I want to start this series with telling you how to get to Taichung. The city is two hours south of Taipei but could be more depending on which mode of transportation you will be choosing. We were thwacked with all these technicalities when Klook sent me an e-mail telling me that our driver could not pick us up in Taiwan but could however meet us at Taichung station. With that, we started winging our way around Taipei main station on the day we were to start our Taichung itinerary. It was not so bad, really, in fact getting lost and finding our way around the was half the adventure itself.
First things first.
Purchase a ticket at Taipei Main Station which we did on the day itself. The automated ticket machines are in mandarin and english, therefore it will not be a problem for foreigners like us. Keep in mind that you will need to ride the Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR), that will shorten your cruising time from 2.5 hours to 40 to 60 minutes, assuming that you want to get there at the shortest amount of time possible.
If you do choose THSR, there are two kinds of tickets: reserved and non-reserved. Andre told me that if we chosee the non-reserved and were caught at a rush hour schedule there is a possibility that we will NOT have a seat and will be forced to stand up during the entire duration. It is a first come, first serve arrangement. That kind of sealed the deal when we were deciding between the two options last December 31; New Year’s eve meant a lot of people were trying to scurry their way to Taipei to watch the fireworks. The advantage of the non-reserved seating is that it IS relatively cheaper. The reserved on the other hand meant that you have a specific seat and car, all you have to do is to line up at your designated stand. All train platforms are labeled so you know exactly where to position yourself when it’s time for boarding. It was amazing how the Taiwanese were so organized so rest assured this will all be a breeze when you get there.
This is an example of a reserved ticket: my seat was in 15E, car 6. The time on this card can get tricky; do note that the train LEAVES at 08:46 so you must be at the waiting area before the stated time, else you could get left behind.
There are four stops in between Taipei to Taichung – Banqiao, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Maiolim but the high speed train is noticeably fast so you will still get there ahead of all the other options of transport (i.e bus and TRA) . I forgot to mention earlier, the defining privilege of having a reserved seating are the snacks and coffee you get served with during the trip. And that the seats are extremely comfortable. We were having our fill, taking advantage of the comfort while cruising at 300 km/h. Life is sweet.
Arriving at Taichung terminal was less complicated than navigating our way through Taipei station’s various channels. It was so clean, and we were welcomed with a number of food stations (Mcdonald’s, Mos Burger, Starbucks to name a few)! Andre took the liberty of ordering a hefty breakfast at Mcdonald’s before commencing with the rest of our excursion in Taichung. That in fact is another blog post awaiting this one! 🙂
So, Taichung awaits! Sorry for boring you with something technical but I believe this information is useful for someone who is trying to get to the city. 🙂 So the next time Klook rejects your request for a pick-up in Taiwan, you know what to do and how to do it! 🙂
A few things I have realized as I was recalling our actual getting-from-point-A-to-point-B hubbub:
- Taking the train in a different country with a different language need not be intimidating, places like Taiwan have actually made these kinds of processes very tourist-friendly. Take the risk and you might actually find it fun!
- On the other hand, be prepared – stations can get confusing and locals may not be as helpful and effective in showing you the way (because they speak little to no english), for perplexing moments use Google or Youtube to research your way around. I suggest you arm yourself with the particulars before reaching the station, you know just in case!
- I wish we had efficient trains like these in the Philippines! It could truly cut short travel times in different destinations. Oh the possibilities of this and the unlikelihood of it happening.
So anyway, I hope you find this useful!
Till my next entry. Good night.