Useful country information

Train operator in Taiwan:

Taiwan Rail Administration, www.railway.gov.tw (normal trains)

Taiwan High-Speed Rail Corporation, www.thsrc.com.tw (high-speed trains). 

Ferries to Taiwan Taipei metro   Kaohsiung metro

   

Time zone:

 

GMT+ 8 hours all year.

Dialling code:

 

+886.

Currency:

 

1 =  48 New Taiwanese Dollars, $1 = 31 NT$.  Currency converter

Tourist information:

 

www.taiwan.net.tw    Tripadvisor Taiwan page   Flights to Taiwan

Visas:

 

Visas for stays of up to 90 days are not required by UK, EU, US, NZ, Australian and some other nationalities.  A return air or ferry ticket must be held.

Page last updated:

 

9 November 2013.


On this page

  Taipei railway station
   
  Taipei railway station
 

Above:  Taipei main station, used by both conventional trains & the new high-speed trains to Kaohsiung.  Photos courtesy of James Chuang

Taiwan is a large island south of Japan and east of the Chinese mainland.  When the communists took over in China in 1949, ousted leader Chiang Kai Shek retreated to Taiwan with his government, defiantly retaining the name 'Republic of China' (ROC).  It should not be confused with The People's Republic of China (PRC) on the mainland!

  Taipei to Kaohsiung by 300 km/h high-speed train.

  Keelung - Taipei - Kaohsiung (western main line)

  Taipei - Hualien - Taitung (eastern main line)

  Other train routes in Taiwan

  Europe to Taiwan without flying, via the Trans-Siberian railway

  Japan to Taiwan by ferry

  China to Taiwan by ferry

  Hotels in Taipei & Taiwan

Train travel in Taiwan...

A modern rail system links most large towns and cities in Taiwan, and a new high-speed (300km/h) railway opened in January 2007 between the two biggest cities, Taipei and Kaohsiung.  Map of Taiwan rail network.

Taipei - Kaohsiung (by 300 km/h high-speed trains)...

A brand-new high speed (300 km/h) train service using Japanese bullet train technology started running in January 2007 between Taipei and Kaohsiung.  It is run by the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation, www.thsrc.com.tw (English button top right).

Taiwan's high speed train Taipei to Kaohsiung   Taiwan's high speed train from Taipei to Kaohsiung:  Business class   Taiwan's high-speed train from Taipei to Kaohsiung:  Economy class

Taiwanese high speed train

 

Business class

 

Economy (standard) class

Photos courtesy of  Shigeyuki Kaneko

Keelung - Taipei - Kaohsiung (by conventional trains, western line)...

The western main line links Keelung, Taiwan's capital Taipei and its second city and major port, Kaohsiung.  For a route map, see http://service.tra.gov.tw/EN/index.aspx or http://johomaps.com/as/taiwan/taiwanrail.html, for train times, fares & online booking see the official Taiwan Railways Administration website, www.railway.gov.tw (English version available, online booking only available 06:00-21:00).  The best trains are the 'Tze Chiang' expresses which run at up to 130 km/h (80mph), are fully air-conditioned and take as little as 4 hours.  Only one very comfortable class of seating is provided on these trains, with an at-seat trolley refreshment service.  The Tze Chiang train fare from Taipei to Kaohsiung is NT$ 845 (14 or $27) one-way.

Chu Kuang train, Taiwan   Chu Kuang train, Taiwan

A Tze Chiang train on the line to Su Ao.  Photo courtesy of Peter Voelger

 

Inside the Tze Chiang train

Photo courtesy of Peter Voelger

The next best train type, with slightly less comfortable seating but also air-conditioned, is the Chu Kuang train service, Taipei-Kaohsiung fare NT$ 544  (9 or $17), journey 6.5 hours.  The next train type down the range is the Fu shin, with less legroom.

Taipei to Hualien & Taitung (Eastern main line)

Taiwan Rail Administration provides generally hourly express trains on the scenic eastern line.  From late 2007 new 'Taroko express' high-speed (130km/h) electric tilting trains were introduced, providing an hourly service between Taipei and Hualien, with several services continuing along the scenic valley to Taitung.  All seats must be reserved.  For times, fares & online booking, see www.railway.gov.tw.

