Review: Northbound Hop – International Terminal Kaohsiung International Airport

Introduction
KA 432 HKG – KHH 333 Y
Ferry Ride Cijin Scenic Area to Gushan Ferry Pier
Toong Mao Evergreen Hotel Kaohsiung
Exploring Kaohsiung
Jinzuan Night Markets
Exploring Tainan
Toong Mao Kao Shang Ching Hotel Kenting
Exploring Pingtung County
Kenting Street Night Markets
International Terminal Kaohsiung International Airport
KA 437 KHH – HKG 333 Y

Don’t you sometimes land in an airport with low expectations of the airport aesthetically and fly out of it (or leave it, if you’re flying out of a nearby one) impressed? This is exactly what happened here at Kaohsiung Airport.

We landed at gate 22, and stepped out. The arrivals hall is modest enough, with hardwood floors (at least until immigration).

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International Terminal Kaohsiung International Airport Arrivals Hall Pre-Immigration

We passed immigration, which was friendly (the Taiwanese immigration officers aren’t that strict on asking questions). The arrivals hall was damn impressive for a regional airport which only takes two or three A330s a day from the same airline.

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International Terminal Kaohsiung International Airport Arrivals Hall Baggage Claim

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International Terminal Kaohsiung International Airport Arrivals Hall Statues

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International Terminal Kaohsiung International Airport Arrivals Hall

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International Terminal Kaohsiung International Airport Arrivals Hall

The only downside to the Arrivals Hall is that some things I have no idea why they put there.

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What the…?

After five days exploring South Taiwan (which was fun and I’ve already reviewed all of the spots we visited), we drove into the airport. I mean, we drove into the airport carpark. Was this the airport? I doubted that.

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This? The airport?

Apparently it was Jing Yuan Leisure Farm, a farm/restaurant overlooking the airport, and it was one of the most pleasant experiences of my five days in Taiwan (well, except for the fact that taking off A330s aren’t the quietest thing in the world).

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Jing Yuan Leisure Farm

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Jing Yuan Leisure Farm

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Jing Yuan Leisure Farm

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Jing Yuan Leisure Farm

Admittedly I’m trying to review the airport and not a restaurant next to it, but…

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Dragonair A330 from Jing Yuan Leisure Farm

I mean, the cool thing isn’t that the restaurant is next to the airport, it’s that the lowest level seats are less than ten meters from the runway. Planes taking off are a little noisy, so I chose to sit a little further from the runway, so I could take good pictures of planes landing/taking off while not being blasted by 100db sounds.

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Restaurant Viewing Area

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Dragonair A330 (KA 433) taxiing

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Mandarin Airlines 737-800

We even had a view of the military jet terminal. However as a commercial airplane enthusiast that didn’t really interest me.

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Military jet terminal

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Brunch with a view!

But the literally most stunning part of the experience was watching KA 433 (the Dragonair A330) take off.

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 (KA 433) taking off

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 taking off

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Embraer 190 (I forgot the airline)

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Views of the tarmac

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Military jet taking off

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EVA Air A321

However the views sometimes got a little boring, since Kaohsiung Airport doesn’t have a lot of traffic. For about twenty to thirty minutes there was not much traffic and I focused on my lunch, which tasted pretty good (though I think I was the only one who didn’t get diarrhoea  after the meal).

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Quiet airport

We drove over to the airport terminal, which is on the other side of the tarmac from Jing Yuan Leisure Farm. The drive was about five minutes.

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Drive to the airport

The airport itself is not stunning but not stuffy either. It reminded me of Auckland Airport.

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Bad picture of check in area

After we got past immigration, though, I wondered if the hallways to the gate were part of the airport. It reminded me of Singapore Changi.

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Airside Airport Kaohsiung

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Airside Airport Kaohsiung

The airport itself is extremely practical, with lots of high end duty free shopping.

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Walking past gates

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Walking past gates

Soon enough KA 437 was assigned gate 22, and at the same time a 45 minute delay was announced. As I wanted to roam the terminal, that was good news for me.

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Garden Kaohsiung Airport International Terminal

The Dragonair Lounge was not for me (I don’t have status and we were in economy), but the door was glass so I could peek in. This is kind of bad privacy for people inside the lounge, but great news for others.

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Dragonair Lounge Kaohsiung International Airport Terminal

The flight was delayed another fifteen minutes, as KA 436 was delayed for quite a long time back in Hong Kong International Airport. The views of the tarmac were not as good in the airport, but still it was nice to close up on aircraft.

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Views of the tarmac

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EVA Air A321

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China Airlines 737 and Spring Airlines A320

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Cloudy Day

Hong Kong Airport has prayer rooms for most religions, I think in the same room. Kaohsiung Airport has a room for each religion. Check this out:

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Muslim prayer room

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Muslim prayer room

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Christian prayer room

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Christian prayer room

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Christian prayer room

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Christian prayer room

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Buddhist prayer room

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Buddhist prayer room

As a Christian I sat on a bench and prayed that we would get to Hong Kong safe.

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Kaohsiung Airport gate hallways

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Kaohsiung Airport gate common areas

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Our empty gate

My phone was running out of battery, so I decided to charge it. You know how Hong Kong Airport has a charging station where you can charge your phone and look after it? Kaohsiung Airport has lockers where you can put your phone, and each locker has a charger so you can connect your phone. There is a key that you can pull out when you put your phone in the locker (after locking the locker of course) and you can keep it charging until you need to leave. The lockers provide chargers for all different kinds of phones, and both iPhone 5 chargers and iPhone 4 chargers are included. I mean, this is so practical, I don’t understand why other airports don’t do this. I didn’t take a picture of the area though.

Soon enough our A330 taxied in. I don’t know how the airport is laid out, and I’m not sure how the jet bridge leads to the arrivals or departures area.

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Dragonair Airbus A330 – today’s flight

Meanwhile we were given (unlimited) free cheese pretzels in packages for the delay.

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Cheese pretzel cart Dragonair Flight 437

The windows facing the tarmac from the gate are curved. It says “no leaning”, but people ignored it…

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 (our bird for today)

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Kaohsiung International Airport Hallways

After the delay, the flight was scheduled to leave at 16:10. However it was 16:00 already when boarding was called.

Overall this is a great airport. I love how it was laid out, and it’s practical without being cluttered. This definitely ranks on the list of one of my favourite airports (well, Changi Airport does too). Of course, I wouldn’t go somewhere because of a great airport, but a great city (Kaohsiung and Tainan, and some Pingtung townships) and a great, practical airport makes Southern Taiwan a place I’m itching to revisit.

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