To avid cyclists, Taiwan has long been renowned as ‘The Bicycle Kingdom’, thanks to billions of dollars worth of bikes being exported from world's largest bike manufacturer, Giant. Today dozens of companies manufacture bikes on the island. However, it was less than 20 years ago that the government started promoting efforts from homegrown manufacturers and providing significant investment, giving birth to a bike culture and “cycling fever" that soon spread all over the country. The hit local movie in 2006, “Island Etude”, chronicling a boy's voyage of self-discovery during a solo cycle around Taiwan’s coastline, also contributed to the rapid rise of interest in cycling among local Taiwanese.
A paradise for cyclists
Today, Taiwan has over 5000 kilometers of dedicated bike paths with easy access to rest stops and service facilities and a strong base of local cycling enthusiasts. Roads are well paved and easy to navigate, with bilingual road signs, a visitor-friendly bonus for non-native speakers.
The island's Cycle Route No.1, a 900 km bicycle loop around Taiwan, is fast becoming one of Asia's great bucket-list rides, attracting more and more cyclists from all over the world.
Taiwan offers unlimited natural beauty and a large variety of landscapes, ranging from lush forests to rice paddies and steep mountains to rugged coastlines. With changing views and topography at every turn cycling trips never get boring here, and the two-wheeled adventurer is well rewarded with views of the seacoast, mountains and interior valleys that rival anything you’d experience from the seat of a bus or train.
Hugging the east coast from Hualien to Taitung is Taiwan's most scenic roadway, Highway 11, with the Pacific Ocean to one side, mountains to the other and dozens of interesting highlights dotted along its path. The road itself is in good condition and relatively flat, with enough ups and downs to wake up the legs, but not enough to distract from the views.
If you want something more challenging, the East Rift Valley is the place to go. Running from the same start and finish points as Highway 11 (Hualien to Taitung), the East Rift Valley is another option for exploring Taiwan's east coast. The valley lies between central mountains on one side and Coastal range on the other, with stunning views in every direction. The climbs offer more of a challenge, but the wind-in-your-hair descents and panoramic views are ample reward for your effort.
A strong cycling culture
Everyone in Taiwan loves cycling, you can easily find local riders from die-hard enthusiasts to casual cruisers everywhere you visit, as cycling has become a fast-growing part of Taiwan’s culture. This strong connection is backed by the government, with a plan to triple the bike lane network in the next decade. In big cities like Taipei, the bike-share program YouBike is popular and supports this new cycling culture. Visitors can easily rent a Youbike to get around the city in a fun, healthy and environmentally friendly way.
Nothing can beat the feeling of relaxing your muscles and rejuvenating your spirit in a natural hot spring after a long day in the saddle. There are more than 100 hot springs in Taiwan, from publicly accessible areas to luxury resorts, you don't have to travel far to take a soothing dip and enjoy some time-out from your adventures.
Overall, Taiwan offers a unique and memorable experience for anyone who loves the joy of cycling. To make the most out of your time make sure to pre-plan a trip that includes this in your visit. We would recommend at least a week, with a well-balanced blend of cycling, sightseeing, activities and relaxation across several locations for a great overall experience of the country.