Down in the east coast of Taiwan you can find the small town of Dulan. Good vibes and a friendly atmosphere are a perfect place to go surfing. Did you know that you can also go hiking in Dulan?
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Most tourists, foreigners and Taiwanese alike, make their way to Dulan to go surfing. It’s a perfect place to learn how to surf and some days, when a typhoon is coming, you also get bigger waves.
I spent my summer relaxing in this peaceful town while workawaying at Wagaligong Surf Hostel. During all this time I went surfing lots of times and also explored the region, a nearby trip that I highly recommend is to go camping in Sanxiantai!
Being squeezed in between the sea and the mountains, no matter where you are in Dulan you will always have the presence of the nearby Dulan Mountain as an unmissable sight when you’re in town.
After my experience staying for a few weeks in Dulan, I recommend that if you go surfing in Dulan you should aim to visit for 3-5 days as the wave’s cycle was kind of coming on that range, if you go for only a couple of days you may find a complete flat beach.
Whether there are no waves or you’d like a rest from the beach, hiking Dulan mountain is the second best thing to do in Dulan!
MY HIKING ESSENTIALS
Dulan Mountain is a sacred place where the local aboriginal Amis and Puyuma tribes still go to worship and pray to the spirits of their ancestors.
At 1190m above sea level this is the tallest mountain in the southern section of the coastal mountain range.
How to get to Dulan
Taiwan is a perfect country to travel around even on a short holiday, it’s pretty small and well connected by trains which tend to be the same price or even cheaper than buses.
Being such a small town, Dulan has no train station though, so you need to go towards Taitung city and from there take any of these buses to Dulan: 8101, 8102, 8103, 8109, 8119, 8120 (some of these buses go from the bus station, not the train station). The bus journey takes 20 minutes.
If you’re in Taipei, sometimes can be hard to get a train ticket straight to Taitung (been there). If that happens, get a ticket to Hualien and once there get a ticket to Taitung. Easy!
Where to stay in Dulan
As I was doing a workaway there, I was of course staying at Wagaligong Surf Hostel, if you cannot book online just send them a message on their website as they normally have rooms and dorms available. There are also a few other hostels in Dulan.
Hiking in Dulan Mountain
The trail of Dulan Mountain officially starts at around 600m above sea level. And you can get there only if you have a scooter or car.
If you’re moving by bus, hitchhiking or just walking all the way from Dulan town (which is only 4Km away) you will find a small uphill way diverting from the main highway with a small sign pointing to the Dulan Mountain Trail.
There’s a bus stop next to this road called “Nanjunjie” and you can get there from Dulan or from Taitung.
As I started early in the morning to avoid the hottest hours of the day there were no buses yet, so I hitchhiked (waiting time of about 1 minute!)
Unfortunately, the guy that picked me up didn’t know exactly where to stop and I didn’t pay much attention, so when I asked him to drop me off I was 4Km past the start of the trail on the opposite direction from where I was originally.
All in all, my hike was exactly as if I would have started walking straight from Dulan.
If you hitchhike from Dulan, the ride shouldn’t last for more than a couple of minutes, check your GPS so you don’t repeat my experience! 🙂
Once I walked the 4 Km by the highway I found the way towards Dulan Mountain.
From this point, almost at sea level, the hike is 8Km long and about 1250m of vertical climb.
If you’re riding a scooter and start at the trail entrance the hike will be just 3.8Km and some 650m of climbing.
Starting from the bottom is of course more challenging. Even a bit boring as a hike is not supposed to be on a paved way. This section is hot as it’s not well covered by trees BUT it does offer some stunning views of the coast and surrounding mountains!
From the bottom start, by the main road, to the trail entrance takes just 1 hour to climb.
The Dulan Mountain Trail
Once you climb the 4Km of the paved road, the sight of the trail is exactly what you’re looking for! no crowds, no elaborated gates. Just a small mountain trail!
By the entrance you have an informative board with the profile of what lies ahead.
The start is gentle and on a lush green forest, it quickly becomes a steady climb with almost no flat areas. The humidity is the worst factor here, fortunately, the trail is mostly covered by trees so you don’t get much direct sun.
What I loved more about this trail is that is not as civilised as other touristy places where the mountain is transformed into a safe attraction. Dulan Mountain is still wild!
