Secrets to Surviving a Boring Layover in Taipei (TPE)

By Mark Wiens 60 Comments

This is a guest post by Dwight Turner, founder of In Search of Sanuk.

Have you ever had a layover in Taipei, Taiwan?

I found out pretty late that I had misread the itinerary and had a 10 hour layover in Taipei, Taiwan. Not happy.

photo

I have been in transit in Taipei more than a few times and nothing I could remember made me think being there for that long would be tolerable. Maybe if I could hangout in downtown Taipei for a few hours, but it was the end of my month of vacation and I had exhausted most of my adventuring budget while I was in Japan.

By chance I did happen to come across a forum comment that mentioned something about the airport doing FREE tours, but that person didn’t provide any details.

I said my reluctant goodbyes to my family, got all my toiletries thrown away by some nice security people because I didn’t have any Yen left to buy the plastic ziplock bag they offered, and hadn’t gotten enough sleep the night before. Top that off with the approaching doom of the killer layover and you could safely say I was pretty unhappy.

Despite all of that, when I arrived in Taipei one of the first signs I ran into was the free half day tour sign. I did the tour and enjoyed it and thought it may be helpful for someone else in transit if I wrote up a few tips to keep you sane while in TPE (Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport). I hope they make your longer than normal layover more fun or less unbearable too.

Taipei Free Tour
Taipei Free Airport Tour

Secret #1 – Free Half-Day Tour

I recommend it. The guide speaks English, Chinese, and Japanese. Tells some corny jokes, but was very friendly and informative. I suggest you jump on it. Plus, it’s free. Now there are a few drawbacks like not having a lot of time to explore the sites, but when the tour is over you can hang out on your own if you need to explore or have more time to kill.

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall - #1

The tour goes by Taipei attractions such as:

  • Taipei 101
  • The Longshan Temple
  • Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
  • Martyrs’ Shrine
Taipei 101 Tower
Taipei 101 Tower

I had actually visited most of them before when I stayed in Taipei for a week in 2006. I still found the tour interesting, but could have been better if there was a food-stop, however brief.

Requirements for taking the tour:

  • Must have a layover in Taipei from 7 – 24 hours
  • Sign up at the Tourist Service Center – located right in the main Airport Arrival Lobby
  • You MUST have your passport (valid for over 6 months), and must fill out the immigration entry/exit Taiwan form
  • There is a morning tour (starts at 8 am) and an afternoon tour (starts at 1 pm)

For more information and details, click here.

Taiwan Temple
The Longshan Temple

Secret #2 – Great Public Transportation

Taipei has about 6 subway lines and buses going all over. There’s more than enough to do just on the main subway lines and plenty of places to get lost.

I suggest hitting a night market before it gets fully crowded, grab some food and escape before the hordes of pushy people fill the place up.

Note: The subway doesn’t go back to the airport, so you have to catch a bus back which costs 145 Taiwanese dollars ($5).

Taipei, Taiwan
Highway View of Taipei

Secret #3 – Wi-fi & 3G

There’s free wifi in most of the Taipei Airport and in many places around the city. I needed to make some calls and track a few things on my phone so I went ahead and signed up with Taiwan Mobile to use 3G on my iPhone.

The unlimited data package and the SIM together cost about $15 for one day. A cheap way to keep my connectivity addiction appeased.

Secret #4 – TPE Terminal 1 Transit Lounge

This is fairly new and I hadn’t read about it anywhere. There are computers you can use, a movie lounge with massage chairs, showers, and some couch like areas for napping or hanging out. Score! The restaurant there has decent food and coffee. This is especially great if you don’t qualify for the frequent flyer lounges that take up so much space in this airport.

The catch is it can be hard to find and I’m not sure if there’s something similar in the other terminals. If you do end up flying China Air or are in TPE Terminal 1, I’d take advantage of it because the gates don’t have any space where you can stretch out or good access to power outlets (Remember it’s targeted towards people in transit. If you’re coming from the other terminal or checking in after you’ve been out of the airport you have to go to the A Side and find the elevator down. This can be tricky, but then you walk through the security check backwards and mumble somethings in English while pointing and it should be right outside the doors.)

iPhone, #2

Secrets #5 – Boredom Survival Kit

Of course the regular gear that helps you survive travel boredom is always suggested: a good book, an external hard drive with your downloads of some TV shows you love, music, cute Danish girls and movies to watch with them.

