From culture to kitsch – How to enjoy a long layover in the Taiwan Airport

Inside the Taiwan airport the Made In Taiwan Lounge

Taiwan Airport display inside Taoyuan Airport

Discover Taoyuan Airport

A long layover in the Taiwan Airport? Don’t worry, be happy! The terminals are packed with diversions and amenities for all kinds of travelers. From art galleries, puppetry, tribal traditions and even Hello Kitty – each waiting lounge in the Taoyuan airport has its own theme!
My seatmate charms the stewardess.

My seatmate charms the stewardess.

Arriving

It’s a tortuously long flight into Taiwan for anyone flying from the US or Europe. That is unless you’re in first or business class. I flew economy for over thirteen hours on China Airlines. While I was comfortable enough with a standard seat and leg room upgrade, I did run into a few problems with seatmates. First was the screaming baby, then the nanny who removed her shoes and had me gagging, then kept shoving into my side. I appreciate how difficult it is traveling with a small child. Everyone did their best. They played with the infant and the stewardess did offer me a face mask!
 Sleeping in the Taoyuan airport on recliners throughout the waiting lounges
With the service and entertainment choices, I was reasonably rested as we left the airplane in Taipei. Unfortunately, my layover wasn’t long enough to take one of the free tours into Taipei (you need at least 7 hours – see more details below. However, my partner and I soon discovered, the airport was packed with plenty to keep us entertained.
Upstairs amenities in the main concourse of the Taiwan Airport

Upstairs amenities in the main concourse of the Taiwan Airport

The Taiwan airport terminals are laid in the shape of large H. A swift tram takes passengers from Terminal 1 to 2. That’s great if you’re in a hurry to catch a connection. However, if you take the Skytrain you’ll miss the galleries, the themed gates and scores of shops from designer to duty-free. You won’t see the playgrounds for the kiddies, gardens, massage vendors offering full spa to chair treatments, and the small gym.
Taoyuan airport food court upstairs in the main concourse
Restaurants offer European to traditional Taiwanese foods or head upstairs to the food court for standard Western fare, from Starbucks to Burger King. Upstairs several Premium lounges offer food, drink, showers and comfortable seating or nap areas. There are elite membership airline lounges and others offer reasonable day/night rates. Before getting on my connecting flight I stopped in the Kung Fu Massage parlor. The fifteen minute, table massage was just what my shoulders and back needed.
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Here’s a short video about the Taiwan Airport theme gates, galleries, and shops

Wifi is available for free throughout the Taiwan Airport. Beyond the themed waiting lounges are spacious seating areas. Most have large recliners perfect for napping. Look for three or more grouped together under stairwells and tucked into side rooms.

maps and brochures for the Taiwan airport in Taipei
After discovering the recliners, we opted for a short rest, hooked up to WiFi, and then set off to explore the airport. I picked up brochures at one of several information kiosks. There were detailed maps in English and several languages. The Mind Garden sounded inspiring but it was simply a seating area stocked with books and magazines. I was especially excited about the Butterfly Garden. However, while still on the map, that space had been turned into something else. We also found that there’s more than one walkway between terminals.
Enjoy a tea ceremony inside the Taoyuan airport terminal

Enjoy a tea ceremony inside the Taoyuan airport terminal

Since we’d flown over thirteen hours we needed exercise. It can be dangerous to sit too long – no matter your age. Staying stuck in cramped seats on lengthy flights can lead to Deep Vein Thrombosis as well as tweaked muscles, sore hips, and back. Read more about the problem and solutions in this earlier post. We walked and walked to work out our kinks.
Taiwan traditional pastries inside Taoyuan Airport

Traditional sweets for the taking inside most shops throughout the airport

Taiwan Airport food

I spied at least one white tablecloth restaurant but most were more casual. While there are drink vending machines throughout the concourses, you need Taiwan change to operate them. Having American dollars wasn’t a problem with other vendors and they did give change in the local currency. Many of the shops offered free samples of liquor, primarily whiskey, and a variety of local pastry bites – Taro, Pineapple and plain. That and a bottle of water could fill-up most any budget-minded traveler. I opted for a fast food meal featuring chicken, noodle soup, and potato salad.
Taiwan noodle soup inside Taoyuan airportThe Glory of High Tech Waiting Lounge inside the Taiwan Airport

Waiting Lounge Themes

These lounges are unlike anything I’ve seen before. Each was set up with exhibits full of color and very detailed layouts. It looked like a different designer was hired for each one.
Hello Kitty shop and waiting lounge inside Taiwan Airport

Doesn’t every airport have a Hello Kitty lounge and gift shop?

orchid garden inside the Taiwan Airport

Nature comes indoors in several garden waiting lounges

Some of the different boarding gates that we visited. (You can see more in the video above .)
Zone A & B:
  • Aboriginal Arts
  • Taiwan Tea
  • Bike Waiting Lounge
  • The Glory of High Tech Lounge
  • Glamorous Textile Art Lounge
  • The Glory of Sports Waiting Lounge
Puppetry waiting lounge inside the Taiwan Airport

Puppetry waiting lounge inside the Taiwan Airport

Zones C & D:

  • Taiwan Music Waiting Lounge
  • The Hello Kitty Waiting Lounge
  • e-Library Waiting Lounge
  • Postal Waiting Lounge
  • Taiwan Cinema Lounge
  • Sea and River Ecology Lounge
  • Arts and Culture Exhibits
  • Pili Puppet Theater Waiting Lounge
  • Foods of Taiwan Waiting Lounge

Taiwan airport children's play area characters

Families with small children will find a large play area with whimsical character statues from favorite cartoons. There are also Breast Feeding and Prayer Rooms in several spots within the terminals.
Taoyuan Airport bathroom ratings

Leave the bathroom and rate your experience!

