In preparation for my upcoming honeymoon with my wife, we were planning to go to Hualien, Taiwan, by taking the railway train from Taipei, Taiwan. Upon preparing for this trip, we looked to see how to purchase the train tickets online. It turned out that the online system is not overly user friendly, so it took quite some time to figure it all out. In addition upon googling the search engines to see if there is already advice on how to book tickets online, there seems to be alot of inaccurate or out of date information out there. Therefore for the sake of ensuring no one else falling prey to the headaches I went thru in figuring this out, I have decided to create a quick guide for you all on how to book the Taiwan train tickets online!
There are two types of trains you can ride across the country in Taiwan, the normal railway train run by the Taiwan Railways Administration, and the advanced highspeed bullet rail trains. The guide that I am about to show you is only for the normal railway train run by the Taiwan Railways Administration.
Step 1.) Go to the Taiwan Railways Administration website: http://www.railway.gov.tw/en/ and once your there click the link that says “Timetable”
Step 1 screenshot
Step 2.) After clicking Timetable, it will bring you to another screen that allows you to search the different train schedules
1 - Select the Origin location, selecting the City first, and the Train station the second
2 – Select the End location, selecting the City first, and the Train station the second
3 – Select the Train type
4 – Select the date of travel
5 – Click “Search”
Step 2 screenshot
Step 3.) After clicking “Search” it will bring you to a screen showing you all the possible trains scheduled to leave from your specified origin to your specified end destination for your search date. Review the train number you want, and then click the green icon on the right that will take you to the online reservation system.
Step 3 screenshot
Step 4.) Once your at the online reservation system, it will auto prepopulate the train number, origin and end location, and the departure date. Make sure you review this to ensure it is what you want.
1 – Enter you passport number. Please make sure this is filled accurately
2 – Enter the number of passengers travelling.
3 – Click “Start to Order”
Step 4 screenshot
Step 5.) After you clicked the “Start to Order” button, it will bring you to a random number check screen, which is basically to prevent anyone from writing an automated program to automatically order a whole bunch of tickets in one shot.
1 – Simply enter the number you see on the screen.
2 – Click “Submit”
Step 5 screenshot
Step 6.) Once you submit, if the booking was successful, then it will state “Booking Successfully”. If the tickets are no longer available for that particular train, then it will state “No tickets available”.
Please note that there is a section that says “Ticket taking due date” in which it will show a date 2 days later. This due date is only applicable for people who will be paying in person with cash at the train station in Taiwan. What this is really saying is that if you will be paying in person with cash at the train station in Taiwan, you must pickup and pay for the ticket at the train station no later than the date stipulated there. What this online system is actually doing is just reserving your seat in the system, and NOT issuing out any tickets. It only holds the seat until the ticket has been physically picked up at the train station, else after the due date and the tickets have not been picked up, then the seats go back to inventory again in the system. If you are intending to pay for it by cash and in person at the train station in Taiwan, then you do not need to go any further in the steps below. You just print this confirmation screen out, and bring your passport and cash to the train station to redeem your train ticket.
However if you intend to pay online by credit card, then you can ignore that “Ticket taking due date” and just click the “online payment” button instead. Paying by credit card makes more sense for overseas visitors who haven’t even arrived yet in Taiwan, but would like to reserve their tickets in advanced. Please make sure you take down the booking code and passport number you used, as this will be needed for the next following steps to complete the transaction when paying online by credit card.
Step 6 screenshot
Step 7.) After you click the “Online Payment” button, it will launch you to another website to begin the credit card payments.
1 – Click on the “English” button for the English version of the website
2 – Check mark to agree to the terms and conditions
3 – Click “Start Buying Ticket” to beging the credit card purchase
4 – There is a whole bunch of guidelines listed below, which is recommended to read
Step 7 screenshot
Step 8.) The next screen will prompt you to select either one way ticket or round trip ticket and to enter your booking code and passport number you took down on Step 6 above.
Please take note on the disclaimer (marked in the screenshot with ***), not all tickets you can purchase round trip, therefore for simplicity sake, just book 2 one way tickets instead (one going to your destination, and the other coming back from your destination). You can show these two bookings to the train station counter, along with your passport and credit card, and they can help convert it to a round trip ticket and refund you any difference in price (since round trip tickets maybe cheaper than buying 2 one day tickets). Please note that the departure station and the destination station for the outbound and return bound trips should be the same, if you want to convert them to round trip tickets at the train station counter (i.e. if your going from Taipei main station to Hualien station, you must leave from Hualien station, and arrive back to Taipei main station on your return trip back).
1 – Select “one way ticket”
2 – Select “check if you are a foreigner” (i.e. you are not a Taiwan citizen)
3 – Enter your passport number under the ID field
4 – Enter you booking code that you took down from Step 6 above
5 – Click “Submit”
Step 8 screenshot
Step 9.) The next screen will ask you to confirm if the booking is correct before you officially begin to enter your credit card information to pay. Please ensure you check everything there thoroughly to ensure everything is correct.
1 – Enter the total number of senior, disabled, adult and/or child tickets needed
2 – Click “Confirm”
Step 9 screenshot
Step 10.) The next screen will provide you the cost of the ticket being purchased, and will ask for your credit card details
1 – Fill in your credit card details
2 - Select “No” under “Apply for a subsidy using the National Travel Card” section
3 – Click “Confirm payment”, and the system will start processing the payment
Step 10 screenshot
Step 11.) The next screen will provide you a confirmation that the purchase was successful. Please note that the below screenshots was a live order that I personally ordered for myself (the ticket information is different than the mock example I created from the screenshots in the steps above), this is just to illustrate to you all what this confirmation screen looks like.
1 – Click on “Print the Ticket Pick Up Form for credit card payment”
2 – After you print out the ticket pick up form, click “complete ticket purchase”
Step 11 screenshot
Step 12.) Fill out the printed Ticket Pick Up Form. Please note that although you did pay online and secured your seat on the train online, you will still need to go to the train station to pick up your tickets. However, you will have more flexibility as you have until 30 minutes before the schedule train departure time to pickup your ticket. You will need to provide your passport, and the filled out Ticket Pick Up Form when picking up your ticket at the train station counter.
Step 12 screenshot
Step 13.) To purchase your return one way ticket, just follow steps 1 to 12 again.
I sure hope these 13 steps help you all out and save you all the time and confusion in figuring this system out! Please note this is only accurate at the time of writing, so if there are any changes that are found in the system that I am not aware about, please do not hesitate to notify me, and I will reupdate this post accordingly!
Have you experienced other strange, not so user friendly systems from other places abroad when purchasing tickets for any type of transportation? Please share your experiences in the comments below! Cheers!