Bicycling Taiwan’s East Coast – Route

If there is one word to describe the east coast of Taiwan, “pretty” or “beautiful” sometimes won’t do it justice. The eastern coastline of Taiwan provides a scenic escape from the nearby bustling cities as a weekend of relaxation or an outlet for sport enthusiasts who enjoy hiking, camping, or surfing. It also has amazing provisions for those wanting to cycle along these road, allowing riders to weave inland if more mountainous climbs are desired. Inevitably, when I heard about this I immediately got hooked.

The Route

First question to ask is: What kind of bike tour are you looking for? There are usually three different types of responses:

  1. I need the continental breakfast and 24 hour service staff (hotel)
  2. I’d like a nice room with a shower, but a few cockroaches won’t bother me (B&Bs/Hostels)
  3. There’s an abandoned house, let’s hope the snakes aren’t poisonous! (camping)

I’d venture to say that most of the people reading this fall in either category (2) or (3). The good news is that finding accommodations or campsites is extremely easy along this route. However the following series of posts will cater to those who better identify with category 2.

If you are looking to camp, there is a camp site map available on Google Maps by Taiwancamping.net that includes locations all over Taiwan. If I had known this before I embarked on my trip, this would’ve been what I would’ve done. Well, there’s always next time!

There are two main routes: One inland (highway 9) and the other coastal (highway 11). The coastal route never got old. Highway 11 goes inland with a few climbs through some beautiful forests. I had not originally planned the entire route, but had an idea of where to go. The two proposed routes shown below were compiled after the trip, and both would be suitable, however I would suggest Route A for those who wants a bit more climbs and maybe have cycling for awhile. Both start in Hualien and finish in HengChun. References below suggest avoiding highway 9 at all costs – good for cars, not for bicycles.

Route A (Inland Route):
Hualien –> Ruisui        193
Ruisi –> Taimali           193, 64, 11
Taimali –>  Kending    11,199, 199甲, 26, 200

Route B (Coastal Route) – Actual Route done:
Hualien –> ChengBin                         11
Chengbin –> Taimali                          11
Taimali –> HengChun (Kending)      11,199, 199甲, 26, 200

A family friend drove me through the first day of Plan A route and the road looked amazing, but for the entire time we were on the road, I had only seen a few cars. This is a blessing and a curse. Since I was embarking on this journey alone and if something were to happen, it may be awhile until anyone could assist. Also, the hills are much more intense (not that would change anything of course 😉 ). I passed on Route A on the condition that I would return and do it again with a close buddy 🙂

Route Summary – Route B

Total Mileage according to bikemaps.net: 305 km (189 miles)
Total Mileage according to my bicycle computer: 349 km (216 miles) with 2,240 m (7,349 feet) total vertical climb

The extra mileage accounts for a few wrong turns and a few side roads I explored. I would assume bikemaps.net accounts for the added mileage due to the elevation grade, but not sure.

Route B (Coastal Route) – Click picture for BikeMaps.net link

Elevation Map

The roads for the most part had very wide shoulders and felt very safe. The route from Taimali to HengChun does have some no-shoulder areas where extra cautions needs to be taken. Additionally, the gutters along the shoulder here are DEEP (reaching ~4 feet), something I had not been used to in the U.S. The further south I rode, the more kids/store owners/cyclists/scooterists I met cheering me on from the side of the road, screaming “加油!加油!” . Definitely a cool feeling, like riding in the Tour de Taiwan.

Links

Overview/pictures can be found here along with more detailed information of common overnight stays.

Day 1 – Hualien to Changbin

Day 2 – Changbin to Taimali

Day 3 – Taimali to Hengchun

Video

References

Different route from Taitung to Kending. This route was what I had planned initially but later changed to Route B based on suggestions from local motorcyclists.
Advice for an East coast Trip – suggestions – Forumosa.com
First Time in Taiwan, need – Forumosa.comt
A Taiwan 8 (the 7-11 Free Tour)– Crazyguyonabike. This web site has a lot of routes for places all around the world

Taiwan Camping Locations – Locations to camp around Taiwan, hosted by Taiwancamping.net. Its an exhaustive map, but does not appear to have participating schools and police stations who also offer inexpensive/free options for camping

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