Taiwan train pro tips

Increase Your Chances of Seating in “Non-Reserved Seats” Cars

During peak season, it can be really hard to get a reserved seat for Taiwan High Speed Rail (HSR) tickets. Either you book months in advance, or you can get one of those “non-reserved seats” tickets. Each HSR train usually has 3 non-reserved seat cars (usually cars 10, 11, and 12). However, the issue with non-reserved seats is that they don’t guarantee you a seat, and you might have to stand for hours on the train 😿.

Here are 2 tips to have higher chances of being seated:

Go to Nangang Station Instead of Taipei Main Station

Instead of Taipei Main Station, where most people will go, head to Nangang Train Station instead. Nangang is where the HSR trains start their journey, so the train will be empty! Of course, you’ll get a lot more available seats at Nangang Station compared to Taipei Main Station, which is the second stop.

Don’t Board if You Feel Like You Won’t Be Seated

There are HSR trains every 30 minutes. Don’t board if you see that the seats are about to get filled, and let the other passengers in line board. Then you’ll be the “first” one entering the train for the following train. It’s better to wait 30 minutes for the next train than to stand for 3 hours in a packed train : )

This tip also works when you are at Taipei Main Station.

Pay for “Booked Tickets” Without the Booking Number

This happened to me when I wanted a seat on the (famously hard to book Taroko Express Train).

When you want to buy a TRA train ticket online, here are the steps:

  1. Look up an itinerary
  2. Pick the train you want
  3. Enter your ARC or Passport number
  4. Select the ticket type
  5. The ticket is now booked, and a booking number is assigned to you until 12 am the next day. But you still have to pay
  6. Pay

After Step 5, that seat is now bookedand locked for you for more than 24 hours. But what if you (mistakenly) close / refresh the page at Step 5 ?

I tried to redo all the steps, but then no seats were available anymore πŸ™€. The way you can pay for that seat (via the mobile app) is if you have the booking number. But that number was lost when you refreshed the page πŸ˜… … And there is no way to retrieve the booking number yourself unless…

Booking number TRA

You go to a train station. Show them the train number, the day, and the passport (or ARC) number you used for that booking. The train counter agent will be able to retrieve that ticket for you, and you’ll be able to pay at the counter ✨!

Retrieve TRA Tickets with Booking Numbers

After paying for the TRA train ticket online, they’ll ask you for the booking number.

However, on the last page, they’ll give you a booking number that does not work when you try to retrieve it in the mobile app… WHY πŸ˜…?

Annoying, right? It’s because you have to only take the first 7 characters of that booking number. This happened to me twice and wasted 1 hour, so I thought it was worth mentioning.

Booking number TRA

I recommend you get the online ticket instead of a physical one to save time. The train can only be retrieved more than 20 minutes before departure, so it saves you that stress if you forget to go to the train station early!

Happy travel 🚊

Thanks for reading

As always, hit me up and let’s hang out. I am thinking a lot about AI, Health, Tooling, Hacking and other stuffs. I now focus on TaipeiDev and HackersBait. If you are in Taipei, come hang out.