Asia International Travel Taiwan Toddler Travel Trip Reports

Home for the Holidays: Using Public Transportation in Taiwan with a Toddler

Still not the Hello Kitty plane.
Still not the Hello Kitty plane.

This post is in small part trip report and in large part informational. Public transportation in Taiwan is cheap, easy, and fairly straightforward – even when your kid is having a rough time. And regardless of how they’re feeling, Taiwan is super kid friendly and their public transportation system reflects that. Here are some quick tips for getting around.

Using the MRT (Subway)

Taipei’s subway system is called the MRT, and it’s very well designed. Not only can it get you almost all the places you’d like to go in Taipei (and beyond), it’s very intuitive, signed clearly in both Chinese and English, AND makes announcements in English, Mandarin, and other languages that I thought were Cantonese but were actually Taiwanese and Hakka.

Look how nice this station looks!
Look how nice this station looks!

Now I’m appreciative of our public transportation system in Boston, but the reality is it can’t hold a candle to Taipei.

First of all, my guess is Taiwanese people pay a ton of taxes – how else can you explain these prices? For NT => USD you basically divide by 30. We took a trip to the zoo and it only cost us a little more than a dollar in USD.

Prices to every station are listed above the ticket vending machines
Prices to every station are listed above the ticket vending machines – cheap!

Secondly, there were trains every few minutes every time we rode the MRT – even on weekends.

Thirdly, there are 7-11s in many of the stations (they’re really everywhere) serving awesome stuff like this:

Don't worry, you can get hot dogs too
Don’t worry, you can get hot dogs too

Using the system couldn’t be simpler. After noting your fare price on the map, just choose a single-journey ticket. Then click on your ticket price and number of tickets you want and pay (cash only as far as I could tell).

IMG_5046

It's so simple...
It’s so simple…

After that, the machine pops out a couple of tokens that have some kind of RFID in them (or some other sort of chip).

Hmm not sure what happened to my hand color here
Hmm not sure what happened to my hand color here

Tap the token on the picture as you are entering the gated area, drop token in slot on your way out. Easy as pie.

Before you ride the rails, prepare to ride the...um...cables
Before you ride the rails, prepare to ride the…um…cables

Be forewarned, if you are disabled or using a stroller (like we were), you’re going to have to take a lot of elevators. Generally it’s pretty intuitive where to go (well designed, remember), and there are even attendants at a lot of the stations who are a lot of help. Again, since Taiwan is so kid friendly, lots of people were yielding to us and letting us go first – I guess we do that in America too, so good for us! It definitely feels silly to go up an elevator, walk across a bridge, and then go back down – but that’s just train life.

Taking the HSR (High Speed Rail)

The HSR is just as easy to use as the MRT, though I was able to use a credit card (Barclays Arrival+ with my pin, not affiliate) to buy these. Buy tickets from machines, insert tickets (and take) when entering, insert tickets (and watch go bye bye) upon exit. The HSR can get you between a lot of different points in Taiwan quickly; we took a quick 1 hour 45 minute ride to Tainan to visit relatives.

Having a chip and pin card is still awesome
Having a chip and pin card is still awesome

Be aware that you can choose to reserve seats beforehand or sit in a car with unreserved seating. Buying from a machine, we couldn’t really choose our seats (they were just assigned to us) though my guess is you can if buying at the counter. There is a food card with all sorts of goodies that rolls through the train and they keep it remarkably clean.

Like I said in a previous post, M had a rough ride on the way home so I became very acquainted with the toilet cleaning lady due to my proximity to the lavatories.

Very family friendly
Very family friendly

One thing to note is that in the HSR stations (and I think I saw some in MRT stations as well) there are Breastfeeding rooms. Jess said you actually have to knock to go inside and they have it set up with boppy equivalents and all that – crazy kid friendly! There is also a baller changing table with a sink right next to it (great design). Didn’t take pictures of that though because I don’t like looking like a creeper.

Taking the Bus or a Cab

Again, the bus is very simple and very cheap. Jess took it once on her own, but I never ended up taking it on this trip because I didn’t want to deal with M on it.

Cabs are everywhere, but one thing to note – the culture around car seats is pretty different in Asia. Lots of babies are held by their parents a lot of the time, and cabs are no exception. Sometimes people look at you like you’re crazy if you ask for a car seat. So, be prepared to potentially hold your child in a car. Just a word of warning.

Final Thoughts

Public transportation in Taipei is cheap, well-designed, and efficient. There are even clean places where you can change your child. Best of all, it can be fun for the kids. Just watch out for rush hour…

Not rush hour.
Not rush hour.

Other Posts in this Series

Introduction

United Domestic First and LAX Star Alliance Lounge

EVA Royal Laurel Class Review

Using Public Transportation in Taiwan with a Toddler

Visiting the Taipei Zoo

Eating in Taipei

Grand Hyatt Taipei King Suite Review

A Tough Flight with a Toddler

Public Transportation in Hong Kong with a Toddler

Typical Hong Kong Tourist Activities

Hong Kong Disneyland with a Toddler

Joe
Just an average joe trying to fly his family for less
http://www.asthejoeflies@gmail.com

4 thoughts on “Home for the Holidays: Using Public Transportation in Taiwan with a Toddler

  1. Hey just a heads up, I don’t think they make subway announcements in Cantonese. I believe it is Mandarin, English, Taiwanese, and Hakka Language

    1. Unfortunately the best way to and from TPE right now is via cab – but supposedly they will have a MRT station done by Dec. 2015!

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