The Taiwan High Speed Rail Pass is a sometimes cost effective rail pass for long distance train travel in Taiwan. It is usable on the Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) line along Taiwan’s west coast.
The passes are only to be used by foreign tourists (staying less than 180 days), and offer unlimited use of THSR trains for two or three days, with various options on what days to use the THSR trains. The five day passes also include unlimited use of Taiwan Railway lines (TRA, the standard national train network).
The passes can be used in a similar way to the Japan Rail Pass. The five day pass comes in standard and premium versions. The latter allows use of the fastest trains on the Taiwan Railway network, called Tze-Chiang Limited Express trains. The Tze-Chiang trains also tend to be the most modern and comfortable.
|3-Day Pass||Unlimited use of THSR for three consecutive days||NT$2200|
|Flexible 2-Day Pass||Unlimited use of THSR for any two days within a one week period||NT$2500|
|5-Day Standard Joint Pass||Unlimited use of the TRA lines for five days (up to Chu-Kuang Express class), plus two days of unlimited use of the THSR within this period||NT$2800|
|5-Day Premium Joint Pass||Unlimited use of the TRA lines for five days (up to Tze-Chiang Limited Express class), plus two days of unlimited use of the THSR within this period||NT$3600|
Children are half price.
The Taiwan High Speed Rail Pass is valid on:
- Taiwan High Speed Rail trains: this network spans from Taipei in the north, to near Kaohsiung in the south.
- Transfer buses: as some of the THSR stations are outside of the city center, pass holders can use free shuttle buses to take them into the city.
- Taiwan Railway trains for five-day pass holders only: those with the two or three day passes will need to buy additional tickets if they want to use a Taiwan Railway line.
Note that the pass is not valid on some special tour trains, but this should not be of concern to most travelers here.
Can the pass be transferred or shared?
No, the pass is only for personal use and can only be used by the person named on the pass. Note that your pass and passport are checked every time you exit and enter the ticket gates.
Is it based on calendar days or 24-hour periods?
The validity of your pass is based on calendar days (midnight to midnight) and not on 24-hour periods. In other words the pass starts at 00:00 and ends at 23:59.
Purchase and exchange
The pass can be bought online (before or after you arrive in Taiwan). You will then receive a voucher that has to be exchanged for the actual pass at the ticket office of any THSR train station. The Joint passes can also be exchanged at a TRA ticket office at major train stations. The voucher must be exchanged within 90 days of purchase. It can be exchanged prior to actually starting to use it.
How to use the Taiwan High Speed Rail Pass
Entry to the platforms is only via the manned gates, so show your pass and passport to the attendant to enter or exit.
How to make seat reservations
Pass holders can make seat reservations for free at any ticket office by presenting their rail pass and passport. Reservations cannot be made at ticket machines or online.
Are seat reservations mandatory or recommended?
Reservations are not mandatory, but highly recommended for long-distance journeys, especially during the weekends and on public holidays. Trains can often get booked up, throughout the day, even on an average weekday. Always keep an eye on the television screens around the ticket offices to see how busy the trains are for your next journey. Jump in the line to make a reservation if things look tight.
Does the Taiwan High Speed Rail Pass pay off?
The 3-Day Pass works well if you only want to visit the main cities via a speedy trip. The free THSR shuttle buses can be used, so you often won’t need to pay to use the TRA trains. If you consider yourself to be a fast traveler, then you could pack in one or two cities in a day and save a bit over individual tickets.
The Flexible 2-Day Pass could also be used in a similar way and for a similar type of fast traveler, but it might be cheaper just to get a 20% discount One-way Ticket. Getting one-way tickets will also mean you’re not in such a rush.
The 5-Day Standard Joint Pass is only a few hundred more than the 3-Day Pass, so go for this one if you’ll only need the high speed train on two days and will be using the TRA trains often (such as to visit places other than the big cities). You probably won’t save much if going for the premium version, as TRA tickets are generally very inexpensive anyway.
Considering which to purchase can be rather bewildering. Before you purchase a pass, check out the THSR website and the TRA website to see how much individual tickets would be. Once you have an estimate of how much you’ll spend with individual tickets, you should have a good idea which pass to get, if any.