Here is an overview of things to do and places to visit in Yilan County in Northeast Taiwan with links to articles we have published in the past. We start in the far north and make our way down to the south.
Hiking the Caoling Historic Trail
The Caoling Historic Trail is one of the most popular routes for casual hikers in northeast Taiwan. You can start from Fulong Railway Station in the north (New Taipei City) or Dali Railway Station in the south (Yilan County). The trail is well maintained (stone slab steps), has a length of about 10km and takes about 4 hours to complete. The most scenic spot is at a place called Yakou. There you have grand view of the Pacific coast. During the annual silver grass season the trail becomes especially enchanting with silky silver grass waving in the breeze.
If you have done the easy Caoling Historic Trail, and you want to go a bit further, just head uphill from Yakou. This trail takes you across the high coastal mountains south and brings you to a very scenic high grassland, known as Taoyuan Valley. From there you can continue further south to end your hike at Daxi Railway Station. This hike is more demanding than Caoling, but rewards you breathtaking scenery.
For info about a shorter loop trail to Taoyuan Valley look here.
Visiting Toucheng Farm
Toucheng Farm is one of the best-known leisure farms in Taiwan. Located in the foothills of Toucheng Township, close to Guishan Railway Station, this farm is fun to visit and it’s educational. You can, for example, learn how to plant rice, use an earthen kin to cook food, and get to know typical farm animals like water buffalo. They also have a winery producing excellent wine.
The dark-sand beach at Wai’ao, just to the north of the Wushi Fishing Harbor, is the most popular surf beach in northern Taiwan. There are a number of shops renting boards and other gear and a few restaurants where you can eat and drink. It can get crowded during the summer season. A quieter alternative is Miyue (Honeymoon) Bay, a bit further to the north at Daxi.
Another very popular and scenic hike in northern Yilan is the Marian Hiking Trail, leading up to the beautiful Matcha Mountain (Mt. Sanjiaolun), the slopes of which looks as if covered in Japanese-style powder tea (matcha). The hike is fairly straight forward, starting close to the Wufengqi Waterfall. It can get hot in the summer, so bring plenty of water.
From the mountains and the beach to the city. Yilan is not a big city, but there are a number of interesting places to check out. One of these is an old community called E-Wang. This is a great place to learn about Yilan’s history and visit some interesting sites including an old brick kiln.
Dongshan and Yuanshan townships both partly cover the triangular-shaped Yilan (or Lanyang) Plain and foothills to the west and south. There are quite a few places worth visiting, including parks, lakes, restaurants, and cafes.
The banks of Dongshan River are perfect for relaxed bicycle rides.You can cycle from Dongshan Railway Station east to the National Center for Traditional Arts, on the way passing the Dongshan EcoArk park and the Dongshan River Water Park. The traditional-arts center is a large theme park introducing you to many of Taiwan’s traditional arts and crafts.
For more about riding along the river, read on here.
Luodong Forestry Culture Park
If you want to learn about Yilan’s logging history, the Luodong Forestry Culture Park is the perfect place to go. They have informative exhibits and a large park area with locomotives and a pond. The park is conveniently located close to the Luodong Railway Station.
Shangrila Leisure Farm is located in the foothills of Dongshan Township, and presents you with amazing views of the Yilan Plain. The farm organizes various activities for the whole family and is perfect for enjoying healthy meals and staying overnight.
Forest Recreation Areas: Taipingshan, Qilan + Yilan City
Yilan County is a mix of sandy beaches, rice fields on a flat plain, and forested mountains. If you are interested in the mountains, Taipingshan and Qilan are amazing forest recreation areas with hiking trails through cool forests with ancient tree giants.
If you have your own wheels and want to slowly drive from Yilan south towards Hualien, make sure to take the coastal highway. After the recent opening of the faster expressway inland, the coastal highway has become much quieter and enjoying the coastal scenery is now much more enjoyable.
If you rely on public transport and bring time for the trip from Yilan to Hualien, take a slow train and get off at those smaller stations, such as Nan’ao and Dong’ao. Great scenery, peaceful countryside, and awesome beaches wait for your exploration.
More about taking the slow train from Yilan to Hualien here.