Colorful cafe in Hualien City

The Best Ways To Get From Taipei To Hualien

Are you thinking of traveling from the buzzing streets of Taipei to the serene landscapes of Hualien? Then you’ve come to the right place.

Before navigating this route several times, I was wondering what was the best way to get here. Fortunately, getting to Hualien is easier than it appears, with options that cater to different preferences and needs.

I’ve traveled with the convenience of hopping on the Puyuma express straight from Songshan Station, so I’ll give you some essential tips and facts that will transform your travel into a smooth experience.

Taiwan’s efficient railway system ensures both regularity and affordability for its passengers. The scenic views en route make traveling from Taipei to Hualien even better.

In this article you’ll read more about the best way to reach Hualien from Taipei, tips for your travels and the costs of different transport options compared.

Taroko Gorge
Taroko Gorge

Key takeaways

  • You can book the Puyuma express train 15 to 30 days in advance to secure a quick and scenic journey from Taipei to Hualien, which takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes.
  • For a more economical trip, consider taking the bus from Taipei Station to Hualien City for approximately $11 and enjoy the beautiful landscapes of Taiwan during the journey.
  • If you prefer driving, take on the adventure along the Suao – Hualien Highway for stunning coastal views at your own pace. The whole drive offers flexibility with opportunities for spontaneous stops.
  • Flying is the fastest option but less recommended due to additional travel time getting to and from airports; booking early ensures you won’t miss out on this speedy way of reaching Hualien.
  • When planning your trip, it’s important to factor in travel times based on your chosen mode of transport. Express trains are fastest while buses or driving could vary depending on road conditions.

Transportation options from Taipei to Hualien

Diving into your journey from Taipei to Hualien, you’ll discover a variety of routes that tailor to every traveller’s preference and pace.

Whether you fancy watching landscapes go by on the train or prefer an adventurous road trip, each mode of transport offers its unique way to kickstart your experience in East Taiwan.

Train

There are several different trains you can book to get to Hualien. The express trains are the fastest trains you can take. Personally, we took the Puyuma express train, which I can highly recommend.

Booking your seat on the Puyuma express is a great way to get from Taipei to Hualien with ease. You can secure your tickets online, usually 15-30 days in advance, as they’re popular and tend to sell out quickly.

Once done, just print them at any nearby 7/11 using your passport number and booking code.

This can be a bit tricky if you don’t speak Mandarin, however here is a really useful video for printing your ticket. Don’t forget to give the voucher to the cashier, as they will then print the final ticket for you.

With trains running between 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM, there’s plenty of flexibility.

Train ticket from Taipei to Hualien
Our train ticket from Taipei to Hualien
screens with train times at train station
Here you can see the departure times
gates at train station to get to Hualien
You have to go through these gates
train to Hualien

Your journey takes approximately two hours and fifteen minutes. During this time, you’ll be able to look at the stunning scenic views.

Don’t worry if you get uneven seat numbers. Seats like 33 and 35 will keep you side by side. Even though it’s not luxury-class comfort, it’s still quite pleasant with more than enough legroom compared to many European trains.

There are cup holders and there is overhead space for luggage. It’s good to know that snacking en route is totally acceptable – locals do so too!

Don’t forget to double check which car your reserved seats are in before boarding. This saves time and gets you settled easily for the adventure ahead.

Here are some photo impressions of the Puyuma Express train to Hualien:

people waiting for the train
Train to Hualein
train seats with lots of legroom
Enough legroom in the train
coastal views from the train
Views from the train

Bus

If you’re looking to save some cash on your journey, consider taking the bus from Taipei Station to Hualien City. This is the most affordable option at only $11 and only takes about 2½ hours.

Buses like Ubus 1123 offer a straightforward trip from Hualien Airport directly to Hualien Station, connecting you with the heart of the city.

Make sure you grab a window seat to enjoy Taiwan’s beautiful landscapes as you travel. Once you arrive in Hualien, you can explore everything this charming area offers.

Driving

If you’re ready for an adventure behind the wheel, driving to Hualien offers a unique experience. The journey by car along the famous Suao-Hualien Highway unfolds over approximately 158 km of scenic roads.

You’ll navigate this iconic route at your own pace, with opportunity for spontaneous stops and photo opportunities.

Taking this road trip is especially for you if you want freedom and flexibility while exploring Taiwan’s landscapes.

views along the way to Hualien

Outline your itinerary knowing that travel time from Taipei to Suao takes just about an hour. After this, the coastal views become increasingly breathtaking as you approach Hualien.

Though it might be slower compared to even non-express trains, the flexible drive immerses you in Taiwan’s natural beauty.

Pack your snacks, create a playlist and have a memorable road trip on one of Taiwan’s most beautiful highways.

A bridge surrounded by greenery

Flying

Flying is the quickest way to get from Taipei to Hualien, as it takes less than an hour. Uni Air offers non-stop flights that will whisk you away from Taipei Songshan Airport right into the heart of Hualien.

With a flight duration that’s shorter than taking a train, you’ll be gazing at Hualien’s stunning landscapes before you know it.

Book your tickets in advance as these flights are highly sought after. Securing your seat early ensures a stress-free start to your adventure.

However, do keep in mind that although this may seem quicker, it’s not always the case in practice.

You have to be at the airport a few hours before, and of course you first have to get to the airport. All in all, this might even take longer than taking an express train to Hualien.

Tips for traveling from Taipei to Hualien

Embarking on the journey from Taipei to Hualien, you’ll want insider advice to ensure an easygoing trip; keep reading for top tips that will make your trip easier.

Best routes

Hop on the Taroko Express or Puyuma Express for a smooth journey from Taipei to Hualien. These express trains take you through stunning scenery, making them not only the most popular but also an affordable choice.

