Takaoka is located on the JR West Hokuriku Main Line. Its location between Toyama and Kanazawa means that a high number of limited express trains stop here every day. You can reach Toyama by local train in 20 minutes (¥320); limited express trains are slightly faster and more expensive, but with a Japan Rail Pass you can simply hop into a non-reserved car to make the short journey at no charge. The trip to Kanazawa takes 40 minutes (¥740); limited express trains make the run in about 25 minutes.
From Tokyo, take the Joetsu Shinkansen to Echigo-Yuzawa and change to the Hakutaka limited express to Takaoka. The journey takes 2 1/2 hours at a cost of ¥12000. Japan Rail Pass holders must pay ¥1450 for the portion of the trip between Echigo-Yuzawa and Naoetsu, operated by Hokuetsu Railway. JR East Rail Pass do not have to pay the Hokuetsu fare, but must pay the ¥3500 fare to continue from Naoetsu to Takaoka over JR West territory.
Takaoka is a stop on the Twilight Express overnight train from Sapporo, and the Nihonkai overnight service from Aomori.
The Hokuriku Shinkansen, under construction, will reach the new Shin-Takaoka station by 2014.
Fushiki-Toyama Port (伏木富山港 Fushiki-toyama-kō) is located a fair distance from central Takaoka. From the port, it's a ten-minute walk to JR Fushiki station, three stops away from Takaoka on the JR Himi Line (氷見線) — which, incidentally, means "Ice-Watching Line". While JR Rail Passes are valid for this trip, beware that if you're entering Japan this way, the passes cannot be validated at Fushiki station; the nearest station that officially accepts them is Kanazawa, over 100 km away.
The Far East Shipping Company , represented in Japan by Bisintour , has services roughly once a week between Takaoka and Vladivostok, Russia. The ferry crossing takes two nights and one day, leaving around 6 PM and arriving around 9 AM both ways. Fares start from US$360/person sharing a 4-berth cabin, with meals. Students can travel for US$330, while return tickets are US$600.
The Man'yōsen Tram Line  trundles through town, starting at JR Takaoka station. Fares are ¥150-350 depending on the distance.
There are a few sights of mild interest in Takaoka.
Zuiryū-ji Temple: http://soundcloud.com/doctorblackjack/blackjackjonny-feat-cory