Taipei Taoyuan Intl. Airport Spotting Guide (TPE/RCTP) is located 30 km west of Taiwan’s capital Taipei. It can be easily reched by car from motorway 2. To travel from Taipei to the airport buses are operating 24 hours. The MRT connection (metro) to Taipei is currently under construction as well as a connection to the high speed train HSR.
In 2015 38,5 million passengers were handled. The airport was opened in 1979 to remove the international flights from Taipei Songshan, which is located in the city. The Terminal 2 was opened in year 2000. Terminal 1 contains concourses A and B, Terminal 2 C and D. Currently Terminal 3 is under construction. The airport is the main hub of China Airlines and EVA Air.
TPE is currently served on regular service by local carriers China Airlines, EVA Air, Tiger Air Taiwan, Transasia Airways, Uni Airways and V Air. International carriers are Air Busan, Air China, Air Macau, AirAsia, AirAsia X, ANA, Asiana, Cathay Pacific, Cebu Pacific, China Eastern, China Southern, Delta, Dragonair, Eastar, Emirates, Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Japan Airlines, Jeju Air, Jetstar, Jetstar Japan, Jin Air, Juneyao, KLM Asia, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Malindo Airways, Mandarin, NokScoot, Peach, Philippine Airlines, Scoot, Shandong Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Spring, Thai, Tiger Air, Turkish Airlines, Uni Airways, United, Vanilla Air, VietJet, Vietnam Airlines, Xiamen Airlines.
Cargo operations are ANA Cargo, Cargolux, Cathay Pacific Cargo, China Airlines Cargo, China Cargo Airlines, China Postal Airlines, DHL, Emirates SkyCargo, EVA Air Cargo, FedEx Express, Hong Kong Airlines Cargo, MASkargo, Nippon Cargo Airlines, Polar Air Cargo, SF Airlines, Thai Cargo, UPS Airlines, Yangtze River Express. Some of them can be only seen in dark.
You can check the flight schedule on https://www.taoyuan-airport.com/english/Index/ . Plane type is part of the live schedule. Also cargo flights can be found there.
Taoyuan was a very difficult airport to get good pictures from before 2019, and certainly very difficult for good ground shots. The two new observation decks open up a lot more possibilities at the airport. Spotting is very popular in Taiwan, and both decks were busy at Taoyuan (just as the approach lane off Binjiang Road at Songshan is always busy). In addition to the spotters there were a lot of families with children, and the facilities on the 5th level (both North and South side) really do encourage it as more of a destination even for those who aren’t travelling but want a weekend activity or the like.
Written by Marcus, John Merer (Spot8) and William Liao (last update December 2019)
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| (6 votes, average: 3.50 out of 5)
|Terminal 1A||China Airlines, Air Asia, Korean|
|Terminal 1B||Cathay Pacific, Dragonair, Air Macau, Scoot, Thai|
|Terminal 2C||EVA Air, ANA, Hong Kong Airlines, Singapore, Emirates|
|Terminal 2D||China Airlines, JAL|
|Ladder||Not necessary at most spots.|
|Car/Public Transport||Only spot 8 and 9 are located at the terminal and for the other locations a car is needed and a GPS is more than useful. Taxi drivers are not really helpful as they mostly don’t speak English. At some MRT Stations it is possible to rent a “YouBike”, especially for spots 1, 6 and 7.|
|Restrooms||Only in the cafe at spot 4.|
|Drinks/Food||In the cafe at spot 4. There are some 7-eleven shops around the airport.|
|Hotels||In Taoyuan. Most hotels offer free shuttle service from and to the airport.|
|Season||All Year. Best season is December until March, June until November is rain-season including typhoons (often rain or thunderstorms in the afternoon), the hottest time is April/May. Take sun protection with you!|
|General Info||Some airlines are not fixed to a specific terminal and concourse, so check the online flight schedule for the gate.|
|05L/23R||Aircrafts at Terminal 1A and 2D will generally use 05L/23R, e.g. China Airlines. The runway is closed from 10:30 to 11:00 daily for maintenance.|
|05R/23L||Aircrafts at Terminal 1B and 2C will generally use this runway, e.g. Cathay, EVA, Air Macau. The runway is closed from 15:30 to 16:00 daily for maintenance.|
|Spot #1 –
|WHERE||As the famous spot at the abandoned taxiway was closed meanwhile, there is an alternative. This spot is located near the old spot but still provides nice views at the fishery. There are no Parking spots. If you find a good parking lot, please let us know. Best to use a YouBike from MRT Dayuan station. Its around 20 min.
