This is a new feature I am introducing on this blog.
I would like to provide a few routes and maps to help riders begin to explore Taiwan by bike. I understand these aren't the only routes. This does not set out to be a comprehensive catalogue of EVERY route ridden. I hope to simply provide a few breadcrumbs to get riders started.
I have traveled all of these roads at some time or another and blogged on many of them. You can feel free to use this as a reference. Take as long as you want from wherever you wish to start. Mix, match, link them together. Have fun. These are suggestions.
I am using Bikemaps for the reason that it provides terrain graphs and the right hand corner has a variety of mapping filters.
There will be a permanent link located on the sidebar for your convenience.
This is just the first iteration of this rout mapping page and I expect to periodically add new routes as I find the time or ride new roads that wow me.
I hope you will find this tool useful
Description: This is the ultimate round island trip for expert riders and travelers. You need to be in excellent physical shape as this route hugs the central mountain range and traverses some of Taiwan's most spectacular backdrops. There is also a little island hopping that should not be missed.
Description: This route is a good mix of climbing and flats. There are fewer steep grades to avoid fatigue and to make a little more distance each day, while still including some great mountain roads. This route includes a boat ride to Orchid Island and another to the Peng-hu Island group to get a better picture of everything Taiwan has to offer.
Description: For the novice who still wants to see Taiwan by bike. This route is an excellent way to get the most out of a trip to Taiwan. This route is pretty flat with a few manageable climbs. Lots of beautiful scenery and pleasant roads.
Description: The Northern Cross Island Highway is an excellent way to escape Taipei and get a taste of Taiwan's Central Mountain Range. The route is accessible from Sanxia, at the end of the Blue Line of the Taipei MRT system, and quickly leads to some spectacular vistas. The climbing is not entirely difficult and it is probably the easiest of the three cross-island highways. The route ends in IIlan where you could ride back or take an hour bus ride to Taipei City.
Posts: Northern Cross Island Highway1
Northern Cross Island Highway2
Description: Taipei to Iilan is a great ride for a beginning cyclist or for someone looking for a weekend escape from Taipei. The road is pretty easy. There are plenty of opportunities to stop at local attractions, including: Danshui and the Dutch Fort, Jiu-fen and Jinguashi mining towns, Keelung, Peace Island and surrounding old fortifications. Also, there is a bike trail at Fulong that takes a short cut through the mountain. At Jiaoxi you can find hot and cold springs to rest weary legs.
Posts: Taipei to Iilan
Hills Around Jinguashi
Jinguashi POW camp
Description: This is hidden gem for climbers. Plenty of steep ramps and ridge-line roadways before meeting up with the Highway 7. The Route 122 is a lesser used road, so there is less holiday traffic.
Description: The Highway 9 between Taipei and Iilan used to be one of the main routes connecting the two areas before the Xue Shan tunnel was completed. This has drastically reduced traffic on the road and made for a much more enjoyable route. The Highway 9 still boasts some beautiful views from high mountain roads, but it is short enough to easily bite off in a day. If you don't have time to do the Northern Cross Island Highway, this is a simple alternative.
Description: The road to Wulai is a very convenient exit from crowded Taipei. Although, it may become crowded Wulai on weekends. Country roads galore.
Posts: The Road to Wulai (Courtesy of OzSoapbox)
Description: Despite the hour or so spent on the ugly part of the Highway 3, this is an amazing route. You can either go up to Lugu and circle back through Zhushan, or you could make the climb all the way up to Sanlinxi, where some of the best tea is grown. The climb to Sanlinxi can be tiring after riding in from Taichung, but it isn't too bad. The Route 131 is the better road to climb into Lugu. It is pretty easy to deal with and less traffic. Some very pretty spots along the way. Route 55 on the way out is a splendid little road full of happy surprises.
Posts: Taichung to Lugu
Hills of Lugu
Description: This route could be ridden in one or two days (or more) depending upon the rider. It takes a little used alternative route up to Fencihu, near the top of Alishan. The route consists of two major climbs and a couple of good bumps on the 159A on the way to Chiayi. The roads at the higher elevations cut through some amazing tea farms and stunning scenery. This is really a great route for adventure. The road up to Alishan has a few daunting sections, so this rout is not recommended for novice riders.
Posts: 2 Day Trip over Alishan
1 Day Trip over Alishan
Description: This route seamlessly joins some of the best roads of central Taiwan into a spectacular tour de force of tough climbing, roaring descents, and Taiwan's blazing green tropical landscape. You can mix and match these roads as you wish, but this route comes to mind when I think about why I love riding in Taiwan.
