Kaohsiung and Hualien are two of the most popular destinations outside of Taipei for tourists visiting Taiwan. It is a little less convenient to get from Kaohsiung to Hualien than it is to get from Taipei to Hualien or Taipei to Kaohsiung, but it is still pretty simple.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a high speed train from Kaohsiung to Hualien. This is the reason it is slightly less convenient to travel between Kaohsiung and Hualien.
There are a number of other direct options though. You can take the train, fly, or drive. You can also take a bus, but there aren’t any direct buses.
I don’t recommend taking the bus because it takes a lot longer than the other options and requires at least one transfer. I won’t discuss taking the bus in this post because it really isn’t all that practical.
Option 1: Taking the Train from Kaohsiung to Hualien
This is how I travelled between the two cities. I liked that it was direct and inexpensive even though it was time consuming.
The train takes anywhere between 4.5 and 5.5 hours to travel from Kaohsiung to Hualien. It would be nice if there were a high speed train between the two cities and maybe there will be in the future, but, for now, this is the only train option.
You’ll want to take the Tze-Chiang Limited Express. It runs multiples times in the morning and once or twice in the evening. Tickets cost $NT648 or approximately $22USD.
Where do Train Depart Kaohsiung From?
Trains for Hualien leave from Kaohsiung Main Station right in the heart of Kaohsiung, so it is very convenient.
To get to Kaohsiung Main Station, you simply take the red Kaohsiung metro line to R11 (Kaohsiung Main Station). Kaohsiung Main Station is one stop away from Formosa Boulevard (R10/O5), which is the station where the two Kaohsiung metro lines intersect.
You’ll need to follow the signs to proper platform, but it is very easy to navigate! If you happen to get turned around in the station, there are maps on the walls for you to reference or you can ask an employee for assistance.
Where do Trains Arrive at in Hualien?
There is only one train station in Hualien, and every train going in or out of the city uses the station. This makes it really easy to make sure you’re getting off at the proper stop!
Hualien Station isn’t in the heart of the city, so if you’re accommodation isn’t within walking distance of the train station, be sure to know how you’re going to get from the train station to your accommodation.
You can either use the public bus system or take a taxi. The buses from Hualien Station to the heart of the city don’t run very frequently outside of peak times, so a taxi may be your best option.
Taxis are cheap and quick. There is a taxi stand right outside of Hualien Station, and there are always drivers waiting to drive you to your destination.
I, however, recommend staying near Hualien Station because that is where buses to and from Taroko National Park depart from.
I personally stayed at Meci Hotel and really enjoyed it!
Where to Purchase Train Tickets
It is quite easy to purchase a train ticket from Kaohsiung to Hualien! You can either purchase it online, through the app, or in person.
You simply put in your departure station, arrival station, and date of departure, and it pulls up all your train options. Once you select the train you want, you can select whether you prefer a window or isle seat.
To book your ticket, you need to pay by credit card and insert your passport number.
You can print your ticket, pick it up at a 7-11 (you’ll need your passport), at Kaohsiung Main Station, or use your phone as your ticket with the Taiwan Railways app.
Purchasing Tickets Through the App
You can easily purchase your train tickets through the Taiwan Railways app. You simply download the app (just search Taiwan Railways in your app store) and go through the same steps as purchasing online.
The best part of using the app is that your ticket is right on you phone, and you don’t need to worry about logging in or adding your booking reference to pull up your ticket.
This is how I personally book all my train tickets with Taiwan Rail. I love the convenience of it!
Purchasing Tickets in Person at Kaohsiung Main Station
The final way you can purchase a ticket from Kaohsiung to Hualien is by purchasing your ticket in person at Kaohsiung Main Station.
You can either purchase your ticket at a ticket booth manned by a person or at a ticket machine. This is the least convenient option because you have to physically attend at the station to get your ticket.
While it is slightly inconvenient, it is the best option for people who want to pay with cash rather than credit card.
Do You Need to Purchase Tickets in Advance?
The train from Kaohsiung to Hualien doesn’t normally sell out, so you don’t need to purchase your ticket too far in advance.
I suggest purchasing your ticket at least one day in advance. This ensures you get a ticket and gives you a good chance of getting your preferred seat (window or isle).
Advantages of Taking the Train from Kaohsiung to Hualien
It is the most affordable option
The train is direct, so you don’t have to worry about transferring
You don’t have to purchase tickets too far in advance
The trains are clean and comfortable
Disadvantages of Taking the Train from Kaohsiung to Hualien
It is a long train ride
There aren’t dedicated luggage racks, so you need to lift your bag overhead to store it on the overhead racks
Options 2: Flying from Kaohsiung to Hualien
The next option is to fly from Kaohsiung to Hualien. Mandarin Airlines has a direct flight between the two cities and is the best option when it comes to flying. There are other airlines that fly from Kaohsiung to Hualien, but they have long layovers.
