Try the most popular budget things to do in Yilan and enjoy a wonderful trip without breaking the bank. Head to Tangweigou, where you can enjoy the hot spring and foot spa without paying a penny. Stroll on Waiao Beach and take photos of the giant cheese. Visit Zhongxing Paper Factory to soak up some art and culture. See the breathtaking scenery of the bald cypress trees at Tianxin Bridge. Visit Tofu Cape to have fun in the water, snorkel and see the coral. Bathe in the cold spring in Dongyue, Nan'ao Township in summer. Take an eco-tour at Meihua Lake to watch the birds and enjoy the enchanting lake views. Admire the architectural beauty of Zhuangwei Tourist Center, where you can watch the documentary filmed by director Tsai Ming-liang inside a sand dune. Visit Jinmei Brick Kiln and take photos of the beautiful red brick structures surrounded by green grassland. Visit Cingshuei Geothermal Park in Datong Township, where you can take a foot bath and enjoy tasty hot spring eggs while appreciating the stunning natural scenery.

    1

    Free Hot Spring in Tangweigou

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    Tangweigou Hot Spring Park, situated between Deyang Road and Ren'ai Road in Jiaoxi Township, Yilan County, is part of Jiaoxi Hot Spring. The Yilan County Government has developed this area as a hot spring park with a glass roof, so you need never worry about getting caught in the rain. It's an ideal place for families to visit. In addition to free foot baths, the park has several green spaces, pavilions, squares, cafes, public toilets and other facilities. There are also street performers here at night. If the free foot bath leaves you wanting more, for a small fee you can also try the fish spa or experience partially outdoor nude bathing in a cypress pool. Near the park are many stalls and souvenir shops where you can browse and dine after bathing.

    Location: No. 99-11, Deyang Road, Jiaoxi Township, Yilan County, Taiwan 262

    Open: Outdoor space: open 24 hours Varies depending on the provider

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    2

    Walking on Wai'ao Beach

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    Wai'ao Beach is located to the north of Wushi Port in Yilan. With the expansion of Wushi Port and decline of Toucheng Beach, Wai'ao Beach has become a popular destination in recent years, attracting visitors to the Toucheng Ocean Carnival and Toucheng Ocean Cultural Festival. With its clean, soft sand, the beach is a perfect place for couples. It's also popular with families looking to have fun playing in the water and the sand. Near the beach is a popular new spot, the No. 9 Cafe, which is shaped like a huge piece of cheese that's been dropped onto the beach. From the yellow arch outside the cafe, you can take photos that capture Guishan Island, the blue sky, the beach and the sea in a single shot. If you're the adventurous type, you can go surfing or paragliding here. If you need a break or if the weather is bad, you can retreat to the cafe to drink coffee, eat dessert and enjoy the sea view. When the weather is good, the sunsets here are truly beautiful.

    Location: No. 6, Section 2, Binhai Road, Toucheng Township, Yilan County, Taiwan 261

    Open: Outdoor space: open 24 hours

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    photo by lienyuan lee (CC BY 3.0) modified

    3

    Chung Hsing Paper Factory

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    • History
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    Located close to Luodong Forestry Park and Luodong Night Market, Chung Hsing Cultural and Creative Park is about a 10-minute drive from Luodong Railroad Station. The park, formerly known as Taiwan Chung Hsing Paper Corporation, was established during the Japanese occupation and was once the largest paper factory in Taiwan. The factory was registered as a historic building in 2015, and has been transformed into a cultural and creative zone for contemporary artists. Admission to the park is free. The park retains most of the buildings of the old paper factory, making it a magnet for photographers. Even the jagged holes left on the walls when machines were moved out of the factory have been given an artistic flourish, adding to the unique charm of the buildings. The park has a variety of creative works by artists that stimulate the imagination. You can also get creative yourself and take part in paper making and weaving workshops with your kids.

