In the past 2 years, we’ve stayed in Luodong 3 times. Luodong is one of the largest towns in Yilan, if not bigger than Yilan city. We find Luodong the most convenient to explore sights in town and nearby attractions like Toucheng by train or scooter/car. The town is lively, and a lot of traditional vendors and shops are still around.
The traditional arts center is outside of Luodong, but quick to get to from Luodong with a scooter or car (about 15 minutes). It is best to avoid visiting in the summer, as many attractions are outdoors. Though, we also found indoor theater performances and restaurants to cool down. I have been here a few times as a kid with my family, and I had lots of fun taking Tony here to see traditional toys and arts. Even though we also see traditional sights in Taipei, it was nice learning more about the history behind them.
Hiking to waterfalls at Xinliao trail (新寮瀑布步道)
We spent a morning hiking at this beautiful trail a bit outside of Luodong. The trail gets crowded later in the morning, so we rented a 50cc scooter early. The scooter ride was smooth at the beginning without much traffic and we went through the countryside with many rice fields. The old scooter had a little trouble climbing the hill later on, a heavier scooter or car would be more ideal. The trail was not hard, and took us about 1.5 hours round trip. As the trail went up, we saw many different waterfalls and the uppermost one was certainly the most epic one and worth the climb. The trail is sometimes closed from falling rocks or weather damage, and I’d recommend checking the official website for trail closure.
Taking a walk in Luodong Forestry Culture Park (羅東林業文化園區)
We spent about an hour walking in the forest park that used to be a wood processing and storage center back in the logging era. In the Japanese colonization period, a railroad line was paved to transport the logs from Tai-Ping Mountain (太平山) to Luodong. Since logging went downhill in the 80s, the old locomotives and Japanese office and dormitory buildings are preserved for tourism these days. We took a relaxing walk on the wooden boardwalk, surrounded by trees in the middle of the city.
Luodong night market
Fried scallion buns at San-Xing Green Onion Pancakes (三星蔥多餅)
This is one of our favorite snacks in the night market, and hard to find elsewhere. The bun is filled with green onions, thrown to the fryer then served hot. I still cannot forget the fresh scallion taste together with the warm fried bun.
Taiwanese style wraps at Cheng’s (鄭記潤餅)
The wrap is one of my favorite traditional Taiwanese food, it is light and has a variety of ingredients. The wrap is made of very thin flour skin, and the fillings usually consist of cooked vegetables (cabbage and bean sprouts are the most common), bean curds, optional meat, and topped with sprinkles of cilantro and peanut powder. This wrap joint has been at the night market for 60 years, and I got a roll to go.
Scallion pancakes at Yi-Feng Scallion Pie (義豐蔥油派)
We make frozen scallion pancake for breakfast often, and could not pass a chance to try this popular green onion pancake joint. Their pancakes are a bit on the oily side, but it was full of scallions and we shared one with egg as a guilty pleasure.
Since Sanxing village in Yilan is famous for its green onions, the scallion skewers are also a popular item in the night market. There are several vendors, but this time we couldn’t find the friendly vendor where we got the skewers from last year. The fresh scallions are wrapped in a thin meat slice (usually pork) and we got one skewer each.
The most popular vendor in the night market goes to a lamb soup joint (阿灶伯當歸羊肉湯). There is almost always a line anytime, and people get their lamb dishes – satay lamb with optional noodles/rice and lamb soup. We were not fans of lamb but would be curious to try their stinky tofu and maybe lamb noodles sometime. Another vendor we tried was stinky tofu fries (臭薯條) – stinky tofu in fries form. It and it was pretty good and unique with a couple of sauces to choose from.
Okonomiyaki at Mizuki Shokudo (水沐食堂)
The soul food restaurant is run by a Japanese owner and we always come back whenever we are in Luodong. The restaurant is small and does not take reservations, the location is a few minute’s walk from the Luodong night market. It’s hard to find okonomiyaki here with flavor like in Japan, and there are a bunch of toppings to customize. During our two visits on two different trips, we also tried yakisoba, salmon onigiri, and karaage (fried chicken) – everything was plainly delicious. At the time of writing, they are working on a new menu and I look forward to our next visit.
Fresh soup dumplings at “Normal” Xiaolongbao (正常鮮肉小湯包)
We also visited this soup dumpling joint twice on two separate trips. The restaurant is on the traditional spectrum, with staff making dumplings by hand and steaming them in the storefront. The soup dumplings are distinctly good, with juicy meat and fresh green onions wrapped in thin dumpling skin. The menu is simple, and I always got a hot and sour soup mixed with vinegar. They have other locations in Yilan city and Jiaoxi, and this Luodong location is only open for breakfast and lunch. They get a line almost anytime, a lot for takeout as well.
Stone hot pot at Ding Fong hot pot (鼎楓火鍋)
My sister interned in Luodong for a few months, and she strongly recommended this hot pot. We made a reservation and had a memorable dinner here. Hot pot is quite common here and we get it about once a month at least, and the way they stand out is to stir fry a few ingredients (garlic, scallion, onion, pepper) in the pot before adding in the broth. The broth became extra flavorful, and I enjoyed the peeled chili with clams a lot.
We took an express train from Taipei to Luodong in less than 90 minutes, as Luodong is one of the biggest stops in Yilan. Unfortunately, public transit is not very developed within Yilan as most locals have a scooter and/or car. For farther sights like the hiking trail and traditional arts center, we had to rent a scooter. However, the attractions in Luodong are pretty walkable, and I’d recommend staying near the train station or Luodong night market to minimize the walk.
As many towns are becoming developed with more modern restaurants and stores, I hope to see the traditional vendors staying around for decades to come. We will be back to Luodong for another getaway for sure, hopefully after I get the scooter license to explore more of Yilan.