Provincial Highway 9 is the longest road construction project in Taiwan. The 476km road extends from Taipei, through to New Taipei City, to Yilan, Hualien, Taitung, and finally ending in Pingtung.
Starting from the Executive Yuan in downtown Taipei, the road heads east to the mountains. The infamous Taipei-Yilan portion of the highway offers unsurpassed high-cliff coastal beauty, but much care should be taken while navigating its “nine curves and eighteen twists”. However, at the final section of the road, you can enjoy a commanding view of the Lan-Yang Plain. It is an entirely different world starting from Yilan. The road here is wide, with much less traffic than Taipei, and your drive will be accompanied on both sides by perfectly symmetrical rice fields. After passing through several tunnels, we you will have arrived at the beautiful fishing port, Suao.
The character of No. 9 changes from here. Like a beautiful symphony, the second chapter is exciting and magnificent. The Suhua highway stretches from Suao Township to Hualien City, the two towns from which this stretch of road is named. Dating from the 19th century, the high cliffs along which the road runs is a careful exercise in balance, with the neverending splendor of the Pacific Ocean accompanying you the whole length of Taiwan’s east coast. Eastern Taiwan is dominated by rocky shores and mountains beckoning drivers to navigate their twists and turns. After WWII, the government spent much effort to tame these mountain passes, and cost many workers lives in the construction of the highway. Please be careful driving here, and if you have time, pick a spot like Qingshui Cliff to enjoy the grand view of the ocean.
Alas! It’s Hualien City! After the adrenalice pumping drive from the mountains, travelers deserve a rest here. The seashore city wins the title of the most beautiful city in Taiwan. As the largest city in the East, Hualien is worth staying for at least one night to enjoy its famous treats and prime seascapes.
Before you move onto Taitung, why not take a detour to the legendary gate of the Central Cross-Island Highway to take a picture and fuel up. Now the road leads to a new serene chapter. Take your time to take in the sound of the waves crashing along the shore and the salty ocean smells that accompanies you until you enter the East Rift Valley. This amazing place sits between the central and coastal mountain ranges and It was formed by the collision between the Eurasian and Philippine Plates. Unique among Taiwan’s landscapes and for its slow pace of life, this valley even elicits an out-of-this-world reaction from veteran domestic travelers. After exploring the numerous attractions and natural scenery here, it’s on to the next stop and perfect rest spot, Taitung City.
Finally, we are on the last stretch now. After Taitung, the road leads us into the mountains again on to the South-Link Highway. This portion climbs the tail of the Central Mountain Range that runs from the north to the south of Taiwan. The road used to be narrow and dangerous but it is much safer now thanks to major road expansion work and added bridges. After an hour of winding road, Pingtung welcomes you to the western plains of Taiwan again.