Monday, August 07, 2006

Great Taiwan Bike Rides Part III: Chiayi to Pingtung

This ride is best done in three days although we did it in 2 very long days (>100km both days). This is a classic ride through some of Taiwan's most beautiful back country.

[Update 2010-4-2]: Here's a Google map of the route using 159A instead of Route 18. 159A is a one lane beauty of a road with far less traffic. Note that Namaxia area was seriously damaged by Typhoon Morokat last August followed by the earthquake in early March. According to this blog post from a few weeks ago, the roads are passable. Please report road conditions in the comments.]

Friday evening

Fly to Chiayi with bikes. Stay at one of the cheap hotels near the train station. Don't try riding out of town to look for a hotel. We ended up sleeping outside in Chukou because there was nowhere to stay.

Saturday

This is the toughest day with two grueling climbs if you make it all the way to Sanmin.

Take Route 18 east toward Alishan. You will begin to climb at Chukou. Stay on Route 18 until you reach Longmei. Stop here for a well-deserved break and don't miss the handmade baozi at the first shop on the left-hand side of the road.

At Longmei, turn right onto Jiayi Route 129. This is also known as the Shanmei Access Road (??????). Enjoy the long downhill. Take a dip in the Puyanu Creek near the Chashan suspension bridge or trace the creek east up to the waterfalls. When you get to Chashan, stay left on 129-1. The roads are not very clearly marked here. There may be some guest houses at Chashan. This would be a good spot to stop for the night. Otherwise you will need to push on over the mountain to Sanmin. Make sure you have enough water. Country store are far apart here.

Sunday

129-1 is not well maintained. It eventually turns into the Chashan Access Rd. and eventually connects up with Route 21. There is accommodation in Sanmin and a couple of noodle shops that close at dusk. Head southwest on Route 21 for a lovely wide out to Jiaxian. Ride over the Neiyingshan Mountains on Route 20 (the Southern Cross) east and drop down into Laonong. At Laonong ride south on Route 27 until you reach the turnoff for Kaohsiung Rt. 113. Ride up 113 a few kilometers north and stay at one of the many hot spring hotels. Alternatively, go all the the way up to Baolai, turn right at the school and climb up to the Shidong Hot Springs ????. This secluded spot is one of my favorite hot springs in Taiwan, but call first because accommodation is limited.

Monday

This day will be long but mostly flat unless you do a side trip up to Maolin. Coming off 113, turn right back onto Route 27. Backtrack about .5 km and turn left onto Kaohsiung Route 131. Take 131 down to Liugui, cross the Liugui Bridge, and get back onto Route 27 heading south. Ride down the east bank of the Laonong River on a lovely road through some of Taiwan's prettiest countryside. Notice the distinctive Hakka farmhouses along the way.

If you are making good time, turn left at Dajin and ride up into Maolin. Eat some barbecue at Duona and soak in the hot springs.

From Dajin, ride south on 185, otherwise known as the Mountainside Highway ????. Stay on 185 all the way to Sandimen and then take Route 24 into Pingtung where you can stash your bikes on train and then fly or take the train back.

2 comments:

Christopher said...

Sounds good. Thanks for the info. Any chance you could include a google map with placemarks?

Feiren said...

Please see the update at the top of the post. I would now recommend taking the HSR with a bagged bike and then the bus or taxi out to Chukou. There is a road 2km out of Chukou (heading back to Chiayi) on the right that cuts over to 159A. That way you save the boring ride out of Chiayi.