Taiwan Guides: Yilan Ultimate Guide – 10 Best Things To Do
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- Taiwan Guides: Yilan Ultimate Guide – 10 Best Things To Do
Yilan is a popular county in Taiwan, famous for its beautiful nature trails, hot and cold springs, and numerous factory outlets each boasting a unique Yilan specialty.
Located along the North-East Coast of Taiwan, the nearest township of Jiaoxi in Yilan County is a short bus ride away from Taipei (about an hour’s journey).
Here is our ultimate guide of best things to do in Yilan.
Travel tip: With so many things to choose from, we recommend you build your itinerary around your interests and location.
For example, you can choose to stay in Jiaoxi and explore the nearby sights, before moving to Luodong for another few nights to explore the sights further south in Yilan County.
To make things easier, we’ve included Google map links so you don’t have to toggle between the article and search Google maps for the location.
1. Hike Yilan Nature Trails
Yilan County has many nature trails that can be as short as 45 minutes. Here are our recommended trails:
A. Caoling Historic Trail (~4 hours, start at Dali TRA Station, end at Fulong TRA Station)
Caoling Historic Trail is a section of an ancient route built by early Chinese settlers.
Starting at Dali TRA Station, visit the Dali Tiangong Temple before you head uphill for the Caoling Historic Trail.
The trail begins with ~2.5km of winding uphill roads with several staircases you can climb to shortcut your hike to Wukou (I preferred walking on the road).
Check out the beautiful sea views just over your shoulder as you climb.
The trail is generally well marked and there are rest stops with toilets at intervals.
At Wukou, you can choose to head downhill towards Fulong Station (steps may be slippery) or turn left to Taoyuan Valley Trail which ends near Daxi Station.
If you choose the former, note that the walk from Yuanwangkeng Waterfront Park to Fulong Station can be hot as you walk along the road.
B. Linmeishipan Trail (~45 mins, self-drive or take the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle bus from Jiaoxi TRA Station)
This romantic trail in Jiaoxi Township takes you through a magical forest setting, with waterfalls, creeks, fern-lined paths and a long staircase along the way.
I fell in love with this trail, perfect for a stroll and picnic with your significant other. There are stalls selling drinks near the entrance.
C. Wufengqi Waterfall + Catholic Sanctuary + Shengmu trail (~30 mins to a few hours, self-drive or take the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle bus from Jiaoxi TRA Station)
Wufengqi waterfall is a 100 m long waterfall set in a lush valley.
Climb up the steps to see the waterfall from various heights, and visit the nearby Catholic Sanctuary of Our Lady of Wufengqi for a zoomed out view.
Continue to the Shengmu trail if you intend to have a longer hike.
D. Qixingling Trail (Su’ao TRA Station)
The trailhead of Qixingling is near the Suao public bath entrance. Walk up flights of stairs to reach lookouts of varying heights (one star, two star etc).
After the six star circular park lookout at the top, the trail then becomes a rocky dirt trail winding downwards towards the Su’ao Swimming Pool.
We decided to turn back after the six star lookout to enjoy the Su’ao Cold Springs.
2. Soak in Jiaoxi Hot Springs
How to get to Jiaoxi:
- Train: Jiaoxi TRA Station (take a Tzechiang or Puyuma train to Yilan Station then change to a local train to Jiaoxi Station)
- Bus: one hour plus journey from Taipei Bus Station to Jiaoxi Transfer Station via Kamelan Bus
Jiaoxi Township has many hot springs options for you.
A. Hotels for overnight stay
- with hot spring pools you can swim in
- with private hot spring baths in your room.
B. Paid hot springs
- some are hot springs pools
- some offer private hot springs rooms for an hour or so.
C. Public hot springs pools and parks to dip your feet in
We have tried all these options and we personally prefer to stay in a hotel with a private hot spring bath in the room, as you can enjoy a bath as many times as you wish!
You can rent a car or motorcycle using your international driving licence in Jiaoxi. We found the motorcycle rental rates in Jiaoxi to be one of the more affordable ones in Taiwan (from TWD350/day).
You can rent from the motorcycle shops outside the Jiaoxi TRA Station, and there is also one opposite the Jiaoxi transfer station (where you alight the Kamelan bus).
Bonus tip: If you’re in Luodong, there is also a hot springs Water Geothermal Square where you can boil eggs.
3. Dip in Su’ao Cold Springs (Su’ao TRA Station)
In Yilan County, you have the options to have both a hot and cold spring experience in a single trip!
Su’ao Cold Springs are 22 degrees Celsius and you can see bubbles forming on your skin.
We enjoyed the cold springs after a hot Qixingling Trail walk to cool ourselves down.
You can choose either:
A. Paid private cold springs room
B. Paid public baths (entrance is at the park at the foot of the Qixingling Trail, look for a new pinkish building behind the local wet market)
C. Free public foot baths (at the same new pinkish building near this location)
As a bonus, we treated ourselves to the classic Yilan street dessert, peanut ice cream roll, near the private baths, to beat the hot weather.
4. Yilan Factory Hopping and Shopping (Self-drive)
Yilan is home to so many delicacies you can discover something new on every trip.
There are various factory outlets celebrating the quality and diversity of Yilan’s local specialties.
Some factory outlets have their own museum, cafe and DIY classes too.
