Getting Around in Kaohsiung
GENERAL TRAFFIC GUIDELINES:
Coming from the U.S., you may need to adjust to driving norms and rules of the road in Taiwan. Do not automatically assume that vehicles will stop for you when you are in crosswalks. Be prepared for more aggressive driving and considerable looser attention to and enforcement of safe driving practices. Remember that even though you are abroad and the rules are different, dangerous actions on the road carry the same risk that they do back home.
MODES OF TRANSPORT:
Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)
Kaohsiung’s new MRT subway system is brand new and still not finished--for now, it is built on a north-south backbone (the Red Line) and an east-west span (the Orange Line) that meet in the middle hub of Formosa Station 美麗島. Soon, there will be a green line that will form a circle around the red and orange lines. Get yourself a refillable public transport card at any Family Mart or 7/11. If you leave yours at home, you can purchase single-ride tokens in the station.
Many areas of Kaohsiung farther from the subway lines are accessible by bus. The buses use the same reloadable cards that you can use for the MRT. Unless you want to scooter, buses are also one of the easiest ways to visit places outside the city like Fo Guang Shan or other sites off of the train lines like Kending. Check out the lines and times here (add link).
Kaohsiung is fairly flat, making it easy to get around on bikes. Several ETAs who live close to their schools regularly bike to work.
Public bikes are available at sites around the city and are a great way to get around in a pinch or explore a new area when you haven’t brought your scooter. The rental rates are negligible and you can pay them with your credit card or with a reloadable public transport card.
When traveling out to Kaohsiung’s suburbs or more rural areas, trains are often your best bet. View some of the lines and times here (add link).
High speed rail runs up and down most of the West Coast. You can buy tickets online in advance here and pick them up at any 7/11 or FamilyMart. You can also buy tickets in person at the stations, but be sure to purchase in advance for busy days and times. When you buy tickets, pay attention to the time of the journey and the first number of the train--some trains make more stops along the way, taking more time than may be necessary if you are not getting off there.
Scooters are often the most convenient way to get to wherever you are going. On most roads, especially larger ones, there will be designated scooter lanes. ETAs consistently get in accidents throughout the year, sometimes resulting in serious injury, so be sure to drive safely and always wear a helmet. Fonda will tell you more about purchasing scooters and passing the driver’s test when you arrive.
You can preview the license test requirements and study materials.