A Travel Guide to Yilan, Taiwan’s Family-Friendly County

A young boy standing barefoot beside a rice paddy in Yilan with a town and mountains in backgroun

Yilan (宜蘭, formerly spelled Ilan) is a favorite weekend getaway for Taipei people and one of our favorite places to visit with our kids. It is close enough for day trips but has enough things to do to justify spending multiple days there. Consider stopping in Yilan on your way to Hualien!

But don’t only come to Yilan if you’ve got kids. The county has a surfing beach, excellent hot and cold springs, tasty food (especially green onion cakes!), waterfalls, leisure farms, museums, DIY activities, Kavalan distillery, and one of Taiwan’s best mountain resorts, Taipingshan.

I’ve been to Yilan 20+ times, for hot spring, beach, and hiking day trips with my friends, weekend getaways with my family, field trips with my students, and as a starting point for road trips down the east coast.

In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know for planning an Yilan trip: how to get there, best hotels and minsus (local guesthouses), top and less famous attractions, best tours, how to plan your itinerary, what to eat, and events.

Yilan Introduction

A river running through a coastal plain with bridges and buildings and a turtle shaped island off the coast in the backgroun
The Yilan Plain with Turtle Island in the distance

The name Yilan comes from the Ketagalan Taiwanese aboriginal tribe, who originally inhabited the area. You can learn about them at the free Ketagalan Culture Center in Beitou.

Although it is quite close to Taipei, the Yilan plain (also called Lanyang Plain or 蘭陽平原), where the vast majority of the Yilan population lives, is separated from Taipei by mountains. In the distant past, people would hike to Yilan on what is now the Caoling Historic Trail.

Rows of green onions with irrigation canals between them
Fields of green onions in Yilan

The Yilan plain is filled with rice paddies, green onions, and fruit farms. Yilan-style green onion cakes are enjoyed across Taiwan. The small village of Sanxing (三星) in Yilan is especially famous for its green onion cakes.

For many years, the slow and winding Highway 9 was the main way to reach Yilan. It passed through Pinglin (a tea growing area) and took around two hours. In 2006, travel to Yilan became much faster thanks to Xueshan Tunnel (雪山隧道), one of the longest tunnels in the world, at 13 kilometers. Now you can get to Yilan in only one hour from Taipei.

A child running on the beach towards the sea and waves, with a turtle shaped island in off the coast
Wai’ao Beach in northern Yilan

Yilan has three urban centers. Driving or taking the bus from Taipei, you’ll emerge from the tunnel at Jiaoxi (礁溪, also spelled Jiaohsi or Chiao Hsi). This hot spring village has some of the most kid-friendly hot springs in Taiwan, plus some great waterfall trails.

After Jiaoxi is Yilan City (宜蘭市). This is the capital and largest population center in Yilan, with just under 100,000 people. For travelers, it has some of the best hotels in Yilan but fewer things to do.

A family sitting a table eating noodles with their feet soaking in hot spring water below
Soaking our feet with hot spring ramen in Jiaoxi

The furthest town is Luodong (羅東). Here you’ll find the best night market in Yilan (read my Luodong Night Market guide) and some great minsus (guesthouses). It is also close to some of the best family activities in Yilan, so it makes a good base.

Most of Yilan is actually mountainous and not easily accessible. Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area is the top attraction. Visitors flock here for hiking, to ride the cute Bong Bong Train, and on rare occasion, to see snow in winter. Mingchi National Forest Recreation is also popular among locals, but smaller than Taipingshan and less visited by foreign tourists

Getting to Yilan

Driving from Taipei to Yilan through Xueshan Tunnel (Highway 5) can take anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours, depending on traffic. Note that there are minimum passengers numbers for this route at certain hours – read my Taiwan driving guide for details.