Taroko Express train, Taiwan   Inside a Taroko Express train, Taiwan

Above:  Taroko Express between Taipei & Hualien.  Courtesy of James Chuang

 

Above:  Inside a Taroko Express...

Photo courtesy of James Chuang

Other scenic routes...

3 scenic railway branches are worth a visit.  The Neiwan Line takes in a river, Hakka museums, temples, Hakka culture cafes and restaurants.  The Pingsi line takes in waterfalls, a river, tourist coal mine, cafes and restaurants and various culture festivities.  The Jiji line passes mountains, historical village and houses, cafes and restaurants, several through services available from Taichung TRA railway station and Taichung high speed rail station.  These three lines offer a special tourist ticket, allowing tourists to get off where they like and reboard any train throughout the day for 80 Taiwan dollars.  This special tourist ticket is available at all major railway stations across Taiwan. All branch line trains are air conditioned.

Sponsored links...


Ferries from Japan to Taiwan

Currently no ferries available... 

Sadly, the twice-weekly ferry run by Arimura Sangyo Lines links between Japan & Taiwan was discontinued in June 2008.  For the record, the Arimura website was www.arimuraline.co.jp, but it was in Japanese only and now seems to be down, sailing times in English used to be posted on www.tokai-kyowa.co.jp which may have info on alternatives or any resumption in service, though this seems unlikely.  It's reported that Star Cruises (www.starcruises.com) may have occasional cruise sailings between Japan & Taiwan, you fill out a form and they contact you if they have anything suitable.  But they're not cheap, and it's not clear if they will allow one-way voyages.


Ferries from China to Taiwan

There are several ferries now between mainland China and Taiwan.  If you've any information or photos that would help improve this page for future travellers, please e-mail me.  For overland travel from the UK & Europe to China, see the Trans-Siberian page.

1. Overnight ferry from Xiamen (China) to Keelung (Taiwan)...

A new weekly ferry started between mainland China at Xiamen and mainland Taiwan at Keelung in 2010.  The website is www.coscotw.com.tw/cht/asp/star-main.asp but it's in Chinese only.

 Xiamen (China) ►  Taiwan

 

 

 Taiwan ► Xiamen (China)

 Cosco Ferry service...

Tuesday

Thursday

Cosco Ferry service...

Sundays

Wednesdays

 Xiamen International Cruise Centre depart:

18:00

18:00

 Taichung:

-

21:00

 Keelung (mainland Taiwan) arrive:

|

08:30

 Keelung (mainland Taiwan) depart

19:00

|

 Taichung (mainland Taiwan) arrive:

08:30

-

 Xiamen International Cruise Centre arrive

09:00

09:00

Fares:  The fare is around NTD3,500 ($112 or 70) per person in 6-berth 'luxury' cabin.  RMB 620 ($96 or 62) for a berth in a 4-berth cabin.

How to buy tickets:  For info & booking contact gracewang@mail.coscotw.com.tw or try the emails on www.coscotw.com.tw/cht/asp/star-cont.asp.  Try calling (0592) 2616737 or faxing (0592) 2392018.  If you have any problems, it's reported that you can also arrange tickets for a $30-$40 fee via www.absolutechinatours.com.

Traveller Adrian Clemmens reports (summer 2013):  "I took the the Cosco ferry from Taichung to Xiamen last week (24/7/2013). All went well with the stock standard 10 other guests on the boat, comfortable beds and very nice staff.  I had a bit of trouble getting in contact with the Taiwanese side of the operators. I ended up emailing both offices and only communicating with the Chinese side before calling the Taiwan office the day before departure and organising my reservation, having to go to the office to show my passport and Chinese visa before they gave me a reservation.  Ryan (a blogger who helped me on the Chinese side) was as friendly as one can be via e-mail with swift responses and happy replies and helpful tips.  The lady in the Taipei office had little English skills but was incredibly caring and tried her hardest to make sure I understood where and when I had to be at the port. I had what she has written down translated by a girl into hostel just to be 100%.  The offices at the passenger ferry terminal in Taichung don't open until 7pm so there is absolutely no need to get there early and wait out in the stifling heat just to pick up your ticket. I'm pretty sure a 4pm bus from Taipei arrives around 7:30 at the port and gives you plenty of time before departure to sit and watch the empty car park..."

