The spectacular SOUTHERN CROSS-ISLAND HIGHWAY (南橫公路; nánhéng gōnglù) slices across south Taiwan in a dramatic traverse of the central mountains that leaves most travellers clutching the edge of their seats. Starting from the western coastal plains around Tainan, the highway climbs steadily to almost 2800m before dropping sharply down to the east coast, cutting through several distinct ecosystems as well as the southwestern fringe of Yushan National Park. The road was severely damaged by Typhoon Morakot in 2009 however, and although it was open to small vehicles at the time of writing, the route remains precarious beyond the Taoyuan Recreation Area, north of Baolai, and is often closed completely in summer; ask at one of the Kaohsiung visitor centres before starting out.

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