Train ticket for Friday May 5th from Taipei to Taitung...Help me :)


Hey all, I arrive in Taoyuan on May 5th, and I have a place rented out in Taitung…so I need to get there. I’ve read that there are some problems getting tickets down the east coast from Friday to Monday, and I’m wondering if this is still the case?

Second, if I book online, WHERE exactly do I book that? I have found what seems to be two sites that book tickets, and I’m just not sure which one to use. First, there is what appears to be the official Railway site:

And second, there is a site that I am sent to when I navigate through a link that appears to be government. But the site looks fishy (it redirects you to a different URL, then you click “order tickets”)

The other difference is that on the 2nd site, it will let me “book” a ticket for Friday 4/21, and the 1st site says there are no tickets available. I tend to think the first site is correct and there are no tickets really left for that day.

SO…if you guys can tell me if you think that second site is legit and have used it before…or if I should stay far away from it, that would be awesome.

And if you have any additional advice about getting to Taitung on a Friday…that would also be appreciated. I land in Taiwan pretty early in the morning, so I’m guessing I could make it to the Taipei station at a fairly early time if you think that would be helpful. If I fail at getting one booked online, what are my chances of being able to buy one if I show up at the train station empty-handed?

I have a one-way ticket, no job, limited Chinese, and ZERO friends in Taiwan…so having one less stress (the train ticket taken care of) would be simply amazing!



Plane is an alternate option if train is not available.


I don’t have much experience with this, but I think you can always get a train ticket during the weekends, but you just might have a standing room ticket instead of a reserved seat. Maybe others can chime in with more information. I think if you are patient enough, you can find somebody in the train station to help you with buying a ticket if necessary.

Good luck, and welcome to Taiwan!


Hi Kat, and welcome to the head-scratching world of Taiwanese websites.

Did the “fishy” webpage look something like this…

If so, that 1996-era monstrosity is definitely a legit place to order tickets, as well as the first link you mention.

The problem you may be running into is that you can pre-order tickets only two weeks in advance, despite the website including dates well beyond that. Why do they include those as-yet invalid dates? Because this is Taiwan! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

And yes, it can be difficult to get weekend tickets on that line, but that’s for the special faster Taoroko and Payuma lines. There are several other daily trains that run that route.

If you do order online, you need to pay within 24 hours or the booking will be cancelled. You can pay by credit card, but be advised that it might not work with certain overseas cards. You just have to give it a try.

If you can’t manage to book a ticket online, I’m almost positive you’ll be able to get one at the train station on that day, especially since you’re arriving on a weekday and it’s not a holiday weekend. And as mentioned above, even if you can’t get a reserved seat ticket, you can always stand if worse comes to worse. But I highly doubt you’ll need to.

Welcome to Taiwan!


I agree with everything that’s been said. Open two windows. The first will be that “inquire available tickets,” and the second will be the list of trains for that day that you get from the drop-down menus here:

One thing you can do is to stay up late. Right at midnight two weeks in advance is when you start booking. But know that the game is rigged. Group tickets of 10 people or more can be obtained before this two-week period and so the tourist companies are going to be getting first dibs on those fast trains.

You can, for sure, buy tickets, but it will be for a slower train. Sometimes you can keep checking on the few days leading up to departure and arrival for better tickets. Then you can reserve and change your ticket.

Good luck. Bring a good book for the slow trains and have your camera ready.


For fun, I just now checked the available tickets for Friday April 21st (the furthest Friday in advance that I could order) and here are the available trains for that route from 6am to 2pm:

As Marasan said, the faster 2-hour trip tickets will most likely be snapped up, but if you have to ride the train for 4-5 hours, at least it’ll be along the beautiful east coast.


From a long timer…don’t. Take the shuttle from Taoyuan Airport to Songshan Airport - 20 maybe 30 minutes. Take a plane down to Hualien - 45 minutes to a bit over. The hotel/hostel probably has airport pick up or can be easily arranged. Easy.

Train means another 4 to 6 hours at least if lucky, no delays. Remember you have to get to Taipei Main Station or any connection towards the Northeast. That means managing your jet lagged, baggage burdened self through several floors and platforms… Getting on a coveted Puyuma fast train is close to mission impossible, might work with a local agency for which you need to be here. Ticket pickup and reservation, as you have seen from the website, is a nightmare. Spare yourself. The cost is well worth it.

You can book the return trip at your leisure in Taitung, choose coastal view, no problem.


I wholeheartedly second what Icon says. Way less hassle, especially with luggage. Worth the extra money if you can do it.

Edit: Two airlines fly to Taidong, Uni and Mandarin. Here are the Friday flights and prices for each (no English for Uni). Prices in NTD


Ha ha- YES that is exactly the “fishy” website I was talking about.

Thank you for all of this great info, it was exactly what I needed :slight_smile:


Thank you everyone that replied…Steve thank you for going above and beyond!

You guys have given me a lot to think about. Ok, not a lot, but now I am considering a flight whereas before I hadn’t even thought about that.

I’m definitely feeling a little less stressed about the whole thing now anyways!

Thank you again. You guys are amazing.


Great thread–very informative. All this leads me to two conclusions:

  1. The forumosan community is pretty awesome; and

  2. Taiwan Rail, despite modest improvements over the years, still sucks.



Oh, you have no idea how badly it sucks. They dig deeper:

TAIPEI (Taiwan News)—The minister of Taiwan’s Ministry of Transportation and Communications Ho Chen Tan (賀陳旦) proposed to charge foreigners taking tourist rail routes to visit scenic areas in the country to pay higher train ticket fares in the future on Monday.