Looking down at a highway as it comes out of a tunnel and heads towards a city
The Xueshan Tunnel emerges onto the Yilan Plain

The same thing goes for buses to Yilan. Under normal conditions, they are faster than the train. But if you get stuck in rush hour, they can be slower than the train (and don’t have toilets!) The seats are very comfortable, though, and they are never crowded like the train.

Buses depart regularly from Taipei Bus Station, Taipei City Hall Bus Station, Technology Building MRT Station, and Banqiao (New Taipei City). You can usually just show up and buy a ticket for the next bus. You may have to wait a while at busier times.  

Expect (on average) about 1 hour 15 minutes to Jiaoxi and 1.5 hours to Yilan City, and 1 hour 45 min to Luodong. You can book a ticket online here, but you’ll still have to wait in the line when you get there.

Looking down a train line with ocean and mountains beyond
Trail line along the coast of northern Yilan

Taking the train to Yilan is more reliable, because there is a schedule, but usually a bit slower than the bus. But local trains can get uncomfortable crowded at peak times. On the plus side, they have toilets. Search the train times and find out how to book your train tickets online.

From Taipei Main Station, traveling time by train will be anywhere from 1 to 2.5 hours, depending on the train type and where you’re going in Yilan.

The fastest trains are the Puyuma Express, Taroko Express, and Tze Chiang Limited Express 3000, but these require seat reservations. They are almost always sold out because they are the most popular way for getting from Taipei to Hualien quickly.

Tze Chiang Limited Express (any of them except for 3000) and Chu Kuang take seat reservations, but you can also just show up and buy a standing ticket or swipe your EasyCard. Local trains are the slowest, and seat reservations are not possible – just buy a ticket at the station or swipe your EasyCard.

For traveling between Yilan and Hualien, take the train, as there’s no bus. Book tickets early (up to 28 days) as Taipei to Hualien is a very popular route.

An empty local train with benches on the sides
Local train to Yilan

Taipingshan is one of the more difficult places to get to in Yilan. There’s only one bus per day (bus 1750) in each direction. It departs Yilan Station at 7:40 AM and Luodong Station at 8 AM, arriving at Taipingshan at 10:30.

Going back, the bus departs Taipingshan at 2:30 PM, arriving at Luodong at 5:30 and Yilan Station at 5:50.

Renting a Car/Hiring a Driver

An aerial view of a large fishing harbor
Nanfangao habor viewed from the coastal highway

Yilan’s attractions are quite spread out. What’s more, buses there are slow/infrequent and don’t go to some of the attractions. Taxis are also very limited, except in the Yilan city center. Therefore, many visitors, especially families, decide to rent a car or hiring a driver in Yilan.

If you rent a car, you can start at Taoyuan Airport or in Taipei. But people who are not used to driving in Taiwan will often take public transportation to Yilan, then start their car rental there. I recommend that you rent a car here on Klook.

If you’re going to Taroko Gorge, it’s a beautiful drive along the coast from Su’ao in Yilan to Hualien, called the Suhua Highway (蘇花公路). On rare occasion, this highway can be affected by landslides, which happened during the April 2024 earthquake. See the latest updates here.

By car, you can also drive the slow and winding (but very scenic) Northern Cross-Island Highway (Highway 7) to Taoyuan. Expect to spend a whole day on the road with stops.

Or you can drive Highway 7甲, Highway 8, and Highway 14甲 through Taichung and all the way to Hehuanshan, Cingjing Farm or Sun Moon Lake in Nantou, with possible stops like Wuling Farm, Lishan, Hehuanshan, and Wuling Pass on the way. See my guide to getting to Hehuanshan and Cingjing Farm for more info.

These are very slow, winding, high altitude roads, so make sure to check their current conditions, drive carefully, time it well, and bring carsickness medication if needed.

If you hire a driver, you can visit multiple places in Yilan without worrying about the logistics. Popular stops that people include are Zhang Mei Ama’s Farm, this DIY green onion experience, Lucky Art Crayon Factory, National Center for Traditional Arts, Dancewoods Japanese Garden, KIli Bay Peark Milk Tea Center, and Jiaoxi Hot Springs.

