Come to Hualien for its charming mountains, seas and amazing night views. Hualien doesn't have towering skyscrapers, so rather than being dazzled by its lights at night, you'll see tiny houses that gleam like pearls and light up the Pacific Ocean. After gazing out over the busy street from the Martyrs' Shrine, continue your journey by walking up Meilun Mountain Hiking Trail for a more expansive view of this bustling city.

    Hualien's unique rural nighttime scenery is another reason to visit. You can take the Maple Forest Hiking Trail to see the square-shaped farmland of Ji’an Township, or head to Yufu Bikeway for a great view of the red arch bridge across the rice paddies. After dinner, make your way to the Old Railroad Zone and the Old Winery for a stroll, or explore the cultural and creative offerings on a nostalgic night tour. A trip to Hualien wouldn't be complete without sampling the local millet wine blended with hibiscus and sweet potato. So why not remember Hualien by tasting the very best that it has to offer?

    1

    Old Railroad Pedestrian Zone

    • Food
    • Nightlife
    • Budget
    • Photo

    The Old Railroad Pedestrian Zone is a hangout for the young, who are drawn to the area at night by the youth appeal of the businesses located here. Singers and artists often hold autograph-signing events here, and it's been dubbed the "Ximending of Hualien". Unlike the hustle and bustle and dazzling LED signs of Ximending in Taipei, the Old Railroad Zone has a distinctly more European charm. The streetlamps with their retro wooden poles warmly illuminate the blackboard and olive trees on both sides of the old railroad.

    The houses here may not be tall, but are just as stylish as their European counterparts. As you stroll along the cobblestone street, you could easily be anywhere in the heart of Europe. Stalls in the creative market are often open until late at night. You can wander around and check out the handmade leather carvings, silver ornaments and T-shirts – but don't forget to sample the various delicacies such as artisan jellies and handmade bagels. Nighttime is when buskers get ready to show off their talents. Every corner becomes their stage as they take turns to sing, juggle and dance. Weekends are especially busy.

    Location: Zhongzheng Road (From Guangfu Street to Jianjie Street), Hualien City, Hualien County, Taiwan

    Open: Outdoor space: 24/7. Hours vary by business

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    2

    Beibin seawall and Nanbin night tour

    • Couples
    • Budget
    • Photo

    The nearest beaches to Hualien’s urban area are located in Beibin and Nanbin. These beaches are more popular at night than during the day as once night falls, people flock here to enjoy the cool sea breeze that comes in to dissipate the fierce heat. Beibin Park is located between Hualien Port and the estuary of Meilun River. It's a particularly charming place to visit at night, as the darkness cleverly conceals the unattractive wave-breaking blocks, while the lights from Hualien Port tinge the night sky red. As the horizon reflects the light of the moon and the lights of fishing boats from afar, it's hard to decide whether to direct your gaze to the galaxy on the sea or the stars in the sky.

    As you walk along the coastal trail and listen to the sound of the waves, you'll reach Nanbin Park before you know it. Look toward the sea from the Roman-style Central Plaza and you'll see the red lampposts standing aloof on the seawall of Hualien Port in the dark. Walk up to the commanding heights of the hills in the park to get a 360-degree view of the city at night. Because there's little light pollution here, you can see the stars really clearly. Certain sections of the park are less crowded, but do remember that it's safer to travel in groups at night.

    Location: Nanbin Park: at the intersection of Highway 11 and Heping Road, Hualien City, Hualien County, Taiwan Beibin Park: at the Intersection of Beibin Street and Haibin Street, Hualien City, Hualien County, Taiwan

    Open: Outdoor space: 24/7

    photo by Qingwu Zhou (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    3

    Meilun Mountain Trail

    • Adventure

    Standing at 354 feet (108 meters) on Hualien Plain, Meilun Mountain and its superior geographical position offers visitors a sweeping view of Hualien Plain with the vast Pacific Ocean to the east, while the Meilun River winds through it to the west. This mountain is also known as Hualien City’s "Housekeeping Mountain". The Meilun Mountain Trail is in the park, and along the way you might spot military bunkers and radar stations.

    The trail extends in all directions and it takes less than 20 minutes to reach the top. Stand on the observation deck at the top of the mountain for an expansive view of Hualien at night. To the east is Hualien Port with its bright lights, while the moon high above the sea makes the ships on the Pacific Ocean seem incredibly close. You might be lucky enough to see big ships entering the port and if the weather's good, even the runway lights at Hualien Airport are clearly visible in the distance. If you look toward the Martyrs' Shrine you'll see the lively streets of the city, while on the other side you'll see the Central Mountain Range and Ji’an Township, a picture of tranquillity and calm. In addition to being a popular nighttime scenic spot, Meilun Mountain is also where the locals go to exercise in the mornings and evenings.

