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Yilan Travel Guide: 43 Things to Do in Yilan Taiwan

Yilan is a small county located in northeastern Taiwan. The area is known for its historical towns, hot and cold springs, black sand beaches, and ancient trails around the mountainous region.

While there are many townships in Yilan County, all the best things to do in Yilan are concentrated around few cities like Toucheng, Jiaoxi, Yilan City, Luodong and Su’ao.

If you want to get out of the busy capital city of Taipei and want to explore something off the beaten path, then keep reading. I’ll show you all the best Yilan attractions and how to see these tourist spots on your own.

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Before you travel to Yilan Taiwan

Before visiting all the Yilan attractions, take a look at my post on everything you need to know before going to Taiwan. I included information like getting a Taiwan SIM card and other travel tips and getting around Taiwan.

Here are some additional travel tips for visiting Yilan Taiwan:

  • Buy a rechargeable smartcard called EasyCard or iPass. You can use either card for taking the train and buses in Yilan and most public transportation throughout Taiwan. You can get a rechargeable card at any major train station or convenience store in Taiwan.
  • Plan your solo trip to Yilan with the following festivals and events:
    • Yilan Hot Air Balloon Carnival (June) – see an aerial view of northeastern Taiwan from a hot air balloon near Dongshan Station.
    • Toucheng Ghost Grappling Competition (last day of the 7th lunar month) – the biggest ghost grappling competition in Taiwan
    • Nanfangao Mackerel Festival (October) – parade and festivities at the height of mackerel season.
    • Jiaoxi Hot Spring and Lantern Festival (December) – enjoy a hot spring experience around colourful lanterns.

How to get to Yilan Taiwan

Air

The closest airport to Yilan County is Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) near Taipei.

Ubus 1661 starts from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and goes to Jiaoxi, Yilan City, and Luodong. There are 4 buses per day (7:30am, 11am, 4:30pm and 6:30pm).

Bus from Taipei to Yilan

There are several highway buses that can take travellers from Taipei to Yilan. Each bus company starts from a different part of the capital city.

Capital Bus has multiple buses that travel from Taipei City Hall Bus Station to Toucheng, Jiaoxi, Yilan City, and Luodong.

Kuo-Kuang Motor Transport buses start from Yuanshan Bus Station and travel to Toucheng, Yilan City, Luodong and Su’ao.

Kamalan Bus has several buses that goes from Taipei Bus Station to Jiaoxi, Yilan City and Luodong.

Train from Taipei to Yilan

Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) is the other option if you travel from other parts of Taiwan to Yilan County.

To get to Yilan, take a local or express local train (with your EasyCard or iPass) to Toucheng, Jiaoxi, Yilan City, Luodong or Su’ao. Check the TRA train schedule and cost here.

Where to stay in Yilan Taiwan

Yilan County is quite big and all the attractions are spread out; I would suggest staying in one or two cities like Toucheng and Jiaoxi, and using either one or both cities as a base for sightseeing around Yilan.

Toucheng

  • Kailan Hotel (開蘭行旅) ($$) – the basic hotel is great for a few nights. However, it is a bit of a walk from Toucheng Station. Check prices and reviews: Agoda
  • Hotel Lounge (朗居文旅) ($$) – new hotel in Toucheng with stylish rooms. Check prices and reviews: Agoda.

Jiaoxi

  • East Hostel (東旅背包客) ($) – the budget hostel has clean dormitory rooms and bathrooms. Check prices and reviews: Agoda
  • Yunoyado Onsen Hotspring Hotel Deyang (東旅湯宿) ($$) – enjoy a private hot spring experience in your modern guestroom. Check prices and reviews: Agoda.

Yilan Attractions: 43 Things to Do in Yilan County

As mentioned, Yilan County is located on the east side of Taiwan and covers the majority of the northeast part of the country. While there are many townships in Yilan County, the majority of attractions are in Toucheng Township, Jiaoxi Township, Yilan City, Luodong Township and Su’ao Township.

