21 September 2016

How to Travel from Taoyuan Airport to Taichung

I've traveled to Taichung more than 5 times in the past few years and have been researching for the most effective and most cost efficient way to travel from Taoyuan Airport to Taichung, and the other way round - from Taichung to Taoyuan Airport.

This blog post would cover 3 ways to get from the international airport to Taichung - airport buses, high speed rail, and public taxi. When planning your transportation mode, you may want to consider the traveling time, transportation cost, your destination in Taichung, and convenience (e.g. travelling with multiple luggage, or travelling in a group). A comparison table is available at the end of this article.

Note: Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport is sometimes referred to as 'Taipei Airport' due to its IATA airport code: TPE, and Taipei being the biggest city in Taiwan.


Bus from Taoyuan Airport to Taichung

Since I usually reach Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at 6am on a budget flight, my preferred transportation mode is the highway bus. Airport buses are known as 客運巴士. The two hour bus journey would allow me to catch some sleep and reach Taichung city refreshed at a nice breakfast time.


Where to Take a Bus at Taoyuan Airport:

You can purchase the bus tickets and board the buses at the bus station, located at Terminal 1 Basement 1, or Terminal 2 Level 1. You can follow the 'Bus to City' signage at the Arrival Hall to locate the bus station.

There are 3 bus companies offering transportation services from Taoyuan Airport to Taichung - Guo Guang 國光客運 (國光號), Free Go 建明客運 (飛狗巴士) and UBUS 統聯客運. The 3 service providers offer different routes to Taichung City. Other differences include operating hours, bus frequency and ticket price.

These airport bus services to Taichung operates from early morning 6am till late night 1am, with bus frequency intervals ranging between 30 minutes and 2 hours. You can refer to the departure timing displayed at the bus ticket purchase counters.

Travel Time:

The duration of travel from Taoyuan Airport to Taichung by bus is about 2 hours.

Bus Fare from Taoyuan Airport to Taichung:

There are two types of ticket pricing.

A full-price ticket 全票 costs between TWD 230 to TWD 300. This ticket is applicable to most adults and teenagers.

A half-fare ticket 半票 costs between TWD 145 to TWD 190. Seniors over 65 years of age, children less than age of age 12 years, and people with disabilities are eligible to buy a half-fare ticket, and may be required to present identification during purchase.

Where to Alight in Taichung City:

Many passengers often alight at Chaoma Station 朝馬站 to switch to another bus service or a taxi to get to their hotel. If you have pre-arranged for a taxi to fetch you from the bus stop to your hotel, do check with the taxi driver which bus stop you should alight at. It may be nearer for the driver to pick you up from Chaoma Station and drive to your hotel.

If you intend to travel from Taoyuan Airport to Taichung Railway Station, do alight at Taichung Station 臺中車站. There, you can switch to a local train or an express train to reach other cities and towns such as Jiji and Checheng in Nantou county.

Taichung Airport Bus Travel Tip:

If you fortunately/unfortunately purchase your ticket when the bus is about to leave the station, the bus company may rush you to run with your luggage to catch the bus! Be prepared!


Taipei Airport to Taichung High Speed Train

Traveling by 'bullet train' would of course be a much faster way to reach Taichung. The travel time from Taoyuan Airport to Taichung by high speed rail is approximately 40 minutes. According to Wikipedia, the high speed rail can reach a high speed of 300 km/h (186 mph)!

If you are wooed by the shortened travel time of 40 minutes by high speed rail, don't forget to take into consideration the travel time to the Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) station!

To go from Taoyuan Airport to Taoyuan THSR station:

You can board a shuttle bus at a full fare 全票 of TWD 30. Seniors, children and disabled persons may purchase the ticket at a half fare 半票 of TWD 15. The shuttle bus tickets can be purchased at the UBUS 統聯客運 counters at Terminal 1 Arrival Lobby or Terminal 2 Arrival Lobby.

To go from Taoyuan THSR station to Taichung THSR station:

You can purchase your ticket at the station itself using cash or credit card. Tickets from Taoyuan to Taichung are available at a standard adult fare of TWD 540, or a half fare of TWD 270 for the kids, the elderly and the handicapped.

The following table shows part of a typical weekday schedule from Taoyuan THSR station to Taichung THSR station. The earliest high speed rail services from Taoyuan may start from near-7am in the morning, and the latest service may end around 11.20pm in the night. To check the THSR schedule for the day, you can go to their Timetable and Fare Search webpage.

