I first came to Taiwan in 2000, for one main purpose: to rock climb at Long Dong - and possibly teach English.
At the age of 20, I had already climbed extensively at some of the biggest crags in North America, namely Squamish, Yosemite, Red Rocks, and Joshua Tree, just to name a few. I had never heard about the rock climbing in Taiwan. To me the only place worth spending money on a plane ticket to climb in Asia was Krabi, in Thailand. Little did I know that Taiwan had quality stone that could rival with the Railay Beach crags, as well as some of the most popular climbing cliffs in the world.
I simply couldn't believe my eyes when I first saw the cliffs at Long Dong in Northern Taiwan: a 2km-stretch of beautiful golden and grey walls, set right by the wild Pacific Ocean.
At first, two things surprised me most: the amazing quality and texture of the rock (perfect for trad!), and how empty the whole area was. This part has definitely changed - there are more people climbing at Long Dong these days, but it's mostly locals and expats who live in Taipei. Due to my work, I mostly climb at Long Dong during the week, and on a "busy" day, there might be one or two parties climbing. It's still possible to get all the 3-stars climbs, any level, to yourself during the week. That would be impossible at a crag like Railay in Thailand.
Long Dong is definitely a premier climbing destination with fantastic varied climbing at all grades, and it is possible to climb here year-round. You should absolutely plan a climbing trip here one day, the sooner the better, as I think the area will get more and more popular in the future.
The aim of this page is to give you the best information possible to plan your rock climbing trip at Long Dong, in Taiwan.
In 2012, Taiwan’s rock climbing sphere got a precious gift that was gonna revolutionise every aspect of the game: a wonderfully well-researched and beautifully crafted guidebook, written by climber Matt Robertson. Matt spent countless hours, weeks, months, years developing this superb book about all the details you need to know to climb at Long Dong.
Everything is flawless - the pictures are high-quality and clear, the maps are colourful and detailed, the descriptions are to the point, and the book’s construction is solid. You can get more information about Rock Climbing Taiwan Guidebook on this page.
A new source of info is also out there online, called Guidebook Plus. GB+ brings further details about bolts and anchors at Long Dong. It is imperative you get your hands on that PDF, and that you print it and bring it along with you at the cliffs or have access to it from your smartphone if you want to be as safe as possible while climbing. Download Guidebook + here.
Long Dong’s cliffs are located in the northeast part of Taiwan, along the coast, about 45 minutes to 1 hour away from Taipei by car. The cliffs are near Homei (He Mei), a quiet fishing village in a small bay. Long Dong means Dragon Cave in Mandarin Chinese.
The cliffs are located along a north-south axis, facing the ocean. Access to the crags can be done from 3 places: North Parking Area near Hemei Elementary School, South Parking Area at a temple, and the Central Parking Area, above the cliffs, near a hiking trail.
The hiking trail is popular with tourists for good reasons: it provides jaw-dropping views of Taiwan’s east coast, the ocean, and some parts of the steep cliffs below. Conveniently, the trail connects all 3 access points to the crags.
The North entrance is near Hemei Elementary School. It has the safest parking lot in Long Dong, toilets, showers, a small shop that sells drinks, beer, and snacks, as well as the only guesthouse around. It's also possible to camp at the parking lot.
The South entrance is next to a Chinese temple, and I don't recommend to park there if you have valuables in your car. In 2000, my friend's car got broken into and her backpack got stollen. She had camping and climbing gear worth about 2000USD$ in her bag.
The Central entrance is through a parking spot in the middle of some bushes at the top of the cliffs. There's nothing around except 2 beautiful pavilions that overlook the ocean where you can pitch a tent or have a beer at night. I usually camp at that parking lot.
Getting to Long Dong is very straightforward, regardless of your mode of transportation.
If you are making your way by car from Taipei or other cities on the west side of Taiwan like Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Kaohsiung, Tainan, or Taichung, you first need to get to Highway 62, near Keelung City.
You can access Highway 62 by either National Freeway #1 or #3. You want to take the 62 toward Ruifang, but don’t take the last exit to the town of Ruifang. If you do, well, you’ll regret you did! Instead, drive on the 62 all the way to Ruibin, by the ocean, then take a right and head south on the Coastal Highway #2. From there it’s a short and easy 20-minute-drive to Long Dong.
From cities along the East Coast such as Hualien, Yilan, and Taitung, simply drive along the coastal highways up north until you reach Long Dong, just past Fulong and Aodi.
