Train from Taipei to Taichung
If you are heading to Cingjing/Qingjing Farm (清境農場) or scenic spots in the outskirts of Taichung, I’ll recommend a pit stop at Taichung city. Taichung is somewhere in the middle of Taipei and Kao Hsiung. So if you are flying in to Taiwan, you can choose to land at either city. Or you can fly direct from Singapore to Taichung, I know Cathay Pacific does. We landed in Taipei and took the train from Taipei to Taichung. We took the High Speed Rail (HSR) (gao tie; 高鐵 ) to Taichung and the normal train (TRA)(tai tie; 台鐵 ) back to Taipei.
HSR and TRA train stations
Do note that the train stations for HSR and TRA in Taichung are located about 10 minutes car ride apart. So when you book your accommodation, take note when it indicates that it’s near the train station. It usually refers to the Taichung TRA train station – as did our Airbnb in Taichung. Glad we planned to take the TRA train back to Taipei because it’s just walking distance from our accommodation.
Taichung HSR station is further from downtown Taichung, located in Wuri (烏日), on the outskirts of Taichung city. You have to take a taxi or public bus from Taichung City to get there. We went straight to Cingjing from HSR station, so the proximity to town, or lackof wasn’t a concern to us.
Taiwan High Speed Rail (HSR)
If you have no budget constraints, I would highly recommend taking the HSR to Taichung HSR Station. You get to travel in comfort and you save time. It’s approximately 60 minutes with HSR and double the time on TRA. We had time to kill on our way back to Taipei and hence we took the TRA train instead.
It’s my first time taking the HSR in Taiwan and I was impressed. The HSR station itself looks like a mini airport and it felt like I got on an airplane when I boarded the HSR. The spacious leg room and comfortable seats made us enjoy our breakfast we brought along even more. Be sure to purchase the tickets in advance to get reserved seats for a hassle free and comfortable ride.
Duration: Approx 60 minutes ride. You can find out the train timings at irs.thsrc.com.tw/IMINT, select ENG at the top.
Pricing: You can book your tickets at the website and enjoy a 10% early bird discount on NT$700 (S$33) reserved seat, and NT$1,125 (S$52) business class. Or you can also walk in and buy a non-reserved seat at NT$675 (S$31).
Promotion: However, you get a better deal of 20% discount when you purchase your tickets at Klook’s website for S$25 (scroll down the website to choose your destination).
After you purchase at Klook, you have to go to the HSR ticket counter to exchange for the actual tickets. If you are travelling in pairs or groups, do the exchange as early as possible for seats next to each other. Or if you are travelling solo, you get a higher chance to choose your desired window or aisle seat.
Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA Train)
Although the travel time on TRA is double that of HSR, its ticket price is almost half of a HSR ticket.
Duration: Approx 2 hours on Chu-Kuang Express and Tze-Chiang Limited Express, unless you manage to book the 1.5 hour ride on Puyuma. You can search for the train timings at TRA website.
Pricing: NT$289 (~S$13.30), NT$375 (~S$17.30)
On a sidenote, if you are taking the TRA train, be sure to try their train bento, Tai Tie Bian Dang 台铁便当. The meal box is known for its pork chop, and also contains side dishes such as braised egg, dried tofu, white radish, etc. You can buy the bento at the food counter outside TRA gantries or on-board the train. The train staff will cart out the bentos like flight attendants for you to purchase.
They have the normal and premium box sold at NT$60 (S$2.80) and NT$90 (S$4.20) respectively, and you can add a bottle of drink at NT$10 (S$0.50). You have to pay NT$1 (S$0.05) for a plastic carrier. The premium box has additional ingredients, good if you are a big eater. I can’t even finish my normal bento box. It’s an affordable meal that’s filling, and hence there are also non-passengers who buy from the counter.
Enjoy your journey to Taichung! And if you are heading to the outskirts of Taichung, you can read more about my experience with Mr Ye, the driver. Or if you decide to travel to Cingjing on your own, train on like us!
So will you be taking the train from Taipei to Taichung? If yes, then the HSR or TRA? Share with your thoughts and comments below.