2/07/2011

Buying Train Tickets Online to Hualien, Taiwan

I get some emails from time-to-time from "foreigners" asking how to book train tickets online to Hualien (花蓮), Taiwan. As far as I know, you can't using a credit card, unless you have a local card, which is incredibly hard to obtain if you're not a Taiwanese national (if you are, though, they're handing them out like candy). This probably means you can't buy a train ticket to Hualien (花蓮) online for yourself if you're a "foreigner." I'll digress some more to say people could buy tickets online to Hualien with "foreign" credit cards up until 2008. Coincidentally, a week or so after the Taiwanese government dumped some US$30 million into promoting tourism in the West in the spring of that year, the policy was changed and credit cards from the West were no longer accepted. 

Anyway, back to the point. If you want to order train tickets online to Hualien and are already in Taiwan, these are the steps you can follow:


1. Go to this Web site: http://163.29.3.96/TWRail_EN/index.aspx

2. Click on Guided Query (on the left)

3. Imput Taipei (or the city you're coming from) as well as the station. Then hit Next Step

4. Imput Hualien

5. Click on Hua-lien and then Hualien below, and hit Next Step

6. Click on the date and time 

7. Choose the train type (I recommend the fast train - the Tze Chiang). Hit Query

8. Choose the train you want. Remember the train number

9. Then click on http://www.railway.gov.tw/en/ticket/ticket-1.aspx

10. Click on Internet Ticketing (it's in the column on the left-hand side)

11. Click on Order Tickets Using Train No. (it's the first option)

12. Put in your passport no., ARC no. or local ID no., the station of departure and arrival and the Train No. (From no. 8 above)

13. When the successful booking memo comes up, copy the page (I usually cut and paste it in Word)

14. Print it and take it, along with ID, to either the post office or train station

15. You'll have about a day or so to do this. If you go to the post office, you'll have to pay an additional NT$10 (30 cents US) as a handling fee

14 comments:

Terry J. Benzie said...

I believe that even if foreigners have credit cards, they need to have a Chinese name on the card to use the system as it allows for but three spaces on that part of the booking, unless things have changed. Four character Chinese names I imagine are as equally problematic.

Ed said...

I always use the machines at the station. Works fine with a foreign credit card. The trains have never been full anyway at the times I've taken it.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"The trains have never been full anyway at the times I've taken it."

I had a streak a couple of years ago when I could not book a ticket online coming back from Hualien on Fridays until something like eight o'clock (which put me in Taipei at around eleven or twelve). All of the trains leaving during the evening hours would be full. The strange thing was I couldn't even buy the tickets two weeks beforehand, when they went on sale. So, I had to fly back. The trains were full but the planes were not.

Anyway, there's no way that Ed used a machine at the station on a Friday evening in Hualien and got a ticket back to Taipei.

"Works fine with a foreign credit card." Just out of curiosity, are you talking about the train? I know you can use a foreign credit card in the machines for the HSR, but that's not the topic here.

Anonymous said...

Don't they know better that there is somebody called Travelling Agent available to help those foreign travelers buying tickets? In case everything fails; they still can go to Hualien 花蓮 by the ship, can't they?
Any one old enough to remember the 120 Kilo Meter, 5 hour ride from Hualien 花蓮 to Suou 蘇澳 by the automobile called Eastern Sea Bus東海バス? It was one day trip from Hualien to Taipei as I remembered unless you fly by the salvaged DC3 from WWII landing on the unpaved flat soil field called Hualien airport.
ChoSan

Anonymous said...

you can actually book the ticket online and pay the ticket via credit card online.

payment link: sorry all in chinese

https://ticket.chinatrust.com.tw/railway/

booking link:
http://www.railway.gov.tw/en/

Patrick Cowsill said...

"you can actually book the ticket online and pay the ticket via credit card online"

Yes, but you can only use a locally issued credit card, so this site is pretty much useless to anyone trying to book abroad.

Anonymous said...

Hi Patrick,

I'm planning a trip to Hualien with a friend next week (I hope tickets are still available.. ><) so your post is very helpful!

One question though: I heard that there is a type of train that is "slow" (I don't know how slow, the person never specified how long it takes) but has a beautiful view from the train on the way to Hualien. I was wondering if the train you recommended (Tze Chiang) also has a great view or not, and if not, do you know which train does?

Thank you in advance! :)

Anonymous said...

ALSO (sorry, I'm the same "Anonymous" from the previous post), when I searched for the available trains online, some of the Tze-Chiang Limited Express trains had this icon of a picture that has two green triangles. In the key, it is listed as "Taroko", but to me it's not clear what this means... Will the train pass by the Taroko Gorge? @_@

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

...By the way, the 2nd link (http://www.railway.gov.tw/en/ticket/ticket-1.aspx) has been removed.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"as wondering if the train you recommended (Tze Chiang) also has a great view or not, and if not, do you know which train does?

Thank you in advance! :)"

They all run on the same line. Take the Tze Chiang. You'll still have a beautiful view.

Patrick Cowsill said...

BTW,

No, the train won't pass Toroko. When you get to Hualien, you'll have to take a taxi, bus or scooter to Toroko. It's pretty close; I think about 30 minutes should get you there.

"...By the way, the 2nd link (http://www.railway.gov.tw/en/ticket/ticket-1.aspx) has been removed."

Yeah, I know. I am going to get it sorted when I have a chance.

Blessed Homemaker said...

It is really frustrating trying to book train tickets online. I'm a Chinese from Singapore but I still have the same problem. To make things worst, I couldn't even get to the payment page. Was stucked after the "Random Numbers Check", kept getting "No tickets available".

CCO said...

Dear Sir,

I am from Singapore and is trying to purchase an online train ticket from Taipei to Hualien and back from Hualien to Taipei on 27 Nov 2011. But I faced some difficulties and could not purchase them with the website possibly indicating sold out. Could you please advice? I will sincerely appreciate your kind help. Thank you.

My email is ch0001nn@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

It is now possible to pay online (TRA) using Visa and Mastercard (not all types supported yet). I just did that today.