Guide on Getting Around Taiwan

Throughout this guide, I’ll cover all public and private transportation options, along with travel passes. Keep reading to learn more.

I’ve tried almost all transportation in Taiwan (except boats) and want to share the best ways to get around. And how to save time or money. I compiled a bunch of information to help you figure things out.


Important

Is There Grab, LYFT, or Uber in Taiwan?

The country does have Uber. Grab and LYFT does not offer its services in Taiwan.


What is the Best Way to Get Around Taiwan as a Tourist?

Those with more of a budget should consider the Taiwan High-Speed Rail—it’s the quickest. Otherwise, you’re stuck relying on buses or taxis when navigating other cities throughout Taiwan.

If you’re in Taipei or New Taipei Cities, a combination of the Taipei MRT and city buses are the best way to get around. Budget travelers should take intercity buses to reach different cities.


How Long Does It Take To Go Around Taiwan?

To go around Taiwan’s main island, you will need at least 2 weeks. So long as you don’t spend too much time in one location. Take Taiwan’s High-Speed Rail, and it’ll take you around 6 hours to get from the top to the bottom of the main island.


What Is the Main Transportation in Taiwan?

Motorbikes, or scooter bikes, are the main transportation in Taiwan, accounting for 48.5% of the country’s transportation [1].


Public Transportation Vehicles in Taiwan Compared

Even though you now know how to get around, you must keep reading. Learn more about each mode of transportation in Taiwan and how to access them.


1. YouBike: Taiwan’s Bicycle Rental Service

  • How to Pay *: EasyCard, iPass, or bank card
  • Price: Varies

YouBike is a public bicycle sharing service with more than a thousand stations throughout various cities.

Find docking stations through Google Maps or the YouBike app. They’re by metro stations, parks, and major tourist attractions most of the time.

row of youbike 1.0 bikes
YouBike 1.0 rental bikes in Taiwan

There are 3 different types of YouBikes:

  • YouBike 1.0: basic YouBike
  • YouBike 2.0: upgraded from the 1.0 with more cushy handlebars
  • YouBike 2.0E: electric assisted bicycles that are great for old people

Here are the rates you’ll pay for rentals throughout Taiwan:

PriceDuration
NT$5 ($0.17)First 30 minutes
NT$10 ($0.34)Per 30 minutes (for the next 4 hours)
NT$20 ($0.68)Per 30 minutes (for the next 4–8 hours)
NT$40 ($1.36)Per 30 minutes (after 8 hours)
YouBike 2.0 E
NT$20Per 30 minutes (for the first 2 hours)
NT$40per 30 minutes (from the 3rd hour forward)
Misc Fees
NT$150Roadside assistance
Taiwan YouBike prices compared.

You must register for using a YouBike online or at a kiosk before using it. Follow the link in the beginning of this section to a guide that’ll show you how to register.

Pay for YouBikes by using EasyCards or iPass.


2. Public Bus: Most Affordable

  • How to Pay *: Any smart card (e.g., EasyCard) & coins
  • Avg. Price **:
    • 1 segment: NT$15
    • 2-segment: NT$30
    • 3-segment: NT$45

Segment means traveling from one stop to the next.

Mountain buses, shuttles, recreational buses, small buses, electric buses, and driverless buses are on the way.

While it might feel like a roller-coaster on the city buses, they still offer more affordable pricing than most other transportation options. They aren’t ideal for riding during rush hour.

Most buses allow the use of contactless cards. Tap when boarding and leaving—or pay with cash.
Things change when you take an intercity bus, the cheapest route for traveling through Taiwan. Purchase tickets from any Taiwanese convenience store, in person at the station, or from ticket machines at bus stations.


3. Car Rentals: Best for Road Trips

  • Rental Price: Varies
  • Avg. Parking Cost: Up to NT$150/hr.
  • Documents Required: IDP, passport, & payment card
  • Required Age to Rent: 20

Avoid this option if you don’t have an International Driving Permit (IDP). If you don’t have your IDP, no car rental service will let you rent any vehicles.

You must visit your country’s automobile association to get started with getting your International Driving Permit. The United States, for instance, has the American Automobile Association.

If you have your IDP and are ready to rent a car in Taiwan, the island nation has a wide selection of rental agencies. Prices range between $65 and $260 (USD) per day.