In this post, I listed all the best attractions in Yilan County in the following sections:

What to do in Yilan: Toucheng Township

Toucheng (頭城) is the first of several cities you must visit while exploring the east coast of Taiwan. The city is in Toucheng Township, the northernmost township in Yilan County.

While in Toucheng, you can learn about the history of Yilan County and experience nature in the mountains and by the sea.

1. See historic buildings on Toucheng Old Street

Toucheng Old Street (頭城老街) is the oldest street in Toucheng Township. The short street runs north to south and has many different types of architectural styles. There are also important buildings along Toucheng Old Street, like Fude Temple (South Gate and North Gate) and Qingyuan Temple, the first temple in Yilan.

While it was an important trading hub, the old street is now a popular Yilan tourist spot where you will find retro coffee shops, colourful murals and many Instagram photo spots.

2. Enjoy a relaxing stroll along Toucheng Seaside Forest Park

Toucheng Seaside Forest Park (頭城濱海森林公園) has a nice beach, a few campsites and an octagonal viewing tower right by the water. If you continue north, a long boardwalk/ bike path will eventually lead you to Wushi Harbour.

The park may not be something you see in travel guidebooks, but I like it as it is one of the few beaches in Yilan. It is quite serene and relaxing.

3. Eat ice cream at the popular shop in Toucheng

阿宗芋冰城 is a popular ice cream shop that has been around for 50 years. Locals love this place!

They sell unique ice cream flavours, including purple rice, red bean, pineapple, peanut and taro. One serving has 3 scoops of homemade ice cream, which only costs NT$55.

4. Learn about the history of Yilan at Lanyang Museum

If you don’t know anything about Yilan County, you must start your Taiwan east coast itinerary by visiting the Lanyang Museum (蘭陽博物館). Learn about the history of Yilan, the topographical landscape, the indigenous Kavalan people, and many interesting facts about the region at this large museum is in a modern building with an asymmetrical profile.

5. Surf at Waiao Beach

This black sand is popular amongst local Taiwanese surfers as it is the country’s best-kept secret. Waiao Beach (外澳沙灘) has consistent waves all year round and the monsoon season brings taller waves. Whether you are a first-time surfer or a pro, try surfing at one of the best surf beaches in Yilan.

Parallel to the beach are cafes, restaurants and several surf shops. Plus, you can try out paragliding at Waiao Beach too!

6. Take a boat trip to Guishan Island (Turtle Island)

Guishan Island (龜山島), or known as Turtle Island, is an active volcano island off the coast of Toucheng. During a day tour, you will see the sulphur cliffs, caves around the perimeter of the island and primitive wildlife, including many types of whales, dolphins, and many more. And it is possible to hike some of the nature trails on the island.

You can only see the island with an unusual profile with a boat tour. A half-day Guishan Island tour includes a boat trip around the island and whale watching. Bring gravol – it is a rocky boat ride!

7. Hike the ancient Caoling Historic Trail

Caoling Historic Trail (草嶺古道) might be one of the best hiking trails along the northeast coast of Taiwan. You can see a lush forest, historic relics, and panoramic east coast views.

The best way to hike the 8.5km trail is to hike south to north from Dali Station to Fulong Station.

If you visit in November, check out the annual Silver Grass Festival. This is when the northeast wind is the strongest, and you will see a mountain full of swaying white silver grass.

8. Enjoy some fun in the sun at Fulong Beach

Another beach option near Toucheng is Fulong Beach (福隆海水浴場) in New Taipei City. The 3km golden sand beach is perfect for swimming, windsurfing, kayaking and canoeing. And it is the site for the Fulong Sand Sculpture Festival and Hohaiyan Rock Festival every year.

If you hop on the fast local train at Toucheng Station, Fulong Beach is one stop away and takes only 18 minutes.

Best Yilan attractions: Jiaoxi Township

Some of the best things to do in Yilan are in Jiaoxi (礁溪), a hot spring town located within Taiwan’s largest hot spring area.

The township is located in a fault zone with underground sources of heat. The geothermal heat rises and heats up the groundwater, the source for all the hot springs in Jiaoxi.

