Hualien City is located on the mountainous east coast of Taiwan on the Pacific Ocean. The city is the most densely-populated area in Hualien County, and includes the largest Aboriginal population in Taiwan. Hualien County faces the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Central Mountain Range to the west (bordering Taichung City, Nantou County and Kaohsiung City), Yilan County to the north, and Taitung County to the south. The county stretches approximately 85 miles (about 137.5 kilometres) from north-to-south, with its width ranging from approximately 16.7 to 26.7 miles (about 27 to 43 kilometres) long from east-to-west. Its area is 1,787 square miles (about 4,628.57 square kilometres), and occupies one-eighth of Taiwan's total area.
Permanent settlements began in 1851, when 2,200 Han Chinese farmers from Taipei arrived at Fengchuan, now the area near Hualien Rear Station. The Spaniards built gold mines in Hualien in 1622. In 1875, more farmers settled at Fengchuan. Settlements in the area remained small by the time the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) made Taiwan a territory of Japan. The city was expanded circa 1912 by its Japanese governors to incorporate Guohua and Guoan Villages, a region later known as the Old New Port. In 1920, Karenkō Town was established, and around 1923 was extended to Aolang Port, today known as New Port, including the Guowei and Guoji Villages. In 1940, the town was upgraded to Karenkō City, Karenkō Prefecture. In 1945, Taiwan was handed over from Japan to the Republic of China under Kuomintang government. The next year, the incoming Kuomintang designated Hualien City a county-controlled city of Hualien County and to be the county seat, an administrative structure that has remained in place since Taiwan's transition to democracy (1990-1996).
Hualien City is the centre of politics, economy and transportation in Hualien County. Hualien City is also the centre of import and export trading due to its strategic location within the county, and its proximity to the airport and a major harbour. Hualien County is the largest area of all counties in Taiwan. It is the northern terminus of the Hualien-Taitung Line, and the southern terminus of the North-Link Line of the Taiwan Railway Administration. In the Provincial Highway System, Hualien County is connected to other counties via the Suhua Highway, Huatung Highway, Hualien-Taitung Coast Highway and the Central Cross-Island Highway.
Despite its vast area, only seven percent of Hualien County is occupied by people. Due to the restriction of its landscape, Hualien people reside mostly on the alluvial fans of the Huatung Valley plains. The remaining area is occupied by rivers (7%) and mountains (87%). Mountains are comprised of Central Mountain Range in the west, and Haian Range in the east. The main rivers in the county are the Hualian and Xiuguluan rivers, and their branches. The plains stretch along the valleys between both mountain ranges with a width of approximately 1.8-3.7 miles (about three-six kilometres). Hualien County is famous for its tourism industry and diverse natural beauty. Natural attractions include Taroko National Park and Yushan National Park, The county is also home to several mountains and cliffs, such as Hehuan Mountain, Pingfeng Mountain, Qilai Mountain, and Qingshui Cliff. Other picturesque natural sites include Jiqi Bay, Liyu Lake, Carp Lake, Taroko Gorge, and Chihsingtan Beach.
Hualien City and County offer wonderful opportunities to discover the legacy, culture and traditions of this historic area. Explore the mysterious Saoba Ruins, Hualien Railway Cultural Area, Chihsing Tan Katsuo Museum, Hualien County Stone Sculptural Museum, which displays traditional and contemporary stone sculptures, and Qixingtan Katsuo Museum, which is housed in a former fish-flake factory. Places of worship include the Abode of Still Thoughts with its beautiful Japanese Garden, Xiangde Temple, Eternal Spring Shrine, Xincheng Tianzhutang, built during the Meiji era, and the Yenpin Prefectural Temple. Established in the Qing Dynasty, Yenpin is the oldest temple in Hualien.
From its majestic mountains and national parks to its stunning river valleys and coast, Hualien offers a delightful array of scenic and exciting sightseeing venues for outdoor enthusiasts. Land-based excursions include river tracing and hiking the Baiyang Waterfall Trail and Taroko Gorge at Taroko National Park, bicycling and walking trails at Chi-Hsing Tan and Qixingtan Beach, and nature treks on Hehuan Mountain and along the Muqua River. Additional land-based excursions include Hualien Farglory Ocean Park, an amusement park and Hualien's biggest man-made tourist attraction, or a relaxing round of golf at the Hualien Golf Club. Scenic and memorable water-based excursions include bathing in the Rueisuei Hot Springs, swimming in the Taroko River Valley, river-rafting from the incredibly beautiful Siouguluan River basin down to Big Harbour, and whale- and dolphin-watching on panoramic Shi Ti Bay.
