“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.” ~ Ernest Hemingway
One of my favourite memories of Taiwan is exploring the island slowly on bicycles. Cycling allows you to experience a country intimately as you navigate the route with every pedal and form a unique connection with the areas you pass through. Riding a bicycle slows down your travel so you have the chance to engage all your senses throughout the journey and even interact with the locals.
Taiwan is considered the “Cycling Capital of Asia” with its impressive networks of cycle trails spread all over its picturesque landscape where over 70% of the island is covered by mountains. Cycling is so popular in Taiwan that 2021 was designated as the “Year of Cycling Tourism” to celebrate the cyclist-friendly facilities and infrastructure, and promote the healthy sports of cycling.
Do you know you can cycle around the island? The 968km Taiwan Cycling Route No. 1 encircles the entire island. Here’s some useful websites with tons of information about the routes, sights, and facilities: Taiwan Cycling Route No. 1 website and 2021 Year of Cycling Tourism websites (English) (Chinese).
This article serves as a guide to planning cycling trips in the south-eastern part of Taiwan, Taitung. With its diverse terrain flanked by valleys and the coast, Taitung is the dream destination in Taiwan for cycling expeditions. Taitung boasts two gorgeous natural landscapes: East Rift Valley National Scenic Area 花東縱谷國家風景區 and East Coast National Scenic Area 東部海岸國家風景區.
There are many cycling trails located in these two zones so I have compiled a recommended list. You can find out more about the recommended trails and other routes (not in this list) from the websites below. Tip: Click on the English tab at the top of the website to access the English version.
Want to explore more of Taitung beyond the cycling routes? Check out Top 10 Experiences in Taitung, Southeastern Taiwan for more information about how to get to Taitung and other ways to enjoy Taitung.
RECOMMENDED CYCLING TRAILS IN TAITUNG
EAST RIFT VALLEY NATIONAL SCENIC AREA 花東縱谷國家風景區
1. Chishang Bicycle Trail 池上環鄉自行車道
2. Guanshan Township Loop Bicycle Trail 關山環鎮自行車道
3. Luye Township Loop Bicycle Trail 鹿野龍田自行車道
EAST COAST NATIONAL SCENIC AREA 東部海岸國家風景區管理處
4. Changbin King Kong Avenue 長濱-忠勇社區自行車道
5. East Coast Bicycle Trail (Madaochenggong) 東海岸路線 (馬到成功)
1. CHISHANG BICYCLE TRAIL 池上環鄉自行車道
Chishang is perfect for cyclists of all ages for a relaxing half or full day trip. Once you exit from Chishang train station, you will be greeted by many bicycle rental shops where you can rent bicycles (single or double) and even electric bicycles.
Chishang bicycle trail has gained great popularity due to its Mr Brown Avenue 伯朗大道, also known as the Heaven Road. The gorgeous avenue is featured in commercials promoting Mr Brown Coffee and most notably EVA Air. The popular EVA Air commercial starring heart-throb Takeshi Kaneshiro riding through the paddy fields and leaning on a tree in Mr Brown Avenue has propelled the tree into massive “stardom” and it is affectionately called the “Takeshi Kaneshiro tree” these days.
The cycling trip doubles as a culinary trip as you will be treated to not just Chishang’s scenery and also local delicacies. Chishang is famous for its premium rice so you can fuel yourself with traditional Taiwanese rice bento after cycling around its paddy fields.
HIGHLIGHTS OF CHISHANG
DAPO POND 大坡池
MR BROWN AVENUE 伯朗大道
2013 EVA Air commercial starring Takeshi Kaneshiro riding through Chishang’s paddy fields. Look out for the famous “Takeshi Kaneoshiro Tree 金城武树” from 0.53!
DA CI BEAN CURD AND SKIN 大池豆包豆皮豆漿店 (FACEBOOK)
This shop has been selling homemade bean curd and bean curd skin for many years. They make their silky and fragrant bean curd using very traditional methods. I managed to take some photos of the “behind the scenes.” Highly recommend to visit this shop once you land in Chishang as they sell out early!
CHISHANG LUNCH BOX 池上便當
CHISHANG BENTO MUSEUM 悟饕池上飯包文化故事館 (FACEBOOK)
This museum has some informative displays about Chishang’s rice agricultural history. You can purchase packets of rice as souvenirs. The place is very popular with tourists as they serve lunch bentos, which you can enjoy in the atmospheric train carriages. I didn’t try the lunch bento here as it was too crowded.
