Booking the express train from Taipei to Hualien isn’t always a walk in the park. Worst case scenario that tickets are sold-out, the other option is the combo – bus + train. The combo ticket is not available online. Reservation or advance booking is not possible. It has to be bought in person at the bus ticketing counter on the day of travel. The bus company will provide you with tickets for the two legs of the trip:
- Bus from Taipei to Luodong
- Local train from Luodong to Hualien
Based on my research, there are two bus companies that offer the combo ticket. Your choice will most likely depend on where your hotel is located.
- Capital Bus at Taipei City Hall Bus Station
- Kamalan Bus at Taipei Bus Station
The bus company will provide the ticket to the local train upon purchase of the combo at the bus ticketing counter. However, you can take the next available local train covered by your ticket should you miss the one originally booked for you. In case you wish to take a train type that is not covered by the ticket, you’d have to exchange your ticket and pay for the fare difference at the train ticketing counter.
Train types covered are:
- Local Train
- Fast Local Train
Train types NOT covered (top-up needed) are:
- Puyuma Express
- Taroko Express
- Chu-Kuang Express
- Tze-Chiang Limited Express
You can check Taiwan Railways’ train timetable information to manage your schedule.
I wasn’t able to try this option since we were lucky enough to get tickets on a direct train to/from Hualien. The information I shared here are based on various resources I’ve checked when I was having a hard time booking the direct train. Going back to Taipei, my understanding is that the combo ticket (train to Luodong + bus to Taipei) will be purchased from the train ticketing counter.
If you’d like further reading, these are the pages I visited to learn about the combo ticket:
- Meet My Guide – 2016 post (updated in Feb 2017)
- Taiwan Itinerary – 2013 blog post
- Eye Travel Taiwan – 2018 post
There you go. If you’re having a hard time booking a direct train, don’t worry because you have another trick up your sleeves. Enjoy your visit to Hualien and the Taroko National Park! Adventure awaits! 🙂