Logistics for an East Coast Scenery trip

Hey all,

I’ve heard the scenery along Taiwan’s east coast (Esp. Suao-Nanao-Hualien) is really breathtaking and so I’m looking to go on a Saturday-to-weekend length trip (can’t do any longer unfortunately, at least not now - a bummer, since traffic is supposed to be bad out there). In particular, I’m into photography, so I hope that on the day(s) I go there to be able to see the sunrise (weather permitting, of course - such is the way of landscape photography). Since I only have a US driver’s license, I don’t think renting a car’s feasible. This of course means I’ll have to stay somewhere overnight. I also don’t have any camping gear.

So, it looks like public transport and overnight stays at a hotel are my best bets. My guidebook has no lodging recommendations for Su’ao, and only the campground as a recommendation for Nan’ao.

Does anyone have recommendations for lodging in Su’ao/Nan’ao? Or suggestions on what the best way to handle such a trip would be?


Peacefest this year was held a bit north of Hualien in this tiny village, which has a couple of guest houses and is spectacularly beautiful. It’s a five-minute taxi ride from XinCheng train station (one before Hualien, if going south).

There are a number of hotels in Su’ao. As with most places in Taiwan you can just go and get a room without advanced booking.

There is no public transport between Su’ao and Hualien (except train) so you aren’t going to be able to take too many pics on that route.

You’d be better off catching the train to Hualien and exploring down to Taitung. Plenty of buses along the coastal route so you can get off where you like, look around, and then catch the next bus. Even just base yourself in Hualien and rent a bike or scooter to explore.

Plenty of B&Bs and hotels. Again, advanced booking is not really necessary.

I found the coastline just north of Toucheng with a view of Turtle Island to be better for sunrise photography than around Su’ao (though I’m not sure about further south like around Nan’ao or Hualian.) Moreover, this area is somewhat more accessible by train. You can take the local train to somewhere like Wai’ao or Daxi, though if you want to get there in time for sunrise, you’ll probably have to take the last night train and wait around the middle of nowhere for several hours.

There are some good spots on the road between Su’ao and Hualian (here just north of Dong’ao or the famous Qingshui cliffs) but they’re inaccessible by public transportation (i.e. best you could would be to take a train to the vicinity of the area and hire a taxi.) You’d be MUCH better off either renting a scooter from either Su’ao or Hualian (which I’m not sure is possible without a scooter license) and driving it or making friends with someone who has a car.

Generally speaking I found visibility to be significantly better on average during the summer than the winter.

Edit: another suggestion for sunrise photography would be to stay at a B&B at Qixingtan beach just outside Hualian.

Renting a scooter and exploring it would definitely be the best way. There are plenty of places in Hualien but without a Taiwanese or international drivers licence, it can be difficult. Some rental places don’t care, others do and it’s just question of getting lucky. You can always just take your home country licence and see what happens!

That said if you do dirve the Suhua highway on a scooter, you need to be very careful. The road is trecherous enough but when you factor in the mental driving that goes on, it can be a very dangerous place to drive. The other thing is, to catch a sunrise you’re going to have to drive out there in the dark which might not be the best idea!

It is the 2009 Taroko Music Festival this weekend. np.cpami.gov.tw/en/index.php?opt … &Itemid=72


If you’re new to scooters, the tunnels on the Suhua highway would be a nightmare. They are scary even to riders with years of moto experience. Running water off the tunnel roofs, indeterminate puddles and potholes in the lane, bad or no :astonished: :astonished: lighting, gravel trucks, buses, diesel fumes, long, full of curves … nightmare stuff.

In the Suao - Hualien route you could take the train to Dongao has some cold springs, a nice beach and aboriginal presence. From there, you could take the Nanao trail to Nanao, (2.5 hours) and spend a night there. Nanao is a nice place to explore, near the seashore. From there you could take a taxi to Shincheng (just north of Hualien), asking the driver to stop at scenic places. In Hualien you could rent a bicycle to explore the town, and get a bus tour of Taroko gorge. South from Hualien, on the coastal highway 11, there are frequent buses so you can go from scenic spot to scenic spot, all the way to Taidong.

Thanks, folks. This has given me some ideas, and I’ll head out this weekend. It’s supposed to rain, at least intermittently, and if the sun peeks out just a few times it could make for some nice photos…

Where are you heading to?


I went here:

Unfortunately, other obligations meant I couldn’t make the 9:00 train to Nan’ao, as I hoped I could. And so I tried to get on the 10:15 train, but when I went at 9:45 they said that there was standing room only (Lonely Planet’s recommendation to reserve a seat, though in retrospect wise, was unheeded). The next train was at 12, meaning effectively Nan’ao was out (since I needed to return Sat.).

