To be 100% honest, I have never actually taken public transportation into Taipei from the airport. The first time I went to Taipei, I had a family pick me up from the airport and the second time, I arrived at midnight so my dad met me at the airport and took me in a taxi. This time, we were traveling in a giant group and we landed around 6 PM so we could utilize the public transportation option.
When we landed, we made our first top at the currency exchange to get rid of our Thai Baht for New Taiwan Dollar. After exchanging our currency, we stood in line for passport control. Being super excited and ready for our last portion of the adventure, we cut under the ropes to avoid weaving in and out of the lines. This is not easy to do when your backpack adds about 8 inches to your back and weighs about 15 pounds. It makes you a little unbalanced and you may or may not get trapped on the elastic rope separating each row of the line…
We actually had a few ladies follow suit and ended up splitting our group up evenly. Throughout the line, we were those obnoxious tourists that kept sneaking people up in front of them so that we could keep our group as close to get as possible. What ended up happening was all 15 of us got together except 1. He was trapped behind the ladies behind us and they refused to let him rejoin us. So obviously that led to us poking fun at him the entire time.
After we finally made it through security, picked up our bags and got through customs we headed out to the bus station. The bus station is at the furthest end of the terminal outside of arrivals and there you pay for your tickets and hope on the bus. The bus will take you to the Taoyuan train station and from there you can pick up the high speed rail train to Taipei Main Station. This journey is only a few dollars and actually quite quick. You can actually take a bus all the way into the city but taking the Ubus 705 to the Taoyuan station and then picking up the HSR is a lot faster. While you’re in the HSR station you can stop by Moos Burger which has amazing rice patties instead of bread buns. Delicious.
Once we arrived at the Taipei Main Station, we separated for our different hotels. A few people were staying at the hotel connected to the Main Station. It seemed to be a pretty good deal, a little bit on the pricier side but there are elevators that take you directly to the station. A few of us were actually staying outside of the station at a different hostel called Chaiin which was about a 10 minute walk from the station. One thing to note about this area is that it isn’t a super touristy area. It’s a good location to stay if you want to be close to the main station because you can take the MRT (public subway) anywhere and the buses are located there too. But in terms of things to do around that neighborhood, there’s not much. I think there are better districts to stay but we needed to be close to the main station for our trip to Taichung in a few days.
We walked to our hostel and checked in. When I had booked everything, I didn’t pay close attention to the fact that I had booked a room without a window. So I thought, hey I speak Chinese, I’m sure I can get an upgrade. So I asked for one in Chinese. It worked! We got a room with a window for only $15 USD a night and I was so excited. We walked into our room, opened up the curtains and looked out the window. To the concrete wall 3 feet away from our window. And not just any concrete wall, one that actually looked bigger than our entire hostel. Great. Our “window view” was of a gray wall that at night blocked out any form of light so we might as well have been in our windowless room and saved the $15 USD a night. But it’s okay, we still pretended that we had a view.
After finally getting settled into our rooms, logging onto wifi, we finally connected with our group and decided to make plans to meet up at 9PM at the main hotel for a train ride to Raohe Night Market.