Hiring a driver is very useful for Taipingshan, since there’s only one bus per day. With a driver you can also make stops at Cuifeng Lake and Jiuzhize Hot Spring, which wouldn’t be possible if you took the bus. It’s also best for Mingchi, which has no bus.

You can also rent a scooter outside any of the train stations in Yilan. They’ll want to see a Taiwanese motorcycle license or an IDP. With an IDP, they may also ask to see a motorcycle license from your home country. You can get to Taipingshan by scooter.

Where to Stay in Yilan

Before you choose a hotel in Yilan, you’ll need to decide which city you’re staying in.

Choose Jiaoxi if you want to stay in a hot spring hotel. Jiaoxi is also a suitable place to base yourself for exploring Yilan by car.

A tall yellow and blue waterslide into a pool of water outdoors
Hot water slide at Art Spa Hotel

Art Spa Hotel (see on Booking / Agoda), Chuan Tang Spa 1 (see on Booking / Agoda), and Chuan Tang Spa 2 (see on Booking / Agoda) are my three most recommended hot spring hotels for families (or anyone really) in Jiaoxi. They all have excellent hot spring facilities, including children’s water play areas kids. You can visit these spas without staying in the hotel.  

On the edge of Jiaoxi, Hotel Royal Chiao Hsi (see on Booking / Agoda) is the most famous hot spring hotel in Jiaoxi. It’s not cheap, but it’’s great for families.

North of Jiaoxi, Toucheng Leisure Farm (see on Booking / Agoda) is a popular place for families to spend the night.

Yilan City is the largest but has fewer attractions. Usually when people stay in Yilan city it’s because they want to stay at Silks Place (see on Booking / Agoda), which is one of Taiwan’s top luxury hotels.

The hotel features rooftop pool, movie theater, kids playrooms, and hot springs. Red Lantern restaurant in the hotel has what some say is the best Peking duck in all of Taiwan.

A blue and white hotel building with cars parked in front and trees around it
A minsu we stayed at in Luodong

Luodong is especially known for its family-friendly minsus (local guesthouses). There are hundreds of them, mostly just outside the city.

Try The House of Water (see on Booking / Agoda), Cabin de Kite (see on Booking / Agoda), North Zart (see on Booking / Agoda), 星晏親子民宿 (see on Booking / Agoda), 宜蘭綠之庭民宿 (see on Booking / Agoda), or Yun Tien Feng Chuan (see on Booking).

A little further out of town, Moment Hotel (see on Booking / Agoda) is another great choice with family rooms. It is connected to National Center for Traditional Arts, which has lots of children’s activities.

Nick Kembel with his wife and son sitting on the beds inside their guesthouse in Yilan with a slanted roof window above them
Staying in a Luodong minsu with my family

If you want to be close to Luodong Night Market, I had a good stay at this budget hotel. For a nicer stay, try Cuncyue Hot Spring Resort (see on Booking / Agoda), a hot spring hotel.

If you want to spend the night at Taipingshan, there’s an official accommodation at Taipingshan and another at Cuifeng Lake. You can book them online here, but make sure read all the instructions and book as soon as the rooms become available if you want a chance to get one.

Two kids sitting in chairs on a wooden deck, facing a mountain view
My kids enjoying the view at Locasu Guesthouse

Mingchi Village (see on Booking / Agoda) is especially popular among local tour groups when visitng Mingchi National Forest Recreation Area. We enjoyed our stay in a cabin at Locasu (see on Booking / Agoda), which is on the way to Taipingshan.

Top Things to Do in Yilan

I’ll separate the below into Jiaoxi & Northern Yilan, Yilan City, Luodong & Southern Yilan, and Mountain Areas.

Jiaoxi & Northern Yilan

Three Asian travelers sit with their feet in a pond
Fish nibbling ponds in Tangweigou Hot Spring Park

In Jiaoxi town center, it’s all about hot springs. You can soak your feet or let fish nibble the dead skin off them in Tangweigou Hot Spring Park (湯圍溝溫泉公園).