Up to a certain extent…
There are sections of steep climbs that have support ropes and in some places there are even staircases.
The terrain can be slippery at times, even in summertime, because of the tropical rains and typhoons. You can expect to go through some muddy places so make sure to go with good footwear!
I went on a weekday and the mountain was almost empty, I only counted 7 other people in total.
All over the trail you have markers every 250m that also indicate the current altitude. That’s always good for you to know where you are and how long you still have to go.
At the 1.4Km mark there’s a beautiful scenic look facing west (inland) towards the town of Luye.
The Puyuma Sacrificial Altar is a boulder with the character “Puyuma” inscribed on it, which means “unity”.
Once you reach the Puyuma Sacrificial Altar, which is at the 2.3Km mark of the 3.8Km total trail. there’s a flattish narrow section which will also go a bit steeply down.
This only means one thing, there’s more climbing ahead!
I found this section between the Puyuma Altar and the summit of Dulan Mountain the most technical as it was up and down on slippery rocks and muddy terrain. It was my favourite part!
You also get some clear sections on the trail with stunning views of the coast. Enjoy these views…
…Because once I arrived to the summit it was a bit underwhelming though as the trees are still pretty big and the ocean views are almost non-existent so don’t expect to have any views at all.
It took me in total 3 hours to get from the highway to the summit.
After a bit of a rest it was simply time to retrace my steps back down.
Excluding the non-existent views at the top, hiking Dulan Mountain was a really cool day out. The trail is really fun and you do feel like you’re out in the mountains!
You should definitely go hiking in Dulan mountain if you’re on this part of Taiwan!
What to take when hiking in Dulan Mountain
This is not the most strenuous hike out there, but it can be physically demanding and the humidity can make it really hard if you start late in the day.
As with any hike, make sure to get some snacks and proper food. I took some Oniguiris from the 7Eleven and some chocolate sandwiches they sell which are delicious when you’re in the mountain!
Of course, plenty of water is always required for a hike. If you’re hiking in the Taiwanese summer, make sure to take even more water than you’d normally carry as some days the humidity can be unbearable.
You could hike Dulan Mountain with sneakers but I was happy that I took my hiking boots as the rains of the previous days meant that there were muddy patches and slippery rocks!
Camping in Dulan Mountain
Although I only went hiking for the day and didn’t stay camping I always keep an eye for possible beautiful camping spots.
All the way up on the trail of Dulan Mountain there are no many spots for camping as the trail tends to be narrow. Right by the summit there’s a small area where you could certainly pitch a tent.
However, there are no views at all.
If you definitely want to camp in Dulan Mountain you can surely find a spot. But perhaps not the most scenic one.
Having said that…
On my way up to the mountain, just before the trail actually starts, I met a friendly local landowner which gave a brief history lesson in the area.
He mentioned that until a few years ago, before his house was built. He would sometimes find people camping on his land, he has no issues about it.
MY CAMPING ESSENTIALS
I think this is the best spot for camping in Dulan Mountain if that’s what you’re looking for. All the way up on the paved road there are only a handful of houses. The one I mean is the very last one.
Keep walking up the road for a minute and you will find a big concrete water tank, this is right on a beautiful field with incredible views. This is what I think is the best spot for camping in Dulan Mountain!
If you end up camping in Dulan Mountain, be careful with the snakes. There are also supposed to be monkeys so do not leave food or plastic stuff around.
What else about Dulan?
Even if you’re not looking to go surfing or hiking in Dulan. This is still a pretty chilled place to visit where you can also learn about the local aboriginal Amis people.
Walk a little bit towards the mountain and you will find archaeological remains.
There’s a bit of an arty vibe in town and the highlight of the week is every Saturday night at the old Sugar Factory, where there’s always live music.
During the day, the Sugar Factory also doubles as a craft market for local artists.
The black sand beach is normally deserted and it’s also a perfect place to relax.
Another option, but this is already an overnight one, is to take a ferry to the nearby Green island or the farther Orchid island.
For such a small town, there are actually quite a few things to do in Dulan!
Check out the rest of my backpacking adventures in Taiwan and feel free to drop any comments or questions if you’re planning to go hiking in Dulan!