Last Updated on August 27, 2020 by queenie mak
Yilan County is a small county located in northeastern Taiwan. From historical towns and relics to the abundance of nature in the mountains and by the sea, there are plenty of things to do in Yilan Taiwan.
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. And I divided my list of best things to do in five sections.
The county wasn’t as popular until Taiwan built Xueshan Tunnel, the longest tunnel in Taiwan, connecting Taipei through New Taipei to Yilan. That means visiting Yilan as a day trip from Taipei is much more accessible.
However, I would highly recommend you to spend some time in Yilan as there is a lot to see and do. Keep reading my post as I should you all my favourite things to do in Yilan!
Related Post – How to spend 3 weeks in Taiwan
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Before you go to Yilan Taiwan
Before you visit all the Yilan attractions, take a look at my post on everything you need to know before going to Taiwan. I included a lot of travel information including how to get around Taiwan and other travel tips.
How to get to Yilan County
The closest airport to Yilan County is Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) near Taipei.
To get to Yilan County, you have 3 options:
- Highway bus from TPE to Yilan County (Jiaoxi, Yilan City or Luodong)
- Airport express to Taipei and take the local or express train to Yilan County (Toucheng, Jiaoxi, Yilan City or Luodong)
- Airport express to Taipei and take a highway bus to Yilan County (Toucheng, Jiaoxi, Yilan City or Luodong)
Related Post – Solo travel guide for Taipei, Taiwan
1. Highway bus from TPE to Yilan County
Ubus 1661 route starts from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to different parts of Yilan County. There are only 4 buses per day (8:00 am, 11:30 am, 3:00 pm and 4:30 pm) Click here to Ubus 1661 timetables and costs.
- Ubus 1661: from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to:
- Jiaoxi (1 hour 30 minutes, NT$200)
- Yilan City (1 hour 40 minutes, NT$250)
- Luodong (2 hours, NT$280)
2. Airport Express to Taipei + local or express train to Yilan
First, take the airport express to Taipei Main Train Station. Then catch a Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA), either a local or express train to either Toucheng, Jiaoxi, Yilan City or Luodong. Click here to check the timetables and costs.
- Airport Express: from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to Taipei Main Train Station
- Time: 35 minutes
- Cost: NT$150
- TRA: from Taipei Main Train Station to:
- Toucheng (1 hour 43 minutes, NT$119+)
- Jiaoxi (1 hour 30 minutes, NT$128+)
- Yilan City (1 hour 39 minutes, NT$140+)
- Luodong (1 hour 48minutes, NT$153+)
3. Airport Express to Taipei + highway bus to Yilan
First, take the airport express to Taipei Main Train Station. Then catch a highway bus from either Capital Bus, Kuo-Kang Motor Transportation or Kamalan Bus. Each bus company has different routes, a number of stops, and prices. Click here to check the timetables and costs.
- Airport Express: from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to Taipei Main Train Station
- Time: 35 minutes
- Cost: NT$150
- Kuo-Kuang Motor Transportation 1811: from Taipei Main Train Station to:
- Toucheng (1 hour 43 minutes, NT$290)
- Jiaoxi (1 hour 30 minutes, NT$314)
- Yilan City (1 hour 39 minutes, NT$335)
- Luodong (1 hour 48minutes, NT$369)
How to get around Yilan County
For solo travellers, the easiest and cheapest way to get around Yilan County is to take the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA). The local train system is reliable and easy to use.
I recommend buying a rechargeable smartcard called EasyCard or iPass. You can use either card for taking the train in Yilan and most public transportation throughout Taiwan. You can get a rechargeable card at any major train station or convenience store in Taiwan.
Where to stay in Yilan
Even though Yilan County is quite big and all the attractions are spread out, I would suggest staying in either 1 or 2 cities like Jiaoxi and Yilan City and use either or both cities as a base for touring around Yilan.
Below are a handful of budget accommodations throughout Yilan County. I would recommend all of them for solo travellers.
- Kailan Hotel (開蘭行旅) ($) – Located in Toucheng, the basic hotel is great for sightseeing all the attractions around Toucheng. However, it is a bit of a walk from Toucheng Station.
- Check prices and reviews: Agoda
- East Hostel (東旅背包客) ($) – Located in Jiaoxi, the budget hostel has clean dormitory rooms and bathrooms.