Art Spa Hotel has a colored/scented hot springs and steamrooms, lots of massage jets, kids water play area, and a tall hot water slide (minimum height requirement). You don’t need to be a guest to go for a soak.

Three adults and two kids sit in a bright yellow colored hot spring tub
Colored baths at Chuan Tang

Chuan Tang (2 locations here and here) is another great spa, with even more colored/scented pools than Art Spa, massage jets, feet nibbling fish pool, and children’s play area.

An elderly couple, young Taiwanese women, and her child sitting on a bench with a waterfall behind them
My parents, wife, and kid at Wufengqi Waterfall

Just outside of Jiaoxi, the hike to Wufengqi Waterfall (五峰旗瀑布) is easy enough for kids. Get there by taxi from Jiaoxi town center. The hike to Yuemeikeng Waterfall (月眉坑瀑布) starts at the same spot but is longer and more difficult.

Northeast of Jiaoxi on the coast, Lanyang Museum (蘭陽博物館) is a beautifully designed, meant to mimic the a coastal ridge. It covers local history and culture.

A triangle shaped museum building with pond in front of it
Lanyang Museum

Wai’ao Beach (外澳沙灘) is the best surfing beach in Northern Taiwan, also good for swimming. Get there by taking the local train from Taipei. It’s my favorite beach within day tripping distance of Taipei. You can also do horse riding on the beach.

Dolphin/whale watching boat tours to Turtle Island set sail from Wushi Harbor next to Wai’ao. Turtle Island (龜山島 or Guishan Dao) is a distinctive island 10 km off the coast that is visible from much of the Yilan coast. Read more about it in my guide to the islands of Taiwan.

Silvergrass in the foreground and a stream of hikers on a trail in the background
Silvergrass on Caoling Historic Trail

North of Wai’ao, Toucheng has the popular Toucheng Old Street (頭城老街), while Toucheng Leisure Farm (頭城農場) is a popular place for families to spend a night or just do a half-day farm experience.

Caoling Historical Trail (草嶺古道) is a popular day hike to coastal bluffs. It starts at Fulong Beach in New Taipei City and ends at Dali Station (main hike) or Daxi Station (if you do a longer add-on) in Yilan. The hike is especially popular when the silvergrass blooms in November.

Yilan City

Yilan City is the capital and largest urban center in Yilan. A few sights in town include Jimmy Park (宜蘭幾米公園) at the train station, which has some cute sculptures, Yilan Distillery Chia Chi Lan Wine Museum (甲子蘭酒文物館), and the LEGO-inspired Brick Ark Museum (積木博物館) in the south of the city.

Some sideways barrels with taps that say Kavalan on the front
Whiskey tasting at Kavalan distillery

The very popular Kavalan Distillery (金車噶瑪蘭威士忌酒廠) is west of Yilan City in Yuanshan district. This is Taiwan’s most famous and award-winning whiskey distillery. It is owned by the same company that as Mr. Brown Coffee, so those cafés usually have some whiskey-based drinks.

You can just show up and join the next tour (Mandarin only), which includes a small tasting at the end. For an English tour or to blend your own bottle of whiskey, you’ll need to book it online in advance. Some Yilan tours include a stop there (see “Best Yilan tours” section below).

Two Taiwanese women lifting a child up in the air by his hands as they walk down a path with flowers on either side inside a greenhouse
Artemis Garden

Just down the road from Kavalan, Jim & Dad’s Brewing Company (吉姆老爹啤酒工場) is an excellent Yilan brewery that also runs a taphouse in Taipei. They use local Yilan ingredients in their beers.

If you need to add something for the kids that doesn’t involve booze, try Up Leisure Farm (可達休閒羊場). Artemis Garden (香草菲菲), a beautiful greenhouse, is also nearby.