The hot springs in Jiaoxi have sodium bicarbonate and no sulphur smell. The minerals in the water are good for your skin. Even the Jiaoxi farmers use spring water for crops like spinach, water bamboo, and tomato.

While the hot spring in Jiaoxi is the main attraction, there are plenty of other things to do, including hiking trails and waterfalls.

9. Have little fishes nibble on your feet at Tangweigou Hot Spring Park

Tangweigou Hot Spring Park (湯圍溝溫泉公園) is a popular hot spring park with free foot baths and fish foot baths (NT$50). Sit on one of the benches and soak your feet in the warm pools.

And the fish foot bath is something else! Little fishes nibble on your feet and eat all the dead skin. It sounds gross and pretty ticklish, but it is a unique experience, that’s for sure!

10. Soak your feet at one of the free foot bathing pools in Jiaoxi

One of the best things to do in Yilan is to enjoy Jiaoxi hot springs! And there are free foot bathing pools (免費泡腳池) around Jiaoxi. These are the perfect places when you are tired of walking and want to relax and soak your feet.

One is in Jiaoxi Hot Springs Park, and another one in Jiaoxi Landscape Square. And there are other ones scattered around Jiaoxi as well.

It is absolutely free to use the footbath. Just remember to rinse your feet before putting them in the water. And also, don’t soak for too long – the water is boiling hot!

11. Indulge in a traditional hot spring experience at Jiaoxi Hot Spring Park Forest Bath

For a bit more of a full hot spring experience, try soaking in Jiaoxi Hot Spring Park Forest Bath (礁溪溫泉公園-森林風呂). The hot spring has typical Japanese-style bathing facilities and an outdoor hot spring open all year round.

As per tradition, the men’s spa and women’s spa are separated. They both have indoor and outdoor spa facilities. It costs NT$200.

There are plenty of hot springs facilities around Jiaoxi, but this one has an outdoor amphitheatre to host cultural events and an elaborate garden at the entrance.

12. Soak and swim at Jiaoxi Public Hot Spring and Swimming Pool

Jiaoxi public hot spring and swimming pool (礁溪鄉公所溫泉游泳池) are very popular with locals as they can use the facilities for free. For visitors, it costs NT$100 to swim in the giant outdoor swimming pool and soak in the spacious outdoor hot spring.

13. Eat ramen while soaking your feet

I can’t think of anything else better than eating a bowl of ramen while soaking my feet. At Rakuzan Ramen (樂山溫泉拉麵), you can do exactly that!

I had a seafood ramen, one of the best I ever had! And besides ramen, you can order sushi, Japanese rice bowls or other Japanese dishes. The new location has a bigger foot bath. Give it a try, and let me know what you think.

14. Hike Paoma Historic Trail

When you are not relaxing in hot springs around Jiaoxi, walk north and find some of the best hiking trails in Jiaoxi.

Paoma Historic Trail (跑馬古道) was built during the Qing Dynasty. The trail was used to transport lumber with a “wood horse”, hence the name of the trail “Mu Ma Road” (meaning Horse Road).

The ancient trail is quite long – it crosses into New Taipei City! Even if you only trek the first half of the trail, you can see a great view of Jiaoxi, Guishan Island and the ocean.

15. See Wufongci Waterfall

Another amazing hike in Jiaoxi is the hike to Wufongci Waterfall (五峰旗瀑布). When you follow the path to Wufongci Waterfall, you can see a series of three waterfalls. The guided path includes several stairs to the pavilion at the top, where you will see the 100-meter waterfall.

Buses GR11 and 112A both go to Wufongci Waterfall, but it is possible to walk from Jiaoxi. The trek starts with walking up Wufeng Road until you reach the pavilion. Then follow the signs and guided path.

16. Hike Shengmu Hiking Trail

After hiking to Wufengqi Waterfall, follow the signs for Shengmu Hiking Trail (聖母登山步道).

The uphill trail leads you to the Catholic Sanctuary of Our Lady of Wufengqi Church (五峰旗聖母朝聖地) and a gorgeous view of Jiaoxi.