    Location: No. 6-8, Section 2, Zhongzheng Road, Wujie Township, Yilan County, Taiwan 268

    Open: Open from 10 am to 6 pm, closed on Wednesdays (opening hours for New Year's Eve and special events announced separately) Outdoor space: open all year round (closes at 10 pm)

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    photo by 台北人 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    4

    Bald Cypress Forest Near Tianxin Bridge

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    Tianxin Bridge, located on the banks of Annong Creek in Sanxing Township, Yilan County, is one of the places where you can find bald cypress trees. Originally planted for wind protection, the beautiful bald cypresses have become an attraction in their own right, drawing large numbers of tourists to the area. The tree-lined avenue formed by hundreds of bald cypresses stands in contrast against the green of the surrounding grassy landscape, mountains and rivers, creating the feeling of being in a European fairytale, hence the name "Little Europe". The best time to see the bald cypress trees is from December to January, when the leaves start to turn a dramatic shade of red. It's a great place to visit on a sunny day for a picnic on the grass, a bike ride or a stroll to admire the fantastic scenery. Remember to take photos where the light is at its best, and you're sure to get plenty of likes on your social media.

    Location: Dongxi 28th Road, Sanxing Township, Yilan County, Taiwan 266

    Open: Outdoor space: open 24 hours

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    photo by lienyuan lee (CC BY 3.0) modified

    5

    Tofu Cape

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    Located on the east side of Nanfangao Fishing Port in Yilan, Tofu Cape is composed of a land-tied island and sandbar, which is why it is also known as Sandy Neck Cape. The cape gotten its name because the rock in the area resembles tofu. Since being redeveloped by the local government in recent years, the area has coastal trails and a viewing area, making it a perfect place for bathing and snorkeling. With the vast expanse of sea and sky and the waves are hitting rocks, Tofu Cape offers magnificent views that attract large numbers of tourists. Thanks to the many sources of marine life carried by the Kuroshio Current, Tofu Cape has a rich coral reef ecosystem and an abundance of fish, attracting many fishermen to the area. In recent years, it has become a hotspot for emerging water sports such as stand-up paddleboarding (SUP). It is also a training base for many water sports players. As the cape faces east, it is also a wonderful spot to see the sunrise.

    Location: East of Nanfangao Fishing Port, Su'ao Township, Yilan County, Taiwan 270

    Open: Outdoor space: open 24 hours

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    photo by Outlookxp (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    6

    Eco-Tour in Meihua Lake

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    Meihua Lake is located in Dongshan Township, Yilan County, close to Luodong Railroad Station. The lake is surrounded by mountains on three sides and resembles a five-petal plum blossom (Meihua in Chinese). President Chiang Ching-kuo visited the area and was impressed by its beauty. By virtue of its rich natural ecology, the lake is home to many plants and animals. It's also a paradise for bird watchers and photographers. You might even spot some unicorn beetles here. You can take a boat tour, stroll on the lakeside trail or go for a bike ride to enjoy the splendid views of the lake and mountains. From the wooden trestle suspension bridge, you can admire the beautiful scenery surrounding Meihua Lake. Around the lake you'll find many stalls selling typical Yilan snacks. Standing majestically above Meihua Lake is the famous Sanqing Taoist Temple. The walk to the temple is a great way to relax and re-energise.

    Location: Huanhu Road, De'an Village, Dongshan Township, Yilan County, Taiwan 269

    Open: Outdoor space: open 24 hours

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    photo by Jason (CC BY 2.0) modified

    7

    Jinmei Brick Kiln

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    • History
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    Jinmei Brick Kiln gotten its name from its location at the junction of Beijinli and Meizhouli villages in Yilan. It was an important production site for red bricks in Yilan City during the Japanese occupation. However, the kiln ceased production more than 20 years ago and has since been renamed "Yilan Brick Kiln". The kiln, which has a history stretching back more than 100 years, is one of the county's designated historic monuments. From a distance, you can see its huge 121-foot (37-metre) chimney. The kiln has survived many earthquakes and wind disasters. The story of the brick kiln is told in its walls, which were also used by local people to dry clothes and quilts on rainy days. Next to the grassy area sits a section of light rail track, which was once used by the kiln for transportation. The traditional red brick kiln stands against a stunning backdrop of blue sky, white clouds and lush green grass, making it a hugely popular spot for taking photos. Touring the kiln is free, so it's ideal for travelers on a tight budget.

