Do you need to change planes at Taipei Airport and do you have a lot of time? Tips on how to explore the city during a layover in Taipei.
About a layover in Taipei
First things first: what is a layover? A layover is a waiting period between flights, during which the traveler remains at the airport or in its vicinity. A layover is usually shorter than a stopover, which is more than 24 hours.
During a layover, you usually stay at the airport. However, if you have a long layover, you’ve got plenty of time to explore the city. If you have an 8-hour layover or more at Taipei International Airport, you can easily go to the city for a few hours and come back in time for your next flight.
Airlines that support layovers are China Airlines (I used them myself and could easily select a longer layover) and Eva Air.
What do you need if you want to leave Taipei Airport during a layover?
Not everyone can just go through immigration for a short Taipei layover. You can only leave Taipei airport if you have:
- An arrival card that you need to fill in and give to the immigration officer. You can get one on the airplane, or on the airport, but you can also fill it in online.
- A passport that is valid for at least 6 more months than its expiration date.
- You might also need a visa. Most travelers will get a free visa for 30 days (Australia, Thailand) to 90 days (for citizens of most European countries and the USA). Look at this page to check what kind of visa you’ll need to enter Taiwan. I have a Dutch passport and I got a 90-day visa when I arrived in Taiwan.
When you check all the boxes, you can continue to the immigration desks. Please note that the lines can be very long, so be patient. It took me an hour to reach the officer.
How to get from the airport to the city?
When you passed immigration, go to one of the ATMs to get cash, because you will need it. With 1000 to 1500 Taiwanese dollars you can easily spend an afternoon and a night in Taipei. At the airport, you will also find an information desk. This is the place to get a map, more information on what to do, and directions to the city.
It’s really easy to travel from Taipei Airport to the city with public transportation. Go downstairs to the platform of the MTR train. This is the train you will need to take to the city. At the station, you can buy single tickets for the train, but you can also buy an Easycard. You can recharge this card as often as you like and you can use it for all transportation around town, check this website for information about the Easycard.
The MTR train leaves every 10 to 15 minutes, and it will take about 35 minutes to reach the main train station in Taipei. Check the floors when you’re waiting for the train (and metro), the yellow lines show the waiting area.
There used to be free Taipei layover tours offered by the Taiwan Tourism Board, but unfortunately, I cannot find any recent information about these tours. I assume they terminated this service.
Fun things to do during your Taipei layover
What are the best things to do in Taipei? And what are the most beautiful places to visit when you’re in Taipei city during a layover? A few tips.
Do you like viewpoints? Then your first stop in Taipei should be Elephant Mountain. To get there, you can get in the metro to Xianshan (it’s the red line). From the metro station, it’s a 10-minute walk, before you reach the trailhead to Elephant Hill.
There are a couple of hiking trails on the hill, and all of them have great viewpoints. From Elephant Hill you can easily spot Taipei 101, one of the most famous skyscrapers in the world. If the weather is good, Elephant Hill is a great place to walk around and take a seat for a picnic. Hiking in this park was certainly one of my favorite things to do in Taipei!
From Elephant Hill it’s only a short walk to Taipei 101 and this is probably one of the most popular places in the city. Taipei 101 used to be the tallest building on earth until Burj Khalifa (Dubai) took over. The area around the tower is one of the most touristic areas in Taipei, so you’ll spot a lot of people taking selfies. If you’re not afraid of heights, you can get a Taipei 101 Observatory Deck Ticket and enjoy the incredible view.
Right beside the tower, there is a big shopping mall. So if you like to shop, now is your chance! And even if you don’t like to shop, I still recommend walking around the mall for a bit, since it looks like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Especially the floors with the restaurants are great for a visit. There are some great food courts and restaurants and it’s like a museum of weird things.
If you’re hungry, this is a great place to get some local cuisine. Although the menus are in Chinese, there are usually small images of the dishes, so you can pick whatever appeals to you. Overall, it’s pretty good food.
