Travelers visiting Taiwan typically plan to check out these cities: Taipei, Hualian, Taidong, and Kenting. On the east side, there’s a county called Yilan (宜蘭) where my family and I often go for one-day road trips.
An hour southeast of Taipei, Yilan is easiest to reach via a rental car and driving through the Snow Mountain Tunnel (雪山隧道). The county is completely untapped by international tourists, so much so that it’s rare to encounter any foreigners on the streets. It’s probably why my family loves escaping to this local province, not to mention, Yilan is also my mother’s hometown.
Since Taiwan is one of the top visited countries by Jetset Times viewers, I wanted to share this hidden gem particularly with our Singaporean and Malaysian readers. There are quite a few to-dos you can put on your list the next time you visit this tropical island.
Lize Old Street / 利澤老街
Wujie Township, Yilan, Taiwan 268 五結利澤簡老街 (map)
A street hard to find, but Lize (pronounced: lee-ze) old street takes you back to vintage Taiwan during 1960s. Old movie theaters that feature famous novels turned to films, an old hospital run by three generations of doctors, a pastry shop selling delicious onion and mung bean cakes, a sweet cafe making fresh lemonade and a temple dedicated to Mazu – the Chinese patron goddess who is said to protect seafarers, fishermen and sailors.
Dazhangmian / 大章麵
XinMin Road #24, Yilan, Taiwan 宜蘭市新民路24號 (map)
Yilan is known for its perfectly cut and cooked noodles. A trip to this county would be incomplete without spending all day devouring in its yimian (thin noodles). The best noodle restaurant in town is Dazhangmian, which comes with a unique story centering around the patriarch of the noodle restaurant. Ever since he gambled all the money away, he’s been obligated to make noodles for life. He might not like it, but the rest of us are happy since he truly serves the best bowls of noodles in town. It’s open from 2pm until past midnight. There’s usually a long line outside. Once you’re in, make sure to order shacha noodle (沙茶麵) – a Chinese condiment made from soybean oil, garlic, shallots, chilis, brill fish, and dried shrimp.
Yilan Dongmen Night Market / 宜蘭東門夜市
Hemu Rd, Yilan, Taiwan 宜蘭縣宜蘭市聖後路 (map)
Night markets are such highlights of the Taiwanese culture, you simply can’t avoid it. Every province claims that it has the best night market in the country. Of course, a trip to Yilan is incomplete without visiting the Dongmen Night Market. There will be all kinds of food you can imagine, things that are dead and alive. There will be very cheap products you want to buy, from tech gadgets to fashion accessories. There will be games you might want to play, which are all located underneath a highway overpass. Even if you’re not hungry, be sure to walk through the market once to experience the buoyant energy.