3 Hour Day Trip – MaoKong(貓空) Gondolas in Taipei

Maokong sits high in the mountains on the outskirts of Taipei. Known for its terrific night time views and the numerous tea restaurants/plantations, Maokong has quickly become a nice destination that attracts both local and international tourists. While Maokong’s use to be the top tea producing area in Taiwan, it has since been surpassed by other regions within the country. None the less, Maokong is still a fantastic place to bring a date, take in the scenic views of Taipei and chill out on some quaint tea restaurants.

The scenic ride through the mountains via the Maokong gondolas.

The scenic ride through the mountains via the Maokong gondolas. You can see Taipei 101 in the background throughout the majority of the ride.

If you have half a day to kill in Taipei, then Maokong is definitely some place I would highly recommend visiting. If you are short on time, then you can forgo it without missing too much. In fact, if all you want is a great view of the Taipei skyline, Elephant hill might be a better option given it’s proximity to Taipei’s city center. But, realistically, a good three hours is all you need.

Supposedly a lot of locals enjoy taking the trip up to Maokong

Tell me about the Gondola Ride
The ride itself is really steady and there’s not too much action going on. It’s a good chance to sit back, relax and work off that hangover from your previous night at Luxy. If you are riding from the Taipei Zoo(base of the mountain) station to Maokong(top of the mountain) station, 50 NT($1.67 USD) will cover you for the round trip trek.  For an entirely different experience, there is the option of taking a gondola with a glass bottom.

taipei_maokong_glassbottom

Ignoring the hairy legs. The glass bottom gondolas are pretty cool and gives you a different perspective.

How to Get There

There’s a couple of different ways to get to Maokong. You have the choice of riding the fantastic metro system known as the MRT, the (somewhat) scary public buses, or simply hailing a cab.

From the MRT, you will need to take the brown line all the way to the end station which is Taipei Zoo. Once you exit the station, it’s a slight walk to the Maokong Gondolas. The easiest way is to simply follow the clearly marked signs when you exit the Taipei Zoo station.

maoking_gondola

You cut through trees and mountain ranges.

Things to Do

Once you get to the end of the line, you have plenty of food choices. From eating some regional Taiwanese favorites such as sausages, stinky tofu and an assortment of drinks, you have to try really hard to starve. Once you exit the station, make an immediate left on main road(Zh Nan Road) and walk along it. You’ll find a couple of restaurants that serve very distinctive tea based food. One of the times I came here I had some tea-based ice cream bars that proved to be an excellent choice during the hot humid weather.

Sausages at the top of Maokong Gondola.

Sausages at the top of Maokong Gondola.

The Maokong Station at the top.

The Maokong Station at the top.

Taipei Zoo station to get on the gondola.

Taipei Zoo station to get on the gondola.

Verdict

I’ve been to Maokong a few times and I keep coming back. Overall, the gondolas are a great experience, especially if you have a couple hours to burn. While I can’t say there’s a tremendous amount of things to do at the top, the ride through the mountain tops and the wide views of the Taipei skyline makes it pretty interesting. The last time I went to Maokong was on a Friday afternoon where there were significantly less tourists than on the weekends. Therefore, I highly recommend going during a time where most can’t make it. If you want to take a gondola car with the glass bottom, be prepared to wait a bit as there will be few cars for a lot of people.

taipei_maokong_stationmap

Taipei Government Maokong Gondola Site – http://gondola.trtc.com.tw/mp.asp?mp=122034

Wikipedia Maokong Gondola – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maokong_Gondola

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