Sign Up for Our Monthly Asia Newsletter
Cycling culture in Taiwan is vibrant and widespread. Home to Giant Bicycles, the world’s largest bike manufacturer, the country has wholly embraced the pastime and has developed impressive cycle-centric infrastructure.
Below are just a few of the island’s greatest cycling routes for both amateurs and competitive adrenaline junkies alike.
Race Through the MountainsFor serious cyclists looking for a thrill, point them to the mountains of Taiwan. Many toptier mountain cyclists view the King of the Mountain (KOM) race as the challenge of a lifetime. Because it’s widely recognized as one of the most difficult hill-climbing events in existence, this event continues to attract some of the world’s best athletes to eastern Taiwan.
Over the course of six hours and 65 miles, cyclists will race from sea level to a peak of 10,744 feet.
This annual journey from Hualien to Wuling is not for the faint of heart — or the untrained.
When you cycle around Taiwan, you can see local culture, history and agriculture that you wouldn’t discover if you traveled by train or car.
Circumnavigate the IslandEvery year, cyclists of all levels embark on The Formosa 900, a nine-day, 900-km (560-mile) journey that circumnavigates the whole island.
“It’s less difficult than the KOM, and you can see more,” said Ease Huang, the director of international affairs for the Taiwan Tourism Bureau (TTB). “When you cycle around Taiwan, you can see local culture, history and agriculture that you wouldn’t discover if you traveled by train or car.”
As opposed to the KOM race, this event is not a competition. If there’s any bike trouble along the way, clients shouldn’t fret — locals are known to meet Formosa 900 riders with hospitality.
“I once got a flat tire while cycling and was helped by a complete stranger,” Huang said. “Taiwanese people are very warm. You can find help anywhere you go.”
Although the Formosa 900 is held only once per year, cyclists can make the journey around the island at their own convenience. The Taiwan Cycling Route No. 1 is an excellent way to travel around Taiwan on a solo trip or with a smaller group. Various sections of this well-maintained route are easily accessible from many of Taiwan’s major cities, making for a great day trip.
Explore Rural RoutesTaiwan’s Romantic Route 3 was originally inspired by Germany’s Romantic Road, which leads cyclists through quaint Bavarian villages. But here, the route serves as a link between more than 10 rural townships that span central Taiwan.
“This route is great for both the cyclists and the local people,” TTB’s Huang said. “You can see our culture and try unique foods while also helping the small businesses in rural Taiwan.”
Along the trail, cyclists can interact with the history and culture of Taiwanese Hakka communities. Although Romantic Route 3 proves challenging at some points, the serene views and local experiences are a worthy reward for making the 93-mile journey.
Overall, Taiwan’s small size makes it a perfect destination for cyclists of all levels. But the best part of this type of exploration, says Huang, are the people whom cyclists meet along the way.
“Cyclists need to see the scenery for themselves,” Huang said. “And we always say, the most beautiful scenery in Taiwan is the people.”
As of press time, the U.S. State Department’s Do Not Travel global health advisory is in effect for Taiwan due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DetailsTaiwan Tourism Bureau eng.taiwan.net.tw