The ride typically takes about two hours and 15 minutes, giving you enough time to soak in Taiwan’s natural beauty. Be sure to book your tickets online well in advance—ideally 15-30 days ahead, as seats fill up quickly.

Consider taking a coastal road trip if adventure is what you seek. Starting from Yilan, this route promises breathtaking views of Taiwan’s dramatic wild east coast.

Keep reading to learn how best to prepare for this captivating trip.

Estimated travel times

Understanding the estimated travel times is crucial when planning your journey from Taipei to Hualien. It helps you maximize your time spent exploring rather than commuting.

Here’s a breakdown in table format to give you an idea of what to expect:

Mode of TransportationEstimated Travel TimeNotes
Express Train~2 hoursFastest option available
Non-Express Train3-4 hoursSlower but can be more scenic
BusVaries, expect around 3.5 hoursDepends on traffic and exact departure point
DrivingVaries, but expect 3 hours without stopsSubject to road conditions and stops
FlyingNot commonly recommendedTravel to and from airports may take longer overall

While this table offers a concise snapshot of travel times, always check for the latest schedules as factors like weather and holidays can affect timing.

Now, with the knowledge of how long it’ll take to reach Hualien, consider the transportation costs.

Transportation costs compared

Planning your journey from Taipei to Hualien doesn’t have to be a hassle, especially when it comes to understanding the costs involved.

Whether you prefer the speed of a train, the flexibility of driving, or the quick hop offered by a flight, the table below breaks down the transportation costs for your trip.

Mode of TransportCost (NTD)Approximate Duration
Taroko Express Train4402 hours
Puyuma Express Train4402 hours
Uniair Flight90050 minutes
Bus2202½ hours
Local Train (Taipei to Taichung)3.60Varies
High-Speed Rail (Taichung to Kaohsiung)12.03Varies
Local Train (Kaohsiung to Hualien)26.13Varies

Choose your preferred mode of transport and budget accordingly; your adventure to the stunning landscapes of Hualien awaits!

Why visit Hualien?

Located between the majestic Pacific Ocean and the towering Central Mountain Range, Hualien is Taiwan’s hidden gem waiting to be discovered.

This city invites you with open arms to explore its natural wonders, from the breathtaking Taroko Gorge to its beaches, offering a lovely escape.

Visiting Hualien was one of my favorite parts of my Taiwan travels, as the East Coast is truly beautiful. The nature here is what makes Taiwan truly worth visiting.

The city itself might not be the most beautiful place ever, however it’s a great base for exploring Taiwan’s East Coast. And the East Coast is filled with lovely scenery and hidden gems, such as the surreal Qingshui Cliff.

girl in front of qingshui cliffs
Qingshui Cliff: one of the most beautiful places along Taiwan’s East Coast

City attractions

Hualien is perfect for those who love adventure. Explore the famous Taroko Gorge, filled with rugged trails and stunning nature. This breathtaking natural wonder serves as a gateway to picturesque hiking paths and extreme outdoor thrills.

What stood out to me in Hualien City, was the amount of cosy cafes and nice restaurants. There are a few really nice cafes and affordable Izakaya here. An Izakaya is an informal Japanese bar with snacks.

Stroll further through Hualien’s streets to discover architectural gems like Manor House, reflecting the city’s historical beauty.

Colorful cafe in Hualien City
Cafe in Hualien City
scooters and cars in Hualien City
Hualien City

Taroko Gorge gateway

Discover the beauty of Taroko Gorge, a natural masterpiece that stands as Hualien City’s crowning jewel.

As soon as you set foot here, prepare to see a world filled with marble-walled canyons and crystal-clear rivers.

This is your ultimate destination for majestic mountain views and adventures. Before traveling here for the first time, I thought it might be overhyped. However, this is not the case at all. Taroko Gorge is truly incredible.

girl looking at marble canyon in Taroko Gorge

What’s even better, is that you can choose trails that suit your own preferences. If you want to hike for 5 hours straight, then there are enough hiking trails. However, if you want to hike for less than 2 hours, that’s also more than possible.

Some great trails that aren’t too challenging include the short Swallow Grotto Trail and the impressive Shakadang Trail.

Make use of various options from Hualien to reach this iconic gorge. Hop on a taxi for a comfortable ride or join a guided tour to gain deeper insights into the area’s geological wonders.

Personally, I recommend booking a private tour when visiting Taroko Gorge. This is what we did and it gave us a lot of freedom and flexibility.

What’s great, is that the tour is even customizable. Just tell the driver in advance if you want to visit somewhere special.

girl in front of marble canyon and river
At one of the trails in Taroko Gorge

Beaches

Hualien has some of Taiwan’s most stunning shorelines, recognized for their rugged cliffs and breathtaking coastal views. These beaches are definitely worth visiting when you’re in this area.

Take a day to explore; soak up the sun or go for a swim (check beforehand whether it’s swimmable). Each stretch along Hualien’s coast offers its own unique atmosphere.

Pack your sunscreen and prepare for unforgettable seaside moments in one of Taiwan’s top scenic spots.

sun above the sea in East Taiwan

In conclusion

There are several great ways to reach Hualien from Taipei. Choose your ride – train, bus, or car – and take in the scenic views.

Make sure tickets are booked early; Taiwan’s popular routes fill up fast. Personally, I recommend booking an express train well in advance, as this is affordable and quick at the same time.

However, if you have the chance to drive, then a road trip along the coast would also be incredible. Don’t forget to stop at some of the natural wonders along the way.

With these tips at hand, you’re all set for an unforgettable trip to this gem on the East Coast.

Away with Danae

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