Getting Around Taipei: Guide to Public Transportation

Elevated view of Taipei's Wenhu Line
Allan Baxter / Getty Images

Getting around Taipei is convenient and easy—even if you don’t speak Chinese; maps, ticket machines, and station names are in Mandarin and pinyin, which is used to Romanize Chinese characters. The subway and buses are most popular, but taxis and rideshares are also plentiful. The subway and bus system services nearly every place a traveler might want to go while high-speed trains and local rail lines take travelers beyond the city limits. 

How to Ride the Taipei Metro

Built in 1996, Taipei Mass Rapid Transit or Taipei Metro (MRT) has six lines of underground, ground, and elevated tracks that criss-cross Taipei and New Taipei City, which surrounds the capital. Hours of operation are 6 a.m. to midnight daily (first train and last train start times are here). Amenities at each station include attendants, ticket machines, and toilets.

Fare Rates

Admission to the trains is via blue plastic single-journey tokens or electronic stored value cards called EasyCards. Travelers can calculate single journey fare here, which depends on journey distance.

  • Single Journey: NT$20 - NT$65
  • One-day EasyCards Pass: NT$150
  • 24hr Taipei Metro Pass: NT$180
  • 48hr Taipei Metro Pass: NT$280
  • 72hr Taipei Metro Pass: NT$380
  • All Pass Ticket: NT$1,280 includes unlimited rides for 30 days on Taipei Metro, Taipei buses, and YouBike bike share.

Passengers with EasyCards get a fare discount between subway and bus if the transfer is done within one hour. Taipei Fun Passes include unlimited rides on Taipei Metro, Taipei buses, and Taiwan Tourist Shuttle routes.

Taipei Fun Pass (Transportation):

  • 1-Day: NT$180
  • 1-Day (Maokong Gondola version): NT350
  • 2-Day: NT$310
  • 3-Day: NT$440
  • 5-Day: NT$700

Taipei Fun Pass (Unlimited): Includes entry to 16 attractions, including Taipei 101, Yehliu Geopark, and Taipei Zoo

  • 1-Day: NT$1,200
  • 2-Day: NT$1,600
  • 3-Day: NT$1,900

How to Pay and Where to Buy Passes

  • Single Journey: Blue IC Single Journey Tokens can be purchased from the token vending machines and Metro station information counters in all stations. 
  • One-day EasyCards Pass and 24-hour, 48-hour, 72-hour and All Pass: Available for purchase at all Metro station information counters. Each pass can only be used by one passenger at a time.
  • Taipei Fun Pass: Can be purchased online

Important Things to Know About Riding the MRT

  • Announcements are in Mandarin, English, Taiwanese, Hakka, and Japanese.
  • Weekday peak hours are 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. On weekends and holidays, service to some stations begins later. Check here
  • Bicycles are allowed on the Taipei Metro at 83 stations weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Eating, drinking, chewing gum, and smoking are not allowed.
  • Passengers must line up to board trains.
  • Don't sit in seats designated for the elderly, disabled, pregnant passengers, and those traveling with young children. 
  • When riding the escalator, stand on the right and walk on the left.
  • Pets are allowed on the Taipei Metro.
  • Surfboards are allowed on the first and last subway cars on holidays only.

Travel Routes and Subway Lines 

  • Wenhu Line (BR): Brown
  • Tamsui-Xinyi Line (R): Red
  • Songshan-Xindian Line (G): Green 
  • Zhonghe-Xinlu Line (O): Orange
  • Bannan Line (BL): Blue
  • Circular Line (Y): Yellow

An additional 28 miles is under construction, adding 41 stations to the system. Download an English language map of the Taipei Metro and the Go! Taipei Metro App.

Accessibility Concerns: Taipei Metro has elevators, braille signage, wheelchair-accessible ticket vending machines and train cars. 

Safety Information

  • Passengers must stand behind a yellow strip one meter from the platform edge.
  • Warning lights flash when a train is approaching the station.
  • Warning lights flashing above the platform doors indicate when they are about to close; do not enter or exit when the lights are flashing.
  • Platform screen doors have been installed on many routes to prevent passengers falling onto the tracks. There is an under platform clearance where a passenger can find refuge if they fall on the tracks. 
  • Harassment on the subway is very rare, even during late night hours.

