Our top 5 cycling routes in Taiwan
Taiwan has announced that 2021 will be their year of cycling and we are of the strong belief that there is no finer destination in Asia for enthusiastic cyclists. Cycling is a national pastime in Taiwan and the country is linked with hundreds of kilometres of cycle lanes and cycleways ranging from picturesque coastal roads to vertiginous mountain routes. The country’s dramatic scenery provides the backdrop for the annual Tour de Taiwan competition which has taken place since 1978 and was officially recognized by the International Cycling Union (UCI) in 2005.
Taiwan Cycle Route No.1, approximately 968 km, is a round island circuit which takes nine to twelve days depending on level of expertise but exploring some of Taiwan’s wondrous landscapes on two wheels does not need to be so time consuming. Whether you are looking for a casual tootle through scenic farmland to an epic round island adventure, Taiwan has much to offer cycling enthusiasts and there is no better time to saddle up and start exploring.
Here are what we consider the five best cycling routes in Taiwan, with an emphasis on less challenging routes which would be of interest to both experienced cyclists and complete novices.
Sun Moon Lake Loop, Sun Moon Lake
Sun Moon Lake lies in Taiwan’s mountainous interior and is the largest body of fresh water on the Island. Pathed cycling trails have been set up covering much of the lake’s edge and a complete loop around Sun Moon Lake is heralded as one of the most beautiful bike rides in the world, where forest-clad mountains fall away into the aquamarine water. Although it is only 33km, the ride covers an undulating trail so is the most challenging route on this list. Still, it should be manageable for anyone with moderate fitness and some cycling experience. Anyone who does embark on this journey will be rewarded with a ride through an outstanding area of natural beauty, featuring a scattering of picturesque temples and some incredibly dramatic views. Bikes can be rented from the Shueishe Visitor Centre on the northern shore which is also where many of the top hotels are located.
Tamsui Golden Coast Cycling Route, Taipei
Tamsui is a scenic coastal area around a 40-minute ride from central Taipei on the red Metro Line. The Golden Coast cycling route is named after the golden glow of the Tamsui River at sunset. The trail largely follows the river passing several interesting local landmarks including the Tamsui River Mangrove Forest Reserve, Fort San Domingo, also known as Fort Red Hair to the locals - nicknamed so in honour of the Dutch builders of 1644, and culminates at Tamsui Fishermans Wharf (pictured below) and the town’s fish market, a great place for a lunch stop. The route is a short 9km ride along a flat, well-marked trail so should be easy-going for those with a basic understanding of cycling. Bike rental can be arranged in Tamsui and even if you do not follow the designated trails, pootling around the town is a great option for those who find themselves with a day at leisure in Taipei.
Chenggong to Pisirian Route, Taitung
Chenggong is a small fishing town off Taiwan’s breathtakingly scenic Highway 11, which hugs the Pacific Coast linking Hualien and Taitung, on the country’s east coast. The town is famous for its fish market and sampling the fantastic fresh seafood is an opportunity which should not be missed. The Chenggong to Pisirian trail largely hugs the Pacific Ocean following rural road 17 linking Chenggong with local aboriginal fishing village Pisirian. The trail passes through the Chenggong Coast Park and the Sansiantai Recreation Area, an area of stunning coastal landscape with several points of interest, including the famous arched bridge (pictured below). At 9.7km it is a short route which follows a minor road with little traffic along largely flat terrain so will be enjoyable for riders of all skill levels. Bike rental will need to be arranged outside Chenggong as there are currently no options in town - the nearest bike rental facility is around 10km away.
Guanshan Town Circle Bicycle Path, Taitung
Staying on Taiwan’s east coast the Guanshan Circle Bicycle Path is a 12km route which circles the Guanshan Water Park, a scenic recreational area formed around a large lake. The town of Guanshan is nestled between the Central Mountain Range and Coastal Mountain Range in the stunningly scenic East Rift Valley. This picturesque area’s flat terrain and quiet roads make it ripe for exploration by bike, and especially accessible for novice cyclists. The area around Guanshan is dotted with fields of rice and rapeseed with the Central and Coastal Mountain Ranges providing a stunning backdrop. Bikes can be rented from several shops close to Guanshan’s train station.
National Museum of Marine Biology to White Sands Bay trail, Kenting National Park
The Hengchun Peninsula at the southernmost point of Taiwan is an area of low mountains, thick forest, rugged cliffs, and great beaches, making it an ideal place to explore by bike. The 7km of coastline stretching from the National Museum of Marine Biology to White Sands Bay includes a great combination of scenery and sandy beaches. This is a pleasurable ride finishing at White Sands Bay in the outstanding Kenting National Park and largely hugs the ocean along flat roads making it suitable for riders of all experience levels. There are no bike rental facilities in this area so bikes will need to be rented in the nearby towns of Checheng or Hengchun.
The above is just a small taste of the fantastic opportunities waiting for an intrepid active traveller on a visit to Taiwan. One of the most rewarding aspects of cycling in Taiwan is not just the stunning backdrops and dramatic views, it is the chance to reward yourself after a day’s ride with a soak in one of the county’s fantastic natural hot spring baths.
While the above excursions are suitable for cyclists of all levels, the country has a range of far more demanding routes – especially ones which cover the mountainous interior. Our Family Adventure in Taiwan itinerary has been designed for active families but can easily be tweaked for active couples. If you would prefer to tackle a more challenging multi-day route, please get in touch and we would be happy to help plan an active adventure to this cycling Mecca.