|WHAT||It is good for short and middle hole flights departing RWY23L. Long hole flights are still on the runway.|
|TIME||Good until noon in summer.|
|MISC.||No restrooms and shops near here.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||A320 and B737 need 300mm A330 and B777 are 200mm.|
|Spot #2 – The Bridge – Approach 23L|
|WHERE||On a bridge at Hangxiang Road next to Sanmin Road (Road 4). Just park your car at the side, but there is officially no parking. Police passes by without taking notice. No ladder required.|
|WHAT||You can get aircraft approching 23L.|
|TIME||Afternoon until sunset.|
|MISC.||At the corner a 7-eleven offers cold drinks and some snacks.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||400 mm for A320|
|Spot #3 – DHL – Approach 23R morning|
|WHERE||Continue on the bridge from spot 2and turn left at the traffic lights. The spot is on the opposite site of DHL. Park your car at the side of the road. There is an abandoned lane where you can stay.|
|WHAT||You can take shots of aircraft in final to 23R.|
|TIME||Sunrise until noon|
|FOCAL LENGTH||320 mm for A320|
|Spot #4 – The Miracle Cafe – 05L/23R|
|WHERE||Drive along the northern side of the airport on road 15 to reach the cafe. The building can be easily identified by the “tower” of the cafe. There is a car repair in the same building called EMC an you can´t miss it. Park your car directly in front of the buildings.|
|WHAT||All movements on 05L/23R can be seen from the terrace.|
|TIME||From noon until sunset.|
|MISC.||You can get food and drinks in the cafe, but the staff doesn’t necessarily speak English. Ask a local spotter for help… The cafe also offers free WiFi.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||320 mm for A320|
|Spot #5 – Approach 23R evening
|WHERE||Continue on the road from spot3 until you can turn left to pass the Tianliao Bridge. Park your car close to bridge and walk towards the position you prefer. Beware of power cables obstructing your view.|
|WHAT||You can take shots of aircraft in final approach to 23R.|
|TIME||From noon until sunset.|
|MISC.||There’s nothing at this spot, bring with you what you need.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||300 mm for A320|
|Spot #6 – Dayuan District – Approach 05R evening|
|WHERE||The spot is next to the EVA Air hangars on a rural road at Dayuan District. Best reachable by car if you from the 110. There is a bus stop called “Hai Feng” but buses run not frequent. Otherwise you can use the MRT and exit at the Dayuan Station, rent a bike at “YouBike” and ride approximate 1km to the spot.|
|WHAT||For 05R arrivals only|
|TIME||From 13:00-17:00 during summer.|
|MISC.||There’s nothing at this spot, bring with you what you need. Shops and Hotel next to the MRT Station|
|FOCAL LENGTH||100mm for 773; 125mm for 744|
|Spot #7 – The Park'(大園國防砲陣地運動公園) – 05L Arrivals|
There is a former military building which is now a park where you have a great view of the arrivals. It is next to some basketball fields and a school which is close to highway 15. Enter the small road and you will see a one story building in front of you where you can park. Walk around it and you will find a ramp that can take you to the roof. Spotters usually go to the roof since the view is better and not obstructed.