- Check prices and reviews: Agoda
- Hâng Kháu Hotel (行口文旅) ($) – The convenient hostel is near Yilan Station. Choose either a bed in the dormitory room or a standard double room. Guests of the hotel can use the ground floor common area.
- Check prices and reviews: Agoda
- Loya Herb Art Hotel (樂亞香草藝術旅店) ($$) – A mini room is one of the cheapest in Luodong. The cost of the room includes a complimentary breakfast.
- Check prices and reviews: Agoda
Book accommodations with Agoda for the best hotel prices online
What to eat in Yilan
Yilan is known for several local specialties including the famous green onion pancake. Below is a list of all the food you must try while visiting Yilan County.
Also, I listed all my restaurant suggestions in each section below. Many Yilan restaurants and food places have Chinese names only. So I included either the English name for the restaurant or the name of a typical Taiwanese dish.
- Thick pork soup with garlic – a savoury thick soup with seasoned pork and lots of garlic
- Scallion or green onion pancake – Yilan green onion pancakes are thicker than the other ones in the rest of Taiwan. It is a thicker pancake with lots of minced green onions. Order one with or without egg
- Meat fritters or deep-fried meat cake – deep-fried pork tenderloin pieces marinated in soy sauce, ground pepper, and five-spice powder
- Smoked duck meat – involves a 10-step process and can be eaten cold or stir-fried. It is a favourite holiday gift
- Peanut ice-cream roll – a layer of ground peanuts in a chewy popiah skin with 3 scoops of ice-cream and cilantro
- Cow tongue biscuits (niu she bing) – a traditional flat cracker made with flour, sugar, honey and thinly rolling the batter into a narrow shape, like an ox tongue. It is a children’s snack and for religious ceremonies.
- Milk pudding rolls – a moist sponge cake with milk pudding and different fruit flavours
Yilan Guide: Things to do in Yilan County
Yilan County is 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. And I will list all the best things to do in each of these townships.
All the Yilan attractions are pinned in the five interactive maps below. Follow the numbers, and you can see the description for each activity. And you can find more information about each attraction by clicking on the individual pin.
Things to do in Toucheng Township
Toucheng (頭城) is the first of many cities you must visit while exploring east coast Taiwan. The city is in Toucheng Township, which is 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.
Although it is not necessary to stay in Toucheng (as there isn’t a lot of budget accommodations), you can stay in Jiaoxi (more in next section) and travel to Toucheng during the day.
1. Toucheng Old Street (頭城老街)
Toucheng Old Street 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 Lu Family Residence and Qingyan Temple, the first temple in Yilan.
While it was an important trading hub before, it is a touristy spot today where you will find retro coffee shops, colourful murals and many Instagram photo spots.
2. Toucheng Seaside Forest Park (頭城濱海森林公園)
Toucheng Seaside Forest Park consists of a nice beach, few campsites and an octagonal viewing tower right by the water. And just north of the beach, there is a long boardwalk/ bike path that will eventually lead you to Wushi Harbour.
The park may not be something you see in travel guide books but I quite like the park as it is one of the few beaches in Yilan. It is quite serene and relaxing.
3. Lanyang Museum (蘭陽博物館)
If you don’t know anything about Yilan County, then you must start your Yilan itinerary by visiting Lanyang Museum.
The large museum is in a modern building with an asymmetrical profile. It literally looks like the building is either sinking into the ground or water (depends on where you are viewing the structure).
The four permanent exhibitions are around the themes of the Mountains, the Plains the Sea and the Time Gallery. You can learn about the history of Yilan, the topographical landscape, the indigenous Kavalan people, and many interesting facts about Yilan.
It is a great introduction to the history of Yilan County especially if you don’t know much about the area. All exhibits have descriptions in both English and Chinese.
4. Waiao Beach (外澳沙灘)
Even though Taiwan is not known for surfing, there are many beaches around the country that are great for surfing, including Waiao Beach.
The black sand beach is popular amongst local Taiwanese surfers as it is the country’s best-kept secret. Waiao Beach has consistent waves all year round while 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.
Parellel to the beach, there are cafes, restaurants and several surf shops were you can rent a surfboard for the day.
5. Guishan Island (Turtle Island) (龜山島)
Guishan Island, 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 simple 1.5-hour tour starts from NT$600 and longer tours can go up to NT$1,500. Buy tickets at the Wushi Harbour Visitor Centre. And bring gravol – it is a rocky boat ride!
