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Above: The Hsinchu train station. Credit: Steven Brogden

Images

Taipei Main Station
Taipei Main Train Station

My Panorama of the Hsinchu High Speed Rail Stop
Taipei Main Train Station

Public Transportation in Taiwan

Public transportation is generally widely available in Taiwan.

MRT

If you live in Taipei, ride the MRT (like the MTR in Hong Kong, the “L” in Chicago or the Subway in NY). You pay for your ticket based on length of travel and the ticket machines are easy to understand with English. The MRT is clean, inexpensive and offers great views of the city. Definitely better than walking, and less expensive than taking a cab.

By Train

If you want to travel around the island, you can take the train. The train tickets are based on how fast you want to get there. A train that makes many stops is cheaper, but longer, and a train that makes the fewest stops is more expensive. You can buy tickets with reserved seats on only certain class of trains.

Usually there are no delays when riding a train and most trains arrive reasonably close to published times on the train schedule. However, twice, I have been on a train that was delayed because someone ran in front of the train. This requires the train to stop, and requires the police to arrive to take care of the problem. Not sure why the guy(s) were in front of the train anyways.

You can pick up the train schedule book at any trainstation. The books are published yearly and are available in English. These are very handy. I enjoyed riding the train as it is a great way to see the country side.

By High Speed Rail (THSR)

The high speed rail is a new alternative to taking the train. There are about 6 stops along the west coast that allows travel from Taipei to Kaohsiung. The cost of a ticket is a little more expensive than the cost of the fastest train. While the fastest train from Hsinchu to Taipei takes an hour, the THSR takes only 30 minutes to travel the same route.

By Air

There is an airport in most major cities and you can fly domestically to and from. Flying is also common for visitors to Taiwan's nearby smaller islands. Taiwan has two major international airports, CKS (Chiang Kai-Shek in Taoyuan and Kaohsiung Airport in Kaohsiung). For more detailed information, please see my "Flying to Taiwan" tab on the left.

By Bus

There are private bus companies that run busses from all major cities. Bus fares are comparable to train ticket prices (sometimes cheaper) and feature big comfy chairs, with movie or KTV. Last time I remember, a bus ticket from Hsinchu to Taiwan (about an hour and a half ride) was about 100NT and bus companies have designated stops in Taipei/Hsinchu. You can also take a bus from the airport to every large city in Taiwan.

Riding a bus locally

Bus service is pretty good and many people ride the bus. In general, buses have air conditioning and are pretty clean. The cloth seats limit the usual graffiti or random drawings you see on "other" buses. The buses Bus fares are about 15NT to 45NT, or about $.50 - $1.50 each trip (on and off). I usually rode the bus if I had free time or just didn’t feel like driving.

As expected, the total amount varies based on the distance. You just pay the clear glass box as you enter the bus. Not sure how the bus driver knows if you put in the correct amount.