Kaohsiung Transportation: Taxi, MRT, Light Rail and Bus Tips
Once you arrive in Kaohsiung, what’s the best way to get around town? Read the following transportation tips before heading to Kaohsiung. This detailed guide includes how to use public transportations, where & how to buy iPass & Easy Card, useful apps, how to call a taxi and Uber discount code.
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iPass and Easy Card: How to Use & Comparison
If you plan to use public transportation in Kaohsiung or Taipei, I strongly recommend getting an iPass or Easy Card. It is a convenient way of using public transportation without any hassle. As a bonus, it discounts your ride.
While Easy Card is issued by the Taipei municipality, iPass is issued by the Kaohsiung municipality. Essentially, both the iPass and Easy Card function the same way. It’s a convenient way to ride the different systems, including MRT, city bus, express bus, regular train and ferry boat. You can interchangeably use either card in both Taipei and Kaohsiung.
If you are in Kaohsiung, you can purchase and recharge both iPass and Easy Card at any convenience stores, including 7-Eleven and Family Mart. The cards come in various designs and forms to choose from. You can also use these cards to purchase goods at the convenience stores.
On the other hands, only iPass can be purchased and recharged at the MRT stations. So if you have an Easy Card, you will have to go to the convenient stores to charge your card. And vice versa in Taipei.
Both iPass and Easy Card cost 100 NT to purchase. Note this is not a deposit. You will not get this money back. Once your trip is over, you can request to close the card. (Read more here.) However, I personally don’t think it’s worth the effort. I’d recommend not leaving any balance by charging the minimal amount. Keep the card for the future travel.
By the way, if you don’t have enough balance for one ride, you can still ride with a negative balance. When you recharge the card, the negative balance will be removed.
Metro (or MRT)
Kaohsiung’s MRT system is pretty new. It is a clean, safe and convenient way to get around. If I need to take a public transportation, MRT would be my choice.
There are only two lines — Orange and Red lines — with one transfer station. It is fairly easy to navigate. Unlike in Taipei, it is hardly ever get crowded in Kaohsiung. The red line also connects to the Kaohsiung International Airport, Zuoying High-Speed Rail Station and Kaohsiung Train Station.
You can use iPass or Easy Card, or pay cash for a one-way token. Each station has a vending machine with menus in English and other languages. But you can always ask the MRT employees at the booth to purchase one-way tokens or recharge your card. Only cash is accepted.
💡Pro Tips: In Taiwan, you may not eat, drink or chew gum inside the MRT. You will be fined 1,500 NT and up. You might think sipping a bottle of water would not be a big deal. But everyone in the train will stare at you the moment you reach for that bottle. Save yourself from embarrassment.
This is a newly constructed public transport system in Kaohsiung. The Light Rail connects the major tourist attractions in one line, from Sizihwan to Pier 2 Art District to Love Pier to Dream Mall. It is super convenient for visitors to Kaohsiung!
You can conveniently use iPass or Easy Card. The one-way fare costs 30 NT. However, the city is running a promotion for iPass/Easy Card holders. As of March 1, 2018, the promotional fare for a one-way ride is 10NT (Update: This promotion has ended). You can tap the card at the platform before getting on the tram, or inside the tram. Make sure you just tap once.
If you prefer to pay cash, there is a vending machine on the platform. I’d recommend getting the transportation card so that you don’t have to struggle with the machine each time. You don’t want to miss the tram in front of your eyes!
💡Pro Tips: Unlike the MRT train, the doors don’t automatically open. Once the tram makes a complete stop, press the round button located in the middle of the door to get on or off. (See the photo above.)
This is probably the least recommended transportation in Kaohsiung. Because locals don’t rely on the public bus, Kaohsiung’s bus system is not very advanced. (Or is it a “chicken vs. egg” type dilemma?) Nevertheless, the bus is less frequent, and the routing is not very efficient.
On the other hand, bus routes cover the areas MRT lines do not. If you are solely relying on public transportations, you inevitably may have to take a bus at one point.
💡Pro Tips: Given the long wait time, it is wise to check the bus schedule before heading out to the bus stop. Half an hour is sufficient to bake in the Kaohsiung sun!
Taxi in Taiwan is affordable. Although Kaohsiung is sprawling, most of the popular attractions you will visit are not far from each other. Especially if traveling in a group, it may make more economic sense to grab a taxi than using other means.
The only concern is the language barrier to call a taxi and explain your destination. My suggestion is to go to the nearest hotel, 7-Eleven or a department store. Someone who can speak English can help you call the taxi and communicate the destination for you.
If the language is not an issue, feel free to flag them down on the street, or directly call a taxi: Xin Xing Xiang Taxi Company (新形象) at 07-315-6666.
Uber was off the grid in Taiwan at one point, but it is available now. I find an Uber ride to be slightly cheaper than a local taxi. Especially for foreigners, Uber is a great way to get around because the app eliminates the language barrier. You just need to mark your location and destination on the app. How simple is that?
I personally haven’t had any problem with Uber in Taiwan. But please do use your judgment and follow the safety protocol. Read more here.
💡Pro Tips: You can use my discount code to get $5 off each of your first 4 rides (total saving up to $20): chloek407ue
⬇ Download the Uber app here.
Rent a Car or Scooter
If you want to be completely independent, consider renting a car or scooter. While it gives you independence and convenience, parking can be challenging as space is limited. But you should be able to find paid parking lots, both self-paid and with staff. Street parking is also available, where you will get a bill on your windshield to pay at the convenience store.
Getting a scooter is usually more convenient in terms of parking. You can easily rent a scooter in Sizihwan to navigate the area. Make sure to wear a helmet for safety.
However, I want to give you a fair warning, it takes a while to get used to driving in Kaohsiung. If you live in a country without many scooters on the road, you will need time to get used to the rhythm of the chaotic Kaohsiung traffic. In other words, unless you are completely confident, do not drive.
Rent a Bicycle
Kaohsiung is known for its bike route initiatives. There are several main bike paths around town.
Although I’m not a big fan of biking, I’d recommend renting a bicycle for a few hours in tourist destinations such as Sizihwan and Cijin Island. It will be much more convenient to get around than walking all day. You will easily spot the rental shops in these areas. Shop around and negotiate the best price, if you can.
💡Pro Tips: Did you know renting a public bicycle is free for the first 30 minutes? Say, you take an MRT but your destination is within a 10-min walking distance. Using your iPass or credit card, you can rent a bicycle in front of the station, ride to your destination, and return it to the nearest bicycle stand within 30 minutes. Free ride!
If you are interested in researching more about Kaohsiung’s transportations, you can also visit Kaohsiung Travel website here.
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