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. 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. Look online, too.
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, look up the public transportation website for whichever city you’re in or going to.
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. 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. Need a taxi? Use this website to get one.
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. If you insist on having personal transportation, used mopeds and motorcycles can be purchased. Check the Mandarin Training Center, Mandarin Daily News, bulletin boards, and the China Post and Craigslist. Registering your scooter or motorcycle with the authorities may be difficult unless you have a resident visa or a trusted Chinese friend. When driving, wear a helmet and use caution; you will probably witness accidents on a daily basis.
Travel between cities in Taiwan is best accomplished by either bus or train. Bus service can be sketchy but there’s plenty of up-to-date information online – click here. Tickets can be purchased in advance, though, and buses usually travel faster than trains. “Wild-chicken” buses are semi-legal enterprises, and offer cheaper fares but have diminished service and poor 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, simply go online.