One of the first things you’ll notice about Taiwan is how many scooters are on the road. Motorcycle ownership in Taiwan is highly common, certainly more so than many of its regional neighbours such as Singapore and Japan. According to official government statistics, there are over 15 million motorcycles in Taiwan – around 67 for every 100 people on the island. As well as the day-to-day classic 125cc scooters you’ll see all over Taiwan, it’s also not uncommon to see more classic Harley Davidson bikes roaming the city streets. With parking space in Taiwan’s main cities often unaffordable it’s not unusual to see whole families using just one scooter to get around town. Seeing 4 or 5 people squeezed onto one tiny scooter is a truly Taiwanese sight, and one that never fails to amaze.
Getting Around Taiwan
All you need to do to be able to get riding in Taiwan is present an International Driving Permit. Permits of this kind will be valid for the first 30 days upon arrival in Taiwan. Scooter and bike rental is easy enough in most of the main tourist hotspots in Taiwan, and can usually be rented for around NT$500 per day. A good place to look is near train stations or bus terminals. Some hostels around Taiwan might include scooter rental in the price of a night’s stay. Always make sure the bikes are in good condition and come with all of the relevant safety equipment like helmets.
If you’re not confident enough riding yourself or just want to appreciate the view, motorbike day tours are also a great way to get off the beaten track and discover Taiwan without having to worry about navigating your way from A to B. With the Taipei Motorbike Tour take on a full day tour and discover the most scenic areas on the city outskirts with lunch and a visit to quaint Jiufen Old Street. Alternatively, embark on a sunset tour for an incredible view of the glowing city lights of Taiwan’s capital.
Where to Go in Taiwan
Taiwan is a predominantly mountainous country and this provides travellers looking to explore on 2 wheels with some of the best mountain riding in Asia. For more challenging riding, experienced riders should head east from Xindian in Taipei along Route 9 to Toucheng in Yilan County, or down the east coast from Hualien to Taitung (Route 11). The Cross-Island Highway is perhaps one of Taiwan’s most challenging roads, and the pass will at points rise to almost 2600m above sea level. In the winter months it is not uncommon to be stuck in a snow storm at the top!
The south of Taiwan also has its fair share of amazing roads to choose from. Modern scooters can be rented in Kenting for around NT$500 per day during the peak summer months. Driving can often be the best way to explore Kenting and the surrounding areas which offer much more than just the beach. The short 25km ride to Jialeshui is not covered by public transport and makes for a great day trip to do some surfing in one of Taiwan’s best surf spots. Alternatively, just relax on the beach away from the crowds along the main strip at Kenting.
Car Rental/Private Car Charter in Taiwan
With Taiwan’s often unpredictable weather, there are occasions when renting a car might be the more suitable option, both in the rainy season and also in the summer months when air-conditioning is absolutely essential. The island’s lesser traversed roads are often free of heavy goods vehicles which tend to stick to highways and main roads so you’ll be enjoying and sharing some of Taiwan’s most scenic drives with few others. Great day trips by car from some of Taiwan’s bigger cities include Sun Moon Lake – easily accessible from Taichung, and Alishan National Scenic Area, only a short drive from Chiayi. For private chartered trips around Taipei to take in the sites, consider hiring a car and driver for the day. Klook’s Taipei Private Car Charter is a great option, providing you with a private driver who can either show you around some of Taipei’s better known sights, or follow your own custom made itinerary. Alternatively, cars can be rented on a day to day basis all around the island for around NT$1000, and Taiwan’s international airports are all served by reputable car rental companies.