Since quite a number of people have asked me questions on how to book train tickets from Taipei to Hualien, I thought I’d do up a step-by-step guide for everyone’s convenience. :)
Is it really necessary to book tickets?
If you’re planning to go to Hualien on a Fri, Sat or Sun, it’s advisable to book and secure your train tickets in advance. For travel on other days, it’s still good to book as it will give you peace of mind. However, if you prefer flexibility in your schedule, you may choose to buy your tickets directly from the train station.
Booking, payment and collection
Train tickets can only be booked two weeks in advance. If you pay by credit card, you can collect the tickets on the day of departure itself, at least 30 minutes before the train departs. If you pay cash, you must collect the tickets within two days of booking (which means you can’t secure your tickets early). Note that the day of booking is considered the first day, so effectively you’ll need to collect your tickets the next day if you want to pay cash!
Here are the steps for booking and payment:
1. Check out the train schedule to determine the train number you want to take.
2. Select “Taipei” as your origin and “Hualien” as your destination, and select the date of your trip. You can leave “Train Types” as “Express”. Click “Query” and the schedule will load.
3. If you’re touring with Mr Lu Lai Fu, he usually recommends his customers to book train #1091, departing Taipei at 8am and reaching Hualien at 10.08am. This is a Taroko Express train, which is faster and can be identified by the green mountain logo.
Don’t worry that the “Origin-Dest” column doesn’t state “Taipei To Hualien”. This simply means that Taipei is not the first station and Hualien is not the terminal station for that train; they are just two of the stops along the line.
4. Repeat steps 1 and 2 to check the train schedule for the return journey from Hualien to Taipei. Mr Lu recommended me to book train #1096, departing Hualien at 7.30pm and reaching Taipei at 9.45pm. Again, this is a Taroko Express.
5. Book your train tickets. Take note that this website is open for bookings only from 6am to 10pm daily.
6. Click on “Order Tickets Using Train No.” and fill in your particulars at the next screen. If you’re a Singaporean like me, fill in your entire passport number including letters of the alphabet. Click on “Start To Order”.
7. You’ll be prompted for a random numbers check. Warning, this check seems to be problematic and you may need to enter the code several times before it’s accepted, even if you’ve keyed in the correct code. Keep trying!
8. After clearing the numbers check, note down the 6-digit booking code given to you. It will be stated that you need to collect the tickets within two days of booking, but you can disregard this timeline if you’re paying by credit card.
9. Repeat steps 5 to 7 to book your tickets for the return trip from Hualien to Taipei. Again, note down the 6-digit booking code. You should have two different booking codes now.
10. Make payment by credit card. Payment is available only from 6am to 11pm daily. As the payment website is in Chinese, you will not be automatically redirected to it after booking from the English website. Just follow this link:
Check the box to accept the terms and click on the buttom to start making payment.
11. Fill in the form accordingly. Select the options for “外籍人士请勾选” (foreigners check here) and “去回票” (return tickets) if you are paying for a return trip (you will get a 10% discount). At the time of my trip, a ticket costs NT$445 and return tickets cost NT$802.
Also input the two sets of booking codes you got earlier. Submit.
12. Verify your trip details. For adults, under “成人票”, input the number of tickets you are paying for. Submit.
13. Enter your credit card details. Submit. After payment is confirmed, you will be asked to print out the collection slip. Remember to fill up this slip and bring it to the counter to collect your tickets. Tickets must be collected at least 30 minutes before the respective trains depart.
15. If you want to make sure that your payment has been accepted, click on “付款记录查询” (check payment records) on the left.
Alternatively, you can also return to the English booking website to check. Click on “Inquire booking records”.
If payment has been made, you should see a message along the line of “Fare paid over the internet”. Repeat the process to verify the payment record for your return trip.
That’s all. Trust that this step-by-step guide makes booking your train tickets an easy thing to do. :) If you still have questions, please make sure it’s not already been covered in this guide. I’ll try my best to assist with your other queries.
Enjoy your trip! :)