The average cost of a one-way ticket from Kaohsiung to Hualien is about $100USD, so it isn’t cheap.
The flight is only an hour. But when you factor in getting to Kaohsiung Airport, going through security, waiting for your flight, flight time, and getting from Hualien Airport to Hualien, it really isn’t any faster than the train.
How to Get to Kaohsiung Airport
It is quite easy to get from Kaohsiung Airport from anywhere in Kaohsiung.
You simply take the red metro line to R3 and get off right at the airport. It really doesn’t get any easier than that!
How to Get to Hualien from Hualien Airport
It is a little bit more work getting to Hualien from the airport, but it is still fairly easy. It simply takes a bit more time and planning.
There is a public bus that runs from Hualien Airport into the city. It runs every 30 to 40 minutes from 8:40am to 6:10pm. This is a bit problematic for people who are arriving outside those hours.
The bus drops you off at Hualien Station, and you have to find your way to your accommodation from there.
You can also take a taxi from the airport to where you’re staying. I would recommend this rather than taking the bus.
Taxis are readily available at the airport, and you just need to follow the signs to the taxi stand. A taxi into Hualien will cost you between $10USD and $15USD, so it is pretty affordable- especially if you’re with a group of people.
Do You Need to Purchase Tickets in Advance?
I would recommend purchasing plane tickets from Kaohsiung to Hualien a few days in advance to ensure you get a seat on the flight you want.
Flights between the cities don’t normally sell out, and you can often purchase a last-minute ticket with no issue. I wouldn’t personally risk it just in case tickets are sold out during peak season.
Advantages of Flying from Kaohsiung to Hualien
It is relatively easy to get to and from the airports
You get a checked bag included in your ticket price, so you don’t have to worry about lifting a heavy bag overhead
There is less sitting time, which may be beneficial for people who have mobility issues or can’t sit for long periods of time
Disadvantages of Flying from Kaohsiung to Hualien
It is expensive
When you factor in everything involved in flying, it isn’t any quicker than the train
You have to fly with one specific company to get direct flight, so you can’t shop around for the best price
Option 3: Driving from Kaohsiung to Hualien
The final option is to drive from Kaohsiung to Hualien. I’ve never personally done this because I travel alone and hate driving.
Driving is a great option for people who are comfortable driving. It gives you the ability to set your own schedule, and you get to see a lot more than on the train or plane.
You can stop anywhere along the way that seems interesting and really personalize the journey.
Kaohsiung and Hualien are about 350km apart, and the drive takes approximately 5 hours depending on traffic.
Practical Information if You Decide to Drive
You need an International Driver Permit (IDP) to drive in Taiwan as a tourist
You can travel from Kaohsiung to Hualien on your schedule rather than a train or plane schedule
It allows you to see more of Taiwan
It may be the cheapest option if you have a large group of people
Disadvantages of Driving from Kaohsiung to Hualien
The travel time is highly dependant on traffic
You have the most opportunity to get lost while driving compared to the train or flying
It is potentially the most expensive option if you’re travelling alone or as a couple
I personally think the train is the best way to get from Kaohsiung to Hualien. It is the most convenient because it leaves from the centre of Kaohsiung and is the least expensive.
It takes about the same amount of time to get to Hualien from Kaohsiung no matter what transportation method you take, so I think taking the least expensive option is the way to go. Plus I love trains!
Kaohsiung and Hualien are two cities I would highly recommend visiting while in Taiwan. It makes sense to go from one city to the next rather than back to Taipei because they are both in southern Taiwan.
It is unfortunate that there isn’t a high speed train between the two cities, but that shouldn’t stop you from making the trip from Kaohsiung to Hualien.
The local, slow train is a great option to get between the two cities. While it might not be a super quick way to travel, the scenery outside your window is beautiful, the seat are comfortable, and you can walk around and stretch.
Flying is probably a last resort and not high on most people’s list of travel methods between Kaohsiung and Hualien. It is expensive and basically consumes the same amount of time as the train.
Driving from Kaohsiung to Hualien is a great option for people who want to go off the beaten path and see some of the less visited places in Taiwan. Driving, of course, comes with its own limitations and challenges. But it is a great option for people who want to road trip through Taiwan.
In the end, all three transportation methods have their pros and cons, and it really comes down to your personal travel style. You can’t go wrong with any transportation method you choose, and you’ll make it from Kaohsiung to Hualien no matter what.
The Hualien Night Market is one of the highlights of Hualien city and should be on your must-visit list when you’re in the city. It is the largest night market in Hualien County and is the perfect to end a day in Hualien City.
If you’re looking for information on how to get from Taipei to Hualien, check out this post. It is an in-depth article that covers every transportation method between the two cities.
Technically the name of the night market is Dongdamen Night Market, but I will be referring to the market both as Dongdamen Night Market and Hualien Night Market.
The names are synonymous, and I’m referring to the same market. Sometimes it just flows better to use one name over the other.
