Cycling in Taiwan Guide

Cycling in Taiwan can be very awesome. The Authorities here have made much effort in promoting cycling around the island and many bike paths had been laid out and more to come. Alone Kaohsiung City has 230km of bike path and more to come.

In this post, we will cover topics on
  • Bikepacking Taiwan Routes
  • Must Have Gears
  • Road Precaution and Suggestion
  • Best Time for Bikepacking
  • Giant Bike Rental Programme

We have done cycling in some parts of the island both off and on road but not cycling round the island however we did smaller islands. We have drove round the island many times, there are many good places to ride and some not practical. Some of the roads can be very dangerous.

Roads best avoided (too our knowledge)
  • Hualien to Yilan (too many heavy trucks and very dangerous tunnel road for cyclist)
  • Fangshan to Daren (heavy traffic as this is the only southern cross island road) 

Many locals have done round island trips, some even completed in 3 days. Generally it takes at least 8 days otherwise 2 weeks will be more practical.

We rather do the leisure way, there is no reason for us to cycle round the island and ended up seeing nothing. We will however prefer to bike and ride, it cuts down the riding time and spend more time visiting places. Use the train or buses network to get to location and start biking from there. Going back do the same.

Bikepacking Taiwan Routes
I have taken some time to create this map. Here are some suggested bike touring routes with placemarkers included. In this map included places of interest and camping area. Most of the placemarker comes with attached link either to our blog or someone else. There are many bike routes in Taiwan however these routes will be better suited for bike tourist. This is only a Guide. Most of the placemarkers were taken from Our Adventure Map

Routes worth cycling (estimated distance)
  • Fangliao to Kenting - 73km
  • Kenting to Taimali - 131km
  • Dawu to Hualien - 225km
  • Hualien to Sun Moon lake via Hehuan Shan - 180km
  • Hualien to Zhipen -181km

View Cycling in Taiwan Routes in a larger map 

Fangliao to Kenting (est 1 day 73km)
Take a train to Fangliao Train Station. From there this route will ride all the way down to the Southern part of the island where many have came to enjoy the sun, sand and sea, there are few beaches along the way. At Houbi Habour there are fresh Sashimi for a good price, I would suggest order just fried rice and sashimi.

In the evening the street of Kenting will be littered with Night Market stalls and pubs coming alive. There are couple of Homestays and campsites in Kenting where you can find easily and spend a night.   

Kenting to Taimali (est 2 days 131km)
From Kenting, this route will ride to the tip of the island and head to the east coast. There are few scenic areas along the way. Once after Kangkou Suspension Bridge, the route will take inland. Before reaching Kangzhi Great Desert, there will be a series of hill climbs but not very steep.

At Kangzhi, you can have a go with ATV in the desert. From Kangzhi to Syuhai the road is farily flat and a very nice biking route.

At Syuhai you can choose to camp at the campsite or head to Syuhai Hot Spring for a free spa. Remember you have to be fully naked or else the villagers will come kicking your ass. You can camp in this area for free if the gate is not lock, otherwise just camp outside the carpark

From Syuhai to Taimali, there will be a series of uphill climbs all the way till you hit route 9. After which it will be downhill all the way to Dawu. You can choose to camp at Dawu Beach park which I did but there is no toilet facilities, the nearest is at 7-11 before reaching Dawu Beach Park.

If you choose not to camp, head down to Taimali Beach Park which is our frequent camp ground. From Dawu Beach Park to Tamali, there will be a stretch of uphill. At Taimali Beach park, there is a toilet but no shower facilities but your can use the handicap toilet sink to fill with water and shower. This is a lovely place to camp, we enjoyed camping under the Casuarina trees.

Dawu to Hualien (est 3 days 225km)
Either take a train to Dawu or continue the journey from Taimali, this will be a beautiful scenic bike route. There are few eatery placemarkers worth trying and along the way there are camp grounds. If you choose not head to camp ground, there is a place called Jialulan Beach Park, there is a toilet but no shower. I would suggest camp behind the toilet or go further north of the park. After which just enjoy the bike ride up to Hualien and visit those scenic areas.

Hualien to Sun Moon Lake (est 6 days 180km)
This will be a very challenging stage. There will be very steep uphill climbs just near Hehuan Shan. This route will ride pass Taroko Scenic Area. It is wise to spent some time and hike the trails in Taroko. Two short day hike trails worth taking the time, Baiyang Trail will take you to a waterfall but do bring rain gears and Sakadan Trail which hikes along the river. For Sakadan Trail you can try asking the staff at the visitor centre to look after the bike. At Baiyang Campsite you can camp there for free, it is just a carpark with toilet. Just throw all the stuff in the tent including the bike and head for the trail.

Wenshan Hot Spring is worth visiting, it is free but taking the bike down and back up will be a challenge. There were campers camping at Wenshan Hot Spring before.

