Taiwan Trip – From Hualien to Alishan

When we started planning this trip, the first thing that we did was to decide on the places that we would like to visit. After doing initial research, we finally decided to limit our trip to Taipei and surrounding areas, Taroko Gorge in Hualien, Alishan,  Sun Moon Lake and Cing Jing Recreation Farm. The next thing we had to do was to figure out how to link all these places and how much time to spend at each destination. Among the factors that we took into consideration were: safety, convenience, comfort, travelling time, cost etc.

Starting with the beginning point – Taoyuan International Airport, which would also be the end point, Kiate and I brainstormed together and considered all the possible routes to fit in all the places that we had planned to visit. It felt as though we were putting together a jigsaw puzzle, and the most challenging part was that we had to search for the pieces. After much discussion and deliberation (as evident in this piece of “art”), we finally settled for the following itinerary:

  1. From Taoyuan Airport, take train to Hualien (2 nights).
  2. Engage a driver to bring us on a one-day tour of Taroko Gorge.
  3. Then, take train back to Taipei (1 night).
  4. The next day, take HSR/bullet train to Chiayi and then take bus to Alishan (2 nights).
  5. Next, engage a driver to take us from Alishan to Cing Jing (2 nights), passing through Sun Moon Lake along the way.
  6. Take the bus from Cing Jing to Taichung to take the HSR/bullet train back to Taipei (1 night)
  7. Take the MRT to travel around Taipei and all the way to Tamsui and XinBeiTou (1 night).
  8. Engage a driver to take us around Jiufen, JinGuaShi and Shifen. Back to Taipei (1 night).
  9. Take a cab to Taoyuan Airport on the last day.


You might notice that we didn’t actually go round the island, as in Taipei-Hualien-CingJing-SunMoonLake-Alishan-Taipei; instead, we went from Hualien back to Taipei before moving south to Alishan, and then made our way back up north. We did consider the former option but decided against it because the highway linking Hualien and CingJing, i.e. the Central Cross-Island Highway (中部橫貫公路),…

“…runs through exceedingly rugged and unstable terrain. Heavy rain from typhoons often dislodge soil and rocks onto the highway making sections of it impassable. As well, the area is prone to seismic activity which can have disastrous effects on the highway.”  – wikipedia –

Anyway, I totally abandoned the idea after coming across this video on YouTube:-

The route from Taichung to Hualien (via Hehuanshan)

While planning for the trip, we also found out that part of the highway was temporarily closed to traffic due to a landslide. To be on the safe side, we decided to go back to Taipei and then take the bullet train down south instead.

When we told the local drivers and ‘minsu’ owners our travel plans, some thought that it was a waste of time and money while others agreed that it was the safer option. Well, let me summarize both options for you here and you decide for  yourself what is best.


Either way, I strongly recommend that you get a travel insurance policy to cover any eventualities and for peace of mind. Above all, as a Christian, I strongly believe that it is absolutely crucial to commit all plans unto the Lord and to pray for protection and journey mercy. We did and praise the Lord that all our prayers (safety, journey mercy, good health and fine weather) were answered.


34 responses to “Taiwan Trip – From Hualien to Alishan

  1. I like your blog.. I am planning a trip in Dec and it is really helpful.. : )

  2. Pingback: Our Taiwan Trip Summary | into.her.world

  3. Hey . your blog is awesome ! i like the way you write down steps by steps .. it helps a lot 🙂 thanks !

  4. i wanted to ask ..
    5 of you right ?
    is it cheaper to travel by 2 taxis or van ?

  5. i see .. let’s say i have 5 too .
    so everytime i have to travel by 2 taxis ? how about those minsu’s driver ?
    thanks ! OrangLai is for HuaLien one ?

  6. For more info regarding Orange’s services, you can refer to this post: https://intoherworld.wordpress.com/2012/08/27/taiwan-trip-driver-cum-tour-guide-orange-lai/

    It’s not convenient to travel in 2 taxis (and it’s more expensive as well). We only took 2 taxis once when we were in Taipei. If you need a cab when you are in Hualien, you can call this number: 08-00046046 (花蓮統一計程車/Hualien Tong Yi Taxi). Just inform the operator that there are 5 of you and they will send a 7-seater Toyota Wish.

