Speed Up on the West Coast – A Strategy to Cover the West when Cycling Around Taiwan

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The Classic 9-Day Cycling Around Taiwan (referred to as the Classic 9-Day itinerary hereafter) offers a comprehensive route allowing cyclists to experience various facets of Taiwan, including the Riverside Bikeways, coastal areas, inland towns, farmlands, and the rift valley. However, some cyclists may find it less appealing to navigate through numerous small towns in the last 20 km of Day 2, the entire Day 3, and Day 4, as Cycle route No. 1 directs riders into the more populous areas on the west side of the island. The increased traffic and lengthy traffic lights during these three days could disrupt our tempo, test our patience, and impede our progress.

If the itinerary of these two day doesn’t appeal to you and you’re not planning to make a detour to Sun Moon Lake, consider sticking to the less populous coast for reduced traffic and fewer traffic lights. Along this route, roads stretch forward into the limitless horizon, offering uninterrupted cycling with splendid sea views. You can stop at both big and small fishing harbours for breaks and overnight stays. During seasons with north prevailing winds providing tailwinds, it is possible to cover more than 200 km a day by combining two days or more into one. If you’re up for the challenge of cycling around the island in fewer days, this is the route to take.

Day 1 Songshan to Hsinchu Hugging the West Coast

Embark on a riverside bikeway journey to Guandu, then trace the west coast from Bali for an uninterrupted cruise to Hsinchu on a flat, wide route.

In contrast to the Day 1 route in the Classic 9-Day itinerary, which follows the river to Taoyuan followed by a brief climb and descent to Hsinchu, this route takes you to Bali Old Street on the west coast. This area boasts a sparse population, allowing for a seamless seafront cruise with minimal interruptions at traffic lights. Most of the traffic is on the elevated Provincial Highway 61, leaving the ground level for bicycles and creating a quieter atmosphere. Along the way, enjoy scenic spots like the Caota Sand Dunes. After passing Yongan Fishing Harbour, consider taking the Xinwu Green Corridor, a popular bikeway. small hotels dot the coast of Hsinchu, and additional options are available in the city center, just 10 km from the coast.

Route

NOTE: To use the routes, please install the App on your smartphone. The App will launch and load the route automatically after you tap the above links on your smartphone’s browser. For Garmin Connect, you can then use the APP to send the route to your garmin device. If your Garmin device is not purchased in Taiwan, you will also need make sure you have the Taiwan map on your device. Here is our blog post on this topic.

Day 2 Hsinchu to Taichung or Lukang

Cycle southward on the long, flat road along the seafront to witness the mesmerising wind farms and scenic beauty of Gaomei Wetlands. Spend the night in either the Wuqi District of Taichung or the historic port city of Lukang, renowned for its rich historical heritage.

While the last 20 km of Day 2 in the Classic 9-Day itinerary guides you toward populous inland areas, this route directs you to the coast further south, offering thrilling speed rides. The route concludes in Lukang, providing an array of hotel and restaurant choices for dinner. Lukang, once a bustling trading port for deer skins and hides during the Dutch Period, has evolved into a popular tourist destination featuring numerous temples and traditional buildings. 

If reaching Lukang seems challenging, the Wuqi District in Taichung also offers hotel accommodations.

In the the suggested route for Day 2, I have included a section to go from Hsinchu Station to the Coast via a dedicated bikeway in case you stayed in near the train station the previous night.

Route

NOTE: To use the routes, please install the App on your smartphone. The App will launch and load the route automatically after you tap the above links on your smartphone’s browser. For Garmin Connect, you can then use the APP to send the route to your garmin device. If your Garmin device is not purchased in Taiwan, you will also need make sure you have the Taiwan map on your device. Here is our blog post on this topic.

Day 3  Taichung or Lukang to Budai

Bid farewell to Lukang and continue along the endless, straight, flat road until you reach teh small island of Budai.

If you’re making good progress, consider a short detour to the lighthouse in Fangyuan, where tourists often ride tractors to visit oyster farms and experience oyster harvesting. Returning to the main route, further south, another brief detour to Dongshi offers plenty of restaurants serving fresh oysters.

As you travel past Dongshi, you’ll pass the Tropic of Cancer, entering Taiwan’s tropical area where temperature rises.

Upon reaching Budai, the fish market awaits, offering delicious seafood to reward your day of hard work. Please be aware that they close early.

Route

NOTE: To use the routes, please install the App on your smartphone. The App will launch and load the route automatically after you tap the above links on your smartphone’s browser. For Garmin Connect, you can then use the APP to send the route to your garmin device. If your Garmin device is not purchased in Taiwan, you will also need make sure you have the Taiwan map on your device. Here is our blog post on this topic.

Day 4 Budai to Kaohsiung

Day 4 marks another day of non-stop cycling along the west coast. We’ll depart from Chiayi, pass through Tainan, and converge with Day 5 of the Classic 9-Day itinerary in Kaohsiung. Along the way, you may notice many ponds with water wheels in Tainan. these are likely farms cultivating the ubiquitous milkfish and clams found in Taiwanese supermarkets and restaurants.

The lengthy Provincial Highway 17 will guide us to the west side of the urban area of Tainan City. Though traffic is bustling, it’s a short distance before we exit the city on our way to Kaohsiung. In addition to oysters and milkfish, beef soup is a beloved dish in Tainan. To explore local options, search for “牛肉湯” on GoogleMaps in Tainan, and you’ll find a plethora of restaurants offering beef soup. Here are four closed to Provincial Highway 17.

The GPS route will lead you to Nanzi Station but you may stick to Provincial Highway 17 to get to Kaohsiung Station if that’s your destination. The location to stay over will impact how we cycle through the sprawling urban area of Kaohsiung the next day. Please refer to Day 5 of the Classic 9-Day itinerary for the strategies to deal with the busy traffic in the city.

Route

NOTE: To use the routes, please install the App on your smartphone. The App will launch and load the route automatically after you tap the above links on your smartphone’s browser. For Garmin Connect, you can then use the APP to send the route to your garmin device. If your Garmin device is not purchased in Taiwan, you will also need make sure you have the Taiwan map on your device. Here is our blog post on this topic.

So, these are the coastal branches for you to cover the west. Please follow the itinerary outlined in the Classic 9-Day for the rest of the trip.