市) in Taitung is a gem left untouched by time. Walking down the night market brought back memories of pasar malams of the ’90s, where there are old-school carnival arcade games and hawkers cooking behind their push-carts stalls.
Opening Hours: Sundays 6PM till late (Closed on Mon-Sat)
Address: Lane 464, Section 1, Siwei Road, Taitung City, Taitung County, Taiwan 950 [台東縣台東市四維路一段464巷]
Accommodation in Taitung
Our crashpad for the night was Inn by the Village (台東南豊鉄花桟), a modern hotel conveniently located in the city. There are bicycles free for rent for hotel guests at any time of the day.
Cost: From S$113/night
Address: No.585, Sec. 1, Zhonghua Road, Taitung City, Taiwan [台東縣台東市中華路一段585號]
Taitung is known for its great outdoors, especially their bike trails that attract cycling enthusiasts from all over the world to hit the roads that guarantee sweet views of mountains and seas.
With our rented bicycles from our hotel (free with a deposit of passport), we cycled around 10mins to the nearby Haibin Park (海濱公園) by the sea. The bike path is clearly demarcated on the roads.
If you have sufficient time, take the longer cycling route that goes all the way to the old rail tracks. Now named “Railway Arts Village (鐵花村音樂聚落)“, the old rail tracks has since been revamped into an outdoor activity corner for arts and music, easily somewhere you could spend up to a whole day at!
D7: Taitung – Kenting
From Taiwan’s hidden gem, Taitung, we proceeded further south to the island’s paradise — Kenting, that’s described by tourists as “Taiwan’s Hawaii”.
Snorkelling at Houbihu, Kenting 墾丁後壁湖浮潛驚喜體驗
Kenting is known for white beaches that are drastically different from more common black sand beaches around Taiwan. The “white” beaches are formed by dead corals and shell fragments that’s been washed ashore. The area is ideal for snorkelling or skin diving as the corals can be found in shallower waters — allowing you to get closer to the corals and spot more marine life.
Houbihu (後壁湖) is one of Kenting’s most scenic skin diving spot with many different species of fish and sea creatures such as sea urchins.
Cost: S$14/pax (min. 2 pax)
Lunch at A Shin Sashimi 阿興生魚片
This humble seafood restaurant was recommended to us by a local, in his words, “very fresh very cheap”. Which is true; you’re looking at an entire platter of assorted sashimi — salmon, tuna, marlin, and herring for only NT$300 (~S$15). Such lobangs can’t just be kept to ourselves, so here are the details.
Cost: NT$100-300/platter of sashimi
Opening Hours: 11AM – 8PM
Address: No. 8-6, Daguang Road, Hengchun Township, Pingtung County, Taiwan 946 [屏東縣恆春鎮大光路8-6號]
Fu De Temple & Guanshan Lookout 高山巖 福德宮 & 關山觀景臺
At Hengchun Township of Kenting lies a world’s top lookout that’s not known to many. A short walk from Fu De Temple (高山巖福德宮) is the Guanshan Lookout (關山觀景臺) that’s been voted by CNN as one of the top 12 sunset spots in the world.
Entrance Fee: NT$60/pax
Location: No. 17-1, Binlang Road, Hengchun Township, Pingtung County, Taiwan 946 [屏東縣恆春鎮檳榔路17-1號]
Chu Huo Special Scenic Area 出火特別景觀區
A natural phenomenon, Chu Huo (出火) is where the natural gas that’s leaking from the ground get ignited. We visited just after sunset to see the eternal flame from the ground burn brightly — like how it has been for the past forty years.
Location: No. 259-2, Hengdong Road, Hengchun Township, Pingtung County, Taiwan 946 [屏東縣恆春鎮恆東路259-2號]
Kenting Night Market 墾丁大街夜市
Later in the night, we walked along the Kenting Night Market that starts from Caesar Park to Kenting National Park. Spanning 2km long, Kenting Night Market is the second largest night market in southern Taiwan.
As usual, we settled our dinner gobbling from one stall to the next. While Kenting Street is open 24hrs, the portable stalls usually open from 6:30PM to 9:30PM.
Accommodation in Kenting
Caesar Park Hotel (墾丁凱撒大飯店) is a Bali-themed hotel that boasts sea-frontal views. The hotel also has a direct shuttle service to-fro Kaohsiung’s Zuoying Train station once a day. Do refer to Caesar Park’s official site for timetable and reservation information.