So, I tried for the area north of Toucheng instead (per alidarbac’s suggestion) and came to Wai’ao beach (I’m lucky, I suppose, I didn’t take my Lonely Planet, or I would have been tempted by the Lion museum and not gotten to the beach at all).

It wasn’t really great, the tide seemed to coming in, and the visibility got worse as time went on (Guishan Island was covered by fog by around 4:30). But it’s the first salt water I’ve touched all year, and the first set of tide pool critters I’ve seen all year, and so I was ecstatic. I was hoping to get some rock formations, some macro shots of things in tide pools, maybe the sun peeking out of the clouds. I only got the first, but still several pictures I think were good, and I’ll post them once I get them “developed”.

By the way, Ilan seems to be making an effort to make itself tourist friendly. And just north of Toucheng they’re building a museum - the Lanyang museum (as anyone who’s driven or rode by has probably noticed). This is quite something - I was tempted to trespass on the construction site and take a picture of it - it looks like a borg cube from Star Trek crash-landed in Taiwan.

I hope to head to Nan’ao next week, or maybe one of the Hualien suggestions (probably depending on whether I have the freedom to do a weekend trip). IMHO to really do this right you need your own transportation (I’ve never rode a scooter, and so that options’ out no matter what), several days (daytrips aren’t long enough), the ability to scout out and record GPS coordinates for good positions, good weather (i.e. summer), and Fuji Velvia 50 film in a medium format or view camera (not this digital stuff). Well, even if I have to “compromise” due to my situation, and even if I only got to a mediocre beach, I still had fun.

Thanks again to all who’ve given suggestions. Further suggestions are welcome. In particular, hotel recommendations in Nan’ao (if they exist) would be welcome…

I used to like large format and medium format stuff… until I tried to take it in the water.

Marcos, I’ve asked someone who is teaching in Nan’ao if she knows of any hotels or homestays.

Thanks, MM.

maunaloa - I can’t even imagine large format underwater… :wink: Seriously, I’m sure it can be done (and probably was once done) with the right equipment. But it’s definitely not amateur work!!!

Several places to stay in Nanao listed here.

Sorry I haven’t read all the posts, but I thought I would make a post of my favourite way to explore the East coast.

I always shoot down to Kenting on the Main freeway 3. That takes about 5.5 hours at the speed limit with brief toilet stop.

Next is Kenting across the mountains to Taidong and stay there for a day or so.

Next goes Taidong to Hwalien up the East coast and taking advantage of the short stretch on the coastal 11 road before it meets back up with number 9 and continues.

Hwalien for a day or two, then up to Yilan possibly for another day.

Yilan back to Taipei.

I always prefer coming back on the East coast as you get a better view on the way back, being right next to the edge of the road.

There are of course plenty of sights and things to do at all of those locations which surely makes for one of the best road trips IMHO.

sulavaca - sounds awesome. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to do this. :frowning: :frowning:. But I’ll plan for it next time I come here. Along with Green Island, Lanyu…

feiren- thanks- exactly what I needed. One of the places is right there.

MM - please let me know if you hear anything.

I always prefer getting recommendations to a hotel beforehand rather than randomly asking locals when I arrive because I’m paranoid. I fear if I ask around when I arrive there, I’ll get ripped off and charged exorbitantly to stay in a room with winos outside, dead strippers under the bed, bedbugs, dirty linens and towels and (worst of all) filthy, tiny bathrooms. While that’s justified in most countries, I hope things won’t be so bad in Nan’ao.

Thanks again to everyone for their help so far.

A few of my pictures from Toucheng - I’m no master photographer (in fact I’m just a beginner) but I thought I’d share them here.

Wai’ao beach:

The mountains west of Toucheng at the “blue hour” - an hour after sunset.

A piece of driftwood at the beach - in retrospect, not as great shot as I thought it was at the time. Maybe I should have focused more on patterns with the waves.

The “Cliff” at Wai’ao beach - not really a great photo, but I was playing with my ultrawide lens and I thought it was fun.

A Taiwanese roadside scenic spot is not complete without couches…

I visited the Greek Island of… Taiwan! This is “Chateau”, a resort/conference center (funny: there were several Greek island style houses/hotels there. One of them, I believe the 真情濱海優質民宿, even had a replica of the Dolphin Frescoes of Knossos, Crete!!!)

There’s a new temple in Toucheng - near the train station. It hasn’t even been furnished, the outside is brand new. The artwork is quite striking:

I’m still waitign for a reply from my contact.

One thing though, this is Taiwan and no one is going to rip you off in a hotel. I’ve stayed in hundreds. They all are the same. They show you the DM prices and then tell give you a 20-40 discount. Or they just name a reasonable price. They might charge a friend or local 5% less.

My experience is the same as MM. Just showing up and asking works great.