Taipei to Shifen

On my second visit to Taipei 4 months after the first, I decided to travel from Taipei to Shifen, still preferring to go by train instead of taxi.

The 3 Types Of Train In Taipei

In Taipei, all trains are commonly known as ‘train’. In actual fact, travellers need to know the 3 main types of train operating in Taipei alone.
1. Taipei Metro – it operates within Taipei itself, serving commuters to the hundred of train stations, very much like the MRT ( Mass Rapid Transit) of Singapore.
2. HSR- High Speed Rail brings you to places beyond Taipei, to as far as the famous Taroko Gorge and Gaoxiong, Tainang etc.
3. Railway – commonly known as TRA( Taipei Railway Administration), it brings commuters out of Taipei too, just like HSR, but travelling time is not as fast. This is the train we are taking to Jiufen and Shifen, through Ruifang.

How to go Shifen from Taipei ?

Since I’m already familiar with the route, I went to Taipei Main Station to board the TRA to Ruifang. Ruifang Train Station is the main train station to proceed to the outskirts of Taipei, mainly to Jiufen, Shifen, Jing Gua Shi, Qing Tong and even to as far as Hualian. It’s function is very similar to Taipei Main Station.

Chinese translation is available. Kindly click the button on the right column to interchange the language. ( 本栏设有我翻译的中文版,请点击右手边的翻译切换语言。如有失误偏差,请多多指教。)

Taipei to Shifen

Taipei to Shifen

Taipei has unconfused direction signages to direct travellers to the correct station and trains. So just follow the sign, or if in doubts, always seek assistance from the train staff, they are extremely helpful, most of them speaks English too.

Taipei HSR Station map

If you have already bought the EasyCard earlier, you can use it right away without purchasing the TRA ticket, otherwise you have the choice of either buy the Easycard now or pay cash for the TRA ticket at the ticketing machine.

From Taipei to Shifen using EasyCard

So What Is This EasyCard?

It is a store-value card which allows commuters to travel on bus, HSR and TRA ( Taipei Railway) without the hassle of constantly looking for the correct physical coins and dollars. You can purchase it at any train station or convenience stores like Family Mart and 7-11. Upon returning home from Taipei after your exciting holiday,  you can even go to their website to print out all the train/bus journey you have taken, including the charges.

By the way, the train fare to Ruifang is TWD$76, or USD$2.30, similar to going from Ruifang to Qing Tong and Shifen. It’s much more economical than hiring a taxi which cost between TWD$1,500-2,500 from Taipei, with travelling time of about 20 minutes difference.

Taipei to Shifen

Surprisingly, the train allows meals on board, for convenience, they even have a counter at its entrance offering take-away food and snacks. I did not order any, not sure how much it cost. As a standard, food in Taipei average TWD$40-100, that’s USD$2-5.

Taipei to Shifen

Having got your tickets, get to the basement, just proceed to the correct train platform. Instruction on which platform to go is clearly stated on the many TV screens and signages, so do not worry. Anyway, there are only 2 platforms over here.

Taipei to Shifen

In my case, I took to Platform 4, as you can see from the signage above, it has got train that goes to many places such as the famous tourists hotspots of Hualian and Keelung.

Taipei TRA station

Next, watched out from the TV screen to double confirmed your train schedule  and it’s arrival platform.

Taipei to Shifen

But even though I’m already very sure, I still double checked with the Traffic Controller Officer, it’s a long journey out of Taipei, no one wants to get onto a wrong train and onto a wrong destination.

Taipei to Shifen

As the train platform is very narrow, it gets very messy and chaotic when any train arrives. Take note, the train that arrives on the platform where you are might not be the correct train for you, so look out for the timing of your train.

Taipei to Shifen

Make sure you are at the right platform and be ready to board the train when it arrived. As the journey is long, and most commuters are heading towards the famous tourists hotspot of Jiufen and Ruifang, it is not easy to get a empty seat if you are unable to get one at Taipei Main Station.

Taipei to Shifen

As the journey is long, and most commuters are heading towards the famous tourists hotspot of Jiufen and Ruifang, it is not easy to get a empty seat if you are unable to get one at Taipei Main Station.

Look, it was Thursday, yet the crowd was huge, we saw many who boarded the train late have to stand all the way to Ruifang Station.

