Taiwan is a country known for it’s commerce (check your house, at least one item there will be made in Taiwan!). But did you know it also has one of the best rail systems in the world? No? In that case, allow me to introduce you to Taiwan’s High Speed Rail (THSR) system.
The HSR runs from the north of Taiwan, starting at Nangang, right down into the south, terminating at Zuoying. All in all, the route has 12 stops, including Taipei (2nd stop), Taichung (7th stop), and Yunlin (9th stop). Not all trains stop at all stations, some have less stops from north to south, meaning you can get from Taipei to Zuoying (the stop you need for Kaosiung) in 2 hours. Great if you have limited time to explore.
There are several ticket types available, allowing single or multi-use depending on your needs. They can be purchased from machines in the stations along the route, from ticket offices, and online. The train enquiry feature on the website is a great tool for gauging prices and making advanced bookings. You can search based on destination, class of travel, seat preference, and time and date. It’s easy to use, and has English language options.
Honestly? I travelled from Taipei to Zuoying (and back), and it was easily one of the best rail journeys I’ve taken. The stations are clean and well staffed, so plenty of people to help if you have trouble finding your way. The trains are punctual, spacious, and smooth. There’s plenty of space for luggage, the seating is comfortable, even in standard, and the view is great. That’s one thing I most enjoy about rail journeys; the view. You can enjoy the changing face of Taiwan; the bustling metropolis of Taipei, the expanses of farmland, the little towns, and the many tunnels. Seeing a side of the country you couldn’t see if you flew or drove is an opportunity that’s hard to pass up.
If you have a trip to Taipei planned, and an extra day to spare, why not take the HSR south and see what else Taiwan has to offer.