Traveller Janis Putrams reports (Dec 2012):  "I took the ferry from Xiamen to Taichung in the end of 2012 and it was very good.  The staff did not speak much English in the terminal and wanted to offer me an option where part of the trip is done by ferry and the other part by plane.  Though after some communication difficulties and using Google Translate we understood each other.  Before the trip I actually managed to make a reservation by email.  We were only three passengers on the whole ship but the staff was very helpful and actually gave me a better cabin than I had paid for. The restaurant had 4 choices if I remember correctly where one was vegetable rice and the other ones were meals with pork, beef and chicken. The breakfast was included. There is also a very nice cafe/lounge on the top deck that was open in the evening.

Traveller Amaya reports (Nov 2011):  "The ferry is very comfortable and clean.  Breakfast is included and there is a free Sauna and bathing area."

Traveller Armin Cebron reports (Jan 2011):  "The ferry is indeed operational but with limitations.  I just booked a ticket from Xiamen (China) to Taichung (Taiwan) for the 11th  January 2011.  The limitation is that you can only buy the ticket on the day of departure.  You can reserve the ticket before but not buy it until the day of departure because if there are not enough passengers the ferry simply stays put, for both directions!  Prices are as follows:

510 CYN for a Standard cabin - 60 passengers and shared bathroom (I guess the bathroom in the hall)
620 CYN Luxury cabin - 16 passengers shared bathroom (I guess the bathroom in the hall)
690 CYN Superior Luxury cabin - 6 passengers private bathroom (private for the 6 passengers)"

They don't answer any e-mails, not even on the Taiwan pages!  Phoning them is also a waste of time as they do not answer and if they do they just tell you to come to the terminal in person.  The only way to buy or reserve the ticket (from China to Taiwan) is in person at the International ferry terminal Pier 2, Xiamen [May also be called the Xiamen International Cruise Centre].  Actually you don't even need to go to Pier 2, because they sell the tickets at all the windows.  Don't take the bus, take a taxi for about 13CYN from city centre.  Bring an interpreter or make sure they understand you want to go to mainland Taiwan by ferry otherwise they will sell you a combo ticket for a ferry to one of the islands and then by plane to Taipei!"

Cabin on China to Taiwan ferry   Restaurant on China to Taiwan ferry

Cabin on the ferry.  Courtesy of Janis Putrams

 

Restaurant on the ferry.  Courtesy of Janis Putrams

2. Fuzhou (China) to Matsu (Taiwanese island) & Matsu to Keelung (mainland Taiwan)

You can travel between mainland China and mainland Taiwan in two stages, by first taking a short ferry ride from Fuzhou in China to the Matsu island group (part of Taiwan), then a ferry from Matsu to Keelung on mainland Taiwan.  With Trans-Siberian trains linking Europe with China, you can travel all the way between Europe & Taiwan this way.  Here are the ferry timetables and fares for these two services:

 Fuzhou (China) ► Matsu (Taiwan)

 

 

 Matsu (Taiwan) ► Fuzhou (China)

 Ferry service...

Daily

Ferry service...

Daily

 Fuzhou (Mawei ferry terminal) depart:

09:15

 Matsu (Fu-ao, Nangan) depart:

14:00

 Matsu (Fu-ao, Nangan) arrive:

11:30

 Fuzhou (Mawei ferry terminal) arrive:

15:30

Fare:  NTD 1,300 one-way, NTD 2,500 return.  Board the ferry at least 30 minutes before departure.

Train connections:  For train services between Beijing & Fuzhou, see www.chinatravelguide.com.  A modern Z-category sleeper train leaves Beijing West daily at 15:08, arriving Fuzhou at 10:51 the next morning.  Northbound, the train leaves Fuzhou at 16:52, arriving Beijing West at 12:38 next day.  For train service between Europe & Beijing via the Trans-Siberian Railway, see the Trans-Siberian page.

