Hualien (花蓮) and Taitung (台東) are definitely some close-by destinations if you're looking for a quick/relaxing trip with local Taiwanese comfort food, cafes, stunning coastlines, peaceful rural landscapes, old town districts, warm hospitality and interesting Air b&bs. Although many "special" incidents happened along the way (scroll to the bottom to see :P), yet if you're looking for a 4 days 3 nights getaway, maybe this itinerary is the one for you too.
這趟花東(花蓮和台東) 之旅4天3夜，主要的行程包括平靜安寧的小鎮、地道台灣美食、個性咖啡館，田園和海岸風光、老台灣人的好客、還有用心經營的Air B&B等......和台北城市繁華的風光有很大的分別！
For most of you who are not familiar with the geographical locations of Hualien and Taitung, here's an overview of our route on the Google Map. We went from down from the valley and returned from the coastline. The route we picked is designed to fit perfectly in a 4D3N trip without feeling too overwhelmed or loose.
There was only one flight from Hong Kong to Hualien on that day (we were flying Hong Kong Express). The original departure time was 2:45pm and it was delayed till 5:45pm to depart...People said the chance of Hong Kong Express Airline getting delayed was 70%!
Hualien Airport was quite small, the car rental was just few steps away from the luggage belt.
Voila! This was our white Toyota SUV!
We started driving right away from the Hualien Airport. The driving time to our Silk Place Taroko (太魯閣晶英酒店) was around 45mins. The night drive route was indeed "adventurous" inside the Taroko National Park - the roads were very narrow and right next to some cliffs.
It was almost completely dark at night, so we were relying on the headlights of our car mostly. We stopped by the curb several times because there was some single lane section which we had to wait for the other car from the opposite direction to pass first.
What the area looks like in the morning...
The hotel was located inside the Taroko National Park and it had a modest, low profile entrance. It combined modern Chinese design with sophisticated aesthetic sense and elegant space, perfect for a mental relaxation and retreat. And btw...Taroko Gorge was the #1 Taiwan Scenic Attraction where you could find different natural trails, cliffs, hot-springs and adventure activities to do.
Photo source from: http://www.silksplace-taroko.com.tw/
太魯閣晶英酒店 Silks Place Taroko
Address 地址： 972台灣花蓮縣秀林鄉天祥路18號
Phone 電話： +886 3 869 1155
We were too late for the buffet dinner we originally booked, therefore after we rejoined our friend who arrived early, we decided to order some room service meals to fix our stomach. We ordered a few Taiwanese specialties and they were so yummy that we couldn't stop eating!
At night we visited the hotel's pool and noticed that many people were indeed enjoying the outdoor mini theatre! We stayed for a bit and enjoyed the quiet, peaceful summer night lazily on a lounge bed.
Early in the morning we took advantage of the empty pool and did a mini photoshoot :P
After that we drove from Taroko Gorge to Cingshuei Cliff (清水斷崖) along the Suhua Highway (蘇花公路) - northern east coastline of the Taroko National Park.
This section of Hualien was known for the long, irregular, steep coastline and the impeccable view of the boundless Pacific Ocean. It was one of Taiwan's "Eight Wonders" and stretched out for more than 21km. The view we saw at the lookout point was affected by the typhoon weather so the water wasn't as blue and clear as it supposed to be.
Cingshuei Cliff 清水斷崖
The next stop we drove south along Suhua Highway (蘇花公路) and arrived at Chihsingtan Beach (七星潭). It was a 30min drive from Cingshuei Cliff. The view of the crescent-shape beach surrounded by the giant mountains plus facing the Pacific Ocean was absolutely stunning!
Chihsingtan Beach 七星潭
Biking was a very popular activity in this area so we decided to rent bikes to tour around the beachside neighborhood a bit.
Our first stop was at Yuan Ye Farm (原野牧場) where they serve signature goat-milk lattes and cheeses.
(Photo source: http://www.discoverytaiwan.com.tw/spotname.php?i=3550)
Yuan Ye Farm 原野牧場
Phone: +886 3 822 6778
We had a quick lunch break there and arrived at a perfect, unobscured space to take a photo of the whole view next to the farm...
Due to typhoon procedures, the bike route to the highest point of this area - 四八高地 (a place where you could have the best view of the whole Chihsingtan Beach) was completely blocked, thus we had to return our bike and drove there using another route.
This place was an insanely beautiful, sacred place where you could feel completely free of thoughts. When you got closer to the cliff and looked down, you could see the rocks were composed with different colors and types of shells! Amazing natural scenery! This was no doubt the My favourite place in Hualien!
四八高地 or 奇萊鼻 or 美崙鼻
After that we drove back to the heart of Hualien city and arrived at this character cafe, Soave Plan (浮室). We love their signature coffee "浮室咖啡" and Fresh Lemon Tart so much!
Soave Plan 浮室咖啡
For dinner, we visited 鵝肉先生 for some local Taiwanese flavors. We ordered quite a variety of different popular dishes, such as assorted goose meat (鵝肉拼盤), minced pork over rice (肉燥飯), stir-fry pork intestine with Pickles (酸菜炒大腸), Pork skin with cold sauce (涼拌豬皮), Salad with Fish Eggs (魚卵沙拉), Noodles in Goose Meat Soup (鵝湯煮麵) and Taiwanese beer (金牌台灣啤酒). The food was alright, didn't have too much surprises!
Phone: +886 3 833 1902
After this we went to one of the most famous Oyster Pancake street food shop in Hualien - 海埔蚵仔煎. We ordered a few oyster pancakes (蚵仔煎) and a bowl of clam soup to go with it!
Phone: +886 933 126 940
The last stop of the night was the Zhiqiang Night Market (東大門自強夜市), it was a mix of different sub-night market zones. The market was composed of street food shops area and souvenir merchant areas.
The time we arrived was already 10:30pm on a Friday night, yet there were not many people visiting and quite empty. At the end we didn't try any of the food there, but we tried the Taiwanese Rice Wine (台灣米酒). It is a bit more sour and stronger compared with Korean Makgeolli.
My review is that I wouldn't recommend this place because you could already find all kinds of food outside, and the offerings were not as fun as other Taiwanese night markets in Taipei or Taichung.
We woke early to visit a famous vintage (古早味) Taiwanese breakfast place in Hualien called 廟口紅茶, which is famous for its black tea drinks, sandwiches (雞蛋芝士三明治), omelets (蛋餅), turnip cake (蘿蔔糕) and macarons (馬卡龍) etc.
We liked the black tea latte a lot because its very smooth, blended so well with the tea's flavor and the sweetness was about right. The omelets were also tender and comforting too.
The sandwich looks ordinary but in fact the layers of egg and ham mixed well with the fresh soft bread, giving a very balanced, satisfying homey taste. I don't like the turnip cake as it's flavor was too light and there was nothing to chew unlike the Cantonese way of doing.
Phone: +886 3 832 3846
After this local breakfast, we immediately visited a cafe called Sweet Little House (小小洋房) in Hualien before leaving. The cafe was built inside a villa and delicately decorated into a european homey kitchen feeling. We had a waffle with Matcha ice-cream and cups of coffees there. We knew the tyhpoon was going to hit Hualien in a few hours, so we started driving south towards Taitung.
Sweet Little House 花蓮 小小洋房
Phone: +886 3 831 1610
First stop into Taitung (台東花東縱谷) was the long-awaited destination Chihshang Brown Avenue (池上伯朗大道)! Affected by both weather and harvest season, there wasn't anything left except the broad fields. We still took around 20mins to take some quick photos under the shower.
Rainnnnn...but we still had lots of fun wandering on this empty road.
Chihshang Brown Avenue 池上伯朗大道
We then headed to the famous Chihshang Tofu shop 福原豆腐店 to taste their signature Stinky Tofu (臭豆腐), Beancurd Jelly (豆腐花) and Soy Milk (豆漿)! We loved the Taiwanese Stinky Tofu so much - it's crispy outside and tender inside, topped with a layer of sweet sour spicy sauce! Super yummy! Another favorite dish is the Wasabi-flavor Beancurd Jelly (山葵豆腐花) - the soft tofu jelly was topped with some Wasabi soy sauce. The combination was surprisingly matchy!
Phone: +886 8 986 2413
Last stop before we left Chihshang Township was the Chihshang Boxed Meal Musuem (池上飯包文化故事館), which exhibited the history and heritage of "boxed meal" in the old days when train was the main transportation from Taitung to Chihshang.
There were different areas in the museum, such as Taiwanese souvenirs, kids learning area and also the kiosk selling "boxed meals" (bentos). We tried different ones and our favorite was the one with soy sauce chicken legs (鹵水雞腿), marinated eggs (鹵水蛋), fish cakes (魚餅), veggies (雜菜) and rice (池上米做的飯).
Phone: +886 8 986 2326
After we left at Chihshang and arrived at Taitung, we could feel the typhoon wind was getting stronger. Before checking into our hotel, we visited our 1st cafe in Taitung - Kituru, a cafe with a motto to share Taiwanese aborigines culture. The original location was hidden inside the old sugar factory district of Taitung.
Kituru Coffee Kituru 咖啡
Old Address: No. 3蘭州街台東市台東縣台灣 950 (Already moved to new address /已搬遷去新地址)
New Address: 台東縣太麻里鄉多良村大溪110號
Phone: +886 8 922 5611
We went to a famous local restaurant in Taitung called 林記阿達滷味麵食店 for dinner!
We loved the different varieties of soy sauce delicacies (鹵水拼盤) we could pick and choose from the little booth in the shopfront. However, we think the minced pork noodle soup and sauteed noodle with minced pork were just so-so. The noodle portions were also huge, so just ordered 2 for sharing among group of 4-5 was enough.
Phone: +886 8 935 9421
Weather was very unstable today, in the morning, we visited 0981 Coffee (零九八一咖啡) for brunch. It was a coffee shop x Taiwanese food x dessert fusion place. We ordered 3 cup chicken (三杯雞), stewed beef (紅燒牛肉) bento, tempuras (甜不辣), grilled mackerel rice bento (燒鯖魚飯), cups of lattes and apple waffle. The bentos were value for money and tasted good!
The lattes and art were done quite well as you could see from the photo.
This was the place you could hang out with friends all-day long without having to worry about food.
0981 Coffee 零九八一咖啡
Phone: +886 8 936 0981
The next coffee spot we went in Taitung was Neighbor Coffee (諾貝咖啡)! It was a warm, scandinavian
feeling coffee shop decorated with cat graphic and light-color wood.
This place served regular coffees, a range of different teas (you may smell the tea leaves first), dessert and light comfort food. We love Princess's Crown (公主的皇冠) the most as it had an amazing ripe peach smell before you drank it, and you could taste the citrus and bergamot elements in the tea. The owner was kind enough to give us some homemade complimentary butter cookies for pairing!
Neighbor Coffee 諾貝咖啡
Phone: +886 8 934 5156
After that we started to drive back to Hualien, yet this time we took the coastline route. We stopped by a place called 小魚兒的家咖啡坊 which had a magnificent east coastline view for photo taking. Unfortunately it was closed due to typhoon, but the owner was kind enough to let us take a few photos!
Phone: +886 913 916 875
Next we went to 逗留豆遊咖啡, which was a cozy specialty coffee shop hidden in an alley, offering single-origin coffee from all over the world. This place has a set-back shopfront, which created an interesting patio feeling to the entrance.
The owner of the coffee shop explained to us that the name and logo of the shop meant that she sourced beans from all over the world (豆遊) and visitors around the globe would stop by her shop (逗留) to meet friends. The complimentary cookies looked like a "comma" with one coffee bean inside.
We would definitely recommend stopping by this cafe if you are in this area for its excellent coffees, warm hospitality and relaxing homey space.
Address: 121-1, 東河鄉台東縣台灣 959
Phone: +886 912 352 025
Another famous eatery in this area was called Donghe Bun (東河包子), it reminded me of 小杜包子 in Kenting (墾丁)! We ordered Pork Bun (肉包) and Bamboo Shoot Bun (竹筍包) to try! Bamboo one was more chewy while the Pork one was more juicy - but both were amazingly delicious.
Donghe Bun 東河包子
Phone: +886 8 989 6369
The last stop we planned along the coastline was Sansiantai (三仙台), which was a very famous tourist attraction where you could see numerous natural, beautiful pinnacle islands and a long crossing bridge. The weather was quite bad at that time, so there was no one visiting this place at all except us! We decided have a quick peep of the attraction so we made it to the furthest point we could get to and take some snaps.
It was soon all dark after we left Sansiantai, and rain became much more heavier, so we drove all the way back to Hualien without stopping. It was very dark at that moment but we knew that on our right hand side of the road it was the magnificent coastline right underneath and we could hear the tides roaring under the typhoon influence. I'd definitely like to revisit and see what it is like when it's all sunny and bright.
We arrived in Hualien around 8:45pm and we went to a gastronomy/bar opened by Ayal Komod (張震嶽) called Komod'z (谷慕滋).