I’m not a hug fan of the Taipei International Airport. It’s cold, there’s not a lot of selection for food, but the people are nice and there’s Wi-Fi. There is occasionally some cool art on the walls and they do have a Hello Kitty themed gate on Terminal 2, but I was pretty sure those attractions would keep me entertained for even half an hour.

It’s nice to see the airport and the tourism authority have made improvements to make people’s transit here more enjoyable. The city of Taipei is cool if you have time to explore, so I’m glad to be adding TPE to my (extremely short) list of airports I enjoy!

If you have a long layover in Taipei, the hours go by pretty fast with the help of the Free Tour, speedy Wi-Fi and 3G, and the Terminal 1 Transit Lounge!

I hope you found this helpful, if you have more tips be sure to comment below.

About the Author:

Dwight Turner is a social media whiz and founder of a project known as “In Search of Sanuk,” — a Bangkok based volunteering project with a philosophy to help others while having fun! It was through a random series of spontaneous events that I happen to meet Dwight Turner, and we almost instantaneously discovered that our stomachs shared an identical voracious appetite for Thai street food. We jointly started Eating Thai Food, because Thai food is made to share!

– Mark Wiens

photo #1 – daymin, photo #2 – markcooz



60 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Jera

    3 months ago

    Hi, i will be flying from US through Eva Air. And we have 3 and 1/2 hours layover in Taipei before we fly to Philippines. I have a brother in Taiwan that i wanted to meet during my layover. Is that possible? What could be the requirements to get out from the airport so i could hangout with my brother even at least 3p minutes? Or what might be the other options? Thanks

  • Julia

    6 months ago

    Thanks for this blog – super helpful! I have a 17 hour layover coming up in TPE and am thrilled to hear that the airport runs free tours. Glad to hear about the wifi and SIMs too! Thanks for the help!

  • Joseph

    7 months ago

    Any ideas! I will be travelling from Seattle to Bangkok and will have a 5.5hours layover at the airport, around 3pm. where can I go for 4 hours?

    • Roy

      4 months ago

      Go to a restaurant called Eat Me Restaurant. Thank me later.

  • Anna

    7 months ago

    Nice info . how about at night ? My arrival is 9 30 pm . And my next flight is on the next day in the morning Can i still go outside ? Thanks

  • Yollie Robinson

    7 months ago

    Thank you very much for posting your experience and giving us tips. This really helps. We intend to stop Taipei in June and do sightseeing while in transit

  • Diana Ladia

    7 months ago

    I will never fly Eva airlines again. They changed my flight details. N Eva!! I now have a long,long layover Thanks so much for saving my life!!

  • Stef

    9 months ago

    I found the Taiwan Tourist Board url for more information about these tours, they will still continue in 2017:
    http://eng.taiwan.net.tw/tour/index.htm

  • kelly

    11 months ago

    What an awesome thing they do for layovers tourists! Thanks for sharing this!

  • paul

    12 months ago

    this post is so old, i wonder if they still have the free tour, can anyone confirmed this?

  • Michael

    12 months ago

    Hi! I will be travelling to Manila this christmas from Canada. And have a layover stop for 10 hours and 35 mins. Just one question do u still need to get our check in luggage when we get out or it will go straight to the destination country?

  • Olivia Macdonald

    1 year ago

    I was cringing thinking about my 17hr layover in Taipei but now, thanks to you, I’m kind of excited!! Thank you very very much!!

  • divina

    1 year ago

    Hello Mark
    Big thank you for thiese tips. We will definitely do the tours, 2 questions: how many hours are the free bus tours? is there a place to put your luggage temporarily like a locker for carry on luggages so that we don’t have to drag it to the places we will be visiting?
    Again thank you,

  • Sara

    1 year ago

    Great info thank you! Looks like my layover might be overnight though :/
    Are you aware of any hotels close by or in the airport? Sounds like a waste of a 12 hour layover, but I might as well just sleep I guess!