6. Caoling Historic Trail (草嶺古道)
Caoling Historic Trail might be one of the best hiking trails along the northeast coast of Taiwan. You can see a lush forest, historic relics, and panoramic views of the east coast.
The best way to hike the 8.5km trail is to hike south to north from Dali Station to Fulong Station.
If you are visiting in November, check out the annual Silver Grass Festival. This is the time when the northeast wind is the strongest and you will see is a mountain full of swaying white silver grass.
7. Fulong Beach (福隆海水浴場)
Another beach option near Toucheng is Fulong Beach in New Taipei City, one of the most popular beaches in northern Taiwan.
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.
It is easy to get to Fulong Beach. A train ride from Toucheng to Fulong Station is only 26 minutes. Then walk 10-minutes north.
8. Eat local Taiwanese food in Toucheng
- Japanese Restaurant (樂屋日本料理) – the locals love this casual Japanese restaurant. The food is simply amazing!
- Taiwanese Restaurant (老街懷舊食堂) – the restaurant has an old school vibe and it serves all the Taiwanese classic dishes
- Ice-cream shop (阿宗芋冰城) – the ice-cream shop has been around for 50 years! They sell unique ice-cream flavours including purple rice, peanut and taro.
Things to do in Jiaoxi Township
Jiaoxi (礁溪) is blessed with the largest hot spring area in Taiwan. The township is located in a fault zone with underground sources of heat. The geothermal heat rises and heats up the groundwater which is the source for all the hot springs in Jiaoxi.
The hot springs in Jiaoxi have carbonic acid and do not have a sulphur smell. The minerals in the water are good for your skin. Even the Jiaoxi farmers use the spring water for crops like spinach, water bamboo, and tomato.
While visiting the hot springs in Jiaoxi is the main attraction, there are plenty of outdoor activities including hiking trails and waterfalls.
Since there is a lot of things to do in Jiaoxi, I would recommend staying in Jiaoxi and explore Yilan County.
1. Tangweigou Hot Spring Park (湯圍溝溫泉公園)
Tangweigou Hot Spring Park is a popular hot spring park with free foot baths and fish foot baths (NT$80). All the pools are outdoors where you sit along the bench and soak your feet into the warm water.
The fish foot bath is something else! Little fishes nibble on your feet and eat all the dead skin. It sounds gross and it actually is pretty ticklish, but it is a unique experience that’s for sure!
2, 3, & 4. Free Foot Bathing Pool (免費泡腳池)
There are three free foot bathing pools around Jiaoxi. These are the perfect places when you are tired of walking and just want to relax and soak your feet. It is absolutely free to use the foot bath. Just remember to rinse your feet before putting them in the water. And also don’t soak for too long – the water is really hot!
5. Jiaoxi Hot Spring Park Forest Bath (礁溪溫泉公園-森林風呂)
For a bit more of a full hot spring experience, try soaking in Jiaoxi Hot Spring Park Forest Bath. The hot spring has typical Japanese style bathing facilities and an outdoor hot spring open all year round. As per tradition, men spa and women spa are separated. They both have indoor and outdoor spa facilities. It costs NT$120.
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.
6. Jiaoxi Public Hot Spring and Swimming Pool (礁溪鄉公所溫泉游泳池)
Jiaoxi public hot spring and swimming pool is 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.
7. Paoma Historic Trail (跑馬古道)
When you are not soaking in the hot springs of Jiaoxi, walk north of the city and find some of the best hiking trails in Jiaoxi.
Paomo Historic Trail was built during the Qing Dynasty where 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 to the trail, you can see Yilan County from above and can also see Guishan (Turtle) Island and the ocean. The trail is not difficult at all.
8. Wufongci Waterfall (五峰旗瀑布)
Another amazing hike in Jiaoxi is the hike to Wufongci Waterfall. When you follow the path to Wufongci Waterfall, you see three series of the waterfall. The guided path includes several flights of stairs to the pagoda at the top where you will see the 100-meter waterfall.
Even though there is a Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus to Wufongci Waterfall, it is possible to walk from Jiaoxi. The trek starts with walking along the main road until you reach pavilion. Then follow the signs and guided path.
9. Shengmu Hiking Trail (聖母登山步道).
After the Wufengqi Waterfall, follow the signs for Shengmu Hiking Trail. The uphill trail leads you to 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 the majority of the day hiking Shengmu Hiking Trail. But the views are worth it!