The suggestion is part of MOTC proposal to change Taiwan Rail ticket pricing system by charging different rates for various rail routes, and introduce new compartment rates.

As part of the new rail infrastructure upgrade, the MOTC is considering amending the Railway Act, and charge ticket prices based on operation costs and rail functions, said Ho Chen.

Taiwan Rail trains ticket prices have remained stagnant for 20 years made the rail line rather unprofitable, ticket prices reach nearly only 50 percent of operation costs, said Ho Chen.

I smell politics in this. So tourism is doing well in spite of not having busloads of Mainlanders? Let’s spearhead it where we can.


Hey at least one can use a foreign passport and credit cards to buy tickets now.
So they’ve probably reached to the end of the 90s with their current system. :wall:
They even updated their ticketing system in the stations slightly the last time I looked. I mean not just whack on some stickers!

Really hope they don’t discriminate against residents too or I will be right pissed-off.

OP book a plane…seriously worth the extra cash…travel in style and comfort!!!


Ok you guys correct me if I’m wrong here, but does a tiny budget plane with a dodgy safety record qualify as style and comfort? LOL. I’m not sold on the idea, Brian!

Of course, I am not THERE and haven’t been on either the trains OR the domestic planes, so I am only guessing and going off of things I read here and there. The trains seem to be comfortable, from the pictures anyways. But the thing about “Standing room only” is slightly concerning- if I am able to book an express train online 2 weeks in advance and they actually give me a listed car and seat number I should be ok, right?

Dragging luggage doesn’t concern me, I have very little. The shuttle to the train station doesn’t seem overly daunting either. In my mind, it felt doable.

My thought was that I would book the…cough…Hello Kitty train…or try to…(because yes, I am a girly girl and hello kitty is adorable)…and I would sit with my camera and just relax and enjoy the view down the coast on the way to Taitung, alternating between reading, people-watching, and feeling like I’m completely insane and totally out of place.

Getting to Taitung isn’t exactly about speed for me. So I don’t mind the extra hours. I don’t even care if I’m super tired…you can sleep when you are dead!

Perhaps I am romanticizing the whole riding the train down the coast. But because my plans are so loose, I don’t know if or when I will make it back up north and the train ride was one of the things I guess I wanted to do. The only thing I know for sure is that I’m leaving to another country from Kaohsiung before the 90 days are up (but probably returning to Taiwan directly).

I’m ranting. I know. Either way I go, though, you guys have shown me alternate routes and I also feel more comfortable with what I know about getting a train ticket if I decide to take that option.

And if I do decide to take the train and have the most hellish experience known to man, it would sure make for a great story. My best stories from foreign travels always seem to be about experiences that were highly embarrassing, frustrating, or horrible in the moment.

Thank you to you all for your thoughts, opinions and excellent information! You are my heroes, and I shall sing your praises for generations to come :wink:


If you’re not constrained by any schedule, by all means, take the train. If you’re lucky and it’s a nice day, you’ll get to see the east coast in all it’s glory on the train down to Taitung.

Your worst case scenario if you choose to take the train is there’s no seat tickets for a whole day. That’s when you go to a nearby hostel and stay a day and see the sights in Taipei! Plenty to choose from near Taipei Main Station and Ximen area.


Yep, very romantic, as finding seats ON A FRIDAY -all weekend, any weekend- is IMPOSSIBLE. People stay up all night to rush at midnight to click… it is all booked in 10 seconds, because agencies take the lion’s share.

May 5th is a Friday.

The planes are not 4 seaters, but proper about a hundred passengers or more. Not rickety. This ain’t some Central American 4th world country, snicker snicker.

That said, if you have teh time, book it Friday for Monday afternoon or Tuesday. Take your time. Do not book a Puyuma. Do aim for a seat, though, standing for 4 hours ain’t fun. Oh, and there are two routes, if you wnat the scenic, ask coastal, not mountain.


I’d prefer taking the slow train too. For most of the train ride, however, save for northern Yilan, you won’t see much of the coast. Almost all tunnels between Yilan and Hualien, and only countryside between Hualien and Taitung. That last stretch of course is very attractive in its on right. :slight_smile:


The train that you will end up getting is slow and not luxurious. It may also be packed with people standing around. My friend also tried to take the train before and he missed a changeover …was not fun for him.

Believe me flying is a pleasure usually with wonderful views of the central mountains flying into the tiny and charming subtropical Taitung airport. :). I have done it with my family it is one of my favourite trips, hassle free and toys re immediately transported to ‘holiday land’ with no hassle or stress. One can also fly to green island from Taitung airport which is also awesome it’s just a 5-10 min trip in a tiny plane but great fun.
It’s also not really expensive to fly
As Icon said this is not the Philippines.
Taking the train back is easier probably due to the weekday.
If you want to fly or take the train need to BOOK IN ADVANCE!


Brian, you do make the flight sound amazing.

Icon, you do make the train sound like a nightmare!

I’m still undecided but at least I know the negatives of trying to take the train!

Really appreciate the info and opinions from all of you, it’s kind of reassuring knowing that there are so many helpful people in this forum who have “been there, done that”.



If I were the OP, I’d book a plane ticket to get down to Taitung (Taidong); I’d then take the train (Puyuma and/or Taroko Express, if available) back to Taipei. Best of both worlds!