Getting around in city of Taipei
A bustling metropolis that is home to more than six million people, Taipei is one city that is sure to leave you fascinated. Thousands of tourists come into the city every day from all around the world. For those who visit the city for the first time are faced with one very important question: How do you get around in the city? With an easy to use and convenient means of transportation, getting around Taipei is not as difficult as it may initially seem. Even if you don’t speak Mandarin or are unable to read Traditional Chinese, English will serve as your basic means of survival. The signage in most of the places is bilingual and if you happen to visit one of the famous tourist destinations, you will come across a lot of information provided in English. With a basic sense of orientation and a map in hand (iPhone or iPad will serve just as well) getting lost in Taipei won’t be easy. Moreover, the people are very friendly and the city is pretty safe. There are so many reasons you would want to visit the place, so it is important that you have a fair idea about the public transport in Taipei.
Public Transportation System in Taipei City
Although it may seem chaotic at first, the public transport in Taipei is extremely well organized. The Taipei MRT service is one of the most efficient and cleanest in the world with numerous new lines being built constantly to facilitate its extension. Every last bit of the city is covered by the bus service and there are also cabs plying across the length and breadth of the city. The city has two international airports both of which are well served by public transport from the city center.
Here we take a look at the various modes of public transport in Taipei that are the best means for getting around the city and sightseeing for tourists and locals alike.
Rapid Transit System or Taipei MRT
Taipei MRT or the Metro system in Taipei is the most convenient and easiest way of getting around in the city. Although buses are capable of taking you across to numerous places, they often get stuck in the notorious city traffic and are also not too user-friendly for foreigners. The same applies for the cabs which are also extremely expensive. On taking the MRT service, you are assured of reaching your destination at a specific time. The Blue line that runs in an east-west direction and the Red line that connects North Taipei to the South are the two core lines around the city. Most of the popular tourist attractions in the city are located close to the metro stations on these lines making the MRT your best option for exploring around the city. Some of the stations that you may want to make a note of are as follows:
– Along Line 1 (Taipei Zoo-Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center)
> Nanjing Road station– Liaoning Street Night market, Taipei Arena
> Taipei Zoo station– Taipei zoo
– Along Line 2 (Xindian-Tamsui)
> Tamsui station– Fisherman Wharf, River walk, Tamsui Historical Town
> Beitou station– Hot Spring Museum, Public Open Hot Spring. Also the transfer point to Xinbeitou
> Shilin station– Taipei Astronomical Museum, C.K.S Shilin Residence Park, Shilin Night market
> Shuanglian station– Taipei Main station, Ningxia Tourist Night market
– Along Line 4 (Yongning-Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center)
> Taipei City Hall station– Taipei City Hall, Taipei 101
> Ximen station– The Red House, Ximen Commercial District
> Longshan Temple Station– Numerous tourist markets and the Longshan Temple
Train service in Taipei
The regular train service is one of the means of public transport in Taipei that you are most likely to use while touring the city. For tourists on their maiden tour to the city, this is the best way to get around. Once you have made up your mind to visit one of the many malls or tourist attractions around Taipei, walk over to the counter at your nearest railway station and ask for a railway guide booklet. Upon reaching your destination station, you will find signs and guides leading up to these popular places so you need not bother about getting lost. The tickets are available at extremely economical prices and if you are planning to make use of the train service more than once in a day, purchase a day pass that will serve you exceptionally well.
Bus service in Taipei
There was a time when the bus system in Taipei was very confusing especially for those who were unable to read Chinese. However, over the last few years this means of public transport has undergone an overwhelming change with a website being setup in English that is dedicated for the use of foreigners. Once you head over to the nearest bus stop, you need to flag down the bus when you see it approaching else the driver will simply pass you by. As there are so many routes in the city, drivers expect the passengers to identify themselves when they wish to board the vehicle, hence this practice. A lighted sign near the bus driver indicates whether you need to pay your fare at the time of boarding or before alighting from the bus. The fare is usually determined by the distance you travel. The drivers on Taipei’s bus system are extremely helpful and nice and will let you know when your destination arrives if you request them to do so, although they may not be proficient in speaking English.
Taxis in Taipei
The distinctively yellow taxis of Taipei are metered and their charges normally depend on the waiting time and distance. While the fares are usually quite high, they tend to become exorbitant during the night hours. However, if you are looking to travel after one in the morning, taxis are the only means of public transport in Taipei. Taxis in the city can be found anywhere so you won’t have much difficulty flagging one down. Although taxi stands exist, most people tend to hail one from the road side. An approaching taxi that is available will sport a red light on the windscreen. If you look like you are in need of a ride, there is the possibility that a taxi will simply stop near you. Most drivers do not speak English so if you need to travel by taxi, ask the hotel or a local friend to write out the destination for you in Mandarin so that the driver can easily take you there.
Getting Around in Taipei
Apart from these means of public transport in Taipei, tourists can also hire cars and scooters to travel around the city. Bicycles are also available at either weekly or daily rates. However, with the Taipei city traffic being governed by unwritten rules travelling by two-wheelers is not safe. Moreover, an international driving license is required for riding a scooter for thirty days. Although many tourists find ways to drive them without a valid license, it is a bad idea. Taipei has a strict governance and if you get caught, you are likely to face endless troubles. Spoiling your vacation with such childish stupidity is never advisable so stick to travelling in trains and buses while having to get around the city.