This post will give you all the information you need in order to experience everything the Hualien Night Market has to offer! It is your one-stop guide to the Hualien Night Market.
How to Get to the Hualien Night Market
The most popular tourist attraction in Hualien is Taroko National Park, so most people will be heading to Dongdamen Night Market once they get off the Taroko bus.
The market is about a thirty minute walk from the train station, which is where the bus will drop you off on your way home from Taroko.
The Hualien Night Market is located at the corner of Zhingshan Road and Beibin Street. It is in the eastern part of the city near the ocean.
Getting from the Train Station to Dongdamen Night Market
There are three ways you can get from the train station to the night market.
You can easily walk from the train station to the Hualien Night Market.
The walk takes approximately 30-35 minutes depending on how quickly you walk. You simply walk straight down Zhongshan Road until you hit the market. It is literally a straight shot from the train station.
You just need to make sure you’re on Zhongshan Road and then keep walking towards the water until you hit the market. Once you’re close to the market, you won’t be able to miss it. There are bright lights that will lead you straight to the Hualien Night Market.
The second option is to take a taxi from the train station to Dongdamen Night Market. After spending a long day hiking in Taroko National Park, this is a very appealing option!
There is a taxi stand right at the train station. If you’re walking towards the train station from where the bus drops you off, it will be on the left-hand side of the building near the bathrooms.
A taxi will take approximately 8 minutes to get from the train station to the night market and should only cost you approximately $NT100 or $3.30USD.
That is a pretty good deal and will help your feet relax for a little while longer after a long day of walking through Taroko.
Most taxi drivers will know where to take you if you say “Dongdamen Market”, but it is good practice to have the name of the market written in Chinese characters just in case your driver doesn’t speak English.
The last option is to take the bus from the train station to the market. I don’t recommend this option. The buses from the train station to the market don’t run very often and take quite a while to get from the station to the market.
It is often quicker to walk and is always more convenient to take a taxi.
Bus 1139 travels from the train station to the market. Get on the bus and ride it until the Dongdamen Market stop and get off. From there it is only about a 100m walk to the night market.
The bus runs fairly frequently during the day, but the frequency heavily decreases in the evening when the Hualien Night Market is open. It runs once every 10 minutes during the day and once every 60-90 minutes during the evening.
Once you get on the bus, it is only about a 25 minute ride until you get to the station, so it can be convenient if you get to the bus station when a bus is due to leave.
On the flip side, if you get to the bus station right after one bus just left, you will be waiting a long time for the next bus to arrive.
This is why I have a difficult time recommending the bus as a transportation method.
Hours of Operation
The Hualien Night Market is open every day from 6pm to 12am. Things don’t get rolling until 7pm or 8pm, so not everything will be open if you arrive right at 6pm.
On the flip side, arriving early will allow you to get the most popular food without having to wait in a long queue. Most food stalls are open right at 6pm, and it is the carnival games that are a little slower in opening.
How Long do You Need at the Hualien Night Market?
This is a difficult question to answer because it depends on how much you want to do at the market and how much you want to eat.
You need a minimum of one hour at Dongdamen Night Market in order to try a few different street foods and walk around the entire market. You can easily spend three or four hours at the market as well.
It just depends on how much you want to do, how late you want to stay up, and how much energy you have after a long day of sightseeing in Hualien City or hiking in Taroko National Park.
I personally think two hours is the perfect amount of time. It allows you to stroll through the market without feeling rushed, eat a number of different types of street food, and take in the atmosphere and Hualien culture.
What to Eat at Dongdamen Night Market
The food is the real star of the Hualien Night Market. In fact, I thought it had the best food of any night market I visited in Taiwan. I know that is a big statement, but the food was incredible!
There is a wide range of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, so there are options for every diet!
There are over 400 vendors, so you won’t be able to try it all, but there are a number of items that you should try to eat while your’e at the Hualien Night Market.
Corn on the Cob
This may sound like a weird one to start with, but the corn on the cob in Taiwan is amazing! I’ve never had anything like it.
It is delicious and salty and perfect. The corn at the Hualien Night Market is a bit unique compared to corn on the cob at other night markets in Taiwan. You’re able to choose between three different toppings to put on it!
There are two non-vegetarian toppings and one vegetarian topping. I’m not entirely sure what is in the toppings, but they they are incredible!
Corn on the cob is a pretty light snack, so it won’t fill you up, which is very nice. It is the perfect palate cleanser to eat between heavier snacks as it won’t weigh you down but still tastes delicious.
You can get a variety of different noodle dishes throughout the market. Most contain meat and are a local favourite.
You can’t go wrong picking up some noodles while wandering through the market. They are inexpensive, delicious and filling.
There are a number of different stalls selling noodles so take some time to walk around the market before you decide what noodles you want to eat.
This is a hugely popular street food in Taiwan. It is a bit intimidating because it smells horrible. Trust me when I say you can smell stinky tofu from a long ways away!