 Wifi and charging stations inside Taiwan Airport

Map of the night markets in Taiwan

Map of the night markets in Taiwan

Take a free Taipei Tour:

The half-day tours depart in the morning and afternoon. Note that you need a layover of 7 to 8 hours and there are other restrictions. Each is limited to 18 people. You can book at the airport or guarantee your seat by pre-registering online 14-18 days prior to arrival: Check here to see if you are eligible.

Enjoy a Taiwan Airport layover

Most of the airport was waking up during our first stop at Taoyuan. I noticed a very different and more crowded late night vibe when we caught our flight home a week later. If you are in Taipei after a long flight, explore the Taiwan Airport at least for the exercise and entertainment. Your mind and body will be better for it.

Have you ever visited the Taoyuan Airport? I’d love to hear about your experiences. Leave a comment below. I always respond.

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34 comments

  • We sort of hate to admit it, but the Hello Kitty gate was adorable! After that long flight, we would have checked right in for a massage. It’s great they bring the outdoors inside though. It’s nice to see some green when you’re spending a day in planes and airports. What an amazing airport – thanks for the mini-tour, and for sharing with us on #TheWeeklyPostcard and #WeekendWanderlust!

  • So interesting! I like when airports have interesting things to see and do instead of camping out near an outlet. This one has so much to offer!

  • I love that the waiting area has different themes! At least it’s something to keep you entertained. And the food— OMG ! It’s good to know there’s enough to keep you busy.

  • We had a stopover in the Taiwan airport last year and were pleasantly surprised. A decent variety of things to see, do and eat kept us entertained in between our flight from the US and our onward flight to Vietnam. Probably the thing that excited me most though was the availability of an impressively authentic Australian meat pie in a bakery. After nearly a year backpacking through the americas it was an absolute TREAT!

  • Biggest thing for me in an airport on a layover is that WiFi is free! So kudos to Taiwan Airport straight up!! The themed waiting lounges sound really well done though, and I love that they’re set up with recliners perfect for napping. You’re right though there sounds like so much to do! Definitely one of the airports that I’ve heard of with the most to keep you occupied. Airport food sounds great, and I love how they’ve brightened up each space and made it more interesting with color and art. Cool that they’ve really thought about traveling families too, with playground options – more airports should take from their lead, it’s this kind of thing which makes transiting so much more enjoyable, and I would actually be swayed to book flights with this stopover if the airport was set up in this way.

    As a side note, cool to know that you can take a free tour into Taipei if your layover is 7 hours or more 🙂

  • I think the Hello Kitty area looks adorable! This looks like such a fun place to hang out and kill time between flights. But hopefully next time you can have a long enough layover to do the free tour – that would be the perfect way to see the city.

  • so many things to do!;) #theweeklypostcard

  • A very well planned airport for layover travelers. Good that one can even plan for a half day city tour. Parents of small children are going to love this.

  • Great post, Elaine. I would have never thought of writing about an airport layover, but you made this arid subject sound so interesting. Judging from how many amenities you can find in Taoyuan Airport, I figure most of the layovers in this airport must be quite long. I wish LAX would have these comfortable lounge areas where you can relax. I’ve only seen something similar in Germany. By the way, what is it with the Orientals and the face masks? I could never figure it out.

    • Thanks, Anda. I don’t know about the masks. It’s a personal thing and cultural. We may never understand. This wasn’t my first airport layover post. I’ve written about Atlanta and Changi too. I love seeing how they’re put together.

  • This airport seems like it has tons of personality! I love how quirky it is. And the free WiFi is a huge bonus. Those reclining chairs don’t look too bad either.

  • I have not been to the Taipei airport yet, but I have been so impressed with the Asian airports that I have been to especially Singapore and Hong Kong. I think US airports could l learn a lot from them. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  • Taiwan airport looks really amazing and offers a variety of activities. I also highly recommend laying over in Singapore too as it’s one of the best airports in the world. Can’t believe it’s going to open its 4th airport this year!

  • Long haul flight could be a nightmare and I know that Taiwan airport has been undergoing renovation for few years. Now it has a lot facilities to make sure the transit much more comfortable. Thanks for the post! @ knycx.journeying

  • Fascinating! It does sound like Taiwan Taipei airport is very clean and purpose built for travellers who need a little inspiration for their hours there. Those recliners sounded like a blissful find.

  • Taiwan Airport is obviously not the worst choice for a long layover. Amazing that they even offer free city tours. I just think I’d be too tired or jetlagged after a long flight from another continent to enjoy such a tours. I’d probably choose one of the comfy seats and take a nap.

  • This looks like one of the most kid friendliest airports ever! Hello Kitty and more, look to be very welcoming. As you have shown, airport layovers often offer the opportunity to get a taste of the local food. BTW- That chicken noodle soup looks good.

  • This airport looks like fun to have a layover in. Themed lounges sound great. And those traditional sweets look so yummy!

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