The Ultimate Taiwan Cycle Challenge!
Bike tour from Taiwan's northern capital, Taipei, down the rugged east coast to the tropical southern beaches of Kenting, before aiming your wheels back into the heart of the country to ride the central highlands. Your epic cycle tour completes its loop back in the capital, Taipei.
This bike tour runs from Taipei and returns.
With daily distances of up to 130km, and some days presenting more than 2000m of ascent, this is our ultimate Taiwan ride, and is not to be undertaken lightly. As well as the cycling challenge this presents, it also enables us to see a large part of the island, and to really get to grips with its diversity.
We start in the capital city, Taipei, but quickly move away from the bright lights and out towards the East Coast where the first of many hot springs await. From here begins one of the toughest legs of the ride as we make our way from sea level up to the mindblowing Central Mountain Range at 2200m. The payoff comes the following day with long descents and more magnificent vistas as we make our way down into Taroko National Park, home of the world’s deepest marble gorge.
After a rest day to explore the gorge we move back to the coast and then into the lush East Rift Valley where more soothing hot springs await. Day 7 we cross the Tropic of Cancer and head south into the tropics and along the spectacular coastline before bearing inland to Zhiben. The epic ride from Zhiben to Kenting is one of the highlights of the tour and is followed by a well-earned rest day.
From Kenting we work our way north, skirting the foothills of the southern mountains, and then making one final incursion into the mountains to Baolai and Guanziling, with its famous Fire Water Pool and mud infused hot springs. Your epic ride completes its loop back in the capital, Taipei, with a celebratory evening to mark the end of a rewarding challenge and great adventure.
14 days duration
890 km distance
Difficulty: Very challenging
Trip Features & Tour Inclusions
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The longer distances and more challenging route on this ride are best tackled on a road bike and riders are free to bring their own bikes. We can also offer quality, well maintained Giant (and other brand) road bike rental in a variety of sizes. Please inquire with our team about the cost of bike rental for this tour’.
In the larger cities and established tourist centres we use stylish and comfortable hotels and resorts. In the smaller destinations we use simple hotels with air-conditioning and private bathroom, however in the truly off-the-beaten-track locations we will stay in guesthouses with shared facilities. We stay here because the ride is worth it! Find out more about the hotels we use on tour in Taiwan.
Experienced English / Mandarin speaking leaders will host you on this trip - they are well spoken, very well informed, and always charming. Our leaders are often cited as being the main highlight of the tour. We use a mix of local & foreign leaders all who have a passion for the country and are always well informed on topics ranging from history, politics, cuisine and importantly local customs and cultures. Our leaders will take pride in introducing you to every aspect of Taiwan and will help you to connect with the villagers you meet along the way.
An air conditioned backup support vehicle is always available for anyone unable to ride, and to carry your luggage.
The island’s unique cultural and geographic diversity means that mealtimes are always a culinary adventure in Taiwan. The Pacifc’s rich bounty gives ample opportunity to sample super-fresh seafood, which the Japanese influence has nurtured into a love for sushi, whilst on terra firma the East Rift Valley is home to some of the island’s finest tropical fruit orchards producing dragonfruit, grapefruit, mangoes, oranges, papaya, pomelos and pineapples to name but a few. In the cities everything is available around the clock, but in remote areas meals typically consist of two or three meat and fish dishes, two or three vegetable dishes, plus staples of rice or noodles, with fruit to finish. Meat dishes are usually chicken or pork, but beef, lamb, boar and other more exotic choices are sometimes on offer. Beer is available almost everywhere, but good wine is more difficult to find. Included meals are listed in the day by day itinerary, and drinking water is always included with meals. Any soft or alcoholic drinks are not included and will be at your own expense.
Energy bars and local snacks are provided to keep your energy levels up for the riding, and clean water and electrolyte drinks are always available to keep you well hydrated.
A beautiful souvenir Grasshopper cycling jersey is yours to wear and take home.