QUAN MEI HANG CHISHANG BENTO 全美行池上鐵路月台便當 (FACEBOOK)
I found this local bento shop thanks to a local’s recommendation. This is one of the best bento sets I have ever tasted in Taiwan (not an exaggeration)!. There is a rich variety of ingredients and the rice is so fragrant!
2. GUANSHAN TOWNSHIP LOOP BICYCLE TRAIL 關山環鎮自行車道
This Guanshan bicycle trail is known as the “mother” of cycling trails in Taiwan as it is the first path in Taiwan to be built especially for cyclists. The area is divided into two sections: the “Water section” and “Mountain section.” Like Chishang, the rustic town is well equipped with cycling facilities. The area is popular for authentic local cuisine made from fresh local produce and one of the all-time favourite classics is Guan Shan stinky tofu and noodles. For cyclists looking for more mileage, Guanshan is connected to Chishang by the Chishang-Guanshan Access Road (about 17km).
HIGHLIGHTS OF GUANSHAN
GUANSHAN WATERFRONT PARK 關山親水公園
SUN MOON VIEWING PAVILION 綜觀日月亭
CHUN YI ZHI ICE POPSICLE 春一枝
Imagine enjoying fruits flavored ice popsicle on a hot summer day! Chun Yi Zhi 春一枝 is a secret by the locals! The irresistible ice popsicles are made from fresh fruits produced in the area. The story of the ice popsicles started when Li Ming Huang from Taipei moved to settle in Taitung. He found out that when local farmers had an oversupply of fruits, they would have to sell the fruits at low prices or give them away for free or even discard them. He helped the farmers to use their fruits to create 春一枝 ice popsicles, which are enjoyed by everyone!
You can purchase these iced goodies from the Honest Shop 诚实商店 where there is no shop attendant so you have to be honest and drop your money in a box in the shop. Isn’t this adorable?
春一枝冰棒: 鹿野76誠信商店 (Chun Yi Zhi Ice Popsicle Honest Shop) (by Spring Trading Company)
Address: 955台東縣鹿野鄉高台路76號 (No. 76號, Gaotai Rd, Luye Township, Taitung County, Taiwan 955)
GUAN SHAN STINKY TOFU 關山臭豆腐
GUAN SHAN NOODLES 關山傳統麵
3. LUYE LONGTIAN BICYCLE TRAIL 鹿野龍田自行車道
Luye is a quaint town famous for its Luye Highlands and plateau that is decorated with tea farms and seasonal flower fields. Luye’s Longtian Village is a historic and culturally rich community. During the Japanese colonial rule in Taiwan, it was the largest immigrant village. You can find Japanese-style buildings and the popular Luye Shrine in the village.
People flock to the town for leisure activities like paragliding. In the summer months, Luye is the stage of the world acclaimed Taiwan International Hot Air Balloon Festival, the second largest hot air balloon festival in Asia. Luye Highlands is the heart of the festival with its rolling green plains that offer panoramic views of the central mountain range. The festival runs from end June to early August. During the festival season, hot air balloons and experts congregate in Luye Highlands and colourful balloons soar daily in the early morning and late afternoon.
HIGHLIGHTS OF LUYE
LUYE TEA FARM 鹿野茶园
TAIWAN INTERNATIONAL HOT AIR BALLOON FESTIVAL 台灣國際熱氣球嘉年華
4. CHANGBIN KING KONG AVENUE 長濱-忠勇社區自行車道
Surrounded by the majestic King Kong mountain and the Pacific ocean, Changbin township is rich in culture and nature. It is home to the indigenous community of the Changguang tribe. Running across the town, the King Kong Avenue is an idyllic playground for cyclists as the panoramic road is not blocked by any street lamps or posts, and it opens up to the boundless green terraces and vast ocean.
With such this gorgeous scenery, it is no surprise that Changbin hosts the Changbin Double Waves King Kong Marathon 長濱雙浪金剛馬 annually. This sporting event is reputable to be one of the most scenic running routes in Taiwan. The name “Double Waves” illustrates the stunning landscape that runners can enjoy – the ocean waves when they run along the East Coast area and the “green waves” when the trees in the East Rift Valley sway to the rhythm of the wind. Interested to run a full or half marathon? Check out the marathon website.
