Endless rice paddies, small villages and an imposing mountain range all flash by as you speed between the two western Taiwanese cities of Taichung and Kaohsiung. There’s no better way to get between the two cities than by train.
There are basically 2 types of trains from Taichung to Kaohsiung. A fast one and a slow one. The slow one is cheaper than the fast one. The fast train takes about 1 hour for the 200km journey and the slow train takes over 3 hours.
But when you consider how cheap the fast one is, it sort of seems mad to choose the slow one! I got my ticket on the high speed rail for NT$630 (US$20) and that was a discount from the full price because I bought it a few days in advance and I recommend you do that if you want to get a good price.
Tickets for the high speed rail can be bought at the Taichung main train station or even Taipei main station if you want to buy even earlier. It’s also possible to buy tickets on the day of departure, but you aren’t guaranteed to be seated next your travel partner and you’re going to pay more.
High Speed Rail trains depart from the outskirts of Taichung at a dedicated High Speed Rail station. You’ll need to catch a local train from Taichung main station to Xinwuri which takes less than 10 minutes. Xinwuri is connected directly to Taichung HSR station by a walkway. Check the High Speed Rail timetable here and enter Taichung and Zuoying as the start and end points.
Trains going to Kaohsiung terminate at Zuoying which again is on the outskirts of Kaohsiung. From here, you have to catch the subway to where you want to go. I caught the subway to Formosa Boulevard because my hotel was right next to it — and it was incredibly cheap (around US$17) and excellent! Check it out on Booking.com here.
So there you have it. The best way to get from Taichung to Kaohsiung is by High Speed Rail! I hope you find this useful… hit me up in the comments if you have questions.
PS Slow trains depart from Taichung Main Station and arrive at Kaohsiung Main Station and cost between $2 and $5 less than the high speed train. Check here for details.
After a disappointing experience with an AirBnB in Taipei, I thought I’d switch things up a bit and choose a regular hotel for my trip to Taichung. And I am so glad I did because Fly Inn Hostel was great value for money.
Because I usually like to stay in private rooms rather than dorms, it’s always going to cost me more than a traditional backpacker for accommodation. But Taiwan isn’t as cheap as many parts of Asia, so I was so happy to find this room for under US$30 per night!Located a 10 minute walk from the main Taichung train station, this hotel is in a great location. It’s also close to Taichung Park and Yizhong Street Night Market. There was no sign out the front and it didn’t really look like a hotel, but I asked a passing local and they pointed me in the right direction.As of March 2017, it felt new! Fittings were clean and not broken, paint was quite fresh and the bathroom sparkling.Facilities included a private hot water bathroom, air-conditioner, wardrobe, table and chair, relatively fast wifi, a couple of cups, a hairdryer, small toiletries set and a TV with international channels. Everything you need really.The room is small, but it sort of doesn’t matter because it’s comfortable.
The only negative was that when I was there it was really cold outside and the room doesn’t have heating. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it wasn’t ideal either.All in all, I thought this hotel was fantastic for the price. I paid about US$30, but you can check the price on booking.com here.
Fly Inn Hostel 10 Lianwu Road, East District, Taichung, Taiwan +886 985 603 099 Deluxe Double: US$29.50
There are a number of different ways to get from Taipei to Taichung and the most popular way to undertake the 170km journey is by train. But which train you catch largely depends on how much time you’ve got and what your budget is.
There are 3 types of trains servicing this route:
High-speed rail departing from Taipei Main Station and arriving at Taichung HSR Station (which is a short local train ride outside the centre) (timetable);
Express train departing from Taipei Main Station and arriving at Taichung Main Station (timetable); and
Local train departing from Taipei Main Station and arriving at Taichung Main Station (timetable).
Costs of these trains varies greatly, but at the time of writing, the tickets were as follows:
High-speed Rail = NT$700 (US$23) (possible to get a 35% discount if booked in advance)
Express = NT$375 (US$12.50)
Local = NT$241 (US$8)
Travel time for each train between Taipei and Taichung is:
High-speed Rail = 47 minutes
Express = 2 hours 10 minutes
Local = up to 4 hours depending on how many stops
I chose to take the local train and it was perfectly OK and modern. It actually goes quite fast, but it stops at a lot of stations making the journey drag a bit. But if you have time and you want to save money, the local train is the way to go.
I’ve also used the high-speed rail for my journey from Taichung to Kaohsiung and I highly recommend taking a fast train at some point in your journey in Taiwan. It’s awesome, fast and still cheap by world standards!
Tickets for all services can be bought on the spot before departure, but be aware that weekends and public holidays can be busy, so I would always try and buy my train tickets in advance from the station if possible. You can either do this at a vending machine or a person at the counter. Almost all stations had a good enough level of English to service my needs, so don’t worry about the language barrier.
Travelling by train in Taiwan is a wonderful way to get around and it’s definitely the way to go when travelling between Taipei and Taichung. Any questions, let me know in the comments!
Where I stayed in Taichung
Because I was travelling on a budget, I chose a cheap place to stay called Fly Inn Hostel. Cheap, clean, private bathroom, central. It certainly did the job for me — it’s not even really a hostel. I paid US$30 per night on booking.com — check current prices here!