6 to 16
This tour is guaranteed for a minimum of 6 travellers. And we limit the group size to 16 travellers so that you get all the attention you want in an intimate group.
There is no surcharge for single travellers - we will match you with another same sex single traveller. If you want a single room there is a an optional upgrade that you can book.
This tour is 100% operated by Grasshopper Adventures. The guides are our full time employees, the hotels booked by our local office staff, and the bikes are part of our local fleet. We are not outsourcing any element of this tour so you can be assured of 100% Grasshopper quality.
for Ultimate Taiwan Ride
Arrival Day in Taipei
On Day 1 people will be arriving throughout the day. We’ll meet in the evening to get to know one another over dinner and have an introductory briefing to the exciting ride ahead.
Cycle to Jiaoxi
This morning we’ll start with a bike fitting and then ride our way out of the city, working our bikes southeast on a lovely little road which passes through tea plantations before emerging at Jiaoxi near the East Coast where we stay in an attractive resort with hot springs.
Cycle to Wuling Farm
Today’s ride is one of the most challenging of the entire route, taking us from near sea level all the way up to Wuling Farm at 1800m. Our ascent follows the course of the wild Lanyang River, and begins gently enough, but gradually ramps up as we proceed further into the mountains. We overnight in Wuling Farm, one of a number of government re-settlement projects which encouraged the development of high altitude agriculture back in the 1960s. Whilst the farms still flourish, these days the natural splendour of the surroundings draws adventurers from around the island.
Cycle to Taroko Gorge
The day begins with yet more ascent, reaching the highest point on Taiwan’s road system at 3280m before beginning the exhilarating descent down into Taroko Gorge which forges its way through the Central Mountain Range. Whether shrouded in mist or glowing in sunlight, this sheer marble gorge is a captivating sight and we’ll overnight in the heart of the chasm.
Rest Day in Taroko Gorge
Today is a rest day and you’re free to explore the gorge’s network of hiking trails, relax amidst the gorgeous scenery, or for the die-hard cyclists among you, there’s the opportunity to have a shot at part of the famous King of the Mountain route, one of the most challenging rides on the planet, which involves over 3000m of ascent in a little over 100km!
Ruisui, East Rift Valley
After a day out of the saddle we start early to make the exhilarating ride down through Taroko Gorge to emerge onto the Pacific Coast. Avoiding the main highway we ride narrow lanes lined with banana palms and temples, taking beachside rest stops on our way south. After lunch we’ll move into the picturesque but little visited East Rift Valley, cycling through prime tropical fruit growing country with towering mountains on either side. Ride’s end is a lovely resort set amidst beautiful countryside where a refreshing pool and soothing hot springs await.
Cycle to Zhiben
Today we continue cycling further south through lush green rice paddies and small indigenous communities before crossing the Coastal Mountain Range to one of the most spectacular stretches of Pacific Coast. After lunch we skirt the city of Taitung and then move inland to our overnight stop in the small resort town of Zhiben, where once again there are hot springs to rejuvenate you for tomorrow’s cracking ride.
Cycle to Kenting
We return to the coast and then continue south along the East Coast, climbing over a series of headlands which afford stunning ocean vistas. The coastal route then flattens out before bearing inland and beginning the long, gradual ascent into hills of the Hengchun Peninsula. Once we’ve reached the top we bear off the main east-west route onto a lovely little road through remote jungle dotted with the odd indigenous village before bringing us back down to the coast. The coastal stretch here is one of Taiwan’s finest, with the road running right alongside the ocean, passing windswept beaches and abandoned military bases before once again ascending into the jungle. The last leg of the ride takes us all the way to the island’s southernmost point, from there it’s just a short ride to Kenting, Taiwan's tropical playground. In the evening we’ll head out for dinner and have the chance to explore Kenting nightmarket.
Rest Day in Kenting
Today is free to relax on some of Taiwan's best beaches, hike in the national park, surf, snorkel or just read a book and rest! As well as Taiwanese and indigenous cuisine, Kenting has a host of Western-oriented cafés and restaurants serving food from around the globe. We leave lunch and dinner open today to indulge in whatever you happen to be craving.
