You may know – and love – Taiwan for its vibrant night market scene, but the island is also a popular destination for cycling enthusiasts.
Cycling is more a way of life than a weekend hobby in the East Asian state, which was dubbed the “Bicycle Kingdom” in the 1970s. It’s home to Giant, the world’s largest bicycle manufacturer. Plus, it has made public infrastructure a lot more bike-friendly by widening pavements, offering cheap bike rentals and developing roadside restroom facilities that are large enough to accommodate bicycles.
Even more laudable is the strong support system Taiwan has put in place for cyclists. Police stations double up as rest stops that also offer water and bike repairs, while 7-Eleven stores have a postal service that cyclists can use to mail items such as clean clothes from one location to another along long routes.
Ultimately, it is Taiwan’s wonderfully diverse landscapes – stunning coastlines and majestic mountainous regions – that provide the greatest incentive for both the laidback holidaymaker and the keen adventurer to explore via bike. Here are five popular cycling routes in Taiwan you shouldn’t miss.
Keelung River Bicycle Trail
What: The Keelung River runs through the Shilin district in Taipei, with cycling trails on its left and right banks. Both routes meander through prettily manicured riverside parks, and are also close to attractions like the Shilin Night Market. Don’t forget to check out the spectacular Fountain of Hope light and water show at Dajia Riverside Park, which shoots jets of water up to 70m high.
Distance: The left and right banks are 18km and 17.5km respectively. You can do one side, or do a combined route by crossing over at Dazhi bridge.
Duration: 70–90 minutes.
How to get here: Take the train from Taipei station to Yuanshan station for access to the left bank, and to Danshui station for access to the right bank.
Sun Moon Lake Bike Paths
What: The famed Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan’s Central Mountain Range is home to several scenic and connected bike routes, including the famous Yuetan Bike Path. If you want to do something easy and short, try the Moon Lake Section of the Sun Moon Lake Bike Path, which kicks off at the Xiangshan Visitor Centre and continues on to Toushe Dam, Crescent Moon Bay and the mouth of Huantan Tunnel No 1. Cyclists can pedal along the lake’s turquoise blue waters and behold some idyllic farmlands.
Duration: 40 minutes
How to get here: Take the Taiwan High Speed Rail to Taichung station, before transferring to a tourist shuttle that will bring you to Sun Moon Lake. Alternatively, take the Kuo Kuang bus from Taipei bus station.
Hualien City Coastal Bikeway
What: Explore Taiwan’s east coast by stopping at several hotspots along this route, including the pebbled Qixingtan Beach and the Hualien Fishing Harbour. At the market, you might catch glimpses of intriguing sea creatures such as ocean sunfish, sailfish and dolphinfish, not to mention snacks aplenty.
Duration: Two to three hours
How to get here: From Taipei, take a train to Hualien station, or book a domestic flight.
Old Caoling Circle-lined Bikeway
What: The highlight of this cycling route is the historic Old Caoling railway tunnel in Fulong, which was built in 1924 under Japanese rule. The 2.17km tunnel oozes old-time charm, which means you’ll have plenty of photo opportunities. Temperatures are also considerably lower in the tunnel, making cycling a breeze (quite literally).
Distance: 20km (for the entire route)
Duration: Three to five hours (for the entire route)
How to get here: Take a train from Taipei to Fulong station. The tunnel entrance is about 10 minutes away by bicycle.
Taiwan Cycling Route No 1
What: This route, which covers the entire perimeter of the island, will give you a tour of Taiwan. Start off in Taipei and pedal your way through cities like Hsinchu, Kaohsiung and Hualien before circling back to Taipei. Follow the Taiwan Tourism Bureau’s comprehensive itinerary to ensure that you start your journey on flat, west-coast roads before tackling more difficult terrain. You’ll be rewarded with utterly breathtaking vistas, from lush rice fields and tea plantations to tree-covered mountain peaks.
Duration: Nine to 12 days
How to get here: From Taipei, take Provincial Highway 3 and embark on a network of other provincial highways and expressways to see some of Taiwan’s biggest attractions. These include Sanxia Old Street in New Taipei, the Donglong Temple in Donggang and Zhiben Hot Springs in Taitung.