How to Get from Taipei to Hualien

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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!

Ride Duration

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 Prices

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!

National Concert Hall Taipei, Taiwan

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!

Hualien Station

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.

Flight Duration

Flights between Taipei and Hualien take approximately 50 minutes.

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!

Hualien, Taiwan

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.

Ticket Prices

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!

Hualien Airport

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.

Taipei 101

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.

Practical Information:

  • 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!

Practical Information:

  • 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.
Taipei, Taiwan

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.

Practical Information:

  • 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
  • Train times can be found here
  • 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.

Hualien, Taiwan

Final Thoughts

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.

How to Get from Taipei to Hualien

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