Alishan, April 12 - 13, 2010. Click pic for album

Taroko to Kending

Taroko Gorge to Kending, Feb 14 - 19, 2010.

Northern Cross Island Highway

Northern Cross Island Highway, May 19 - 21, 2008. Click pic for album
8th April, 2008

Northern Coast Highway

After a couple of fully booked weeks with 12-14 hour work days, the desk was finally cleaned up Sunday, so Monday we decided to take a tour along the north coast highway.
We started out by climbing Fengguizui, doing our best to leave the incredibly polluted Taipei behind as soon as we could. bike3.jpg At the northeastern corner of the Nanjing East-Jilong Rd intersection, we carried the bikes up the stairs to MacArthur First bridge to cross Jilong River which we would follow up to flood gate 16. If you are already in the river park, there is a bicycle ramp onto the bridge on each side of the river so you can cross the river here. At flood gate 16, we left the river park to take the Ziqiang Tunnel out past the Palace Museum and continuing on towards Fengguizui. From the MacArthur Bridge, we couldn’t even see the mountains behind Neihu, that’s how bad the pollution was yesterday. Taipei 101 also faded in the toxic yellow-grey haze.
Up in the mountains, we had left the Taipei basin behind us so the air was much cleaner and you could actually see a bit into the distance if you looked away from Taipei. Looking toward Taipei, though, we only saw the yellow-grey pollution cap covering the basin. A good day to get out of Taipei. Returning to the biking, as always, the extended steep incline three kilometers after the bridge that puts you on Five Finger Mountain broke me. Every time I think I’ll go to the top in one go without stopping, that incline breaks me. Up on top, we stopped for a very refreshing tree tomato juice made by the owner of Honey coffee and a conversation, never optional, with this very talkative chappie.wanli.jpg This time we were joined by another biker who kept overtaking us on the way up only to then be passed again by us again, Mr Huang, a 24th generation Taiwanese, who saved us from most of the conversation.
From Fengguizui, we rolled down to Wanli, a surprisingly pleasant and scenic ride, and then continued on to Yeliu harbor for the compulsory seafood lunch. When you reach the tunnel going through the mountain, take the road to the right of the tunnel toward Yeliu. After a few hundred meters, you get to the first harbor. I don’t know if this is technically called Yeliu, but it is a much nicer place than the Yeliu town center, and D, who grew up in nearby Jinshan, calls it Yeliu. Anyway, there are several good seafood restaurants in this harbor, so take your pick.
After lunch, we started out on the longest part of the trip along the north coast highway, or Provincial Highway 2, toward Danshui.danshui2.jpg Not much to say about this part of the road. It’s on the flats, with the hills on your left and the Pacific on your right. Along the first third of the road, there are several coffee shops and restaurants offering nice sea views, and the number has increased quite significantly over the last few years. Then there’s not much in the way of coffee shops, restaurants and shops until you reach Baishawan closer to Danshui.
We bypassed Danshui and rode directly to Hongshulin where we took the river park ride along the Danshui and then Keelung rivers back to MacArthur First bridge where we crossed the river and returned to Nanjing East. On the way, in Guandu, we stopped for a bowl of shaved ice with fruit and jellies and a welcome rest after having done about fifty kilometers with only a very short break to get rid of some excess water. Back in Taipei, we had clocked up 118km in exactly 6 hours making an average speed of 19.7km/hr.

A coffee at a Starbucks to finish the ride off
Facts After passing the Palace Museum, continue along Zhishan Rd (至善路) past the first road toward Neihu and Wanli. A couple kilometers on, there’s a bridge and a sign saying 風櫃口 (Fengguikou). Cross the bridge, and from here, it is about 6.8km up to Honey Coffee shop at Fengguizui. At the T-intersection after a kilometer, take a left.
The river park ride from Danshui back into Taipei — on a Monday afternoon — was filled with people on bicycles, making me wonder if it is even possible to ride along the river park on a weekend.
The ride from Fengguizui down to Wanli is 16km, mostly declines, but with the occasional very moderate incline. From Wanli, it is 52km to Hongshulin, and from Hongshulin along the river park down to Macarthur First Bridge, it is another 25km.

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7 comments to Northern Coast Highway

  • Ken

    Hi, What is it like riding through Ziqiang tunnel? It’s pretty long and seems quite narrow. I’m not too keen on the idea of having big trucks/buses brushing up against me as I go through. Excellent blog btw.

  • Ken

    Hi, What is it like riding through Ziqiang tunnel? It’s pretty long and seems quite narrow. I’m not too keen on the idea of having big trucks/buses brushing up against me as I go through. Excellent blog btw.

  • tbv

    It’s not that long, only a couple hundred meters or so. Never had a problem, Taiwanese drivers are getting more and more used to bicycles on the road so they leave quite good space between their cars and our bikes. And he alternative would be to go over the mountain rather than through it, or do the long extra loop up through Shilin.
    Glad you like the blog, thanks.

  • JP

    I’m looking for a good route to train for triathlon races.
    Just need a route with great pavement on the roads.
    any help would be great.
    Thanks and i’ll be checking on your blog more often.

  • tbv

    In the Taipei area, I’d say that the road from Danshui to Jinshan would be good for that. It’s all on the flats, and once you get past Baishawan after Danshui, there aren’t too many red lights. Another good place might be the river park along the Keelung River, if you avoid the weekends. Long stretches of good, paved road. Outside of the Taipei area, I’m not too sure.
    Haven’t done much biking lately, for several reasons, but we’re set to get started again this weekend, so hopefully there will actually be a reason for you to check in more often 🙂

  • Louel


    I just bought a bike and I have hopes of riding around Taiwan. I work in Linkou now. Do you have maps of where to start my bike journey? I am thinking of biking in Taipei area for now.


  • tbv

    Hi Louel, there are links to google maps at the end of most of the rides, so click the Taipei category for rides in the Taipei area and you’ll also find maps of the rides.