    If you are planning to charter a car for a one-day tour of Taroko Gorge, you can either hire Orange or Tiffany.

    Tiffany at +886912522118 or tiffany_935lk@yahoo.com.tw. Alternatively, you can visit her Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/Tiffanytaxi.
    If you want a review of her services, check out this blogpost: https://intoherworld.wordpress.com/2012/07/22/taiwan-trip-taroko-gorge-one-day-tour/

  7. This is a very inspiring posting. I am always sincerely impressed when reading your offerings.
    You post interesting info. Keep it up. Keep blogging.
    looking forward with great anticipation to going over your next posting.

  8. Hi, i would like to ask you if where would be better for two night and 1 night stay in taiwan. alishan? cing jing? or sun moon lake? pls reply me via the email. thanks.

  9. Hi Janice,

    Useful information. Can I asked the following questions?

    The driver mentioned above – is there any that speak English?

    All trip start from Hualien. Is there any driver that do the other way round – Sun Moon Lake, CingJing to Hualien?


  10. Hi Cheryl
    I am planning a Taichung-SML-Taichung-Cingjing-Taichung-Chiayi-Alishan tour. Doing a day trip to SML from Taichung and staying 1 night at Cingjing before going to Alishan early next morning.

    Do you know if there are any bus that goes from Cingjing to Alishan? It seems a little out of the way to go from Cingjing to Taichung so as to catch the HSR to Chiayi and then bus to Alishan

    Thank you in advance…

    • Hey Kendrick, are you travelling alone? Or with family/friends? If you’re travelling with a group, I’d recommend that you charter a taxi instead… That way you can save money and cut down on travelling time. All the three points (Alishan, Sun-Moon-Lake and CingJing) are connected by road.


  11. Hi Cheryl,

    I will be going to Taiwan in early August this year. Taoyuan > Alishan > Taichung > Cingjing > Hualien. Do you know if the forest railway to Alishan is still open? May I have the contacts of the driver that you engaged? For your trip, did you engage the driver from Chiayi HSR up to Alishan?

    Thank you in advance :))

  12. Annita Gloria

    Hi Cheryl,

    So glad I found your blog, am planning to go Taiwan end of this month and the place that you visit is exactly what I have in mind, but I only go there for 5N/6D so I can’t go to all that places. Can you suggest an itinerary/must see places for 5N/6D travel, I want to see Hot Baloon festival in Hualien and Sun Moon Lake and Taipei for sure since it’s our 1st time in Taiwan. Hope you can help….thanks

    • Hi Annita, I’ve forwarded my itinerary to your mailbox. You may refer to it while planning your trip. Since you’ll only be in Taiwan for 6D/5N, perhaps you’d need to skip Alishan and just focus on the northern part of Taiwan – there are plenty of places to visit and things to do in Taipei and surrounding areas. Have fun~
      Cheers, Cheryl

  13. I had planned to book a driver for the journey from Taichung to Hualien. I am considering after reading your post.

  14. Thank God I come across your blog. Am going to taiwan this june. End of june. I also want to visit alishan cingjing hualien n yilan if possible. I read from another blog that the road from cingjing to hualien was blocked due to rain n rocks on highway. So the driver suggested to drive to yilan then hualien which was very long journey n missed out a few attractions.
    I have 11 to 12 days and I thought I can explore your itinerary! I’m going with my hubby n 2yo boy so safety and not so long journey is our priority.
    What do you think of this plan?

    15june taipei Taoyuan int airport 0530
    15june taoyuan – hualien
    16june hualien
    17jun hualien
    18jun hualien – taipei
    19jun taipei – chiayi
    Chiayi – ailishan
    20jun alishan
    21jun alishan – cingjing
    22jun cingjing
    23jun cingjing
    24jun cingjing – taichung
    Taichung – taipei
    25jun flying back

    Thank u n God bless!