    Location: Shangzhi Road, Hualien City, Hualien County, Taiwan 970013

    Open: Outdoor space: 24/7

    4

    Maple Tree Trail

    • Budget
    • Photo
    • Adventure

    Maple Tree Trail is a development by Ji'an Township for visitors to enjoy the maple trees and night views of Hualien's distinctive chessboard-like farmland. The path on this trail is gentle and easy to navigate, and is lined with maple trees on both sides. There are many pavilions and viewing spots, with the fourth one offering the best views of Hualien Plain. During the Japanese occupation, Ji'an Township was a Japanese immigrant village, hence the square layout of the roads and farmland.

    By day, you can see the roads crisscross one another, while at night, the orange street lights illuminate the chessboard-like farmland in shades of green and yellow, imbuing the rural landscape with a serene charm. When night beckons and the sky is just getting dark, this is the best time to capture the night scene. The city dotted with lights against the faint backdrop of the distant coastal mountains and Pacific Ocean makes for a particularly enchanting photo. As autumn comes to a close, the maple leaves turn red. You can take an evening stroll up the mountain to admire the maple trees when the cold and damp of autumn and winter envelop the bright lights of the city, lending the night a misty beauty.

    Location: Fuxing Village, Ji'an Township, Hualien County, Taiwan 973063

    Open: Outdoor space: 24/7

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    5

    Nighttime bike ride on Yufu Bikeway

    • Adventure

    Yufu Bikeway was built from old railroad tracks and its smooth and even surface allows visitors to take in sights like Kecheng Iron Bridge and Xiuguluan River along the way. In January, when the golden rapeseed flowers are in full bloom, you can catch the breeze from the rift valley as you enjoy a leisurely bike ride. In the evening, head south from Yuli Railroad Station and you'll soon reach Kecheng Iron Bridge. The two iron bridges with their bright red arches are distinctive landmarks of Yuli Township. From morning till night, trainspotters wait here for the trains to pass by.

    The arch bridges are even more brilliant and eye-catching when lit up at night. A train crossing the iron bridge is an iconic image associated with the East Rift Valley. A little further on is the old iron bridge of Xiuguluan River where the Eurasian Plate and the Philippine Plate collide. You can't help but feel a sense of awe as you stand on the bridge on the elevated terrain straddling the two tectonic plates. Other than cycling, this area is great for walking. If you plan to cycle at night, it's recommended that you start in the evening, go slowly and make sure that your bike has lights.

    Location: Next to Yuli Railroad Station, Yuli Township, Hualien County, Taiwan

    Open: Outdoor space: 24/7

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    6

    Fenglin Night Market

    • Shoppers
    • Food
    • Nightlife
    • Budget

    Fenglin Night Market has a quintessentially local flavor and is where many locals go for their shopping. The market is only open on Saturdays but there are no jostling crowds here, so you can eat and stroll at your own pace. The night market is located near Fenglin Railroad Station and the vendors are mainly concentrated on both sides of Zhonghua Road. Before it gets dark, the Central Mountain Range is clearly visible in the distance. In summer, you can also stroll to the sound of the cicadas. As night falls, one by one the vendors turn on their yellow lights, while Taiwanese music blasts through the market, transforming Fenglin from a sleepy rift valley town into a lively and vibrant place.

    There are many food stalls to choose from, but you'll need to plan if you want to try as many as possible. QQ eggs, broiled squid, candied haws ... everything here is not to be missed. Be sure to try Fenglin’s unique stinky tofu with chives, a dish in which the crispy stinky tofu is garnished with fresh and tender raw chives. This combination of two strong flavors is quite unique. After you've had your fill of food and drink, head to the game stalls to test your skills. Whether it's marbles, rings or fishing for goldfish, every stall evokes precious childhood memories.

    Location: Zhonghua Road, Fenglin Township, Hualien County, Taiwan 975004 and 975005 (from Gongyi Road to Guangfu Road)

    Open: Every Saturday from 6 pm to midnight

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    7

    Enjoying beverages at a cocktail bar

    • Nightlife

    While there aren't many bars in Hualien, they're certainly not lacking in character. The aboriginal bartenders at Dongdamen Night Market offer cocktails of brews made from millet and maqaw (a type of pepper) with a distinctly tribal flavor. "Say if you're drunk. Stay if you're not" ‒ the bar owners certainly aren't shy in encouraging their guests to drink until they're merry. If you want to live like a king around here, cocktails with sausages at the night market is the way to go.

