Taiwan 2014; transporting around town..

in May when the cool breezy spring had slowly faded into the hot summer.. a very confusing time between the 2 seasons.

So I am going to share a pretty comprehensive guide on the transport modes in Taiwan as I had planned to use them all in this upcoming F&E trip! I must say it was quite hectic for me to first cope with reading chinese words on the Internet during my initial research and planning and then understanding the different transport modes available around Taiwan.

As this trip was originally planned to be a 6d5n trip, daym jetstar promo cancelled the flight to taiwan on 13 May which was Vesak PH! To accommodate my travel buddies’ schedule as well, we had to postponed it to the next day’s flight but keep the return flight as per initial plan. 😦

HSR experience:

A pretty informative entry on the Taiwan High Speed Rail (HSR) which I am sharing it here:
The Mad Traveler Online

Well as far as I’m concerned, I’d read enough blogs that is saying the same thing about booking the train tickets in advance on their website which promises promo rates after a 35% discount -> 20% -> 10% depending on how fast their tickets get sold off each day and yes, I am talking about the RESERVED SEATS. I mean well, you can always squeeze with the crowd and get a non-reserved seat at a cheaper rate but if I don’t read wrong, you will only be able to do so when you are physically at the station. So indeed from here onwards, are what I am going to describe about my experience there in Taiwan. Realistically, here I am suggesting that you should book the HSR tickets beforehand becoz the price you get there on the spot would really be a wet blanket after knowing that you could have booked the tickets 2 weeks or 1 month earlier prior to your trip there.

TRA experience:

The other thing is if you would like a railway train experience as well, you can easily get the train tickets there at the counter at the station which serves Railway transportation. E.g. if I want to travel from Banqiao to Ruifang to PingXi, I can just let the train administrator know that and she would guide me as to where I can purchase the 1 day ticket to/fro PingXi right after she’d helped me with the tickets to Ruifang. Just a thing to note, the TRA covers the entire Taiwan (Taipei, Keelung, Hualien, Taroko Gorge, etc) whereas for the HSR, it is currently only operating on the north coast line of Taiwan (Taoyuan, Banqiao, Hsinchu, Taichung, Kaoshiung, etc). I remember there are a few different train companies and they are classified as ordinary or express trains, inclusive of the selection of reserved or non-reserved seats, so you can reference it to their official website the type of train you prefer to take or you can ask over the counter and then make your payment and collection of the tickets.

Subway experience:

Notice how I had classified the sections here based on the mode of transport as Singapore do not have that much of an extensive transport network. As a Singaporean myself, I was originally very confused trying to understand the transport around Taiwan but nevertheless, Taiwan would still be the best country if you want to have a real hands on experience planning a trip on your own. As a matter of fact, I took the Shinkansen when I was in Japan before but was in a total blur becoz we acted upon everything that the tour guide says! So, just hop on to the Taiwan subway website or do a search for the latest Taiwan subway map and you will be on to a wonderful trip out and about Taipei. It’s really easy and once you get the hang of it.

Taipei city bus experience:

If you are staying outside Taoyuan, this is a good time to give their bus service a try. It is really cheap and affordable and lesser than you will have to pay if you are coming from Taoyuan Intl Airport to your hotel in e.g. Taipei. We took this on 2 occasions 1) from airport to our rented apartment 2) from Taipei zoo station up to Maokong because the gondola service was suspended during the period for their annual maintenance. From what I know, you could get an EasyCard which is like the EzLink card in Singapore or there is a service counter there where you can purchase for a full price or half price ticket depending on your destination along the bus route.

Taxi experience:

Not much to elaborate as we took it down from Maokong and initially, though the taxi driver wanted to quote NT$200, we did not quite believe so we suggested that he turn on the meter but he was not very pleased until he realised that we are from Singapore rather than from HK. Don’t ask me why he became much friendlier after we said that, but the driver did mention that he visited Singapore a few times and really enjoyed himself here. He was then so kind enough to on the meter and we realised that on the way down that we would have shortchanged him becoz the meter was reaching NT$250 when we arrived safely at the Taipei Zoo MRT station. A kind and friendly taxi driver becoz after that, he insisted that we just paid him NT$200 instead of NT$250.

Private driver experience:

We hired a private driver based in Taichung as we aimed to complete the major hotspots that are in Taichung in just 1 day and be back on the same day to Taipei by taking the HSR back. It was a pretty good experience even though, you had to be careful at the same time about hiring the right driver, otherwise you might end up somewhere else that nobody knows. 😛 On a side note, you might have to bear with the driver in case they might want to bring you to other places that are not pre-confirmed on your itinerary just becoz they said that its on the way and usually its to shops that are meant for the tourists.

So that pretty much sums up on how to use the different modes of transport available in Taiwan. I cannot believe we literally covered the major public transport modes in this Taiwan trip. Enlighten me if you think there are other transport modes that I can try on my next trip there as there are still so many other parts of Taiwan that I have yet ventured to and do let me know by posting your comments below if you have anything else you want to know. I might share my pictures in another entry to make it neater this way 🙂