And if you hike further, you will come across beautiful mountainous terrain and reach Sanjiaolun Peak (三角崙山), where there is a scenic platform looking to Lanyang Plains.

The trail is over 10km long. And with the different terrains, be prepared to spend most of the day hiking Shengmu Hiking Trail. But the views are worth it!

Best Things to Do in Yilan City

Yilan City is one of the bigger cities in Yilan County. With many things to do in Yilan City, good food and affordable accommodations, Yilan City is one of the best cities in Eastern Taiwan for budget travellers.

While many activities are within Yilan City, a few attractions outside the core are worth visiting. And the public bus is the perfect option for solo travellers.

However, the frequency of buses is few and far in between. Even though all the buses have specific schedules for weekdays and weekends, Google Maps doesn’t capture the schedule properly. So you must rely on the actual timetable at the bus stop. You may have to wait half an hour or more if you miss a bus.

17. Find whimsical sculptures at Jimmy Square

Jimmy Square (幾米公園) is a long and narrow park just south of Yilan Station. What is interesting about the park is the whimsical characters and settings.

A Taiwanese illustrator, Jimmy Liao, produced several illustrated books, including Starry Starry Night and Turn Left, Turn Right. The characters in both books are turned into 3d models in the park. Look for these colourful characters and the playful settings for your Instagram photos.

18. Visit the weekend market at Diu Diu Dang Forest Park

Diu Diu Dang Forest Park (丟丟噹森林) is a small park across from Yilan Station and it has a steel-frame iron tree forest. There are nine metal frame trees with different colours of green leaves made with glass. Like Jimmy Park, Diu Diu Dang Forest Park has a train with playful characters suspended in the trees.

The park is a popular gathering place for locals and tourists. Moreover, many vendors sell handicrafts and other knick-knacks during the weekend. Check out the coffee shop inside the Baiguo Tree Red Brick House while you are there.

19. Eat skewers at Dongmen Night Market

There are way too many choices when it comes to eating at Dongmen Night Market (東門夜市). Food vendors under the Donggang Bridge and surrounding streets sell the best Taiwanese food. Or find one of the local restaurants in the market for a sit-down meal.

When you are in Yilan, try a local favourite: meat skewers. They have many options for different types of meat, vegetables, and other unknown skewers. But trying food is all part of the adventure in Taiwan!

20. Try traditional Yilan food: thick pork soup

In Yilan City, many local restaurants serve traditional Yilan food called thick pork soup. I’m not sure if that is the actual name, but it’s somewhat the translation or how it describes the dish.

One of the best places to try the traditional soup is at Mother’s Love Garlic Meat Soup (阿娘給的蒜味肉羹). Their thick pork soup is tasty but has a lot of garlic. Bring mints if you are going to try this specialty.

21. See art exhibits at Yilan Museum of Art

Yilan Museum of Art (宜蘭美術館) showcases local Yilan’s arts and crafts in an old building that used to be one of the branches of the Bank of Taiwan. Parts of the building were destroyed in the war, but many of the architectural details were restored.

22. Learn about aboriginal culture at Yilan Cultural and Creative Park 

Yilan Cultural and Creative Park (蘭陽原創館-宜蘭市文創園區) is a new cultural and creative spot in Yilan. Nine buildings are grouped together and formed a centre that focuses on aboriginal culture.

There is a souvenir shop selling locally made products and several cafes that feature aboriginal cuisine. Whimsical sculptures can be found throughout the premise. See how many you can find.

23. See Japanese architecture at Memorial Hall of Founding of Yilan Administration

Built with the cypress trees in the Taipingshan forest in Yilan, the Memorial Hall of Founding of Yilan Administration (宜蘭設治紀念館) building incorporated Japanese and Western architectural aesthetics.

Today, you can tour the inside of the building, the spacious courtyard and the Japanese-style rock garden.

24. See exhibits related to beer and wine at Yilan Distillery

Yilan Distillery (宜蘭酒廠) has a museum, gallery, shop and leisure facilities. You can walk around the grounds on your own and see many exhibits.

