Gliding through the sky over a beautiful mountain range right in the heart of Taiwan, Puli is located close to Sun Moon Lake and it’s everything you would want from a paragliding experience: Fresh air, amazing views, and lots of flight time. It’s also one of the coolest ways to take in the island’s scenery, that is if you have what it takes to to leap off a mountain and leave yourself to the wind.
Actually to be honest, if you’ve been before, you know that paragliding is one of the least frightening extreme sports you can do, as well as one of the most liberating.
(I mean c’mon! While scuba diving you could run out of air, get attacked by unknown creatures, or get drunk off of nitrogen and drown; In skydiving, you might pass out, your chute could get tangled, or worse yet, it might just not open at all…Of course, I still want to do all of those things, but just saying…)
Everything in paragliding is setup before take-off and the glider starts flying before you do. That isn’t to say that there aren’t risks, but usually the only thing you have to worry about it throwing up (More on that later).
Testing Your Limits
Unlike popular paragliding destinations in Yilan, the sites in Puli weren’t picked for tourism, but for the quality of the glide. Puli is special in that the light mountain air and terraformed farmland makes for lots of updrafts (thermals), which means you can stay in the air for….well, for as long as you like.
We did our paragliding with Outdoors Taiwan and Fly Taiwan 台灣專業飛行傘, who work together to take people on awesome paragliding adventures. These guys take you up in the air for at least 20 minutes and let you experience the updrafts (thermals) as you climb and drop through the air.
If you request it, you can even do some acrobatics!
Now, be warned, I am a thrill seeker and I love going fast and flipping around, but paragliding can be a dizzying experience. In other words, a lot of people get nauseous just from gliding a little too long. Imagine how it would be if you spiraled down at crazy speeds.
While I admit I did get a bit dizzy from the initial flight, I was absolutely fine until the spiral came. That’s when I had to start choking back my insides somewhat. I thankfully didn’t hurl, but if you do find yourself in the air with a sudden urge to let your guts out, just tell the guy in charge and he’ll know what to do. Don’t worry, they are prepared for it.
Worthy of Your Time
Because of the longer flight time and more advanced maneuvering, the price is somewhat more than the flights in Yilan, which hover around NT$1000-1500 for a 5-10 minute decent to the beach.
In Puli, you will pay NT$3500. That may seem like a lot, especially considering the travel time it takes to get to the center of Taiwan, but if you are heading to Sun Moon Lake or anywhere in the Nantou/Taichung area, then it’s worth adding to your itinerary. Furthermore, Outdoors Taiwan will film you on the Gopro and even edit a movie for you! Here’s mine:
Of course, you’ll have to fly tandem (strapped to a professional) unless you have the proper certificates and licenses, in which case you can rent the equipment and go at it yourself.
There are some other secret paragliding spots in Taiwan, but unless you are a pro, there’s not much chance of you getting to those spots on your own. If you want a proper gliding experience in one of the most beautiful places in Taiwan, then I suggest you check out Puli. The Yilan adventures can be fun too, but the rush I got from hitting a good thermal and being rocketed higher into the air was like nothing else. Now I just have to find skydiving in Taiwan!
While you can always be put on the list, weather conditions can change rapidly, and you will never know for sure if it’s a good fly day until 2-3 days before. So try to pick days where you can be prepared to go at a moment’s notice.