Road tripping the East coast of Taiwan

Taiwan's East Coast

Taiwan’s wild and dramatic East Coast is a treat for adventure seekers. With multiple unique attractions and a scenic coastline, it’s definitely the best place to take a road trip in Taiwan. 

As you drive the country’s East Coast on Highway 11, you’ll have stunning views of the Pacific Ocean on one side and the mountains on the other. Plus, this road trip offers a range of activities and features some of Taiwan’s best beaches.

And while not as famous as the Pacific Coast Highway in California and Italy’s Amalfi Coast, this road trip is just as scenic as those iconic drives.

About this road trip on Taiwan’s East Coast

The East Coast in Taiwan, especially the section between Taitung and Hualien City, is filled with beautiful sights at every turn.

If you drive this part of Taiwan, you’ll experience fresh clean air, beaches, nature, and even meet down-to-earth locals.

The drive starts from Taitung City up to Hualien City on Highway 11.

Some Westerners might not consider this thoroughfare an actual highway because it doesn’t have multiple lanes and high-speed traffic.

The highway mostly has two lanes and a maximum speed limit of 50 to 60 kilometers per hour.

The drive takes you through many aboriginal communities and tiny fishing villages, where you’ll experience a slower pace of life.

You’ll see locals drying their fishing nets or just sitting on plastic chairs by the road to chat over rice wine, or tea with their neighbors.

How long is the road trip?

The distance between Hualien City and Taitung City on Highway 11 is 203 kilometers. 

If you drive it all the way without making stops and traffic, it will take you 3 hours and 30 minutes to 4 hours to complete this route.

But there’s no need to rush on this drive.

With several breathtaking spots and attractions along the way, it’s best to slow down and check out the sights.

We recommend spending at least 8 hours on this road trip on the East Coast of Taiwan.

If possible, spend two days, and stay overnight at a hotel or a guesthouse in any of the towns on your way to Hualien City.

If you need help planning this road trip, check out this interactive map that we’ve created.

When is the best time to do this road trip?

You can do this road trip at any time of the year. However, we found out that summer isn’t a good time to drive on Taiwan’s East Coast.

Not only are the summer months (June to September) too warm, but they have the highest chances of typhoons.

And it’s not ideal to be anywhere near the East Coast whenever a typhoon is coming.

Fall and spring are perfect for driving this route. 

Meanwhile, winter on the East Coast can be wet and chilly, especially in Hualien City. But it’s warmer on the southern parts of this road trip.

You can even swim in the ocean in winter at Kenting and Dulan.

Places to see on a road trip on the East Coast of Taiwan

Taitung City

Taitung – the starting point of this road trip – is a city in Southeastern Taiwan. It has spectacular scenery and an ocean breeze, making it a comfortable tropical city.

Furthermore, it has solid options for food and accommodations.

Jialulan

From the heart of Taitung on Gengsheng Road, drive north to the next stop of your road trip: Jialulan.

You can explore this beloved oceanfront spot with fields featuring unique art installations and dramatic views.

Sanxiantai Arch Bridge

Sanxiantai Arch Bridge

This 400-meter-long arch bridge was built in 1987 to connect the small island of Sanxiantai to Taiwan.

It’s famous for its captivating Chinese dragon-like shape, cool sea breeze, and ocean views.

March Cave

March Cave is located at the 60-kilometer marker of Highway 11. 

It’s also called Shihmen Recreation Area and is well-known for its vast, car-shaped cave.

Jing Pu Tropic of Cancer

No road trip along the East Coast of Taiwan is complete without a pit stop at this towering landmark.

It sits at the 70.5-kilometer marker of Highway 11 and within the striking scenery of the Pacific Ocean and the Coastal Range.

Spend time snapping pictures of this gorgeous white pillar and its surrounding landscapes.

Baxiandong Archaeological Site

Baxiandong is one of the oldest prehistoric cultural sites in the country.

It’s listed as a first-class national monument and is an intriguing complex with a series of eroded sea caves that now function as temples.

Niushan (Cow Mountain) Beach

Niushan is a hidden, scenic beach near Hualien City.

You can enjoy lovely views of the coastal mountain range and the Pacific Ocean. There’s also a lawn and observatory with vistas of the rivers and mountains.

Hualien City

Hualien City is one of Taiwan’s most beautiful rural towns.

Besides natural beauty, this town will also sweep you away with its relaxed and slow-paced atmosphere.

Moreover, it has access to several noteworthy attractions, including the Dongdamen Night Market, Pine Garden, and Hualien Cultural and Creative Industries Park.

And it has various accommodation options perfect for weary travelers after their long drive from Taitung City.

Verdict 


This road trip might have been the highlight of our Taiwan trip. We drove this route in December and completed it in one day. Our favorite spots were Sanxiantai Arch Bridge and March Cave. The hidden gem on the trip was the authentic local street food just across the road from the tropic of cancer monument. Be sure to stop in and grab a delicious sausage, or abalone meal. 

-WL 

Authors

Anthony Shallat

Anthony Shallat

Anthony Shallat is a digital nomad attorney and WanderLawyer co-founder. Anthony believes travel unlocks potential and opens minds. He’s been wandering and lawyering since 2014.