Taiwan: Traveling by High Speed Rail (HSR)

My first bullet train ride was from Osaka to Tokyo 14 years ago and it was one of my most memorable experience from all of my Japan trip. So when I started planning our Taiwan itinerary, I made it a point to include a ride to HSR (High Speed Rail) Taiwan’s version of Japan’s Shinkansen.

Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR or commonly known as HSR) is a high speed rail that runs along the western coast of Taiwan, from Taipei in the north to Zuoying (Kaohsiung) in the south. With a total of 8 stations, you can reached Zuoying from Taipei in as little as 96 minutes for the 345 km track.

 

HSR STATIONS

Taiwan HSR has a total of 8 stations ( Taipei, Banqiao, Taoyuan, Hsinshu, Taichung, Chiayi, Tainan and Zuoying). The stations are fairly new since HSR only started its operation in 2007, there are ample signage in english so it is a welcome relief for non-chinese tourists.
01Inside Taoyuan HSR Station

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 Outside Chiayi HSR Station, there is a free shuttle bus if you are a HSR ticket holder which will take you to Chiayi Train Station in Chiayi town proper.

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Inside Chiayi HSR Station

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The Taipei Railway Station has become Taipei Main Station when Taipei Metro and High Speed Rail started its operation.

 

HSR Train Cabin

The train is a shinkansen technology from Japan, the first to be used outside the country.
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05It is very spacious inside as compared to a normal train, and seats can be turned on the other way around if the train in traveling back to the opposite direction.
06Cars 1 to 9 are for reserved tickets holder (your car and seat number will be indicated in your ticket) while cars 10 to 12 are for non-reserved ticket holders where you are free to choose which availble seat you want to seat in. Light snacks are being sold inside the train just like in Japan.
07Train can travel as fast as 300 km/h

08You can either enjoy the scenery from outside the window or comfotably sleep and enjoy the “speed”.

 

ADDITIONAL INFO:

How much does it costs to ride on Taiwan HSR Train?
From Taipei to Zuoying it costs NT$1,580 for a non-reserved car while it costs NT$1,630 if you choose the reserve seats. Discounts of up to 50% are being given to senior citizens, children and disabled, HSR official website also offer discounts if you buy/book the tickets in advance.

Station Taipei Banqiao Taoyuan Hsinchu Taichung Chiayi Tainan Zuoying
Taipei 40 165 305 740 1,140 1,435 1,580
Banqiao 45 135 270 705 1,110 1,400 1,545
Taoyuan 175 140 135 570 970 1,265 1,410
Hsinchu 315 280 140 435 830 1,125 1,270
Taichung 765 730 590 450 395 685 830
Chiayi 1,180 1,145 1,005 860 410 285 435
Tainan 1,480 1,445 1,305 1,160 710 295 145
Zuoying 1,630 1,595 1,445 1,310 860 450 150

HSR Fare Table for Standard Car (Top to Down/Reserved Seats, Left to Right/Non-Reserved Seats)

 

Where to buy Taiwan HSR Tickets?
There are several ways to purchase HSR tickets. Inside the stations, there are ticket vending machines with english language instructions and there are the usual counters where you can queue and buy directly from the station staff. They can also be bought from 711, Family Mart and other convenience stores nationwide. You can also buy them online from THSR’s Booking System, advance bookings can be purchased as early as 28 days from your preferred date.

02Our first HSR trip ticket was bought from a ticket vending machine at Taoyuan HSR Station

 

03Your ticket indicates the date of your travel, the train car number you need to take, the from which station to which station, the time schedule of your train and car number and seat number if you purchased the reserved seating.

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 You can also buy advance tickets for your future journey, just make sure not to loose it, and if ever you want to take an earlier time of the train schedule that you bought, you can approach the train staff and ask for an earlier time, but you will have to pay an additional admin charge.

13Enjoy your next Taiwan HSR Ride 😉

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