Getting around the Twin Taipei Cities can be a nightmare! With urban, rural and mountainous areas liberally scattered over 2300 sq. km, millions of residents and vehicles… you’d think it would be impossible to get around on public transport.
Fortunately, you’d be wrong! Taipei has become a very easy city to get around on public transport alone. The MRT lines snake through much of the metropolitan areas, while bus routes connect everywhere with MRT stations. Large buses ply the main routes, while smaller feeder buses take the more difficult roads up in the mountains or along the coast.
If the weather’s good, you can always rent a U-bike at one of the many stands near popular locations for 15 minutes or the whole day. So instead of taking the bus, you can use the ‘number 11’ to get around! There are pleasant routes all over the cities for both the pedal-powered and the pedestrian tourist. Just remember to take an umbrella in your bag!
The only real challenge for visitors without any Chinese or Taiwanese language skills are the ‘Little Yellows’ that pass you by on the roads, weaving between buses and bicycles. Yes, the taxis! Most taxi drivers do not speak any English at all… making communication difficult or impossible.
If you can get small flash cards written up with the address in Chinese, or get a picture on Google Maps of the place you want to go, you’ll probably be fine. If you can overcome these challenges, you’ll find the taxis much more convenenient and affordable than almost any other major city in the world.
Welcome to public transport in Taipei, affordable, convenient and varied! I’ll be coming back to covering these topics in more detail. In the meantime, get out of your hotel and see Taipei! It’s worth it!