Cycle to Santimen
Today we’ll head north into Taiwan’s banana belt, giving the legs some rest on a flat route which skirts the mountains through the heartland of the Paiwan people. We’ll spend the night near the indigenous settlement of Santimen.
Cycle to Baolai
This morning is free to explore the beautifully situated Santimen Indigenous People’s Cultural Park, which showcases Taiwan’s indigenous tribes, and gives some background to the people living in the remote parts of the island covered on our route. Alternatively, you could take a short but strenuous ride up highway 24 which climbs into the mountains that are home to the Rukai people. After an early lunch we’ll commence today’s ride proper, following the Laonong River Valley north to the mountain settlement of Baolai where hot springs and tasty indigenous food await.
Cycle to Guanziling
Whilst our final day’s ride isn’t too long, it is fittingly challenging, and throws up its fair share of hills! We backtrack a few kilometers before heading west on a beautiful mountain road passing lakes and historic settlements before joining ‘the coffee road’ to Guanziling. We’ll ride through orange groves and past giant boulders and will break for lunch at one of the local planation cafes. We’ll make a short diversion to see Guanziling’s famed Fire Water Pool, where flames miraculously emerge from the waters of a mountain pond. On arrival at our hotel we have one last chance to soak in hot springs, this time infused with mud!
Transfer to Taipei & Celebratory Dinner
Today we’ll check-out and make the 4-5 hour drive back to Taipei. On arrival you’ll have some time to relax or take a bit of a wander, before heading out for a celebratory dinner to mark the end of our ultimate Taiwan ride.
The tour ends today after breakfast. You are free to leave at any time.
NB. The itinerary is subject to change without notice in the case of extreme conditions (see Weather).
What's the Riding Like?
9 days riding
We ride on well-made roads some of which have designated cycle lanes. The terrain varies from steep ascents and descents in the mountains to gently undulating along parts of the East Coast. Traffic is generally light although there will be stretches on busier roads.
Taiwan’s varied topography and location on the Tropic of Cancer gives it a diverse climate with countless separate micro-climates. Broadly speaking the best times to visit are autumn (October to December), which generally offers clear, warm sunny weather (18-28°C) and spring (March-May), which has similar if slightly wetter conditions, with the humidity on the rise as summer approaches.
Summers (June to the end of September) are hot and humid (28-35°C) with the risk of heavy tropical downpours and typhoons, particularly in July, August and September. This said if you’re prepared for the heat and the remote possibility of a typhoon this is also a beautiful time to ride in Taiwan – the hills are alive with flowers and wildlife, tropical fruits burst from seemingly every tree, and many villages celebrate traditional festivals. This is also the time you’ll see the most local riders out on the road.
The 'cold' of winter (December to March) is really only felt in the north and northeast (12-24°C), which are prone to rain showers and colder temperatures, but in the south and southwest conditions are typically dry and mild during this period. Winter is generally a very comfortable time to ride, particularly in the south, and is the most enjoyable time to soak in the island’s countless hot springs.
What our guests tell us...
Just a selection of our great reviews!
Incredibly well organized, friendly staff you want to know long-term, luxurious food and accommodation at modest cost
Thank you very much for a wonderful and most memorable cycling trip! This was my first cycling trip and I was not sure what to expect - our tour guides and the whole team were great to work with! The scenery was breathtaking and the tour overall was very well catered for. I would recommend this tour to any cyclist who wished to explore the wonderful scenery Taiwan has to offer (at pace) as well as getting a little exercise!
We had a great time. Loved Taiwan, the people, the countryside, the food and especially the custard apples!
Cycling in Taiwan is as good as road cycling gets. The back roads are excellent quality, quiet and some of the funnest rolling hills ever.
Great experience, exceptional value for money. This is my second tour with Grasshopper and I would strongly recommended them.
Video testimony from other tours...
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