Thursday afternoon — the gas tank is full, the bags are stowed and we are sitting in the back of the car. It’s time to let the road trip begin! 4 days, 3 nights and around 900km on the road lie ahead of us. Our route will take us from Taipei to the scenery east coast, which we will follow down to Dulan and then we will cross the Island to Kaohsiung and then head back to Taipei following the densely populated west coast.
Now on Thursday afternoon our first destination is the city of Hualien. We already know Hualien from our trip to the Taroko Gorge, but this time we are not heading for the gorge, but for the dramatic landscape of the east coast. In Germany we would say the “Der Weg ist das Ziel” (The journey is the reward). The east coast of Taiwan is dominated by dramatic cliffs, which are several hundred meters high. The road to Hualien is following these cliffs and it offers amazing views the whole time. The road itself is in a really well condition and there is not that much traffic, so it’s an easy drive for everyone with some driving experience.
After around 4 hours, we arrived at Hualien at the colourful Taiwan Hostel, where we have already stayed the last time we’ve been in Hualien.
On Friday morning we first needed to pick up a friend at the train station, who is going to join us for the rest of the trip. Our destination for the day lies 150km further down in the south and is called Dulan. Again the main highlight is the coast itself. While the north east coast is dominated by the dramatic cliffs, the coast line more southern is not dominated by steep cliffs but still offers a picturesque landscape with a lot of bays and hills. On the way to Dulan lie the famous Bashiendong Caves and Sanxiantai bridge. Especially the area around the bridge is impressing. The Bridge is connecting the Taiwanese main land with a small island in the ocean and the sea in this area quite rough, which makes the whole scenery quite magnificent. On the way back from the small island over the bridge we got soaking wet by one of those typical tropical rain showers, so we decided to hurry up and reach for our destination of this day — Dulan.
On the next day our plan was to cross the island to the West to Kaohsiung, but not on the fastest way but probably via the most astonishing one through the mountains. So we drove from Dulan via Sanxiantai to Chishang. This part of the way was perfectly fine. The landscape is again really beautiful and we also saw a couple of monkeys on the way. Unfortunately our plan to drive through the mountain had a big downside. The road through the mountain was closed due damages (as i found out later - it’s likely closed forever). So we had no other possibility than just drive back south and take southern highway to Kaohshiung. But from now on the drive followed slightly Murphy’s Law. On the highway happened a truck accident (nobody got seriously injured), so this road was also closed for around one hour and this is resulted that we now really arrive at Kaohsiung quite late.
After around 3,5h more hours we finally arrived at our pretty nice hotel in Kaohsiung. Good Hotels in Kaohsiung aren’t that much more expensive than hostels, so it’s a rather good idea to check also the hotel prices, when you are planning to go to Kaohsiung. In our case it was actually cheaper than a hostel, because we paid around 600NTD p.P. for a four person bedroom including breakfast and the room was really nice and we even had a bath tub!
Unfortunately our stay in Kaohsiung was too short, because we needed to head back to Taipei on Sunday, but we will definitely come back once again. On our way back we just visited the Fo Guang Shan monastery, but this stop was really worth it. The main highlight is of course is the huge Buddha statue, but apart from it, the whole area is really nice and we also were able to join a meditation session.
From the monastery our plan was to drive straight to Taipei. As I mentioned earlier our drive followed sligthtly murphy’s law, so u nfortunately there were several traffic jams on the way, so it took almost twice time than usual. On our way we also went to a Taiwanese motorway service area and to be honest they are way nicer than German ones. There are several restaurants, which have good food for a fair price, of course a convenience store and there was even a band playing outside. So in case you want to grab some food, when you are on Taiwanese highway, don’t bother and just drive to one of those.
After around 7h in the car we finally arrived in Taipei. The trip was definitely a blast, because we saw a lot of different landscapes and it provided us a good overview over the whole island. It’s sure that this won’t be our last road trip on this beautiful island.