Name of train stations from Taipei to Shifen

In the 50 minutes long journey, the train passes by many stations before arriving at Ruifang Train Station.

Taipei to Shifen

Taipei to ShifenAnnouncement of the train stations are made in both Chinese and English, with LED indicator above every train doors. By the way, Ruifang is the final destination of the train, all commuters must alight here, that’s why you won’t miss the station.

Ruifang Station

Ruifang Train Station

This is Ruifang Train Station, we had arrived!

If you are going to Jiufen or Jin Guo Shi, do alight at this station also. Kindly see my other post on From Taipei to Jiufen.

Ruifang Station

Take a picture with the train, it’s very memorable. No need to rush or hurry, as the train will stop here for about 30 minutes before proceeding back to Taipei.

Ruifang Station

Exit is on the left. But since here we are going to Shifen, we made a right turn.

Ruifang Station

From Taipei to Shifen- Ruifang Station

Look, the train to Shifen. Pingxi and Qing Tong is available from 8.30am to 6.30pm. So we proceed to Platform 3 to take the train to Shifen.

From Taipei to Shifen- Ruifang Station

From Taipei to Shifen - Ruifang Station

If you’re returning to Taipei from Shifen, still you need change train at Ruifang Station and proceed to Platform 2A as indicated. Do not worry about the station being complex, as almost all signages are written in both Chinese and English.

Train from Ruifang to Shifen

There are instructions to direct commuters which car to go, the above picture instruct all who are heading to JingTong, Shifen and Pingxi station to go for car 6-8.

The train comes once every hour. If you come at the wrong timing, it could be a long wait. But a check with the station staff discovered that it arrives 15-20 minutes after the train from Taipei to Ruifang comes.

From Taipei to Shifen

The train that arrived, surprisingly was an old train, very identical to what we had seen in all those 1970’s movie. ( The following picture was taken on my return trip from JingTong Station).

From Taipei to Shifen

After leaving Ruifang Station and travelling inwards to Shifen, PingXi and Qingtong, I would expect to see probably beautiful river and some villages, but instead I got none of it. All we saw was tall grasses and bushes. So do not worry if you are tired and need a nap, for you won’t miss much of the scenery outside the window.

From Taipei to Shifen

I never thought that the journey to Shifen was so long, really long, it passes by many remote areas, shouldering along the Keelung River, before arriving at Shifen Station some 40 minutes later after departing from Ruifang Station.

Shifen Train Station

So alight here at Shifen Station is what you are looking for.

Shifen Train Station

What can you do at Shifen?

Go release the famous Sky Lantern!

Shifen Old Street and Sky Lanten

Shifen Old Street and Sky Lantern

As we had scheduled Shifen for the later part of the day, we did not alight, but proceed to QingTong. From Shifen to QingTong, the journey was short, it took just 15 minutes.

QingTong Train Station

That’s Qing Tong Station, a very simple built station.

QingTong Train Station

So What can I do at Qingtong?

Kindly read my upcoming post on From Taipei To Shifen ,PingXi and  QingTong.

Where to seat after boarding the train?

Frankly, I have no clue on where to seat actually when I first boarded the train from Ruifang to Qingtong. But on my returned from QingTong to Shifen, I accidentally discovered that the extreme front of the train’s head offered the best view you could have.

Look, that lady in yellow placed her handphone to do a live recording of the beautiful journey.

From Qing Tong Train Station to Shifen

As I still could not get a seat, I simply stand right there at the window panels to take pictures. The train conductor was just beside, he did not bother me.

From Ruifang to Qing Tong Train Station

Following picture. The ordinary seat which offers ordinary view.

From Ruifang to Qing Dong Train Station

So what kind of view can you expect by sitting at the front of the train?

From Ruifang to Qing Tong Train Station

See the arriving station in full view, as above picture.

From Ruifang to Qing Tong Train Station

See the greenery from Ruifang to Shifen , and from Shifen to Jingtong!

From Qing Tong Train Station to Shifen

Hop-out and hop-in again when the train arrives at the station to catch a full view of the many mini-size stations, they look rather ‘cute’.

Shifen Train Station

That’s all from Taipei to Shifen, and to PingXi and Jingtong! A journey as beautiful as the place itself!

Indeed, you have to experience it yourself!

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