Posts: 200k of Central Taiwan's Greatest Roads
Nantou Hill Tour
Description: Sima Xian Shan is a lesser known and little ridden hell of a climb between the Da An River and the township of Dahuu in the hills of Miaoli County. The Da An side before the climb is a joyous gradual ascent through farms and villages along the Da An River. Of course, the imposing cliffs of Sima Xian Shan rise right out of the riverbed. The route passes a calm reservoir and dam near Elephant Nose Village, before the vaulting incline to Da Gou Village. The rest of the climb is a fight to the top, but it is well worth it. About 500m up the road you can investigate a Japanese gun platform from the early campaigns against the Atayal. The views are nice and the descent is incredible. It licks the side of a deep valley all the way to Dahu. Lots of fun and excitement.
Posts: Sima Xian Shan (160km)
Sima Xian Shan (150km)
Description: Bagua Shan on the Route 139is one of the closest routes to Taichung City that offers a little bit for everyone. This is a local favorite for its diverse terrain, from climbs and rollers, to easy stretches of flat road. The hardest part is climbing to the top. The rest is a treelined tour of rural pineapple an tea farms. There are several escape routes if you are short on time or energy. The descent to Songboling is a treat. The 137 at the base of the hill is a nice way back through Changhua. The 14丁 on the other side of the hill is equally nice.
Posts: Route 139
Rollers of Bagua Shan
Description: From Taichung the route to the Mingde Reservoir is mostly a trip up the Highway 3. The Highway 3 from about Dongshih is a beautiful, well paved highway of dips and rises. Just past Shih-tan, the Miaoli Route 126 goes along the banks of the Mingde Reservoir out to the Highway 13 in Miaoli City. The Route 126 is a pleasant ramble with lakeside wetlands, a rarity in Taiwan. The worst climbing is on the Highway 13 out of Miaoli City. Once you are at the top you can bomb back to Taichung on the Highway 13, or take a little detour on the Route 119 for a little more flavor. The Route 119 ambles past traditional farmhouses and rural scenery before joining the Highway. This is one of the few parts of Highway 1 I don't dislike.
Posts: Mingde Reservoir
Mingde Reservoir (Short)
Description: This route follows the Highway 3 up to Shihtan with a deviation out to the Tai-an hot springs. The Highway 3 through Miaoli is a beautifully wide and vacant road through rolling hills. The climb up the Route 26-2 looks much worse than it is. There is a tunnel through the mountain that makes it all possible. The descent is a thrilling plunge along deep ravines. The roads are smooth and well maintained. The Highway 6 to 128 is the ugliest part, but the Route 128 soon becomes a gorgeous rural descent into the Dajia area. Nice ride.
Posts: Route 26-2
Description: The focus of this route is the climb over the Route 130. The Route 130 is just off the Highway 3 past the Liyu Reservoir in Miaoli County. The climb can be stiff at times, but the vistas are rewarding and there are refreshments at the top. From the descent there are a number of roads to Miaoli, Sanyi or several historic attractions. The Highway 13 is simply an easy viaduct to return from cycling glory.
Posts: Route 130
Route 130 Backwards
Sheng Shing Station
Description: There are several ways to get to Chiayi from Taichung. Chiayi is not really all that far... really... in the grand scheme of things. Many people would take the Highway 1 as it seems the easiest route. The Highway 1 is ugly, crowded, full of trucks and garbage on the road. I highly recommend the Highway 3. Too many nice things to see on the way down. The detour through Douliu is also worthwhile, but the peaceful shade of the Highway 3 easily makes up for the rolling hills. On the way back I try to steer a course to the Highway 19 and then off the Hsiluo. Mostly nice, but the flat farmland of Yunlin is going to smell like pig shit any day of the week.
Highway 3 to Chiayi
Chiayi 228 Memorial
Description: Guguan is a simple "there and back" route that goes up the Highway 8, the remnants of the old Central Cross Island Highway that was closed following the 921 earthquake in 1999. It was briefly reopened and then closed for the better part of a decade. Guguan is currently the furthest point, known for its hot springs and tourist kitsch. The route is a gradual climb to Guguan... so much so... that it can be a bit demoralizing in perpetuating the belief that you are just slow. If you are slow... it makes you feel slower. The scenery is nice and it makes for a great morning ride. The ride back home goes quickly and gives the illusion that you are actually fast.
Description: The Huisun Leisure Forest is the strangest thing just off the Highway 21 near Puli. After a few serious climbs the road ambles out into the mountains. It is a lovely road and then in starts to edge skyward. Just as it appears to be headed into the wilds of mountainous Taiwan, the road ends in an idyllic forest setting with hammocks strung between pines, cabins, babbling streams, lawns, gift shops and every type of bug and bird watcher in Taiwan.