By Train / Hitchhiking
First, take the train to Taipei (if you’re not already there), then take another train to either Keelung, Ruifang, or Fulong. From these 3 places you could simply jump in a taxi (between 400-500NT$ from Keelung), or hitchhike. I have hitchhiked countless times in this part of Taiwan and have never had any problem getting a ride. Save your money and spend it on food or beer - hitchhiking is the way to go!
From Keelung or Ruifang train stations, you can also catch a bus that heads down south along the Coastal Highway. Watch for a bus with a sign that says Yilan or Luodong. Tell the driver you need to get off at Long Dong. He most likely won’t speak English, so just repeat Long Dong, Long Dong, a couple of times and he will hopefully let you get off at the right place.
By Bus From Taipei City
You can take a bus to Long Dong right from Taipei Main Railway Station. At Taipei Main Station, you want to go to Taipei West Bus Station Terminal A, and find the ticket window which has signs for Luodong or Yilan. Tell the clerk you want a ticket for Long Dong, and the price should be around 140NT$. The bus ride to Long Dong from Taipei takes about 50 minutes. In Long Dong, you want to get off the bus at the traffic light, on the other side of the bay. There is a bus stop there and it’s the closest you can get to the cliffs. From there, it’s only a 10- minute walk to Hemei School and the North Entrance.
Getting around the area to get food, drinks, or a place to stay is a breeze even if you don't have a car. Hitchhiking along the east coast of Taiwan is safe and I have done it many times. Most of the things you'll need can be found in Aodi and Fulong, about a 15-minute drive down south. The restaurants on the other side of the bay can be reached on foot in about 20 minutes too, so you don't absolutely need your own wheels to climb here and be self-sufficient. Plus, walking and hitchhiking are both good for the soul!
Sleeping in Long Dong
At Hemei Village, there is a guesthouse at #3 Long Tung Street, next to the school, where you can rent a double / triple / family room for around 300NT$ per person. Rates can go up considerably during holidays and peak season, or simply if the old “Ama” feels like making more money that day. Rooms have AC, no kitchen / fridge available.
Accommodation in Fulong
Fulong has a bunch of hotels, motels, guesthouses, and BnB. The reason you’d want to stay in Fulong is because it’s the closest town where there is some sort of action like packed restaurants, a train station, 7-11, bike-rental shops, and a billion Taiwanese tourists on holidays. Most seafood restaurants in Fulong have great local fares with the freshest fish / shrimp / creatures from the sea you can get in Taiwan. Oups... How could I forget the beach! Yes, Fulong has a nice, long beach where you can even surf when the waves are not too shy.
You can book a hotel in Fulong here.
Accommodation in Keelung
Keelung has one of the most famous night / food-market in Taiwan and that’s the main reason why you’d want to spend a night here because, obviously, with all this food you’re gonna eat, you’ll want to wash it down with a couple of big Taiwanese Beer, and after that, all you’ll want is your bed!
Accommodation in Jiufen
With good reasons, Jiufen is one of the top 10 touristy towns on the island. This quaint little village clings to a mountainside that faces the ocean and the views in the morning are truly breathtaking! The village is made up of old Chinese buildings, tiny alleys, and a legion of restaurants / teashops / cafes / shops which sell snacks, souvenirs, and other stuff you wouldn’t want to pack to the crags. It’s a great place to spend at least a night if you have more than a weekend on your climbing trip at Long Dong. Reserve a room in Jiufen today.
Accommodation in Taipei
If you want action, nightlife, dining, boozing, or discover other aspects of Taiwanese culture, head back to Taiwan’s capital city for a night or two and you won’t be disappointed! Taipei has everything from cheap boutique B&B to luxurious modern hotels. See what's available here.
4 spots are popular for free camping at Long Dong: the 3 parking areas and the Second Cave. The Second Cave is the coolest place, as you're right at the cliffs and next to the ocean, but you need to carry all your camping gear, food, water all the way there. The North and South parking areas are OK if you don't mind pitching your tent on concrete.
The Central Parking Area is where I usually camp as I find it's the quietest one and it's surrounded by trees and bushes. It's also the quietest of the three parkings and I can make a fire without attracting too much attention.
Fulong also has a camping area with tons of facilities, but it's so expensive you'd have to be a billionaire to afford a night there. If my memory is right, it costs 800NT$ per platform + more cash for your car. Outrageous!
