The port of Hualien, set on the Pacific Ocean midway down Taiwan's mountainous east coast, is the gateway to Taroko National Park. The scenic park is renowned for its breathtaking Taroko Gorge, a 12-mile long, steep marble-walled canyon. This is the place to get back to nature and away from the country's sprawling cities.
A number of restaurants in the Hualien area are known for their aboriginal cuisine, making this a top port for adventurous eaters. You can get your culture fix along with a tasty lunch at rustic, open-air restaurants run by Taiwan's indigenous tribes. The dishes, served family style for sharing, include bamboo rice (rice steamed and served inside a stalk of bamboo), fried pumpkin, roast boar, smoked chicken, local carp and super fresh wild veggies.
The city of Hualien itself is the world's second largest exporter of marble (the first being in Italy). Look out for sidewalks paved with the pale gray to white stone.