When tourists travel to unfamiliar places, transport is a big consideration. It is often easy to forget that transport as a tourist can be tricky and complicated, especially if there is a language barrier. Here are the 6 public transports in Taiwan.
There are many ways you can travel in Taiwan using public transports. The list below is a collection of different options for transport in Taiwan.
The first three Taiwan public transport options are mainly used for longer distance travel typically to get from city to city. The last three public transportations, on the other hand, are generally used for travelling within a particular city.
Travel Taiwan With 6 Public Transports
- Taiwan High Speed Rail (THRS)
- Taiwan Railways
- City Bus
Taiwan Public Transport – Long distance travel
There are two types of railway in Taiwan that are suitable for longer distance travel. These transportations are the THSR and Taiwan Railways.
Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) which is the fastest public transport in Taiwan, besides flying to get to different parts of the country.
THRS has 12 stops in Taiwan, all located on the Western coast of the island. If you are wondering about Eastern side of Taiwan, you will be able to find information relevant to Taiwan railways (in the next section).
Taiwan High Speed Railway stations in Taiwan
THRS is the fastest public transport in Taiwan, it can reach a maximum speed of 300 km/hr. THRS is useful for people who need to commute between the North and South of the island. It is a very convenient option which takes only 1 hour and 25 minutes.
THRS is convenient and fast, however, the price is not very cheap. A one way ticket from Taipei to Zuoying (Kaohsiung) will cost NT $1445 which is about US $49 (Non-Reserved Seats).
THRS is not easily affordable for many people, the company regularly offers promotions to encourage people to travel with them.
Where to purchase tickets :
You can purchase a ticket either at the THSR station, through the THRS app/website or at a convenience store (ibon machine at a 7-Eleven). However, if you would like to get some discounts, you might be able to find some here.
Tips for getting a cheaper price for THRS tickets:
- Purchase your ticket via KKday (foreigner visitors only)
- Purchase THRS tickets with different public transports together e.g. THRS + Kaohsiung package (including few days metro card and some museum tickets)/ THRS+Taiwan Railways package
- Purchase early bird tickets, the cheapest price can be up to 35% off, but are usually 10% or 20% off.
Before the THRS appeared, Taiwan Railway was the only public railway transport in Taiwan. More than 200 stations spread across the country. The price is reasonable and the trains are frequent. Taiwan Railways is still one of the most popular way of travelling around the country.
There are a few types of trains used in the Taiwan Railway system:
- Local train 區間車
- Fast Local train 區間快車
- Chu-Kuang Express 莒光號
- Tze-Chiang limited Express train 自強號
- Puyuma Express 普悠瑪號
The Local train is the slowest train which stops at every station and Puyuma is the fastest one from the list because it stops only at certain popular stations.
Puyuma and Tze-Chiang limited Express train generally have the same ticket price but Puyuma is faster (due to the fewer stops) and therefore the tickets can be sold immediately.
Secret Tip of travelling with Taiwan Railways:
There is an unspoken rule while traveling on the railways in Taiwan and particularly with Taiwan Railways. People enjoy having “Bento” while they travel on the train.
You are more than welcome to bring your own food, but purchasing “Bento” on the train is very common.
Related Post : Taiwan Street Food Guide, How To Eat Like Local People
Because the price is more reasonable than THRS, sometimes it is difficult to get the right time or day on Taiwan Railway because it often sells out ahead of time.
Where to purchase tickets :
You can purchase your ticket at any of the Taiwan Railway Stations, through Taiwan Railways app/online or at a convenience store (ibon machine at a 7-Eleven). However, if you would like to get some discounts, you might be able to find some here.
Tips for getting a cheaper price for Taiwan Railway tickets:
- Purchase online. Book a ticket online, it is much more convenient than purchasing at the station, but be aware that you can only get a ticket 2 weeks in advance. However, if you can not find the tickets you want, maybe try to purchase at the station. They do sometimes hold some tickets for customers that are only sold at the station.
- Purchase Taiwan Railways tickets with different public transports together e.g. Taiwan Railways + THRS or Coach.
If you ask me what is the cheapest way to travel between cities in Taiwan.
I would recommend taking a Coach. The journey time with a coach is very dependent on the traffic conditions which means that it usually takes longer than Taiwan Railway and THRS.
However, the one good thing about travelling with a coach is that the coach is able to reach destinations that are not served by Taiwan Railway or THRS e.g. Qingjing Farm.
