OK, directions for Taikang/Smagus by car and motorcyle.
First, for those starting in Taipei, you need to figure out how to get down to Jungli or Lungtan…There are several ways to do this depending on where in Taipei you live.
The easiest and least frantic (traffic-wise) would probably be to go out Roosevelt road to the Bitan area and turn right across the bridge…Go under the freeway, stay to the right on the 4 lane road and after about 1km you’ll see a sign to the 2nd Freeway…Ignore it, stay straight and the road turns into two lanes and slowly winds up into the hills…You’ll do this for about 10km, then you’ll pop out on Highway No 3 just north of Sanshia. Turn left and head into Sanshia…From there, follow the signs to Tashi, then Lungtan…From there you’ll want to be heading to Kuanshi and then on to Neiwan…Neiwan is not well marked but there is a ore-carrying cable that runs over the highway about 1.5km before the Neiwan turnoff…Can’t miss it…Turn left into Neiwan and go up…
Count on at least 2 hours for the above-mentioned stretch.
Pay attention here, or you’ll get LOST!
Once in the Neiwan area, keep going up…you’ll cross railroad tracks, a quick village, and then come into a town with a bypass road…pass all of this and keep going up…after about 3km, you’ll go through another small town with a bypass road…THERE IS A BRIDGE after these two roads recconnect…Turn right over the bridge. Follow this road up, you’ll cross a bridge and be on the right side of the river…IMPORTANT…Look for a bridge with a statue carved into the rock on the other side on your left (about 2km?)…If you miss this, you are fucked so pay attention! Cross this bridge, you’ll go through a narrow gorge and then pop out in a valley with a small village…Stay straight on this road and you’ll start a steep climb of about 10km to the top of the ridge (put on your coat…It’s cold up there) with an elevation of 1,450 meters. Once at the top, it’s a good place to chill for a moment, admire the view and rest your weary ass.
Allow for about 50 minutes for the above- mentioned section.
Once you can feel your butt again, head on down the valley…After 1.7km, the road splits…Stay to your right. Follow this for about 12km (Nice twisties here!) and eventually you’ll come to a police-check in area. You’ll have to present either your ARC or Passport and pay 10NT to get in.
Allow 20 to 30 minutes for the above-mentioned section.
Now for the fun part…You’ll be heading up again for maybe 12-16km…Keep an eye out for the Hotel mentioned at the beginning of this post, it’ll be on your left overlooking the valley…Not far past this, maybe 1km or 2, there is a sweeping but tight 180 degree turn on the road going right…Just before this, there is a primitave looking sign hanging over the road with a spooky looking dirt-track going off to the left and down…The track looks horrible and it is, but it is the ONLY way into Smagus…From here, it’s about an hour by dirt-track semi-paved, loose rock, steep switchbacked and generally shitty road to Smagus itself.
Allow for at least 2 hours for the above-mentioned ride…
I did it by motorcycle in one day from Yangmei…But, if you want to enjoy the area, it’s not realistic, especialy coming from Taipei…But, if you are into motorcycle touring, you’ll love this!
Caution, the dirt-track into Smagus is narrow and dangerous…I would say don’t take a scooter or passenger car down here…You’ll need some ground clearance, good brakes and enough power to negotiate the steep switchbacks…BE CAREFUL!
Take the 2nd Freeway to either Lungtan or Kuanshi and then onto Neiwan…You could also come down the 1st Freeway and then cut over on the 66 just south of Jungli and then onto Lungtan or Kuanshi…It’s up to you…
I saw a few passenger cars going down there, but everyone I talked to said that they wished they hadn’t…If you are driving any kind of truck or van with some ground clearance, you should be ok…
Lastly and no offense to anyone…Don’t be an idiot and go up there with your shitty half-dead car or motorcyle…Not only will you not make it, Murphy’s law will dictate that you will break-down in the worst possible location ie, in the middle of nowhere!
If my directions are long-winded my apologies…Feel free to PM me at anytime for more details…Good luck!