Driving the island on a scooter, advice? Ideas? Do nots?

Something I really want to do at the end of August, before I leave in September is drive the whole way around Taiwan on my scooter. I think it would be really fun to do, has anyone ever done this before? I was thinking of 1 day to Taipei, next to Yilan and so on, trying to do the whole thing in 10 days. Going with a friend on a separate scooter in case I break down in the middle of nowhere.
Anyone done this before?

I’ve done it a few times. It can be a very fun, very enjoyable experience. You won’t need 10 days to do it, unless you want to take whole days to see certain places. For instance, Yilan is not a very long ride from Taipei. Hualien is very reachable by late afternoon, if you left Taipei in the morning. East coast is far more beautiful than the west (far less traffic and pollution too). One or more of the cross island mountain roads is definitely a must.

Do or do not. There is no try.

I attempted this during CNY this year with a few friends, set off from Taipei down the west coast stopping at Taichung, Tainan, Kaohsiung and Kending. We initially had the intention of going back to Taipei via the east coast however once we reached Kaohsiung several inches shorter and with ruined backs/arses we decided just to stay in Kending for a few days (on Baisha beach) On the return journey we just turned up at Kaohsiung and sent the scooters back to Taipei via freight (cost around nt1000 and took 24 hrs) and took the train back.

Was it fun? absolutely!
Would I do it again? No chance!

Can I suggest you bring some ass pads? No, I’m being serious here. My bum was sore as hell when we got back to Taipei.

Yeah I was thinking of my ass when I set the 10 day timer.

read the thread of the guy that did it in 24 hours !!!

I wouldnt recommend that. I would recommend that you simply ride down the East Coast and ride back up the East Coast. Give the West Coast a miss entirely !!

I attempted this with a friend during Chinese New Year but after 3 days we realized that 9 days wouldn’t be enough time to complete the trip, because we were spending most of our daylight hours riding and not having enough time for sightseeing and activities along the way. We ended up sending the scooter back and traveling the rest by train.

It’s certainly possible to do such a trip but you should wake up early to make the most use of daylight. Also the mountainous roads on the East Coast were quite narrow and windy (and even dangerous). Driving a scooter on these roads for 3-5 hours a day can be quite mentally and physically tiring.

I would suggest you plan your stops well and accordingly.
Wear lot’s of sunscreen, I didn’t and I drove from Kaoh, my skin was white and red… plan 7 -8 hours of driving only to prevent exhaustion and only wear earbuds if you’re in a watchful pack, or if they don’t block sound at all.

Interesting how experiences of the same places can very so much. Some people are going to love this kind of ride, and some are going to hate it, I suppose. I didn’t find the Suhua highway to be that big of a deal. I found it to be quite scenic, and a pretty nice ride overall, in fact. Of course timing is everything. I wouldn’t ride it in bad weather, or during times when it might be busy (I’d avoid it during CNY). Once you’re past the Suhua, you get into some of the best riding roads in Taiwan. Far from tiring, I find these rides to be very relaxing. Tai jiuxian, the coast road from Hualian to Taidong is especially nice, wide, scenic and relatively traffic-free. The inland road is also a nice ride and offers a different experience. Going down one way and up the other makes for a very satisfying loop that offers a variety of different scenery and sightseeing possibilities. I think if one were to want to do some sight seeing, it would be best to plan that out carefully before setting out. Know where you want to go, how to get there and how much time you want to spend there. I would agree with Tommy, in that the east coast is really the most beautiful. You could ride up and down the east coast and skip the west. There are some not bad spots on the west coast, but there’s more traffic, pollution and urban riding. Of course, the best part of any ride in Taiwan is you can give up at virtually any point and have your bike shipped back to you, either by train or private shipping company in places where train stations don’t offer the service.If you’re considering this kind of ride, do it.

There are many long dangerous tunnels on the east coast. With heavy truck traffic at times. I loved my trip but probably never do it again on a scooter.

I would agree in that riding the island takes at least some skill. Actually a lot of skill is better. You need all your six senses and wits about you. Not a moment of lapse of concentration.

It’s going to be brutally hot in August. I wouldn’t want to be on a scooter for more than 3-4 hours/day during a Taiwan summer. I have done that and camped at night. Definitely not recommended. If it was me I would take the train to Hualien and rent there. Go to Taroko for a day or two and then go down the east coast and maybe stay somewhere between Hualien and Taidong for a night. If you have more time then you could bus down to Kending and rent there for a couple of days.

There are several comments about how dirty the west coast is. The plains area is complete crap but the mountains in Chaiyi and nantou are awesome. Imo they are as good as the east coast. If you go up hwy 18 to Tatajia (Yushan trailhead) and north on Hwy 21 you will be going past a lot of great mountain areas that aren’t heavily traveled. You can go up Hwy 14 on the detoured Central cross to Hehuanshan and then back down the Northern Cross. You wouldn’t have time to do a round island trip in 10 days using this route unless you were riding a lot everyday but there are a lot of great areas on the west side of the mountains.

