Taipei Songshan Intl. Airport Spotting Guide

Songshan International Airport (IATA: TSA/ICAO: RCSS) sits in the northern part of Taiwan’s capital, Taipei. It’s an airport that has both domestic flights and international flights to and from Japan, South Korea, and China. The airport is also one of the bases of R.O.C. Air Force (ROCAF), meaning military jets could be seen.

It can be easily reached by taking public transportations (e.g. MRT, buses, Ubike), and taxi. Driving is also an easy way to reach all spotting locations. Plane spotting is quite popular in Taiwan, and the well-known ‘airplane lane’ is situated at this airport as well. Songshan airport is a hub of EVA, UNI, China Airlines, Mandarin Airlines, Far Eastern Air Trnsport. International carriers are ANA, JAL, t’way, Eastar Jet, and several Chinese Airlines. In 2016 61.4 million passengers were handled. The airport was opened in 1936, and the International Terminal was renovated and reopened in 2011. MRT service has been available since 2009.

Official website of the airport.

Written by Ausin Shih (local spotter)

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Airline Variety
Photo Locations
Weather
Airport Information Runways 10/28
2.605m (8547ft)
Terminals International Domestic
All other carriers FAT, Uni Air, Mandarin
Spotting Information Ladder No need for it
Car Its possible to park at almost every location but we recommend to rent a youbike at the MRT stations and ride to the spots.
Restrooms See description in below und MISC.
Drinks/Food All around the airport you find restaurants/fast food etc.
Hotels Plenty of hotels in the southern part of the airport next to the MRT stations.
Season Thick fog may occur in winter, and thunderstorm usually occurs in summer.
Runway Usage 10/28 Wind is expected to come from the west in summer and east in other times, meaning they often use runway 28 in summer and 10 in other times.

Spot #1 – Observatory Deck – All Movements
WHERE Take MRT to BR13 or bus there. Driving can also get you there. Parking Lot is available in the airport. The entrance is between domestic and international terminal on 1st floor. Signs in the airport are clear to give you guidance. Take the elevator at the entrance to the third floor. Its free of charge and without security checks but sadly its behind green-tinted glass.
WHAT Best for movements on the ramp and taxiway. Runway is possible but there is a lot of heat haze in the summer and from the APUs.
TIME Depends on the angle you prefer. For 90 degree photos only recommend in the winter in summer its backlit in the morning and evening. Other angles can be fine the whole day.
MISC. A coffee shop and restroom next to the observatory deck. Other shops are at the first floor.
FOCAL LENGTH 50-200mm for ramp. Longer lenses are required for runway movement.
Spot #2 – Riverside Park – 28 Arrivals
WHERE At the River of Keelung there is a huge public park. Driving is recommended to get there and parking is directly at the park. Other ways like riding a bike or walking is possible but may be tiring.
WHAT You can spot 28 arrivals here. 10 departures are possible but not the best angle.
TIME All day as you can move along the park. Depends on the specific location you choose.
MISC. NO facilities nearby. Parking lot is in the park. Since it’s an open area, I recommend you walk around and find the angle you like.
FOCAL LENGTH It depends on the location you are at.
Spot #3 – Air Force One Café – All Movements
WHERE You can get there by driving (recommended) or by taking Bus 505 and get off at Shia-Ta-You(下塔悠). Bus services are NOT frequent. Riding Ubike there is also an option but there is not return stops meaning that it may cost quite some money. It’s an elevated balcony. Open area, no glass or other obstructing objects.
WHAT All 28 movements can be spotted and 10 departures too. Some 10 arrivals may exit in front of you so they can be photographed too.
TIME On the runway in winter backlit all day. In Summer okay in the morning and evening till sunset. Planes leaving the runway can be photographed from afternoon till sunset (see sample photos below).
MISC. The Café offers various foods and drinks.
FOCAL LENGTH 40+ mm
Spot #4 – Fuxing North Road Underpass – Runway Movements
WHERE This spot is close to the tunnel that pass the runway.You have to step on the wooden fence in front of the airport wall with barbed wires. Remember to be careful when spotting, since the height of the fence is quite high and the barbed wires could cut you. DO NOT trespass the wall or you might trigger the airport security alarm. Parking is not possible, and taking the bus is not recommended. What is possible is to park at spot 6 and walk there or rent a bike.
WHAT All Movements on the runway can be spotted.
TIME In winter backlit all day. In Summer okay in the morning and evening till sunset.
MISC. There is no facility near. Police patrols here, so you may be asked to leave.
FOCAL LENGTH 50+ mm
Spot #5 – The Aircraft Lane –10-28 arrivals and departures
WHERE There is a small road along the approach of RWY10. Taking a bus (49, 74, 642, 643) or car to spot #6 and walk/bike from there. There is an area on the west side of the alley where you can stand to spot the aircraft. Line-up and hold-short can be easily seen there. Ladders are not needed and should not be used.
WHAT You can see 10 arrivals 100 feet over your head and 10 departures holding short and lining up. 28 departures can also be spotted but not the best angle. 28 arrivals sometimes may come near to this location.
TIME
From afternoon till sunset for line up/exit. Arrivals all day as you can move along the road.
MISC. Everything close to spot #6.
FOCAL LENGTH 50-150mm for 10 departures. Wide angle lenses are recommended for 10 arrivals. Longer lenses are required for 28


Spot #6 – Taipei Agriculture Market – 10 Arrivals and Departures
WHERE You can get there by car, bus (49, 74, 642, 643) or Ubike. Parking Lot is in the building as well. The place where you can spot aircraft is at the 5th floor. Once you get to the fifth floor, walk to the north side of the building, which is an area without ceiling.
WHAT 10 arrivals flying in front of you. Taxiway for 10 departures can be spotted also.
TIME In winter its perfect for the whole day. In summer backlit in the morning and evening.
MISC. Restroom is located on the same floor next to one of the elevator. More restrooms are at the first floor around the building. 5th floor is a part of the parking lot, so use caution when walking around.
FOCAL LENGTH 70+mm
Spot #7 – ‘Old Place (老地方觀景平台)’ Observatory Deck – 10 Arrivals and 28 Departures
WHERE Get off the MRT at R14 and take the free Grand Hotel shuttle bus to the hotel. Once you get off the bus, take the road on the right side(when facing the hotel from outside) of the hotel. Walk straight and you’ll see an entrance of a hiking trail. Take the trail and go straight or follow the path which mostly people take. Keep this in mind: “Walk up”. If you see any intersections, take the one that can lead you ascend. You should see the deck on the right after approximately 10 minutes.
WHAT 10 Arrivals and 28 departures. 10 departures can also be seen but this definitely not the best location to spot them as they too far away.
TIME In winter backlit all day. In Summer the light condition is best in the afternoon.
MISC. No facilities near. Heat distortion may be a big problem during hot days. This is a spot where you can be more creative. If you’re looking for standard shots, this location might not work very well.
FOCAL LENGTH 400+mm (150-600mm lens is recommended) You might need to crop the image.

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