  • Dong

    2 years ago

    Great tips! I have a layover from 6 AM to 3 PM in Taipei on May 3. Is there a train, if not a bus, that travels directly from the Taipei International Airport to downtown, places like Taipei 101 and Night Markets? How much is the transit visa fee? Thanks

  • Ruji

    2 years ago

    Great advice layover for 10 hours in Taipei and it will be at night tho and hope to hit a night market for some bizarre food.thanks.

  • Laura

    2 years ago

    Thank you for posting this! I was apprehensive about committing to such a long lay-over if we couldn’t get out of the airport or it was too difficult with transport and traffic, but I will book now thanks to your tips! Thanks again and happy travels!

  • Faith

    2 years ago

    I can’t for the life of me find the free transit lounge!!! Any more tips about where it is or even the name of it so I can ask????

    Thanks!

  • Sam Dary

    2 years ago

    I have a 9hr 15mins layover in Taipei – arriving at 6:15am & leaving at 3:30pm. How long is the half day tour which you said start at 8am? Any suggestions for me during my layover?

  • Jade

    2 years ago

    Fantastic! I’m currently at Manila airport and have an 11 hour wait in Taipei. This has been a helpful read and I will most certainly do the transit tour 😀 I hope there’s a “left luggage” counter like they have in train stations so I don’t have to lug my laptop with me…

    Cheers!

  • Cecilia D’Mello

    2 years ago

    Thank you, Mark Wiens, for putting up your friend Dwight’s travel advisory of Taipei airport.

    My college going daughter will be transiting from San Diego en route to Singapore next week.

    Surprisingly, even friends from and living in Taipei could not suss out any of this info after calling the airlines and information desk!!!

    • Mark Wiens

      2 years ago

      Hey Cecilia, glad to hear Dwight’s post is helpful. Hope your daughter has an amazing time in Taipei!

  • Cecilia D’Mello

    2 years ago

    Very useful and extensive info. Thank you very much for elaborating at such length.
    My daughter will have an 8 hour layover at Taipei en route to Singapore from San Diego, so your recommendations will be a big help to pass the time.

    Appreciate your very helpful and informative advisory of Taipei airport layover.

  • Phil JOhnson

    2 years ago

    Great article! In terms of the half day tour, my sister in law is Filipino….can she leave the airport?
    Phil

    • Mark Wiens

      2 years ago

      Thank you Phil. I’m honestly not sure, it will be best to check the specific visa laws for Filipino citizens.

  • KATHERINE

    2 years ago

    What to do if you have an 11 hour layover in Taipei, but arrive at 11 in the evening?? Am I sunk?

  • maria

    2 years ago

    Thank you for your tips. It’s really helpful, it eases our anxiety about our upcoming layover in Taipei 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      2 years ago

      Great to hear that Maria, hope you have a nice time in Taipei.

  • Jackie

    2 years ago

    I am sorry about your unhappy experience at the airport, but you should definitely come to taiwan again because there are so much good food in Tainan and you won’t want to miss it!

  • Hailey

    3 years ago

    This has been a lifesaver! I have an 18 hour layover in Taipei in a couple of days and was a bit worried of how to spend my time. Thank you again for all the extremely helpful tips and tricks!

  • Michelle

    3 years ago

    We have an upcoming 16 hour layover in Taipei as well. Do the free tours depart from the downtown hotel, too, or are they only from the hotel?

  • Maria Alexandra @latinAbroad

    3 years ago

    really looking forward to my 11 hour layover in Taipei City now! These are some great tips.

    I wonder, though, if I visit one of the night markets, what foods you recommend I try if it’s my very first time only in Taiwan, but in Asia proper?

    _Maria Alexandra

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hi Maria, good to hear you have a layover. I haven’t been to Taiwan myself yet, so no real suggestions, but hoping to go in the future. Hope you have a fun layover.

  • Barbara

    3 years ago

    This information is so awesome! I hadn’t a clue on what I was going to do for 11 hours. I get to tour another country! Bonus! I think I’ll print this out so I don’t have to try to remember everything. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • justin

    3 years ago

    Hi! I have a 12 hour layover in Taipei this Saturday – only problem is my layover is from 9pm – 9am. Any recommendations of stuff to do on Saturday night in the area? Or is most stuff in the area closed that late?