Posts: Huisun Leiure Forest
Description: Nothing worthwhile is ever free. The price of admission to Wujie is a sustained climb up an unforgiving ramp at the very base of the mountain. The heart breaks as the ramp ends in a series of steep switchbacks. Then, just as you feel things couldn't get any worse, you look up and see several more kilometers of roadway lacing up the front of the mountain. It appears you have only begin the climb. Luckily, there is a tunnel just up ahead and it empties out into one of the most picturesque valleys this writer/rider has ever laid eyes on. This is not a well known route, so it is a special treat for those who dare to try.
Posts: Amazing Wujie
Description: Pinglin Rd. is the backdoor out of Jhuolan township. It is a mix of light climbing, a few hills, some excellent drops and the type of rural atmosphere you can expect along Taiwan's foothills. It is better (easier) from the Jhuolan side. The road ends in Dahu township and could easily connect to the Route 130 for added climbing.
Posts: Pinglin Rd.
Pinglin Rd. Backwards
Description: The Changhua Century route has dozens of alternative options. This is only one example that goes through the historic town of Lukang and along the coastal Highway 17. The roads are flat and wide. Just over the Zhoushui River, the Yunlin Route 154 crosses through farmland to Hsiluo, in the heart of watermelon country. Be sure to cross the river on the Route 145 on the magnificent Hsiluo Bridge before taking the nasty, but expedient Highway 1. I normally do not recommend the Highway 1, but there are times it is just easier than bobbing around the countryside.
Posts: Changhua County Century
Changhua Century II
Lanterns of Lukang
Description: The ride up Jiufen Er Shan is awesome in the extreme. It has some grades that challenge you to keep the front wheel on the ground. You can walk those. I won't tell anyone. Once up amid the ruins of the great 921 earthquake, the experience is just awesome. It is a terrifying and life affirming look at Taiwan's violent geologic past. The road is well maintained and empties out onto some lovely back roads that take a much easier path to the starting point. I highly suggest this ride at some point if you have never done it.
Posts: Jiufen Er Shan (921 Earthquake Ride)
Description: The main point of this route is to tour Sum Moon Lake while minimizing encounters with tour busses and maximizing the luscious scenery. I am choosing Jiji as a starting point as it has a train station so novice riders can easily get to where the riding gets good. You could also take the train out to Shuili, but there are a few nice roads from Jiji to Shuili I thought I would showcase as well. This route includes the Nantou Route 152 connecting to the Route 131 to the top of Sun Moon Lake. This is a really sweet way to get up there while bypassing both the Highway 14 and the Highway 21, both tour bus routes. The return takes the payoff Nantou Route 63 to the Highway 16 and out. These roads are cycling ecstasy.
Posts: Jiji 152
Sun Moon Lake from Shuili
Sun Moon Lake Critique
Description: This is a happy little climb through pretty green country. The big surprise is at the junction with the 149. Boom! Then it is back to more lazy climbing and descending into coffee country.
Posts: Gukeng and Meishan
Description: This is a nice loop up the Highway 3 past Dahu, and then back on some quick little roads in Miaoli County. The 130 becomes a very speedy descent out of southern Miaoli.
Posts: Highway 6
Description: This route goes through some nice tea country. With one major climb, there is no reason not to give it a try. The climb isn't long, and the descent lets your roll forever. One time on the descent I rolled most of the way to Douliu without a pedal stroke. The Route 158 is a small, well paved route. This makes for a great century ride.
Posts: Tea Country
Description: This is one of my favorite short training routes. It takes me about 45 min. to complete and covers some climbing and bike handling, as well as a very fast descent. The Industrial Rd. has about the right degree of incline to improve climbing in a hurry. Riders must be cautious of vehicular and pedestrian traffic as the Tunghai Market and Xitun Rd can be clogged in the evenings.
Posts: Dadu Shan Loop
Night Loop (Video)
Description: The Caotun Loop is my Wednesday evening training ride. It uses the road under the Number 63 Expressway to avoid the heavy evening traffic on the Highway 3. From Caotun to the Hughway 74, the traffic is really not bad. I enjoy this route at night because I can see where the cars are by looking for their lights. This is an excellent route to build stamina.
Posts: Caotun Loop
Description: The hills around Dakeng have numerous little roads that can provide a taste of the great outdoors within 20 minutes of the city. Several of the roads connect to a greater network of agricultural roads that can take you much further into the hills around Taichung. The CKS Campground is a great destination to begin exploring the area around Dakeng.
Posts: Dakeng Scenic Area
Description: This is a convenient route if you are just starting to venture out of Taichung, or if you need a good ride and don't have the time. Some of the climbs are a bit steep, but they never last very long. The WOW factor makes the climbs worth every stroke of the pedal.