Taking the Airport Shuttle

The easiest way to travel from Taipei Taoyuan International Airport is the Taoyuan International Airport MRT Line that has 13 express stations from the Taipei Main Station to Taoyuan International Airport’s Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 (there is an additional commuter line extending service beyond the airport to Huanbei Station in Taoyuan). 

Fare Rates: Single journey rides: NT$30 to NT$160. 

Hours of Operation: 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Timetables can be found here.

Using the Maokong Gondola

Opened in 2007, the Maokong Gondola has four stations: The 2.5-mile long gondola system includes 31 Crystal Cabins, which have clear, glass-bottom floors. 

Fare Rates: The fare is based on trip length.

  • To Taipei Zoo South Station: NT$70
  • To Zhinan Temple Station: NT$100
  • To Maokong Station: NT$120
  • EasyCard holders get NT$20 off on weekdays. 
  • Passengers who use their EasyCard to pay for admission to the Taipei Zoo get an NT$20 discount on a subsequent gondola trip.

Hours of Operation: The gondola is open every day except Monday and runs according to the following schedule.

  • Tuesday to Thursday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Friday: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Sunday: 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

How to Ride the Taiwan High-Speed Rail

Introduced in 2007, Taiwan High-Speed Rail travels up to 186 miles per hour. Each train has reserved, unreserved, and business class cars; toilets; a breastfeeding room; and drink vending machines.

  • Fare Rates: Ticket prices vary based on start and end stations, train departure time, and route (some trains only make express stops). Ticket sales cease three minutes before a train departs. Passengers cannot buy tickets on the train. Children 12 and older must purchase a full fare.
  • Reserved Seat: NT$40 to NT$1,530
  • Business Class: Business class includes roomier seats with headrest, footrest, two reading lights, and a 110v electrical outlet, complimentary hot coffee, juice, hot tea, and bottled water, and daily newspapers and magazines.
  • Unreserved Seat: NT$35 to NT$1,480. Unreserved tickets can only be purchased on the same day as the trip and are only valid for the same day. Unreserved ticket holders must ride in cars 10-12, which offer seating on a first-come, first-served basis. Priority seating for disabled, elderly, and pregnant passengers is also available in the unreserved cars.

Passengers can save up to 35 percent with the Early Bird Discount when buying tickets for trains that will depart five days after the ticket purchase date; these discounted tickets are limited. Some hotel packages also offer 20 percent off when buying train tickets at the time of hotel reservation. 

How to Pay and Where to Buy Passes: Tickets can be purchased using ticket vending machines at each HSR station; they’re a much faster option than queuing at ticket windows. 

Hours of Operation: The first train from Nangang departs at 5:40 a.m. and from Zuoying at 5:20 a.m. with the last trains arriving at each station at either 11:45 p.m. or midnight daily. Passengers can look up train timetables and fares here.

Important Things to Know:

  • Seats A and E are window seats. 
  • Station announcements are in Chinese and English. 
  • There is one rail line that begins in Nangang in the north and terminates in Zuoying, near Kaohsiung in the South, making stops at Taipei, Banciao, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli, Taichung, Changhua, Yunlin, Chiayi, and Tainan along the way. 

Accessibility Concerns: The Taiwan High Speed Rail offers wheelchair accessible seats and a guide service.

How to Ride the Local Trains

The Taiwan Railway provides service to smaller towns and villages on four trains types: 

  • Tzuchiang (自強號): air-conditioned express trains
  • Chuguang (萬光號): air-conditioned but slower trains
  • Fùxīng (復興號): air-conditioned but very slow trains
  • Píng kuài (平快號): no air conditioning, very slow, and no reserved seats

Fare Rates: One-way fares begin at NT$20, but passengers can save money by buying a roundtrip fare; it also ensures a return ticket and no worries about the rural train station’s ticket counter being closed. Passengers can calculate the fare here

All trains except the píng kuài have reserved seating. If you miss your train, you can still use your ticket on the same route on the same day; however, the ticket converts to an unreserved seat. 

