Things to do
Home to sixty-three Taoist temples, Yilan City has a busy calendar of religious festivals. Some of the biggest celebrations take place in February and March, to honour the god of justice and protection, Cheng Huang. Watch colourful parades wind through the streets, with people carrying sedan chairs topped with ornate religious statues. Yilan was also the birthplace of Taiwanese opera – the National Center for Traditional Arts in nearby Wuje is the place to experience this historic art form.
Taiwan is famous for its night markets packed with stalls upon stalls of ‘small eats’. Yilan City has its fair share of street food to seek out, too. You’ll find plenty of regional (and reasonably well-known) classics such as pearl tea and rice noodles with mushrooms at Dongmen Night Market. Some more unusual specialities include the deceptively named ox-tongue biscuit. This delicate, flaky pastry is flavoured with coffee, green tea or sesame – and has nothing to do with ox tongue apart from its shape.
With a boutique hotel base in Yilan City, you’ll be well placed to explore the wider county. Follow woodland trails in Taipingshan National Forest Park, with its lakes and trickling waterfalls. Take a trip out to Guishan Island for a day of whale and dolphin watching. Or seek out the region’s many volcanic hot springs for a natural spa experience.