    • Hi Eileen, it looks okay to me…but you won’t have much time in Taipei. I visited the places you listed… do you want my itinerary for reference? I can forward it to you if you give me your email add… cheers, Cheryl~

  15. Hi Eileen

    Phews, I am glad to find your blog as my boyfriend and I have been searching the discovering trips since last week.

    Well, we are going to Taipei next month in April and we have not yet booked the hotels/villas in northern of Taiwan except Taipei.

    So, we are going there for probably 6 days as your previous itineraries are almost the same as me.
    -Taipei (the first destination)
    -Chiayi (Alishan)
    -Cingjing (Sheep farm, visit Europeans villas/hotels, little swiss garden, hot spring at night
    -Hualien (taroka and mt huan huan and hualien beach)
    -Taichung City (fengjia night market)
    -Taipei ( Return to Taipei City)

    our main concern is to visit the geographical values and natural things. We love photography as well. We don’t fancy shopping or souvenirs things except the break time only.
    Eileen- Please advise me for your suggestion and also provide me the transportation (bus and train), Alishan schedule time bus and go on.
    Sorry to impose on you because I am kind nervous as the trip is approaching by next week. Hope to hear from you as soon as possible

  16. Hi Cheryl! I’ve struggling to come up with an itinerary. I went to Taipei and went to Sun Moon Lake, Jiufen , Shifen and the area around. Hoping to now go to Taroko Gorge/ Hualien, CingJing and maybe Yilan for about 5-7D. Can you help suggest an itinerary or email me? Btw, when you hired the driver/ tour guide for Taroko Gorge, was there a lot of walking to do? I’ll be travelling with my parents and two young kids.

    • Hi Lyn, we did walk a bit when we were touring Taroko Gorge. You can discuss with your driver though… if it’s too taxing for your parents and kids, you can leave out the trails etc… btw, what’s your email address? I can fwd my itinerary to you if you like.


  17. Hi Cheryl,

    Glad to chanced upon your blog. Am planning a trip to Taiwan this December with 3A3C. Read about the safety issues regarding the journey from Hualien to Cingjing. In your opinion, is it better to adopt the following itinerary instead of straight from Hualien to Cingjing:
    Hualien- Taroko Park – Taipei (1night)
    Taipei – TaiChung – Cingjing (1night)

    Is the Taroko Park tour a round trip ie back to Hualien so that we can get our luggage to go back to Taipei?

    How do you purchase the train tickets to Hualien?


    • Hi Agnes,
      Sorry for the late reply.

      (1) In your opinion, is it better to adopt the following itinerary instead of straight from Hualien to Cingjing:
      Hualien- Taroko Park – Taipei (1night)
      Taipei – TaiChung – Cingjing (1night)
      Yup, I guess so… we did the same *wink*…. If it’s of any help to you, I can forward my itinerary to your mailbox. Just give me your email address…

      (2) Is the Taroko Park tour a round trip ie back to Hualien so that we can get our luggage to go back to Taipei?
      It could be either way…. You can tour Taroko Park and head straight to CingJing OR in our case, we hired a driver cum tour guide for a one day trip… pick-up and drop-off at a minsu in Hualien… you can read more about our adventure in Hualien here: https://intoherworld.wordpress.com/2012/07/22/taiwan-trip-taroko-gorge-one-day-tour/

      (3) How do you purchase the train tickets to Hualien?
      I purchased the tickets online…. and then collected the tickets at the Taipei Train Station.

      Hope that helps. Enjoy your Trip to Taiwan.


  18. Dear Cheryl

    My family and I (total 5 adults) are planning to go to Taiwan for 6D5N next month. We are planning to go to Yilan, Hualien and Cingjing. However our driver suggests to drive from Taipei down to Taichung on Day 1 and move to Cingjing, Hualien then last to Yilan instead. What do you think about this direction instead?

    Could you share with me your itinerary as well? Thanks!

  19. Hi Cheryl
    Can you also share your itineraries with me?
    sofia foo @ gmail com


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