Pronounced illan, Yilan city is located in North Eastern Taiwan and approximately 2 hours by bus from Tayoyuan airport (where we left from to get to Yilan). If in Taipei, it is also accessible via train.
Located on Taiwan’s second largest plain, the environment showcases luscious plains and reminds us somewhat of Hawaii.
We stayed here overnight, with the prime intention of visiting some hot springs and the Kavalan Distillery.
Kavalan Distillery is famous for producing world renowned whisky.
With many of their expressions gaining international acclaim, the profile being powerful and bold cask strength whiskies aged in sherry casks. The size of the operation was impressive with a number of stills in operation and large barrel storage facilities, we did a self guided tour. But you can also arrange guided tours and blend your own whiskies at a price of $1500 TWD (for the blending).
We then went to sample some of the finished product, everyone is entitled to one tasting.
There is also the opportunity to sample their core whisky bottled at 40% alcohol, a floral sweet whisky, similar to the Japanese expressions. For a fee of TWD300 roughly AUD25, you can sample the whisky that has gained Kavalan notoriety, you get to pick 4 whiskies including a number of expressions that will explode with flavour and send your tastebuds into overdrive. We sample the award winning Vinho Barrique, Manzanillo, PX and moscatel. The Manzanillo cask a standout in this tasting.
Following this, we headed to the shop to purchase some of their fine product. The distillery is easily accessible from Yilan on the 12 bus and costs TWD20 just under AUD$1 for the bus ride.
Dongmen Night Markets
The night markets are a lively scene with an array of street vendors serving all sorts of delights. We simply couldn’t pass up some delicious street meat, whole BBQ squid on a skewer and BBQ chicken skewers.
There were also an assortment of dumplings to get into, both steamed and pan fried. We enjoyed the panfied dumplings, very similar to Japanese Gyoza and added a bit of vinegar, soy sauce and chilli oil. So much flavour and oh so cheap.
As you’d expect there’s plenty of Mochi and bubble teas.
This was a great cafe we found in Yilan. Serving up good quality coffee and especially good tea too. They have western style continental breakfast where you can choose your own add ons.
Louisa Coffee is also good for a cold brew, filter or milk based coffee.
This town is in Yilan County. As we were staying in Yilan itself, we caught a train that took approximately ten minutes to reach Jiaoxi a town with plenty of hot springs. If you’re staying in this town, it seems pretty much every hotel has some form of a hot spring.
Since we were only visiting, we chose to visit the Art Spa hotel as we could pay a $300 TWD for us of the springs.
The town has a much more happening vibe than Yilan with neon lights, plenty of eateries, stores selling aquatic goods for use in the spas and the town is bustling with tourists.
There’s plenty of places to stay in the area, whether it be a BnB, hostel or hotel. Jiaoxi is pricer, probably due to the hot springs but you can always find places ranging from at least $15 AUD to high end. We stayed in Yilan city at $60 in Shen Nong Village. 5 mins from the bus stop and clean and it had the necessary facilities.
We got from Yilan to Jiaoxi on a train which only took ten mins. In Yilan itself we traveled by foot and bus mostly or taxi (when with luggage). It was super cheap to get around.
Feel free to reach out if you have any questions regarding travelling to this region.