Here are just a few options you can drive to:
A. Agrioz Cafe (preserved kumquat, kumquat drinks and snacks)
B. CP Cheese Factory (cheese and cheesecakes)
C. Green House Workshop (spring onion and other local products)
D. Herbelle (floral skincare, tea, household products)
E. Bee Farmer (honey products)
F. Kavalan Distillery (liquor)
G. Artemis Garden (plant products)
H. King Car Biotech (orchids, plants and local products)
I. Lucky Art Crayon (crayons and stationery)
J. Yilan Cake Factory (local cakes and biscuits)
K. Onemit (barley and bean-related products)
5. Visit Yilan Museums and Parks
To learn more about Yilan and explore its history, culture and nature, you can visit several museums and parks such as:
A. Lanyang Museum (history and culture of Yilan)
Read about my visit to Lanyang Museum.
B. 羅東文化工場 (architecture)
C. Luodong Forestry Culture Park
D. 綺麗珊瑚博物館 (corals)
E. Brick Ark museum (Lego sculptures)
F. Jimmy Park (theme park for kids)
G. Dongshan River Water Park (super huge water park)
H. 宜蘭傳藝中心 (cultural park with traditional arts and crafts and local products)
I. 冬山河生態綠舟 (big park for walking, cycling)
J. Wu Lao Keng Scenic Area (a paid park for picnics, photo-taking and enjoying the creek)
K. 祝大漁物產館 ZHU DAYU Culture Museum (for seafood and snacks, if you happen to be at Nanfangao Harbour)
Bonus: If you’re up for a boat ride, book a tour around Turtle Island (to visit the island, apply for a permit in advance) and watch whales and dolphins along the way.
There are many niche museums and parks not listed here but easily discoverable on Google maps.
6. Feast on Yilan’s Food Delicacies
If you’re in Yilan, try these local delicacies. We couldn’t get enough of it.
A. Bread from Yih Shun Shiuan Bakery (3 branches in Jiaoxi, Yilan, Luodong)
B. Pork Garlic Noodle soup (try Mother’s Love)
C. Wei Jie (Sister Wei) Heart desserts
D. Peanut ice cream pancake rolls (老兄花生捲冰淇淋 found at Suao Cold Springs (outside the private baths), Meihua Lake entrance, or you can also buy at a higher price at Luodong Night Market)
E. Sizzling hot plate pork chops (my favourite is at 牛小妹牛排鋪)
F. Ramen and Xiao long bao (傻師傅湯包 has amazing 炸醬麵 – the noodles taste so deceptively simple and innocent but it is secretly winning your heart)
7. Tour Yilan Fruit Farms
Taiwan fruits have a wondrous juicy flavour burst that will surprise you. Depending on the season you are visiting Yilan, you can make a trip to a fruit farm to try their fruits and even book a farm tour.
Read about my visit to Jinpu Orchard fruit farm which has amazing pears and guavas.
Learn more about various fruit farms in Yilan here.
8. Yilan Lake Hopping
Yilan County has several picturesque lakes you can visit.
A. Longtanhu Park
Many people come here to shop at Herbelle and take photos at the garden near the lake across the road from Herbelle.
You can walk along the path and boardwalk around the lake, but we decided to ride the motorcycle instead as the lake is quite big.
B. Meihua Lake
Meihua Lake is a smaller lake which you can easily walk around in less than an hour, or rent a motorised cart (choose either a 2 or 4-seater) to circle the lake. If the weather is good, you can also rent a small boat at the lake.
There are quite a few ducks and geese, and a bridge leading to a little island in the middle of the lake.
Enjoy a peanut ice cream pancake roll and a Taiwanese sausage as you admire the scenery.
Other lake options: Wanglongpi Lake, 蜊埤湖, 虹明湖
9. Visit Nanfangao Harbour and Neipi Beach
A short drive away from Su’ao is the Nanfangao Harbour which is home to Nantian Temple, Jinan Temple, and many local product shops and seafood restaurants.
Drive to the nearby Neipi Beach (not safe to swim in) for the wind and scenery, and enjoy a cup of coffee at the beachside cafes.
Visit Tofu Cape to admire the landscape and take photos.
Unfortunately, the Nanfang’ao Bridge has collapsed on 1 October 2019. Take note of any travel advisories for Nanfang’ao before you plan a trip there.
10. Eat Your Heart Out at Yilan Night Markets!!
Last but not least, visit Yilan County’s night markets to sample Taiwan’s legendary street food.
Our favourite night market is Luodong Night Market (walkable from Luodong TRA Station), where most of the stalls circle around a park.
From sizzling hot plate restaurants, yam milk to the humble pumpkin balls, you will definitely put on weight here.
If you need a respite from the crowd and weather, hop into the nearby Daiso or enjoy a hot+cold dessert from Wei Jie Heart Desserts.
Parking can be difficult here with a car, but there is a multi-storey carpark which you can try your luck at. It is easier to find motorcycle parking along one of the roads.
Nearer to Yilan TRA Station is the Dongmen Night Market. There is a food street and a perpendicular clothes/knick knacks street for a leisurely night walk.
The crowds aren’t as intense as Luodong Night Market but it can get busy on weekends.
Besides enjoying the street food like Taiwanese sausages and pink guava, our favourite restaurant to eat at is 牛小妹牛排鋪 where the pork chops are one of the best I’ve ever tasted.
The meat is thick and juicy, and the pork chop sizzling hot plate is fantastic value at only TWD90. Enjoy your meal with a complimentary cup of cold winter melon tea.
Besides night markets, the regular shops are open late too which makes Yilan County a fun place to visit at night too.
If you have more recommendations and great things to do for my Ultimate Yilan Guide, please share in the comments 🙂