Check out the Chia Chi Lan Wine Museum, which focuses on red rice wine. Yilan’s red rice wine won numerous awards, and it is used to make red rice sausages, red yeast rice vinegar and many more products that are good for your health.

And look for Taiwan Anka Museum and roam around the rest of the distillery while you are there.

25. See the preserved Yilan Brick Kiln

Yilan Brick Kiln (宜蘭磚窯) is a century-old kiln along the riverbank near Yilan Bridge. There are 13 kilns in a row and a tall chimney. The kilns have been making bricks since the Qing dynasty.

And with the surge of new materials like concrete and other building material, they replaced brick, and the local brick-making industry dwindled. Today, you can still see the historical place with preserved kilns and it is only a 10-minute walk from the city centre.

26. Try whiskey at Kavalan Distillery

Kavalan Distillery (金車噶瑪蘭威士忌酒廠) is the only whiskey distillery in Taiwan and it produces many award-winning single malt whiskeys. It is open to the public where you can see the whiskey-making process and tour several buildings on the distillery ground. You can email to reserve a spot for an English tour or do a self-tour of the distillery like I did.

At the end of the tour, try some of the best whiskeys in the tasting room before you buy a bottle or two. And if you join the DIY blending tour (in Chinese only), you can blend a unique bottle of whiskey to bring home!

Bus GR12, 1743, 1744 and 1751 goes to Kavalan Distillery from Yilan Station.

27. Spend an afternoon hiking around Wanglongpi

Wanglongpi (望龍埤) is a gorgeous lake located west of Yilan City. From the main road, it is only a few minutes walk into the lake area, where an emerald green lake will greet you. Follow the guided path around the lake, and you will see a red-arched bridge, a bridge of nine turns and several cafes southwest of the lake.

On the east end of the lake, a hiking trail called Feilong Trail will lead you up the mountain for great views of the lake at the platform.

Take bus 755 from Yilan Station (but take note of the bus schedule as buses are not frequent) if you want to spend a leisurely afternoon at Wanglongpi.

Yilan Tourist attractions: Luodong Township

Luodong (羅東) is another urban area in central Yilan County. There are a handful of attractions around Luodong that are worth seeing but there aren’t a lot of budget accommodations within the city.

And most travellers think they need to stay-overnight in Luodong in order to visit Taipingshan. But you can also stay in Yilan City. The public bus goes to Taipingshan from Yilan City while many tour companies have Taipingshan tours that start from either Yilan City or Luodong.

28. Enjoy Taiwanese food at Luodong Night Market

Luodong Night Market (羅東夜市) spans several streets and blocks, covering all three sides of Jungshan Park. Food vendors sell local street food, including the famous Yilan green onion pancakes (more on that in the next section). Other food vendors have tables and chairs at their stalls where you can enjoy a delicious bowl of thick pork soup with garlic.

Besides food, other vendors sell clothing, shoes, umbrellas, and many more affordable trinkets.

Rain or shine, the night market will open regardless of the weather. And the market is super busy during weekends. Go early to avoid the crowd.

29. Try Yilan’s famous green onion pancake

Luodong Night Market has many good eats, but the one you don’t want to miss is Sansing Green Onion Pancake (玉本舖三星蔥餅).

Many people queue for this Yilan specialty and try their version of the scallion pancake. It is made with handmade dough stuffed with heaps of green onion and then deep-fried. Lots of people love this. There is a queue every night.

30. Spend the afternoon at Meihua Lake

Meihua Lake (梅花湖), also known as Plum Blossom Lake, is a large natural lake with a 4km shaded path around it. You can rent a bicycle or walk around the guided path. Or walk up a hiking trail to Sanching Temple. Plus, there are local restaurants and shops to buy snacks for a leisurely afternoon at Meihua Lake.

Bus GR25 from Luodong Station takes 30 minutes. Or join an afternoon tour to Meihua Lake.

31. Soak your feet and cook food at Qingshui Geothermal Area

One of the most unusual things to do in Yilan is to visit Qingshui Geothermal Area (清水地熱公園). Located south of Qingshui Village, the area has natural hot springs where you can soak your feet and cook food.

