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Getting there & away

Western visitors tend to come into Taipei straight from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. If you’re taking a bus (a wise and money-saving choice indeed), you’ll be let off either around the Taipei Main Station, at Songshan Domestic Airport in the north end of the city or in front of one of the hotels along the way.

Getting out of Taipei is about as easy as getting into it, and intercity travel in Taiwan is now even easier thanks to the completion of Taiwan’s High-Speed Rail (HSR), which can traverse (nearly) the length of the island in a mind-bending 90 minutes. The HSR leaves from Taipei Main Station and makes a stop in Banqiao (MRT Banqiao) before heading south. Of course, the regular-speed rail (TRA) is always an option. Trains leave from both the Taipei Main and Songshan stations, with the latter being a good choice for trains heading north and down the east coast. TRA schedules are online at ­new.twtraffic.com.tw/TWRail_en.

Buses are also a good intercity option. Several companies run buses ranging in luxury and price, up and down both coasts of the island. Generally speaking you’ll never have to wait more than an hour (usually less) for a bus to any city in Taiwan, though you may have to wait longer over the holidays, when every student in Taiwan seems to be going somewhere. Kuo Kuang Hao buses leave from the city bus station a block west of the Taipei Main Station, while the luxury bus companies operate from the terminal about a half a block past that. The luxury bus companies (Aloha and Ubus are two popular ones) have wider seats, movies, and occasional light refreshments. They’re also priced about 15% higher than the government-run buses and have a somewhat dicey reputation for being lax when it comes to road safety.