Getting around in Taipei and Taichung

For ease of traveling and to maximise our time for sight-seeing during our 2016 Taiwan trip, we engaged the services of a driver with a 7-seater car for Days 1 and 3. This arrangement allowed us to travel with our luggages once we touched down at Taoyuan International Airport without having to drop them off first at our accommodation. Same goes to Day 3 as we traveled from Still True Minsu to Taichung. By doing this, we managed to maximise the time we had for sight-seeing and visited more attractions without feeling pressed for time.

Instead of taking the High Speed Rail (HSR) from Taichung to Taipei, we also engaged another driver for the journey to do away with the hassle of having to travel to the HSR station with our luggage and the waiting time involved for the train. We had previously taken the HSR with DL and CL in 2013 so they did not miss out on the experience. Otherwise, the HSR train ride is worth doing for the kids’ experience.

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Engaging a driver is a good way to travel around if you are traveling in a big group and with lots of luggages. After all, hailing a cab may not be easy at the more remote areas. Plus, cost of travel per person is attractive with more people in a group and moving around will be much more convenient with your transport at your disposal.

The itinerary and sequence of visit is usually discussed with the driver beforehand, so that traveling time can be minimised with a smoother route. Similar to a private tour, the time spent at each attraction is flexible.

The rates we were charged (for 8 hours/day except Day 4) are listed as follows for reference. We believe the rates were quite reasonable considering the competitiveness of this service sector.
– Day 1 (8-hours inclusive of Taoyuan International Airport pick-up and Miaoli) NT$6,800
In comparison, Flying Cow Ranch quoted us NT$2,900 for pick-up from Taoyuan International Airport to the Ranch.
– Day 3 (8-hrs around Taichung) NT$6,000
– Day 4 (single trip from Taichung to Taipei) NT$3,000




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Public Transport

Other than the days listed in the earlier section, public transport filled the gaps of the remaining time and days. Taiwan’s public transportation is, in our experience thus far, reliable and affordable. While we were in Taichung, commuters even get to travel in public buses free-of-charge. All we had to do was to tap our Easycard at the card readers when we board and alight.

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Use of Easycard on public transport in Taiwan

The Easycard can be used on both buses and MRT trains in Taipei. Purchase of the Easycard can be done at train stations or convenience stores. A non-refundable fee of NT$100 is charged with every adult or concession card purchase.

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A single trip ticket from Ximen Station to Taipei Main Station costs NT$20, while use of either adult and child Easycard for the same trip costs NT$16. A single trip on the Maokong gondola costs NT$120, while users of Easycard gets to travel at a lower fare of NT$100. Hence, do consider the number of trips you may be making before purchasing the card. In Taipei, I bought two child concession Easycards before realising too late that there is no difference in train fares for kids and adults on Taipei MRT. Otherwise, I would have gotten two adult Easycards instead.

Another thing worth noting is that during peak season in Ximending, Easycards get sold out in the convenience stores and train station customer service counter. My mum bought hers easily at Taichung 7-Eleven store just beside Inhouse Hotel. In contrast, we tried getting one for Dad in Ximending. After walking into 4 convenience stores along the Pedestrian Area and checking with the train station counters, we still ended up empty-handed. Dad ended up having to use single-trip tickets throughout our stay in 3D2N stay in Taipei. The single trip ticket for use in MRT trains is shaped like a coin which commuters scan for entry and drop in a slot for exit at the turnstiles.

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There are also the following ticket options to consider (prices as of Dec 2016):
1. One day pass (NT$150)
2. 24-hour pass (NT$180)
3. 48-hour pass (NT$280)
4. 72-hour pass (NT$380)
5. One day parent/child ticket (NT$150)(valid on weekends and holidays)
6. Small group ticket (up to 5 person on a single journey) (NT$125)(valid on weekends and holidays)

All the above are for travel on Taipei Metro and are available at station information counters. Bulk purchase one-day pass, group tickets and single trip tickets are also available.

More information available on Taipei Metro website.

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