If you’re able to ignore the smell while you’re eating it, it is delicious, and you’ll probably enjoy it.
You can get stinky tofu either grilled or fried. Both options are great, so what version you should get depends on your personal preference. Of course the fried version is less healthy, but a great treat once in a while!
You can get a variety of different types of wontons at the Hualien Night Market. There are both vegetarian and non-vegetarian versions of wontons at various different stalls in the market.
You can get your wontons served just as dumplings or in a soup. Both versions are delicious.
I had the best wontons I’ve ever had in my life at the Hualien Night Market and would highly recommend them to anybody visiting!
Tea and Juice
It wouldn’t be a post about a night market in Taiwan if I didn’t mention all the different teas and juices you can get!
These are hugely popular items in any market in Taiwan, and the Dongdamen market is no exception.
You can get both the famous bubble tea and iced tea at the market. The vendors make it to your specifications, so you get your perfect cup of tea each time you order!
You need to know what percentage of sugar you want in your tea and how much ice you want. There is a lot of different information on what is best and how you should order your tea in Taiwan.
My preference is 50 sugar and regular ice if I’m walking around in the heat and less ice if I’m drinking it indoors.
You’ll have to experiment and figure out how you like your tea. It is part of the fun!
You won’t be able to walk too far into the market without seeing someone selling freshly squeezed juice. There are a variety of different fruits you can choose from, and you can even ask the vendor to combine different fruits.
The juice is squeezed right in front of you, and it is free of a lot of the junk they put in typical North American juice.
It is a delicious and refreshing treat. The queues to get juice are often very long so be prepared to wait at least ten minutes. It is so worth it though!
This is a hugely popular street food among tourist. It is an east meets west dish that is perfect for people who aren’t too adventurous with food but still want to try local street food.
You choose either braised pork, soy-stewed pork, or chicken as your protein and choose either black pepper, mushroom, or honey mustard sauce. Your choices are served on a bao bun topped with cucumbers, onions, and noodles.
There is often a long queue to get a Taiwan hamburger, so it is a good stall to hit first if you get to the market earlier in the evening.
The Logistics of Eating at the Market
As you know, there are a lot of different food stalls at the Hualien Night Market, and if you’ve never been to a night market, it can be a bit nerve-wracking to order your first food.
Where do you eat it? Do you have to walk and eat at the same time? What do you do with the garbage?
Well worry not!
The Hualien Night Market is fairly unique because you order your food at the front of the stall and then are showed into the stall itself to find there is a seating area inside eat stall where you can sit and eat.
This isn’t the case for every night market in Taiwan. Many night markets have tables in the middle of the street where people can eat, but that isn’t the case in Hualien.
I like that you’re able to eat inside the stalls themselves. It allows for more privacy, and you don’t feel rushed while you’re eating. It also allows you to get out of the hustle and bustle of the market and relax while eating.
Other Things to do at the Hualien Night Market
The primary draw of the Hualien Night Market is, of course, the amazing street food, but there are a few other things you can do while at the market.
Play Carnival Games
It is pretty common to have a carnival games at night markets in Taiwan, and there are a ton at the Dongdamen Night Market!
You can throw darts to try to break balloons, try to throw balls into barrels, and a number of other classic carnival games.
These are run by locals and are by no means as elaborate or formal as carnival games you would find at theme parks around the world. But they are still a lot of fun and a great way to break up your time at the night market and rest between eating.
The games are inexpensive, and the prices are small but cute. You’ll need to pay with cash so be sure you have some money in your pocket!
Children Can Ride a Carousal
This is one of the more bizarre activities you can do at the Hualien Night Market. There is a small carousal that children are able to ride near the entrance of the night market.
It is about a quarter of the way up from the entrance on the right-hand side of the market. Nobody seemed to be using it when I was there, but you definitely can if your children want to go for a spin!
Watch the Light Show
There is a small light show that goes on during the night market. It isn’t directly inside the market but is just adjacent to the right.
Remember the bright lights I was telling you would help lead you to the market if you were walking? Well, this is it!
When I was there, there was a giant flower filled with screens in each petal and in the middle. The flower lit up and different patterns went across the flower.
It was pretty cool, and you should definitely spend five minutes watching it. It was a popular thing to do, and there were a lot of locals and tourists watching the flower light up and change patterns.
Can You Purchase Souvenirs at the Market?
No. Unfortunately there isn’t anywhere to purchase souvenirs at the Hualien Night Market. This market is solely dedicated to food (and a few carnival games).
You’ll have to do your souvenirs shopping somewhere else in Taiwan. But I have to warn you there aren’t as many souvenirs stores as you would think in Taiwan, so if you see something you like, purchase it when you see it!
Hotels Near the Hualien Night Market
I don’t recommend staying near the Hualien Night Market. Taroko National Park is the most popular tourist attraction in Hualien, and the night market is quite a ways away from the train station where you catch the bus to the park.