If you are just looking for public transports between main hub cities in Taiwan for example from Taipei to Kaohsiung or Taichung, basically, all the companies above all operate this route. But if you want to get to destinations that are not as popular, for example from Kaohsiung to Yilan, you might need to take two coaches or take Taiwan Railways and transfer to a coach.
Each coach company has their own route and timetable and they typically sell their tickets for a similar price, however, usually Kuo-Kuang is slightly cheaper, because the service is a little more basic.
The reason I mentioned Taiwan Trip in the coach category and not in the bus category is because in addition to having city routes like the city bus service, they also offer routes to other cities, in particular to popular destinations in Taiwan.
Taiwan Trip is more like a tourist bus but without a guide. Let’s say, if you are in Melbourne and you would like to visit Great Ocean Road, there are a few options that you can choose from, either join a group through a travel agency or rent a car.
There are a few places in Taiwan that might be difficult to get to, however travelling with Taiwan Trip bus makes life a lot easier.
What is the difference between bus, coach and Taiwan Trip bus?
- Coach services in Taiwan basically operate from point to point, e.g Taipei main station to Kaohsiung Main station.
- City Bus is travelling only within one city and not to other cities e.g. Kaohsiung city bus will not travel to Tainan.
- However, Taiwan Trip coach/bus is mainly for tourists which means it only travels to popular destinations. e.g. Kenting or Sun Moon Lake from Taipei.
Here are few routes you can take to Sun Moon Lake from Taipei
- Take a THRS +Taiwan Trip bus (50min-1hr +80min = 2hr+10min)
- Take a Taiwan Railways + bus (1hr38/2hr/18 +1hr+45mins = 3hrs23mins)
- or Take a directly bus (4-5hours)
For option 1 and 2, you need to take a bus once you arrive at Taichung. If you wonder why no train goes to Sun Moon Lake, this is because there is no train station there. Although there is a train station in Nantou, where the Sun Moon Lake is located, it will take even longer to reach.
Option 3 is the cheapest option but also takes half a day to get there. However, if you would like to take this option make sure you take a motion sickness pill before boarding if you are sensitive. This is because the route that the bus takes is along a windy mountain road.
Where to purchase tickets :
You can purchase your ticket at any main station of each coach company, through their app/online or at a convenience store (ibon machine at a 7-Eleven). However, if you would like to get some discounts, you might be able to find some here.
Taiwan Public Transport – Traveling in a city
Mass Rapid Transport (MRT or Metro)
4 cities in Taiwan have a Metro Systems, Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan and Kaohsiung. There are plans for more cities to adopt Metro in the future
There are a number of different options for public transport cards in Taiwan that you can get, but there are 2 that are the most popular and most useful for tourists.
In the North of Taiwan, people mainly use Easy Card while in the South, in Kaohsiung, people usually use i-Pass Card, but it is possible to use both cards all over Taiwan. It is even possible to use the two transport cards on other modes of transport such as Taiwan Railway and Coaches.
(New) Taipei City – MRT
Taipei City and New Taipei City share the same system because New Taipei used to be a part of Taipei. Some of Taoyuan’s Metro stations are not only within Taoyuan itself but overlapped Taipei as well.
Taipei/New Taipei’s Metro system charges per distance, the price between NT $20 and NT $65 per trip, depending how long the trip is. In other cities, like Melbourne you will pay AU $8-9 per day instead of per distance.
But if you are planning to travel to many places in one day, you might consider purchasing a day ticket or a few day pass. Another advantage of travelling with Metro in Taipei/New Taipei is that the transport is relatively fast and many places you can reach out easily with MRT such as Taipei 101, during peak periods, Metro comes every 2-3 mins and for the rest of time it comes in under 10 mins.
Taoyuan City – Metro
Taoyuan’s Metro system is relatively new and it is mainly for the Taoyuan airport (Main International Airport) to connect to Taipei.
From Taoyuan Airport to Taipei Main Station it costs about NT $150 without transfer. There are also two types of Metro, fast and regular.
The fast Metro takes about 40 mins and departs every half hour while the regular Metro takes 52 mins and departs every 15 mins.
Kaohsiung City – KMRT & Tram
In Kaohsiung, the Metro system is not the only option for travelling around the city, you also have a tram option. Currently, Kaohsiung is the only city in Taiwan to have a tram system. It is very new and clean, although some of the stops are still under construction.
Related Post: How to travel to Cijin Island with a ferry
In Kaohsiung, local people are used to riding scooters rather than taking the Metro. Hence, you will see that compared with Taipei/New Taipei Metro, the number of people in Kaohsiung taking the Metro is much less.
