October 30, 2013
Cycling in the Bike Kingdom
Bikes are to Taiwan as pizza is to Italy, wine to France and hotdogs to the USA. At one time Taiwan was known as the "bike kingdom", so cycling and bikes are a given and a must do if one visits the island. Get out of the hotel and get yourself on a bike to explore the beauty of Taiwan and its people.
With over 100 kilometers of bike paths crisscrossing just the northern part of the island, Taiwan is a cycling paradise for biking aficionados. A majority of bike paths are vehicle free and are located along scenic spots such as rivers, parks and mountains. Even in the busy capital of Taipei, the city government has set up dedicated bike paths for bikers to avoid the cars and motorcycles and safely get around. Other provincial cities including Taichung, Hualian and Kaohsiung also offer similar vehicle free bikes paths.
Now that your motivated and ready to explore by bike, you just need to find a bike and destination. Bikes can be conveniently rented at both government and private rental shops. Lots of the rental shops are located along key tourist bike paths and simple bikes can be easily rented for as little as 20NTD per hour. For more advanced bikes (road and mountain bikes), the rental prices can climb to up to 2,000NTD per day. Don't fret; there is always a rental price to fit a budget.
If in Taipei, try the city's YouBike sharing system. It's really convenient and they have close to 68 self-service rental stations to date with close to 2,300 bikes available for rent. These bike rental stations are typically located near MRT stations and major government properties (buildings, parks). Visit their website (http://www.youbike.com.tw/info.php) on how to rent the bikes and download the free map detailing the bike rental locations. YouBike also offers a free app (search your app store for YouBike) for iOS and Android phones (only Chinese).
If you would prefer to buy rather than rent, Taiwan offers a lot of home grown world-class brands such as Giant and Merida. Purchase a bike at one of their stores and then take it home, as most airlines will be able to check it in (although check how much they will charge first). Some stores will even help you re-box it and have it ready for your flight.
Taiwan is a small island, but nowhere in the world can you expect to experience such a diverse environment, culture and people. Cycling is a wonderful way to enjoy your exploration of Taiwan. Regardless of your ability or experience, Taiwan will provide you with a world-class cycling adventure. Let's get cycling!
We are often asked where to find information about cycling in Taiwan, so we have put together some hopefully useful links:
Government Rental Information:
Private Rental Information:
As for a destination, finding a path in the "bike kingdom" to match your ability or time won't be an issue. It would be best to first pick up one of the free maps available at the Taiwan government travel kiosks or train/MRT stations, directly download a free map (links below) or go online to research popular bike paths. Listed below are some suggested rides.
•Previous article: Making Time in Taiwan
•Next article: Evergreen Maritime Museum