I don’t know about you, but one of my greatest difficulties while traveling is finding a good way to get a work out in. Often, I’m caught in the dilemma of whether I even should work out… On one hand, I’m on vacation and thus deserve a chance to relax, but on the other hand, I’m often eating so much food that my body starts to crave physical activity.
When you’re in a new city, however, it can be hard to find good options to work out that are affordable and language-barrier free, and oftentimes it feels like working out cuts into your time to explore. Here are a few ways to get a (free!) work out in while simultaneously taking advantage of all that Taipei has to offer.
Go for a run
It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with Taipei’s Riverside (just see my last two blog posts here and here), and as a result, it’s my favorite place to go on a run. With kilometers of well paved bike paths and beautifully cultivated greenery, the Riverside is a lovely place to take a relaxing run and enjoy the natural scenery of the waterfront.
Biking is personally my favorite form of transportation through Taipei for several reasons.
· First, it’s a great convenient way to get around that’s cheaper than taking a bus or a train. Many of the major roads in Taipei have designated bike lanes on the sidewalks that allow you to easily bike through the heart of downtown – just watch out for pedestrians and mopeds!
· Second, you’re able to see a lot more by bike than you might by bus, train, or foot – for example, you could bike the entire length of Taipei’s Riverside in only a few hours!
· Third, Taipei summers tend to be incredibly hot and humid, so a bike ride is a great way to get in your workout outdoors while maintaining a steady breeze that keeps the sweltering summer heat away.
Most travelers don’t bring their own bicycles with them, but never fear – there are multiple options that allow you to rent a bike in Taipei!
· YouBike – Taipei’s local bike share system, YouBike is a great method of 24-hour short-distance transit within the city. With over 300 rental locations throughout Taipei, YouBike is a cheap, convenient way to get anywhere. The bikes are simple, three-speed bikes that you wouldn’t necessarily want to take mountain biking, but do a satisfactory job at getting you from place to place within the city. For Single Rental users, the rate is 10 NTD per 30 minutes within the first 4 hours, 20 NTD per 30 minutes between 4 to 8 hours , 40 NTD per 30 minutes exceeding 8 hours, and if you use a credit card to rent a bike, the YouBike system will pre-authorize 2000 NTD from your account. The station nearest Homey Hostel is the Civic and Taiyuan Intersection Station located here.
· Homey Hostel! – Homey Hostel owns several bikes that we’re happy to rent out to our guests (non-guests can also rent our bikes, but will be charged a higher rate). Renting one bike for 3-days costs $1020 NTD, with an additional charge of $170 NTD for each subsequent day. Additional info here.
|So sleek, so smooth, rent a bike from us and get on the move!|
Take a hike!
When I first arrived in Taiwan, I had no idea how hiking friendly it was. A large portion of the island is dominated by mountains, and as a result there are endless opportunities to explore the natural areas of Taiwan. There are several hikes that are only a day trip away from Taipei, including Teapot Mountain, Yangmingshan, and the hike to Shifen’s Waterfalls. Even closer and more convenient, there are actually 10 hiking trails located within Taipei City’s borders. Check out this website for more details, as well as how many slices of white bread you would burn off on each trail.
If you don’t want to go to the effort of finding a hiking trail, there are plenty of tall buildings in Taipei where you can take the stairs. Homey Hostel itself is located on the 7th floor of our building… skip the elevator next time and climb your way up!
|Hike the Maokong Trail to get some marvelous views of Taipei’s local tea plantations.|
|The stairs to Xiangshan|
The Riverside Trail near Gongguan Waterfront Plaza hosts a small bouldering wall that’s free to use any time of day. Go get a quick climb in and then head to Gongguan Waterfront Plaza for food and drinks after! The bouldering wall is located just south of the Waterfront Plaza here.
There are also several great spots near Taipei you can take a day trip to go climbing on some real rocks outdoors. Check out this website for outdoor climbing options in Taiwan, but make sure to double check that the site is legal to visit before you go (otherwise risk a $15,000 NTD fine).
Not feeling the cardio? Hit the gym (equipment)
One of the characteristics of Asian public spaces are free, public gym equipment installations located in all the parks and all along the Riverside. Do some sit ups, practice your pulls ups, and just generally get your muscles moving at the public gyms. You can even climb to the top of Xiangshan and get a work out with a view!
|Crunching the time away|
|Do some deadlifts with a view at the top of Xiangshan|
|After your hike, give your feet a massage on this pebble-y path|
If you’re willing to spend a little money and want some other fun options…
Catch some waves
When most people think of Taiwan, they don’t usually make the immediate connection to surfing. In the past few years, however, Taiwan has begun to develop an international reputation as a great surfing destination. The cities best known for surfing in Taiwan are Yilan, Taidong, and Kenting. Yilan is the closest surfing location to Taipei and totally accessible for a day trip.
Because surfing is such a new trend in Taiwan, many of the better surfing beaches here still have the luxury of being incredibly calm and quiet compared to other surfing hotspots around the world. My friend and I went to Wai’ao (a village about a 30 minute train ride north of Yilan, a 2 hour train ride from Taipei) for two days last week, and had the entire beach to ourselves for a full three hours. Even later in the day, when there were more people on the beach, there were only four people in the water waiting to catch waves. Rising Sun Surf Inn, located just across the street from Wai’ao Train Station, offers board rentals and surf lessons for the surfing enthusiast. You’re able to rent surf gear if you’re simply planning a day trip, but they also offer lodging for those looking to stay overnight. Visit their website here.
|Waves crashing on the rocks at Wai’ao|
Slip into some ice skates
Does the heat of Taipei’s summer have you beat? Cool off with a little ice skating! Taipei Arena, located east of Homey Hostel along Nanjing Road, hosts a 61m x 30m ice rink that can hold up to 400 people. Cost of admission is $200 NTD/2hr on weekdays and $220 NTD/2hr on weekends and holidays. Skate rentals are $80 NTD.
Visit one of the Taipei City Gyms
If none of the above options sound good to you and you’re craving a more traditional gym environment, the Taipei City Government operates 11 different sports centers throughout Taipei. There are three Sports Centers approximately equidistant from Homey Hostel: Taipei Zhongshan Sports Center, Taipei Wanhua Sports Center, and Zhongzheng Sports Center. Each facility hosts an Olympic sized swimming pool, a fitness center, group exercise classrooms (including a flywheel classroom for indoor spinning), badminton courts, and other amenities. Other amenities of particular interest include a 10M shooting range and 30M archery range at Zhongzheng Sports Center and a golf driving range simulator and climbing gym at Taipei Wanhua Sports Center.
Costs to use the fitness center at each sports center is $50 NTD/hr, but specialty facilities such as pools may have different rates.
|Wanhua Sports Center Climbing Wall|
Taipei is a city full of opportunities to stay active, and when you arrive in the city, this becomes obvious. Taipei citizens are constantly moving – biking from place to place, jogging or walking along the river, dancing as part of a dance group in open pavilions, playing sports with their friends – and why not, when there are so many convenient, cheap ways to do so?
With summer fast approaching (or if you ask me, already arrived) Taipei’s outdoor areas are more vibrant than usual. Stay tuned for next week’s post in which we explore the best natural places in Taipei for the Outdoor Enthusiast.
Your favorite Homey LTR, Angie