I recommend staying near the train station, so you can easily catch the bus to Taroko in the morning. These are a few great hotels near the train station:
As you can tell, there is a lot to see and do at the Hualien Night Market! It is such a fun place, and you should make it a priority to visit while in Hualien City.
You’ll be exhausted after a day in Taroko, but you won’t regret heading to the market to refuel and eat tons of delicious street food. Plus the food is inexpensive, so you can have a lot of food without breaking the budget!
You can be adventurous and try traditional Taiwanese food like stinky tofu or try foods like a Taiwan hamburger that is closer to food you’re comfortable with. No matter what food you’re interested in trying, there will be something for you to indulge in!
Hualien is located on the east coast of Taiwan and is often listed as one of the top cities to visit in the country. It is known for Taroko National Park and an excellent night market! Most people go from Taipei to Hualien while travelling through Taiwan, and this post is going to help you navigate that journey!
There are three main ways to get from Taipei to Hualien: train, plane, and a combination of bus and train.
Each transportation method has its advantages and disadvantages. Taking the train or plane from Taipei to Hualien are the easiest options, but they might not always be the best.
You need to decide which method is right for you, and hopefully this post can help you out!
Option One: Taking the Train from Taipei to Hualien
The train is my preferred method of getting from Taipei to Hualien. It is straightforward and easy to use. You simply get on in Taipei and get off in Hualien. It can’t get easier than that!
The duration of the ride depends on what type of train you take. There are two options: the express train and the non-express train.
There are two different train companies that operate direct trains. They are Taroko Express and Puyuma Express. Both companies are good so book whatever time suits your travel schedule.
I have personally only ridden the Puyuma Express, and it was a good experience. I’ve never encountered a bad review of the Taroko Express. The only reason I haven’t used that company is because the Puyuma Express times suit my schedule better.
The high speed express trains take approximately 2 hours from start to finish. That’s pretty quick considering you’re travelling over 162km from Taipei to Hualien!
The non-express train is much slower and takes anywhere between 3 and 4 hours to get from Taipei to Hualien.
The two companies that operate the non-express trains are T.C. Ltd. and C.K. Both train companies are good, so you should, again, choose the company based on what works best for your schedule.
Between the express and non-express trains, there is a train departing from Taipei to Hualien every thirty to forty minutes during peak hours and every hour or so during off-peak hours.
Purchasing Train Tickets
The time schedule can be found here. You can also buy tickets directly from that website or use the Taiwan Railways Administration app to purchase tickets.
I personally use the app. It is convenient, and I can scan my ticket directly from my phone and not have to worry about collecting my ticket.
You can pickup tickets purchased on the website at any 7-11 convenience store or any railway station. You can also pickup tickets purchased on the app at these locations if you don’t want to use a mobile ticket.
To pickup your ticket at 7-11, you need to have your booking number and passport. You just need to go to the counter and tell them you want to pickup your train ticket. The cashier will help you out!
There is a nominal fee of NT$8 (approximately $0.25USD) if you choose to pickup your tickets at 7-11.
You don’t have to pay a fee if you pickup the tickets at the train station. There is, however, often a long line at the train station to retrieve tickets- especially on the weekend!
You won’t be able to pickup your tickets at the train station if someone else booked them. The staff at the train station require the person who purchased the tickets to be present when the tickets are retrieved.
How Far in Advance Should You Purchase Tickets?
Rail tickets go on sale 28 days in advance in Taiwan. You should book your ticket from Taipei to Hualien as early as possible- ideally as soon as the tickets become available.
The trains from Taipei to Hualien are short and don’t have many carriages/seats, yet it is a very popular train route. This means tickets sell out quickly, and you run the risk of not getting a ticket if you wait to long to book a ticket.
I personally booked my ticket from Taipei to Hualien the day the tickets were available. I was able to choose my preferred time and get a window seat. It was perfect!
Fast forward to the day I landed in Taipei, and my flight arrived two hours late, so I missed my train to Hualien. I went onto the app to book another train and learnt the hard way that tickets sell out quickly.
Thankfully this was during the week and during off-season, so I was able to get the last ticket for a non-express train leaving three hours later. This meant I arrived in Hualien very late at night grumpy and hungry cursing Air Canada. It was a long trip.
Anyways, try your best to book your train ticket as early as possible. It can be difficult for backpackers and people who like to travel spontaneously, but I think it is worth it. Having a ticket in hand takes away all of the stress of trying to get from Taipei to Hualien.
Ticket priced vary depending on what time of year you’re travelling, what time of the week it is, and the time of day.
Tickets range from NT$280 to NT$440. This converts to approximately $9-$15 USD. Most tickets fall within the $NT330 to NT$440 ($11-$14 USD) range.
The difference in prices mainly has to do with the time of day you’re travelling rather than the type of train. The lowest tickets tend to be for trains that travel in the middle of the night, which is understandable seeing as they are likely to be the least popular trains.
The price of a non-express train is pretty much the same as the price of an express train. This makes the express train an even better deal and choice!