Cost: From S$120/night
Address: No. 6, Kending Road, Hengchun Township, Pingtung County, Taiwan 94644 [屏東縣恆春鎮墾丁路6號]
D8: Kenting – Kaohsiung
After catching the sunrise at Taiwan’s Southernmost Point in Kenting, we left the tropical paradise and headed to Kaohsiung, our final leg of the trip.
Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum 佛光山佛陀紀念館
Thereafter, we headed to Fo Guang Shan (佛光山), the largest Buddhist temple in Taiwan. The compound is so huge that some people will go there as a day-trip.
Transportation: Driving from Kaohsiung city to Fo Guang Shan takes about 20mins. The Harvard Express Bus (NT$70/pax) that shuttles to-fro Kaohsiung HSR station and Fo Guang Shan takes 45 mins. Taxis make the same trip at half the time for NT$100/pax. You may contact Mr. Huang at +886933307574 for taxi services around Kaohsiung and Fo Guang Shan.
Opening Hours: 9AM – 7PM (Closed on Tuesdays)
Address: No. 1, Tongling Road, Dashu District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan 84049 [高雄市大樹區統嶺路1號]
Gao Xiong Po Po Shaved Ice 婆婆冰店
Another locals’ favourite, Gao Xiong Po Po Shaved Ice (婆婆冰店) has been frequented by many since 1934. While there are three shaved ice stores with very similar names (all grandma-related), we heard that Gao Xiong Po Po is the most authentic one.
Opening Hours: 9AM – 12AM
Address: No. 135, Qixian 3rd Road, Yancheng District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan 802 [高雄市鹽埕區七賢三路135號]
Liuhe Night Market 六合觀光夜市
We then walked around Liuhe Night Market, a smaller night market in Kaohsiung. Although it does not have as many stalls as Ruifeng Night Market, it’s adequate if you’re craving for some local delights like the small sausage in large sausage (大腸包小腸), seafood, oyster omelette, and fried rice.
Opening Hours: 6PM till late
Location: 800, Taiwan, Kaohsiung City, Xinxing District [台灣高雄市新興區六合二路與中山一路口]
Accommodation in Kaohsiung
The Icon Hotel 艾卡設計旅店 is a newly opened boutique hotel is an affordable and cosy stay in Kaohsiung. Each room is designed to a theme, from cartoonish to wacky and dreamy.
Cost: From S$60/night
Address: No. 328, Minsheng 1st Road, Xinxing District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan 800 [高雄市新興區民生一路328號]
Book Your Activities for Eastern Taiwan
The eastern side of Taiwan may not be as famous or easily accessible as the western, but exploring the natural beauty of Yilan, Hualien, and Taitung was very convenient with KKday‘s tours and activity bookings!
Headquartered in Taiwan, KKday is an expert in curating activities and travel-related products in Taiwan. The best part is how accommodating and flexible the tour operators were. For example, one of the tours was supposed to be a round trip from Taipei to Yilan but with a simple request, the driver agreed to drop us off at Yilan.
Book your activities and tours through KKday with the promo code <TTIGOESTAIWAN> to enjoy a 5% discount* on any of the activities we’ve experienced in this itinerary.
Here’s what we got from KKday:
Happy Cash Card (TPE Airport Pick-Up): S$4/card
Tsay Chuen Kuan Massage Treatment: From S$40/pax
Day Tour from Taipei to Yilan: S$224/tour (up to 4 pax)
Turtle Island Whale Watching Tour: S$58/pax
Hualien River Trekking: S$38/pax
Car Rental: From S$63/day
Hualien Paragliding: S$114/pax
Hualien River Shrimping: S$38/pax
Kenting Skin Diving: S$14/pax
*Promotion valid from now till 28 February 2019. Travel experiences must be completed by 31 March 2019.
Accommodation in Taiwan
If you’re used to the convenience of searching for flights on Skyscanner, you’ll be happy to know they’ve now extended that convenience of researching to accommodation! Instead of having to check across various sites such as Agoda, Booking.com or Hotels.com, Skyscanner is the one-stop platform you need to browse through all the accommodation options available based on your preferred location and budget.
From boutique hotels to minsu (guesthouses), and even the more luxurious but affordable 5-star hotel, you can easily match what’s “best” based on your budget — that’s how we easily found all our accommodations in this itinerary 😉
Know of other interesting places to visit in eastern Taiwan? Let us know in the comment section below 🙂