AsiaGuideTaiwanTravel Tips

Taipei Transportation Guide: Buses, MRT, Bikes, and the Latest Danhai Light Rail

New to Taipei? You might already have in mind attractions to visit and delicacies to try, but have you cracked the code of transportation? Don’t worry, we’re here to help! This article introduces all kinds of handy transportation tools for you, covering everything from public rental bikes to the newly launched Danhai Light Rail. Explore the Taiwan capital with different paces of speed, and breeze through any destination.

This guide only covers transportation in Taipei. To understand how to travel between Taoyuan International Airport to Taipei city, or how to go outside of Taipei, have a read on our article “Taiwan Travel Guide 2019: Things to Know Before You Go”.

First Thing First: Get the EasyCard (Or Taipei Fun Pass)

EasyCard, (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Taipei has a well-developed public transport system. Like most of the major cities around the world, you need a magical card that grants you access to all modes of transport. That quintessential card in Taipei is called EasyCard, available for purchase at convenient stores like 7-11 and Family Mart, or MRT stations in Taipei, Taoyuan, and Kaohsiung.

There’s a variety of EasyCard types available for different kinds of passengers (students and elderlies, for instance). An adult Easy Card costs NT$ 100, deposit and balance not included. You can top up the card anytime at any MRT station, or in a convenient store. Otherwise, if you’re a short-term traveler in the city who is eager to see it all, purchase a Taipei Fun Pass for unlimited use of MRT and city buses, and free entry to 12 major attractions! The pass types include:

    • Classic Version: EasyCard including tickets to Taipei 101 Observatory and National Palace Museum. Price: NT$ 950
    • Unlimited: Unlimited rides and tickets to 12 attractions. 1-Day to 3-Day passes are available for choice. It’s a money-saving option for those planning in-depth tours of Taipei city, New Taipei City and Keelung City. Price: NT$ 1200-1900
    • Transportation: Unlimited rides on MRT, city buses, and tourist shuttles. It offers from 1-day to 5-day types of passes. Price: NT$ 310-700

MRT

Image via Fotolia

Clean, efficient and problem-free, the metro system of Taipei is often praised as the most reliable in the world! Taipei MRT weaves the city with 5 different lines and over 100 stations. Now, you can even reach the Taoyuan International Airport via Taoyuan Airport MRT.

Like underground systems in some other countries, MRT is deeply embedded in the daily life of the locals. It’s very convenient for foreign visitors too, as it covers almost all the attractions worth visiting (see the map here). Check out our “Your Ultimate Guide to Taiwan: Taipei by Train” to note down all the great sites reachable within minutes by MRT.

A reminder, however, that MRT has its own etiquettes to follow. Remember to line up properly before you go onboard. You should also refrain from consuming any type of food or drink on the MRT.

City Buses

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Compared to MRT or taxi, taking a city bus is surely the cheaper way to move around. Normally, you’d spend only NT$15 within the same fare zone.  Although the bus time is more unpredictable than MRT, it is still quite reliant— hey, even Taipei’s current mayor takes the bus to work every day!

There are around 310 different bus routes operated by 14 bus companies. Although you can access all of them with EasyCard or cash, knowing whether to tap on or tap off can be tricky for non-Mandarin speakers.

Here’s the trick: When you’re about to get on the bus, either from the front or back door, look at the glowing sign on the bus. If the sign is showing a “上” character (meaning “on”), then you have to pay a fare by tapping your EasyCard first or with coins once you get on. If it’s showing “下” (meaning “off”), then pay when you get off the bus. In any case, just follow what the people before you are doing.

Pro-tip: Download a bus tracking app such as “Bus+: Taiwan Bus Tracking” or “BusTracker Taipei” to plan your route, check bus routes and the waiting time for a bus to come.

Taipei Sightseeing Bus

To see the top attractions in Taipei easiest way as possible, this is your best bet. This sightseeing bus allows you to hop on and off at any point, and you can stay at an attraction as long as you want. Simply hop on another bus when you’re ready to go.

The bus operates in two routes. The blue route goes north to sites like Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Shilin and National Palace Museum. The red route travels east-west and passes C.K.S. Memorial Hall, Taipei 101, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and many other sites. On the bus, you can listen to a personal audio guide, which will give you a comprehensive introduction to Taipei’s culture and history.

A 4-hour pass only costs NT$ 270, allowing you to see most of the main tourist spots with ease. Definitely worth every penny!

YouBike (Ubike)

YouBike, (Image via Shutterstock)

Aside from walking, riding a bike is probably the most appealing way to get around the city for serious and budget travelers. With bikes, you go at a slower pace at which the foreign place unfolds, enabling you to see more sights up close. Plus, it’s environmentally friendly!

Luckily, Taipei offers a government-sponsored Youbike (or Ubike) rental system. There are 400 Youbike stations in Taipei city where you can grab a bike from or return one at. Look at the map and you’ll see that they’re, really, literally everywhere.

To use it, follow these basic steps:

  1. Get an EasyCard and register the card online or at a YouBike kiosk by the station. You’ll need to link it with a Taiwan phone number. Otherwise, you can also rent a bike with a credit card with a security chip.
  2. Find a YouBike station, pick a bike and swipe the card on the sensor zone. If it flashes green light and beep, then you can pull out the bike and start cruising around the city.
  3. To return the bike, go to any station and slide your bike back at the dock. Tap your card again on the sensor zone to pay for the ride. You’ll see the remaining balance appear below the sensor zone.

The first 30 minutes in the city center only costs NT$5. Then it goes up to NT$10 every half hour.

Danhai Light Rail

Image via KKday

Greet the brand new transport that elevates your Tamsui seaside excursion to a whole new level! Danhai Light Rail operates in Tamsui District, New Taipei, and its first section only officially launched since December 2018.

While the other lines are still under construction, the newly opened Green Mountain Line take you from Hongshulin to Kanding, passing by secret destinations such as Mangrove Conservation Area, Hu Wei Cherry Blossom Avenue, and Tian-yuan Temple. Check the route map here.

The basic fare of the rail is NT$20, and will not exceed NT$25 for a one-way trip. From MRT, you can get off at Hongshulin station, then take a 5 to 10-minute walk to the starting point of the Green Mountain Line. Of course, you can use the EasyCard!

Last But Not Least, Taxi or Uber

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Call a taxi when you’re exhausted from walking around and  carrying too many shopping bags from Taipei 101, or if you happen to be too tipsy after several drinks in a nice bar at Yuanshan. Look out for the unified yellow-colored vehicles and wave your hand. They’re everywhere.

If you’re unable to spot the unified yellow taxis, simply download the ride-sharing app, Uber. These taxis can save you from missing your flight if you’ve somehow missed all the last trains and buses to the airport after midnight!

Now, you’ve become an expert of traveling in Taipei! Travel Taiwan’s modern capital at your own pace by picking the most suitable public transport for your style and comfort. Stay tuned for more informative transportation guides around the world!

What you might need during your trip in Taipei:

Other Taipei travel guides:  

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