Where do Trains Depart From and Arrive at?
Trains leave from Taipei Main Station and arrive at Hualien Train Station.
Taipei Main Station
Taipei Main Station is huge, and it is easy to get turned around and not know where you’re going. The train to Hualien leaves from the Taiwan Railway section of the station, so you need to look for signs that lead you there.
The Taiwan Railway section of the station is sort of in the middle of the local metro portion of the station and the high speed railway. It is a small area that is easy to miss if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for.
The Taiwan Railway section of Taipei Main Station only has a north platform and south platform. For each main platform, there are two gates that allow you to enter the station at either the front or back of the train depending on what carriage you have a ticket for.
Train heading to Hualien will depart from the southbound platform.
The trains from Taipei to Hualien depart from the same place as the local trains depart, so it you took a local train while in Taipei, just head back to the same place.
There are maps all around Taipei Main Station for you to consult if you’re lost, or you can always ask a staff member- people in Taiwan are always willing to help!
Unlike Taipei Main Statin, Hualien Station is quite small and easy to navigate. When you get off the train, simply follow the signs for the exit.
You want to exit at the main entrance, so you can easily make your way to your accommodation.
Make sure you have your ticket out and ready! You need to scan your ticket again at the exit in order to leave the station.
Note: The public wifi isn’t the best at Hualien Train Station for some reason. If you’re planning on using Google Maps to find your way to your accommodation, make sure you load the directions on your phone in Taipei when you still have a good internet connection.
Advantages of Taking the Train from Taipei to Hualien
There are a lot of advantages to taking the train from Taipei to Hualien:
It is fast and convenient
There are lot of departure times to choose from, which makes it easy to fit into your schedule
It is inexpensive
You don’t have to transfer between trains
You can easily book tickets online or through the app and download them to your phone
If you’re flying into Taipei and heading directly to Hualien, all you have to do is take the Airport MRT into Taipei Station and then walk to the train platform. So easy!
Disadvantages of Taking the Train from Taipei to Hualien
There really aren’t too many disadvantages to taking the train from Taipei to Hualien, but there are a few important ones:
You have to book tickets well in advance, so it can be difficult for spontaneous travellers
Tickets sell out quickly, and it can leave you in a frenzy to find a different transportation method if you don’t book a train in time
Option Two: Flying from Taipei to Hualien
The second option to get from Taipei to Hualien is taking a plane.
The Hualien airport is small and located in a civilian portion of the military base in Xincheng, Hualien County. It has planes coming from and going to Taipei, Kaohsiung, and Taichung.
The airport serves over 235,000 people each year and is the 10th busiest airport in Taiwan.
These stats surprised me when I read them seeing as there are only just over 333,000 people living in Hualien. But Hualien is an important military location and has a lot of tourists, so it makes sense.
Flights between Taipei and Hualien take approximately 50minutes.
That’s about half the time as the express train, but you also have to factor in all the other time drains that come with flying. You have to get to the airport, arrive early enough to get through security, deplane, retrieve your luggage, and get from the airport to Hualien.
That adds up to a lot longer than the express train or even the non-express train!
Purchasing Plane Tickets
Uni Airways is the only company that operates flights in and out of Hualien. They have one flight that leaves in the morning (normally around 7:30am) and one flight that leaves in the evening (normally around 6:50pm).
You can purchase your ticket directly through Uni Airways or use any third-party booking sight you like. My preference is always Google Flights or Skyscanner.
Uni Airways allows passengers to check on bag up to 10kg so keep that lower weight limit in mind when packing!
How Far in Advance Should You Purchase Tickets?
Plane tickets from Taipei to Hualien don’t sellout nearly as quickly as train tickets do. You are able to purchase your plane ticket a day or two in advance and not have an issue getting a seat.
In writing and researching this article, I tried searching for same-day flights multiple times, and there were always seats available.
This is great for spontaneous and last-minute travellers! It gives you more freedom to travel freely than the train does.
There is always the possibility that same-day flights will be sold out during peak season or if there are special events going on in Hualien County, so it is still best to try to book your seat at least a day or two in advance.
The average price for a one-way ticket from Taipei to Hualien ranges between $30USD and $40USD. The evening flight tend to be less expensive than the morning flight.
Ticket prices don’t seem to change much depending on when you book them. In researching this post, I tested dates ranging from the same day to three months in advance, and ticket prices were more or less the same each day.
$30USD to $40USD for a one-way plane ticket to a small, regional airport is a great price even though it is more expensive than the train. Considering they have to pay the crew, for fuel, and airport surcharges, it is a wonder that Uni Airways is making any money on this route.
But an inexpensive plane ticket is a great for travellers- especially those on a budget! Thank you Uni Airways for not gauging people on ticket prices.
Where do Planes Depart From and Arrive at?
Flights from Taipei to Hualien depart from Taipei Songshan Airport (TSA) and arrive at Hualien Airport (HUN).