The area covers about 2.5 hectares of land with two-foot baths and three cooking pools. Visitors can cook eggs, corn, taro, and sweet potato by cooking the food in a bamboo basket (which you can rent). The clear alkaline hot spring water is safe for cooking.

Bus GR17 starts at Luodong Transfer Station (east exit of Luodong Station) goes to the hot springs and the bus ride takes over an hour.

32. Hike Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area

Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area (太平山國家森林遊樂區) is located on the northeast side of Yilan County. The area has many giant cypress trees, and you can hike along several hiking trails, including Cueifong Lake Circular Trail and Jianqing Huaigu Trail.

You will encounter many hot springs, lakes and waterfalls in the recreation area. Also, get a ticket for the Bong-Bong Train that will take you around the forest.

Travellers should stay in either Yilan City or Luodong for either a solo hike or an organized group hike in Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area.

For independent travellers, take the Kuo-Kuang bus 1750/1750A from Yilan bus station (7:40am) or Luodong (8am). It takes 2.5 hours to get there. Make sure you plan ahead and leave enough time so you can catch the bus back to Yilan or Luodong. The bus leaves Taipinshan at 2:30pm. A round-trip ticket costs NT$243.

Yilan: Things to do in Su’ao Township

Located in Su’ao township in southern Yilan County, Su’ao (蘇澳) is known for its natural cold springs. While the neighbouring town, Nanfangao (南方澳), is a thriving port for fishing mackerel.

In this part of Yilan County, you will find scenic spots, including several cold springs, beautiful black beaches, lookout points, local temples and delicious seafood! All major attractions in Su’ao and Nanfangao can be done on the same day.

33. Experience the natural cold springs at Su’ao Cold Spring Park

One of the highlights of Su’ao is the Su’ao Cold Spring (蘇澳冷泉公園), the only calcium bicarbonate spring in Taiwan (the other one is in Italy). The cold spring has large outdoor public baths with water temperatures around 22 degrees Celsius all year around.

Unlike some of the other hot springs, the cold spring water has no smell at all. And it is safe to drink as well. In fact, cold spring water is used for making several local food products in Su’ao.

It might initially feel cold because your body temperature is higher than the water temperature. But your body will warm up in a few minutes. It is said that cold spring water can also cure some skin diseases and intestinal illnesses. But regardless, it is a delightful experience. And it only costs NT$120.

34. Soak your feet for free at Alishi Cold Spring

Alisli Cold Spring (阿里史冷泉公共浴室) is another cold spring in Su’ao but smaller and more local. It has the same water source as Su’ao Cold Spring but this cold spring is free.

You can soak your feet in the open-air outdoor cold spring (it looks like a long creek underneath the ground) or can immerse fully in the smaller indoor pool.

35. See panoramic views from Qixingling Trail

Next to Su’ao Cold Spring, hike up Qixingling Trail (七星嶺步道) and see a gorgeous view of Su’ao and Nanfangao port to the south and Yilan plains to the north.

The 4.7km trail has several viewing platforms. “Qixingling Trail” means “seven star ridge” and the platforms are numbered and named with the word “star”. There are viewing platforms at the first star, the third star, the sixth star and the seventh star. All the views are spectacular!

The entrance is right next to Su’ao Cold Spring. Look for a sign near the cold spring.

36. Relax on Neipi Beach

At the southeast end of Nanfango, there is a gorgeous black pebble beach with crystal clear water called Neipi Beach (內埤海灘). It is a popular beach for sunbathing and watching the sunrise. It is known as Lovers’ Bay, as many couples walk along the beach during sunset.

Bring a snack to the beach or dine at one of the restaurants at the north end of Neipi Beach.

37. Standup paddleboard at Tofu Cape

At the north end of Neipi Beach, there is a land-tied island with rows of hills called the Pen Holder Mountain. A bit further into the island is where you will find Tofu Cape (豆腐岬).

Tofu Cape is a small bay with a seawall and a coastal trail. It is the perfect spot for snorkelling, standup paddleboarding and watching the sunrise. Or you can enjoy the view of the Pacific Ocean from the coastal window by the cape.