    Location: No. 13, Lane 75, Jinmei Road, Yilan City, Yilan County, Taiwan 260

    Open: Outdoor space: open 24 hours

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    photo by Alice (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    8

    Qingshui Geothermal Park in Datong Township

    Qingshui Geothermal Park is located in Qingshui Valley on the south side of Qingshui Village, Datong Township, Yilan County. It has been renovated and reopened to tourists, who come here to enjoy such activities as cooking hot spring eggs or taking a foot bath. The park has a cooking pool, dining area, shop, foot bathing pool and other facilities. Admission to the park is free. It is an ideal place for families to visit, where they can enjoy the novelty of cooking eggs in the hot spring water. If you come without any ingredients, you can buy them at the shop, which also has bamboo baskets for rent and advises on the amount of cooking time required. You can put eggs, corn, bamboo shoots and other ingredients into the hot spring water. Food cooked in this way tastes particularly delicious, especially on a cold winter's day. Nearby is a pool for taking foot baths, where you can feel the warmth spread from the soles of your feet to the cockles of your heart. In Qingshui Geothermal Park, you can enjoy delicious food cooked without electricity and gas, or take a foot bath while enjoying the natural beauty all around you.

    Location: No. 139, Lane 501, Section 8, Sanxing Road, Datong Township, Yilan County, Taiwan 267

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm (closed on Lunar New Year's Eve)

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    photo by lienyuan lee (CC BY 3.0) modified

    9

    Dongyue Cold Spring in Nan'ao Township

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    • Adventure

    Located in Nan'ao Township, Yilan County, Dongyue Cold Spring is a naturally gushing cold spring with a water temperature of just 14 °C to 16 °C all year round. It has the coldest water of any water-based attraction in Taiwan. Getting to the park is much easier since the opening of the Dong'ao section of the Suhua Highway. Admission to the park is free, and lots of tourists come here to enjoy the clear, cold spring water. The park has camping and barbecue facilities as well as a large grassy area where kids can play. To make your day out even more fun, bring along some water guns and other water toys to play with in the water. The park has no shelter apart from the cement bridge, so you might want to pack a tent to use as a sunshade. Although varying in depth, the spring comes up to around knee height on an adult, so it's very safe for kids to play in. Dongyue Cold Spring is a perfect spot for playing in the water and relaxing on a hot summer's day, and you might even see a train passing by from time to time.

    Location: Section 3 (behind Dong'ao Elementary School), Suhua Road, Dongyue Village, Nan'ao Township, Yilan County, Taiwan 272

    Open: Outdoor space: open 24 hours

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    photo by Kenming Wang (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    10

    Architectural Beauty of Zhuangwei Visitor Center

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    • Photo

    Located at 92 miles (149.3 kilometers) on Binhai Highway, Provincial Highway 2 of Taiwan, Zhuangwei Sand Dune Service Park (Zhuangwei Visitor Center) was opened in April 2018. This unique park was designed by the well-known architect Huang Sheng-Yuan, and blends seamlessly with the vast sand dunes and distinctive coastline of Zhuangwei, Yilan. The park retains the existing sand dune landscape, the beauty of which has been enhanced through the planting of trees and flowers as well as numerous art installations. The center combines the art of movie with the beauty of nature by bringing the outdoor sand dunes into the interior space, so that you can play in the sand as you admire the works of art or watch the documentary "Walker", filmed by Director Tsai Ming-liang for Zhuangwei Township, Yilan Country. A variety of themed activities are hosted outdoors depending on the season. The park is now open, admission is free and it's a perfect spot for taking photos.

    Location: No. 18, Lane 196, Section 2, Zhuangbin Road, Zhuangwei Township, Yilan County, Taiwan 263

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

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