Yi-lan, a green gem at the foot of Xue-shan
Embedded between the high mountains and sea, Yi-lan is akin to a green gem shaped like an equilateral triangle, each side is 30 kilometers long.
On the west side is the second tallest mountain in Taiwan Xue-shan, at 3886 meters above sea level; The Central Mountains is on the north side, and the Pacific Ocean is on the east side.
Volcanic island Gui-shan Island off the coast shines upon the blue ocean. Despite the capital glowing in all its splendor, this rural city next to it still remains colorful in its own right.
You must travel over mountains and hike Dan-lan Historic Trail in order to explore this mountain city.
You have the options of choosing the railway and many highways. Each highway gives you a completely different experience.
Taking Provincial Coastal Highway 2, you'll come across one of the most beautiful sea scenery in Taiwan, the spectacular Exotic Rocks in Northeast Coast.
Coming from Taipei Yi-lan Provincial Highway 9, you'll experience the landscape diversity from hills to conifer forests and to Ping-lin Tea Village.
The zigzaggy mountain roads of Taipei Yi-lan Provincial Highway 9 could cause carsickness, which may not be pleasant.
Upon entering Yi-lan County, the entire plain and Gui-shan Island will suddenly appear before your eyes.
The biking path is popular right now, challenging cyclers to get to Yi-lan from Taipei.
From Tao-yuan, take Northern Cross-Island Highway, which is one of the three major cross-island highways in Taiwan. It was initially a designated military road during the Japanese colonial era. The beautiful scenery along the way makes you forget about the rough drive.
From Nantou or Taichung, take Central Cross-Island Highway, which will take you to two of the three major alpine farms in Taiwan, Cing-jing Farm and Wu-ling Farm. You can also stop by Qi-lan Mountain to check out the national treasure Taiwan Red Cypress.
Since the opening of Xue-shan Tunnel in 2006, the National Highway No. 5 journey has shortened significantly.
Xue-shan Tunnel is the longest tunnel in Taiwan, making it the sixth longest highway tunnel in Asia and the ninth longest in the world.
The Taiwanese government collaborated with Discovery in filming the Xue-shan Tunnel documentary. The film broke the record for the highest TV rating in Taiwan in the year the tunnel was opened.
Su-au Harbor was built around its unique terrain. Not only does it allow for warships to berth, but also acts as a distribution center for fish harvesting in northeast Taiwan.
There are myriad attractions in Yi-lan, including unique parks, hot springs, historic trails, museums and good places to surf.