Bike riding may very well be the ultimate way to see and experience a foreign land. When Ralph Waldo Emerson penned “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey” we like to think he had just pedaled a 50 km around Massachusetts (bikes were invented during his generation). And when it comes to cycling expeditions, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better place to visit in East Asia than Taiwan, namely because of the routes to and from the island’s national parks. Below we detail three routes bike riding enthusiasts need to check out for impeccable views, nearby attractions, and a solid workout to boot.
Top 3 “Must Experience” Cycling Routes Around Taiwan’s National Parks and What You Need to Know
Kenting National Park – Provincial Highway 26
Kenting National Park continues to make our lists of “things to do” and experience in and around Taiwan. It’s home to Hollywood film locations, the island’s top dive sites, and is considered by many to be the top national park to visit. You can add cycling to the list, because it offers a beginner and intermediate friendly ride along the South Pacific coast via Provincial Highway 26. Inland Hwy 26 can be a terribly congested road, but once you hit the coast you may find yourself alone on the pavement for significant stretches and enjoying incredible scenery. The coastal portion of Hwy 26 includes numerous natural wonders, beaches, eateries, and plenty of places to pick up supplies. Hardcore riders might consider staying at the Yoho Bike Hotel in the Hengchun Township of Pinging, which is about 11 km from the National Park. The hotel is as it sounds, an accommodation that caters to cycling enthusiasts and includes every bike-friendly amenity (including a bike…spa) you can imagine. Explore the Google map below to see what you’ll see along the way:
Taroko National Park – Provincial Highway 8 and 9
Taroko National Park along Taiwan’s east coast offers riders some of the most amazing views in the whole world. Beginning within the park at Taroko Gorge (the most distinct feature in the park) you will an enjoy a mostly downhill ride through Zhuilu Tunnel, Jingheng Park, and Xipan Tunnel, along with what seems like innumerable collective of picturesque rest stops. You can even layover at some important temples along the way, including Budong Mingwang Temple and Changuang Temple, before arriving at the Taroko National Park East Entrance Arch Gate. From there, the east coast opens before your eyes and you can choose your own Highway 9 adventure, opting to ride south towards the Xincheng Township in Hualien County, or head north towards Qingshui Cliff, a 21 km long expanse of coastal cliffs averaging 800 meters above sea level – it sounds daunting but it’s manageable for riders of all skill levels, even if the scenery may be too much for the mind to comprehend. Explore the Google map below to see what you’ll see along the Highway 8 and 9 routes and decide which way from Taroko National Park you want to go:
Yangmingshan National Park – Provincial Highway 2 / Danjin Road
Also one of the top national park’s in Taiwan, Yangmingshan is found on the northern tip of the island and we highly recommend doing this ride in the spring season when the park’s famous cherry blossoms are in full bloom. That said, it’s an amazing journey all year round (weather permitting), and given that it’s a relatively small national park (located between Taipei city and the northern coast) you can see it all in one afternoon of cycling. Highway 2 boasts long stretches of fully separated bike lanes which makes the trek a pleasant one for those uncomfortable sharing the road with vehicles. When beginning within Yangmingshan, you can head northeast to the Jinshan District and take the coastal stretch (Highway 2 / Danjin Road) north. Or, you can take the 101 northwest and ride out on to Hwy 2 at Qianshuiwan Seaside Park (west on Danjin) or Baishawan Beach (east on Danjin), the latter of which is one of the best beach destinations near Taipei – a great place to pull off the road, relax, and even eat (there’s a great British fish & chips joint here). Take note that if you plan on doing the entire Hwy 2 loop to/from Yangmingshan, that it’s not all greenery, beaches, and sunbathers on the coastal route surrounding the National Park, as there are long stretches of industrial zones – but that’s perfect for those who want to ride without distraction and get some exercise after indulging on a few too many Gua Bao buns. Explore the routes around Yangmingshan National Park here:
The cities near the national parks above all have bike rental shops, and there are trains and buses that will allow bikes on board so that you can start your trek within the parks before hitting the coastal routes. That said, it’s best to go with a local guide who has experience pedaling the highways and smaller paths in each respective region. A guide will also connect you to preferred rental shops (and preferred rates) and will help you discover hidden gems along the way. Learn more about how it works, here.