Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) is two High-Speed Rail stops from Taipei. The following are detailed instructions to get to Taipei from the airport using public transportation.
First off to ease your mind, things you WON’T really need:
- A visa if you’re American or a UK citizen (and if you’re visiting for less than 3 months)
- Taiwanese currency
- Any understanding of the language
Some things you will need are:
- Some US cash (or whatever your country’s currency is)
- The following steps
When you land in TPE, you’ll see signs for baggage claim and Immigration that will direct you to a large hall.
Ignore the currency exchanges you see along the way, for now worry about whether they’ll let you into the country.
There will be signs indicating non-citizens or citizens. If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you’re a non-citizen so get in the line with the rest of the foreigners.
If you aren’t going to stay longer than 90 days, you shouldn’t have any problems getting into the country with a visitors pass. Show them your return ticket back home and they’ll stamp your passport and set you on your way.
Continue following the signs to baggage claim, get your bags (if you have any) and then exit the baggage claim area. There are two exits, one where if you have to claim any items like fruits and seeds, one where you don’t have to claim anything and you just walk on through. If you have any seeds or fruits that they don’t want in the country, they’ll probably just confiscate it, I’m not really sure, I’m not much of a fruit and seed person myself.
Right outside the baggage claim exit should be a currency exchange place.
The minimum you’ll need to get to Taipei (as of November, 2013) is about NT$200 a person. Of course I’d get more in case you get lost and have to survive in the jungles of Taiwan and bribe your way out of being eaten by aboriginal cannibals. Make sure to get a few hundred dollar bills. The HSR (High Speed Rail) ticketing machine returns change in coins and you don’t want to carry hundreds of dollars in coins in your pocket. To double check fares, google “Taiwan High Speed Rail” and go to their website and check out the fares from Taoyuan to Taipei. Make sure you’re looking at Non-reserved seating.
The currency exchange charges you about NT$30, which is $1 US Dollars as of the writing of this post.
As you continue walking through the airport towards the exit, you’ll come across signs to guide you to High-Speed Rail Bus Stations.
When you get to the Bus Station desks, there are a few desks where you can buy tickets to various places in Taiwan. The following picture is from Terminal 1, other terminals might look different.
Look for the one where you can buy a ticket to H.S.R Taiyuan Station.
It should be about NT$30 and the person will know enough English to tell you which bus platform outside you need to wait at. There is also a person outside who you can show your ticket to guide you to the right bus. Taiwanese people are friendly so don’t be too shy about asking people to make sure you’re going the right way.
It’ll be about 15 minutes bus ride to the Rail Station. Head straight for ticket machines where they accept cash and even credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, Amex, the usual) but I don’t know whether your credit card company will charge you for using it in a foreign country or not.
There’s a button on the bottom-left to switch between English and Chinese languages. Follow the directions and get the Non-Reserved tickets. The other kind will be for a particular train at a particular seat and is more complex to manage.
You’ll be heading north-bound two stops to Taipei
After you’ve gotten your ticket, look for signs that indicate non-reserved platforms. To enter the station you go through the toll gate where you slide your card in at the bottom and it pops up at the top, the gate opens when you pull the card out from up top.
Once you’re in, you’ll have a choice between going downstairs in two different directions. One side is for platforms 1-6, reserved. The other is 7-12 for non-reserved. Go down the non-reserved side.
Downstairs, follow signs for Northbound platforms 7-12
There are etiquettes you should be aware while traveling in Taiwan:
When traveling on escalators, stand on the right side to let people rushing to their destinations go on the left side. You’ll notice that even though there aren’t any people rushing, everyone will still line up on the right side.
And when standing in line for trains, there are markings on the floor to tell you how to queue up. When the train/bus arrives, wait till everyone gets off before going in, don’t crowd the entry way.
Also, on the HSR you can eat and drink. But on other buses you usually can’t eat. You definitely also can’t eat or drink anything (even water) in the Metro trains OR the Metro train stations. You’ll get whistled or yelled at if you do. If you need to eat or drink anything on public transportation, look for signs warning you if you can or not.
Check out my other post on Surviving Taiwan for more tips and warnings about getting around in Taiwan.
Ok, continuing on to Taipei..
Make sure that you’re on a non-reserved platform, it will be clearly marked. When you get on the train, if you have large luggages, there are spots near the entrances where you can set them aside. The trains are really smooth (even though they accelerate to over 200 km/h) so you can stand without any problems if there aren’t any seats.
Taipei will be the second and last stop for the train. Once you get to Taipei, just follow the flow of the crowd till you’re outside the HSR gates where you can see a MRT information / service desk.
To best move around in Taipei, it’d be best to get a metro card, or EasyCard, from the person behind the service desk. These cards are basically used for all public transportations and you can even use them to buy things or re-charge the cards at convenient stores like 7-11 and Family Mart. The minimum balance they’ll start you off is NT$100, which is what they’ll ask for. I’d suggest getting at least NT$100 for every day that you’ll be spending in Taiwan. You can cash-out your EasyCard at similar stations for the remaining money you have on the card, so don’t worry about adding too much.
What about when I’m going back home?
All the steps are basically the same but backwards. It’ll cost the same amount to go from Taipei to Taoyuan. When you get to the Taoyuan train station, you can catch a NT$30 bus ticket back to the airport. The counters for the bus tickets are in front of the train station’s exit #5 (In front of the McDonalds).
There are definitely a lot of things to do once you’ve reached Taipei, and fun stuff not that far outside the city. Check out my other posts on Taiwan below:
- Surviving Taiwan
- Taipei 101
- Lungshan Temple
- Ximending and Shilin Night Markets
- National Museums of Taipei
- Taipei Zoo
- Mountain Home Eating
- Elephant Mountain
- Hot-air lanterns of Shifen