HIGHLIGHTS OF CHANGBIN
KING KONG MOUNTAIN 金剛山
CHANGBIN DOUBLE WAVES KING KONG MARATHON 長濱雙浪金剛馬拉松
5. EAST COAST BICYCLE TRAIL (MADAOCHENGGONG) 東海岸路線(馬到成功)
East Coast Bicycle trail is the longest and most photogenic cycling route. The locals call it “maodaochengong” (馬到成功) as it starts from Mahengheng Avenue in Taitung City to Chenggong Township. The name is also fun wordplay as it combines the names of Mahengheng Avenue and Chenggong Township and it is also an idiom that means swift success . The route brings you from Taitung City and through the scenic Provincial Highway 11, also known as the “Blue Ocean Highway” that runs parallel to the Pacific ocean and connects Taitung to Hualien, to the iconic eight-arch bridge, Sanxiantai.
This ambitious route showcases the best of East Coat bicycle trails like the Taitung City Cycling Loop (Taitung Shanhai Bicycle Trail) and Sanxiantai-Chenggong Bicycle Trail. If you like a more relaxing ride, you can rent electric bicycle from shops in the city like A Du’s Shop (Taitung Sugar Factory, 阿度的店-台東糖廠) (Facebook).
Distance: 81.3 km
East Coast National Scenic Area administration organizes the 168km cycling expedition where cyclists challenge themselves to cycle from Taitung City to Chenggong Township and back to Taitung City. Check out the fun video below showing the participants completing the 168km cycling challenge in one day!
East Coast Bicycle Trail (Madaochenggong) 東海岸路線-成功三仙台 (馬到成功) – 168km challenge
HIGHLIGHTS OF EAST COAST BICYCLE TRAIL
FUGANG GEOPARK (XIAOYELIU) 富岡地質公園 (小野柳)
JIALULAN RECREATION AREA 加路蘭遊憩區
DONGHE BRIDGE 東河橋
JINZUN RECREATION AREA 金樽遊憩區
TAITUNG OPEN OF SURFING 臺灣國際衝浪公開賽
Besides being surrounded by the longest coastlines in Taiwan, Taitung is famed for its waves and it has become a mecca for surfers and surf events. In fall and winter, professional surfers head to areas like Jinzun and Dulan for surfing competitions. The annual Taiwan Open of Surfing is an exciting event in Taitung when you can surf or soak in the spirit of the ocean. I heard from locals that Chang Chen-yue 张震岳, also known as A-Yue or Ayal Komod, one of my favourite Taiwanese musicians, likes to visit Taitung to surf!
DOULI VISITOR CENTER 都歷遊客中心
AMIS FOLK CENTER 阿美族民俗中心
BAONON BIKEWAY 八嗡嗡自行車道
CHENGGONG SEASHORE PARK 成功海濱公園
JIHUI BIKE TRAIL 基翬自行車道
PISIRIAN TRIBE 比西里岸
EAST COAST LAND ARTS FESTIVAL 東海岸大地藝術
If you plan your cycling trip to the East Coast area during the East Coast Land Arts Festival, you are in for a cultural and visual treat. Spanning a few months, this unique festival showcases the scenic beauty, indigenous culture, and natural habitats through arts installations, activities, and popular concerts like the Moon Light Sea Concert, The coastline along Provincial Highway 11 is transformed to a wonderland of arts and nature. Visit the East Coast Land Arts Festival website for more information.
THE MOON LIGHT SEA CONCERT OF EAST COAST LAND ARTS FESTIVAL
HOT SPRINGS IN TAITUNG
After a day of cycling, the best activity to do is to soak in a hot spring. Other than being blessed with gorgeous nature and cycling trails, Taitung is the gateway to therapeutic hot springs. The rift mountains and valleys create the optimum conditions for hot springs filled with mineral rich water that have nourishing and rejuvenating properties.
In 2021-2022, Taitung County Government launched the Taitung Cozy Hot Spring Festival to promote different types of Taitung’s hot springs like hot spring resorts, boutique B&Bs with baths, and even all-natural hot spring along rivers. Visit the Taitung Cozy Hot Spring Festival 台東暖湯季 website (Chinese) to find your desired hot spring. Taitung County Government website has useful information in English.
WATCH THE SPECIAL TRAVEL VIDEO!
This article is a supplement to the virtual travel session “Rhythm of South-Eastern Taiwan: Cycling in Taitung” organized by Taiwan Tourism Bureau, Singapore. It is a special collaboration between whywendywrites and the East Rift Valley National Scenic Area and East Coast National Scenic Area. The video provides more information about the cycling routes and attractions. Watch the video here!
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