From Wenshan Hot Spring, the road to Hehuan Shan will be challenging. Before Hehuan Shan the road is very steep, at some point you might have to push the bike. After Hehuan Shan is Wuling and you will be cycling Taiwan's highest mountainous road at 3275m.

NOTE: Before heading this route, it is wise to stock up supplies in Hualien if planning to camp for a few days in Taroko. The next 7-11 is in Chingjing.

Heading to Chingjing Farm from Hehuan Shan will be mostly downhill from here. There are 7-11 in Chingjing where you can replenish supplies. There are also few camp grounds around the area. Chingjing is a place like "Alice in Wonderland", tour around the area and be fascinated.

From Chingjing heading to Sun Moon Lake will be a gliding trip, mostly downhill all the way. From Sun Moon lake you can take a bus back to Taipei, the bus info is on the map but do remember to carry a bike carrier otherwise you will be charge.

If you prefer to ride on to Yushan National Park, Alishan, head down to Chaiyi and catch a train back. Route to Yushan is mostly uphill but once after reaching Yushan Park it will be downhill all the way. (this route is not highlighted in the map)

Hualien to Zhipen (est 3 days 181km)
If not planning for a challenge in the mountains, this route will take you back south. There few hiking trails, river rafting and waterfalls along the way. For river rafting, you can try asking the rafting company to look after your bike or they can offer to bring the bike to the rafting end point for a fee. We did not try with our bikes but they took our vehicle to the ending point and we pick up from there.

At Zhipen, there are few camp ground and plenty of hot springs. There is National Park you might like to hike.

PS Cycling in Taiwan is not about challenging oneself to complete a round island trip. It is a challenge to visit as many places as possible. Given a local birth on this island till death, one will never be able to see Taiwan completely. This island has too many challenges for anyone of us to undertake.

  • Hualien to Yilan, best take a train.
  • 7-11 in Taiwan has everything you need to replenish for your trip
  • Police Station has rest stop to fix bike and yourself

Must Have Gear (try to go lightweight)
  • Bike Helmet
  • Bike Survival Tools (Read Here)
  • Rain Gears
  • Soft Bag Bike Carrier (got mine from Giant)
  • Spare duffel bag (for extra ration or gears)
  • Bungee cords
  • First Aid Kit
  • Camping Gears (tent, sleeping bag and mattress)
  • Multi-tool
  • Headlamp
  • Money and credit card
  • Identification
  • Emergency contact
  • Handphone (get from 7-11 local Sim card)
  • Cooksets (use Iwatani cassette cannister found in most 7-11 stores)
  • Hydration bag or bottle
  • Map

Road Precaution and Suggestion
  • Wear a bright coloured clothes or use a safety vest.
  • Keep close to the road shoulder
  • Avoid riding at night
  • Control speed when going downhill
  • Avoid mountain road after typhoon
  • Take down Giant emergency contact nos.

Best Time for Bikepacking
The locals will try to avoid Summer and if they have too, they will wrap themselves like Ninjas. The cooler period of the year starts after Aug till May, Winter is around late Dec to Mar. Best time is either Oct to Dec  or Mar to May. 

I would prefer from Oct to Dec, during this time, the river is still flowing and it is cool enough to visit hot spring. The Northern part of Taiwan has the most extreme temperature, either too cold or too hot compare to other parts of the island. However in the mountain area it can be very extreme. 

Giant Bike Rental Programme
Giant Bicycle Cooperation has a bike rental programme. Not many have known this as they kept a very low profile. Not many advertisement on it but in 2008 while visiting one of the shops, we saw a poster on the bike programme. We felt the deal was pretty worthwhile for tourist, rent a bike here and return to any Giant outlet around Taiwan.

The rental starts at NT1000 and subsequence day at NT200. Most of the bikes are kept in good condition but preferable to check it once more before attempting any trip. They will need one week notice for them to prepare the bike.

From my understanding, there are 3 different bike models, Giant Great Journey 1, Great Journey 2 and CRX. The Journey 1 & 2 comes with trekking handle bar (butterfly shaped) which is very pratical for touring. 

The rental of the bike covers
  • the bike
  • pair of waterproof panniers
  • tire pump
  • multi tool
  • front and rear lights
  • cable lock
Helmet is not included but you can try your luck asking.

Click here for Giant Bike Shops location, look for this icon on the right which means rental. They have attached phone contacts and addresses. It is in Mandarin but you can use Google Translate.

Below is a list of some shops with email contacts for bike rentals. If need to contact them by phone, it is best you have a Mandarin speaker. Otherwise send them email in English.
Hope you have enjoyed these information. Taiwan will reward you with the most beautiful experience. Enjoy your stay.  

PS Do not ask us about city routes, we dislike being in a city which is mostly on the western part. Taiwan beauty is in the East and Central Mountains. If you seen Taipei and Tainan, you seen all the cities in Taiwan.  

Cities Bike Path