Yilan has become a popular vacation destination with local Taiwanese tourists and tourists from nearby countries. The city government put a lot of effort into developing Yilan and cleaning up its sites to make it an attractive place to visit. Next time you visit Taipei, don’t forget to include a day trip to Yilan and discover the award-winning Taiwanese whiskeys, black sand surfer beach and the delectable foods that you won’t find anywhere else. Now let’s get going with things to do in Yilan.
How to get to Yilan from Taipei
It is super easy, you just hop on a bus and it takes ~1-1.5hrs to arrive at Yilan. There are 2 locations to board the bus. If you’re not much closer to one than the other, I would recommend taking the option 1 below because there’s usually fewer people.
- Taipei City Hall Bus Station (市府轉運站): You’ll be taking the Capital bus, look for the ticket counter at the bus station and ask for a ticket to Yilan (宜蘭). A 1-way ticket is NT$128 (~US$4.5), and round trip is just double that. There’s a bus every 10-15 minutes.
- Taipei Bus Station (台北轉運站): You’ll be taking the Kamalan bus, look for the ticket counter and ask for a ticket to Yilan (宜蘭). A 1-way ticket is NT$137 (~US$4.7). Doesn’t really matter if you get 1-way or round trip, the savings you get from a round trip ticket is less than US$1. There’s a bus every 10-20 minutes. This bus is slightly slower than option 1 since it makes an extra stop in Taipei.
PROTIP: The bus websites are not very user-friendly even after you translate it to English. The busses are not usually full, so I would just purchase the tickets in-person at the station. But if you want to be extra safe, you can go to the bus station a day before to secure your ticket.
How to get around Yilan
Best way to get around Yilan is by hiring a local taxi to take you around all day. They pick you up and drop you off at the bus station. It costs around NT$3000 (~US$100) for 8 hours (it may vary depending on season, November and December tend to have a lot more tourists).
I had a really great experience with 123 gogocar (宜蘭包車旅遊車隊). They’re very professional, my driver was super super nice and they know all the best spots to go to in Yilan. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been an influx of non-Chinese speaking tourists to Yilan (yet), so the taxi drivers may or may not speak English. I would recommend calling, messaging or emailing them in advance and request for an English-speaking driver. If they don’t have one, don’t worry, just go with it and write down all the spots you want to go to Chinese. (I’ll make sure to include the Chinese of all the locations and foods below).
My driver was a really friendly young woman and a great driver also. If you prefer a female driver, request for the one I had. Her name is Ms. Hsiao (蕭小姐).
Phone number to call, text message, or Whatsapp: +886 931 248 309
PROTIP: If you’re going on a weekend, reserve your car at least a week or two in advance. If you’re going on a weekday, you only need to book it a couple of days before other than near the end of December. My driver told me that they get booked up pretty quickly.
Things to do
- Kavalan Whiskey Distillery (金車噶瑪蘭威士忌酒廠) Address: No. 326, Section 2, Yuanshan Road, Yuanshan Township, Yilan County (員山鄉員山路2段326號) — If you like whiskey, then this is the place for you! If you haven’t heard of Kavalan before, then you definitely need to try it. One of its whiskeys won 2015’s best single malt award and another one of its whiskeys won 2016’s best single cask single malt award. It is extremely hard to find the award-winning 2015 bottle nowadays, but at the distillery’s bar, you’ll be able to purchase a glass and experience it for yourself. One thing you MUST do here, is to blend your own whiskey! It is a great memento and when you take it home you can boast to your friends that it’s your own unique blend. Can’t get it anywhere else! Don’t forget to make reservations for the blending session and it costs NT$1500/bottle.
- Lan Yang Museum (蘭陽博物館) Address: No. 750, Section 3, Qingyun Road, Toucheng Township, Yilan County (頭城鎮青雲路三段750號) — Bring your wide-angle lens, your DSLR, or whatever best camera you have because this is an architectural beauty. Unfortunately, I only had an iPhone and it was a gloomy day. But, check out these beautiful photos taken by Travel + Leisure. The museum’s content is about Yilan’s history and it’s not very big so you’ll be able to go through it in an hour or less. Entrance is only NT$100 (~US$3.5).