10. Eat local Taiwanese food in Jiaoxi
- Ke’s Scallion Pancake (柯氏蔥油餅) – Yilan’s most famous place for making scallion pancakes. Even Michelin guide thinks so too!
- Hot Spring Ramen (樂山溫泉拉麵) – eat a delicious bowl of ramen while soaking your feet (see photo above)
- Xiao Zhou Beef Noodles (小周牛肉麵) – get a traditional bowl of beef noodles
- Thick Pork Soup with Garlic (焿爸子 羅東肉粳番) – get a bowl or with a combo
- Congee (時光粥) – they serve a really good seafood congee or rice porridge
- Yong He Soy Milk (永和豆漿大王) – a popular breakfast joint all over Taiwan
- Qing Zhen Breakfast (清珍早點) – a local Taiwanese breakfast for eat-in or takeaway
- Satomi Yilan (里海咖啡) – a quaint little restaurant serving Japanese food
- Bai-Shui Douhua (白水豆花) – they make a yummy douhua (tofu dessert)
- Douhua Tofu Dessert (和平豆花) – they also make tofu dessert
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 there are many activities within the city centre, there a few attractions outside of the city core that are worth visiting. And the public bus is the perfect option for solo travellers.
However, the frequency of buses is far and few in between. Even though all the buses have specific schedules for weekdays and weekends, Google Maps doesn’t capture the schedule properly. So you will have to rely on the actual timetable at the bus stop. If you miss a bus, you may have to wait for half an hour or more.
1. Jimmy Square (幾米公園)
Jimmy Square is a long and narrow park just south of Yilan Station. What is interesting about the park is the whimsical characters and settings.
Jimmy Liao, a Taiwanese illustrator, 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 fun and playful settings for your Instagram photos.
2. Diu Diu Dang Forest Park (丟丟噹森林)
Diu Diu Dang Forest Park is a small park across Yilan Station that has a steel-frame iron tree forest. There are nine metal frame trees with different colours of green leaves that are made with glass. Similar to 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. Make sure to check out the coffee shop inside the Baiguo Tree Red Brick House while you are there.
3. Yilan Crossing (宜蘭行口)
Built in 1919, Yilan Crossing was an old warehouse for Taiwan Railway Yilan Station. It was used for storing goods transported in Yilan. Today, the warehouse houses a cafe and a bookstore and hosts unique art events in the industrial space.
4. Dongmen Night Market (東門夜市)
There are way too many choices when it comes to Dongmen Night Market. Food vendors under the Donggang Bridge and surrounding streets sell the best Taiwanese street food. You can pick up snacks where it allows you to keep walking around the market and looking for more food. Or find one of the restaurants in the market for a sitdown meal.
When you are in Yilan, try a local favourite: meat skewers. While they have many options for different types of meat, they also have vegetables and some other unknown skewers that I have no idea what they are about. But trying food is all part of the adventure!
5. Yilan Museum of Art (宜蘭美術館)
Yilan Museum of Art showcases local Yilan’s arts and crafts in an old building that used to be one of the branches for the Bank of Taiwan. Parts of the building were destroyed in the war but many of the architectural details were restored.
6. Yilan Literary Museum (宜蘭文學館)
Yilan Literary Museum is a small museum that has a space for books and traditional Japanese interiors for coffee and tea. Even though the size is quite small and not much to see, it is still nice to appreciate the restored Japanese interiors.
The museum has two buildings: one for the museum and the other is a Japanese restaurant, Kyukoku Restaurant.
7. Memorial Hall of Founding of Yilan Administration (宜蘭設治紀念館)
Built with the cypress trees in Taipingshan forest in Yilan, the Memorial Hall of Founding of Yilan Administration building incorporated both Japanese and western architectural aesthetics. Today, you can tour the inside of the building, the spacious courtyard and the Japanese-style rock garden.
8. Yilan Distillery (宜蘭酒廠)
Yilan Distillery has a museum, gallery, shop and leisure facilities. You can walk around the grounds on your own and see many exhibits.
While you are there, check out Chia Chi Lan Wine Museum, a wine museum focusing on red rice wine. Yilan’s red rice wine won numerous awards and it is used to making red rice sausages, red yeast rice vinegar and many more products that are good for your health.
9. Yilan Brick Kiln (宜蘭磚窯)
Yilan Brick Kiln 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 see the historical place with preserved kilns and learn about the history of brick making in Yilan.