National Palace Museum
Unfortunately, I arrived in Taipei in the late afternoon so I couldn’t check out this museum. But if you have the chance, make sure to pay the National Palace Museum a visit. It is housed in a beautiful building in the hills and is home to one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive collections of Chinese artifacts and artwork. A great place to learn more about Chinese culture.
Besides skyscrapers and shopping malls, you’ll also find some beautiful temples in Taipei. Check this article for the most beautiful temples in Taipei. During my stopover in Taipei, I spotted two temples: the National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall (close to Taipei 101) and the Tianhou temple (in Ximending), but there are more.
Other beautiful temples that are worth checking out are the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and the Longshan Temple.
Ximending Shopping District
Taipei is bursting with night markets. One of the busiest areas at night is Ximending. Expect a lot of crowds and even more lights and billboards. It’s an amazing sight! Are you hungry? You can get some delicious street food in this district. If you dare, you have to try the stinky tofu. This is one of the most famous Taiwanese delicacies.
Ximending is not the only popular night market, but it’s one of the most hip and trendy ones. Other fun shopping districts are the Shilin night market (this is the largest night market in Taipei) and the Raohe Night Market (this is one of the best places to try Taiwanese food).
From Ximending it’s just a short ride to Taipei Main Station, where you can take the MTR train back to the airport.
If you don’t have much time during your layover in Taipei, I would focus on three places maximum:
- Taipei 101
- One of the temples
- One of the night markets
This will give you a good idea of the city and you’ll probably want to get back someday to explore more (I know I do!).
If you don’t feel like exploring Taipei by yourself during your layover, you always have the option of booking a private tour. A local tour guide will drive you around by car and makes sure that you visit all the highlights of Taipei at your own pace.
Here are some additional tips for your layover in Taipei.
- Take your time! It can take up to an hour to leave the airport, and it will take about 1 to 1,5 hours in total to reach the city center (especially if you’re heading to Taipei 101).
- Get cash at the airport. You will need it.
- Download a map of Taipei on Google Maps or another navigation app. This way, you can always find your way, even if you don’t have cell service.
- If you have a lot of luggage, you can find luggage storage at the airport. Depending on the size of your luggage, this will cost you between $200 and $500 NTD ($6 to 16 US dollars) for every three hours.
- If you don’t have enough time to go to the city, there are plenty of things to do at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. If you want a few relaxing hours, it’s smart to get yourself Premium Lounge Entry and relax in the airport lounge. Here you can enjoy high-speed wifi, free food, and drinks.
Tips for a stopover in Taipei
Do you have more than 24 hours in Taipei? Lucky you! During your stopover, you’ll be able to visit multiple of the beautiful sights that I’ve mentioned before.
You’ll probably need a hotel room for a night or two. These are a few great hotels in Taipei:
- Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport (5⭐) – this airport hotel is the best place to stay if you have a late arrival or an early departure.
- Hotel Resonance Taipei, Tapestry Collection by Hilton (4⭐) – great hotel with a unique design in a very nice neighborhood.
- Hanns House (5⭐) – if you want to treat yourself to a luxury hotel and want to stay close to Taipei 101, this is the place to be.
Check Booking.com for more options, availability, and prices.
These were all my tips for a stopover and a layover in Taipei! What’s the most fun city you’ve ever had a layover in?
Would you like to read more about Taipei?
If you’re interested in getting the most out of your layover in Taipei, get one of these guidebooks:
Lonely Planet Pocket Taipei (Pocket Guide)
Insight Guides City Guide Taipei (Travel Guide with Free eBook)
And if you liked reading this article, you might like to read these as well:
- How to survive jet lag? 14 tips!
- Tips for a layover in Hong Kong
- Traveling in bad weather: 13 tips on how to deal with it
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This article was published in February 2018. Last update with the latest information and more useful tips: February 2023.
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