Avis is one of Taiwan’s most popular car rental services and charges around NT$6,000 per day [2].


4. Scooter Rental: Best for Countryside Navigation

  • Rental Price †: Around NT$100–800 per day
  • Avg. Parking Cost **: Up to NT$20/hr.
  • Documents Required: Taiwan driver’s license, passport, & payment card
  • Required Age to Rent: 20

† This price doesn’t include gas or battery swapping costs.

These dangerous yet exhilarating and convenient motorized bikes have storefronts around most train stations and other areas throughout Taiwan’s cities. Moreover, many stores offer electric and gas options.

Another essential expense that you must consider is rain gear. Otherwise, driving in the rain, you’ll find yourself soaked.

Regarding driver’s licenses and permits, requirements depend on where you go.

Some places might require a Taiwanese Scooter License. Others will accept an International Driver’s Permit.

Some electric motorbike sharing services, for example, that require a scooter license, are GoShare and iRent. Scooter rental services that require international driver’s permits include SKRT and WeMo.

Mom-and-pop stores will vary depending on what part of Taiwan you’re visiting. For instance, the countryside will likely have more lenient requirements than a major city like Taipei.

When renting a scooter in Taiwan, use lanes designated for motorbikes and keep your wits about you.


5. Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) & Other Rails: Best Way to Get Around

Compare the number of stations and routes each rapid transit has:

Taiwan Rapid Transit System# of Stations# of Routes
Taipei MRT1316
Taichung MRT181
Alishan Railway221
Danhai LRT111
Kaohsiung LRT612
Taoyuan MRT211
Number of stations and routes different metro systems throughout Taiwan have.

One of the best ways to navigate Taiwan’s cities is through the metro or railway; the rides are smooth, quick, and affordable. In addition, many towns throughout Taiwan offer city-specific transit systems.


1. Taipei Metro: Best Way to get Around Taipei

  • How to Pay *: EasyCard, icash 2.0, HappyCash, cash, & iPass
  • Avg. Price **: NT$20–65
  • Number of Stations: 131

The Taipei MRT has 6 lines and 131 stations that will take you through Taipei and New Taipei City. Use these lines to reach the most interesting points, including tourist destinations, train stations, shopping centers, and airports.

The Maokong gondola, a cable car, also falls under the Taipei Metro umbrella. It takes you from the Taipei Zoo MRT Station to Maokong mountain.

Maokong mountain is a gem. Watch New Year’s Eve fireworks or drink tea while overlooking the distant mountains. Moreover, in this area, you have plenty of hiking opportunities to feel the breeze brush your face.

Purchase single-journey tickets—in the form of coins and the least recommended. Or use contactless cards such as EasyCard, iPass, HappyCash, and icash.

Taipei Metro Passes Compared

Here are all the main Taipei Metro passes passengers have access to:

PassPriceBest For
One-Day PassNT$150Many Trips Within 1 Day
24-Hour PassNT$180Best For Trips To Many Stations Within 24 Hours
48-Hour PassNT$280Best For Trips To Many Stations Within 48 Hours
72-Hour PassNT$380Best For Trips To Many Stations Within 72 Hours
TPASSNT$1,200/mo.Unlimited transportation use (except YouBike)
Taipei Metro passes compared.

Choose whatever pass best matches the time you’ll stay in Taipei. You all who are living in, studying in, or working in Taipei should opt for the Monthly Pass.

Wait. More passes exist.


Taipei Fun Pass Types Compared

Here are the different Fun Passes:

Taipei Fun Pass Type1-Day2-Day3-Day4-Day5-Day
ClassicNT$950NANANANA
ExploringNANT$650NT$850NT$1,050NA
UnlimitedNT$1,500NT$1,900NT$2,200NANA
TransportationNT$180NT$310NT$440NANT$700
Maokong GondolaNT$350NANANANA
Taipei Fun Passes compared.

And here are what each pass is best for:

Taipei Fun Pass TypeBest For
ClassicEntry into 2 attractions & doubles as EasyCard
ExploringEntry into 23 attractions
UnlimitedUnlimited MRT & bus rides + entry into 25 attractions
TransportationShuttle bus rides
Maokong GondolaTaking the Maokong Gondola
Best For uses of each Taipei Fun Pass.

There’s no reason to cover Classic and Exploring since this is a post about public transportation. I cover all attractions these passes grant free entry to in a separate post.