Taipei Songshan Airport
It is important to note that flights to Hualien depart from Taipei Songshan Airport and not Taoyuan International Airport.
Taoyuan International Airport is the main airport in Taipei, and is likely the airport you will be arriving at and departing from when you visit Taiwan.
Songshan does offer a number of regional flights in and out of Mainland China and South Korea, so if you’re arriving from one of those countries, you may in fact land at Songshan rather than Taoyuan.
Songshan Airport is located within the city limits of Taipei, so it is really easy to get to!
You can take a taxi if you want. If you’re staying within the city limits of Taipei (a.k.a. not New Taipei City), a taxi to Songshan Airport is inexpensive and a great option if you have multiple people in your party. Most taxi rides from Taipei to Songshan Airport won’t cost you more than NT$300 or $10USD.
The brown MRT line takes you directly to Songshan Airport. You simply get on the brown line and get off at Songshan Airport. The brown MRT line connects with the red, blue, and green MRT lines, so it is easy to transfer to the brown line if your accommodation isn’t near a brown line station.
There are also a number of bus routes that stop at Songshan Airport. You’ll need to check for bus routes near your accommodation and determine which bus is best. The Google Maps app is a great resource for finding buses in your area. It tells you what number to take, when the next bus arrives, and how many stops until you reach your destination.
Finally, there is a direct bus from Taoyuan International Airport to Taipei Songshan Airport. This is a great option for people who land at Taoyuan and need to catch their next flight at Songshan. The bus journey will take a while so be sure to budget a lot of time to get from one airport to the other!
As you can see, it is fairly easy to get from Taipei City to Songshan Airport. It is located in Taipei City, so it doesn’t take too long to get from your accommodation to the airport, which is really nice!
Once you arrive at Songshan Airport, make sure you enter the domestic terminal rather than the international terminal. The two terminals are side-by-side, so it is easy to walk between them if you enter the wrong terminal.
There is a rooftop balcony on the third floor that allows passengers to watch planes land and takeoff. You may want to check this out for a few minutes after you drop your bags off before you go to security. It is pretty cool!
To get from Hualien Airport to the city of Hualien, you can either take a public bus, a taxi, or an uber.
The buses leave approximately every thirty to forty minutes from 8:40am to 6:10pm. This means people who take the evening flight from Taipei to Hualien will only have the option to take a taxi.
You’re able to use your transportation card from Taipei on the buses in Hualien or pay with cash. I couldn’t find any information on how much the bus costs, but it wouldn’t be more than a dollar or two.
A taxi won’t be too expensive either. It is only about a ten minute car ride from the airport into town, so a taxi shouldn’t cost more than $10USD to $15USD. Taxis in Taiwan are safe, inexpensive, and easy to use.
You should have your accommodation address written in Chinese characters for your driver to refer to. Most booking platforms provide you with the address in Chinese characters when you book your room, so it shouldn’t be an issue to find this for your driver.
The final option is to take an Uber. Uber rides in Taiwan are very inexpensive, so this is an attractive option. The only downside to this option is you need to be connected to the internet to request an uber and you will have to pay a conversion fee on your credit card transaction as you pay in New Taiwan Dollars rather than your local currency.
No matter what transportation method you choose, it is fairly simple to get from the airport to Hualien city.
Advantages of Flying from Taipei to Hualien
There aren’t as many advantages of flying as taking the train from Taipei to Hualien, but there are a few:
You can easily book tickets last minute
Flights are relatively inexpensive
The flight is short
Getting to and from the airports in Taipei and Hualien is quick and easy
Disadvantages of Flying from Taipei to Hualien
Just as with taking the train from Taipei to Hualien, there are a number of disadvantages of flying between the two cities:
It takes a lot longer than taking the train
You have to get to and from airports rather than central train stations
You need to pack according to airport security regulations. This means you have to be cautious of where you pack your liquids and sharp objects
There is a low weight limit for checked bags
Option Three: Purchasing a Combination Ticket
Purchasing a combo ticket is the last way you can get from Taipei to Hualien. This option requires you to transfer from one transportation method to another partway through your journey.
It is easy to transfer between transportation methods, so you shouldn’t be nervous about it. It may sound complicated or a hassle, but it isn’t.
Purchasing a combo ticket is the perfect option for people who were unable to purchase a direct train ticket and don’t want to fly between Taipei and Hualien.
There are three different combo ticket options you can choose from. In all three cases you only have to transfer once.
The entire journey often doesn’t take much longer than taking a direct express train, and can even be shorter than a direct non-express train.
Of course taking a direct train is more convenient because you just get one and zone out until you get to Hualien. But a combo ticket is really a great option as well!
Combo Option One: Express Train to Express Train
This is by far the easiest and most convenient combo ticket you can purchase and would be my first choice!
This combo ticket involves purchasing a ticket from Taipei to Yilan and then a separate ticket from Yilan to Hualien.
