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Tour de Taiwan

by Trey Archer   - Mar 6, 2015
 
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You don’t have to be Lance Armstrong for this one (or use performance enhancing aids) – anyone can cycle Taiwan, from the beginner to the expert. For a real adventure, try circling the entire island. If that seems a bit daunting, then consider just riding between a few different cities or down the east or west coast. Our custom made Tour de Taiwan can be tackled in many different ways, so read through the info to see if any (or all) suit you. No matter which path you choose, we guarantee you’ll have a fantastic ride and get a killer workout. So strap on the Spandex and zip up the yellow jersey, it’s time for the Tour de Taiwan!
 
 
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The East Coast: Taipei to Kenting

 
The east coast is less developed, more beautiful and has greater aboriginal culture than the west coast. If you only have a week or a few days to spare, this is the recommended coast because of its numerous gorgeous sights. Here’s what you’re looking at:
 
Taipei-Yilan: Distance about 68 km (42 mi)

Riders of all levels should be able to make this in 1 day 

Wherever you depart from in Taipei, getting to Yilan is pretty straight forward. Head to the river that separates New Taipei City and Taipei and head south down the designated biking route to Xindian. From Xindian, hop on Hwy 9 at the fork in the road and head east. This road will take you all the way to Yilan.

The road is a bit mountainous, especially in the beginning, and right before Yilan there is a pretty steep climb. However, once you’re past this hump, there’s nowhere else to go but down, down, down! Enjoy the 30 minute (near) free fall with zero pedaling on your last kilometers to Yilan. 

There are numerous small villages along this section, but try the larger cities of Hsintien or Chiaochi if you need to rest or buy supplies. 
 
 
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Yilan-Hualien: Distance about 130 km (81 mi) 

 

Experienced riders and average riders 1 day; beginners 2 days

Continue south on Hwy 9 to get to Hualien. The highway is not fit for cyclists, but there is a generous shoulder, and you’ll be rooted on by the warm-hearted Taiwanese shouting “jiayou!” (“go for it!”) through the window of their cars as they pass you. 
 
The route is long and mountainous, meaning it’ll even take an experienced cyclist several hours, but the beautiful stretch of coast line will keep you going. The view of the vast Pacific is dotted with small Taoist temples and aboriginal villages, making it even more worthwhile. 
 
Taroko Gorge is near Hualien. Cycling through the gorge can take a day or several days, so plan your time accordingly if you want to explore it.
 
 
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The towns of Jenho and Hisingchen are good places in between to stop for a break or a night’s rest.
 
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Hualien-Taitung. Distance about 170 km (106 mi)
 
Experienced riders 1 day, average riders 2 days, beginners 3 days.
 
Right outside of Hualien the road to Taitung forks into Hwy 9 and Hwy 11. The former heads into the mountains away from the coast, while the latter is the ocean route. We recommend Hwy 11 along the Pacific coast because it’s more scenic and there’s less traffic. Either way, get those calf muscles warmed up and be prepared for some serious climbing.
 
To break the journey up on Hwy 11, try the towns of Fengping, Puching, Changping, Chengkung or Tungho. On Hwy 9, some good stops are Kuangfu, Yuli, Chishang, Kuanshan or Luyeh.
 
 
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Taitung-Kenting. Distance about 130 km (81 mi)
 
Experienced riders 1 day, average riders 2 days, beginners 3 days
 
Several kilometers outside of Taitung, Hwy 11 merges back with Hwy 9, so no matter which route you take you’ll be back on Hwy 9 again soon. But right after the town of Tajen, Hwy 9 jets west and crosses the southern peninsula of Taiwan. Cyclists are not allowed to continue riding south after Tajen on Hwy 24, so you must stick with Hwy 9. 
 
