One of the most romantic and relaxing ways to travel in Taiwan is by bicycle.
You can choose your pace: speed up to feel the wind in your hair and the freedom on the road, or pedal leisurely and stop wherever you want.
You can ride a bicycle up the mountain and down by the sea; enjoy the magnificent ocean views and vast skies on coastal roads; feel the calm and silence of the mountains among the lush forests, or explore the city by bicycle. Taiwan’s convenient bicycle facilities make it easy to discover what awaits around every corner.
A foodie’s cycling itinerary
Chef Jim Yang (photo: Tien Hsiang Lo) of one-MICHELIN-starred Tien Hsiang Lo is an avid cyclist who took up the activity for exercise when his colleagues first invited him decades ago. Now, he rides every day from his home in Nangang to the restaurant for work. His days off see him cycling further to the outskirts of the city to scenic places such as Yangmingshan Zhuzihu, Qingtiangang, or Shifenliao in Pingxi. "It's very convenient to cycle in Taipei since there are bicycle trails in many places. On a bike, you can observe what’s happening on the streets and see what’s trending in stores. You’re nimble enough to enter the market. It’s perfect for a small adventure,” he shares, adding that he often stops to buy things he spots along the way to work and takes the opportunity to check out new stores opening in the neighborhood.
If you’re a food lover, take a leaf from Yang’s book; jump on a bike and take a food tour of the city.
If you’re on the bike trail to Yangmingshan, make a stop at Bib Gourmand establishment Sung Chu Yuan not far from Silk Valley. Famous for the free-range chicken that they rear themselves, Sung Chu Yuan’s signature dishes include its traditional steamed chicken and wild vegetables from the surrounding mountains. From Sung Chu Yuan, follow Jingshan Road to MICHELIN Guide Green Star restaurant Yangming Spring (Shilin) for a bit of green traveling — after all, cycling is one the most sustainable modes of transport. In line with its environmentally friendly ethos, Yangming Spring (Shilin) serves vegetarian tasting menus that you can enjoy in its serene compound, complete with babbling brooks, pebble paths, and elegant landscaping.
An urban food tour
Cycling is also a great way to explore the delicious eats the city has to offer, especially the street food tucked along Taipei’s alleys.
Explore the Tamsui Riverside Bikeway route: A ride along the banks of Tamsui River will take you from Wanhua, past Ximending, Dadaocheng, and Daqiaotou to Yuanshan and Shilin, all the way to Tamshui and Guandu. Along the way, take in the scenic riverside views and stop by historical and cultural attractions such as the Longshan Temple, Ximen Red House, Taipei Xia-Hai City God Temple, Taipei Confucius Temple, and Dalongdong Baoan Temple. And if you get weary, several MICHELIN-recommended eateries situated along the way are sure to provide refreshment.
First stop in Wanhua is the must-try “black gold” braised pork rice at Bib Gourmand establishment Wang’s Broth, followed by a taste of tradition at Yuan Fang Gua Bao and the famed pork cheek noodle soup from Chang Hung Noodles. Next, ride on through Ximending for the beef noodles at Bib Gourmand restaurant Lao Shan Dong Homemade Noodles that has been drawing crowds since 1949 for its hand-kneaded noodles and delicious sides.
Afterwards, head to Dadaocheng, where the old and the new meet in a melting pot full of history and culture. 80-year-old establishment Mai Mien Yen Tsai offers its signature fried braised pork and tshik-a-mi noodles, while the nearby Ningxia Night Market is home to Fang Chia Shredded Chicken on the Rice, Rong’s Pork Liver, Yuan Huan Pien Oyster Egg Omelette, and Liu Yu Zi, all stalls recommended by our MICHELIN inspectors. Continue riding north to Daqiaotou, and you can try the classic rice cake and pork liver soup at Bib Gourmand eatery Da Qiao Tou Tube Rice Pudding, indulge in some of Cabbage Rice and Pork Rib Soup’s nostalgic offerings, or try the juicy pork-filled glutinous rice balls at Shih Chia Big Rice Ball. The Tamsui Riverside Bikeway is an easy and pleasant ride, dotted with many delicious Taiwanese eats along the way.
When in Taichung, take a trip on the Hanxi Riverside Bikeway. This bicycle trail along Hanxi East Road runs across five administrative districts from Dali to Fengyuan. The scenic waterfront plank road passes by iconic bridges and indigenous trees planted by the roadside like the Taiwanese Rain tree, Madagascar Almond tree and Golden Shower tree, whose beauty draws many to the destination. Nearby are also three Bib Gourmand establishments recommended in the MICHELIN Guide Taipei Taichung 2021 including Dong Shan Zhan, famed for its claypot roasted chicken grilled over longan wood; Wen Tao, with its traditional Taiwanese cuisine, as well as Peng Cheng Tang with its warm and familiar home-style cooking.
Sounds delicious? Grab your bicycle and get ready for a food tour on wheels in Taichung and Taipei!
Hero image courtesy of Taiwan Tourism Bureau. This article was written by Hsieh Ming Ling and translated by Rachel Tan.