We asked Taiwan cycling expert Luka Furjan for his top favorite day rides around Taipei. Join him on four amazing tours through and beyond the city, with routes for all ages and abilities. Map My Ride links with detailed maps of each route are included, so there’s no excuse: get on your bike!
ROUTE #1: DELVE INTO YANGMINGSHAN NATIONAL PARK (70KM)
CKS – Balaka – CKS (MAP MY RIDE LINK)
Estimated time: 4-6 hours
Climbs: One, but a fairly big and long one. Total gain close to 1000m on a single climb. Current strava record is 44min.
Total ascent: 1133 meters
The route starts and ends at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall MRT station (中正紀念堂), but the main round journey actually starts at Hongshulin MRT station (紅樹林). From there, you take National Highway 2 (臺2線) to the intersection with Beixin Road, Section One (北新路一段), where you take a right and keep climbing towards the summit along Balaka Road (巴拉卡公路).
This route is particularly special because it’s only 30 minutes outside of Taipei city and takes you straight into the heart of the Yangmingshan National Park (陽明山國家公園). With appropriate training you can reach the summit in 1 hour, and be greeted with the most magnificent views across the northern part of Taiwan. There is very little traffic along most of the route, which makes it much easier to climb and leaves only you and the mountain.
Tips: as with every long climb, do not push yourself through high gears, but spin low gears instead. Slowly climb to the pond, where you can push yourself to the parking lot, if you still have some energy left. Choose your clothing wisely – it often gets cold on the top, especially because of all the trees along the road. Also plan to be on the top around midday to avoid any cold-related injuries and traffic jams on the way back.
If you only want to do the climb, take the MRT and get out at Hongshulin MRT station (紅樹林). Be careful on descending down to Taipei; roads can get jammed on the weekends with a lot of people going back home around sunset.
Amenities: A good rest place would be Family Mart on National Highway 2 (臺2線) just before the right turn onto Beixin Road (北新路). There is another 7/11 one third into the ride and vending machines on the top beside the parking lot.
Extra comments: This is easily my favorite route around Taipei. My first ride was with my 2000NTD second-hand bike. It was worth it every time back then and it still is.
ROUTE #2: TAIPEI ROUND TRIP (70KM)
Estimated time: 3-5 hours
Climbs: One 5km climb from Shenkeng to Nangang or the other way around. Elevation 230 meters, gradient is never more than 10%
Total ascent: 283 meters
This route starts anywhere on the riverside and weaves around the Taipei City via scenic riverside bikeway. It is probably the best way for a newcomer to see Taipei City and New Taipei city. The riverside parks are a delight, with safe and smooth designated cycle paths, and you can stop off at different spots around the route such as the Taipei Zoo, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum and Shenkeng Old Street.
Tips: Bring sunscreen in the summer, because there is no shade whatsoever. Because of the wind direction, it is recommended to do it clockwise in the summer and anti-clockwise in the winter.
Amenities: There are plenty of places to buy water on this route: bicycle rental stations, vending machines and couple of convenience stores in Shenkeng and Nangang. Toilets are available all along the way.
ROUTE #3: FOLLOW THE RIVER SOUTH (90KM)
(MAP MY RIDE LINK) CKS – Wulai – Fushan Elementary School – CKS
Estimated time: 6 hours
Climbs: There are two small climbs on the way to Wulai, ascending from Wulai and descending into the gorge to Fushan Elementary school, where the road ends, then in reverse on your return journey.
Total ascent: 2171 meters
If you have been to hot spring paradise Wulai (烏來) before and wondered where all of those roads go, this is where. One hour to Wulai and another hour on to Fushan Elementary school (福山國民小學). The scenery is astonishing, but almost no one rides these roads. It’s the gorge that makes this route so special, and there is almost no traffic at all. Once you get past Wulai, there are only tiny villages ahead of you and a stunning gorge winding beneath them. Make sure you have enough energy for the journey back! You may be able to pick up the 849 bus back from Taipei, but this is normally very busy on the weekends and whether you’re allowed to take a bike with you is entirely up to the discretion of the driver.
Tips: Check out the weather forecast before leaving, as the weather can be very different in the beginning and at the end of the ride! So it’s worth bringing out that rain jacket/wind breaker that you were saving for special occasions. Also, be careful on the road to Fushan Elementary School, as in places it can become very narrow.
Amenities: There are a lot of convenience stores along the way to Xindian MRT, and couple of them from there to Wulai. Wulai has a lot of great food to offer, especially on the old street. But from Wulai to Fushan you’re on your own.
Extra comments: It is a route I haven’t done very often, but loved it every time I did it. The aboriginal specialities in Wulai are worth trying, including wild mountain boar and a variety of local wild vegetables.
ROUTE #4: THE GRAVEYARD RIDE (14KM)
(MAP MY RIDE LINK) CKS – Academia Sinica
Estimated time: 1 hour
Total ascent: 203 meters
This is a fairly leisurely ride along the hilltop cemeteries in Muzha (木柵) and down to Fudekeng (福德坑), if you can handle 20 minutes of bustling Taipei roads first, that is. Escape the city east along Heping East Road(和平東路) then at Liuzhangli MRT Station (六張犁), hop onto Chongde Road (崇德街) which wriggles peacefully through the green riverside hills scattered with old cemeteries onto Yanjiuyuan Road, Section 2 (研究院路二段).
Tips: Watch out for traffic, Chongde Road is relatively narrow, so I would strongly suggest you take earphones out of your ears and listen to oncoming traffic. I have witnessed a couple of accidents on these roads, all of them on scooters, but still worth taking extra precautions.
Amenities: Aside from the graveyard, there are convenience stores all along the way, since you’re basically riding in the Taipei city perimeters the whole time.
Extra comments: This is a relaxing ride once you get on Chongde Road, and from there on, you can choose to go left to Academia Sinica or turn right to Fudekeng and connect to riverside bikeway at Taipei Zoo. It’s really fascinating to stop and explore the different cemeteries which represent the diverse religious traditions of Taiwan. Don’t take photos though – it’s considered a taboo by the locals.
Check out this helpful map which shows the access to the Taipei MRT with a bicycle. The whole of the Wenhu (brown) line is off limits, and a few stations have restricted access.
Luka Furjan originally came to Taiwan on a government-funded scholarship purely with the intention of improving his Chinese language level. With more time on his hands than he knew what to do with, he bought himself a cheap commuter bike and set off exploring the riverways which link up the whole of Taipei. Curiosity drove him onwards, and he started tackling longer journeys and bigger hills. A typical millennial, he turned to the Internet as a learning tool, becoming familiar with the online bloggers and vloggers who could provide him with the tips to take his cycling to the next level, and connecting with the online community of cyclists who track their rides with android devices, sharing routes and virtually competing to outdo each other’s best times. Investing in a proper mountain bike took long months of dedication, surviving on three simple meals a day in order to save enough money. Now he is more intimately familiar with the geography of Taiwan than many of city-dwellers could ever claim to be and has spent the last six months working for a tour guide company which takes intrepid travelers around the island the old-fashioned way – on the saddle. He couldn’t have picked a better place to do it.