Luodong & Southern Yilan

The main highlight of Luodong city center is Luodong Night Market (羅東夜市), one of the best night markets in Taiwan. The Luodong Forestry Culture Park (羅東林業文化園區) is also popular.

Some of the best family-friendly activities in Yilan are around Luodong. These include National Center for Traditional Arts (宜蘭傳藝園區), Kili Bay Pearl Milk Tea Museum (奇麗灣珍奶文化館), and Lucky Art Crayon Factory (蜡藝蜡筆城堡).

Zhang Mei Ama’s Farm (張美阿嬤農場) is a super popular leisure farm, while this DIY green onion cake experience is close to it. Dancewoods Japanese Garden (綠舞日式主題園區) is a Japanese themed leisure farm where you can rent kimonos and have Japanese tea ceremony.

Nick Kembel beside two bicycles, each with one of his kids sitting in a child's chair
Cycling with my kids on Dongshan Mr. Brown Avenue

One fun outdoors activity in Yilan is cycling on Dongshan Mr. Brown Avenue (宜蘭三奇美徑), which is Yilan’s version of the famous Brown Boulevard in Chishang, Taitung. Another is kayaking in the rice paddies.

Dongshan River Water Park (冬山河親水公園) hosts many events (see final section below) and has a children’s waterpark in summer.

A statue of two praying hands surrounded by greenery and a lake in the background
Meihua Lake

Southwest of Luodong, Meihua Lake (梅花湖 or Plum Blossom Lake) is a small, pretty lake with a walking and cycling path around it.

South of Luodong, Su’ao (蘇澳) is famous for its cold springs, best visited in summer. At the start of the coastal highway to Hualien, Nanfangao (南方澳) is a very large fishing harbor (see the “What to Eat in Yilan” section below).

Even further south, Dong’ao has a cold spring in a more remote and natural setting than Su’ao. Sea kayaking is also popular in the area.

Many people standing or sitting beside a clear water cold spring, with a train passing by on a bridge above them
A train passes by Dongao Cold Spring

Mountain Areas

Driving west from the Yilan plain on Highway 7, stop in Sanxing (三星) for green onion cakes. A side road leads up to Water Geothermal Square (清水地熱公園), where you can soak your feet or cook hot spring eggs. There are also wild hot springs here.

Nick Kembel standing beside a steaming hot spring, holding a basket of eggs on a stick in the hot steam
That’s me cooking eggs at Jiuzhize Hot Spring

You can also cook hot spring eggs or take a full soak at Jiuzhize Hot Spring (鳩之澤溫泉), which is on the long and winding drive up to Taipingshan (太平山). There’s also a short but lovely nature trail (鳩之澤自然步道) with a suspension bridge beside the hot spring. See the “Yilan tours” section for tour options to get here.

Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area (太平山國家森林遊樂區) is one of Taiwan’s most popular. You can see colorful maple trees here in autumn and even snow once in a while in winter. If it does snow, expect it to be super busy.

Nick Kembel and his wife holding her baby while sitting in chairs and looking out the window at a mountain view
My wife and I in the cafe at Taipingshan

At the main tourist area, there is a collection of hiking trails, café, temple, and the popular Bong Bong Train (蹦蹦車), a small, old logging train. The 20-minute ride goes to a walking trail. See the train details here. The train is not covered, so dress warm, especially in winter!

Even further up the mountain, and not accessible by bus, is a pretty alpine lake called Cuifeng Lake (翠峰湖), with a walking trail most of the way around it.

A young Taiwanese woman sitting on an old yellow logging train car with a baby in a carrier on her chest
My wife & baby on the bong bong train

There’s a small entrance fee (200 weekends/holidays, 150 weekdays, 100 age 6-12, free under 6) for enter Taipingshan. Parking is 100. If you buy it on Klook, it’s always 150 and free parking is included.

