8-day motorbike round-trip in Taiwan

I always wanted to do this during the years I spent more time in Taiwan (the good old Openmoko days in 2007/2008), but of course never found the time back then. This year, I finally manged to do it: A motorbike ride around the island.

To be more honest: It was not literally around the island on the coast line, as I find the west coast not very attractive for a leisure ride: It is quite densely populated and has lots of industry. I also skipped the north coast north of Taipei city, as I've been there so many times before. So in fact, it is a trip from Taipei along the east coast all the way down south, and returning back north towards Taipei on the western side of the mountains.

You can see (a smplified version) of the GPS track via Google maps or also via OpenLayers/Openstreetmap.

My biggest doubt in the past was whether I would be able to find accomodation 'on the go', given my very minimal mandarin language skills. If you don't know the road conditions, weather, etc. it is hard to plan all the stops in advance. Also, given that typhoon or earthquake induced landslides or rockslides are quite common in the mountains, advance planning is not the preferred option.

However, given the quite universal mobile wireless data coverage and a smartphone, I was able to always book the next accomodation (1 day in advance) using popular booking websites such as agoda.com or booking.com. This worked quite good, except in the rare case where those websites get the address/location of the hotel/homestay completely wrong.

Regarding the trip itself:
  • Day 1: Taipei to Hualien

    I don't even remember how often I have taken provincial highway 9 from Xindian (south of downtown Taipei) through the mountains to Yilan before. It must be the road that I travelled most frequently. What was different this time is that the departure was on a weekend, so there were literally hundreds of motorbike riders on the track. Also, interestingly, in virtually every curve there was at least one photographer taking pictures of the motorbikers.

    (Side note: I usually avoid leaving the hotel/apartment over the weekend, as Taiwan is simply to crowded. Doing any kind of travel, sightseeing or even going out for dinner is almost bound for a disappointment on saturday or sunday).

    Having travelled 'number 9' many times still doesn't make it a less interesting mountain ride, with plenty of serpentines and marvellous views, particularly when you can first see the coastline from high up in the mountains. I'm also quite familiar with the coastal provincial highway 8 down to the entry of Taroko Gorge, along the steep cliffs, passing the various industrial harbours and cement factories as well as the numerouns tunnels along the road.

    The remaining kilometers down from Taroko towards Hualien go much faster than anticipated, as it is suddenly quite flat terrain and a wide (two lane per direction) road that permits 60/70kph. The latter doesn't sound like much, but it is a lot, compared to the 30/40kph limits in the mountain roads.

    Accomdoation at a hotel inside Hualien city. Nice and clean room, close to the shore. However, difficult to actually get to the shore as a pedestrian, and aside from concrete bricks (to break the waves) there's really not anything. No natural coastline, no rock or sand beach, nothing.

    What was worth noticing where two anglers who were actually using a quadrocopter to take their hooks/bait way further off the shore than you would be able to achieve with manual casting of the fishing rod. I have no insight into current angling practises. To mee it seemed quite high-tech / nerdy / sophisticated ;)

  • Day 2: Hualien to Taitung County

    Accomdoation at Lehuo Shoudo Moli Homestay

  • Day 3: Staying in Taitung County

    We actually liked the location (and the "private beach") so much that we decided to stay for an extra night.

    Accomdoation at Lehuo Shoudo Moli Homestay

  • Day 4: Taitung to Kenting

    Accomdoation at Miami Hostel

  • Day 5: Kenting to Pingtung

  • Day 6: Pingtung to Chiayi

    Accomdoation at Tea Homestay

  • Day 7: Chiayi via Alishan and Yushan and Sun Moon Lake to Taichung

    Accomdoation at Sky Villa

  • Day 8: Taichung to Taipei