Travel: Yilan, Taiwan

Mention the phrases ‘Taiwan’ and ‘summer’ and the first place that’ll come to mind is likely Kenting. But little known to many, Yilan, located in northeastern Taiwan, is an equally picturesque county to enjoy your sun, surf and sand. In fact, you’ll be thrilled that you can still enjoy the quaint sights of the town as it is not as overcrowded and commercial as Kenting. Check out our top three picks in Yilan that you could consider for your next itinerary!

1. Wushigang (烏石港)

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(Photos by Wedding & Travel)

Toucheng (頭城) county, where Wushigang is located at, is usually a small sleepy town — until summer comes around. With its famed black sands and good waves, it is not surprising that Wushigang is steadily gaining popularity as one of the best beaches around, be it for the surfer, or the casual beach dweller. (For surfing aspirants, look no further for guidance than from the many surfing schools located around town!)

If you’re lucky, you’ll manage to catch the Hal’ O Bar (海樂小巴) — a little bar housed in a orange vintage Volkswagon — parked beside the beach. Quite a charming and curious sight, we struck up a conversation with the owner, and discovered that he chose to set up shop here because he is a surfing enthusiast, and working here meant that he could embrace the waves once he gets off work!

Alternatively, you could choose to gaze at Guishan Island (龜山島) — Yilan’s largest island located 10km east of Toucheng — from the hilltop Mr Brown Castle Cafe. We recommend the cafe’s rooftop balcony at sunset for the best views.

2. Luodong Night Market (羅東夜市)

Luodong night market

(Photo Credit: The Yilan Guru)

Taiwan is practically synonymous with night markets, and your Yilan itinerary won’t be complete without a trip to the Luodong Night Market! Undoubtedly the most ‘happening’ night market in Yilan, Luodong Market is also particularly famous for its many scrumptious street foods. The list of must-try local specialties goes on — scallion pancakes (蔥油餅), gaozha (糕渣: a snack made from minced meat and starch), and deep fried pork (卜肉). Of course, all good things come with a wait and you’ll have to brave the queues for these yummy items. If the crowd gets too much to bear, you can also enjoy your food at the nearby Zhongshan Park (中山公園). The park apparently also serves as the stage for the occasional cultural performance, as we chanced upon when we were there.

3. Lanyang Museum (蘭陽博物館)

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(Photos from Arch Daily, taken by Jeffrey Cheng)

Designed by Kris Yao and completed just in 2010, the iconic Lanyang Museum is a striking piece of architecture rising from Yilan’s countryside backdrop. Visitors can find out all about Yilan’s natural terrain from permanent exhibitions based on the themes of the mountains, plains and ocean. Of course, exploring the gorgeous museum is an experience in itself! Be warned though, that the museum can get crowded during peak seasons due to its popularity with tour groups.

When you’re done with the main building, enjoy the summer breeze with a stroll in the adjacent Museum Park. Or, you can hunt down a fresh seafood meal at the nearby Wushi Harbour, where a couple of restaurants are lined up just by the waterfront. Oh, and just so you know, it seems that the museum is quite a hit as a spot for pre-wedding photos for couples in Taiwan too!

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