A giant tree stump sticking out of a pond, with misty mountains in the background
Mingchi National Forest Recreation Area

Up Highway 7, the Northern Cross Island Highway, Mingchi National Forest Recreation Area (明池國家森林遊樂區) is another popular spot, especially among locals. It’s closer to Yilan’s cities but less accessible because there’s no bus.

Mingchi is smaller than Taipingshan. Mainly it consists of one lake, but a very pretty one, and an easy walking trail around it.

Two kids standing on one side of a split wooden walkway through the forest
My kids on a walking trail at Mingchi

Best Yilan Tours

A small but very beautiful alpine lake reflecting the blue sky anove
Cuifeng Lake on Taipingshan

There are quite a few good day tours which make Yilan more accessible.

This Yilan day tour from Taipei includes Zhang Mei Ama’s Farm and Lanyang Museum. This one includes Kavalan and some spots on the coast.

For Taipinghan, this day tour from Taipei or Yilan includes the Bong Bong Train, cooking eggs at Jiuzhize, and the option to add Cuifeng Lake.

This one focuses mainly on Taipingshan, with more time for hiking. On this tour, you’ll have time to actually take a bath in the hot springs.

And here is a two-day Taipingshan tour if you want to spend the night on the mountain.

Crowds of visitors standing around a steaming hot spring fountain
Egg cooking at Jiuzhize

This is a popular dolphin and whale watching boat tour to Turtle Island. The boat tour starts at Wushi Harbor (烏石港) in northern Yilan. It’s very common to see dolphins but not so common to see whales. The tour includes a stop on the island, where you can hike to its tallest point. This tour is most popular in late spring and summer, and may not run at other times of the year.

Here’s a half-day tour to Meihua Lake.

This four day tour of the East Coast includes stops in Yilan, Hualien, and Taitung.

To make your own customized tour in Yilan, I recommend renting a car or hiring a driver.

How to Plan Your Yilan Itinerary

Some people carrying a surfboard out into the sea with a break wall behind them
Surfers at Wai’ao

Yilan is most commonly visited as a day trip from Taipei, 2-3 night getaway from Taipei, or on the way to Hualien.

Because Yilan has SO MANY attractions and they are quite spread out, you really need to start by making a shortlist of the places you want to visit. This will help you determine how much time you need there and also which town to stay in.

As a day trip from Taipei, visit Jiaoxi for hot springs and hiking or Wai’ao for the beach. For Zhang Mei Ama, travel to Luodong then take a taxi from there. If you want to visit many spots in Yilan in one day, hire a driver for the day.

A wooden path with a tree growing over the path
Hiking trail at Taipingshan

It’s not possible to do a day trip to Taipingshan from Taipei by public transportation. The Taipingshan bus leaves before the first train gets there. You’ll have to do a Taipingshan tour or spend the night in Yilan first.

For two days in Yilan, consider to spend one day touring your shortlisted attractions and one day for visiting Taipingshan.

A series of hot spring pools with some people dipping their feet in
Hot springs in Jiaoxi

Spend the night in Jiaoxi for the best hot springs, in Yilan City if you have room in your budget for Silks Place, or Luodong if you care most about the night market.

The driving time between Jiaoxi, Yilan, and Luodong is not too far. So no matter which one you choose, you can easily visit the others by taxi, train, or bus.

What to Eat in Yilan

Several round green onion cakes frying in oil on a large black grill
Extra oily Yilan green onion cakes

Yilan is most famous for its green onion cakes (蔥油餅). Compared the regular kind in Taiwan, these ones usually deep fried (including the optional egg), so they are greasier. They are made with local green onions are a super delish.

Close up of a green onion cake cooked with egg in a paper bag
Sanxing green onion cakes

The small village of Sanxing (三星) is expecially famous for its green onion cakes, and you’ll see green onion cake stalls with this name throughout Yilan and even in other parts of Taiwan. This vendor is especially famous, while this one does them like a wrap.

