Cycling around Taiwan is considered one of the three things a Taiwanese should do. The other two are to climb Mountain Jade and swim across Sun Moon Lake. The island nation of Taiwan is a small, but crowded place filled with friendly people, good food, affordable accommodations, and some of the best cycling infrastructure in the entire world. Taiwan is truly a land built for bicycle travel!
The circular round-the-country route typically takes between 10 to 12 days to complete — and is not recommended for beginners. The most taken route is Taiwan Cycle Route No.1, and it is a 968 km (602 miles) bicycle route around the island of Taiwan. The route is intended to facilitate the recreational activity of bicycling around the island of Taiwan, which is called huan-dao in Mandarin Chinese, and is also translated as a “cycle-the-island-trip”.
The round-the-island route begins in Taipei and proceeds in a counterclockwise direction. Along the west coast, there are lots of rest stops, sightseeing spots, and snacks. On the sixth day when you climb the Shouka incline. After that, you’ll ride north along the east coast, over the rolling hills and into a headwind in the East Rift Valley. On the final day when you ride along the Beiyi (Taipei – Yilan) Provincial Highway, you will feel a rush of excitement as you tackle the final climbs and approach the finish.
Where to rent a bike
Do I need to bring my own bike all the way to Taiwan? The answer is no! Giant bike shops, as well as other bike shops, rent all kinds of bikes at reasonable prices. The rates depend on the number of days the items are rented for. Also, there are well-known bike-themed coffee shops called Frog Café, one in Taipei and another in Bali, New Taipei City, that lends out bicycles and equipment for free. Here is a few places you can rent a bike:
Things you will need to bring
For your bike
Your bike is the most important tool you have when riding around Taiwan. Your bike requires you to pedal it constantly if you want to finish your trip. It is helpful to know the basics of how a bike works and what kind of parts you are looking for.
- Gear: Changing the ratio between your front and rear sprockets allow you to change how much force you need to push the pedals. When riding around Taiwan, it is best to ride a bike equipped with 24 or more speeds (3 sprockets in the front, 8 in the rear). With so many gears, you will be able to select the gear that allows you to pedal comfortably no matter what speed you are traveling and how steep a hill is.
- Brakes: Disc brakes or V-brakes can provide reliable stopping, but you need to check your brake pads for wear before you set out.
- Racks & panniers: If you want to ride your mountain bike around Taiwan, you can turn it into a touring bike by adding racks and panniers.
- Water bottle & cages: Water bottles have standard sizes but the water bottles you buy in stores aren’t standardized, so they may fall out if you put them in your bottle cage.
- Saddles: Seats are where you rest your rear end while riding, so it’s important to pick the right one. There is a multitude of options, and high-end saddles can be tested for comfort at your local bike shop.
- Bike lights: LED lights are your best option because they are both bright and don’t use much electricity. Spend time choosing the right light, as it will help you see in dark tunnels and at night as well as be seen by cars on the road.
- Tools: A multi-tool is a great tool to take when riding. Some multi-tools on the market have up to 25 tools, and these are perfect if you are riding around Taiwan. In addition to a multi-tool, you should pack a tire lever and a mini pump.
For your body:
- Helmet: Bike helmets are usually lighter and have better ventilation than motorcycle helmets, so you can comfortably wear bike helmets for a long time. Just make sure you buy one with a government safety certification label on it. The helmet will include an instruction manual and you should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Sunglasses: Sunglasses are protection for your eyes. Cycling sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays, wind, and dust.
- Cycling jerseys and shorts: Cycling jerseys and shorts are designed specifically for cyclists. They use breathable material and have padding so you’ll be more comfortable on long rides. If you choose to use regular clothing, avoid baggy garments as they can become entangled in your chain and gears.
- Cycling computer: A cycling computer can display your speed and distance traveled, among other kinds of data. High-end computers are equipped with GPS receivers so they can be used for navigation.
- Cycling shoes: High-quality cycling shoes have stiff soles and use Velcro or buckles to secure your feet. Stiff soles keep their shape and allow you to pedal more efficiently than with regular shoes. If you wear street shoes, remember to tighten your laces so they don’t get caught in your chain and cause you to crash.
- Bandanas, gloves, arm warmers: These protect you from the sun’s rays and from scrapes.
- Personal items: Cellphones, cameras, and batteries should be stored in waterproof bags.No matter which season it is, your skin will be exposed to the sun and it is essential to wear sunblock. Long-distance riding requires a lot of energy so you should pack a banana, cookies or a bun in case you run low on energy or feel hungry.
When planning your trip, take the climate into consideration. The season makes a big difference in Taiwan. Summers are ultra humid and hot (with temperatures hovering around the low to mid-30s) and therefore are not really suitable for many outdoor activities unless you really think you can handle these extreme conditions.
The best period for cycling Taiwan is autumn and winter, with the most favorable weather from October to February. The average temperature in winter ranges from 15 to 20°C across the island. The north is usually several degrees colder and wetter than the tropical south. Spring is also good, but the plum monsoon can bring more rain in late spring, and you might want to avoid Chinese New Year when half the country seems to be on the roads.
Read more:Top 10 Must try beverages in Taiwan