Posts: Route 129 to 136
Description: If you live in Taichung and you are looking for a route for some quick hill climbing practice, this is an excellent route. The climb over Dadu Shan in not too difficult and a great warm-up. After circling around toward Ching-shui, the climb becomes a but stiffer. Then to cap things off, the route continues up to the Taichung Metropolitain Park before finally allowing some reprieve.
Posts: Dadu Shan-Chingshui Loop
Sunset Over Chingshui
Description: The trip around Kenting can take many forms. This route balances the scenery and historic parts of Kenting, with a little bit of the R&R. The trip on the Route 199 through Mudan is fascinating for its history and beauty. The Highway 26 along the coast was once off-limits, but now boasts a mesmerizing lead-up to the breathtaking tour of the Manzhou Valley. So many nice roads all within riding distance of a bar on a beach.
Posts: Touring Taiwan's Tip
The View From Kenting
Description: This route to Tainan comes in to be just about 160km or 100mi. When I suggest this route, for some reason few people take it. It is less obvious than the Highway 1 or the Highway 3, but it is smoother, faster and has fewer traffic lights than any other option. The Route 145 from Hsiluo is a brilliant alternative to any of the major highways. It will eventually meet the Highway 19, so it is not confusing or complicated. If you think you need to cover the flats, this is an excellent route.
Posts: Taichung to Tainan
Description: This is a ride I do once a year. In honor of the great Paris-Roubaix one-day race, I will bike from Taichung to Kaohsiung along the coast on the Highway 17. The idea of a coastal ride might sound scenic and maybe a little romantic... but this is Taiwan. The majority of the western coast is a blight. I never really enjoy this route as it just looks like decay. There are also fewer convenience stores and gas stations. Still, if you really want to do it... this is it.
Posts: Taichung to Kaohsiung
Paris-Roubaix Tribute Ride (Taichung to Kaohsiung)
Description: The Meinong area is a gorgeous basin nestled up against the high mountains. The Central Cross Island Highway starts nearby and this route takes the hills ringing the basin. Lots of altitude, but very rewarding. The area has been hit by some pretty violent storms since I was last there, so I can not attest to the road conditions. I hope to ride it in the near future and report on the current situation. I have included the trip up to Dona Village. Dona is an old indigenous village mentioned by several 19th Century European explorers. Sadly, the slate houses were largely destroyed during typhoon Morakot.
Description: An alternate way back to Taichung, aside from the Highway 19 to the Route 145, is this route that is a bit more inland. Although it uses the Highway 1 for a while, the detour onto the Route 165 near Guan Tian is well worth it. This will skirt the foothills without wearing you out on rollers.
Posts: Tainan to Taichung
Description: The Central Cross Island Highway is an eye-opener for anyone traveling Taiwan. This is a route that will not only destroy quads, but also crush the all too common misconceptions that Taiwan is a flat, polluted island of concrete and factories (Yes, I have met people who believed this). The Central Cross traverses Taiwan's highest pass through alpine forests and rugged mountain tops. It cuts right through Hualien's breathtaking Taroko Gorge. You will never see Taiwan the same way again.
Posts: Central Cross Island Highway
Hualien to Taichung
From the Puli Side
Packing For The Central Cross
Description: Taiwan's East Coast is one of the most recommended areas for tourist cycling. The Highway 9 and Highway 11 are the major routes, but they are hardly the best routes for enjoying the area by bike. This alternative route provides a more varied approach to seeing the east coast.
Posts: East Coast (Courtesy of The View From Taiwan)
Description: If you want to see a little bit of everything and feel you are a decent enough climber, this is an excellent route. You can ride down the fantastic coastline to Hualien, and then climb up to abput 2500 meters through Taroko Gorge. The climbing is not that difficult, just long. Then descend past Taiping Shan and back to Iilan. A marvelous route filled with nature and adventure.
Description: Taiwan's little secret. Orchid Island may be a small island, but it boasts more amazing scenery per square kilometer than any other part of Taiwan. I am serious. The coastal road dips and slides beneath towering emerald cliff sides. There are waterfalls, caves, springs, beaches and traditional Da'oo cultures. It'll blow your mind so take a few days to see it all. The coastal riding will take longer than expected due to frequent photo stops. There are two big climbs. One goes to the light house, but it is a very technical descent. The other is to the weather station with one of the steepest grades near the top. Scooters have trouble. When not biking, there is hiking, swimming, diving and lounging around drinking beer. Lots to do. GO THERE. But if you go, please be respectful of the Da'oo. They get crapped on by too many visitors.