You can get water, food, snacks (like seaweed crackers), and beer next to Hemei School, and there are restaurants on the other side of the bay where you'll find really basic Chinese food.
If you're in the mood for a real feast, head for Aodi or Fulong where you'll find a couple of great, affordable Taiwanese restaurants that serve fresh seafood and huge plates of veggies.
Miaokou Night Market in Keelung also offers a huge variety of cheap Chinese street food like noodles, fried rice, deep fried stuff, seafood, meat, and other crazy things you can't name.
There are also seafood restaurants in Bitou, 2 minutes north of Long Dong. My personal favorite spot is the outdoor food court located behind the temple that's by the side of Highway #2. A plate of shrimp, squid, and rice noodles will cost you around 300NT$ and you'll be stuffed!
Because Long Dong is a seaside climbing area, there are some serious problems with bolts and anchors. Metal corrosion is a real issue that adds a layer of serious danger. Accidents have happened in the past, like bolts breaking under the weight of a leader’s fall, and anchors have been found to be not safe for rappelling or top-roping. As of early 2015, there is an ongoing effort to re-bolt some, or all routes at Long Dong.
The Rock Climbing Taiwan Guidebook states: “Most routes labeled as SPORT in this guide are equipped with bolts that are, as of 2012, believed to be reliable.” This is obviously not the case anymore, as there have been bolts failures on those routes in recent years. Unless the route you want to climb has been re-bolted with Titanium bolts, you should bring trad gear and backup bolts wherever possible. Fortunately, this is quite easy to do as there are cracks all over the place at most cliffs in Long Dong.
Refer to the Guidebook + for the latest information about bolts and anchors at Long Dong. Hopefully, in the near future, all the routes will be equipped with high-quality, corrosion-resistant titanium bolts and rappel stations, and we won’t have to worry about this issue.
Most routes at Long Dong can be done with a fairly light rack: +/- 15 draws, a few slings, a set of wires with doubles for mid-sizes, cams to #4, and a 60m rope. A helmet is always a good idea, even if it makes you look like a construction worker. Pack a swimsuit if you want to enjoy the ocean. Bring strong sunscreen if you don't want to burn in summer.
Wash your gear!
You need to wash your gear (even your harness) after a few days of climbing at long Dong due to the marine air. A friend of mine didn't wash his harness and look what happened to his harness: the main buckle corroded on both sides! I could peel the whole thing with my fingernail - I doubt it would have taken a fall that generated a force of 1kn.
The Northeastern part of Taiwan receives the most rainfall annually, and Long Dong is right in the middle of that area. The weather can be especially shitty during the winter months. But it is still possible to climb all year - it's just a matter of luck. In 2002, I spent 10 days climbing at Long Dong during Chinese New Year and we only got few drops of rain at night. As I am writing this (winter 2015) the sky is clear over LD and it hasn't rained in 9 DAYS!!
Summer is super hot and everybody is trying to climb in the shade. Fall and spring, it seems, are the best months to climb here. You can check the weather forecast for LD here, on Taiwan Weather Bureau's website. Long Dong is located in Gongliao District, in New Taipei City.
In the unfortunate event that you require assistance for evacuation of an injured climber, call the coast guard at the following phone number: 02-2490-9176. In case of any other emergency which doesn't require an evacuation, (like your tent caught on fire because you were cooking inside and the tent has melted on you - how likely is that!?) you can simply dial 119.
Check the following links to get more information about LD:
Long Dong on Mountain Project: Route descriptions by areas, list of classic climbs, topos, pictures, forum messages
Taiwan Rocks: Website about rock climbing and bouldering in Taiwan - not just LD. Info, locations, and pics of gyms around the island. List of climbing gear shops in Taipei and Taichung. Helpful links about climbing in general.
Guidebook Plus: Extra information about bolts and anchors, de-bolting / re-bolting updates, route-specific conditions and risks.
Climbstone's Photo Gallery: 108 high-quality pictures of Long Dong. Watching this slideshow will make you dream of being there right now!
You can buy the Long Dong Guidebook here. The guidebook can also be bought at outdoor / climbing shops throughout Taiwan, but you might be out of luck and they may be sold out once you get there, so get it online.
Taiwan Climbing Calendar on Facebook: Community of Long Dong climbers, mostly from Taipei. Great source of info about the latest developments at LD. Danger Zhang, the guy who manages TaiwanRocks.net, sometimes posts updated versions of the Guidebook + PDF as well as other safety related issues.