Want to see Taipei from the sky? Check out the Maokong Gondola on the outskirts of Taipei in Taiwan. Andrew and I were both a little excited about finally getting to experience the Gondolas. If it's windy they close the gondola. Before the day we went it had been closed a lot.
The MRT station closest to the gondolas is Taipei Zoo. Before you head all the way out to the Taipei Zoo MRT Station check the Taipei Metro's Messaging System on the TV screens at most of the stations.
If the Maokong Gondola is not running, a message something like "Maokong Gondola is not running due to strong winds" will be running across the bottom of the screen.
Generally speaking, unless there is a typhoon or a storm passing through Taiwan, the gondola will only be shut for a few hours at a time. You can also check if the gondolas are running by looking at the "Operation Bulletin" section on the Taipei Maokong Gondola website.
To get to the Maokong Gondolas, catch the Zhonghe Line (brown line) all the way out to the last stop. Enjoy the ride as you head through the city of Taipei and into the countryside. The final stop will be the Taipei Zoo. We didn't head to the zoo this time in Taipei. That will have to wait until next time.
Once you get off the train, follow the signs to the Maokong Gondola. If you are hungry or thirsty, there are a few drink and snack stalls along the walkway as well as a couple of well-known fast food restaurants.
Inside the Maokong Gondola Station, you can find a couple of snack stalls, very clean toilets (important) and a charging station for your laptop and mobile phones. Oh and free wifi! How awesome is that!
Follow the crowd and line up in one of two lines. The first line, which is faster moving, is for a normal gondola with glass walls and metal floor. The second line is for an all glass gondola, known as a Crystal Cabin. These allow you to see through the floor as well. There is definitely a longer wait for the all glass gondolas. If you have nowhere else to be, grab one of those as they do enhance the experience.
The cost to ride the Maokong Gondola is very reasonable. For NTD $50 you can ride over 4km above the gorgeous countryside and zoo. There are other station stops on the Gondola at various exits of the zoo. If you have plenty of time you could check out the zoo and the gondola in a single day.
Paying for the Maokong Gondola is easiest done with an EasyCard, the some one you use on the MRT. If you don't have enough cash on it, the staff will help you top up your card. It's also possible to pay with cash if you don't have an EasyCard.
Jump on board your gondola which you may have to share depending on how busy they are. Then just sit back and enjoy the ride all the way to the top of the mountain where you can enjoy some very tasty traditional local tea. Check out our video below about the Maokong Gondola and Traditional Tea Tasting.
Once you get up to the last gondola stop, jump off and check out the countryside and views of Taipei. It is like a different world up on top of that mountain. There are funky cafes scattered amongst traditional tea houses and farms. Farmers will drive by on their tractors while locals and tourists sit back and enjoy a delicious fresh tea beverage and a spot of cards. We ordered a Taiwanese Tea Tasting Set in our really bad Mandarin and sat back and enjoyed the view. The tea tasting certainly wasn't cheap. From memory it was about NTD $500 in total. That included unlimited tea, hot water and a bag of locally grown tea to take home with us. We ended up leaving the tea with our friends in Taipei.
We really enjoyed our little outing on the Maokong Gondolas in Taipei. Give yourself a full day if you are wanting to visit the Taipei Zoo as well. If not, this excursion will take half a day including transport to and from the Zoo MRT station. For reference, the Maokong Gondola is open: Tuesday to Thursday from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm Friday and the day before a public holiday: 09:00 am to 10:00 pm Weekends and National Holidays: 08:30 am to 10:00 pm (09:00 pm on Sunday and the last day of a National Holiday) The cost of the Maokong Gondola is: Full-Fare One-Way Ticket: one station: NTD $30, two stations NTD $40, three stations NTD $50 Discount-Fare One Way Ticket: one station: NTD $15, two stations NTD $20, three stations NTD $25 More information and awesome travel planning ideas which include hiking, can be found at their website: http://gondola.trtc.com.tw/eng/ The next time we are back in Taipei, we will certainly head back to the Maokong Gondola to experience the view in the evening. Totally recommended!