10. Kavalan Distillery (金車噶瑪蘭威士忌酒廠)
Kavalan Distillery 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 as 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!
It’s a bit of a bus ride to get to Kavalan Distillery but well worth it if you are into whiskey!
11. Wanglongpi (望龍埤)
Wanglongpi 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 you will be greeted by an emerald green lake. Follow the guided path around the lake and you will see a red arched bridge, the bridge of nine turns and several cafes southwest of the lake.
On the east end of the lake, there is a hiking trail called Feilong Trail that will lead you up the mountain for great views of the lake at the platform.
Take bus 752 from Yilan Station (but take note of bus schedule as buses are not frequent) if you want to spend a leisurely afternoon at Wanglongpi.
12. Eat local Taiwanese food in Yilan City
- Mother’s Love Garlic Meat Soup (阿娘給的蒜味肉羹) – their thick pork soup has a lot of garlic but super good!
- MQ Grandpapa (馬桂爺爺 咖哩專賣店) – a local restaurant serving Japanese-style curry with pork and/or chicken. The dish comes with a tornado omelette. So good!
- Kyukoku Restaurant (九穀日本料理 | 舊主秘公館) – a Japanese restaurant in Yilan Literary Museum
- Yih Shun Shiuan Bakery (奕順軒宜蘭店) – popular pastry shop in Yilan
- Beimen Bean Milk Monarch (北門綠豆沙牛乳大王) – they are known for their green bean milkshake. Prepare for a long queue!
- Hooliucan (泥鰍hooliu) – a retro coffee shop serving the best cakes!
- Café & Hinoki (珈啡座) – it is a coffee shop and a store selling vintage clothing and coffee ware
- Cafe Sanpo (散步) – a cozy coffee shop with retro furnishings
Things to do in Luodong Township
Luodong (羅東) is another urban area in central Yilan County. From a solo traveller perspective, it is better to stay in Yilan City as there are more budget accommodations and more local attractions. But there are a handful of attractions outside of Luodong if you decide to stay overnight in Luodong.
Moreover, most travellers use Luodong as the jumping-off point for visiting Taipingshan. However, you don’t need to stay in Luodong to visit Taipingshan. The public bus and many tour companies start a day trip to Taipingshan from Yilan City as well.
1. Luodong Night Market (羅東夜市)
Luodong Night Market spans several streets and blocks; basically it covers all three sides of Jungshan Park. Food vendors sell local Yilan street food including green onion pancake and fried chicken. Other food vendors have tables and chairs at their stall where you can enjoy a delicious bowl of thick pork soup with garlic.
Besides food, there are stalls selling clothing, shoes, umbrellas, and many more affordable items.
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.
2. Meihua Lake (梅花湖)
Meihua Lake, 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 spending a leisurely afternoon at Meihua Lake.
3. Qingshui Geothermal Area (清水地熱公園)
One of the most unusual things to do in Yilan is to visit Qingshui Geothermal Area. 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 where there are 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.
4. Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area (太平山國家森林遊樂區)
Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area 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. Throughout your time in the park, you will come across many hot springs, lakes and waterfalls. And make sure you get a ticket for the Bong-Bong Train that will take you around the forest at a leisurely pace.
Taipingshan has an elevation of 300-2,500 meters. The climate is cooler and wetter than neighbouring towns. As the area receives a lot of rainfall, make sure to bring waterproof hiking shoes and clothing.
Travellers should stay in either Yilan City or Luodong if they want to do a solo hike or an organized group hike in Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area.
It is possible to hike Taipingshan on your own. Take the Kuo-Kuang bus from Yilan bus station (7:40 am) or Luodong (8:00 am). It takes 2 hours and 30 minutes 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 2:30 pm. A round trip ticket costs NT$243.
Or join a one or two-day tour from Yilan or Luodong. There are many tour operators in both Yilan and Luodong.
5. Eat local Taiwanese food in Luodong
- Taiwanese Restaurant (南方澳米糕) – a local restaurant serving braised pork rice with pickled cucumber and pork meatball soup
- Sansing Green Onion Pancake (玉本舖三星蔥餅) – Michelin recommended this Yilan-style green onion scallion pancake. Made with hand-made dough and lots of green onions!
- Wei Jie Heart Tapioca Desserts (魏姐包心) – a Taiwanese restaurant chain serving traditional Taiwanese desserts
- Coffee Street Co. (小揭商行) – a small coffee shop serving excellent lattes. Go early and order a slice of their chiffon cakes!
