Many travellers who want to explore Taiwan beyond its capital city Taipei will usually take the Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR for short) to other cities. Perhaps the main reasons for choosing this transport option is because it is a highly publicized option & thus deemed a fuss-free & convenient choice. But is it really the best option to take?
In my most recent almost-round-island-trip to Taiwan that ended just a few days ago, instead of opting for the popular THSR to Taichung by default, I checked out other viable transport options, including bus and rail. Below is what I found:
1. Travel by THSR 乘搭台湾高铁
A ride on the THSR from Taoyuan HSR station to Taichung HSR station is fast, as it only takes 36 min. However, from Taoyuan International Airport, you will need to take a 25-min shuttle bus ride from the airport to the HSR station. The standard fare for an adult HSR ticket costs 540 TWD (~S$24.40). Early bird discount for tickets purchased 5 to 28 days before departure date ranges between 10 & 35%, depending on the time-slot you wish to purchase.
In case you didn’t know, Taichung HSR station is away from the city area in Xinwuri, i.e. away from the famous Fengjia Commercial District & Night Market [foodies must read: Fengjia Night Market: 8 Must-Try Foods In Taichung’s Foodie Heaven]. You will need to take a free shuttle bus provided by THSR at Taichung HSR station to Fengjia. If you are travelling with big luggage in tow, it may be more worthwhile to grab a cab to Fengjia instead. See below for the time & cost summarised in a table:
Therefore, total travelling time via HSR will take about 80 to 100 min from Taoyuan Airport to Taichung city, & cost 570 TWD (~S$25.75) each if you take the free shuttle bus for the final journey to Fengjia. If you are travelling in a small group & decide to take a cab, the cost will increase slightly as you need to factor in the cab fare too.
2. Travel by Taiwan Railway 乘搭台铁
Another option is via the Taiwan Railway (TR for short) which is cheaper but takes a longer time compared to THSR. Similar to THSR, Taoyuan Railway station is not next to the airport, so you need to travel by bus to the railway station which takes around 40 to 50 min. There are various trains that will bring you to Taichung railway station from there, with the fastest being Puyuma at around 1.5 hours. After that, get a cab to bring you to Fengjia which will take about 10 to 15 min. See below for the time & cost summarised in a table:
Therefore, total travelling time via TR will take about 2 hour 15 min from Taoyuan Airport to Taichung city. The cost is approximately 611 TWD (~S$27.60) if you are travelling alone, & slightly lower if you travel in a small group with 2 or 3 others to share the cab for the final part of the journey.
3. Travel by Express Bus 乘搭客运
There are several express bus services at Taoyuan Airport that will bring you to Taichung city directly, without the need for any transfer. Upon exit from immigration area, just turn right & walk towards the end of the terminal & you will see the ticket counter manned by various bus companies.
The nearest bus stop to Fengjia Night Market is Taichung Chaoma station, & Kuokuang Line, Free Go Bus & UBus all have services to this stop. When we were there on a weekday afternoon, the earliest bus that would depart for Taichung Chaoma station was Free Go Bus, hence we bought tickets for Free Go at 280 TWD (~S$12.65) each. Probably because it was off peak period, traffic was pretty smooth & the entire journey only took us 2 hours, faster than we expected, as I had read that it may take up to 2 hours 30 min.
要到逢甲商圈，最靠近的公车站是台中朝马站，而國光客運 (國光號)、建明客運 (飛狗巴士)以及統聯客運都有到达。我们抵达桃园机场的那一天是个星期二下午，最早启程往台中的客运是建明客運，所以就购买了两张车票（一张280台币）。也许是因为是平日非繁忙时段，交通很顺畅。整个车程只花了我们2小时的时间，比预期还快。印象中看到别的部落客说可能得花上2个半小时。
This was my first time on an express bus in Taiwan, but I was pleased to have tried the service, as the bus was spacious with only 18 seats. That means plenty of space for the long journey. It was also a comfortable smooth ride, although the bus interiors felt a bit dated. 😛 Heard from my brother in-law that he took a ride on another bus company before & the interiors were newer. Nonetheless, this was really a hassle-free ride without the need for any transfers, as the hotel we stayed in [read this article for a honest review of Hotel Mapp, Taichung: Quiet Cosy Stay In Popular Xitun District] was just within an easy 10-min walk from Taichung Chaoma station. Even if you are staying near Taichung Railway station, it is worthwhile to take the bus as that is the terminal station with just about 15 min additional travel time.
For more information on the various buses at Taoyuan Airport to Taichung, you may refer to the airport website: https://www.taoyuan-airport.com/english/Buses
Thus, the next time you want to make your way to Taichung city directly from Taoyuan Airport, I would strongly recommend you to take a ride on the express bus. Not only is it more direct without any need for transfers, it is also much cheaper yet does not take too long to reach. Buses leave Taoyuan Airport quite frequently at 20 or 30 min interval (depending on which bus company you take), so try it for your next trip to Taichung! 🙂