Click on HSR schedule to view larger imager

Total Travel Time:

The shuttle bus journey would take about 25 minutes to arrive at Taoyuan THSR station. This is not inclusive of waiting time, which ranges from 5-10 minutes during peak hours to 20 minutes or more during non-peak hours.

So if you arrived the airport at a non-peak hour, this may mean 20 minutes waiting time + 25 minutes bus journey + maybe 5 minutes walking time + 40 minutes THSR ride = 1 hour 30 minutes. And not forgetting you would need to transfer to a bus or taxi to get to your hotel.

Taiwan High Speed Rail Travel Tip #1:

You can purchase your THSR ticket online up to 28 days in advance, payment via credit card. (21.09.2016 Thanks Chyn Huei for informing on the 'dead' link, have updated the hyperlink!) You would need to provide your passport or travel document identification number and a mobile phone number to complete the online transaction. Do note that the online ticketing system may be unavailable during non-working hours from midnight to 6+am in the morning (Taiwan time zone is GMT+8). And in the event you arrive too early or too late for the rail ticket you have purchased, you can contact the service counters for help to change or refund  your ticket (conditions apply).

Taiwan High Speed Rail Travel Tip #2:

When you purchase your THSR ticket at the station, it is likely that your seats are 'non-reserved', i.e. while your tickets are valid on the specified date, seats are not guaranteed. This means you would need to search for an empty seat in the designated train car, or stand for your journey. And if you unfortunately took the seat of a passenger with a reserved seat ticket, you would need to give up your seat to this passenger. Speaking from personal experience, this is pretty cumbersome when you are traveling with huge luggage or multiple luggage, and especially on a crowded train.

Taiwan High Speed Rail Travel Tip #3:

I don't typically get motion sickness when traveling on airplanes or ferries. However I do get migraines when traveling at rapid speed on the THSR. So if you are like some of my friends who are tantamount to motion sickness, do consume your medication and prepare a plastic bag in case you feel queasy.


Taxi from Taoyuan Airport to Taichung

Taxi transportation is very convenient when you are with multiple luggage or heavy luggage, since it will bring you directly to your hotel. It is also a good option if you arrive at timings where you are unable to board a highway bus or a shuttle bus to the THSR station.

Where to Take a Taxi at Taoyuan Airport:

You can board a taxi at the Arrivals Lobby of both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Airport taxi services are typically available 24 hours daily.

Taxi Travel Time:

Similar to the airport buses, the taxi journey from Taoyuan Airport to Taichung city is about 2 hours. What I usually do is to take an airport bus to Chaoma station or Taichung Railway station (which also takes about 2 hours), and then switch to a taxi to get to my hotel. This helps me to save some money on transportation.

Taxi Fare from Taoyuan Airport to Taichung:

Do note that the taxi fare is based on meter, and may include additional highway toll charges. WorldTaxiMeter.com provides an estimated taxi fare of TWD 2,362 from Taoyuan Airport to Taichung City.

In December 2015, one of my friends chartered a taxi from the airport to her Taichung hotel for her family of 4. The journey costs her TWD 5,400. After the taxi driver drops her family at their hotel, he returned to pick them up in the evening to go to Fengjia Night Market.

Click the image above to view a larger version

Getting from Taoyuan Airport to Taichung 

As discussed, there are multiple ways to get to Taichung from the international airport in Taoyuan. The following table summarizes the above article and shows some factors for your consideration:

Comparison Table:

Comparison table done by me :)

Usually I would prefer to travel from Taoyuan Airport to Taichung City by bus, and then transfer to a taxi to get to my hotel. While this may take slightly more time (maybe 30 to 40 minutes) compared to taking a high speed rail or taxi, it is much more cost efficient.

I hope you have benefited from the information shared in this post. If you like this article, do share with your friends who are planning for their trip to Taichung. Thanks!

15 September 2016

Where to Stay in Taipei? | Taipei Hotels

"Where did you last stay in Taipei?"

"Recommend me a good hotel in Taipei"

"Got cheap hotel near Ximending?"

I've been to Taipei on leisure trips for 11 times over the past few years, and these are some of the common questions that people often ask me. For most of these travellers, it's their first time to Taiwan, and it can be a pretty awful experience if you happen to stay in a not-so-good hotel.

This blog post was last written in September 2014, and updated 2 years later in September 2016.