Unlimited will get you free entry into 25 attractions throughout Taipei, New Taipei, and Keelung cities. And they’ll grant you unlimited Taipei Metro and city-wide bus rides.

Calculate the entry fees into each tourist attraction and the cost of transportation to get there.

Then compare it to the Fun Passes and see whether it’ll save you money.


2. Taichung Metro: A Decent way to Navigate Taichung

  • How to Pay *: EasyCard, icash 2.0, HappyCash, cash, & iPass
  • Avg. Price **: NT$20–50
  • Number of Stations: 18

In 2021, Taichung finally finished its first operational MRT system, the Green Line. It connects Taichung’s high-speed rail station and local trains with other points of interest like the National Taichung Theater, Top City department store, and Maple Garden.

Taichung Metro Passes Compared

Let’s compare Taichung Metro passes:

Taichung Metro TypePrice **Best For
One-Day PassNT$120Staying in Taichung for less than a day
24-hour PassNT$150Staying in Taichung for 1 day
48-hour PassNT$250Staying in Taichung for 2 days
Taichung MRT passes compared.

Considering Taichung’s MRT isn’t that big, these passes don’t offer the most value. Especially when you consider you’ll need to transfer to local trains to reach tourist hotspots (e.g., Miyahara). And these passes don’t cover costs to rent YouBikes or take buses.

Avoid these passes for now. Unless you’ll primarily move along Taichung’s Green Line, which you likely won’t.

Taichung MRT route map.
Taichung MRT route map.

3. Alishan Forest Railway

  • Number of Stations: 22
  • Avg. Price **:
    • Main Line: NT$7.75–8.33/km
    • Zhushan Line: NT$60–120
    • Senmu Line: NT$50–100
    • Zhaoping Line: NT$50–100

Initially designed for logging, Alishan’s railway has 22 stations that’ll take you through the infamous mountain resort of Alishan [4]. The forest rail system is meant to present the area’s cultural roots.

Not a means of public transportation.

alishan train map
Source: https://afrch.forest.gov.tw/En

4. Danhai Light Rail: Efficient Way to Navigate Tamsui District

  • How to Pay *: EasyCard, icash 2.0, cash, & iPass
  • Avg Price: NT$20–50
  • Number of Stations: 11

Tamsui District’s Light Rail Transit (LRT) currently has 11 stations (Danhai LRT map). The above-ground rail system starts at Tamsui’s Fisherman’s Wharf and ends at a massive shopping area under construction.


5. Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corporation (KRTC)

  • How to Pay *: EasyCard, icash 2.0, HappyCash, cash, & iPass
  • Avg. Price **:
    • LRT: NT$30
    • KMRT: NT$20–NT$55
  • Number of Stations: 61

Kaosiung combines all these forms of public transportation:

  • Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA)
  • Light Rail Transit (KLRT): A circular light rail with 30 stations.
    • Transfers to the KMRT & harbor.
  • Kaohsiung Mass Rapid Transit (KMRT): Underground subway with 2 routes & 38 stations.
    • Transfers to the LRT, TRA, HSR, & harbor.

KRTC allows folks to use EasyCards, iPass, and icash to pay for tickets electronically.


Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Passes Compared

Let’s compare travel passes in Kaohsiung [5]:

Kaohsiung Pass TypePriceBest For
THSR and KRTC joint passNT$700–NT$2,780Riding the HSR
Kaohsiung Fun CardNT$900 ~ NT$2,980Entry into various tourist attractions
Kaohsiung LRT PassNT$120–NT$260KLRT & MRT rides for 1–2 days
Kaohsiung MRT Pass (24 & 48 hrs.)24 hrs: NT$118048 hrs.: NT$280Frequent MRT rides
Kaohsiung passes compared.

The THSR and KRTC joint pass includes:

  • KLRT 2-day pass
  • One round-trip ride on the ferry
  • 3-hour Xinyu bicycle rental voucher
  • Museum of Marine Exploration Kaohsiung ticket
  • British Consulate entrance ticket
  • 3 rides at Suzuka Circuit Park
  • 25% discount on return tickets for the High-speed Rail

6. Taoyuan Metro: Best Way to Reach Taoyuan Airport

  • How to Pay *: EasyCard, icash 2.0, HappyCash, cash, & iPass
  • Avg. Price **: NT$20–65
  • Number of Stations: 21

The Taoyuan Metro has one line, but it’ll take you from the Taoyuan International Airport to New Taipei and Taipei cities.