Yeah The west coast I’ll probably just head up as fast as possible, I think the north east and southern coast will be slowest because they are prettier and I want to take my time on that north east road to Hualien, scary driving

But why go up the west coast? If you have more time go through the mountains. If you have limited time then ship it from Kaohsiung for a 1000ish as suggested. It is going to an awful day if you all of the way from Kaohsiung to Taipei. that’s a 4-5 hour trip on the freeway at 100+ km/hr. Off of the freeway you can almost double that. the west coast is basically one long city and you are going to constantly be dealing with stoplights and city traffic.

Years ago during Chinese New Year some friends and I drove from Taipei to Kenting (Bai Sha Wan actually). I headed south on road 7 (Through Snow Mountain area) all the way down to road 8 (Through He Huan Shan and Li Shan) then through Taroko to the east coast. Then due south on the number 9. South of Hualien take the number 11 which takes you all the way down along the coast to South of Taidong where you take the 9 again. Then check Google maps to decide which route you want to take the rest of the way.

That trip will be remembered as one of the most amazing travelling experiences of my life (and I’ve done a lot of travelling) It was cold as shit. I wore a pair of rubber kitchen gloves under a pair of ski gloves to keep my hands dry and warm but they were still cold. We chewed betel nut to try and stay warm as well which kind of worked I think :wink: It snowed up in He Huan Shan while we were driving and I actually had a minor crash after slipping on some ice on the road.

The scenery is breathtaking. The local indigenous people in the small villages along the way are welcoming and will often give you a nice hot cup of tea to warm you up and a big smile. Li Shan had snow on it’s mountain peaks. Coming in through the west side of Taroko is alarmingly gorgeous. The drive down the west coast is towering cliffside ocean view for hours. I might do it again someday.

Then I drove back from Bai Sha Wan to Taipei up the west coast up through Ilan. It took me over 13 hours as far as I remember. I’m too old now to be able to do that again but it was quite and insane return.

A couple of thing to be aware of:

  1. Pack enough warm clothes if you do it in the winter

  2. Some of the tunnels along the way have no lights inside so either always drive with your lights on or always turn them on when entering tunnels. I found out the hard way when entering one tunnel that was on a curve and got to a point where it was pitch black. Scary moment indeed.

3, Careful when coming around corners where it is possible that roads not exposed to the sun can ice over.

  1. Watch out for oncoming vehicles coming around blind corners who often don’t stay on their side of the road.

  2. Make sure your scooter is in good shape with a fresh oil change. (We met some other foreigners who joined up and one of them had their engine seize cause he hadn’t added oil)

I’ve also done the trip down the east coast and back up the west. If you are new to Taiwan I’d suggest doing this. Then you can drive through Taiwan’s three largest cities and a bunch of other nice towns along the way back up. (Tainan, Chiayi, Mioli, Nantou, Sun Moon Lake (don’t miss that place(, Hsinchu),

10 days sounds like a nice amount of time to be able to enjoy yourself and be able to see a lot.

Have fun.

I did it about 5 years ago.

The thing is, riding ‘around the island’ is pretty cool, but the best roads go over the mountains and you can skip much of the W Coast.

So I came up with this route, which I was very pleased with.

forumosa.com/taiwan/viewtopi … it=scooter

In a nutshell:

Go over the Northern Cross Island to Yilan, down to Hualian. Take the inland route from Hualian to Taidong. Over the Southern Cross Island to Gaoxiong County down to Kending. Back up the East from Kending to Taidong, thent he coastal from Taidong to Hualian. Up through Taroko and over the new central to Nantou. Down to Jiayi and up to Alishan then via Yushan to loop back to Nantou. Back over Hehuanshan to Lishan and down the 7甲 to Yilan then around the coast back to Taipei.

But I guess the Southern isn’t open anymore.

I did that route in 5 days, but most of that was close to ten hours a day. 10 days would be cool.

My recommendations:

Don’t miss the (new) Central up Taroko and over Hehuanshan. You can stay at Qingjing. Muchaman hates it, but it’s great.

If you can only pick one, the inland (Eastern Riff Valley) Hualian-Taidong road is nicer, imo.

Alishan to Yushan to Sun Moon Lake is a pretty cool road that you’d easily miss on a normal ‘round the island’.

Watch your throttle hand. Rest it and stretch it. If your throttle is tight, get your mechanic to loosen it. I got some pretty bad strain that lasted for weeks after the trip.

Do it!!!

Edit: Oh yeah, reading what Lo Bo To just said. Get a decent check-up on your bike before hand, and maybe another halfway through. New tires, checked brakes, oil changes etc. I did 2000KM, which is more than I usually do in 2 months and I ride every day.

Do it carefully,please!


in case not mentioned, at least down south, the mountains are incredibly dangerous during rain, especially may-oct. normally i dont warn about dangers here but the rain is a force to be reckoned with. pass mountains with a sunny 3 day forecast. although not as much as the main arteries through the mtns but many roads are under cut, nothing under the edge and can collapse. hag the mountain when safe/possible and keep an eye out for things falling from above.

Finally! Someone who’s done the trip down the East and up the West.
Was driving through the cities on the West THAT bad? My boyfriend has never been to the island and I really want to take him to all the places on the West that you mentioned… and Chunghua and Taichung too! Could you give me some pointers on this side of the island??
Any advice would definitely sooth the nerves that these forums have created!