Getting To & Getting Around Taipei
Taipei Songshan Airport handles some flights to/from Japan, Korea and the Chinese mainland, but visitors – especially those coming long haul – are much more likely to arrive at Taoyuan International Airport. The latter is an hour and a bit by taxi or bus from Taipei’s downtown. The rapid-transit rail line that opened in 2017 cut travel time between Taoyuan International Airport and central Taipei to just 38 minutes. However, for visitors with lots of luggage or who plan to stay some distance from Taipei Main Station, the bus or a taxi may well be more convenient.
Taipei enjoys excellent bus and train connections with other cities in north Taiwan. Keelung is never more than an hour away, while getting to Hsinchu takes just over half an hour on the High-Speed Railway (HSR). Thanks to Freeway 5 and one of the world’s longest road tunnels, getting to Yilan in the northeast seldom takes much more than an hour. Throughout Taiwan, public transport is very reasonably priced: A conventional express from Taipei to Hsinchu, for instance, never costs more than US$6.
Reaching Taipei from the south of the island can be done by train, bus or car. Those making use of Taiwan’s efficient freeway (motorway) network can get to the capital in about four hours from Tainan, or five hours if they’re starting from Kaohsiung. Taichung is about two hours away.
On long distance runs, conventional trains are a little slower than express buses as well as a bit more expensive (up to US$27, compared to around US$16 for a coach ticket). The HSR is a better option for those in a hurry. By bullet train, Kaohsiung to Taipei takes as little as one hour 36 minutes, but costs up to US$48 one way.
Once in Taipei, there’s little need to use the yellow taxis which can be seen everywhere. Few taxi rides cost more than US$8. Few drivers speak much English but all are honest; meters are always used unless the destination is really out of the way.
MRT (mass rapid transit; currently being rebranded as the Taipei Metro) trains zip across the capital, taking just 11 minutes between the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Ximen (the station for Ximending). One of the longest journeys is Tamsui to Taipei, which takes 51 minutes, yet costs just US$2. The five Metro lines (more are under construction) and 117 stations are supplemented by a very comprehensive bus network, on which journeys seldom cost more than US$1. Like the Metro, Taipei’s buses feature bilingual signs and announcements, making life easy indeed for foreign visitors.