If you have visited Taiwan, you probably have spent a number of days in Taipei City and enjoyed a few day trips to popular places like Jiufen, Jinguashi, and Pingxi. Other than these three well-trodden destinations, there are more to discover outside the city.
This guide introduces secret spots in Northeast and Yilan Coast National Scenic Area 東北角暨宜蘭海岸國家風景區 that are usually not in the radar of international travellers. Find out how you can plan day or even multi-day trips to explore the northeast coast of Taiwan and experience fun outdoors activities like scuba diving and hiking. Bookmark this guide for your next trip to Taiwan!
Northeast and Yilan Coast National Scenic Area
Northeast and Yilan Coast National Scenic Area is located in the northeast region of Taiwan. Just a short trip from Taipei City, you will enter this massive area that starts from the Nanya District in New Taipei City and follows the coastline and mountains to the southern cape in Suao Township.
Here you will enjoy spectacular views of dynamic mountains, cliffs and unique landforms crafted by nature along the coastlines. While Jiufen, Jinguashi, and Pingxi railway line are hotspots in the scenic area, there are many other attractions to tempt you to slow down and spend more time exploring the region. Check out this guide for a list of recommended spots and activities for your next trip to Taiwan!
How to get to the Northeast and Yilan Coast National Scenic Area?
Train: Take any north line train heading for Yilan, Hualien, or Taitung and get off at the local train stations like Fulong, Toucheng or even Suao stations.
Bus: There are a number of bus services you can take.
a. Kuo-kuang Bus: The Taipei-Luodong Line (about 1 hour 40 minutes each way). The bus rides are comfortable and convenient. I took the bus back to Taipei after I ended my day trip in Luodong night market.
b. Taiwan Tourist Shuttle: There are two bus routes that you can take to visit various locations. Check out Green 19 Yilan and Northeast Coast route and 856 Gold Fulong shuttle bus. If you like more convenience, you can book shared private bus transfer this like on Klook.
Car: If you like to do a self-drive trip, you will enjoy the freedom of exploring the vast area. Highway 7 (the North Cross-Island Highaway) is very scenic while Freeway 5 is the quickest way to drive from northwest Taiwan to Yilan County. Check out Klook car rental deals here! Get 10% with this code US10NEW.
Scooter: You can also rent scooters and drive around the area. Check out Klook scooter rental deals here!
Where to visit in the Northeast and Yilan Coast National Scenic Area?
Old Caoling loop line bicycle path
For cycling and history enthusiasts, experience riding the Old Caoling bicycle trail 舊草嶺隧道 on a day trip from Taipei. After a short train ride from Taipei, you will arrive in Fulong train station. Rent a bicycle from the bicycle shops near the train station and pedal towards the Old Caoling tunnel to start your 20-km bicycle tour.
The Old Caoling Tunnel was built in 1924 during the Japanese colonial period and it was the longest railway tunnel in Taiwan at the time of construction. The tunnel used to connect Fulong and Shichang and it crossed New Taipei City and Yilan County.
It is thrilling to cycle through the 2,167 metres tunnel and imagine that trains used to rumble through the same railway tracks many years ago. After a nostalgic ride through the tunnel, you can continue the rest of the cycling trail that will bring you along picturesque coastlines and through fishing villages. Your relaxing ride will end back in Fulong train station. Here’s some useful maps!
If you like to exercise more, you can head northwards and ride to Fulong beach and on the Longmen-Yanliao bikeway.
Fulong Beach and Fulong International Sand Sculpture Arts Festival
Fulong Beach (福隆海水浴場) is nicknamed “gold coast of Taiwan” for its sandy shores. When the weather is warm in summer, locals flock to the beach for marine activities like sailing, kayaking, surfing and even seaside yoga.
Every year, the Fulong International Sand Sculpture Arts Festival (福隆沙雕藝術季) is held here over a few months. Sand artists from all over the world create awe-sinspiring sand sculptures based on the theme. There are many fun activities at the festival for all ages.
In the most northernmost part of the scenic area, you can access the Nanya Geological Hiking Trail and see the Nanya rocks (南雅奇石). The area is well known for its unique landscape, natural rock formations and sea-eroded shores crafted by the forces of nature.
The majestic rock sculptures decorating the coastlines have been given adorable names like Ice Cream Rock, Bamboo Shoot Rock, and Fur Seal Rock by the locals. This hidden spot offers breath taking views away from the crowds that usually flock to Yehliu Geopark.
Soak in the grandeur of nature during your hike. Photo taking tip: The sunrise and sunset here are incredible!
Turtle Island 龜山島 is a volcanic island that looks like a cute turtle resting in the ocean. Ferries in Wushi Harbor 烏石漁港 in Toucheng bring visitors to this island. The island is protected for its wealth of ecological resources and all visitors must apply for permission to visit the island and be accompanied by professional guides.
