Taiwan is an incredibly easy country to navigate with some of the best public transportation options around. The trains and buses are all clean, safe and efficient and all the signs and stops are posted and announced in both English and Taiwanese. If you have a basic understanding of how public transport work, then you will have no problem navigating through Taipei’s modern network of public transportation options.
In this post, I will explain how to get from Taipei’s Taoyuan Airport (TPE) to downtown Taipei; how to get around downtown Taipei and then explain how to get back to the airport.
Taiwan Public Transportation Options
There are many options for getting from the airport into the city. Buses are usually the cheapest option but sitting on a bus after a long-haul flight is the last thing any of us want to do. Shuttles and taxis, on the other hand, are the easiest and most convenient but also the most expensive. But in a city with a great subway system, like Taipei, taking the subway is usually the best and most efficient way.
Taipei’s subway system is called the Taipei Metro aka the “Taipei MRT.” These underground trains connect travelers from the airport to all across Taipei (and beyond). Keep in mind that the MRT is not the same as the high-speed rail train (HST). The HSR trains will take you from the airport to the city but will not get you around downtown Taipei.
Additionally, the Taoyuan Airport MRT train (from Taipei Taoyuan Airport to/from downtown Taipei Main Station) is part of the MRT system but it requires a separate fare from the Taipei MRT. In other words, if you buy a ticket from the airport to downtown Taipei, you can only go as far as the Taipei Main Station. You cannot take a connecting train on another Taipei MRT line. You will need to purchase another fare to travel around downtown Taipei. I’ll explain more later on in the post.
How to Get from Taipei Airport to Downtown
Upon your arrival to TPE, collect your bags and exit out into the arrivals hall. Make a right-hand turn and walk down to the Taoyuan Airport MRT service booth. Here, you can buy an Airport MRT one-way ticket from the airport to Taipei Main Station, a round-trip ticket, or a combo ticket including Airport MRT transport to/from the airport and unlimited rides on the Taipei MRT subway system.
Depending on your length of stay, the combo ticket is my recommended option. This combo ticket will give you two cards. One card will be used to get you from/to the airport and the Taipei Main Station (Airport MRT) and the second card can be used for unlimited rides around the city (Taipei MRT). Sometimes you will get a purple Airport MRT coin instead of an Airpot MRT card. That’s okay too.
Here are some prices for you.
- One-way TPE to Main Station: 150NT
- Round-trip TPE to/from Main Station: 300NT
- Roundtrip TPE to/from Main Station plus unlimited rides on the Taipei MRT for 48 hours: 520NT
- Roundtrip TPE to/from Main Station plus unlimited rides on the Taipei MRT for 72 hours: 600 NT
As you can see, if you plan on using the Taipei MRT just a few times, it pays to just get the unlimited pass.
With your two MRT cards in hand, head downstairs to the Airport MRT station. Scan your Airport MRT card (or tap the purple coin) at the turnstile and take the escalator down to the Airport MRT platform. The trains run every 15 mins from 6:00 AM to 11:30 PM. Times are subject to change so check the timetable here.
There are two types of trains to downtown: commuter and express trains. You will want the express train. The commuter train makes 11 stops before reaching downtown Taipei whereas the express train only makes 3. Your Airport MRT card/coin allows you on either train.
The express train takes approximately 35 mins to get to downtown. There are luggage racks to store your bags and WiFi to keep you entertained. Keep in mind, there is no eating, drinking or smoking allowed on the train.
Once you get to the Main Station, scan your Airport MRT card (or deposit your purple coin) to exit the station. If you are connecting to another train, you will have to walk up to the Taipei MRT Main Station, which is about a 5-minute walk from the Airport Main Station platform.
If you are on a long layover and just want to explore Taipei for the day, you can store your luggage in these convenient lockers located in the main station.
Getting Around Downtown Taipei
Now, put your Airport MRT card away and take out the Taipei MRT card. Scan once to enter the station and scan again to exit the station at your intended destination. There are 5 different lines to get you around town (brown, orange, red, blue and green. The purple line is the Airport MRT line. Here’s the map.
Here’s an example. If you need to take the red line, just walk down to the red line platform. There, you can look at the signs and see which side of the platform you need to be on. The direction of the train is indicated by the normal colored stations and the grayed out ones are the one that have already passed. If you need to get to one of the grayed out stations, just walk over to the other side.
Once on the train, visual signs show which stations are coming up next and announcements are made in both Taiwanese and English.
Keep in mind that if you buy a “one-day pass,” that’s not the same as a “24-hour pass.” The one-day pass is valid from the moment it is swiped to the end of the calendar day. A 24-hour pass is valid from the moment it is swiped for 24 hours. The 24-hour passes cost slightly more than the one-day pass but I think they provide a better value. The same applies for 2-day, 3-day, 48-hour, 72-hour passes, etc.
How to Get from Downtown Taipei to Taipei Airport
All good things must come to an end and now it’s time to go home. From the Taipei Main Station, walk to the Airport MRT station. It’s about a 5-minute walk. Just follow the signs.
Here, you can either take your bags with you on the train or use the in-town check-in to check-in for your flight and drop off your bags. I have used the in-town check-in several times and I love it.
To check-in for your flight, just use the kiosks to find your itinerary and print your boarding pass. If you need to check a bag, walk over to the bag drop-off and place your bag in the machine. Enter your details and watch your bag be cleared through security. Once it passes, you can take the elevator down to the express train.
To qualify for in-town check-in,
- Your airline must be a participating airline. I’m not sure which airlines participate but I know EVA Air and China Airlines do for sure.
- In-town check-in is only open from 6:00 AM to 9:30 PM daily.
- You must check-in at least two hours in advance before your flight.
- If you have a checked bag, you must check-in at least three hours in advance.
And that’s it. I hope you find this information useful. Feel free to let me know if you have any other questions or concerns.
Have you used Taipei’s convenient MRT system or have any other tips for our readers? If so, please share them with us in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!
The other trip reports related to this series include: