Most people use Hualien city (in Eastern Taiwan), as a base for visiting Taroko National Park, Taiwan’s premier tourist sight. But after you visit Taroko Gorge, and dodge tourist buses, there’s some good eating, and some okay sights to be had in Hualien city.
Things in Hualien are cheaper than they are in Taipei, so if you have some room in your suitcase/backpack head down Zhongshan Rd towards Zhongzheng Rd (about 25 minutes walk from the station) and you’ll be in the main downtown/shopping district of Hualien city. This makes for a good starting point to an evening.
Downtown – Gong Zheng Bao Zi (公正包子)
Keep going down Zhongshan Rd and you’ll see a big line. Alternately, jump into a taxi & just say you want to go to Gong Zheng Bao Zi, they’ll know the one 🙂 This place is famous for its Shui Jiao (水餃) and I have to admit they’re pretty damn good. Get a table if you can (you don’t line up for that, but you might need to wait a little while still), or you can line up and get some to go.
Night Market – Tzi Qiang Night Market (自強夜市)
The main night market in Hualien city is actually a fair way out of the city centre (about 20 minutes walk from the station). The night market is small, taking up only a block, so it does get very, very crowded (especially on holidays & weekends). There are some very long lines for some stalls, but it’s worth the wait. You can try the Hualien version of Coffin Bread (pictured below), get some really good seafood, some spicy BBQ corn, and then wash it all down with a fruit juice/smoothie.
Breakfast – King Tang Cafe
This place is on Zhongshan Rd, not too far from the station (about 10 minutes walking). This place is a very nice place, with seats inside & outside (at the back) too. Breakfast/brunch sets are available, along with a good selection of coffees & other snacks. It makes for a good start to the day before heading out for the day.
Address: 431 Zhongshan Rd, Hualien City
To be honest, I didn’t really see much in Hualien City, I actually used it more as a base for exploring the countryside of Hualien County. There are a few parks (Meilunshan Park looked very nice), there is also a nice little street through the centre of town along some old railway tracks. Other than that, you can take a stroll along the seaside parks (starting from Nanbin Park in the south).