Travelers to Taiwan often ask me: “What’s the ONE thing I absolutely must do while in Taiwan?” You’d probably expect my answer to include temples, food, night markets, or hot springs. Nope. My clear and definite answer has always been the same: Rent a scooter or motorcycle and go for a ride!
With hundreds of kilometers of gorgeous coastline, a fierce mountain range that bisects the island from north to south, dozens of glorious valleys, dense forests, wild jungles, and one of the world’s most spectacular gorges, it’s not surprising that Taiwan offers some of the best riding experiences and adventures in the world!
What’s cool about riding in Taiwan
After riding every kind of motorcycle around Taiwan for 19 years, the one thing I still find awesome (and absolutely unbelievable) is the fact that pretty much nobody knows that Taiwan has world-class roads and some of the best sceneries that exist on earth.
Another really cool aspect of riding around Taiwan is the ever-changing landscape, and the facts that you can see so many different things in such a short amount of time or distance. On a typical ride, you can zoom by traditional temples and modern buildings in cities, green rice fields on the edge of town, farmers villages with ancient Chinese houses, mountains, bamboo forests, waterfalls, fishing harbors, towering sea cliffs, and deserted beaches. Few places in the world offer so much in such a “small” place!
Somehow, it’s been kept a secret, like so many other things on Formosa. When the secret will be out, Taiwan could become as popular as Thailand’s Mae Hong Son Loop and the Golden Triangle Circuit, or the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Vietnam – both super-classic motorcycle circuits in Asia.
When I say I’ve owned “every kind of bike” I really mean every kind of bike. Since moving to Taiwan in 2000, I’ve owned at least 15 scooters, a Yamaha SECCA 1982, a Harley, two Honda CB400, a Yamaha FZ6, an FZ1, a Suzuki GSX1400, a CB1300, and a Ducati Monster 1100. I am currently riding a 300cc Kymco scooter, and a Triumph Street Scrambler 900cc.
Map of Taiwan Rides
Make sure to click on the table of content icon (top left on the map) to see a list of all the rides.
Map of Outlying Islands Rides
I love bikes & I love to ride in Taiwan!
Taiwan has been my playground since 2000, I know it like the back of my hand, and I’d like to show you my favorite roads on the island, so that you can prepare your own motorbike trip.
Here’s a list of the best motorcycle rides in Taiwan:
1. Traverse the Central Cross-Island Highway
Taichung to Hualien by scooter / motorcycle
This road is the grand classic motorbike trip in Taiwan. It starts in Taichung, then Puli, a pretty uninteresting city on the west coast, then takes you right into the middle of the Central Mountain Range, at Hehuanshan, where you cross the range at 3275 meters in Wuling, then ride downhill east into Taroko Gorge all the way to the Pacific Ocean on the other side of the island. Most people finish this epic trip in Hualien City, just south of Taroko.
Bring warm clothes, rain gear, gloves, and make sure you fill your gas tank before crossing the high pass at Wuling. You should only do this road trip on a proper, reliable scooter or motorcycle with decent tires and good breaks.
Roads: 14, 14甲, 8, from Puli on the west coast to Xincheng at the end of Taroko.
2. Ride through Taroko Gorge
Hualien to Tianxiang by Scooter / Motorcycle
If you don’t have the time to do the whole Central Cross-Island Highway, you could plan to “only” do this section from Xincheng to Tianxiang Village. Rich in both scenery and riding excitement, this journey is guaranteed to bring you tons of photo opportunities, and challenge your riding skills.
Itinerary: Xincheng to Tianxiang, Road #8. The road is actually quite nice passed Xincheng, so you could venture higher into the mountains, where the road gets steeper and has sharper turns. Lots of viewpoints along the way.
Accommodation and restaurants in Taroko Gorge have never had a good reputation. I recommend you spend the night in Hualien where you can find tons of great and affordable hotels and places to eat. If you must stay in the gorge, or insist on sleeping in the outdoor, Tianxiang Village is your best option where you can even camp.
3. East Coast / Highway 11
Hualien to Taitung
Highway 11 offers the most scenic coastal ride on the island. The road is wide and there are not too many speed cameras along the way when compared to road #9, which also runs from Hualien to Taitung, in the East Rift Valley, inland.
Itinerary and recommended stops along the way
4. Kenting to Xuhai
The second most beautiful coastal road trip on Taiwan main island is the southern tip of Taiwan, and the southeast coast. Kenting to Xuhai links both those sections in a short 2 to 3 hour ride.
Start in Hengchun town, or Kenting village, then head all the way to the southern tip of the island. Along the way, you’ll pass through scenic spots such as Nanwan Beach, Little Bay, Shadao, Sail Rock, and Eluanbi Lighthouse.
From Eluanbi, ride along the coast, passing Longpan and Fengchuisha, all the way to Jialeshui Beach. From there, you head inland, deep in the heart of Manzhou Township, where you can see beautiful rolling green hills, waterfalls, and aboriginal villages.
Follow road 200 to the end, near Jiupeng, where the coastal views are some of the best in all of Taiwan. At this point, you switch to road 26, which skirts around rocky bays, military outposts, and a fishing port. Finally, you get to Xuhai Grassland, where the views are even better then everything else you just saw on your way up here.
You now have two options to head back to Kenting village. You can ride back the same way you came, or you can take road 199 through Mudan and Checheng, which is also a super enjoyable road.
5. Northeast Coast
6. Orchid Island (Lanyu)
7. Green Island (Ludao)
8. Penghu Island
9. Matsu Island
10. Little Liuqiu Island (Xiao Liu Qiu)
11. Yilan to Lishan
13. South Cross-Island Highway
14. North Cross-Island Highway
15. Road #124 in Miaoli County
16. Road #21 in Nantou County
17. Sun Moon Lake to Alishan
Road 21, 18, 169 : Sun Moon Lake – Dongpu – Tatajia (Tataka) – Alishan – Zhiqi – Fenqihu