    There are a few bars tucked away in the quiet fishing village of Chihsingtan, where you can enjoy the sea breeze and starry sky as you sip your drink, though the night view itself is intoxicating enough. These bars don't have a beverages list but the bartenders are sincere and candid. They'll listen to your stories and create a unique cocktail exclusively for you. Life is, after all, but a series of ups and downs. The creative mixing of beverages using Hualien’s local ingredients is well-known even outside Taiwan. The hibiscus of the Kiwit tribe exudes the slightly sour aroma of berries when blended with rum, while the sweet potatos from Sincheng Township mixed with sorghum produce an unbelievably refreshing taste. Cheers! Tomorrow will be another scenic journey.

    Location: Shop addresses vary

    Open: Hours vary by business

    8

    Where the Martyrs' Shrine overlooks the city

    • Budget
    • Photo

    Hualien Martyrs' Shrine was the shrine for Hualien Port during the Japanese occupation and provides a bird's eye view of the city. Though the shrine is no longer open, it's still worth visiting as it's the best place to see the city. Once the crowds of visitors have left, the lights illuminate the shrine's orange roof tiles and red pillars in a solemn and majestic display, enhanced by the unusually quiet surroundings. At night, the business signs light up the street as the traffic flows by. If you sit on the stone steps under the archway of the Martyrs' Shrine and look toward the street, it feels as if you're watching this secular bustle as an unconcerned outsider and enjoying the solitude.

    Shangzhi Bridge, which leads to the Martyrs’ Shrine, used to be the pilgrimage path to the shrine. The road is wide and straight and 144 stone lions adorn the bridge, each with its own distinctive shape and charm. It's very easy to overlook these small stone lions during the day, but they look magnificent at night when illuminated. Hualien's famous scallion pancake street isn't too far from here, so you can enjoy a hearty meal before meeting up with friends at the shrine.

    Location: No. 82, Fuxing New Residential Quarter, Hualien City, Hualien County, Taiwan 970013

    Open: Outdoor space: 24/7

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    9

    Enjoy the view at the estuary of Hualien River

    • Budget
    • Photo

    The Hualien River estuary next to Guoxing Temple is a secret night viewing spot known only to the locals. A wide sandbar makes up the geographical terrain here. Uninhabited at night, it looks mysterious and quiet. Looking across the curved sandbar, you'll get an amazing view of the coastline of Hualien City, stretching from Hualien Port to Beibin, Nanbin and Hualien Bay. On special occasions, fireworks are set off from the seawall of Hualien Port and photography enthusiasts who are familiar with the area come to the estuary to take pictures of the fireworks display.

    Every November to mid-March is the season to catch baby eels. The scene of eel catchers gathering after nightfall is one that's unique to the east coast of Taiwan. Undeterred by the bitterly cold wind, they stand in the billowing waves with their headlamps shining on the eel nets in their hands, reflecting the silvery green glow of the nets as they wave rhythmically on the dark waters. Friends gather here in groups to enjoy the night views and catch up over a drink and some midnight snacks. However, given the poor visibility at night and the unpredictable nature of the sea, going to the beach is not recommended in the interest of safety.

    Location: No. 38, Daqiao, Shoufeng Township, Hualien County, Taiwan 974009 (next to Guoxing Temple)

    Open: Outdoor space: 24/7

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    10

    A tour of Hualien Cultural and Creative Industries Park

    • Food
    • Nightlife

    Hualien Cultural and Creative Industries Park was formerly a winery and is today one of the biggest exhibition spaces in Hualien City ‒ even larger in scale than Huashan in Taipei. Built during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan, it has 26 workshops and warehouses. The winery buildings are mostly made of wood and concrete, with clean lines and a simple style reminiscent of the industrial architecture of the Japanese Showa period. In addition to a performance venue, the park is home to gourmet restaurants, lifestyle concept stores and performance groups that have moved in to inject new life into the old buildings.

    A visit to Hualien Cultural and Creative Industries Park is a very different experience depending on whether you come during the day or at night. After nightfall, lights illuminate the bricks and tiles of the old buildings, enhancing their charm. It's nice to come here after dinner for a browse of the specialty shops. From noon until evening every Wednesday to Sunday, a market is set up on the grounds, offering an extensive range of handmade products and crafts that are very popular with visitors. In the evenings, street performers perform in the outdoor square. The cultural and creative vitality has given this area a new lease of life.

    Location: No. 144, Zhonghua Road, Hualien City, Hualien County, Taiwan 970004

    Open: Outdoor space: 24/7. Hours vary by business

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