Taipei (臺北) is at once erudite and frivolous. Streets are named after traditional Chinese virtues; bookstores and cultural landmarks abound. But proceed just a few blocks, and you’ll be greeted by nightclubs and shopping streets.
Luckily, getting around Taipei is always easy thanks to a well-mapped public transport system. This guide shares how you can easily use the Taipei Metro, public buses, public bicycles, and taxis to explore Taipei. And if you want to travel beyond Taipei, we’ve got tips for that too.
Much of Taipei’s public transportation info is available on Google Maps, and you won’t have to worry about language barriers: all Taipei Metro station names and bus stop names are displayed in both English and Chinese. To help you plan your comings and goings, try these:
The official Taipei MRT map shows information about each station’s location, timetables, and accessibility facilities when you click on each station. You can also find the fares and travel times between stations here.
On mobile, the Metro Taipei Subway app (Android/iOS) works best – trust me, I tried a whole bunch! By tapping on any station on the metro map (note: tap on the line, not the station name) you can find fares and routes to/from each station, as well as station facilities.
You’ll most likely land at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE), with a smaller chance of arriving at Taipei Songshan Airport (TSA) if you fly from Tokyo, Seoul, or various Chinese cities. Either way, go get either the EasyCard or iPASS fare card – both can be used for public transport, taxis, and purchases in food courts or convenience stores.
Where can I buy an EasyCard/iPASS? At the airports, fare cards can be purchased at convenience stores (7-Eleven, FamilyMart, Hi-Life, OK Mart) or at the information counters at Taoyuan Airport MRT stations. Each card costs NT$100, but you’ve got to load your card with some money to use it! Both purchases and reloads of your EasyCard or iPASS must be made in cash.
Can the EasyCard/iPASS be shared? No. You’ll need to get one card per person, as you can’t double-tap when entering the Taipei subway gantries.
Does the EasyCard or iPASS expire? Nope! If you visit Taiwan often, you can simply head to a nearby metro station before departure and use all your loose change into reload your fare card.
If you’d like a refund of your card balance, you can do so at Taipei Metro stations’ information counters (EasyCard only) or Taoyuan Airport MRT information counters (both EasyCard and iPASS). Note that iPASS charges a NT$20 fee to refund cards that have been used for less than 5 times or are less than 3 months old.
Do I have to use an EasyCard or iPASS? I strongly recommend it, since they’re extremely convenient and give discounts when you transfer between metro, bus, and public bicycle. You can also consider getting the Taipei Fun Pass – more details below.
Getting from Taoyuan Airport to Taipei
The Taoyuan Airport MRT line connects the airport to Taipei (as well as to Taoyuan HSR Station and downtown Taoyuan). There are two train services available: Express and Commuter.
Express trains: 40 minutes, with just two stops between the airport terminals and the city.
Commuter trains: 53 minutes, through all 12/13 stops between Taoyuan Airport and Taipei Main Station.
Currently, both services cost NT$150, so you should definitely go for the Express service. (Some apps, like Taipei Metro Subway, still show the old fare of NT$160.)
The Taoyuan Metro and Taipei Metro work the same as most subways around the world: tap in and out through the gantries by placing your fare card on the sensor. Your adventure has begun!
Finally, if you’d like a little more comfort or will be traveling in a group, you can easily book an Uber in Taipei. Because the company works with car rental companies instead of individual drivers, you’ll get cars that are more like airport limos; however, the fare for a standard 4-seater is ~NT$800-1200 from Taoyuan Airport to downtown Taipei. I’ve found pre-booked private airport transfers to be cheaper and more convenient.
Getting around Taipei: using the Taipei Metro
Officially known as Taipei Metro, the Taipei MRT is extensive enough that it’ll get you to most tourist attractions – even northerly ones like Beitou hot springs or Tamsui District in New Taipei City. Fares are relatively affordable, ranging from NT$16-64 (fare card) or NT$20-90 (single journey ticket).
Train announcements are made in English, Chinese, Hokkien (Taiwanese), and Hakka. The Taipei Metro trains also have LED displays in English and Chinese to show upcoming stops.