Ximending

My first time to Taiwan was with Hubby and we stayed at the highly-recommended Rainbow Hotel (note: it's not called Cai Hong hotel in Mandarin, but Chang Hong Hotel... losing our way in Taipei and having odd stares when we mentioned the hotel name is how we learn this). Read our experience at Rainbow

Rainbow Hotel 長虹大飯店

If you ask for my thoughts, skip Rainbow. While it's in the heart of Ximending and only 5 minutes walking distance away from Ximen MRT Station, Rainbow's rooms are tiny and old, and there's better hotels within Ximending, such as the newer Amba which is beside Eslite near the 'movie centre' of Ximending. Amba's slightly longer walking distance from Ximen MRT Station. You may want to check out daprayer's blog for the nicely taken photos of Amba

Personally for me, I like to stay in Ximending as it's always very lively even in the night time. I wouldn't be afraid to walk out to the 24 hour operating Watson's as there's usually some performance in the area in front of Watson's and Taipei is relatively safe and I haven't encountered any petty thefts etc before (even though the Taiwanese news are always scaring tourists with their exaggerated crime stories)

And I usually stay in Good9stay or its sister business inn which are located within business buildings. The rooms are relatively clean but at SGD 50 to 60+ per room, don't expect much. Simple amenities like toothbrush, toothpaste, use-for-everything shower foam etc are provided. There's hot and cold water dispenser in the common areas. And rooms come with relatively quick WIFI (I hate those places where you can only surf WIFI in the common areas, like our accommodation in Alishan and Jeju Island)

Good9stay

Taipei Main Station

Another area I like to stay is Taipei Main Station. For the budget travellers like Hubby and me, it makes perfect sense! Especially the proximity to Taipei Bus Station to ferry us from the city to the airport! Lots of good food places around and lots of cheap bargains at the underground malls (nice clothes and shoes from TWD 100 to 250, don't even need to travel to Shilin Night Market and Wufenpu, and don't need to brave the rain 'cos all sheltered somemore!)

We stayed in a backpacker's inn once, it was so cheap - only SGD 40+ per night (makes good $ sense to me as we were travelling all over Taiwan for 9 nights in that trip). But guess what? There's no elevators and we stayed at the darn 4th floor. Imagine lugging your heavy shopping bags and your tired self up the stairs every day at least twice a day. And not forgetting carrying our luggage down from the narrow stairs too. Luckily for me, Hubby was chivalrous and took over this demanding task (and of course, in exchange I let him maxed out our easycard for more Taiwanese fruity beers) Also, the room was so tiny, it could only squeeze in a (i think smaller-than-)queen size bed and hardly any walking area around. And the toilet was.. never mind. I'm not even going to give you the link to this inn!

One place that friends always recommend for Taipei Main Station is CityInn, which has a few branches in Taipei Main Station, as well as one within Ximending and one in Taichung. I haven't stayed there yet since I always have Good9stay which was more economical (about 2/3 of the price).

But in my last trip in July 2014, I made a very last minute trip. Signed the new employment offer and decided to fly to Taipei without Hubby the very next day... oh well, that happens when you are already super familiar with Taipei and you've been dying to go there for months (oh great, I'm starting to miss the tomato-based hotpot again!) And so my last min trip... I couldn't book Good9stay or its sister inn as they usually need 60-90 day advanced booking. So I decided to try my luck in Agoda and I scored a pretty good bargain!

Stayed at Cosmos Hotel near Taipei Main Station, beside MRT Exit M3 (where the airport bus will drop you off before it turns into the bus terminal). I absolutely loved that it was renovated a few years back and the room came with the perfect bathroom (haha! if you stayed at the places we stayed before in TW, you'll understand!!) - the big sink area to put my toiletries neatly, nice bathtub, and of course the 'Japanese Toilet' (what Hubby and I termed it) that comes with automated bidet function. See photos of my Cosmos Hotel  Room 722 I took in the recent trip

Cosmos Hotel 天成大飯店

I've planned an upcoming short trip to Taipei in November 2016, and will be trying out CityInn 1 this time round. And the main reason why I chose CityInn this time round instead of Good9stay is its proximity to Taipei Bus Station (I can drag my luggage across the street to the bus station to take the airport bus). I've checked that the location for CityInn 1 is nearer to Xuchang Street where my favorite stores like Guangnan Wholesaler, Daiso, Uniqlo, H&M etc are located. If the weather is good and I'm not tight up for time, I may consider walking to Ximending which is about 15-20 minutes walk away (have tried walking there with Hubby in March 2016). Moreover, it's always good to try out new accommodations so that I have more hotel recommendations for my family and friends who are visiting Taipei.



