Bicycling Taiwan’s East Coast: Day 3, Taimali to Hengchun

Day 3 (3/16/2014) – Taimali (太麻里) to Hengchun (恆春), 130 km

Out of all three days, this was the most difficult. Not only is the mileage increased, but there are much more hill climbs. I woke up at the crack of down and promptly left around 6am knowing that it would be a long day, but well worth it.

Route (Highway 11 》199 》199甲 》 26 》 200):  Taimali (太麻里) 》Dawu (大武) 》 Hengchun (恆春)

Leaving Taimali (太麻里) and heading south, Highway 9 turns into a long slow climb towards to Dawu (大武). The road does switchback a few times, and in certain locations the shoulder becomes very skinny. There are a few blinds turns that will make any rider a little nervous. I try to push through these corners to spend as little time as possible in these areas. There are tour buses that are constantly screaming by, and sometimes way to close for comfort.

Highway 9 between Taimali and Dawu. Shoulder is occupied by a deep rain gutter. Road has switch backs with blind corners and no fisheye mirrors.

When you see a falling rock sign, they aren’t kidding. This is area is notorious for this due to erosion, and it can even occur when it’s not raining.

Syuhai (旭海) Hot Springs . Towards the end of 199甲 near the 200 junction.

This entire time, I had one thought: it was really good I stopped in Taimali the night before. I had considered doing it to make a last big push to Dawu but doing this at sunset, or even worse at night wouldn’t have been the best idea.

Right near Dawu Harbor, there is an entry to go to Jinlong Scenic Area (金龍湖風景區). GPS: 22o20’28.4″N, 120o53’36.8″E

 

Once hitting Highway 9 junction, there are is a 7Eleven and FamilyMart. It would be good to stock up here because there next convenient store isn’t until about 15 km outside of Hengchun.

 

Once heading westward on the 9, it is a constant steep grade for about 5 km. Better hope your legs are still fresh. If not, there are plenty of areas to stop and rest.

I didn’t have the energy to take a picture of the steep climb, but there are many switchbacks with very many tour buses and motorcycle groups. Exercise caution.

Saw many cyclists coming down the hill as I was coming. Not sure if it was a better route. Also saw two Giant sag cars. Based on the appearance of some of the riders, it didn’t look like an official bike event. During the climb, I lost count of the numbers of thumbs up.

The views of the valley after the climb. Don’t expect too much here…

The junctions for all the following highways are very clearly marked, you can’t miss them

Road 199

Stray doggy alert! @ 199/199甲 junction

I saw so many groups of cyclists on this road. There is a sense of community when many of them scream, “加油!” (Go! Go!) while passing by. It’s especially energizing after the climb. The majority of this road is downhill and amazing. Probably one of the best roads I’ve ever ridden.

Turn off for 199甲. Single lane road.

A common and motivating sight. 199甲

I was so enamored with everything on this road (199甲) that I didn’t take that many pictures. Just means you’ll have to take my word that it was awesome!

Nearly vacant beach off Highway 26

No wonder there are falling rocks!

Newly paved highway 26

As 26 turns in 200, the road is obviously much older and turns inland. Inevitably, there is another climb, but not too bad. Saw many birds and monkeys. The jungle-ish/ocean environments makes me think that this a mix between Big Sur in California and the Road to Hana in Maui.

26 turns into 200. Windy road, falling rocks, but good for bikes!

On Highway 200, about 20km to HengChun. From here on out, the roads are relatively flat.

On highway 200. Empty roads, little to no cars, and close to Hengchun. Couldn’t be happier!

There traffic gets annoyingly the closer to Hengchun, particularly the tour buses. A few areas I opted to ride in the dirt, otherwise it felt too dangerous.

Made it into Hengchun!

Overall

The ride overall was by the most amazing ride I’ve been on in one day. It took me from the coast to mountain switchbacks back to the coast, and then through what felt like a jungle. The roads narrowed into a single lane (199,199甲,26) where cyclists were more commonly seen than cars.

As amazing as all this sounds, there are some dangerous parts of the road. Those comfortable enough to be riding alongside tour buses should be OK, but if you haven’t done a bike tour before, I would work up to this. Fallen rocks on the road made certain areas tricky to navigate and the downhills, though thrilling, can be dangerous because of the slick asphalt from running water and high humidity.

The ride from Taimali is a push. I started at 6:30 am and ended up in Hengchun around 4:00pm. I had a few rather long breaks along the way.

The temperature difference is noticeably warmer in the south. I saw many people wearing full on arm and leg warmers with scarves to protect them against the sun. I have no idea how they survive. I felt like I was already in a sauna with just shorts and a tshirt.

Accomodations

There are many accommodations along this route after 199甲 on highway 26, and 200. Some are pretty shoddy and others are resort style.

If camping, there are plenty of turnout locations and on beach areas where it would be very easy. Public restroom aren’t common since there aren’t as many convenient stores.

Places Worth Spending More Time 

Dawu Forest Trails, 大武國家森林步道 – There are many trails, and small roads that are rather nice for a bike ride. Being a little worried about time, I didn’t venture too far in.

Dawu Forest Trails, 大武國家森林步道. GPS: 22º20’28.4″N, 120º53’36.8″E

Xuhai Hot Springs, 旭海溫湶 – Situated within Xuhai (旭海), this resort style hot springs is situated in what feels like a forest. It is affordable. $50NT/adult; $400NT/4 guest bathhouse; $900NT/6 guest bathhouse

Xuhai hot springs, 旭海溫湶. Credit: vrwalker.net

Photos: Link to full Flickr album here

Video: 3-day Cycling Video – Taiwan East Coast

 

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2 thoughts on “Bicycling Taiwan’s East Coast: Day 3, Taimali to Hengchun

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