When we began planning for our scooter journey around Taiwan, we we’re pretty disappointed by the lack of information that was available to us on the Internet. We would find bits and pieces of helpful info scattered around on different blogs and forums, but nowhere was it compiled together and easy to read. So we’ve decided to do all of that legwork ourselves; we’ve put our knowledge together here for anyone who also wants to scoot around Taiwan!
So, the biggest obstacle you’ll face when planning to drive your scooter around the country is the inability to drive on major highways. In Taiwan, there are two major highway branches, the National Highway system (white flower signs) and the Provincial Highway system (blue shield signs). Scooters are forbidden from driving on the National Highways for a number of reasons: they’re too fast for scooters, have way too many cars and trucks, and are just not safe. If you decide to risk it and get caught by the police, it’s also punishable by a HUGE fine. When we first bought our scooters here, we took a short trip out of Taipei and unknowingly went on National Highway 3. We immediately realized we were not on the road we were supposed to be on, and were ecstatic to get off at the next exit.
However, on Google Maps you can edit your direction settings to exclude using these National Highways. After you enter your first destination, click the three dots in the top-right corner, and choose the “Route options” button. Here, you can choose the “Avoid highways” and “Avoid tolls” settings, and remember them for future use. Now, every time you use Google Maps to search for a destination, you will have a scooter-safe route!
So now that you’ve got your maps all set up, it’s time to choose your route! There are just so many places in Taiwan to see, that anywhere you choose to go will be an amazing journey. The total drive itself was just under 1,000 km, excluding our little excursions and driving around the cities we stopped in. Since we live in Taipei, we started from there and drove down south along the east coast and back up north along the west coast.
The two coasts are very different from each other, and people have their conflicting opinions about which they prefer. Because typhoons come from the east over the Philippine Sea, most major cities were built on the west coast to protect them behind the mountains. This creates the two very different sides of Taiwan. The drive along the east coast is spectacularly beautiful, with gorgeous views of lush green mountains contrasted against the vibrant blue ocean on black sand beaches. Long stretches of empty roads dotted with small towns here and there, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the drive. If you live in the cities of Taiwan, you almost forget that places like this exist here!
The west coast, because of its city placement, is very different. There are lots of small towns to drive through, and lots of highways to drive on. There were noticeably more traffic lights on these provincial highways than the east coast, which slows down the drive. However, the views of the small farmlands and towns, with beautiful green fields underneath a perfectly clear blue sky, make it pretty hard to complain about. We actually really enjoyed this drive, and getting to see the old towns that haven’t kept up with the times was a peek into a forgotten history. In our opinion, you shouldn’t skip anything based on what you hear; you need to see the whole island for yourself!
From Taichung to Hualien, there is the Central Cross-Island Highway that connects both the east and west coasts. It is a small highway road that was carved into the mountains going through the stunning Taroko Gorge. We were sadly unable to go this route because of time constraints, but we have heard from many travelers that this is a MUST DO. Hailed as one of the most beautiful drives on the island, Provincial Highway 8 allows you to drive your scooter through Taroko Gorge and admire it to the fullest extent possible. Google Maps says that it’s a six-hour ride, but be prepared to spend eight or more for stopping to rest and taking in the views.
We really hope that this page helps you plan your scooter trip around Taiwan! If you have any more questions about the journey, feel free to send us an email and we’d be happy to share our knowledge with you!