For more hotels in Taipei:

26 June 2016

How to Get from Taichung to Cingjing


If you are like me and have not been to Switzerland, Cingjing is probably the closest experience. Located in Nantou County, Cingjing is a scenic forested mountainous area drawing tourists from afar for its famous Green Green Grassland and Small Swiss Garden.

As there is no high speed rail services to Nantou, many tourists would take the high speed rail to Taichung and then transfer to a bus to get to Cingjing. For those who don't mind to pay more for a hassle-free and comfortable ride, you can also go to Cingjing from Taichung by taxi.


Bus from Taichung to Cingjing

From my research, Nantou Bus Company 南投客運 seems to be the most cost efficient bus service provider from Taichung City to Cingjing Farm. The journey passes through Puli town, where attractions include Paper Dome and Feeling 18℃ Chocolate Factory.

Travel Time:

The bus journey from Taichung to Cingjing Farm is about 2 hours.

Bus Fare:

A one-way ticket costs TWD 251.

If you intend to take a round trip on the same day or within 15 days, you may want to purchase the Cingjing Farm Pass at the bus counter for TWD 600. This pass includes an admission ticket to Green Green Grassland where you can watch sheep grazing on grassy hills and be treated to animal rides. You would also be given a discount coupon to stay at Cingjing Guest House, with a one-way bus ticket to the guest house.

Both the one-way ticket and the Cingjing Farm Pass can be purchased at Taichung Gancheng Bus Station and Taichung HSR Station. See the next section for details.

Where to Board the Bus in Taichung:

Click on the map for a larger image

If you are staying nearer to Taichung Railway Station (TRA) 臺中火車站 or Taichung Park, you should proceed to Taichung Gancheng Bus Station 臺中干城站. It is about 10 minutes walk from the railway station (see map above)

If you are staying within or nearer to Taichung Wuri district, you should board the bus at Taichung High Speed Rail Station (HSR) 臺中高鐵站. Do note that unlike in Taipei where the HSR and TRA stations are located next to one another, Taichung HSR Station is not anywhere near to Taichung Railway Station. Instead it is located closer to Xinwuri and Wuri Railway Stations.

Bus Schedule:

The following bus schedule shows the departure timings in both directions. The top table shows the travel from Taichung City to Cingjing Farm, while the bottom table shows how to return from Cingjing Farm to Taichung City. 

The grey timings are for a seamless bus travel. If you pick the white timings, you would be required to transfer bus at Puli Station.

The pink timings are the additional time slots that are available only on Saturdays and Sundays. 

Click on the bus schedule for a larger image


Taxi from Taichung to Cingjing

Travel Time:

The cab journey from Taichung to Cingjing is about 1 hour 40 minutes.

Taxi Fare from Taichung to Cingjing:

Click on the taxi fare for a larger image

According to TaxiAutoFare.com, a cab ride from Taichung City to Cingjing costs around TWD 1,246 to TWD 1,479 depending on traffic conditions.

Various friends and I were quoted TWD 2,000 for a direct cab ride to Cingjing Farm. If you intend to make multiple stops and visit nearby places like Puli town, Hehuanshan, Carton King, Old England, etc, it may cost you from TWD 3,000 for a 8-hour taxi charter.


Private Car Tour from Taichung to Cingjing

We engaged the tour services of RoundTaiwanRound in July 2012 for TWD 5,000. The fees included the charges for gasoline, parking fee, private driver, driver's meals, and passenger insurance. 

The following itinerary was proposed by RoundTaiwanRound through email. And I've added more information in brackets, and crossed a few items to reflect that we did not made it to Carton King due to time constraints nor see the sea of clouds or sunset due to foggy weather. 

Overall we enjoy our time in Hehuanshan and Cingjing very much. And Grant from RoundTaiwanRound made it more memorable capturing our couple shots with his professional photography skills, and his friend explaining each destination to us.



Itinerary:
09:00 pick up (from hotel near Taichung Railway Station)
11:00 Carton King and Little Swiss Garden at Cingjing
12:30 lunch at Cingjing (pay on our own)
13:30 Green Green Grasslands at Cingjing
15:30 Wuling at Hehuanshan
16:00 Hehuanshan Main Peak at Hehuanshan
17:00 sea of clouds & sunset at Hehuanshan
19:30 drop off (at Fengjia Night Market in Taichung)