This may come as a surprise for some, as the National Museum of Marine Biology (or “Kenting Aquarium”) in Kenting National Park is much larger and has long been considered the best.
I visited both in 2023 and concluded that Xpark offers more bang for your buck, newer and better facilities (the one in Kenting is huge but much of it is closed, outdated, or just filler space), plus Xpark is just much easier to get to.
Some highlights of Xpark for me were the huge main tank, jellyfish room, seals, watching penguins get fed, and touching sea creatures in the hands-on section.
Welcome to Xpark
Xpark opened to the public in August 2020, in the midst of the COVID pandemic. It’s a joint venture between a Japanese company that operates an aquarium in Japan and a Taiwanese insurance company.
Although the concrete jungle of Zhongli district in Taoyuan city may seem like an unlikely location for an aquarium, it is nevertheless super convenient to reach for visitors from Taipei or other parts of Taiwan.
Rather than try to teach visitors a lot, like other marine institutions in Taiwan tend to do, Xpark is all about wowing and inspiring visitors. You’ll find more opportunities here for fun photographs and the displays are more visually stunning.
Xpark has 13 exhibition halls in total spread over three floors. A normal visit takes a couple hours. There are also animal shows in a small outdoor theater towards the end (try to time it right if you want to catch a performance), a small café, and an excellent gift shop.
Learn about Taiwan’s other amusement parks and aquariums here.
Xpark is super conveniently located near Taoyuan HSR station and Airport MRT station. This makes it ideal for visiting right after landing in Taiwan, on the way to the airport just before leaving Taiwan, during a Taiwan layover, or as a short stop when traveling from Taipei to any other city on the High Speed Rail.
If you’re coming from Taoyuan International Airport, ride the Airport MRT 20 minutes to Taoyuan HSR station. Put your luggage in a luggage storage locker in the station (read how to use these luggage lockers here) and proceed to exit 2 for Xpark (exit 1 goes to the HSR station).
Coming from Taipei, ride the High Speed Rail two stops to Taoyuan HSR station. Taoyuan HSR and Airport MRT stations are connected, with the Airport MRT station being just slightly closer to Xpark.
From either station, it’s an 8 to 10-minute walk to Xpark. You’ll have to walk through the outdoor area of Gloria Outlets, a large outlet mall. Xpark is on the second floor of Landmark Plaza department store.
I suggest taking one of the escalators to the second floor of Gloria Outlets. Then you can access a tunnel crossing the road, connecting the second floor of Gloria Outlets to the second floor of Landmark Plaza, where the entrance to Xpark is located.
I recommend buying your tickets online in advance for faster entry, especially on weekends.
Sleeping at Xpark
Believe it or not, you can actually sleep inside Xpark while gazing at the huge aquarium tank! The Xpark sleepover experience is opeated by Hotel Cozzi Blu.
What to Expect on Your Visit
What I’ll describe below is the main route through the aquarium recommended on the above map, which you can get for free at Xpark.
While you don’t necessary have to follow this route, I did find I got a little disoriented after I decided to make my own route through the aquarium. There are elevators and escalators between the floors so it is accessible for strollers and wheelchairs.
While visiting, you’ll notice QR codes on some displays. You can scan these with your phone to open up videos and kid-friendly activities related to the displays.
Your visit to Xpark will start with a bang as you come face to face with the enormous water tank in the Formosa section.
The tank stands 9 meters tall and contains a staggering 1 million liters (1000 metric tons) of water and 10,000 fishes. These include huge rays, hammerhead sharks, and a Japanese bullhead shark, which can normally only be found in Japan’s waters.
While Xpark’s tank is not quite as large or impressive as the one I saw at Osaka Aquarium in Japan (which has whale sharks), it is still very impressive nonetheless and definitely the best one in Taiwan.
Don’t hesitate to spend some time here to marvel at the graceful creatures gliding past. But keep in mind that you’ll still get one more chance to see the tank, but from a higher level.
Next, you’ll proceed to the third floor. There you’ll find a 180° degree concave tank filled with a kaleidoscope of vibrantly colored corals in the Diving in the Coral Sea area.
If you stand right in the middle, you’ll feel like the tank wraps around you. Coral designs are also shone onto the floor, making you feel like you’re a immersed in the setting.
There’s also a section of Deep Sea Creatures, a Tropical Rainforest room, a multimedia interactive room, and a Temperate Zone where you can reach into shallow tanks and touch sea stars, hermit crabs, and sea cucumbers. There are reptiles and amphibians, too.
Last but not least, this floor has a Freezing Zone, where playful seals swim around or take a snooze in plain view.
From there, stairs descent to a different section of the second floor for one of the aquarium’s top highlights, called Jellyfish Healing. This is a room of glass structures filled with jellyfish. Soothing music accompanies the changing colorful lights.
This room was my personal favorite at Xpark. It is incredibly calming, artistic, and photogenic all at once.
Shortly after the Jellyfish Healing room, there are more displays of various types of jellyfish and octopus – always mesmerizing creatures to observe.
Don’t miss the vials of tiny baby jellyfish, so small you almost can’t see them!
This part of the second floor contains another highlight, the Penguin Room. If you’re as lucky as I was you’ll get to watch the staff feeding the penguins.
There’s also a spot where you can look down on the aquarium’s large main tank from the second floor.
The final stretch involves a return to the first floor, where a Live Animal Performance takes place in a small outdoor theater. The performance begins daily at 11:00, 1:00, 3:00, and 5:00 (plus an additional 6:20 show on Saturdays only).
Although I didn’t stick around for it, the show features capybaras (here are others places with capybaras in Taiwan), seals, goats, parrots, and more. Visitors with kids won’t want to miss it.
Right after that, you’ll reach the café, where tubes of water allow penguins to swim right through the Xcafé area.
You may have to be lucky to actually see this happening, though – none were swimming through when I passed by. (The above and below images are not mine but used with license.)
Finally, you’ll exit (of course) via the Gift Shop. I must say that there were some pretty great souvenirs on offer here, including super squeezable stuffies, animal-related toys, snacks, and more.
When you exit from Xpark, you may be a little disoriented, as the exit is on the first floor of the mall (as opposed to the entrance on the second floor).
Take the nearest elevator back up to the second floor to find the tunnel back to Gloria Outlets and the Airport MRT/HSR station.
Dining and Other Things to Do around Xpark
Visitors with young children may also want to include a visit to Chiao-Hu Wonderland, an indoor playcenter on the 1st floor of Landmark Plaza (very close to where you’ll exit from Xpark).
Chia-Hu Wonderland has a ball room, sand pit, themed play areas, and a marine theme to match Xpark. Chiao-Hu is the Barney or Big Bird of Taiwan – my kids liked Chia-Hu when they were very young.
There’s also a Snoopy Playcenter in Gloria Outlets.
Another cool attraction close to the Airport MRT and HSR station is the Taiwan High Speed Rail Museum. However, I was very disappointed when I couldn’t enter – you need to make an online booking before going. You can use GoogleMaps to fill in the form, but you’ll need to input a local number – see my guide to getting a SIM card for Taiwan.
Zhongli Night Market, one of the best night markets in Taiwan, is a 15-minute drive from Xpark.