Otherwise, if you want to explore some parts of Taoyuan, such as the Gloria Outlet Malls, or take the high-speed rail, this single line will also take you to those stations.

Here’s a map of the Taoyuan Metro to help you know which stations are essential.

Taoyuan Metro Passes Compared

Let’s compare different Taoyuan Metro passes

Taoyuan Pass TypePrice
Taoyuan Airport MRT Round Trip Ticket and Taipei Metro 48 Hour PassNT$520
Taoyuan Airport MRT Round Trip Ticket and Taipei Metro 72 Hour PassNT$600
Taoyuan Metro passes compared.

These passes work best from taking you to-and-from the airport to Taipei City. Then it’ll give you a means to navigate Taipei and New Taipei City. Use them if you intend on taking the MRT often.
A 1-way airport MRT ticket is a little more than NT$120. You’re getting about half of the money’s worth of those passes just from leaving and returning to the airport.


6. Taxi: Most Efficient Way to get Around

  • How to Pay *: Cash, card, & IC cards
  • Avg. Price **:
    • Base fare: NT$70 (first 1.25 km)
    • Rate: NT$5 (per 200 m)
    • Waiting Time: NT$5 (per 100 sec)

In the big city, you’ll likely see taxis everywhere. Whether through the LINE app’s taxi service or a regular taxi. Moreover, according to Taiwanese law, Uber is also considered a taxi [6].

Most taxi drivers don’t speak English. All you need to do is show them the address of where you need to go and keep your eye on the meter. To achieve the best results, have the address of your destination written in Traditional Chinese. If you’re using Uber, let the app do everything.

taxis, tamsui, new taipei city, taiwan
Taiwanese taxis look like any other taxi around the world.

If you’re outside a metropolitan area, drivers may ask for a flat rate before starting the journey. Furthermore, they’re likely to have higher prices outside, for instance, Taipei. On top of that, the local governments set the fares in most cities.

Here’s a list of phone numbers you’ll need to file complaints against taxi drivers in Taiwan:

  • Kaohsiung: +886-7-222-6816
  • Taichung’s government: +886-4-2228-9111
  • Taichung Motor Vehicles Office: +886-4-2691-3464
  • Tainan: +886-6-295-3221
  • TaipeiTraffic Division, Taipei City Police Department: +886-2311-6409 or +886-2375-2100
    • Taipei Department of Transportation: +886-2-2720-8889 ext.6888
    • Taipei City Public Transportation Office: +886-2-2759-2677

Don’t forget to note your driver’s name, the time you took your taxi, your route, and other details you think you’ll need for your phone call.


7. Train: Best Way to Travel Across Cities

Taiwan has two train options: the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) and the Taiwan High-Speed Rail (THSR). Each comes with different perks that make it up to you to choose your preferred transportation.

How to Purchase a Train Ticket in Taiwan

Dfferent ways to buy a HSR and TRA ticket in Taiwan include:

  • Ibon kiosk at any 7-Eleven: bring your passport
  • Book online at visit thsrc.com.tw: it’s possible to change the site language to English
  • HSR station counter

The HSR allows passengers to order tickets 12 days in advance in person (14 online). Buy your tickets 5 days earlier, and you’ll get 35%, 20%, or 10% off your ticket [3]. Their website lists what early bird discounts you’ll receive based on the time you preorder your ticket.

Don’t dispose of your ticket. You’ll need it to enter and depart from the train.


1. Taiwan Railway Administration: Best Way to Navigate Inside Cities

  • How to Pay *: Cash, card, & IC cards
  • Avg. Price **: NT$40–500
  • Number of Stations: 241

The slower variation of Taiwan’s intercity rail system offers 241 stations that run along both coasts. However, they do not provide service within Taiwan’s Central Mountains.

While riding these trains, consider getting bento boxes or souvenirs from train attendants.

The TRA offers various services or classes that’ll suit the needs of different travelers. These classes include:

TRA TypePrice Per kmStop Frequency
LocalNT$1.46All stations
Fast LocalNT$1.46Some stops
Fu-hsingNT$1.46Some stops
Chu-kuangNT$1.75Some Stops
Tze-chiangNT$2.27Only major stations
Taroko ExpressNT$2.27Few stations
Puyuma ExpressNT$2.27Few stations
Taiwan Railway Administration train types compared.

