Train ticket scalping


The subject comes up now and then at Forumosa.

I wonder how effective this will be…


I didn’t even know this is an issue. I’ve never heard of anyone scalping train tickets in Taiwan.


Isn’t it mainly a problem with express trains down the east coast? Some of my university students from Hualian or Taidong have a hard time getting tickets because, I think, scalpers pick them up in big blocks.


It’s a hugely lucrative business for the express trains going to hualien. Some TRA officials have been convicted previously but its hard to root out, gangsters, politicians, travel operators and hotels involved. Basicallly it’s very hard to get a ticket unless you book as part of a hotel package or a Chinese tour group.

There are some comprehensive articles in Chinese magazines like commonwealth magazine on the subject going back years.

The only real solution is to present your ID with your booking.


Please no! As foreign residents, we have enough trouble dealing with incompatible ID numbers, especially with terrible outfits like Taiwan Rail.



I don’t see why this is a problem, you can use a foreign ID to book tickets.
The idea would be the purchaser can only travel on the ticket and not resell. Could set a limit of two to four tickets per purchaser max but they would have to travel with ticket. They should not allow groups block book whole trains. The trains and service are paid for by taxpayers.

Basically ticket should have a name and ID attached just like a plane ticket. That is one way to help sort this out.


It’s a serious issue for anyone travelling to Taitung or Hualien; and obviously involves high-level corruption that needs to be rooted out.

Despite recent changes to the law, and purported ‘reforms’, we still struggle to get a ticket home within the first minute of them becoming available on the online booking platform.

TRA is obviously corrupt at the highest level.


I was buying a ticket at Xincheng (Taroko) earlier this year. Only dude in front of me received a stack of over 200 train tickets, in exchange for a huge wad of blue notes. It just looked weird - maybe legit business.

Getting an east coast fast-train Fri through Mon sucks unless you’re booking 2 weeks out,
immediately tickets are available.


Speaking from experience, politicians have about 50-100 tickets for each of the weekend trains to/from hualien. They hand them out as favors and are a currency largely unique to Taiwan. Very valuable and not a slam dunk for anyone no matter how high up you are. And it isn’t local politicians that get them either. You have to know someone federal and high up federal at that! The flights are pretty cheap and still mostly empty though…


Except that flights aren’t that cheap when you are paying for a family. But I have bought flights for my family due to the lack of train tickets.


Years back, I used to go to Hua Lien anytime we had a long weekend. Seated tickets were impossible to get, so I just called up my scalper. It wasn’t even that much more expensive. Like $350 for a $300 face value ticket. But yeah, it’s an issue.


Total bs what’s going on with the train tickets to Hualien and beyond. My wife is originally from Hualien and I guess she now has some kind of priority for train tickets during the big holidays. It’s about time! But we haven’t taken of advantage of this yet and I do wonder if it will really work, how easy it is, etc. Anybody here had experience with this?

I personally can’t wait until the new highway opens and we can skip the trains altogether. Hualien is such a large area, you really need a car once you get there.


When I arrived in Taiwan in 2008, I used to be able to get tickets (online) on the Taroko Express to Hualian if I made sure to book at least a week or more in advance. As time went on, even after the Puyuma Express was added, it became more and more difficult. Eventually I could only get a ticket on either express train if I made sure to order at midnight the day they became available (two weeks ahead).

Now, I haven’t been able to get a ticket on one of these trains for probably the past year or two. Even when I try at midnight on the first day of availability, I always get “No Tickets Available.”

I hope the obvious corruption in the system can get rooted out.


A sneaky way around it but unfortunately won’t guarantee you a reserved seat is to just buy a local train ticket, and get on the fast train anyway. Inevitably there is always empty seats and when the ticket guy comes around you flag him down and show him your local ticket and just say you want to upgrade. He just charges you the difference and away you go.


I had the same experience,over the last few years when Chinese tourism opened up its been basically impossible to buy those tickets. Haven’t been able to take the puyuma train…ever!

So much for ‘benefiting’ local people.

East cost of Taiwan is basically run by the mafia, KMT go along with it as long as they support central government votes.


I always take a day off before any holiday and a day off after the holiday if we are going to be taking the train. We can usually good tickets by doing things this way. I’ve never done the wait until midnight two weeks before thing Steve4nLanguage talked about. And so we’ve taken the Puyuma several times. It’s nice. We’ve got two kids so the table of four with the seats facing each other is a cool way for us to travel. The Taroko is also not bad. It reminds me, when our son was three, he could name most of the train types, all the way down to the Chu Jien Che (Local Train that stops at every station).

When the number of Chinese tourists started to drop, every person in Hualien I know had a “good riddance” attitude. I’m definitely right there with that sentiment.


Really? How do you purchase the tickets, online? Would be great if I could get some tickets finally, got a trip coming up soon. Whenever I’ve asked the wife to check she says they are booked out.


I usually do the booking because our computer at home sucks. You can do everything on your phone but it’s good to use two tabs as I’ll explain below.

Go here:

Click on “order tickets.”

Click on “Inquire Available Tickets.” You can use your ARC number. You just need proof that you are the same person when you pick up your tickets.

Navigate through the couple of pages.

Click on the train number to order. Copy the order sheet or whatever and take that with you when you buy the tickets.

I usually keep that first tab open and get a list of the trains by using the drop-down menus so you know what you’re ordering.

All in English. Very easy.


Yes, this is the site I’ve always used. However, I challenge anyone to get a ticket on the Taroko or Puyuma express for a weekend trip. As I said, I haven’t been able to get one for the past year or two…constantly “No Tickets Available.”


Thanks for the link, it’s good to see they have finally added foreign ID purchase.

For this Friday I checked availability. There are seats available but only in Chu Kuang of ithose I checked. 3.5 hours is painful for us and the kids although doable if absolutely necessary (would rather pay extra to go faster).

Probably would have to book earlier of course to have a chance at all for the express trains. But as I mentioned my wife has checked regularly before and never been able to get.

It’s a pain to check availability one by one, for a company that gets billions in investments they are really far behind the times.

That said at least buying a ticket doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Interesting to note maximum you can book online per ID is six.