If you’re planning to visit the Alishan National Forest Recreation Area, the most recommended way to get there is by taking the Alishan Express train (Alishan Forest Railway). However, it is incredibly popular that tickets tend to sell out fast. The good news is, you can easily make a reservation online!

Before I share with you the booking process, it is important that you’re familiar with the full journey.

As you probably know already, the jumpoff point to Alishan is Chiayi City. The Alishan Express train used to run directly from here all the way to Alishan, but a big fraction of the railway was damaged by typhoons. Prior to this year, the train could only reach Fenqihu Station, which is still 1 hour away from Alishan. But recently, the train now terminates at Shizilu Station, which is closer, about 30 minutes from the forest park.

However, because Fenqihu Station was the last stop for the longest time, there are more established transfer options and things to do here. I still recommend alighting in Fenqihu and taking the bus from here to Alishan.

Alishan Express Schedule and Fare

SCHEDULE

  • Daily Train
    09:00 am (Alishan Express Train 1)
  • Additional train on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays
    09:30 am (Alishan Express Train 3)
    08:30 am (Jungshing Express Train No. 311)

CHIAYI TO FENQIHU

  • Travel time: 2 hours, 21 minutes.
  • Fare: TWD 384, adult; TWD 192, concession.

CHIAYI TO SHIZILU

  • Travel time: 3 hours
  • Fare: TWD 459, adult; TWD 230, concession

Only the following are eligible for concession / half-price discount:

  • Passenger aged 65 or up and has a Taiwan (ROC) ID Card
  • Passenger who has disability card with 1 companion
  • Passenger aged 6-11
  • Passengers who are 115cm tall but under the age of 6 can ride for FREE.

How to Reserve Online

1. Visit Alishan Forest Railway’s website.

  1. Log on to https://afrts.forest.gov.tw/, the official ticketing website of the Alishan Express.
  2. Select ENGLISH (or whatever language you use) on the language selection in the upper right corner, .
  3. Click on GENERAL BOOKING. You’ll find the link on the homepage. You can also hover over ONLINE BOOKING and select GENERAL BOOKING on the top menu.

2. Fill in the Reservation Form.

On the next page, accomplish the booking form.

  1. Under Route, select Chiayi-Shizilu.
  2. Under Itinerary, choose (from) CHIAYI (to) FENQIHU. (If you prefer getting off at Shizilu, then select SHIZILU.)
  3. Select the date of travel. The system allows you to book up to 15 days in advance.
  4. Select the number of tickets you want to book. You can book for up to 6 passengers at once.
  5. Enter the CAPTCHA code shown.
  6. Click SUBMIT REQUEST.

3. Choose the train you want to book.

  • Usually only Train 1, scheduled at 9am, is available on weekdays, but an ADDITIONAL train (Train 3), scheduled at 9:30am, runs on weekends. However, the system usually presents both options even when the second train is already fully booked or unavailable.
  • On some days, a local train is also available. But we recommend either the 9am or the 9:30am train.
  • After choosing the train you prefer, click CONFIRM THE TRAIN NUMBER.

4. Submit your personal information.

You’ll be asked for the following information:

  • Your citizenship
  • Passport number
  • Contact number
  • E-mail address

If you see an ID NUMBER field instead of PASSPORT NUMBER, don’t worry. That’s the default label for Taiwanese citizens. As soon as you choose your country of citizenship, the form will reload and replace the “ID number” field with the “Passport number field”.

Once completed, tick the box next to “I have read and agree with the above regulations.”

You should receive a confirmation email with the details of your booking including your RESERVATION NUMBER, the travel date and time, and seat numbers (assigned randomly).


5. Pay for the ticket.

On the next page, you’ll be presented with a summary of your booking. Make sure everything is accurate. If you need to change something, you can still do so.

The most important bits of information here are the RESERVATION NUMBER and the PAYMENT PERIOD. You need to settle the fare within the specified period or your reservation will be canceled. But if you have a credit card, you can pay online immediately. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Click on ONLINE PAYMENT in the bottom right corner of the Booking Summary page.
  2. Tick the radio button next to PAYMENT PREFERENCE. Major credit cards — MasterCard, Visa, and JCB — are accepted.
  3. Click on ONLINE PAYMENT INFORMATION. You’ll be directed to the Online Payment page.
  4. Enter your credit card details and click SUBMIT.

That’s it! You’ve successfully booked seats on the Alishan Express train!

If you don’t have a credit card, you can also pay a Forestry Railway station or at any convenience store in Taiwan with an IBON machine, as long as it’s within the prescribed PAYMENT PERIOD.

Once done with the payment, you will still need to redeem your tickets at the Chiayi Train Station before your trip, so make sure you arrive early.


Frequently Asked Questions

How to redeem Alishan Express tickets after paying?

You can collect the tickets at the Chiayi Train Station (TRA).

Once at the station, find the Alishan Express booth located in front of the terminal building. The booth opens at 8:00 am. Present your reservation number and the passport you used to book.

You will be handed the tickets after the staff confirms your reservation. You will also be told the exact location of the boarding area, which is on the far right end of the station’s first platform, past the police station.


Which Chiayi Train Station does the Alishan Express use: TRA or THSR?

TRA.

There are two train stations in Chiayi City: TRA (Taiwan Railways Administration) and THSR (Taiwan High Speed Rail). They are 30 minutes apart, so you need to make sure you’re at the right station or you might miss your train.

The Alishan Express departs from the TRA Station.


How much is the Alishan Express train ticket?

Chiayi to Fenqihu: TWD 384, adult; TWD 192, discounted
Chiayi to Shizilu: TWD 459, adult; TWD 230, discounted

Only the following are eligible for concession / half-price discount:

  • Passenger aged 65 or up and has a Taiwan (ROC) ID Card
  • Passenger who has disability card with 1 companion
  • Passenger aged 6-11
  • Passengers who are 115cm tall but under the age of 6 can ride for FREE.

How long is the journey from Chiayi to Alishan?

Here are the travel times of Alishan Express:

Chiayi to Fenqihu 2 hours, 21 minutes.
Chiayi to Shizilu: 3 hours

From Fenqihu, it takes 1 full hour to travel by bus to Alishan. However, we encourage that you spend some time in Fenqihu, even just to eat or check out the museum.


Why can’t I choose other dates?

The system allows booking dates within the next 15 days only. If your trip is scheduled beyond that, you’ll have to wait for your target date to open.


Can I choose seats when booking?

In our experience, NO. We were assigned random seats.

However, if you’re a group, the system tries to assign seats that are next or close to each other, provided there’s availability. If available seats are scarce at the time of booking, you might be assigned separate seats.

The seat numbering system is pretty weird. All even numbers are on one side of the aisle and the odd numbers on the other. If seats you got are #10 and #12, they’re beside each other.


Are there lockers at Chiayi Station?

YES, you can find it next to the Family Mart convenience store.

If you’re carrying heavy luggage but visiting Alishan only on a day tour or overnight, you can leave your bag or suitcase in a locker. Rate is TWD 50 per 3 hours.

However, the cheaper option is by depositing your luggage at the Baggage Room, located on the left end of the terminal if you’re facing the platforms. It’s also your only option if there are no more lockers available or your bag won’t fit. However, it’s NOT open 24/7.

Hours open: 8:30 am – 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm.
Rate: TWD 70 per bag per 24 hours


Are there lockers at Fenqihu Station?

YES. There are 48 lockers available at Fenqihu Station.

Rate is TWD 50 per 3 hours.



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Yoshke Dimen
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