Related Post : Top 10 the most attractive places in Kaohsiung City
Kaohsiung’s metro prices are between NT $20 and NT $60 per trip. Moreover Kaohsiung Metro has a station at the airport, making it very easy to travel to and from Kaohsiung airport. There are only two lines in Kaohsiung (Red and Orange) which do not cover the whole city but you can use a City Bike or Bus to get to where you need to go.
Tip for travelling with a Metro:
The Metro system in Taiwan has very strict policies regarding eating, drinking (even water) and smoking on their trains as well as in the station.
Where to purchase your ticket
If you would like to get some discounts on a day pass, you might be able to find some here.
Taiwan Public Transport – City Bus
I believe travelling in Taiwan via Bus is quite challenging for non-locals, not only for foreigner visitors, but even for Taiwanese people like me, it is not easy.
My suggestion for you, travelling with a bus around Taipei/New Taipei is probably easier than in other cities in Taiwan. However, using the bus in other cities in Taiwan such as Tainan city can be very challenging unless you speak a little bit of Mandarin/Taiwanese.
Taking the bus is relatively cheap compared to other transport options, however; you might need someone’s help to get to the right places and get off at the right stops. Again, I would not recommend taking the bus outside of Taipei/New Taipei unless you speak some of the local language. Renting a bike is probably will be easier.
Where to purchase tickets :
You can purchase your ticket from drivers. I would recommend you prepare the accurate change with you if you are not planning to pay by transport card (if you pay transport card will charge less).
Each city in Taiwan charges a different price, here is a rough price guide:
- Taichung charges $0 within 10km with transport card, $20 for non-transport card user,
- Kaohsiung charges $12, regardless of distance.
- Taoyuan charges start from $18 (and charge per distance)
- Tainan charges start from $26 (and charge per distance)
- Taipei City/New Taipei City, charges start from $15 (and charge per distance)
The last public transport option in Taiwan on the list is a rental bike service. Each local government is pushing for their own city rental bike service for eco-friendly purposes as well as a convenient travel option to get around the city.
So far, you can find the bikes in 10 cities,
|North Taiwan||Middle Taiwan||South Taiwan|
|Taipei (U-Bike)||Maoli (U-Bike)||Tainan (T-Bike)|
|New Taipei (U-Bike)||Taichung (U-Bike)||Kaohsiung (U-Bike)|
|Taoyuan (U-Bike)||Changhua (U-Bike)||Pintung (P-Bike)|
How to rent a bike?
Update : U-Bike company have took over the City-Bike, hence there is no more City bike (05.Aug.2020)
For U-Bike/City Bike/P Bike/T Bike systems, you need to register your travel card (either Easy card or i-pass card) on their website or alternatively find a bike and use your Credit/debit card (VISA/Master/JBC) to rent the bike, no need to register.
As you can see, 7 cities use U-Bike, it is possible to rent a bike in one city and ride it to another city and return it there (if they also use U-Bike), however; you will be changed with a transfer fee.
U-Bike Price :
The price for U-Bike is between NT$5-$20 for the first half hour. If you rent a U-Bike after travelling with the metro in Taipei/New Taipei, you can get the first 30 minutes for free.
T Bike Price :
Every 30 mins cost NT $10, regardless transport card or credit card.
City Bike Price : Under 30 mins is free to use, after 30 mins is NT $5 and after 91 mins it will cost NT $20 for every 30 mins. For more information click here.
P Bike Price :
Under 30 mins is free to use, regardless transport card or credit card. After half a hour cost NT $10/ $20 (depends on cards) for every 30 mins.
Travelling in Taiwan with public transportations is super easy and simple, generally, if you have any questions just ask the customer service staff.
Generally speaking, the metropolis cities such as Taipei, Kaohsiung or Taitung all have good public transportation systems. Please do not be afraid of asking any questions if you need help. Taiwanese people are usually very happy to help if they can.
*Both offer cheaper entry tickets to many attractions, such as museums and theme parks. You can even get discounts on sim cards, transportations and much much more.
When I look for flight tickets I usually go to:
Skyscanner is the biggest flight ticket search website
When I look for accommodation I usually go to:
- Agoda (Tip: if you book a non-refundable room, you usually get a very good deal).
- Booking.com (my favorite one, easy to manage bookings).
- Hotel.com (If you book more than 10 nights, you will get one night for free).
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