Triathlon Tour Guide: Tour Of Southeast Asia

  • By Holly Bennett
  • Published Oct 23, 2013

Head to Taiwan or Vietnam for a unique race experience and stay for a mix of luxury, adventure and cultural immersion.


FLY: Taipei is easily accessible from most major U.S. cities. Fly into Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, then onward to Taitung on a one-hour regional flight from Taipei’s Songshan Airport.

STAY: The Dandy Hotel in Taipei’s Da’an District provides cool metropolitan comfort as well as across-the-street access to Da’an Park, the city’s hub for outdoor activity. A loop of the park’s soft-surface perimeter path nets you 2.2K and a prime people-watching vantage point. In Taitung, the new Fish Hotel (slated to open fall 2013) is your best bet for finish line proximity and luxury pampering, or stay at any number of B&B’s for a more authentic Asian experience.

DINE: Din Tai Fung is now an international brand with restaurants in Australia and the U.S., but the flagship location on Taipei’s foodie-focused Yongkang Street is a can’t-miss. Stuff yourself silly with spicy soup, rice and noodle dishes, sautéed greens and signature steamed dumplings by the basket-full. In Taitung, explore the city’s winding streets for truly local snacks—think smoky roasted sweet potatoes, red bean paste stuffed buns and an array of fresh fruit and juices.

A Dose of culture
A day in Taipei can easily include stops at several of the capital city’s cultural gems. The National Palace Museum ( houses the world’s largest collection of Chinese art, with exhibits spanning from giant bronze bells to miniature jade sculptures to ancient calligraphy and ceramics. Longshan Temple, in the city center, is a bustling hub of worship welcoming numerous Eastern religions as well as the public—spend 10 cents on a pack of incense with which to leave your personal prayers within the temple walls. Or take things modern with a trip to the top of Taipei 101, the world’s second tallest building boasting breathtaking views.

Exploring nature
Although a small city, Taitung is all about the outdoors, nestled behind soaring mountains and flush with forests and undeveloped seashore. It’s a perfect playground for visiting triathletes to swim in Flowing Lake (a crystal-clear manmade lagoon), ride the Challenge Taiwan coastal highway bike course, tour an abundance of bike paths and run the converted rail trail that loops for miles within the city limits.

Travel tip
You’ll taxi anywhere you don’t walk or ride in Taiwan—an easy solution since cabs are cheap and plentiful. Be sure to ask your hotel’s receptionist to write your destination address in Mandarin characters, the best way to ensure that you and your driver (who might not speak English) are on the same page.

Race it!
The Challenge Family pulls out all the stops in terms of athlete-centered racing, and Challenge Taiwan, the first Challenge series event in Asia, offering half and full long-course options as well as a relay division, is no exception. You’ll be equally wowed by the personal attention provided by race staff as by the natural beauty of this unique course that has heat, humidity and spectacular ocean views that rival Hawaii.

RELATED – Dispatch: A Day In Taipei, Taiwan

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