The one thing you do during your stay in Hualien is hiking and being in awe. So if you want to do the “Old Trail” you have to prebook it. Since I am travelling off season I could do it at least two days before that (the permit costs 100NT$ and you need to bring your passport/ID).
I took the bus (one-day-ticket 250NT$; two-day-ticket 400NT$) and got off at the visitor center, where you have to get your permit apporved by the police and then take another bus to the Swallos Grotto – this is the entrance to the trail. Here you have to show another document (the hostel will prepare it for you, no worries) and identify yourself again and then sign a sheet when you enter the trail and when you leave again. They let 60 people on it per day! Originally this was the was for the natives to cross the mountains and to trafe their belongings with other tribes. Now the 10k trail is shortened to a 3k trail with a very dangerous, edgy end, due to typhoons. I would highly recommend it and also tell youbtonstart with this one first and then maybe do another one on your way back, if you feel like it;)
I was really exhausted and sort of hitch hiked back to Hualien for the first time in my life. Everyone I met on that trail was irritated that I was hiking and travelling on my own and then this one couple organised a ride home for me. My driver was really nice, he gave me his card and then his wife even invited me over for dinner. Although I refused because I already had other plans and I am pretty sure she meant lunch (the literally did not speak any English), he bought me something to drink and some lunch (I had already eaten but when it comes to food nobody in Asia believes you, if you say that you are not hungry. They geed you anyway) and then brought me to the train station.