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
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Next, watched out from the TV screen to double confirmed your train schedule and it’s arrival platform.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the 50 minutes long journey, the train passes by many stations before arriving at Ruifang Train Station.
Announcement 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 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.
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.
Exit is on the left. But since here we are going to Shifen, we made a right turn.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
So alight here at Shifen Station is what you are looking for.
What can you do at Shifen?
Go release the famous 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.
That’s Qing Tong Station, a very simple built 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.
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.
Following picture. The ordinary seat which offers ordinary view.
So what kind of view can you expect by sitting at the front of the train?
See the arriving station in full view, as above picture.
See the greenery from Ruifang to Shifen , and from Shifen to Jingtong!
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’.
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!