Important Things to Know:

  • Trains have bathrooms but no other amenities except for possibly a snack vendor that goes from car to car. 
  • Station announcements are almost always in Chinese, but the station names are in Chinese and pinyin.
Elevated view of Nanjing East Road in Taipei
Allan Baxter / Getty Images

Riding the Bus

The Taipei Joint Bus System, public buses operated by the government, are air-conditioned, clean, and efficient. Most bus stops have electronic signs that countdown to when the next bus is arriving (passengers can also track the bus) and placards indicate the route and timetable. 

Fare Rates: The bus fare is charged based on sections, which impacts how much and how often you pay.

  • One section: NT$15
  • Two sections: NT$30
  • Three sections: NT$45

Depending on the route, passengers either pay when getting on or off the bus or both. Look at the electronic sign above the driver: 

  • If it has 上, pay as you get on the bus. 
  • If it has a 下, pay when you get off. 
  • If you paid when you got on and the sign changes during your trip to 下, this indicates you have traveled through another zone and you have to pay again. Sometimes, the driver will hand you a paper ticket when you get on near where two zones meet. Keep this ticket and return it when you depart; it means you don’t have to pay a second time.

Important Things to Know:

  • Double check the number and color of the bus before you get on. Some buses don’t follow the same route coming and going. The color indicated which subway line(s) the bus may stop at.
  • Stations are typically called out in Chinese or appear on a digital board. You can plan your trip here and search for bus stops nearby
  • Pay with exact change or EasyCard

Accessibility Concerns: 300 city buses have low-floor buses to accommodate wheelchair passengers. 

How to Ride the Long-Haul Bus

Long-haul and intercity buses range in quality from standard chartered bus to deluxe affairs. Most depart from Taipei Bus Station, adjacent to Taipei Main Station. Fares vary by bus company, distance, time, and bus quality.

Taking a Taxi

Hailing a yellow, metered taxi is easy except during rush hour and rain storms. Finding a taxi driver that speaks English is hard. Show the driver your destination address in Chinese characters; most drivers are unable to read pinyin. 

Fare Rates: Make sure the driver turns on the meter, which begins at NT$70 for the first 0.77 miles and NT$5 for each additional 0.12 miles. A NT$20 surcharge is added to rides after 11 p.m. Some taxis take credit cards, but ask before your ride begins. Pay in NT$100 or NT$500 notes as most drivers won’t have change for NT$1,000 notes. Taxi dispatch +886 800 055 850 (Press 2 for English service) or 55850 from a mobile phone.

Rideshares like Uber and Lyft are popular as is LINE TAXI, a taxi-hailing service from the LINE mobile app, a popular communication and payment app. Rideshares accept credit card payments.

Accessibility Concerns: Duofu Care & Services offers private accessible transportation.

Airplanes

While Taipei Taoyuan International Airport serves as the main entry point for most travelers to Taiwan, the local Taipei Songshan International Airport handles many domestic flights on smaller aircraft to destinations like Kaohsiung and Taiwan’s offshore islands. Some regional Asia-Pacific flights arrive and depart here. 

How to Ride Bicycles in Taipei

Taipei bike sharing program YouBike has more than 5,000 bicycles at 163 stations, Riders can use their MRT EasyCards, credit cards, or cellphones to rent one of the yellow and orange bicycles. 

Fare Rates: 

  • $10NT per half-hour up to four hours. 
  • $20NT per half-hour from four hours to eight hours.
  • $40NT per half-hour exceeding eight hours.

Renting a Car or Scooter in Taipei

Renting a car or scooter isn’t recommended. If you want to rent a car, you will need an International Driving Permit, which can be obtained from AAA. Riding a scooter may be tempting, but it can be unsafe and isn’t advised. A license is required to drive a scooter or motorcycle with an engine over 50 cc.

Tips for Getting Around Taipei

  • Signage on public transit and on roads is often in pinyin, but it’s not always Hanyu Pinyin, so there is often variation in spellings. For example, the city of Pingxi is also spelled Pingshi.
  • When looking for a street address, it’s written in reverse from what you might be used to, starting with the postal code, then municipality or county, district, road, section (longer roads are divided into sections), lane, and then alley. Lastly, the street or house number, building and/or floor number, and apartment number. When one road section ends and another begins, the building numbers reset.
  • Taipei is relatively safe, even late at night, but travelers should still be aware of their surroundings. In case you need help, call: 119 (Emergency) and 110 (Police)
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