- Wai Ao Beach (外澳海灘 or 外澳海水浴場) — A black sand beach with a spectacular view of Turtle Island. A prime location for surfers and in the summertime, music festivals take place here. You can rent surfboards and take surfing lessons.
- Jimmy Parks Plaza & Park and Diu Diu Dang Forest (幾米廣場公園和丟丟噹森林) Address: No. 240, Section 1, Yixing Rd, Yilan City, Yilan County (宜興路一段) — This park brings Jimmy Liao’s storybook characters and sceneries to life. Liao is a famous illustrator whose books have been made into movies, such as Turn Left, Turn Right. Doesn’t matter if you’re a kid or an adult, this park will bring out your youthful heart. Take some funny pictures!
- Mr. Brown Coffee Castle (伯朗咖啡城堡) Address: No. 102, Shikong Road (外澳里8鄰石空路102號) — Mr. Brown Coffee is a famous Taiwanese coffee local to Yilan. However, I’ll be honest, Mr. Brown coffee is not very good…at all. Definitely can’t beat the Italians. That being said, why then am I recommending going to the Mr. Brown Coffee Castle? Well, if you go to castle 2, which is located higher up the mountain, you’ll get a stunning view of Yilan. I wouldn’t spend time in the castle itself.
What to eat
- Scallion Pancake with Fried Egg (柯氏蔥油餅) Address: No. 128, Section 4, JiaoShi Road (礁溪鄉礁溪路四段128號) — The line can get pretty long here but it moves quickly! Very popular with the students since it’s cheap, filling and delicious! You get to pick if you want to add a fried egg in your scallion pancake, I highly recommend getting it with the egg! Once you get to the front of the line, they’ll hand you your pancake and give you a few sauces to choose from. One of them is spicy, so for those who don’t eat spicy food make sure to find out which one it is! But, I think the spicier the better!
- Crepe Ice Cream with Peanut Shavings (吳記花生捲冰淇淋) Address: No. 128, Section 4, Jiaoxi Road, Jiaoxi Township, Yilan County (礁溪鄉礁溪路四段128號) — Right next door to the scallion pancake cart above. Right after you finish your scallion pancake, turn to your left and get a crepe ice cream for dessert. This dessert has ice cream, candied peanut shavings, and cilantro inside of a thin crepe. Cilantro?! I know, it’s strange, but it does give the dessert an extra brightness to it. It’s not for everyone. I tried it and did not enjoy the cilantro but loved the rest, so feel free to ask for no cilantro!
- Garlic Pork Soup with Noodles or Rice (阿娘給的蒜味肉羹) Address: No.239-1 Tai Shan Road (泰山路239之1號) — Warning, this is not for everyone! It usually has a lot of pepper and a lot of corn starch to make the soup more gooey. However, if you’re not against any of that, this is a must-try in Yilan. I prefer it with rice, but you can get it with noodles also. They pour the soup on top of the rice or noodles.
- Traditional Taiwanese Non-Dairy Ice Cream (阿宗芋冰城) Address: No. 267, Section 3, Qingyun Rd, Toucheng Township, Yilan County (頭城鎮青雲路三段267號) — Try some traditional Taiwanese ice cream that’s made 100% natural, no artificial flavoring or dairy. This type of ice cream in Chinese is referred to as “Ba bu” because it use to be sold on the streets in metal cans on a cart with a horn that makes a “ba bu” sound. Make sure to try the taro flavor! That’s the most popular one with locals. But they also have red bean, pineapple, peanut, longan, and purple rice.
- Luodong Night Market (羅東夜市) Address: Gongyuan Road, Luodong Township, Yilan County, Taiwan 265 (公園路) — If you aren’t too tired, around 5-6pm head over to the Luodong Night Market for an early dinner. This is one of the most famous night markets in Taiwan with streets full of food carts and around 7pm, it’ll get packed with locals enjoying a bite to eat after school and work.
Enjoy your trip to Yilan! Remember, Taiwan is all about the food so don’t miss out on that. Be brave and try as much as you can.
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