When I first heard about cycling around Taiwan, I got hooked. In fact, many roads are very suitable for cyclists so long as you are not going during typhoon season. These roads seemingly cater to bicyclists with bicycle stations situated easily within every 15 km. It doesn’t require as much packing for just-in-case scenarios, but with any trip, some foresight is required. I’ll tell you what I brought and what I wish I brought.
The Packing List
This following is a list of items I brought and fit within a decent sized Camelbak. I ended up spending 3 days prior in Hualien, 6 days after in Kending/Kaohsiung. With a 3 day ride it totals to [3+3+6] 12 days. Obviously food and water is bought along the way, and clothes were washed whenever possible. It fit tightly in my backpack but, the help having the additional two rear panniers help relieve the bulging. The temperature varied between 12-23 C. In some valleys, it had dipped below 12C.
Camelback w/ 2.2 Liter bladder
Canon Powershoot camera
Smartphone + charging cable
(1) pair of long polyester pants
(1) short polyester pants, two pairs of underwear, rain coat
(1) Waterproof shell (jacket)
(1) Light, breathable jacket
(1) short sleeve
(1) padded shorts
(1) arm warmers
(1) long sleeve compression shirt
(1) pair of long and short gloves
(1) pair of tennis shoes
(2) pairs of socks Toiletries (+swabs, sanitizer)
The DSLR was not taken on the trip. I’m always on the fence about carrying it because of the weight. The camelback worked out great because I did not have a water bottle. The rain jacket was an absolute must. I rarely leave on a hike or go on multi-day trips without it. There is an abundance of maps available at every Tourist Center (客遊中心). The hard part is not taking them all. I found a map of entire Taiwan in Chinese helped particularly when asking for directions.
What to Leave at Home (If you are renting a bicycle)
I can only speak for the rental program I mention here in this blog. Each Giant store is different and will provide a different type of bike and associated equipment. It is best to verify over the phone or in person. I had been told over the phone but had not seen in person until the pickup day. You can find a list of my rental equipment here.
What I would change if I were to do this again
- An attachable mirror (to helmet or handlebars). I was expecting to purchase one in Taiwan, but no luck. There are many trucks on the road that get a little too close for comfort. Especially in tunnels, scooters sound like cars, cars sound like trucks, and trucks sound steam engine trains. Knowing what is coming from behind helps.
- Leg warmers. I intentionally left these at home thinking that weather in Taiwan cannot possible be warm. Detachable leg warmers would have been much better than the pants I wore. Some of the valleys can get pretty nippy.
- Sunscreen is inexplicably expensive in Taiwan. It might be because I was only looking at 7Eleven. But even so, the sunscreen I bought looked like milk and I’m pretty sure it had the same effectiveness as milk. Either buy the expensive stuff, or bring what you have from home.
- Compass. Maybe a bit old school so this low on the list. I generally carry one around but lost it my 2nd day here. Finding your direction along the coast is pretty easy, but it can be a small insurance tool in case your phone/GPS does not work.
As with anything, your mileage may vary. Make sure to check the weather before heading out. Winter months may call for more layers.