You’ll also see two other unique variations of green onion cake. One is the spiral version (宜蘭蔥餅), which has in inner layer of green onions. Another is green onion pie (蔥餡餅), which is round and is stuffed with even more green onions and sometimes meat. You’ll see them all over Yilan.

An egg frying on a grill with green onion cakes around it
You’ll have the choice to add egg and spicy sauce

In Jiaoxi, I recommend going for hot spring ramen & sushi, where you can soak your feet while you eat. There are two locations of the same shop, here and here.

Locals love getting whole roasted chicken (烤雞) when driving to/from Jiaoxi. Here is a popular spot on the road into town, but there are several other similar ones around it.

Looking down at a bowl of Japanese food on a table, and Nick Kembel's feet below soaking in hot water
Soaking my feet while I enjoy Japanese food in Jiaoxi

In Yilan City, Red Lantern restaurant at Silks Place is said to have the best Peking duck in Taiwan, as well as some unique duck nigiri.

A glass of beer on a table that says J&D on the side, with a couple out of focus at the next table over
Jim and Dads Brewery

Whiskey lovers shouldn’t miss Kavalan, and the same goes for beer at Jim & Dad’s.

You can also find an older Yilan craft beer called Mai Tian Fresh Brewed Beer (麥田現釀啤酒), which includes a green beer made with spirulina, in a few restaurants in Jiaoxi (see my Jiaoxi guide for details).

A hand holding up a hot spring egg that is cut in half and has runny yolk inside
My DIY hot spring egg at Jiuzhize

At Jiuzhize, makesure to try making your own hot spring eggs (溫泉蛋). Because of the lower cooking temperature, then turn out deliciously soft inside. They provide little packets of salt and pepper.

In Luodong, it’s all about Luodong Night Market. The night market’s specialties are green onion cakes (heads up to vegetarians in Taiwan – some of them contain meat or lard) and angelica mutton herbal soup (for vegetarian-friendly stalls in the night market, see my vegetarian night market guide).

So find your way through this popular night market, see my Luodong Night Market guide.

Yilan Events

A red brick lane with a rows of red Chinese lanterns above
Lunar New Year lanterns at National Center for Traditional Arts

Dongshan Riverside Park east of Luodong is usually the venue for Lantern Festival and Dragon Boat Festival races in Yilan. Also visit this park in summer, when the open up the large children’s water park.

Yilan Green Expo (宜蘭綠色博覽會) is an environment focused event, with flower displays and other activities. It also takes place at Dongshan Riverside Park, usually in May.

Yet another event at the same park is the annual Yilan Hot Air Balloon Carnival in June. It’s a smaller version of the more famous Taitung International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Luye, Taitung.

Looking up at some branches of bright red maple leaves and some green trees behind them
Maple trees at Taipingshan in autumn

The Luodong Fringe Festival (羅東藝穗節) usually happens in August, with a focus on local arts and music.

If you want to see autumn foliage at Taipingshan, go there in November. It’s rare to see snow at Taipinghan, so you’ll need to be lucky. It only happens once every few years or so, and when it does, masses of locals try to visit all at once.

16 thoughts on “A Travel Guide to Yilan, Taiwan’s Family-Friendly County”

  1. Hi! You so have many useful information! Thank you very much!

    I am wondering whether you know how much it costs to hire a driver for a day in Yilan? My family and I (3 adults and 2 children) are going to stay in Luodong in 2 week’s time, and we are trying to figure out the costs of our stay there.

    Any information would be really helpful. Thank you!!!

  2. The cost of hiring a driver for the day ranges from around 3500 to 6500 per day in Taiwan, depending on size of vehicle and mileage. Take a look at my article on how to find a driver in Taiwan in the transportation section of this site for my recommended drivers.

  3. Hi, is it possible to do a day trip from Taipei
    To taipingshan (take the Bongbong train), then head to Zhang amei farm then back to Taipei?
    Is the road up winding and carsick inducing?

