The lively capital of Taiwan, Taipei contrasts its Japanese colonial streets with modern high-rises including the iconic Taipei 101. It’s a friendly city with something for everyone; known for its great street-food scene and plentiful night markets, yet there are ample places to escape the crowds in its attractive parks, or wander through its museums and memorials. Taipei is the perfect place to start a visit to Taiwan, and once you’re done here head south-west to the city of Taichung. Although known as an industrial city, Taichung is the gateway to Taiwan’s beautiful mountainous interior, so whether you’re visiting for the nearby hiking and climbing spots, or you want to see Taichung’s night markets, malls and museums, there is plenty to see and do here.
Options for Travel from Taipei to Taichung
It’s not an especially long way from Taipei to Taichung. By road it’s around 160 kilometers (100 miles) so if you were driving yourself you’d be looking at a journey time of less than two hours. While both Taipei and Taichung have airports, these two cities are too close to each other to warrant having any flights, so flying isn’t an option, but, Taipei to Taichung is linked by the Taiwan High Speed Rail service that will get you there quickly and affordably. There are also standard trains running from Taipei to Taichung, or you can consider taking a bus if you’re hoping to save more money.
Taipei to Taichung by Train
As briefly mentioned above, there are two types of trains that operate from Taipei to Taichung so it’s important that you know the difference. The High Speed Rail will get you to Taichung in as little as 40 minutes although some services will take as much as 70 minutes. In contrast, the standard trains can take between 2 to 3.5 hours, so there’s quite a considerable difference between them.
So, let’s talk about the High Speed Rail service first – this is the most expensive way to travel from Taipei to Taichung, but it is also by far the quickest way to get there. The high-speed trains are based on Japan’s Shinkansen, and travel up to speeds of 300 kmh (186 mph). On the plus-side, Taiwan’s fast trains do seem to be a little more affordable to travel on than Japan’s, and you could argue that they’re just as comfortable and well equipped. You’ll be able to make use of food and snack services, washrooms, air conditioning, and even wifi.
This service from Taipei to Taichung is also great because there are so many departures every day. The trains run all the way through to Zuoying Station but they all stop at Taichung, so you can choose from multiple trains, sometimes leaving Taipei as close as just ten minutes apart during peak times. You could leave Taipei is early as 6:26am and arrive in Taichung for breakfast at 7:32am! Or, if you want to get there later in the day, the last train departs from Taipei to Taichung at 9:31pm, arriving at 10:20pm. The good news is that no matter what time of day you travel, the fare remains the same, so you won’t be penalized for trying to travel during peak times, if that’s what you want to do.
You can book your Taiwan High Speed Rail tickets for Taipei to Taichung through the travel website, 12Go.asia. They will show you all of the departures that have availability on the day you want to travel, and you can book online and get instant confirmation.
One thing you should bear in mind if traveling on the HSR, is that the station is not located in the center of Taichung, it’s a little ay out of the city. But, getting into the city should never be a problem as there are buses and taxis to get you there.
If you enjoy traveling by train but want to save a little money, consider taking the standard rail services from Taipei to Taichung. They are slower but these services are reliable and comfortable, and of course more affordable. The Express trains take between 2 and 3.5 hours, but if you want the fastest of these, look for the Puyuma and Taroko Express.
Taipei to Taichung by Bus
A cheaper option still is to take a bus from Taipei to Taichung. Buses will take roughly 2 hours to get from Liuzhangli Station in Taipei, to Taichung Station, so if you compare this to the slow trains, buses actually appear to be a faster way to travel as well as being the cheapest!
There are several different bus operators that you could look out for: Citi Air Bus, U Bus, and Taiwan Bus, and they all charge roughly the same for a seat. Buses depart regularly, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a seat with one of these companies, although we always recommend that you book in advance, just in case.
So, although the Taiwan High Speed Rail trains are the most expensive way to travel from Taipei to Taichung, they are also the quickest, but we would recommend traveling this way for the experience as well. The trains are very nice and well equipped, and they travel through scenic areas; more so than the highways do. While taking a slower train or a bus will save you money, the HSR is not so expensive that it becomes prohibitive, so if you can afford to splash out a little on your journey from Taipei to Taichung, we would suggest taking the High Speed Rail and booking through 12Go!