The Taiwan Tourist Shuttle bus service operates two routes in Hualien County, eastern Taiwan. The Taroko Gorge Route enables you to to conveniently visit one of Taiwan’s most breathtaking scenic wonders, Taroko Gorge, by public transport. If you ravel to Hualien by railway, you can board the shuttle bus at either Hualien or Xincheng Taroko railway station.
Buses on the Hualien Route also leave from Hualien Railway Station, but instead of heading north, they take you south of the city to a number of intriguing places of interest in the norther part of the East Rift Valley. Following are short introductions of some of the attractions easily reached using this service.
Liyu (Carp) Lake is the largest lake in Hualien County. It has the a length of 1.6km and a width of 930 meters, and is surrounded by lush mountains. On arrival, first visit the lakeside visitor centre for information about the area. Close to the centre you can rent bicycles to go on a ride along the lakeshore; renting a kayak or swan boat and taking to the water is also a popular option.
Hualien County is known for its many farms, a large number of which are operated as leisure farms. Shin Kong Chao Feng Ranch & Resort has a wide range of attractions including a zoo area, a dairy ranch, a sculpture garden, a themed village, an orchard, and a hot-spring resort. You can easily spend the whole day – or two (accomodation available) – at the farm.
Fenglin Railway Station
The shuttle bus makes a stop in Fenglin Township, a small settlement with an interesting history. The township was the first in Taiwan to be recognised as a “Slow City” by Cittaslow International.
Hualien Sugar Factory
If you want to learn about the history of sugar production in Hualien County, this sugar factory is the place to go. The complex is home to lovingly restored wooden buildings from the 1895-1945 Japanese colonial era (accomodation in tatami rooms available), information exhibits about the factory’s history, a popular ice-cream shop, and much more.
Among other stops worth getting off the shuttle bus for are Li Chuan Aquafarm, a recreational aquafarm focused on the breeding of clams, trout eels, and other water-dwellers; Lintian Mountain Forestry Center, another interesting historic site, introducing you to the region’s logging history; and Danongdafu Forest Park, a vast, mostly flat, park area with narrow roads excellent for bicycling. The park is the southernmost stop on the shuttle route; if you want to explore the East Rift Valley further to the south, take a train from Guangfu Railway Station (two bus stops north of the park).
Hualien Railway Station (Visitor Center) ➡ Qingxiu Temple ➡ Liyu Lake Visitor Center ➡ South Liyu Lake Recreation Area ➡ Shoufeng Railway Station ➡ Shin Kong Chao Feng Ranch & Resort ➡ Fenglin Railway Station ➡ Lintian Mountain Forestry Center ➡ Guangfu Railway Station Center ➡ Hualien Sugar Factory to Dangonggdafu Forest Park
Fare: The fare is calculated according to distance (NT$233 for the full Hualien Route, one way); you can pay by cash, EasyCard, or iPASS; tickets are sold on the bus.
Departures: There are seven services a day on the Hualien Route; buses leave Hualien Railway Station at 8:30am, 9:30am, 10:30am, 12noon, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, and 3:30pm.
First appeared in Travel in Taiwan Mag.