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  1. #1
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Cycletouring in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan

    Have you ever done some cycling in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan ... and for the last two, specifically in the areas of Taipei and Sapporo/Hokkaido?

    If so ...

    -- what are the roads like?
    -- what are the cities like?
    -- are there any "miss" or "don't miss" things in those areas?


    If you were going there what would you want to see and do?

  2. #2
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    I haven't ridden (in a serious fashion) in Hong Kong, but I grew up there. It's a very small and hilly place. I'm fine with city riding in the US, but it probably wouldn't be very safe to ride the streets in the busy city areas. Delivery people do it, but I've seen a grand total of one recreational cyclist riding a folding bike. There's lots of nature just outside of the city areas, but not enough in the way of trails to piece together a good multi-day ride. You could probably ride around the entire island of Hong Kong in half a day, and the New Territories in a day or so.

    Let us know if you do end up going though. I've been toying with the idea of bringing a bike with me next time I go home.

  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    We're not usually trail riders ... so what about the roads?

    And what might be some good things to see while we're there? When we go on a cycling tour, it isn't all about the cycling, it's more about seeing what's there. So are there some interesting museums, arts centres, etc. etc. What are the coastal/beach areas like?

  4. #4
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    My honest opinion of Hong Kong is you can just walk vs bike around. Really, the people density is pretty high in the the city itself and your going to end using quite a bit of public transportation, so its really not worth having a bike to haul around. Loads of stairs everywhere. I don't remember seeing anyone on a bike either.

    Lots of interesting things to see in Hong Kong. Beaches are pretty decent if your not picky about the floating garbage, loads of great museums to see, good food and some very lovely views. I managed to spend 2 weeks there in 2011 over 2 visits and had a wonderful time both times. The public transportation is wicked cool in itself.

    Hotels/hostels/guesthouses are not too badly priced, but they can be very small.

    The shopping is excellent too, I've noticed the pricing on a lot of items to be some of the cheapest on earth for electronics and such.

  5. #5
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    Taiwan comments

    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Have you ever done some cycling in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan ... and for the last two, specifically in the areas of Taipei and Sapporo/Hokkaido?

    If so ...

    -- what are the roads like?
    -- what are the cities like?
    -- are there any "miss" or "don't miss" things in those areas?


    If you were going there what would you want to see and do?
    Hi,
    I live in Ping Chen City Taiwan. I usually cycle around Guansi, Hsinchu County because of traffic. I like this area because there are many cyclists and car drivers are aware of us. But I still take every precaution to be visible using a helmet mirror, bright shirt, and rear/front blinking lights during the day even. Expect to be pissed off by some of the stuff you see on the roads. Roads are rough. My tires are Conti Tour Plus 700x32 and work great. Also carry a first aid kit.
    Many of my friends won't cycle here because they think it is too dangerous. It is dangerous because of the poor driving skills of car drivers. When I see crazy driving in my mirror I ditch.
    There are books on cycling around Taiwan in Chinese. You can also check forumosa.com, Giant, and Taiwan tourism agency. Taiwan is pushing cycling big time. Some trains assist cyclists. Check "Taiwan in Cycles" blog.
    I would focus on the East Coast between Hualien and Taitung and further south. These are famous for cycling. Taiwanese are really friendly. You can buy water everywhere it seems.
    If you are going to cycle the west coast I recommend regional/blue highways.

    My friend lives in HK and he has a carbon bike he doesn't ride. The roads in HK are very narrow and the car speeds are high. There is simply little room for error and no shoulders. Public transport is excellent. I suggest hiking the trails instead. Lama and Lantau Islands can be nice for nature.

    Give yourself time to get used to the heat and humidity. Think 70-90%. I recommend Spring and Fall seasons because of moderate temps but you will see some downpours.

    When you get frustrated try to remember "Taiwan is for the Taiwanese to be comfortable, not the foreign visitors." Substitute any country in the quote.

    I don't know Hokkaido but want to go.
    '07 Bianchi Volpe with Brooks Champion Flyer saddle

  6. #6
    nbh
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    I happened to see this thread just now while searching for info on touring in Hokkaido. (I'm going on my first tour there next week!) So, in case you're still interested in touring in Taipei....

    There are lots of great day rides you can do from Taipei, assuming the weather cooperates. I'd say the best months to come would be March-May and September-November: it rains a lot in the winter, and it's quite hot (35 degrees and more) in the summer. It's humid all the time, so be prepared for that.

    Like the guy above me, I'd recommend searching the cycling threads on Forumosa. Taiwan in Cycles is great too, but the author lives in Taichung, not Taipei. If you want to see photos of some of the great rides around here, check out this classic blog post. The cyclists on Forumosa would happily give you directions for those and other rides.

    Lastly, I wouldn't worry too much about safety. With all the cyclists and scooter riders on the road, car drivers are fairly careful. I've cycled here for years without ever being in an accident!

  7. #7
    nbh
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    Oh yeah, you also asked about non-cycling attractions. The first one that springs to mind is the National Palace Museum in the foothills of Shilin District. Its collection of Chinese art (brought by the Nationalists when they fled to Taiwan in 1949) is unparalleled: calligraphy, painting, jade, sculpture, you name it, they have it. The architecture is pretty cool too, as are the surrounding gardens. Near there is the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines, also worth checking out if you're interested in indigenous peoples. For a small island, Taiwan boasts an incredible variety of Austronesian languages and cultures. Both of those museums would be easy to bike to.

    Much farther off the beaten path is the privately funded Ju Ming Museum on a hillside in Jinshan on the north coast. Google "ju ming tai chi" for a sample of the sculptor's style. Or you could check out the Shihsanhang Museum of Archaeology in Bali on the northwest coast. You could make a day trip out of visiting either of the two.

    You can find lots of natural hot springs in Yangmingshan National Park north of the city and Wulai to the south. And you can find good food all over the place. In the morning, you can have soy milk and danbing at one of the ubiquitous breakfast shops; at night you can munch on sausage or sashimi in a night market. My favorite is the Miaokou market in Keelung, about 25 km northeast of Taipei.

    I'm not really a beach person, but I know there are beaches in Danshui, Gongliao, andToucheng. Longdong is one of the world's best coastal rock climbing areas. You can surf at Wai'ao and swim at Fulong. Erosion has created some otherworldly rock sculptures at Yeliou; unfortunately I hear they're kind of overrun by mainland Chinese tourists now. I'm not sure if you can snorkel anywhere near Taipei, but I know you can scuba dive. Generally the coast is more pristine in the east than in the more populated west.

  8. #8
    Bike touring webrarian
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    This page has 5 links to information about bike touring in Japan.

    This page has 7 links to information about bike touring in Taiwan.

    Not all of them will be of interest to you but some of the links are to excellent bike touring sites.
    Visit the on-line Bike Touring Archive at www.biketouringtips.com

  9. #9
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    If you've been to Sapporo, where did you stay? I'd like something near the airport, but it doesn't look like there's much available.


    BTW - Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Sapporo/Hokkaido are our first three stops on our upcoming Round-the-World tour.

  10. #10
    nbh
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    I'm actually going to Sapporo on Monday; it'll be my first trip there. I'm staying at the Keio Plaza Hotel (recommended by Lonely Planet) near the botanical gardens. It's a bit expensive, but I chose it because there's a bus that goes there from the airport, which makes me a lot less worried about the logistics of getting my bike there. Also, reserving a hotel gives me an address to fill into the entry form. It may be the only hotel I stay at during my whole tour!

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