Hualien is the capital city of a county in Taiwan with the same name. It is the biggest city in the east coast region that has about 110,000 inhabitants. The city is located at 23°58’20′N, 121°36’23′E, making it not too far of a destination from Taiwan’s capital city, Taipei. It then makes getting to Hualien easy either by plane, bus or train.
There are no international flights that go directly to Hualien so visitors coming from abroad would need to make a stopover at Taipei before getting to Hualien by air. Mandarin Airlines, Transasia Airways and Far Eastern Air Transport all have flights going to the Hualien Airport coming from Taipei, Kaohsiung, Taichung and another major cities in Taiwan. It takes about thirty minutes to get from Taipei to Hualien and vice versa.
Even to the locals, the bus station along the east coast of Taiwan is rather confusing, what with the many companies that operate in and out of multiple stations. Fortunately, the information center found at most of the train stations in the east region can be very helpful. Not only can people from information centers easily answer the question, “Where is Hualien?”, but they can easily advise you on what to do and what to eat in the city. They will also be more than willing to answer questions regarding confirmation times, departure points and drop off stations. The worst thing that can happen is for you to get stranded somewhere so it might be best to always verify the bus routes.
Visitors who plan to go to Hualien can choose from two bus companies: Hualien Bus Company, which has a full station downtown and the Dingdong Bus Company with several bus stops around town. Both bus companies run their routes to Taichung using Highway 11 with the Dingdong Bus Line running four buses a day and the Hualien Bus Company running buses every hour. The good thing about such bus companies is that it is possible to get off the bus at certain stations between Hualien and Taitung. It then makes it the perfect mode of transportation to hop off and explore what the city has to offer. Although getting to Hualien by land using a bus is a rather slow way to travel, it is still possible for those who don’t have time constraints.
A faster way of getting to Hualien by land is by train that runs between Taipei and Hualien. It takes about two and a half to four hours to get from Taipei to Hualien, which will depend on whether you get the fast or slow train route. Trains may be crowded as this is the preferred mode of transport of locals, so it is advisable to buy tickets ahead of time to ensure seats.
In 2007, the Taiwan Railway Administration bought a fleet of trains from Japan that can take passengers from Taipei to Hualien in less than two hours. This mode is then much recommended to tourists who are short on time but just can’t take Hualien off their to-do list. Getting to Hualien ha been made easy because of Taiwan’s newest purchase.