I won a two thousand dollar travel grant from a photography contest organised by Sony and used the funds to pay for a bicycle touring trip in Taiwan with my wife!
Using the Komoot desktop app, I planned out a route from Hualien, down south through the Rift Valley, turning east on the outskirts of Taitung, then back north along the rugged east coast. The app is not well supported in Asia, which is a shame. While not perfect, its the best app I’ve used for planning a biking or hiking trip. Once planned, I’d transfer the GPX/KML file to my phone navigation app for enroute navigation, and in Taiwan, I used Maps.me.
Best Time To Go: October to November
Getting There: Taipei is the closest gateway city. Take a train to Hualien. Your bike needs to be in a bag or you will have to look for certain trains that take unbagged bikes.
Day 1 saw us riding out of the city, detouring to Liyu Lake, which is the largest lake in Eastern Taiwan, the old Guangfu sugar factory, then lunch nearby at Cifadahan Restaurant (highly recommended for the native salad!), before hitting Highway 9 to get us to the Hot Springs town of Ruisui.
The Highway wasn’t bad riding as there is a lane for slower traffic like scooters and bicycles, but we preferred the more rustic backroads. On day 2, we got off Highway 9 and took the seldom used Highway 193 to Chishang, stopping for lunch at Yuli. There’s a really cool bike path called the Yufu bikeway out of Yuli which crosses the Eurasian Philippine Tectonic Plate Border. We ended the day in Chishang.
Chishang is famous for its scenic rice padi fields, and in the morning of Day 3, we rode through them before heading out of town onto small roads and Highway 197. Today was probably the most varied cycling day. Komoot took us onto an old dirt jeep road, which took us east over the mountains, where we got our first view of the Pacific Ocean. We spent the night in Dulan, a chill town known as a surfer hangout.
We started Day 4 riding along the beach, but it was mostly on Highway 11. The East Coast scenery was spectacular, and we made stops at a fishing port and a funky bridge called Sansiantai, but we faced strong headwinds making our way back north. We spent the night at Shitiping, which is a National Scenic Area.
On Day 5, we checked out the sea cliffs at Shitiping before braving the headwinds back to Hualien on Highway 11 with more spectacular views. We took the following day off the bike, and visited the famous Taroko Gorge.
All in all, we rode 400km in 5 days, averaging 80km per day. It’s a mostly an urban bicycle tour on back roads, cycle paths, and on the shoulder of highways. Best time to visit is between October and November. The closest international airport is Taipei, and you can take a train to Hualien with your bike in a bag.
Photography notes: I shot the photos with a Sony a7riii, a Sony 24-105mm f/4 and a 10-18mm f/4 lenses.