Driving there is highly recommended, and there are several parking spaces available on the ground level of the park. No public transport nearby. Renting a U-bike or taking a taxi may be other options.
|WHAT||For 05L arrivals only. 05R is too far away.|
|TIME||From 13:00-17:00 during summer.|
|MISC.||No facilities nearby. Just google for 大園國防砲陣地運動公園 and you will find photos from the park|
|Spot #8 – Terminal 2 Observation Deck SOUTH|
|WHERE||In December 2019, a new Observation Deck opened on the top of Terminal 2 at Taipei Taoyuan airport. The deck is accessed at the South Side of Terminal 2 (where the C gates are) and is accessed by an escalator or elevators. Take the escalator or elevator to the 5th floor (from the 3rd floor South departures checkin hall) and access is on the South side near the Family Mart convenience store.
The fence is like Haneda or Itami airport observation decks and so is horizontal wire with about 4 inches between wires. Although the railing prevents you from getting closer than about 18 inches to the fence the gaps between the wires are more than enough to shoot through even with a larger lens.
|WHAT||The deck has two levels. The top level is back from the edge of the Terminal but allows for panning views of the traffic on 05R/23L. The lower level is much closer to the edge and allows taxi shots on the South side of Terminal 2.|
|TIME||You are facing into the sun for the morning and early afternoon but after about 3pm the sun is moving behind you.|
|MISC.||Although just opened it can get quite crowded, especially on the weekends and finding a spot to get shots from can become a challenge. The deck is restricted to 300 people and is open from 6:30am until 10:30pm. There is no security to go through but there are security guards on the deck at all times enforcing the rules. There are toilets (and even showers it seemed) as well as a variety of places to eat on the 5th floor, plus the rest of the airport near by.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||For traffic on 05R/23L one would need about a 150 to 400mm lens depending on the type of aircraft.
Asiana 767 = 70mm; EVA 777 = 170mm
|Spot #9 – Terminal 2 Observation Deck NORTH|
|WHERE||The second deck opened on December 28th, 2019. The North observation deck is accessed at the opposite side of Terminal 2 from the South deck, again from Level 3, the main departures level. It is accessed by an escalator or elevator in the North check-in hall. There are signs indicating the way to the North Mall and Observation Deck at both the elevators and escalator.|
|WHAT||The North deck is divided into two parts with an upper and a lower portion. The lower portion at present isn’t in use, but is about double the size of the upper deck. From the upper deck you are facing Northwest and have an excellent (save a few lamp standards) view over the Terminal 2 Apron (Apron D), as well as the middle portion of Runway 05L/23R. Shots of aircraft on taxiway NC are quite clear and unobstructed in many places while NP can be blocked by the Terminal at times.
There is also an indoor portion to the upper deck, although this is behind glass. There are views to across to the runway, as well as Southwest looking across to the new Terminal 3 (under construction). An aircraft taxiing on the cross-over taxiway of W2 can be photographed (although at a distance), with a 777-300 being a 300mm shot.
|TIME||In the winter without the sun, heat haze shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but in summer, especially on the runway, heat haze will be a problem. Light is good on the North deck for most of the day, with the sun moving in front of the camera after about 3pm. As with the South deck, the hours of operation are from 6:30am until 10:30pm. Because of the large gap on the North deck to photograph through in the fence, shooting with a tripod is very easy on the North deck.|
|MISC.||On the 5th level, as with the South side, there are a variety of places to eat, as well as a convenience store, although the North side is smaller and offers about half the number of outlets. There are large indoor areas to sit or eat, as well as restrooms.
As with the South deck, there is no security to pass through to get to the deck, but there are security guards on the deck at all times (this being Taiwan they are usually friendly though, but they have a job to do in ensuring visitors follow the rules).
Keep in mind that the observation deck can get crowded, especially on weekends, and that the North deck (upper portion) is quite a bit smaller than the South deck’s combined upper and lower area. The South deck is restricted to 300 people at a time while the North deck is restricted to 100 people (and this is enforced).
|FOCAL LENGTH||The North deck is slightly closer to the runway and so depending on the aircraft for Runway 05L/23R you’ll need between a 125 and 350mm for a full frame (aircraft ranging from an ATR 72-600 to a 747-8). On taxiway NP, a 777-300 or 747 would be roughly a 60 or 70mm shot.|