 Matsu ►  Keelung (mainland Taiwan)

 

 

 Keelung (mainland Taiwan) ► Matsu

 Taima-Iun Ferry service...

Daily

except

Wednesdays

Taima-Iun Ferry service...

Daily

except

Tuesdays

 Matsu (Fu-ao) depart:

09:30

 Keelung (mainland Taiwan) depart:

21:50

 Keelung (mainland Taiwan) arrive:

18:30

 Matsu (Fu-ao) arrive:

08:30

Fares (one-way, per person):  Keelung to Matsu in 1st class 2-berth cabin NTD 1,890, in business class 4-berth cabin NTD 1,575, economy dormitory NTD 1,050, economy seat NTD 630.

For more information about this ferry, try this link:  www.matsu-nsa.gov.tw/User/Article.aspx?a=128&lang=2.

Keelung, Taiwan   Sailing from Fuzhou in China to Matsu island, Taiwan

Keelung on the Taiwanese mainland.  Courtesy of Sam Tucker

 

Sailing from Matsu to Fuzhou...  Courtesy of Sam Tucker

Fast ferry from Fuzhou to Matsu   Cabin on Keelung-Matsu ferry

Fast ferry between Fuzhou (China) & Matsu (Taiwanese island).  Courtesy of Sam Tucker

 

Berths on the ferry between Matsu island & Keelung on mainland Taiwan.  Courtesy of Sam Tucker

Traveller Matt Gauthier reports:  "I took the ferry from Fuzhou to Matsu, and then Matsu to Keelung in September 2011. It was a simple process, but there were some quirks. The ferry terminal in Fuzhou is a bit of a lengthy walk from the terminus of the closest bus terminal. It is much faster to go there by taxi - especially when it is hot. Boarding the ferry in Fuzhou was easy - it was 300RMB though, which is not exactly cheap for the short ferry ride. It is pretty much impossible to make the connection to the Taiwanese mainland-bound ferry in time so you will have to spend a night on Matsu.  The ferry to the Taiwanese mainland leaves early in the morning, and on alternating days it makes a brief stop in Dong Yi - Taiwan's northernmost island - on the trip. The strange thing about the ferry is that you have to buy a berth (1000NT) unless all the berths are full - they won't even let you buy a seat if there are available berths."

Traveller Kevin Goold reports (2010):  "I travelled Fuzhou - Matsu - Keelung.  As the timings in this direction necessitate an overnight stay in Matsu, I was a little concerned that there might not be anywhere to stay there.  Fortunately there are rooms available upstairs of the building next to 7-11, and there is a hotel just at the end of the port road as you reach the village (5 mins walk).  Failing that the tourist info desk in that building was open when we arrived and they can arrange homestays.  In terms of getting cash, there are no exchange facilities there.  There is an ATM in the same building, but it only accepts Taiwanese cards. The hotel were willing to accept RMB in payment in an emergency however."

Traveller Simon Grove-White reports:  "Restrictions on sea travel for foreign nationals were lifted around March 2009.  You can now take the Taima ferry from Keelung to Nangan Island in the Matsu group, then a small ferry from here to Mawei near Fuzhou.  Worth noting that it's impossible to change Taiwanese dollars in China and there are no cash points near the port so changing money in advance is a must.  The last section between Matsu and Mawei is an awesome first view of China - gorgeous coastline giving way to a dystopian nightmare of smokestacks, cranes and unfinished concrete, as you travel up the river. And our captain was so excited at having a pair of foreigners on board that he burst into a spontaneous rendition of Tom Jones.  The Taima leaves from the northern terminal of Keelung harbour at 11pm [see timetable above for current times] and takes around 10 hours to reach Nangan Island - this is the second stop after Dongquan. In May 2009 this cost around NT$500 (10) for a 3rd-class bed alongside the military conscripts.  At the time we went it wasn't possible to do the journey the other way but this was set to change as diplomatic relations continue to thaw. There was also talk of a direct ferry between Kaohsiung and Xiamen but I don't think that's materialised yet.