Tze-chiang, Chu-kuang, and Fu-hsing all offer reserved seating. Local and Fast Local don’t. Therefore, if you intend on taking the Taroko or Puyuma classes, you’re required to reserve seating.


2. Taiwan High-Speed Rail: Quickest Intercity Travel

  • How to Pay *: Cash, card, & IC cards
  • Avg. Price **: NT$740–2,500

The THSR runs on the West Coast and costs more than the commuter. However, if you’re looking to save time, it’s well worth the investment.

For instance, going from Taipei to Kaohsiung will take you 60–120 minutes. Whereas, if you take the bus or commuter, it’ll take 270–360 minutes. When taking the Taiwan High-Speed Rail, you’ll have access to food and snacks and feel like you’re on an airliner.

Think of it like Japan’s Shinkansen (bullet train). But more affordable.

Taiwan’s THSR has 12 stations on its route that include:

Nangang (Taipei)Taipei Main StationBanqiao Station (New Taipei)
TaoyuanHsinchuMiaoli
TaichungChanghuaYulin
ChiayiTainanZuoying District (Kaohsiung)

Taiwan’s High-speed Rail stations.

If you’re saving expenses from other parts of your vacation, I highly recommend using the THSR for zooming across western Taiwan. To make the most of your time.


Taiwan High-Speed Rail Passes Compared

Let’s compare THSR passes:

Kaohsiung Pass TypeAdult PriceChild Price
3-Day PassNT$2,200NT$1,100
Flexible 2-Day PassNT$2,500NT$1,250
THSR & TRA Joint Pass 5-Day StandardNT$2,800NT$1,400
THSR & TRA Joint Pass 5-Day PremiumNT$3,600NT$1,800
Taiwan High-speed Rail passes compared.

What does “Flexible” mean in the 2-Day pass?

You don’t need to take the train for 2 consecutive days. Say you need to take the HSR on Monday and Wednesday. So long as you don’t use the pass on Tuesday, it’s possible to use this pass during those days.

Otherwise:

The Joint Standard passes work best for anyone who wants to take Fu-Hsing Semi and Chu-Kuang Express TRA trains. The Premium pass gives you access to the above trains, along with the other available train types


8. Boats: Best Way to Travel to Taiwan’s Islands

  • Avg. Price **: NT$860–1,700

One of the various boats that’ll transport you through Taiwan’s bodies of water.

To reach Taiwan’s offshore islands, fly or take a ferry. If you’re not in Taiwan during typhoon season, it’ll be safe for you to use marine transport.

Boat, Dadaocheng Wharf, Taipei, Taiwan
One of the various boats that’ll transport you through Taiwan’s bodies of water.

Some of the many sea travel routes that you’ll find include:

  • Kaohsiung – Magong
  • Chiayi – Magong
  • Matsu – Keelung
  • Taitung Fugang – Orchid Island (Lanyu)
  • Chiayi – Penghu

For certain islands like Kinmen, there’s no way to take a boat from Taiwan’s main island. You must arrive by flight or a ferry from China.


Tips for a Smoother Ride

Keep these tips in mind when on Taiwan’s public transportation:

  • Invest in a contactless card: Use them to enter/exit public transportation & make purchases at supported shops
  • Download a bus- or MRT-related app: Know when your public transportation arrives, the costs, & time it takes to reach your destination
  • Stand on the right side of escalators: Walk along the left side.
    • It’s considered rude to stand in walkers’ ways.
  • Don’t eat food on public transportation: Otherwise, you’ll face fines.
    • It is fine to eat on some trains

FAQs

What Is the Best Way To Travel Around Taiwan?

The best way to travel around Taiwan is by taking High-speed rail trains to different cities, then using their Metro systems. Taking an Uber will help you navigate the countryside and outlying islands.

Is It Easy To Commute in Taiwan?

If you’re in the countryside, you’ll need a car or motorbike rental to get around. Conversely, if you’re in a city like New Taipei or Kaohsiung, you’ll find it a lot easier due to their myriad of transportation options.

Do You Tip Uber in Taiwan?

In Taiwan, you don’t have to tip your Uber or taxi drivers. However, if you feel generous, tip the driver—it likely won’t offend them.