Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Helpful Websites

I will post more info later...

For now:

Apartment Hunting:

Job Hunting:

Hsinchu Facebook Groups:

If you know of any other ones, feel free to post them in the comments below.

TRA and HSR in Hsinchu

Here are some helpful links and apps that make using the TRA(train) and HSR(high speed rail) in Hsinchu easier:

TRA (Taiwan Railways Administration aka the train)

  • Website:
  • Mobile Version:
  • Iphone Version:
  • About:  For me the train is the most convenient and cheapest way to travel from Hsinchu to Taipei and vice versa.  By taking the local train from Hsinchu Train Station to Taipei Main Station it takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes and costs 103NT with your EasyCard (aka Yoyo card).  If you take the Tze-Chiang train it is around the same price if you use your EasyCard and it gets there in about 1 hour and 10 minutes.  The catch is that the local train comes more frequently than the Tze-Chiang train, and sometimes there is a certain Tze-Chiang train that requires a purchase of a ticket and not the use of the EasyCard.
                  If you use your EasyCard to board the train, then there are times where you won't have a seat.  You can purchase a ticket with a seat, but it is more expensive.  I usually just use my Yoyo card, and I go to the last train compartment because they usually have available seats there.
                 Which platform you need to go to to board the train can be a bit confusing.  What I do is I use my smartphone and the mobile version of the TRA website.  I input my From location and To location.  Both Hsinchu and Taipei are in the North Region category.  For train types I put all types.  I select the date and I click Submit.  I find the train that I want from the list, and I look at the train code/number.  I then match that number with the TV screens at the Train Station and it tells me which platform I need to go to.
                  Before I started using the mobile version of the TRA website, I found taking the train to be very confusing.  However, after using the mobile website I now find taking the train to be quite easy.  It is even convenient to take the train while you are in Taipei compared to using the MRT, depending on the location.  For example if you are trying to get to Raohe Night Market from Taipei Main Station, it is much easier and faster to take the train than it is to take the MRT.  Also it's less walking time since the train station is right next to the night market, and with the MRT you would have to walk another 15 minutes or so to get to the night market.

HSR (High Speed Rail)

  • Website:
  • Iphone app:
  • About:  Once you download the app you can switch the language to English.  From Hsinchu to Taipei by High Speed Rail it takes about 30 minutes and costs about 280NT.  If you have never ridden the High Speed Rail I urge you to try it at least once.  It's an interesting and enjoyable experience.  I wouldn't recommend it cost wise if you plan on going to Taipei often, but every once in awhile if you are in a hurry it's okay.  Although, it's not as convienient if you don't live next to the High Speed Rail Station in Hsinchu.  For example, if you lived near Hsinchu Train Station you would have to take the local train to Liujia Train Station, and then switch to the Hsinchu High Speed Rail to travel to Taipei.  In cases like that it may just be cheaper and faster to take the Tze-Chiang train instead.

For the buses to Taipei, I have taken them before, but I am not as familiar with all the information about the bus schedules and everything else.  Once I find more information I will post it to this blog.  If anyone has the schedule information or anything else for the buses to Taipei, please feel free to share in the comments below or send me an email by using the contact form on the side.

Google Voice Works in Taiwan!

Update 11/05/14:  Apparently Google has decided to stop 3rd party access to Google Voice as of May 15, 2014. :(

However you can still use Talkatone.  If you don't already have an account with Talkatone you can sign up for one using the VPN method.

Talkatone services include:
Your own unique, FREE, local phone number;
FREE texting;FREE inbound calling; 
Texting US numbers from your Talkatone app with a Talkatone number is FREE, inbound as well as outbound. Inbound calls are FREE. Outbound calls on Talkatone to US phone numbers cost 1 credit per minute. 
For US based users:When you sign up for Talkatone you will receive 10 FREE minutes of outbound calls per month, and you can earn an additional 10 FREE minutes per month by connecting your Facebook account and verifying your cell number.
For non-US based users:When you sign up for Talkatone you will receive a one-time allocation of 10 FREE minutes of outbound calls 
Calling and texting other Talkatone users is always free.
You can buy additional credits through your app store at a price of $0.99 for 60 credits. 


I just recently learned that I can use my Google Voice number in Taiwan, and it makes me very happy to know that.  I've been playing around with it recently.  Although the quality isn't always as good as I would like it to be, it's still pretty awesome nonetheless.