The southern peninsula is the hardest part of the trek, but there is a brilliant short cut. After the climb to the top of the first peak, start looking for a sign on the left side of the road that says Highway 199, it is a small one-lane road through the mountains. Make sure you get on 199 because it’s an incredible 1.5 hour long free-fall all the way to the bottom. It’s also completely covered by trees to cool you off from the sun and you’ll pass some pretty interesting farming communities along the way. If you miss Highway 199, you’re in big trouble since you’ll have to endure the pain of climbing two other peaks which will set your trip back immensely! In other words, Hwy 199 is the savior of the Tour de Taiwan.
 
Once you get to the bottom of Hwy 199, turn south on Hwy 24 and enjoy a long, flat smooth road all the way to Kenting.
Some good towns with hotels, restaurants and stores on this leg are the Zhiben National Park right outside of Taitung (a great place to camp out with hot springs), Taimali, Kangtzu, Tajen, Shangliu and Fengkang. 
 
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The West Coast: Kenting to Taipei 

The west coast is more industrialized and less appealing than the east coast; there’s more traffic, more cities and more pollution. The good news is that nearly all the roads are flat and nicely paved, and there’s always a hotel, restaurant and/or store nearby. 
 
Kenting-Kaohsiung. Distance about 100 km (62 mi) 
 
Experienced riders and average riders 1 day, beginners 2 days 
 
First head north on the western side of Hwy 24, which will eventually turn into Hwy 1. Later, the road forks into Hwy 1 and 17. Both roads lead to Kaohsiung, but you should transfer to Hwy 17 because it’s much quicker, has less traffic and is the coastal route. 
 
You’ll ride across some lovely beaches for the first few hours, but civilization in the concrete jungle isn’t too far away. Soon the mega highways and skyscrapers will start popping up. In fact, from here on out, most of your scenery will be dominated by urban scenes. 
 
Some good towns for a rest or a bed along the way are Checheng, Fengkuan, Fangshan, Fangliao, Tungkang and Linyuan. 
 
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Kaohsiung-Tainan. Distance about 46 km (29 mi) 
 
Riders of all levels should be able to make this in 1 day 
 
You can take either Hwy 1 or 17 to Tainan; both are about equal in distance and both line the coast (it is worth mentioning that Hwy 17 has less traffic). These two roads are also relatively flat and well paved, and are therefore not too demanding. 
 
Though all riders should be able to make this trip in one day (a short day for experts or a long day for beginners), you might want to stop in the town of Kangshan or Luchu for a lunch break.
 
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Tainan-Taichung. Distance about 150 km (93 mi) 

Experienced riders 1 day, average riders 2 days, beginners 3 days 

This route is long – very long. From Tainan, Hwy 19 will take you all the way to the outskirts of Taichung. Some good pit stops along the way are Potzu, Peikang, Chihu and Changhua. 
 
For an alternative, offbeat route, stick to Hwy 17 on the coast. It must be mentioned, though, that Hwy 17 will not bring you directly to Taichung. Instead you’ll pass through many mid-sized cities on the water’s edge. 
 
There are also numerous other smaller towns along the way on both Hwy 17 and 19, so you’ll never be too far off the map. 
 
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Taichung-Taipei. Distance about 170 km (106 mi) 

Experienced riders 1 day, average riders 2 days, beginners 3 days 

The leisurely rides with level paved roads abrupt ly comes to an end once you approach the capital. Be prepared for some modest climbs, but also get ready to shoot down at lightning speed on a gravity powered two-wheel roller coaster. 

The best way is to take Hwy 13 outside of Taichung all the way to the coast until it merges with Hwy 15 right outside of Hsinchu City. After passing through Hsinchu, hop on Hwy 1, which will bring you all the way back to Taipei. 

Some good stops along the Hwy 15/Hwy 1 route are Tungla, Toufen, Hsinchu, Pingchen and Taoyuan. 

For those who just can’t get enough of those steep inclines on the mountainous passages, peddle onto Hwy 3 just outside of Taichung and follow it all the way back to the capital.
 
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