Let’s think about it for a second, it’s summer time, the weather looks gorgeous and typhoon season isn’t for another few weeks. Why not make the most of it and dash off to the East Coast of Taiwan? I’ve always heard people raving about it. I recall visiting it back when I was 15 but the only memory I have of it is that I had checked out Taroko Gorge.
Hualien is the first city to see sunlight in Taiwan and is nestled between the mountains and the sea.
Two of my favourite landscapes might I add!
It’s a true testament that my mind has really changed over the years – something inevitable living abroad. That is to change, I mean we don’t travel or visit new places and remain the same right?
I’m a trueborn urbanite, grew up in São Paulo and have on the most part lived in cosmopolitan areas. Then here I am living in Taiwan now, more precisely in mega city of Taipei. I’ve been trying to figure out still what is my routine but what struck me is that I never travelled through my own motherland.
Considering I have about a year’s worth of being on Formosa Island might as well get exploring in between my screen-time! If you have checked my Instagram you know I’ve done some gentle exploring but nothing super off the books.
I just felt this unsettling feeling, jittery feet of wanting to change it up the pace. No amount of yoga classes seemed to quiet down the inner jitter bug.
Alright enough chit-chat, how to get to Hualien?
First things first, getting to Hualien. I thought it wasn’t going to be tricky at all but turns out it takes a little knack. I took a gamble by getting tickets 1 day before. I made the impossible happen in the middle of summer holidays and on a Friday.
From what I seen is that the best way to get to Hualien cost + time wise is by train. There are two types of train, the Taroko Express / Puyuma Express (about 2 hours ride) and the Ordinary (about 3 hours ride).
Here’s a reference image they have inside the train station as well since each train has a distinct look:
OK, so how do I get these tickets?
- Most convenient yet probably the hardest if not reserved in advance – buying the ticket from Taipei to Hualien is online.Tickets can be purchased up to 2 weeks in advance. All tickets are for seated only as these trains are tilting ones it’s just better to sit.There is no high-speed rail to Hualien, your options are either the Taroko/Puyuma Express or the Chu-Kuang Express. The more modern train being the ones Taroko/Puyuma.
English version: Taiwan RailwaysMy ticket from Taipei (Songshan Station) to Hualien was NT$328 (US$10.60) with Chu-Kuang Express.
While my return ticket Hualien to Taipei (Songshan Station) was NT$426 (US$14)
For a step-by-step walkthrough on how to get tickets check this post here
Like a local tip: When purchasing tickets purchase your return as well. It’s practically impossible to book/get a return ticket from Hualien to Taipei as most of those are bought out by tour agencies.
I remember seeing a poor girl trying to get tickets back to Taipei hard. Suffice to say all I thought was “Phew!”
- If that one failed don’t worry, head over to one of the other 4 train stations in Taipei.
This option isn’t too bad and you are more likely to get it.Depending on where you are located in Taipei you can board the trains from 4 different places. Obviously, Taipei Main Station is the top choice and you odds will be slimmer getting a ticket there. Check out Nangang Station, Banqiao Station and Songshan Station.I found Songshan Station is the easiest station to get tickets at mostly because most people will go to all the other mentioned stations to get tickets.
Another thing you can do is get any available ticket and then wait until the next morning before your departure time to see if you can either post-pone. A little tricky but you can ask at the window teller to do the exchange should tickets be available.
**There is also a slim chance that tickets will be available at the train stations as they keep a few spare should any foreigner/expat be very last minute. Ask nicely 🙂
- Famiport is possibly your saviour in Asia. FamilyMart too. 7-11 ranking high too.This option is going to test your Mandarin.
I didn’t know before until a relative told me that not only can you pay your bills at any 7-11 or FamilyMart in Taiwan you can also actually book flight tickets and train tickets through it! They have a POS system called Famiport near the cash registers where you can put your Mandarin skills to test and get your tickets online. Foreigners can use the system too, just need to input your passport number.
- No luck getting train tickets to Hualien?
You can try a tour agency as they seem to be the ones that will buy the ticket lots to sell at a premium.
Another option for those that prefer to DIY, you can also fly straight from Taipei to Hualien or get a bus & train combination ticket. For extra details refer to this post I found here.
You made it to the end of this post! Hopefully you also managed to get your ticket and will be soon enjoying the speedy but ultra-picturesque views on your train ride.
Hope that this post was helpful for anyone looking to visit East Coast Taiwan! I’ll be sure to plan another trip over. Any questions or comments please drop down below.