    Thanks,
    Justin

  • Kattie

    3 years ago

    This article is fantastic! I have a layover in Taipei for 4 hrs and your articles makes me excited to go to Taipei than my real destination ;D Since I’m a foreigner, if I want to order food, what currency would they accept? Is it okay if i give US dollars or Taiwanese dollars? Thank you~~

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hey Kattie, thanks glad you liked this article by my friend Dwight. Will you be leaving the airport? In the airport you might be able to just use US, but if you go out, you’ll want to exchange. Hope you have a great trip!

  • Channing

    4 years ago

    This is fantastic information! I was upset that I have a 10 hr layover on my way to China. BUT not anymore! I am excited!

  • Julia

    4 years ago

    Amazing post. Thanks for all the tips!

    I’ve got a ridiculous 38 hour layover in Taipei next month and your blog post will save me. All the other people just say stuff like ‘Ummm… Taipei 101?’ which only kills so much time. Day-tour, here I come (Thanks, Taipei Tourism people!). Stupid question–when are the busy times for the night markets?

    Plus I’m excited about that free airport lounge. Comfy places to kill time IN the airport are just as important as stuff outside, for when you actually need to be in there, waiting for your flight.

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Thank you so much Julia, hope you have a wonderful time in Taipei!

  • barbara

    4 years ago

    thank you so much for posting this info, I would not have known what to do with a 16 hour layover.

  • Ryan @ Pause The Moment

    5 years ago

    We have a 4 hour layover in Taipei coming up in a couple weeks. Not long enough to hit the city. Is there anything interesting in the airport itself?

  • GotPassport Family

    6 years ago

    We have extended family in Taiwan and it’s been three years since we were there last. We went through the transit lounge during a few hours layover when we left US to relocate to Thailand. It is prob one of the best FREE-to-public lounge we’ve seen in airports. All the familiar sites make me miss Taiwan even more. 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      That’s great to hear! I also went through Taiwan about 2.5 years ago, coming to Thailand, but I remember I had a very shot layover, I don’t even think I had a chance to sit down. I’m hoping to visit Taiwan sometime in the future!

  • bonnie

    6 years ago

    what a nice feebie they offer, i like

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Definitely a great addition to the Taipei Airport!

  • Bama

    6 years ago

    Hi Mark, I really like the photo of Taipei at dusk (or dawn?). Looks dramatic with Taipei 101 as a silhouette. What time did you take it and where did you take it from?

  • Grace

    6 years ago

    I so needed this. I have a short layover at Taipei next week and I’m thinking of asking my airlines if I can extend the layover so I can do a half day tour. Thank you Dwight!

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Thanks Grace, let me know how your layover goes! I’ll Dwight know!

  • Cathy Sweeney

    6 years ago

    Excellent tips! You mentioned that Taipai sometimes has art on the walls. I’ve been to other airports that have art displays or other special exhibits, too. That can be a good way to spend some time.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Yah Cathy, I fully agree with you here. It’s nice to just browse around, taking your time, at an art gallery within an airport.

    • Cecilia D’Mello

      2 years ago

      Hi Cathy,

      If you love art and murals on walls, Mumbai’s international airport, renovated this year, is a smorgasbord of murals, paintings and installation art!!!

  • adventureswithben

    6 years ago

    Seoul’s Airport offersTransit Tours too. I had a long layover in South Korea and saw the beach and a temple. It was the perfect way to kill a few hours.

  • Jillian

    6 years ago

    The half day tour sounds like a great way to spend a layover. I wish more tourism boards would do something similar, who knows it might change people’s minds about actually taking a trip to some of these “transit” cities. Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the tips, these are the types of things anyone whose ever wanted a layover wants to know!

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Thanks Jilian,
      You are right, it’s a great effort for an airport to take an initiative like this. It also might entice transit travelers to come back and spend more time the next time!

    • Cecilia D’Mello

      2 years ago

      Singapore’s Changi Airport conducts city tours for passengers in transit, either free, or for a reasonable fee.