  4. It’s not possible by public transportation. Because there is only 1 bus per day from Yilan city to Taipingshan, departing 7:40AM, which is too early to reach from Taipei. If you drive a car and start your day very early, then yes, it’s doable, including stop at Zhang Mei Ama. The road up Taipingshan is very winding for about 1 hour.

  5. we plan to rent a scooter to get around yilan, is it possible with a 4 years old kid?
    we have few destination as such: zhang amei farm, ji mi park & Water Geothermal Square.

  6. As long as the driver has the license to rent the scooter, then it’s fine to take a passenger and/or kid. The shop will most likely require an IDP and may additionally require that is has the A stamp for riding motorcycles. Some shops don’t have children’s helmets, though. When I rented scooters with my kids in Taiwan, I sometimes brought their children’s helmets from home with me.

  7. This is really helpful!

    Noticed a general theme of hiring a car/ scooter in a few places. How much can I expect to pay to hire one/ gasoline and do they usually take a deposit/ passport?

  8. You’ll need an international driver’s permit (IDP) from your home country to rent a car in Taiwan. For a scooter, you’ll need the same, plus they may require that it has an A stamp (meaning your are additionally licenses to drive motorcycles in your country). Gas is about USD 1 per liter (you can fill a scooter for days of driving for less than TWD 100) so that’s very cheap. Scooters go for around 300 to 500 per 24 hours, while cars are in the 1200-2000 range.

  9. wow, this article is amazing.

    it is super lengthy yet not tiring to read- which is an amazing feat.

    very informative, thoughtful and well-sorted out.

    thank you so much!

  10. Great website! If I am traveling (total 4 adults) from Hsinchu to Yilan (2 nts) to Hualien (2 nts) before going back to Taipei, would it make more sense to rent a car or to take the train?

  11. Honestly the train will probably be faster and easier for these routes. Choose a car if you want to make more of road trip out of it, stopping and many small stops along the way. If you just want to get to your destination faster and have more time there, then go for train.

  12. Thanks for the wonderful post! It’s really informative and helpful, especially the kids friendly activities that can be done in Yilan.

    I’m planning a trip this June with a rough itinerary of Taipei > Taichung > Cingjing > Yilan > Taipei.

    Am worried about the travel distance from Cingjing to Yilan though, as we will be bringing along 4 elderly (physically fit) and 3 kids. Instead of doing a direct journey, will it make more sense to return to Taipei from Cingjing before traveling out to Yilan? Thank you!

  13. That depends if you are driving or not. If you are driving, then yes, you can drive from Cingjing Farm to Yilan, but that is a long, winding, full day drive. It is very beautiful and has many scenic stops you could make on the way, especially around Hehuanshan, Lishan, Fushoushan, and possible detour to Mingchi or Taipingshan. Only choose this way if you are keen to do a big, long, full day drive on a very winding high mountain road. There’s no public transportation going this way. If you want that, then yes, Cinging back to Taichung, to Taipei, and onward to Yilan.

  14. Thanks for the blog! It’s been very informative even though I have been to Taiwan many times!

    Curious to ask, the drive from Yilan to Cingjing (or the other way around), is it dangerous right now following the earthquake in April?

    Also, what is the highest altitude that we will experience there? As I will be traveling with 2 young children and wondering if this will be a problem if were to take that route.

  15. You can currently drive from Yilan to Cingjing, but it’s a long, winding drive. You will take highway 7, 7甲, 8, then 14甲. The highest elevation is at Wuling Pass around Hehuanshan, which is 3275 m. This is high enough to have altitude sickness but only if you stay there for a while. If you are just driving through, you should even notice. The bigger concern is that your kids might get carsick. The drive is very winding the whole way. If you drive without stopping, that’s a five hour drive. But the route is very scenic and you might want to make some stops for food, toilet, or taking a break if kids feel carsick. So it’s very possible to spend a whole day doing this drive. It’s actually faster to drive from Yilan to Taipei, Taichung, and then to Cingjing.

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