38. See an aerial view from Nanfangao Lookout

At the 108km marker of the Suao-to-Hualien highway, there is a viewing spot called Nanfangao Lookout (南方澳觀景臺), where you can see Langyang Plains, Nanfangao Harbour, Neipi Beach and Tofu Cape.

It is the first sightseeing spot from Hualien to the Northeast and Yilan Coastal Scenic Area. The easiest way to get there is by car. However, I read online that there is a hiking trail from Xue Fu Road to the viewing deck, but I can’t confirm it.

39. Try fresh seafood at Nanfangao Fish Market

Local fishermen sell their catch of the day at the Nanfangao Fish Market (南寧魚市場). You can buy fresh fish, shrimp, crab, and shellfish directly from the vendors.

I visited the old location several years ago. The building is still there, but all the vendors have moved to the new building.

If you are travelling alone, you can still try fresh seafood. Buy a fresh tuna and salmon sashimi tray and enjoy the freshest seafood for very little money.

40. Roam around Nanfangao Fishing Harbour

Nanfangao Fishing Harbour (南方澳漁港) is one of the three biggest fishery harbours in Taiwan. And the fishing port is known for its mackerel harvest all year round.

Besides trying seafood at the Fish Market, there are a number of seafood restaurants and shops selling food souvenirs.

41. Visit the unique Sangang Ironworks Museum 

Three friends and technicians opened an iron factory back in 1962 when the fishing industry in Nanfangao was booming. They produced parts for making and maintaining fishing boats.

After the factory closed in 2004, Sangang Ironworks Museum (三剛鐵工廠文物館) became a cultural centre. You can see old fishing materials from the 1950s, old iron parts and instruments, and quirky artwork created with fishing materials.

Go peek inside and see what you can find. It is free!

42. See Mazu goddess at Nanfangao Nantian Temple 

Built in 1956, Nanfangao Nantian Temple (南天宮金媽祖) is the religious center of Nanfangao. It has a 200kg gold Mazu goddess in the center of the temple. Many locals believe that praying to Mazu will bring the fisherman home safely and with a big catch.

There is always some type of ceremony or large groups of visitors at the temple. But go in and check out the inside of the temple as well.

43. Try the unique fried shrimp cake in Nanfangao

Several shops in Nanfangao sell fried shrimp cake which starts with small shrimp and sweet potato sticks. The ingredients are added to the flour batter and deep-fried to perfection. The end result is a large crispy cracker that tastes super yummy!

Other varieties include oysters and meat, but the shrimp is the original version. And it only costs NT$35.

Looking for tours around Northern Taiwan? Check out these experiences:

Is Yilan worth visiting?

I absolutely think so! As much as I liked all the things Taipei has to offer, I often like to go off the beaten path and explore places that are not as well known to most travellers. And I found a lot of gems in Yilan County.

As much as I want to keep all of these a secret, I want people to know that there is a ton of things to do in Yilan. All you have to do is follow this list, go out there and see for yourself. I had so many amazing memories travelling solo to Yilan and I hope you will too.

Let me know in the comments below which Yilan attractions you are most excited to see. Or if you discover something that is not part of this list – let me know!

Thank you for reading my post on Yilan Taiwan

You might also like these other posts on solo travel in Taiwan:

Introduction to Taiwan
Eastern Taiwan posts

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About Author

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 20+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

14 Comments

  • Terry
    November 7, 2022 at 12:36 pm

    Hi Queenie, its a long list of items to do in Yilan. Thanks for sharing. Would like to know if you have come across any recommended drivers to use for sightseeing in Yilan? Bringing my grandparents along with minimum walking… would really help if we have a driver. Thanks!

    Reply
    • queenie mak
      November 7, 2022 at 12:57 pm

      Hi Terry, yes its a long list – even when I was putting this together I thought it was really long. As for drivers, I’m really not sure as I tend to focus my travel on independent solo travelling so I haven’t had to look into that. I would start looking at Get Your Guide or other group tour websites. Sometimes private drivers are advertised there (but mostly for airport transfer) but you could ask. Hope this helps!

