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SPOTTING IN THE HEART OF TAIPEI

Updated: Dec 8, 2022



Taipei, a vibrant city filled with culture, delicious food, street snacks, amazing shopping and an equally amazing, warm and friendly people. For the avid aviation photographer, it offers some pretty easily accessible locations for beginners and pros alike. Located within Taipei city is Songshan Airport (IATA: TSA, ICAO: RCSS), a smaller airport in comparison to Taoyuan International Airport, but due to its location within Taipei City, is easier to get to if you do not drive or if you prefer to do some simple spotting while staying within the city. Another key highlight of Songshan is that unique photo you can get of a plane with the famous Taipei 101 in the background, which I feel is a must-have for all fellow aviation lovers whom visit Taiwan.

Songshan has only a single runway, which caters to both international and domestic flights for most Taiwanese carriers and other International airlines, mainly from Japan and China. Some of the big airlines that operate to and from TSA are EVA Air, China Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, and China Eastern Airlines, just to name a few. 

There are currently 3 accessible spots I'd like to mention here for the avid photographer. A 4th location is pinned on the map, but sadly it was recently reported closed off.


1) Bingjiang Street, Lane 188 (飛機巷)

2) TSA Viewing Deck

3) Bingjiang Market 濱江果菜市場

4) Air Force 1 Cafe 空軍一號 Coffee (Closed, 2021)


 

1) Bingjiang Street, Lane 188 (飛機巷)

I consider this location the St Maarten's doppledanger in Asia. Similar to its counterpart in the Caribbean, this spot allows photographers to get pretty close to aircraft landing and taking off at Songshan Airport. You'll need to change between your 70-200mm and a 24-70mm if possible, as you'll need to use a wider angle lens once the planes are almost overhead. Things to note, the police do patrol the area once in a while. As long as you do not move to the other side of the road (on the side of the Airport fence) you will be fine. A lot of Taiwanese spotters can be seen there during the weekends, as well as families and new couples whom come by to experience these planes close up. Getting to this location is relative simple, though its still quite a distance to walk (roughly 20mins) from the nearest train station, which in this case is ZhongShan Junior High School Station. It is quite easy to take a taxi from here, and taxi services in Taipei are considerably cheaper than Singapore.



2) TSA Viewing Deck

Pretty Straight forward. The Viewing Deck offers you a sheltered location to view aircraft on the apron and taking off / landing on the runway. Take note, in order to capture planes on the runway, you'll need a long lens, 200mm or more. Also, glass is tinted so be ready to do some colour adjustments in post. 



3) Bingjiang Market

Located opposite Bingjiang Street Lane 188 is a fruit & vegetable market complex. On the top floor of the building is an open air carpark, another favourite spot for the local taiwanese spotters to visit. Entry into the building is not restricted, though its bit confusing to get to the top floor for any first timers. My first time there, I actually climbed all the way from the first floor to the top ( 5th Storey ) using the staircase, which is not too tiring. The view from up top is amazing, offering photographers and spotters a chance to capture airplanes approaching Songshan Airport, and in the background, the iconic Grand Hotel Taipei ! Also, it offers a nice angle to see planes lining up for take off at the airport runway. Check out the images below for some shots from Location 3.


4)空軍一號 Coffee (LOCATION CLOSED, 2021)

My latest spot for plane photography. It was quite a long distance to any of the nearest train stations, so I had to take a taxi on all 3 occasions. The staff there are warm and friendly, suggest you buy a cup of coffee before using their viewing platform :) You could get very nice rotating shots of heavier aircraft departing and landing, lighter aircraft would rotate much earlier on hence at this location they would appear a little high. Another amazing shot you have to take here is when a plane taxis across the tarmac with Taipei 101 in the background. This could be considered one of the most iconic scenes and angles of Taipei city. On the viewing deck, ladders were provided for guests so you could take pics clear of the wall / fencing of the airport. Recently, the cafe was forced to close by the local government due to security concerns as the cafe has a direct line of sight into a hanger facility used by military and government assets.



With that said, I hope this was helpful to some beginners or newbies who are looking for some nice places to spot while they visit Taipei. The city itself has alot of offer, and if you have the time, do venture beyond to Taoyuan Airport as well. Enjoy


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