The Macau-Taiwan ferry has been permanently suspended.  There are also ferries between the Taiwanese outlying island of Kinmen to Xiamen in southern China (30 minute crossing, as the islands lie just off the Chinese coast), and also from the island of Matsu, although there are now no ferries between mainland Taiwan and Kinmen, over 200 kilometres away.

3. Fast ferry from Pingtan (China) to Taichung (Taiwan)...

This is a large fast SeaCat, originally in service in Australia, which now links the Chinese island of Pingtan with the Taiwanese mainland at Taichung at up to 35 knots.  Pingtan is 132km by road from the Chinese city of Fuzhou, which is connected by rail to the rest of China.  The crossing is 160km and takes about 3 hours.  Two classes are provided, VIP seats and Standard seats, and there is a cafe, gift shop, children's play area & lounges.  Check-in  minimum 90 minutes.  The CSF ferry company website is www.csf.com.tw, in Chinese only.  For information about the vessel, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HSC_The_Cat.

 Pingtan (China) ► Taichung (Taiwan)

 

 

 Taichung (Taiwan) ► Pingtan (China)

 Cross-Straits Ferry Corp (CSF)

Every 1 to 3 days*

 Cross-Straits Ferry Corp (CSF)

Every 1 to 3 days*

 Pingtan (China, near Fuzhou) depart:

09:00

 Taichung (mainland Taiwan) depart:

14:00

 Taichung (mainland Taiwan) arrive:

3 hours later

 Pingtan (China, near Fuzhou) arrive:

3 hours later

* Days of operation:  She sails every 1-3 days, you can check sailing dates using www.csf.com.tw in Chinese using Google's Chrome browser with built-in translation, manipulating the online booking system to show departure dates for the month that interests you.

Fares:  NTD 2,500 ($80) in Standard seat, NTD 6,000 ($193) in VIP seat.

How to buy tickets:  You may be able to book journeys starting in Taiwan (but not starting in China) online in Chinese at www.csf.com.tw with help from Google's Chrome browser with built-in translation.  Feedback would be appreciated.


Europe to Taiwan without flying

London to Taipei by Trans-Siberian Railway...

This is perfectly feasible, and not even hugely expensive.  The whole trip will probably take about 14 days, unless you choose to stop off in Moscow, Siberia or China for longer.


Hotels & accommodation in Taipei & Taiwan

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling the same hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site, as it's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...


Travel insurance & health card...

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Get travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least 1m or preferably 5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash (up to a limit) and belongings.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year (I have an annual policy myself).  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

In the UK, try Columbus Direct or use Confused.com to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65 (no age limit), see www.JustTravelCover.com.

        If you're resident in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you're resident in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get a spare credit card, designed for foreign travel with no currency exchange loading & low or no ATM fees...

It costs nothing to take out an extra credit card.  If you keep it in a different part of your luggage so you're not left stranded if your wallet gets stolen, this is a form of extra travel insurance in itself.  In addition, some credit cards are significantly better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.  Taking this advice can save you quite a lot on each trip compared to using your normal high-street bank credit card!

You can avoid ATM charges and expensive exchange rates with a Caxton FX euro currency Visa Card, or their multi-currency 'Global Traveller' Visa Card, see www.caxtonfx.com for info.

Get an international SIM card...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, and if you're not careful you can return home to find some huge bills waiting for you.  I've known people run up a 1,000 bill in data charges just by leaving their iPhone connected during a simple trip to Europe.  However, if you buy a global SIM card for your mobile phone from a company such as www.Go-Sim.com you can slash the cost by up to 85% and limit any damage to the amount you have pre-paid.  It cuts call costs in 175 countries worldwide, and you can receive incoming calls and texts for free in 75 countries.  It's pay-as-you-go, so no nasty bills when you get home.  It also works for laptop or PDA data access.  A Go-Sim account and any credit on it doesn't expire if it's not between trips, unlike some others, so a Go-Sim phone number becomes your 'global phone number' for life.

 


Back to home page