Transportation System in Taiwan
Urban Mass Transit
It is essential to have a good map of all cities in Taiwan; without one, you'll be lost for weeks. Newsstands, bookstores, and some small roadside shops carry several versions, but look for one with street names in English.
Bicycles are a great option in smaller towns, but are pretty risky in Taipei. No matter where you bike in Taiwan, you should always wear a helmet and stay alert.
Major cities do have efficient bus service. For those who don't read Chinese characters, an English bus guide is an absolute must; they are available at most English bookstores in the major cities.
Passengers who are unsure of their destination should have it written down in Chinese. If asked politely, the driver or a passenger will point out your stop.
Buses in Taiwan do not stop unless someone is getting off or someone waiting at a stop flags the driver down. Persons waiting for a bus must keep a watchful eye and wave vigorously when their bus approaches.
For information on buses, contact the United Highway Bus Corporation information desk in one of the following cities:
- Kaohsiung: (07) 311-2266
- Taichung: (04) 211-8928
- Taipei: (02) 995-8735
Taxi fares in Taiwan are reasonable, although the ride itself may be an adventure. Taipei's taxi fares are very reasonable and are comparable to those in other major cities. It costs NT$60 for the first 1.3 km and NT$5 for each additional 300 meters. Most cab drivers do not speak English, so non-Chinese speakers should either know the way or have their destination written out in Chinese characters. The following numbers can be used to get a convenient Dial-a-Taxi:
- Kaohsiung area: (07) 713-1281 or (07) 335-3555
- Taichung area: (04) 327-8383, (04) 201-2345, or (04) 371-5855
- Taipei area: (02) 301-4567, (02) 746-9988, (02) 935-4333, or (02) 883-0370
Buying a Motorcycle or a Moped
Some foreigners buy or rent cars, mopeds, or motorcycles. Taipei drivers in particular can be extremely aggressive (bordering on dangerous), so many people prefer to walk or ride the bus.
Travel between cities in Taiwan is best accomplished by either bus or train. Bus service has been reduced in recent years, so this option is not as easy to take advantage of as it once was. Tickets can be purchased up to four days in advance, though, and buses usually travel faster than trains. Long-distance bus service comes in two classes: the Chunghsing buses are cheaper but generally not as reliable nor as comfortable, and the Kuokuang buses are usually newer and have amenities such as toilets. Both types of buses offer air-conditioning year-round. "Wild-chicken" buses are semi-legal enterprises, and offer cheaper fares but have diminished service and sketchy safety records. These operations do not work out of the usual bus terminals; if you are interested in taking a wild-chicken bus, ask around for directions to their stations.
Taking the train in Taiwan is more expensive than taking the bus, but there are more routes and the service is quite reliable. For schedules, fares, and routes, contact one of the railway station information desks in the following cities:
- Kaohsiung: (07) 221-2376
- Taichung: (04) 222-5150
- Tainan : (06) 222-4491
- Taipei: (02) 371-3558
Travel Information Services
- CKS Airport: (03) 398-2790
- Kaohsiung Office: (07) 281-1513
- Sungshan Airport: (02) 717-3737
- Taichung Office: (04) 227-0421
- Tainan Office: (06) 226-5681
- Taipei Railway Station: (02) 375-4365
Ferry between Taiwan and Japan
Many of the contributors to this book didn't know about this ferry when compiling their research. Legend has it, however, that it is tolerable only for travelers with iron stomachs. During the monsoon season, the trip can consist of eighteen solid hours of seasickness. The cost is NT$2,610 (US$95). If you ride the ferry, please write and tell us about your journey.