Taipei can help you can feel fit and healthy while you bicycle your way around the city. Visit historic Taipei attractions and eat fantastic food at the wide variety of markets and restaurants.
I love visiting new cities around the world and have always found it a fun challenge to navigate the public transport and discover all of the hidden gems off the beaten path. Before I land in a new city I always research the best ways to get around a city. Is it public transport, taxi’s, Uber, walking or cycling? I was pleasantly surprised that Taipei was considered a bike-friendly city and you can really get out to see the main sights of Taipei on two wheels.
Taipei is an amazing city full of night markets, great food and some really neat sites to see. I had booked 4 nights in a great little hotel called Hotel I Journey through Agoda and had a great time visiting the neighborhood and having easy access to the subway system, which, by the way, is extremely efficient and easy to use.
I was excited to get settled and to start exploring this city which is full of history and culture. Staying fit on my holidays is a big priority for me and cities provide great opportunities for walking, cycling and running. Taipei is very flat and has a lot of lanes designated for bicycles. Biking around a city, in my opinion, is great exercise because it allows you to see all the sites that might take you days to see if you were relying solely on your two feet. Of course, there is always the Metro or public transport but that is nowhere near as fun. Always consider biking as a way to get around a city – I promise you will not be disappointed! Biking also allows you to really explore side streets in an efficient way. Most cities have bike-sharing programs and their popularity is a testament to how much fun they are for tourists to use (as well as locals who need to get from one point to another).
You can’t turn a corner in Taipei without seeing these bright orange bikes parked for rental. We decided to check it out and figure out how to navigate the booking system. Youbike is Taipei’s short term bike rental system and their website details the important information that you need to know. We found the website a bit difficult to manage on our smartphones while standing in the sun so I will detail the most important information in this post and give you an idea of our experience.
Image Credits: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lukehsu0327/32460976761
How much does it cost?
Youbike is very affordable. To rent a bike, you will pay the following rates:
- 10NT (apx $0.30) per 30 mins for the first 4 hours
- 20NT (apx $0.65) per 30 mins between 4-8 hours
- 30NT (apx $1.00) per 30 mins exceeding 8 hours
You may not rent a Ubike from the same station with 15minutes of returning one.
How do I know if it’s a good bike?
Make sure you inspect the bike and check things like: brakes, tire pressure, lights, seat, handling etc…). If there is a problem return it right away to the same location and reverse the seat to indicate a problem. You will not be restricted to the 15min rule if you return it within 5 minutes of renting.
How do I actually rent the bike?
In the sun, starting at a screen with glare and not understanding Mandarin can make renting the bike a bit tricky. Of course, there are English options and Taiwanese people are very happy to help but I would still be prepared to make the experience a little bit smoother for you.
Firstly, make sure you get an Easy Card (available in metro stations). They cost 100NT which acts as a deposit and you must put funds on the card above the 100NT in order to use it. You can get the full deposit back after returning the card to any station before you leave Taiwan as well as any balance of the funds you have put on top of the deposit. This is the same card you would use in the metro and bus system so it makes it easy for all your transportation needs.
You also need to use a local phone number for verification. I would suggest getting a SIM card at the airport before you leave. I found the price of the SIM card to be super reasonable and it gave me enough data for the entire week and even had some to spare at the end. You will be grateful to have data while wandering around, making bookings and looking up the attractions. With 1 local phone number, you can register up to 5 EasyCards for your Youbike usage.
*If you do not want to go this route, and you are just a 1-time user of the Youbike system (which, I would not recommend since you will have a lot of fun!) – but, you can use a credit card with security chip for rental instead of the Easycard/mobile number. It’s entirely up to you!*
That’s basically it. Of course, if you get stuck or need help, we had no trouble finding a friendly Taiwanese who was willing to explain how it worked.
***The best part of renting with EasyCard is that your first 30 minutes are free!
So, essentially, it’s possible to bike all around the city all day for FREE***
How do I return it?
Returning your Youbike is a straightforward process. Make sure you are returning it to a Youbike self-service area (you will see them everywhere but here is a map) of the locations:
To return the bike, you just slide it into the terminal. When the LED light flashes blue, you simply swipe the Easycard to confirm your return. That’s it – super simple!
4 Taipei Attractions to Visit on a Bicycle
1. Elephant Mountain (great views of Taipei 101)
Why not combine walking with cycling? Elephant Mountain is a nice climb that will only take you about 45 minutes and it’s very walkable or cyclable from Taipei 101, the most famous of the Taipei attractions. We got a great breakfast at Wollongong Restaurant and then biked over to Elephant Mountain. The views are the best from the various lookout points of Taipei 101 and you could easily do it in the evening for sunset views but we chose to do it in the afternoon.
Location: 5-10 minute cycle from the Xiang Shen Metro Station (800meters). You can rent a Youbike near the metro station and cycle over as your first stop.
2. Chia Te Bakery
Although, this is not a typical Taipei attraction, Chia Te Bakery is well-known by tourists and locals as one of the best places to get Taipei’s famous pineapple cakes. It’s really hard to put into words how good this pastry is, but it is definitely worth stopping in as you bike around the city. There is 1 location so plan it to be a part of your day on the bicycle so that you can stop in and enjoy one of their tasty treats. The bakery makes all kinds of pastries and they are all good! My favorite is the pineapple cake and you can buy individuals or packages. It is very common to see tour buses parked outside with a lineup which is a good indication of how good they really are! No. 88, Section 5, Nanjing East Road, Songshan District,
Address: No. 88, Section 5, Nanjing East Road, Songshan District,
3. Maokong Gondola
The Maokong Gondola sits on the outskirts of Taipei and is situated right next to the Taipei Zoo. If you were inclined to do both it is very doable in 1 day. We took a separate day to visit the Gondola and check out the views because we knew that it would be a fairly long ride on the bicycle. It really is a flat trip almost all the way there until you reach a hill that requires you to push the bike up a little way. The other side is enjoyable since it’s all downhill and you can coast and relax while you cycle towards the Gondola. Since there is a Youbike station right outside the Gondola / Zoo Station, we decided to return the bikes and get going on checking out the beautiful views. It is only advisable to take the bike 1-way to the Gondola because biking back would be exhausting after a full day of walking around and it is easy enough to take the metro to where you need to go.
4. Shilin Night Market
I really can’t say enough about how incredible the night markets are in Taipei and it would be a shame to miss them while you are visiting. There are lots of night markets to choose from and it’s hard to know sometimes which one to go to so you could just go to a different one each night if you wanted! I went to several night markets and they are mostly all accessible on the bicycle. I spent the most time at the Shilin night market because it really is the largest and known to be the most famous one of all of them. However, don’t let that limit you from checking out some of the smaller ones that are equally as awesome!
In terms of which foods to try, I really would say just explore and let your senses guide you – it really is an incredible feast of food!
Other blogs about bike-friendly cities:
- Copenhagen, by Icebikes
- 15 of The World’s Most Bike-Friendly Cities, by Mental Floss
- 10 Most Bike-Friendly Cities in the World, by MapMyRun
I would be thrilled to connect with you on my social media channels. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I post photos, city fitness guides and inspiration for staying fit and healthy while on the road traveling.
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