Formosa - Cycling The Beautiful Island
Many years ago whilst cycling alone across China I wondered what China would have been like had the civil war gone the other way and communism had never taken over. I rode and pondered, and then I realised - Taiwan - it is after all to where the Kuomintang fled when they felt they may be less than popular in China.
It took me some time to eventually get to the Beautiful Island - as Taiwan's previous name Formosa translates from Portuguese to English- and once there I was bamboozled as to why Taiwan is not the world’s cycling mecca. If I were to sum it up in a word, I would simply say, wonderful.
At a Glance
Total Days: 11
Cycling Days: 8
Daily Average: 75km
Max. Alt.: 500m
You will be met by a driver at Taipei's international airport and whisked to our joining hotel where you will be greeted by your tour leader. Typically the group will meet on the first evening of the tour for a briefing before our first meal together. Full details will be sent to you prior to the tour.
Once the tour began and we started cycling it became evident that David had been meticulous with his planning, as we wound our way through peaceful country roads heading to our next overnight stop where we were met with delightful accommodation, good food and more cold beer.
Mark - UK on Taiwan
This tour was designed to be one of the PaintedRoads' less demanding tours and we have tried to keep climbing to a minimum. However, there are a few climbs and the longest day in the saddle is a tad over 100kms with the average daily distance being 75kms. Road conditions are generally good with a lot of dedicated cycling routes incorporated into the tour and very little off of sealed roads. For those who have been with us before this tour is of a similar physical level to the Thailand tours and South Vietnam's Mekong tour. Please feel free to get in touch to discuss any concerns you may have about the difficulty level.
David's attention to not only the cycling details, but the well-being of all his guests is obvious as he takes time to chat with everyone out on the road managing to make sure everyone is comfortable. All I can say is that if you are after a relaxing cycling holiday with good company then i really don't think you can go wrong with Painted Roads, David will answer any questions about what the tour involves and what you should be prepared for - I can't wait for the next tour!
Mark Hoskins - United Kingdom on Taiwan
At PaintedRoads we hold firmly to the opinion that using your own bike, the bike on which you feel at home and comfortable is the finest way to enjoy a cycling adventure, but If you do wish to hire a bicycle we can arrange for the hire of good quality cycles from our in-country agent. Typically these bikes are mountain bikes, often Trek 3 series or similar machine by Giant.
Most kinds of bicycle, except light-weight racing bikes, are suitable for this tour: touring bikes, mountain bikes, hybrids or cyclocross and gravel bikes are all fine. Road conditions vary from asphalt to gravel and some hard packed dirt tracks. Tyres from 35mm in width upwards will be fine.
This was my fourth tour with David and the Painted Roads team and as always from the moment I arrived in Taipei I knew that i was going to have a great holiday - David had as always found a perfect base to start the tour from with a plentiful supply of cold beer close to hand
Mark Hoskins - Wolverhampton England, on Taiwan
Taiwan is often warm, so the ability to carry one or two water bottles is essential (either on your bike or in a backpack). Our back-up vehicle carries water and tools although for those competent with tools bringing your own pump, puncture kit, and multi took is recommended as it would speed up repairs and minor adjustments. If bringing your own bike please bring along a few spare spokes that fit your wheels (please note that different wheels have different size spokes). If your bike has disk brakes or hub gears please bring any components that you feel may be necessary. We carry some spares for our hire bikes but we cannot guarantee that we will have any tubes other than 26” car type valves. Tyres and tubes other than 26” can be difficult to come by in many parts of the world so please make sure you have spares. If in doubt please ask at your local bike shop. A means of carrying your camera, sunblock etc is also useful – either an on-bike bag, handlebar or saddlebag for example or a lightweight day-pack.
•Recommendation: Although our hire bikes come equipped with a saddle if you have a saddle you use and are happy with it is strongly recommended that you use it on tour. If you use SPD type shoes please bring your own matching pedals. We are happy to fit these for you. You may also like to bring bar ends if you use them at home.
A well paced meander along the eastern shores of a fascinating country discovering a little visited part of the world with spectacular scenery, smooth roads, and a safe and clean environment.
Kevin Edkins - Stratfod-Upon-Avon on Taiwan
ESSENTIAL! Please be sure that your bicycle is in perfect condition before you leave home. Again, if in doubt please consult your local bike shop.
(meals key: B = breakfast; L = lunch; D = dinner)
Day 1: Taipei - Arrival.
Arriving at Taipei’s international airport you will be met by a driver and driven to your hotel where you will be treated by your tour leader. In the evening the group will meet for a briefing followed by our first evening meal together.
Day 2: Taipei - Tamsui.
There cannot be many cities in the world, let alone Asia where cycling out from the centre can be seen as a pleasure, but such is the nature of Taipei that to ride from the city along the Tamsui River cycle path is a surprising and thoroughly enjoyable warm-up for our journey ahead. We will arrive at our hotel near the Tamsui estuary in time for a stroll and a relaxing pre-dinner drink in a riverside café.