Basically by using my Google Voice number, my smartphone, and the Talkatone app, I am able to have a U.S. number in Taiwan.  Which means my friends and family in the U.S. can call, text, and leave me voice mail messages, and I am able to receive it on my smartphone in Taiwan.  I can also call and text them using the Talkatone app.  Best of all it's free!  (Though you do have to pay for your normal cell phone plan/data usage.)  Ironically, it is actually now cheaper for me to call people in the States than it is to call people in Taiwan.

Since I already had a Google Voice number and a smartphone it made it easier for me to set it up in Taiwan.  All I had to do was download the Talkatone app on my smartphone and set up my Google Voice account on Talkatone.

If you don't have a Google Voice number, and you are already in Taiwan....technically speaking you are unable to set up a Google Voice number outside of the U.S.  However, there are ways around that.  You can just do a simple Google search on "How to setup Google Voice from outside the U.S." and follow the directions on the websites.  Another way is if you have a VPN (Virtual Private Network) you can set up Google Voice outside of the U.S.  VPN's in Taiwan also allow you to use websites like Hulu, Netflix,, etc. when you otherwise wouldn't be able to because you are located outside of the U.S.

For the other websites showing you how to set up Google Voice outside of the U.S., make sure you do your due diligence and research everything before you download anything.  Also be very careful on how you set up your Google Voice number and how you have your settings on the Talkatone app.  If you set it up wrong you may be charged roaming fees.  So far with the way I have it set up now I have not been charged any roaming fees for using the Talkatone app to call my friends and family in the U.S.

Other Good Info for Foreigners

  • The Handy Guide for Foreigners in Taiwan:
    • About:  This booklet is a survival kit that contains all the important information about living in Taiwan.  It covers topics on immigration and visas, transportation, food, shopping, living tips, healthcare, banking services, employment and investment, and education.  The booklet is available at the Wu-Nan Book Inc. and the Government Bookstore.  The PDF version is also available online.

  • A Cruising Couple's 101 Tips to Living in Taiwan Free Ebook:

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hsinchu City Free Bus Schedule

These are scanned copies of the Hsinchu Free Bus Time Schedule that I got from the Hsinchu Foreigner Assistance Center.  I will try and scan some better looking copies if I get the chance.  As you can tell I use my free bus schedule a lot.  All of these buses you can ride free of charge!

Weekdays (平日) = Monday-Friday
Weekends (假日) = Saturday, Sunday, and any government holidays

Bus 50 Weekdays:

Bus 50 Weekends:

Bus 51 Weekdays:

Bus 51 Weekends:

Bus 52 Weekdays:

Bus 52 Weekends:

Bus 53:

Bus 55 Weekday

Bus 55 Weekend

Bus 56 Weekend

Bus 71

Bus 72 & Bus 73

Bus 75 & Bus 76

Bus 77

Bus 78

Bus 79 & Bus 80

Some additional free bus routes in Chinese.  Photos courtesy of Greg HD:

Bus 2

Bus 3

Bus 60

Bus 61

Bus 62 & Bus 63

Bus 65 & Bus 66

Helpful Numbers/Places for Foreigners

Helpful Numbers

  1. The Information for Foreigners Hotline:
    • Phone:  0800-024111
    • About:  This number is Toll-Free and can be called 24/7.  This number is extremely useful while you are in Taiwan.  You can call this number and get information on a variety of topics ranging from Visa questions to Translation Services.  For example, if you are at a store in Taiwan and you are having trouble communicating with the local shop owner,  you can just call this number and the operator will help you communicate with the shop owner.
  2. The Tourist Information Hotline:
    • Phone:  0800-011765
    • About:  This number is Toll-Free and can be called 24/7.  This number is more so for tourists in Taiwan.  You can ask questions about Tourist sites, hours of operation for different tourist places, how to get to places, etc.

Helpful Places

  1. The Hsinchu Foreigner Assistance Center:
    • Hours:  Monday-Friday 8:00am-5:00pm
    • About:  The Hsinchu Foreigner Assistance Center provides information and consultation services for foreigners in Hsinchu City, Hsinchu County, the Scientific Industrial Park, and Miaoli County.  They offer assistance in Travel, Business & Investment, Residence, Healthcare, Transportation, Government Services, and Culture & Education.  It is a very good place to go when you first arrive to Hsinchu.  They have free maps, guidebooks, a copy of the Hsinchu city free bus schedule, and internet access there.  The staff is very friendly, and their English level is very good.