Sunday, November 2, 2008

Taipei - Hualien by train

I am leaving Taipei to travel around island by train and to see as much as possible from other towns.

Trains in Taiwan are different sorts and price also varies accordingly – have to pay extra for speed, but can save if taking slower train. While hanging around Taipei station, I bought Taiwan rail pass for about 1700 Taiwan dollars. Don’t know how much round the island trip would cost without pass, but probably combined costs could be about the same or even cheaper with local trains. So, with rail pass I enjoyed fastest trains possible to have maximum benefit of it.

Trip from Taipei un Hualien by train could be up to 440 Taiwan dollars for fastest and less for slower trains.

Here I will explain a little bit about Taiwan rail pass (see cover in the picture). From date rail pass is stamped and dated on front cover it is valid for 60 days and round the island trip should be finished within 15 days from first trip. Maximum allowed trips are seven. Once journey has started can not travel opposite direction or make repetitions. Important that before getting into train, need to go to ticket counter and reserve seat. Ticket person will write destination, train number, car, seat etc. on inside pages.

Trains in Taiwan are nice and entirely different experience from other countries – totally recommended! In video, you can see how landscape changes while going form Taipei to Hualien – there are cities, mountains and at times train goes very close to ocean. In the middle of video you can see island in the ocean. It is Turtle Island.


Video: look from train window on Taipei – Hualien route with natural sound in cabin

In middle of journey, sales lady moved around and sold obento – lunch boxes. Soon I heard everybody lunching happily in the train. There is also another lady who tours forth and back with big plastic bag – its garbage collecting lady. I enjoyed idea, even I had no garbage, I could see reason why trains are clean.

Half house
Image: this is a house I observed from train. One half of it is gone – construction ? But then there are bed, bottles and books standing on the shelves like somebody was living there and just went out to buy cart of milk. Notice how simple houses are built.

After arriving it is time to see a little Around Hualien.


Video: Here I am using ticket machine. Just to give you idea how to buy train ticket

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

How do you apply for the rail pass? Is it for students only?

Thanks and regards.

Mountaincat said...

Hello!

Rail pass is for everyone. At Taipei Central station tourist information desk I was directed to counter No 34 and 35 to buy that pass. Knocked on the window to get staff attention, paid money, they stamped and sealed it and thats it.

M.

Irene said...

Hi,

I'm from Singapore. I'll be catching the train at Taipei main train station to Hualien. My time of arrival at Taipei train station should be around 7pm-8pm. Will there be any express train during that time to Hualien? Do I have to book in advance? Where can I get more info re: their train service from Taipei to Hualien?

Mountaincat said...

Hi Irene,

There are really plenty of trains from Taipei to Hualien. You can check out some timetables at Taiwan Railway Administration homepage

http://new.twtraffic.com.tw/TWRail_en/index.aspx

In Taiwan, I booked trains at window counter 30min to 2h in advance before boarding and I got a seat (they can also advise another train where is seats available). Yes, I always booked, except for local train.

Usually in train all seats were occupied and on weekends I saw that some people were standing. Still to Hualien is not that long journey.

Hope my comment is of any use to help you with travel.

Martin

KEVCHAN said...

Hello,
I can't believe it is just 1700 Taiwanese Dollars for a round the island rail pass, thats just £38 english pound in my weak currency.
This is very interesting having had quotes for coach tours of the island, although including accommodation prices of £1,000 plus.
Can you confirm your price for me.
Please reply to me i look forward with much interest to a reply.
Best regards
Kevin

Mountaincat said...

Hi Kevin,

Thank you for comment. I did not understand what price you would like me to confirm. It was that price for the train pass in September last year, but everything changes. Island is also not that big.

I saw many coach buses on East coast of Taiwan and must say that I did envy to them at times, because they can take their time and stop were ever they want. I was restricted to public transport and probably I saw less. Yet, I enjoyed communication with general public in those public transports, but had challenges in finding my own way in stations and bus stops (time waste). So, there is advantage and disadvantage of going on your own or taking a tour. Decent accommodation also tends to be on expensive side in Taiwan.

Hard to say about 1000 GBP coach tour as I don’t know how long period you are going to stay. Also another option is to get in Taiwan and buy/get on local tour (car, bus), as my friend did. These locally organized tours seem to be popular.

Martin

KEVCHAN said...

Hello Martin,

Many thanks for your qiuck reply and sorry for confusing you regarding the request to confirm a price.
This was the round the island Rail Pass priced at 1.700 Taiwanese Dollars (just £38 english pounds) I just believe the value of this seven journey Rail pass.

We have just six days to travel around the island hoping to visit and stay one night at Sunmoonlake, Alishan, Tainan, Kaohisung and Hualien. At Haulien we hope to hire scooter to get to Naroko Gorge before travelling back as soon as we give the scooter back late in the afternoon.

This looks like a busy schedule, but we would like to see the highlights of this country, now we just hoping it is schedule that is possible.

Best regards
Kevin

KEVCHAN said...

Sorry,
I missed a word on my last posting.

Should read.

I just COULDN'T believe the value of this seven journey Rail Pass,
also
Qiuck should be QUICK.

Finally, travelling back to TAIPEI immediately after return to Hualien from a day at Naroko Gorge

All the best
Kevin

Mountaincat said...

Hi Kevin,

That sounds very good travel plan to me. I did not go to Taroko Gorge, because I did not wanted to miss open air concert in evening. It’s definitely the best to see gorge on scooter. Also, I loved Kaohsiung, but could not find much tourist spots in Tainan.

Well, wish you good travels and if you have a blog I would love read it.

Kind regards,
Martin

KEVCHAN said...

Hello Martin,
Its took me some time to write this blog but now I have finally done it.
Below I have sent you a link which I hope will open so you can read about our 9 days of travelling around TAIWAN.
Best regards
Kevin

http://aroundtheislandoftaiwanin9days.blogspot.com/

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