Taiwan is quite conscious of accessibility and you’ll find tactile paving, elevators, accessible ticket vending machines, and ramp exits at every station.
Most stations have a single platform between the tracks in either direction.
Getting around Taipei by public bus
Taipei’s public buses are a little confusing to use, mainly because different bus services have different rules for when to pay! Some require to tap upon boarding and alighting, while others only require a single tap when boarding or when you get off. You’ll need to watch what other passengers are doing and follow suit (or simply gesture to ask the bus driver if you should tap!)
If you’re a down-to-the-minute planner, Google Maps indicates the arrival times of buses when you tap on any bus stop. While it’s not as accurate as a real-time Taipei bus tracker app, buses in Taipei are generally frequent and punctual.
Getting around Taipei by public bicycle
Taipei has a highly successful public bike-share scheme known as YouBike (or Ubike). It’s also got established bike lanes downtown, making cycling safe and convenient. To use YouBike, you’ll need an EasyCard/iPASS + a Taiwan phone number (a prepaid tourist SIM card works fine).
Register for an account, either at the YouBike website or at any YouBike docking station.
Enter your local phone number during registration and you’ll receive a confirmation code via SMS.
Follow the instructions to enter the authorization code, set a password, and link your fare card to your account.
Congratulations! You can start using YouBike by tapping your card on the sensors at each bicycle dock.
I like the Bus+ (Android) app as a Taiwan public bike finder (it’s also a bus tracker app). It’s important to note that unlike in Vancouver or other cities, you can’t rent a YouBike from the same dock immediately after returning it – you’ve got to wait 15 minutes. That said, YouBike rates are really cheap and start at just NT$10 for 30 minutes (in the first 4 hours).
Should you get the Taipei Fun Pass or other transport passes?
When it comes to Taipei MRT tourist passes, you have the option of multi-day passes as well as the Taipei Fun Pass.
Let’s do a quick comparison to see which one offers the best value for you:
NT$180-700 (1-5 days) More useful than the Taipei Metro Pass if you’re planning to take public buses in Taipei, since it offers unlimited Taipei Metro, public bus, and tourist shuttle rides. Learn more
NT$1,200-1,900 (1-3 days) Value for money if you’re doing day trips to Jiufen, Keelung, and Tamsui. Besides unlimited metro/bus/tourist shuttle rides, you get entry to 16 regional attractions, including Taipei 101.
In addition to the above, there’s also the Taipei Fun Pass (Classic). At NT$950, it’s essentially a free EasyCard + entry to Taipei 101 and the National Palace Museum (worth NT$950). Get it only if you intend to visit both attractions.
Taipei public transport etiquette & safety
When getting around Taipei in trains and buses, take note of the following:
When using escalators, stand on the right and move on the left.
Form a queue by the side of the platform doors and allow passengers to get off before you get on. Courtesy is particularly valued in Taiwan.
Priority seats at the ends of train cabins are meant for the elderly, pregnant, and handicapped. Using these seats is not frowned upon as long as you give way to those with priority – even for senior citizens who might not look that old or that in need of a seat.
There are no women-only cars, but Taipei is generally safe for women. As always, guard your belongings against petty theft.
Traveling around Taiwan from Taipei
Whether you’re heading south to Kaohsiung or exploring Taiwan’s stunning eastern coast, the Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) or normal Taiwan Railway trains will get you there. However, you’ll need to purchase tickets to ride as the standard EasyCard/iPASS cards cannot be used to ride on the trains.
I recommend getting the 5 Day Joint Taiwan Train Pass, which gives you unlimited rides on standard trains + two days of unlimited rides on the Taiwan High Speed Rail. At NT$2,800, the pass already covers the cost of a return HSR fare between Taipei and Kaohsiung.
Tip: Use the Taiwan HSR site and this Taiwan Railway map search to plan your trip and note the trains you plan to take so you can reserve your seats upon collecting your train pass. The Standard pass lets you reserve THSR seats; the Express pass lets your reserve regular train seats and gives you more trains to choose from.
Finally, remember that your EasyCard/iPASS can be used for public transport in all cities in Taiwan. Have fun!