Day 3: Tamsui - Keelung.
Our first full day on the road begins with a climb as we head slightly inland before descending to the coast. We pass graveyards and multi-story Buddhist temples during a descent that will deliver us to a wonderful series of seaside bicycle trails that lead us past beaches and harbours and at times cling to the beachside cliff face en route to the north coast town of Keelung.
Day 4: Keelung - Luodong.
We leave central Keelong on a busy but wide road heading for the Keelung River. Here we once again join a car-free cycling route that leads us along the valley. Turning east we join a climb on a deserted byway through a region of tranquil forest. The climb is short but tough, and some may need to push. But as we climb the sound of silence is broken only by the occasional babbling stream and bird song (and perhaps the wheezing of your tour leader). Dropping down we follow another riverside rural road to the cost where we cut through a mountain via a disused railway tunnel that has now become a cycleway.
Our journey along the east coast begins now as we follow a busier road that cuts between the mountains and rugged coastline. We have a shoulder to ride on but for those uncomfortable with the heavier traffic, the support truck is always at hand. After 20kms the area between sea and mountains widens and our onward journey is a variety of wide shoulder, bicycle path and traffic free seaside paths as we pass through small towns and rice fields on the official North Bicycle Route 1 to our town centre lodgings for the night.
Day 5: Luodong - Hualien: Exploring Taroko Gorge
After breakfast, we can enjoy fine views of the Pacific Ocean as we let a locomotive take the strain for an hour or so as we avoid the narrow busy tunnels of the coastal road leading south.
Remounting our bicycles an absolute treat awaits as we head into the stunningly impressive Taroko Gorge. We climb on a gentle gradient between the towering walls of this marble canyon on 20kms. From the far end of the gorge, we turn and retrace our path enjoying quite different views as we head towards our evening's lodgings. The final third of this varied day sees us follow quiet paths with little traffic as we head towards Hualien.
Day 6: Hualien - Yuli: Riding the East Rift Valley.
Riding the East Rift Valley one could be forgiven for believing this road was created exclusively for two wheels. The road is all but bereft of cars, it's well surfaced, and it meanders through a beautiful valley of citrus groves, beetle nut palms and pineapple plantations leading eventually to a wider valley of vivid green rice fields and our hot spring resort. Another delightful day's cycling through Taiwan.
Day 7: Yuli - Dulan.
A gentle six-kilometre climb begins our day as we cross the mountain barrier between the East Rift Valley and the Pacific. We pass through a well-lit tunnel as our beautiful descent to the sea, curving between mountain views and ocean vistas, begins. Once back at sea level we follow the coast, sometimes on highway side bike lanes, sometimes on winding bicycle paths, and otherwise on rural country lanes as we head towards the surfer seaside town of Dulan where we can rest, refresh, and recharge.
Day 8: Dulan - Rest Day.
Dulan is a small town used as a base for surfers. Quite and relaxed the town sports beaches, coffee, chilled beer and pizza, fine ingredients for a rest day. Our hotel boasts a veranda, a pleasant garden and fines sea views making it ideal for relaxing ready for the rest of our ride.
Day 9: Dulan - Dawu.
Back on the bikes, today's route south follows the coast on a series of routes from highways to bicycle paths to tracks to coastal paths that lead us beside the azure Pacific Ocean Coastline. As we ride rugged views will share our attention with fishing harbours beaches and estuaries as we head for the little town of Dawu.
Day 10: Dawu - Kenting Street.
A truly Spectacular coast to coast ride across Taiwan is a fitting finale to a tour never to be forgotten. The day begins with a short coastal ride south before heading inland on an eleven-kilometre climb. From the pass, we begin a ride through beautiful green hills that lead onto a coastal road around the southern cape of Taiwan, where the rugged sea views rival those of finest ocean roads anywhere on earth. Quiet roads and stunning vistas mark the end of a thoroughly wonderful exploration of Isle Formosa, the beautiful island. (Those wishing to skip the initial climb can, of course, hop in the bus for the first hour and enjoy the rest of the day which is predominantly downhill).
Day 11: Finish.
The tour official finished today at our beautiful authentic hotel in Kenting Street. Having come this far, many people may wish to stay on and enjoy the beaches and dining of Kenting Street, or hop on a bike and explore a little more of Kenting National Park. For those flying out of Kaohsiung international airport or heading back to Taipei, we will arrange a group transfer in the morning. For those staying on longer, we can advise as to onward transport options including highspeed rail, road and domestic flights.
Markers below are clickable as are the markers on the map itself.
We're sorry we don't have any future dates for this trip in the calendar yet. Do please get in touch if you'd like to ask about some dates or a custom trip.