You don’t need to physically transfer to a different train in this scenario. You simply need to move to a different seat for the second leg of the journey.
In this scenario, you end up taking the same train for the entire journey from Taipei to Hualien.
In order for this combo ticket to work, you need to purchase each leg of the journey separately, so you will have two tickets. You also need to purchase both legs of the trip in advance.
This method is a way to beat the computer’s automated seat selection system. Many people get off the train in Yilan, so the computer will recognize that there are more seat available from Yilan to Hualien than from Taipei to Hualian.
It is a sneaky way to beat the system, but it works really well if you do it properly.
I know I just said it, but it want to make sure everybody understands:
You need to purchase each leg of the trip separately and purchase both legs in advance.
This method won’t work properly if you don’t book your tickets properly.
The entire journey takes approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes from Taipei to Hualien.
You don’t have much time to transfer to your new seat in Yilan– literally minutes before the train departs again. So be prepared to move to your new seat and have your luggage ready to move as the train is pulling into the station
You don’t have to book these tickets as far in advance as you would for a direct train, but you still need to book further in advance that you would a flight
Combo Option Two: Express Train to Local Train
This option starts out the same was as the first option: by taking the express train to Yilan. You need to purchase this ticket in advance in order to ensure you get a seat.
You get off the train in Yilan and transfer to a local train to Hualien. There isn’t a need to purchase a ticket for the local train in advance, and you can purchase it at Yilan Station when you arrive.
This gives you the freedom to wander around Yilan or stop and get a meal if you don’t feel like getting right back on a train again. It definitely gives you more flexibility than the first option.
The local train is slower, and it takes approximately two hours to get from Yilan to Hualien. Local trains also don’t have dedicated luggage racks at the front of each car so be sure you’re strong enough to lift your luggage overhead to store above you!
The journey takes approximately 3 hours. This does not include the time you’re in Yilan waiting for the local train to arrive.
The local train between Yilan and Hualien doesn’t run continuously throughout the day. Be sure to check the Taiwan Rail website to see when the local train leaves, so you’re not sitting in Yilan for hours waiting for the next train.
This method requires you to transfer between trains in Yilan.
Combo Options Three: Local Bus to Local Train
This is the final combo ticket option you can purchase and the least convenient. It is a last resort option for people who waited too long to purchase an express train ticket from Taipei to Yilan.
You need to take a local bus from Taipei to Loudong and then transfer to a train in Loudong.
This method is a bit problematic because buses don’t always run on time because of traffic. Your bus may be due to arrive at a certain time and then arrives much later than planned because there is a traffic jam.
If you purchased your train ticket in advance counting on your bus to arrive on time, then you could miss your train!
It is for this reason that I recommend you don’t purchase your train ticket until you get to Loudong. You can easily purchase same-day tickets in Loudong and eliminate the stress of possibly missing your train if the bus is late.
The bus departs from the Taipei Main Station bus station near Q Square. It is about a 15 minute walk from the metro exit but can be done all indoors.
Buses leave approximately every ten minutes, and you’ll purchase your tickets from the Kamalan bus window before you board the bus. There is ample luggage storage under the bus for your luggage, so you don’t need to worry about that.
The bus from Taipei to Loudong takes approximately 70 minutes
The train from Loudong to Hualien takes approximately 90 minutes
You also need to factor in how long you need to wait in Loudong for the next train to arrive
Be sure to budget time for traffic delays if you’re wanting to catch a specific train from Loudong to Hualien
Advantages of Purchasing a Combo Ticket
The advantages of purchasing a combo ticket are as follows:
It gives you a lot of flexibility and freedom when booking tickets
You can create a trip that fits your needs and isn’t as reliant on strict train times
You can experience different modes of transportation in Taiwan
Disadvantages of Purchasing a Combo Ticket
Just as with all the other transportation options, there are a few disadvantages to purchasing a combo ticket:
You will have to transfer, and that can make inexperienced travellers a bit nervous
There is the possibility you could be waiting a while for a local train to arrive
The bus can be delayed and disrupt your entire plan
How do I Recommend Getting from Taipei to Hualien?
I’m normally pretty partial when I write transportation guides and argue everybody needs to pick what works best for them, but I think there is a clear winner in this instance.
Taking a direct train from Taipei to Hualien is the best transportation method in my mind. It is so convenient, easy to navigate, quick, and inexpensive that none of the other transportation methods measure up to it.
The direct trains do require you to book a ticket well in advance, but that is a small price to pay for all the other benefits of taking a direct train.
Every transportation method has its advantages and disadvantages, and no matter which one you choose you will make it from Taipei to Hualien quite easily.
Hualien is an amazing city, and you shouldn’t miss out on visiting it. With all the different transportation options, you can easily find one that suits your travel style and budget.
As you can see from this post, it is really simple to get from Taipei to Hualien, so there is really no excuse not to visit this amazing city! You won’t regret it. Hualien is full of natural beauty, delicious food, and stunning sights.