This small but mighty island has active hot springs, cliffs, caves, and many more natural resources for an educational tour. Climb about 1,700 steps to the 401 lookout point to enjoy panoramic scenery of the landscape and surrounding ocean.
If you encounter the right weather conditions, you can see sulphur smoke on the island and some interesting phenomena that the locals have described as “divine turtle puts on a hat”, “turtle faces the sunrise” and even “smart turtle wags its tail”.
If you visit in the months from April to September, you can join whale and dolphin-watching tours and meet different species of dolphins and whales swimming near the island.
How to get to Turtle Island?
You have to apply for permission in advance to visit the island and the easiest way is to book a guided tour with tour operators who are licensed to take tourists the island or via travel website that lists these tours (like Klook where you can book Turtle Island tour like this). Sometimes hotels in the area can help you to book a tour or you can book directly with tour operators in Taiwan. Most tours include ferry rides to and back from the island, guided tour around the island, and whale/dolphin watching activities.
The starting tour of the tour is from Wushi Harbor 烏石漁港 to take the ferry to the island. Northeast and Yilan Coast National Scenic Area provides more information on how to get to Wushi Harbor.
Check out this informative video guide to the island!
I am quite new to the Northeast Coast area so I am so happy to invite two friends who are based in Bitou Cape Fishing Village to share travel itineraries for first-time visitors who are interested in outdoor activities.
Itinerary by Grace Yu, Ocean Love Dive Club
Introducing Grace Yu! She is a diving instructor and the founder of Ocean Love Dive Club 海洋樂潛水俱樂部 that organizes diving courses and tours. She also runs the cute B1 seaside café in Bitou Cape Fishing Village.
Grace has recommended a 2 days and 1 night travel light trip to explore the best of the Northeast area using transportation like train and bus.
Day 1: Taipei to Northeast Coast
Morning: Arrive at Bitou Village for snorkelling or scuba diving. Check out the Ocean Love Dive Club tours you can join!
Afternoon: Local seafood lunch and Bitou Cape Hiking Trail
Evening: Catch Taiwan Tourist Shuttle (Route 856 at 4.25pm) to Jiufen. Enjoy sunset and dinner at Jiufen Old Street. Overnight at Jiufen.
I highly recommend spending a night at Jiufen as it is very magical with its “Spirited Away” ambience when the day trippers leave in the late afternoon. You have the old town to yourself for sunset, night stroll, and sunrise!
Morning: Breakfast at Jiufen and take bus to Fulong station. Enjoy relaxing time at Fulong Beach or try outdoor activities like SUP (stand-up paddling)! Check out Fanatic for their SUP rental and tours!
Afternoon: Lunch at local restaurant. Rent a bicycle and experience the Old Caoling Loop Line Bicycle Path
Evening: Head to Luodong Night Market for more food or catch a direct train from Fulong station back to Taipei
Itinerary by Kelly Khiew, The Bivy Taiwan
Introducing Kelly Khiew! A Singaporean rock climbing guide and instructor, Kelly with her partner Qx has set up The Bivy Taiwan, the first climbers’ hostel in Bitou Cape Fishing Village since 2015. They are trained and certified by AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association) and run safe and fun rock climbing guided trips and classes.
The story of Kelly and Qx is truly inspiring. They have turned their passion into career! Read their journey in this article!
Kelly has recommended energising outdoor activities that you can enjoy and spend more days in the northeast coast.
1. Rock climbing at Dragon Caves, Longdong (龍洞)
Dragon Caves is the biggest and best rock climbing spot in Taiwan. Imagine scaling the rocks with the Pacific Ocean behind you!
The Szuling sandstone covering the mountains is one of the most ancient and hardest rocks on the northeast coast. The activity is suitable for beginners with no experience and advanced rock climbers too.
2. Ridge hiking
The northeast coastline is covered by mountains and ridges and boasts many stunning hiking trails. Here’s the popular trails you can try!
a. Bitou Cape Hiking Trail (also recommended in Grace’s travel itinerary): 3.5km (1-2 hours)
b. Nanzilin Hiking Trail (where you can see the Nanya rocks): 990m (1-2 hours)
c. Teapot Mountain (Jinguashi): 6.5km (5-6 hours)
d. Caoling Historic Trail (Fulong): 10km (3-4 hours)
If you plan to visit Taiwan’s northeast coast, please visit Bitou Cape Fishing Village and participate in the outdoor activities organized by these two trail-blazing female entrepreneurs Grace and Kelly!
This article is a supplement to the virtual travel session “Experience nature and outdoor at Taiwan’s Northeast Coast” organized by Taiwan Tourism Bureau, Singapore. It is a special collaboration between whywendywrites, Northeast and Yilan Coast National Scenic Area 東北角暨宜蘭海岸國家風景區, Ocean Love Dive Club 海洋樂潛水俱樂部, and The Bivy Taiwan. Watch the video here!
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