      Reply
    • Esther
      November 26, 2022 at 7:42 pm

      You can try to contact any of these drivers:
      – based in Taipei – Mr Yang @ +886 932-213-514 / Jay @ +886 983-248-613
      – based in Taichung – Jerry 徐怡鵬 @ +886 933-499-313

      Reply
      • queenie mak
        December 3, 2022 at 1:50 pm

        Hi Esther, are these reliable contacts?

        Reply
  • Ashlee
    July 10, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    Hi Queenie,

    Thanks for sharing this insightful article. I am planning to travel to Jiaoxi once i landed in taoyuan airport in Jan 24. May i ask how can i buy tickets for Ubus 1661A from Taoyuan Airport to Jiaoxi? Can i buy the tix in advance? I cant find any site or platforms which allows me to buy in advance anf i am afraid the ticket might run out, u think so?

    Reply
    • queenie mak
      July 11, 2023 at 9:19 am

      Hi Ashlee,
      I checked Ubus website – it doesn’t look like you can book ticket in advanced. However, I just travelled from Jiaoxi to Taipei and I saw many people buying their tickets right before the bus ride. So I think it’s quite easy to get a bus ticket on the spot (but there are more buses from Taipei to Jiaoxi). Although I don’t think it’ll be a huge issue to get a bus ticket when you arrive, please note that there are only 5 buses per day. Depending on when you arrive, you could get on a bus quickly or wait awhile for next bus. The alternative is to take airport express to Taipei Train Station and get the next bus to Jiaoxi from Taipei Bus Station (2 minute walk from train station). Hope this helps!

      Reply
      • Ashlee
        July 12, 2023 at 8:28 pm

        Thanks for your kind reply, Queenie. ☺️

        Reply
      • THAM TF
        November 30, 2023 at 11:17 pm

        Hi Queenie, Ashlee,

        Will visit Yilan in Jan 24, first time in the cold weather month. Any recommendations (advise) of places to visit or the list still stands? Thank you.

        Reply
        • queenie mak
          December 2, 2023 at 1:55 am

          Hi Tham, it looks like the temperature in Yilan in January is about 13-19 degrees. It’s a great time for all the hiking trips and exploring cities. Might be too cold for surfing and water activities though. But there will still be lots of things to do in Yilan even if the weather is cooler. Enjoy your trip!

          Reply
  • Charmaine
    October 14, 2023 at 10:25 pm

    Hi Queenie,
    How do you travel around within Yilan, like from township to another?

    Reply
    • queenie mak
      October 15, 2023 at 12:18 am

      Hi Charmaine,
      I took the train around Yilan as it is the easiest form of transportation. If the train doesn’t reach where I’m going, sometimes I take the local bus too. Google Maps can help with some of the bus routes but just make sure to double check the bus route especially when it comes to the schedule. And top up your EasyCard or iPass to take either train or bus. It makes travelling around Yilan so much easier!
      Hope that helps. Enjoy your trip to Yilan!

      Reply
  • S
    October 20, 2023 at 1:39 am

    Hi Esther, what kind of vehicles do they provide? Thanks

    Reply
  • Joan
    October 28, 2023 at 12:53 am

    Hi Queenie,

    Is it practical to stay in one place e.g Jiaoxi and then travel to the other parts like Su’ao, Luodong as day tours? How many days will you recommend to stay in Yilan as a whole to experience it generally?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • queenie mak
      October 28, 2023 at 12:45 pm

      Hi Joan,
      Yes absolutely! I stayed in Toucheng during my last trip and use it as a homebase for visiting other parts in Yilan. I think Jiaoxi is another good homebase (was my second choice). I would see Toucheng (1-2 days), Jiaoxi (1-2 days), Yilan City (1 day), Suao and Nanfangao (1 day) at a minimum. And if you stay longer, you can take a train to Caoling Historic Trail and do some hiking, hike Bitoujiao trail, or join a tour for Taipingshan. Hope this helps! Happy travels! 🙂

      Reply

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