How to take the High Speed Rail (HSR) in Taiwan

Riding the HSR is the best way to travel around Taiwan
Taiwan High Speed Train

Traveling around Taiwan can be challenging. 

Although it’s a small island nation, it’s full of interesting towns, mouth-watering food, and natural attractions.

And if money and time aren’t on your side, exploring the country might feel overwhelming.

Fortunately, Taiwan’s High Speed Rail (HSR) is exceptional. 

With speeds that go over 185 miles per hour, it takes you far and pretty fast at discounted prices.

From Taipei on the northern side, the HSR will take you to Kaohsiung in the south in 96 minutes. 

The HSR route in Taiwan

This high-speed rail runs down Taiwan’s west coast from Taipei to Kaohsiung.

Trains run in intervals between 06:00 AM and 12:00 MN. Depending on the time of day, these intervals range from a couple of minutes to one hour.

These trains in Taiwan always arrive on time.

The HSR has only two lines: Southbound and Northbound. That means you must choose the right line or route before you board the train.

Ticket types

Taiwan’s HSR has three classes: Business Class, Standard Class without reserved seating, and Standard Class with reserved seating.

Those who don’t reserve seats in Standard Class must take their chances in the train’s unreserved carriages.

If, however, all the seats are taken, they will have to stand.

While the non-reserved option is cheaper, it’s much better to reserve a seat, especially if your journey is long.

Depending on the distance of your trip, the price difference between these two options is just three to five percent.

Carriage options

Each HSR train in Taiwan has 12 carriages: 

  • 11 Standard Class (Carriages 10 to 12 have non-reserved seats, and Carriage 7 has spaces for wheelchairs)
  • 1 Business Class at Carriage 6

All Standard seats are comfortable. 

Not only do they have ample legroom, but they also recline and rotate 180 degrees.

The Business Class carriage has limited seating, but has more comfortable seats and extra legroom.

Plus, it offers a host of convenient amenities, including headphones, plug sockets, as well as complimentary newspaper, cakes, and drinks.

Some carriages have vending machines selling snacks and drinks. 

And you can find toilets in odd-numbered carriages. 

Where to buy Taiwan’s HSR tickets

Mobile App

Taiwan’s HSR service app is available for iOS and Android devices.

Once you’ve downloaded the app, you can start using it by going to the booking tab and entering all the required information.

Then, you’ll have to provide contact information and payment details. 

You can collect your ticket through a service booth or a ticket vending machine.

Alternatively, you may use an e-ticket on your mobile phone.

Official website

If you don’t want to add more apps to your mobile phone, you may book your tickets via the HSR’s official website

Just don’t forget to switch the language to English on the website’s top right corner.

Aside from convenience, this option also helps you find discounted tickets.

Convenience Stores

All of the country’s convenience stores are equipped with machines where people can buy their HSR tickets. Unfortunately, these machines are not available in English.

Vending Machines 

There are ticket vending machines available near the entrances of the THSR stations. 

You can also find them near the MRT stations.

We find them more convenient than the traditional way: ticket counters.

Just keep in mind that some machines may have problems accepting cash.

If this happens, just use another machine or your debit/credit card. 

Ticket Counters

Ticket counters are stationed near the HSR entrances. However, not everyone servicing you here can speak English fluently.

Klook

Klook is the most complicated way to purchase HSR tickets.

First, you’ll have to buy a voucher and wait at least one day.

Then, you’ll use that voucher to get your seats on a different webpage.

On the bright side, it gives you 20 percent discounts on the tickets.

Occasionally, they offer special promos, such as the buy-1-get-1-free HSR tickets.

Taiwan High Speed Rail Stations

Taiwan’s HSR takes you to these places:

  • Nangang
  • Taipei
  • Banqiao
  • Taoyuan
  • Hsinchu
  • Miaoli
  • Taichung
  • Changhua
  • Yunli
  • Chiayi
  • Tainan
  • Zuoying (Kaohsiung)

Ticket prices from Taipei’s Main Station

These prices are in NT$ (New Taiwan Dollars)

StationStandard(non-reserved)StandardChildBusiness
Kaohsiung1,4451,4907452,440
Tainan1,3051,3506752,230
Chiayi1,0451,0805401,820
Yunlin9009304651,600
Changhua7958204101,430
Taichung6757003501,250
Miaoli415430215850
Hsinchu280290145640
Taoyuan15516080440

There are discounted rates for those who book their tickets ahead. 

These tickets are called “early-bird tickets” and can be booked five to 30 days in advance.

Discounts of 10, 20, and 35 percent are available for these tickets.

These tickets are only available to adults in Standard reserved seating.

Exiting or Entering An HSR Station:

To exit or enter any HSR station in Taiwan, you must show the station attendant your rail pass.

They sometimes will ask for your passport or any identification to verify your tail pass. 

Then, they will open the gate to let you exit or enter the station.

Where can you use the THSR pass?

The rail pass is only eligible for travel on the THSR.

You can’t use it on the Taipei MRT, Taoyuan Airport MRT, Taiwan Rail (TRA), Taipei Taxi, and Taipei Subway.

Authors

Anthony Shallat

Anthony Shallat

Anthony Shallat is a digital nomad attorney and WanderLawyer co-founder. Anthony believes travel unlocks potential and opens minds. He’s been wandering and lawyering since 2014.