Things to do in Taipei, Taiwan: Cycling along the river
Who would dare to ride a bicycle in Taipei, with its busy roads full of traffic? Actually, if you want to ride a bicycle without worrying, there are more than 100 kilometers of beautiful, peaceful cycle paths along the three rivers that flow through Taipei. They are only for bicycles - no cars or scooters are allowed. Bicycles are available for rent at low prices at several locations along the bike paths.
You can pick up a useful free map showing the cycle paths and the bike rental locations from Metro stations. It's called the Taipei Metro Tourist map. You can also download a more detailed map.
The official rental kiosks at Guandu, Muzha, Dajia, Jingfu, Dadaocheng, Huajiang, Erchong and Bali are open all year round. They open from 8:00-12:00 and 14:00-17:30 every day. At weekends, they also stay open during lunch time. In summer, they stay open until 18:30.
The official rental kiosks at Guanshan, Meidi, Huazhong, Yonghe, Bitan, Weifeng, Longxing, Ganyuan, and Fuzhou have the same opening hours, but are only open during weekends and public holidays.
Official bike rental rates start from NT$15/hour (US$0.50). A good bike will cost about NT$60/hour (US$2). For the best bikes, one day's rental will cost NT$350. They have quite a wide variety of bikes, including children's bikes and even tandems.
The rental staff are unlikely to speak English. According to staff we talked to, foreigners need to leave their passport or foreign resident card as a desposit when they rent a bike. For the cheaper bikes it's apparently possible just to leave NT$2000 (US$60) deposit.
The precise rules may vary from place to place, as they are not very used to foreign renters. They may ask you to leave your passport as well as a cash deposit. They may even accept other photo ID instead of a passport. On this page, you can see a sign explaining some of the rental terms (photo taken at Muzha bike rental station, August 2010).
When you've finished riding, you will need to return to the rental station where you started, in order to retrieve your documents. However, if you've only paid a cash deposit (or you're a local citizen or resident), it is supposed to be possible to return the bike to any open rental station and collect your deposit there.
Confusingly, there are actually two separate official bike rental services, one belonging to Taipei City, and one to Taipei County, though prices and rules are similar. We have not listed all rental stations in this article.
There are also some unofficial bike rental shops outside popular entrances to the bike paths. They will have different opening hours, prices and rental procedure.
Don't forget to wear a hat, gloves and sun lotion in summer, and take a bottle of water. When walking or riding on the cycle paths, please keep aware of other riders, because local driving standards may be very different from what you are used to.
Cycle paths can get quite busy with cyclists and walkers on weekends and public holidays, so you will need to slow down a bit and take care. Monday to Friday will be much quieter, especially during the daytime, so this is the best time if you like riding fast.
Here are a couple of convenient-to-reach places where you could start your trip:
Jingmei River Bikeway (Muzha)
Where to rent a bike? Take the Metro Brown line to Taipei Zoo station (the last station on the line). The Muzha bike rental center is just across the main road from the station, down by the river (see photo). You could also take a taxi to Taipei Zoo station if you prefer - it's about 5 km south of the city center. There are a couple of small cafes (often closed), a fast food place, vending machines, and one or two shops selling drinks and snacks there.
Guandu Bikeway and Golden Bank Bikeway
Route: Start at Guandu section bikway, Golden Bank Bikeway to Danshui.
Where to rent a bike? Take the MRT red line to Guandu station, then walk or take bus No. 302, 23 or Red 15 to Guandu Temple (關渡宮) -- or you could just use a taxi to get there. The bike rental center is in the park right next to the Guandu boat wharf.
Cycling Life-Style Foundation (In Chinese). This organization runs the bike rental kiosks for Taipei City Govt.
Youbike is a separate bicycle rental network operated by the Taipei city government. It has no connection to the cycle rental system described on this page. You can use an EasyCard (Metro card) to rent these cute orange bikes from automated stations. Cost starts at about NT$10 per half hour (rides of less than 30 minutes are $NT5), and the maximum rental period allowed is 24 hours. In Southern Taiwan, Kaohsiung city has a similar service.
The bikes are heavy, but they have 3 gears and are usually in reasonably good condition, so they can be used to cover quite long distances along the rivers and around the city. They're not suitable for climbing very steep hills, though ascending gentler slopes is possible.
Youbike is being expanded to cover a much wider area of Taipei and New Taipei City, and bike stations are often found near Metro stations. Registration is possible online at the Youbike site (link is above) if you have a local mobile phone number, or at many of the rental stations. Registration is fairly quick and easy if you have a local mobile phone number, otherwise, you will need a credit card to authorize the NT$3000 deposit.
Long distance bike rental
Giant, the Taiwanese bicycle manufacturer, rents bicycles for longer trips around Taiwan. This scheme is very suitable for travelling around Taiwan because you can cycle the bike between any two Giant rental locations in the country - you don't need to return it to your starting point. The rental locations are some of Giant's bicycle shops (most of them are Giant-owned shops, not independent shops with a Giant sign). Cost averages NT$300-500 (around US$10-15) per day for a sturdy, good quality road bike. The minimum charge is around NT$1500 per person. The daily rental price is lower after the first 3 days.
The rental price includes accessories: lights, pump, tools, and pannier bags. The accessories vary depending on the shop, the official Giant shops seem to include a lock and cycle computer (measures speed and distance), but other shops may not. Locks are cheap, and bikes and accessories do get stolen in Taiwan, so take care if the shop doesn't give you a lock.
We have found these bikes to be in good condition and pleasant to ride. The shop staff take some time to carefully check and align the gears and brakes before giving you the bike -- usually this takes 5-10 minutes.
However, very little clear information has been published about this service, so you should contact Giant for details. You may be lucky and be able to rent a bike at very short notice, but you are supposed to reserve the bike about 2 weeks in advance, and communication in English may be difficult, so contact Giant well before you travel and let them know your height so they can prepare a suitable bike for you. You do not need to be a Taiwan citizen or resident to apply, but ask about deposit conditions. For non-residents, some shops require a credit card authorization to cover potential loss or damage, others require you to deposit an ID document at the shop instead (but note that at least one person in your group must have a passport to check into hotels, so don't give your passport if you are traveling alone). Driving licenses may be accepted for deposit. It does not seem to be possible to leave a cash deposit.
Unfortunately, Giant does not provide any useful information in English about the service. Here is a list of shops that offer the service (according to Giant)
Here are a couple of Giant's Chinese language web pages which give a little information, and the locations and contact details of some the shops/rental stations (most of them are closed on Thursdays, apparently).
http://www.giantcyclingworld.com/web/store.php?cat_id=3185 (map of all Giant rental locations)
And this (very old) web page describes the rental packages and bikes available from Giant, and links to another list of Giant shops (page is in Chinese, with photos).
The page you are reading was last partially updated in April 2015. Please post a comment if you think any of the information here is out-of-date or incorrect, or if you find links that don't work any more, or if you've tried any of these bike rental services. We will try to update the page and correct it. Thank you.