After visiting Fangliao & Taitung, we proceeded to Hualien for 2 nights in Hualien City. As it was my first time to Hualien, I decided to be a “typical tourist” to check out the most-visited tourist attraction in the county, i.e. Taroko Gorge. Therefore staying in Hualien City was an obvious choice for us given its accessibility to connect to major sights as well as to other parts of Taiwan. As Hualien is a popular tourist destination, there is a myriad of accommodation options in the city to choose from, from hostels, guest houses to hotels, so quite some time was spent on researching for the option that best fitted our requirements. In the end, we picked 500KM Home because of the following reasons:
- Location: At first, we thought of picking a hotel in the city, for convenience like having an elevator, near shops etc. But we realised that if we want to be surrounded by night markets, shops etc, yet still hope to enjoy sea view, it would be a tough search as most affordable hotels are located inland. 500KM Home is situated on 106 Beibin Street, which is right next to the coast, yet just a 7-min walk from night markets, so we can have the best of both worlds. 🙂
- Price: 500KM Home is quite reasonably priced at 2,200 TWD per weekend night (~S$102.65) for a twin-sharing sea-facing (sunrise) room. There was also a promotion going on where we could enjoy 10% discount for the subsequent second night of stay, so the average cost per night became 2,000 TWD (~S$93.30). For the type of accommodation we were eyeing, this was the lowest price. Hotels were at least around S$120 per night for twin-sharing room.
房费：伍百里的住宿费合理，周末以及假日的海景（迎曦）双人房，一晚是台币2,200元。我们预订的时候，也享有第二晚入住的9折优惠，所以一晚的平均价格为台币2,000元。比起其他我们看上的同等住宿，这是最合理的。饭店一晚至少要新币120元左右，相等于台币 2,580 元。
- Other factors: Generally, I prefer to stay in newer accommodation if I can find one with similar good location & price. 500KM Home only welcomed its first guests in July 2016, a relatively new minsu of barely 1 year old. This certainly was a plus point. Another good thing about 500KM was separate beds were placed in twin-sharing rooms, unlike most other minsus where it would usually be 1 double bed. Through my interactions with the owner prior to booking, I found that they were quite service-oriented too. Since Taiwan is quite well known for its hospitable minsu culture, we decided to abandon the idea of a hotel stay, & book a 2-night stay in a minsu for the unique experience.
By the time we arrived at the minsu, it was already evening 6+pm. The friendly Tsai family was all prepared to check us into our sunrise room on level 4. While there were no elevators in the minsu, Mr Tsai & his son acted promptly by bringing our luggages up to the room in no time, without us asking for assistance.
The room was decked in my favourite colour (coincidentally), & looks exactly like the photos we saw online. Despite being only 18 sqm, the compact room didn’t feel too cramped. Besides air-con, there was also a standing electric fan which we could use below the LCD TV mounted on the wall. All basic amenities such as kettle, TV with cable channels, chairs, coffee & tea, bottled water & even a small but elegant dressing table could be found. On each floor of the minsu, there was a dedicated router along the hallway so the free Wi-Fi connection was stable & strong throughout. There was also a water dispenser just outside our room where we could get hot & cold drinking water, so the kettle was hardly used. Most importantly, the beds & pillows provided were very comfortable for a good night’s rest.
Besides the pleasant & comfortable room, we could also use the laundry area at the rooftop as we wish for free. Liquid detergent was also provided free of charge by the owner. Given that we had already accumulated many days of dirty clothing since the last wash at Inn By The Village, we did our laundry at 500KM Home as well. 😉 On a clear day, the view from the rooftop was great too, as I saw it with my own eyes on the morning we were to check out.
Breakfast was also lovely at the common lounge on the ground floor of the minsu. While it wasn’t buffet style like typical hotels, I could tell that the mother & son duo put in great efforts to make sure the breakfast set not only looked presentable, but also tasty while infusing some local flavours into the meal.
Our first breakfast was a simple but filling ham & egg wholemeal sandwich set served with sweet potatoes & dragon fruit (top pic), while the yummy egg roll (local breakfast specialty) was served with salad & fruit on the second morning. We could also choose coffee, tea or milk to perk us up for the day. I especially enjoyed the egg roll as it was a local specialty which was really delicious & resembles the roti prata in Singapore, albeit less oily.
During breakfast, the affable Mrs Tsai would chat about anything under the sun with us, from beautiful sights in Hualien, where we had visited so far, to why the family decided to move to Hualien from Chiayi and so on… Although we didn’t really know the family before checking into 500KM Home, they felt like old friends to us. The entire minsu was just so cosy & homely.
Mrs Tsai mentioned to us that the green wall where the TV is mounted with guest scribblings was actually an accidental design, as what the interior designer originally designed did not meet their expectations. Thus they decided to clean off what was done & repainted the wall. Many guests have commented the new design looks artistic & cosy. In fact, this has become the favourite spot for photo-taking with guests before checking out, including us. We found this piece of accidental art very beautiful too. 🙂
To conclude, we didn’t regret choosing to stay at 500KM Home in Hualien City. Not only does it offer a wallet-friendly price with good location, the impeccable service from the owner was truly commendable. Just to cite some examples, we asked them to help us book train tickets to Taipei as we heard tickets sell like hot cakes the moment they are released 2 weeks before actual date. In addition, we also made last-minute changes to our pre-booked Taroko Gorge day tour through them but they didn’t seem irritated with such last-minute requests too. The best part of their service? Due to bad weather throughout our stay in Hualien, we didn’t get to enjoy as much as we had hoped for, so Mr & Mrs Tsai decided to bring us around the city on a quick drive on our last morning before our train departed for Taipei!
I would certainly recommend you to stay at 500KM Home for your next Hualien trip, so that you can enjoy authentic Taiwanese hospitality. If you are travelling in a big group of up to 21 pax, you can book the whole minsu, & even use the BBQ pit available for guests. It is an experience that will make you feel so at home with ease!