There are plenty of ways to experience adventure in Taiwan, whether you get on two wheels and cycle the East Rift Valley or paraglide above the Taitung hills enjoying the alpine scenery.
Taiwan is my second home and my favorite place on Earth. Located in heart of East Asia, this tropical island features majestic mountains, scenic cliffs, amazing waterfalls and peaceful lagoons with crystal clear water where you can swim and enjoy.. What a perfect place for an adventure seeker!
With a population of 23 million, Taiwan consists from two contrasting parts: a flat plains region and the gentry rolling hills of west coast where most of the population live, and the eastern two-thirds dominated by a rugged mountain range. The mountains extend 330 kilometers from north to the south.
During my latest trip to Taiwan, I took a two-week trip around the country, to bring you this list of TOP 5 Adventures:
Taiwan, although often overlooked by backpackers and tourists in favor of Japan, offers some great waves. About 30 surfing spots around the island break during all times of the year. Head to the East Coast to for some of best scenery or explore the beaches of northeastern Taiwan as a one-day gateway from Taipei.
Why you should do it: Surfing offers both fun and active use of beach time! Also, you might get to know the local and expat surfing community (that for the most part consists of foreigners.)
Where to do it: East Coast: biggest waves are between Donghe and Changbin (Try Dulan as your base). North: Jinshan (nearest to Taipei). Northeast: Fulong and Waiao (well accessible from Taipei) South: Kaohsiung, Kenting. Outlying islands: Penghu.
How much: I took a surfing lesson with Rising Sun at Waiao beach. Two hours cost NT$ 1500/USD 50. If you know this craft already and just want to rent the board, you will pay NT$ 500/USD 16 a day.
TIP: Surfing is banned during all typhoons. So please stay away from the beach at those times!
River trekking (in Taiwan often called river tracing) is a combination of hiking, bouldering and climbing along a rural mountain river. Popular also in Japan and Hong Kong, river trekking is a must-try in Taiwan. You will get to swim in the lagoons and waterfalls. Get ready for some jumping as well!
Why you should do it: There is no better way to fight suffocating summer temperatures than to immerse yourself into the cool waters of a river. Apart from that, seeing Taiwan from a river base is very unique and spectacular in itself.
Where: Near Taipei, you can give it a try along an easier river in Wulai (Jia Jiu Liao- 加九寮) and a more challenging one in Yamingshan park (Touqian – 頭前溪). But for the best crystal clear water, you should head to the East coast, to Hualien.
How much: I did river trekking with aboriginal tribe in SanJhan Village near Hualien. A one-day package costs NT$ 900 / USD 30 including the transfer, bow shooting, river trekking and lunch. The same community center also organizes trips to the Golden Grotto (I hard it’s most beautiful river trekking in Taiwan).
TIP: The organizers usually take some photographs during the trip. However, if you want to shoot your own pics, consider taking a waterproof outdoor camera. I don’t recommend taking your mobile phone, even if you have a waterproof case.
A combination of beautiful scenery and great roads make Taiwan an ideal place for cycling. Thanks to massive government’s investments into the infrastructure, the routes cover together more than 3,000 kilometers. The most hardcore cyclists tour the island from north to south (it takes about 6 days). Luckily, there are still plenty of enjoyable routes without impossible, crazy ascents!
Why you should do it: It’s easily accessible within Taipei (you might take a U-bike or rent a sporty one). As for the rest of the island, biking is excellent way of transportation in some of the more rural areas. It provides acomplete experience of a particular place, including the views, the sounds and the smells.
Where: Almost everywhere. Taipei: easy riverside trails. East rift valley: easy day trips, or big one from Hualien to Taitung (180 kilometers). Sun Moon Lake: tour the island in three hours. Central mountain range: challenging, nice vistas.
How much: Depends on location, quality of the bike and number of days. On my cycling trip in East Rift Valley, I went to Chihshang and rented a bike from one of many shops. It was NT$ 300 /USD 10 for the whole day. Needless to say, the bicycle was very basic.
TIP: Check out my other post 12 Great reasons to go cycling in Taiwan.
Who didn’t once dream of flying? Have your dream to come true in Taiwan! There areafew spots across the island to try paragliding without having had any previous experience: the flight is managed by a professional pilot. Your only task is to hold your breath and enjoy the scenery.
Why you should do it: To see island from above! In Waiao, you will be spoiled by the ocean views before landing softy on a nearby beach. In Luye Gaotai, where the flight time is as long as 10 minutes, picaresque mountain scenery is awaiting.
Where: Waiao: near Yilan, 2 hours by train from Taipei, can be as a day trip. Find instructors landing on the beach and then join them for the drive uphill. Luye Gaotai: Go by car or take train from Taitung to Luye Gaotai and then take taxi to the paragliding area (NT$ 200).
How much: Paragliding in Waiao costs NT$ 1000/USD 30, this is their FB page. In Luye, you can choose between the short flight (2-5mins, NT$ 1800/ USD 57) or long one 10 mins NT$ 2500/USD 80), this is their FB page.
TIP: There is no need to book ahead, it’s just enough to show up. If it rains, the flying is canceled.
Wakeboarding,a new water sport whose name was coined only about 15 years ago, borrows techniques from three other disciplines: water skiing, snowboarding, and surfing. The rider is pulled by boat or by a cable suspended above the water.
Why you should do it: It’s a sport suitable for people of all ages (including kids) and helps building up your upper body muscles (for me, my arms were in pain for 3 days!). And you can get some stunning views: In Kaohsiung, the wakeboarding is done on/at Lotus pond, Kaohsiung’s most beautiful lake with two iconic pagodas.
Where: Kaohsiung (the only one with full sized 5-Tower cable system), Taipei (Luzhou), Kenting and Hsinchu
How much: I tried wakeboarding in Lotus Wake Park in Kaohsiung. Two hours cost 800 NTD/ USD 25 during weekdays and NTD 1000/USD 30 at the weekend.
TIP: Try kneeboard first! It’s easier and you might manage to make full round without falling for the first time.
Do you live cycling? Would you try paragliding or is it too much? I am looking forward for your comments.