Yilan is a beautiful city situated in Northeastern Taiwan and is surrounded by both the sea and mountains. From Taipei bus station, catch the Kamalan bus, which runs regularly and directly to Yilan. The bus ride is around 1 hour and it transports you from a dynamic cityscape to the quaint townships in Yilan. Yilan consists of Yilan City itself as well as other townships, such as Toucheng, Luodong, and Jiaoxi. Travelling around Yilan to these townships is extremely easy via the local train lines.
Snap some adorable pictures at Jimi Square in Yilan
Located next to Yilan station is Jimi Square by the famous Taiwanese illustrator, Jimmy Liao, where there are several cute life-size sculptures. These colorful and pretty sculptures offer visitors great photography opportunities next to them.
The concept is traveling, and you can pose near the giant luggage and the ‘traveler’ sculptures around the park. The park is not big and you would probably spend less than 30 minutes there.
Across the road, there is one more figurine of a girl and a boy waiting by the bus shop, which is super adorable. Along the street, you can also opt to purchase a postcard with images of these figurines from the machine. You can mail it out locally or internationally with the mailbox beside it at no additional cost. A pen is conveniently located by the machine too, so send your love from Yilan!
Chill at Mr Brown Castle Cafe in Toucheng
Mr Brown Castle Cafe can be found around Taiwan but this outlet is specially located in a castle uphill of Toucheng. Toucheng can be easily accessed by the train from Yilan but since the cafe is located uphill, you need to drive or take a taxi from the train station. The taxi will charge a flat rate of 300 TWD (9.30 USD) from the station to the cafe, which takes around 15 minutes. Once you are done, get the taxi booking number from the cafe staff and reserve your taxi to come and pick you up from the cafe. Unfortunately the cafe staff is unable to contact the booking line for all customers. The return fare is also 300 TWD (9.30 USD).
The cafe is open until 7 pm daily and the second level seating closes at 5 pm. You can sit on its first level if you arrive late. The cafe serves a good range of coffees, cakes and main dishes, such as pasta. The main attraction of this cafe is the castle, where you can head to its open space on the 3rd floor for a good view of the surroundings.
If you are in Toucheng, you may also want to check out the Lanyang Museum. Do note that they are closed on Tuesdays.
Soak in the hot springs of Jiaoxi
Jiaoxi township is well-known for its hot springs. If you intend to stay a night in Jiaoxi, there are many hotels offering in-room hot spring tubs or public hot spring tubs in the hotel. Alternatively, head to Tang-wei-gou Park and enjoy the public hot spring, which is open for free for your tired feet. You will see many people soaking their feet in the hot springs around the park. Bring a towel with you, or you can buy one from the shop.
Try out the local snacks at Luodong Night Market
At Yilan station, there is Dongmen Night Market, but if you are looking for a larger market, head towards Luodong Station for Luodong Night Market. The night market is an 8-minute walk from the station, so ask around if you cannot find the market. Yilan is famous for its scallion pancakes so you will see many stores selling that. Besides that, there are also many delicious snacks to try out. One interesting stall is that selling the stinky fries. Most visitors to Taiwan would be familiar with the stinky tofu (fermented beancurd), which you will either love or hate. The stinky fries smell the same, but they are to die for with the cheesy sauce. A favorite top sauce is the Thai spicy sauce, so take your pick!
A day or overnight trip
For time-starved visitors, Yilan can be explored within a day and you can head back to Taipei in the evening after the night market. For those who have more time, book a room in Jiaoxi and relax in their hot springs. Yilan has many more natural attractions so you could even stay up to a week if you are interested to explore each of them!