Due to its compact size, Hualien can be easily explored in just a single day.
Going Ashore in Hualien
The ship is scheduled to dock at the Port of Hualien. Hualien's town centre can be reached via a 6.2-mile (10-kilometre) drive. Metred taxis are available on the pier. Please make sure to establish a price before starting any journey.
Hualien offers abundant shopping opportunities, and is renowned for its local shops and stores offering stone art treasures, such as polished semi-precious stones, stone artwork, carvings, pot utensils, animal shapes and ornaments, jewellery, Truku glass beads, lead crystal, and all kinds of jade and woodcarvings. Other items available for sale include: Ami-styled clothing and products, handicrafts, jewellery, antiques, artwork, consumer goods, shoes, accessories, and other souvenirs. The major shopping venue is the Far Eastern Department Store, which sells brand-named consumer goods. An abundance of retail stores here include the century-old Hui Pi Hsu Cake Shop, which is renowned for its delicious peanut and sesame cookies, and other goodies sold in attractive tins that make good souvenirs; Shiyi Street, home to a collection of shops selling stone art treasures, souvenirs, jewellery, woodcarvings, jade, and more; and the Hualien Fish Market, which sells fresh fish and seafood. Additional shopping opportunities include the South Beach Park and Night Market, Tzu Chiang Night Market, Zhi Qiang Night Market, Old Railroad Cultural Shopping Street, and Lichuan Fish Market. Most shopping venues are open from 11:00 a.m.-10 p.m. The local currency is the New Taiwan Dollar (NTD), but U.S. Dollars and Euros are also accepted.
Hualien is home to Taiwanese, Japanese, Chinese, German, Italian, Mediterranean, American and international cuisine. Pork, fish, shellfish, poultry, rice, corn, tea, soy, and fruits and vegetables are very common ingredients in the local cuisine. Taiwanese cuisine relies on an abundant array of seasonings, such as soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, fermented black beans, pickled daikon, pickled mustard greens, peanuts, chili peppers, cilantro, and basil. Popular Taiwanese dishes include ba-wan, a large dumpling made from a gelatinous dough and stuffed with pork, mushrooms and bamboo shoots; dried tofu; pork balls; turkey rice bowls; yi mein, or tasty, soft noodles in soup; and dan zai noodles. Local specialities include zhu tung fan, or rice steamed in a bamboo tube; rice cakes; GongZheng Street Dumplings; and xiaochi, or snacks along the lines of Spanish 'tapas' or Levantine 'meze; Hualien's wontons are also very famous throughout Taiwan. Popular local restaurants in-and-around Hualien include: Silk Place Taroko; Chateau de Chine; Salt Lick; Dos Tacos; Lan's Table & Guesthouse; I Oven; Kali Laska; Three Koalas; Irrawaddy Myanmar; Kimamaya Japanese BBQ; Caiji; Dai Ji Wonton; A Zhi Bao, Moon House; Soaring Cloud; Chang Chun Teng Vegetarian; Bian Shi; and Yi Wan Xiao. Popular hotels for dining include the Farglory Hotel Hualien and Fullon Hotel & Resort.
Hualien abounds with scenic and exciting sightseeing venues for outdoor enthusiasts. Land-based excursions include river tracing and hiking the Baiyang Waterfall Trail and Taroko Gorge at Taroko National Park, bicycling and walking trails at Chi-Hsing Tan and Qixingtan Beach, and nature treks on Hehuan Mountain and along the Muqua River. Additional land-based excursions include Hualien Farglory Ocean Park, an amusement park and Hualien's biggest man-made tourist attraction, or a relaxing round of golf at the Hualien Golf Club. Scenic and memorable water-based excursions include bathing in the Rueisuei Hot Springs, swimming in the Taroko River Valley, river-rafting from the incredibly beautiful Siouguluan River basin down to Big Harbour, and whale- and dolphin-watching on panoramic Shi Ti Bay.
Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Shore Concierge Office on board the ship.