Day Trip in Yilan 宜蘭一日游

Yilan is often described as the secret garden for Taipei city dwellers. It is highly accessible by private car and scheduled buses and trains from Taipei Station.

Jiaoxi Station 礁溪車站

We took a day tour package that would assemble at Jiaoxi Station 礁溪車站, and then transfer to a seven seater SUV to go around Luodong area 羅東.

Luodong Sports Park 羅東運動公園

First two stops of the tour, a local park and then an old ancestral house. Absolutely a waste of our tour time. Not recommended.

Luodong Sports Park 羅東運動公園

E-Long 宜農牧場

Fourty plus years ago, Kelin Village 柯林村, Dongshan Township, Yilan, was a village full of wild Kezai trees 柯仔樹 (Taiwan alder). The place was sparsely populated but rich in forage resources. It took a long time for a car to pass by, and E-Long Ranch is just right there. But with the opening of the Luodong Sport Parks further down the road, traffic increased and more and more people took noticed of this quiet little retreat.

Kelin Village started the dairy farming business of raising goats. At that time, goats were raised for grazing. A large number of goats could graze freely on Kelin Road. Every morning, many Yilan residents would receive the fresh goat milk from E-Long delivered directly to their doorsteps. With the car traffic, grazing has to stop, and all feeding are done inside the farm.

Highlight of the tour – goat feeding

Very fun for a city kid as Princess ran around the farm and fed the goats and pigs. Highly recommended for families with young children.

E-Long 宜農牧場

A tourist trap before lunch, so called toilet stop. Not worth even to mention here.

Ba Jia Leisure Fish Farm 八甲休閒魚場

Ayu 鮎 or Sweetfish is aptly called 香鱼 (fragrant fish) in Chinese. Ayu is a freshwater fish and a cousin of the trout. It is seasonal and only those caught in summer are primed for consumption. But these days, the Taiwanese has figured out how to farm them commercially. And Yilan has the highest concentration ayu farms in Taiwan as Yilan is famous of the quality of their spring water. This is one of those ayu farms in Yilan that has combined aquaculture with tourism.

The ponds in their farm are equipped with a series of weirs to simulate a constant current flow, providing conditions similar to a natural upstream river environment. This helps them raise ayu that are lean and firm with a delicate, refined flavour. However, farmed ayu are usually fattier than wild caught ayu, and this can affect the flavour of the grilled ayu.

As part of the visit, lunch was served. Everyone was served a four-course set meal that came with 鮎の塩焼き Grilled sweetfish with salt. We ordered another fish that was farmed in their farm. Sturgeon produces caviar but in these condition, the sturgeon is raised for meat.

Ba Jia Leisure Fish Farm 八甲休閒魚場

Kavalan Distillery 金車噶瑪蘭威士忌酒廠

While Taiwanese tea is well-known amongst the whole world, only few know the brewing industry in Taiwan. On the awarding list of World Whiskies Awards 2015 and 2016, the best single malt whiskey is neither from Scotland nor Ireland, but Kavalan Whiskey Distillery in Yilan, Taiwan. Time Magazine even picks the headline “Sorry, Scotland. Nice try, Japan” in their article to cover this whiskey from Taiwan.

Before all these happened, the impression of Kavalan within many Taiwanese people’s mind is limited on Mr Brown Coffee (伯朗咖啡), Boer Tea (波爾茶), or European castle theme cafe at Yilan Toucheng 頭城. Thanks to the award, now tourists of Yilan will include the factory in their schedule to see its grain storage tank, distillation site and huge cellar.

Starting from the entrance, you would see lots of scrapped oak barrels being placed along pathway and painted in different patterns. Oak barrels had been treated with high temperature flaming, and therefore give the deep color to whiskey. Only the spirits that had experienced storing in these barrels could be called as ‘whiskey’.

Through the touring route in the winery, you will be able to see the instruments of distillation. For visitors do not take alcohol, the second floor provides an glass-walled area, allowing them to gaze on this proud-worthy distillery of Taiwan with a cup of Mr Brown coffee or Boer tea.

Whiskey tasting

After the touring and back to the hall, you are welcomed to have a taste of various kinds of whiskey brewed here for free. And if you join the DIY blending tour (in Chinese only), you can blend a unique bottle of whiskey to bring home!

Kavalan Distillery 金車噶瑪蘭威士忌酒廠

Kingcar 金車礁溪蘭花園

One last stop before leaving Yilan, and one more opportunity for the tour guide to earn some commission. Another tourist trap but the nursery is beautiful though.

Besides horticulture, they are involved in aquaculture as well. If weather permits, the surrounding areas are equally beautiful.

Kingcar 金車礁溪蘭花園

Jiaoxi Station 礁溪車站

Yilan is a beautiful place and not too far away from Taipei. For city dwellers like us, this is a needed recluse from the stress of city life. You can join a day tour like we did, or just take a train to Jiaoxi 礁溪車站, Luodong 羅東車站 or Yilan 宜蘭車站 stations.

Visited in Aug 2011

2 comments on “Day Trip in Yilan 宜蘭一日游

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