- To Light Coffee Roasters (巷光咖啡) – they also make a good cup of joe! And cake too!
Things to do in Su’ao Township
Located in Su’ao township in southern Yilan County, Su’ao (蘇澳) is known for cold springs. While the neighbouring town, Nanfangao (南方澳), is known as the mackerel town, where it 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 of course, delicious seafood! Visiting all the major attractions in Su’ao and Nanfangao can be done in the same day.
1. Su’ao Cold Spring Park (蘇澳冷泉公園)
One of the highlights in Su’ao is the Su’ao Cold Spring, the only calcium bicarbonate spring in Taiwan (the other one is in Italy). The cold spring has large outdoor public baths where the temperature of the water is 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, the cold spring water is used for making several local food products in Su’ao.
It might feel cold at first 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 cure some skin diseases and intestinal illnesses as well. But regardless, it is a delightful experience.
2. Alishi Cold Spring (阿里史冷泉公共浴室)
Alisli Cold Spring is another cold spring in Su’ao but smaller and more local. It has the same water source as Su’ao Cold Spring. You can soak your feet in the open-air outdoor cold spring (it looks like a long below the ground creek) or soak your entire body in the smaller indoor pool.
3. Qixingling Trail (七星嶺步道)
Next to Su’ao Cold Spring, hike up Qixingling Trail and see a gorgeous view of Su’ao and Nanfangao port to the south and Yilan plains to the north from different viewing platforms. The 4.7km trail is relatively easy.
The entrance is right next to Su’ao Cold Spring. Look for a sign at the start of the trail.
4. Neipi Beach (內埤海灘)
At the southeast end of Nanfango, there is a gorgeous black pebble beach with crystal clear water called Neipi Beach. It is a popular beach for sunbathing and watching the sunrise. It is known as the 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.
5. Tofu Cape (豆腐岬)
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.
Tofu Cape is a small bay that has a seawall and a coastal trail. It is the perfect spot for scuba diving, standup paddleboarding and watching the sunrise. Or you can simply enjoy the view of the Pacific Ocean from Tofu Cape.
6. Nanfangao Lookout (南方澳觀景臺)
At the 108km marker of the Suao-to-Hualien highway, there is a viewing spot to 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. There is a hiking trail from Xue Fu Road to the viewing deck.
7. Nanfangao Fish Market (南寧魚市場)
Local fishermen sell their catch of the day at the Nanfangao Fish Market. You can buy fresh fish, shrimp, crab, and shellfish directly from the vendors and the restaurant at the end of the market will cook it for you.
If you are travelling alone, you can still try some fresh seafood like buying a box of fresh tuna or salmon sashimi.
8. Nanfangao Fishing Harbour (南方澳漁港)
Nanfangao Fishing Harbour is of the 3 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 along the fishing harbour road.
9. Sangang Ironworks Museum (三剛鐵工廠文物館)
It used to be an iron factory where fishing boats were repaired. Today, Sangang Ironworks Museum serves as a local cultural centre where it houses artwork by local artists on the first floor and quirky artwork created with fishing materials from the 1950s on the second floor.
10. Nanfangao Nantian Temple (南天宮金媽祖)
Built in 1956, Nanfangao Nantian Temple is the religious center of Nanfangao. It has a 200kg gold Mazu goddess in the center of the temple. Many locals elieve that praying to Mazu will bring the fisherman home safely and with a big catch.
11. Eat local Taiwanese food in Su’ao and Nanfangao
- San San (叄三文化廚房) – the cute little restaurant serves coffees and teas and their famous mackerel fish snack. Everything at the restaurant is Instagram-worthy!
- Taiwanese Restaurant (富哥鮮魚湯江夏店) – a local Taiwanese restaurant serving braised pork rice, fish soup, sashimi, and other fresh seafood
- Peanut Ice-cream Roll (阿榮芋冰 花生捲加冰淇淋) – get a peanut ice-cream roll with 3 different flavours of homemade ice-cream
Are you ready to plan a trip to Yilan?
Wow that was a really long list of things to do! Yilan Taiwan has certainly made an impression on me. I loved travelling in Yilan as a solo traveller and have so many good memories. I hope you liked the list and can use it to plan your own itinerary to Yilan.
And if you are still wondering what to do in Yilan or have any questions, leave a comment below!