Most likely you will come to Hualien to visit the famous Taroko Gorge, with its many hiking trails and beautiful sights. Hualien is a nice, friendly little town, filled with shops and restaurants, temples and motorbikes. Hostels in Hualien can give you maps and hiking trials for Taroko Gorge as well as help you figure out transportation there and back. Staying somewhat near the bus station is a good idea so you can easily get to the gorge first thing in the morning. It is best to take the first bus to the gorge to beat some of the large tourist buses that will be dropping people off later in the day, this also allows you to have enough time to explore as many trails as possible before the last bus leaves.
It is a good idea to choose a hostel in Hualien that has air conditioning if possible, since it can be very hot and humid and you will want to rest easily after a long day of hiking. Unless you plan to hike for a couple days in a row, staying in Hualien is a better choice than staying in the gorge itself since there is not much to do or many places to eat in the gorge area and the buses stop running in the afternoon. In addition, the train runs directly to Hualien and an additional bus is needed to reach the gorge. Depending on what trails are open, you can hike most places of interest in a single day, but check the conditions before you go to decide if you want to spend one or two days in the area -- sending an email to the Hualien hostel where you plan to stay may also help in this regard.
Hualien itself doesn’t have many aspects of interest but there are a few temples, a night market, many restaurants and some great shaved ice places that will help you cope with the heat. There is also a small beach fairly near the city if you need a glimpse of the ocean; this is accessible from the same bus that takes you to Taroko Gorge. Although touristy, Hualien and the Taroko Gorge will be a beautiful and interesting stop in your journey and are definitely worth visiting.
Hi, I'm Amanda Haehl,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Hualien hostels. Welcome.