Thursday, September 1, 2011

High On the Maokong Gondola 貓空纜車

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Maokong Gondola Station 
Finally, I've taken a ride on Taiwan's Maokong Gondola! And it isn't anything like the gondolas of Venice!
The Maokong Gondola is  actually a 4.03 kilometer long cable car ride that provides a spectacular view of the Maokong area scenery and the city of Taipei from an elevation of  almost 300 meters. I missed an opportunity to ride this gondola during my first trip to Taipei because it was closed for repairs. Fortunately, in 2010, the Maokong Gondola resumed its operations and quickly became a major tourist attraction in Taiwan. In fact, last August 20, 2011, the Taipei Rapid Transit Corp reported that the Maokong Gondola has passed the 10 million passengers' mark.

Free pencils for everyone in celebration of the 10 Million Passenger milestone.
The Maokong Gondola has 2 kinds of cabin: The Regular Cabin and the Eyes of the Gondola Crystal Cabin. Unlike the Regular Cabin, the Eyes of the Gondola is a cable car compartment with a glass bottom that allows one to look down the scenery. Also, a Crystal Cabin has a maximum capacity of 5 riders while a  Regular Cabin can accommodate a maximum of 8.  I wanted to try the Crystal Cabin but I have some companions who're afraid of heights. We agreed to buy tickets for a Regular Cabin instead. 
At the platform area
Passengers can buy a ticket from the Ticket Booth or use their EasyCard (same card used for riding the Taipei MRT) to be able to ride on the gondola. A single journey ticket to Maokong costs $50. After getting our tickets, we  went to the entrance, climbed up the steps, then headed to the concourse area where the staff collected our tickets. Afterwards, we entered the platform area and waited for the staff to usher us in one of the gondolas. 

I felt my heart leap with excitement soon as I stepped inside the gondola. It shook a bit as my other companions entered the cabin. One expressed concern if it was safe. I smiled and told my companions that we should just enjoy the ride.

Slowly, the gondola circled out of the platform. It was initially a shaky ride. It made some blag-blag-blag sounds that added to the discomfort of my already frightened companions. I was just smiling the whole time. Finally, it made a smooth ascent and it was like "Wow!"  I felt like being suspended on air while enjoying a lot of breathtaking sights. (Check out this video.)

Later on, I felt like I was riding a roller coaster because there were some really steep descents.  In between the trip to Maokong Station are 2 stops where passengers can get off: One for those who wish to go to Taipei Zoo (Taipei Zoo South Station) and another one for those who wish to go to the Zhinan Temple (Zhinan Temple Station). Those stations also provide relief from the heat as the cabin doors open briefly to allow the air to come in.

From the Taipei Zoo Station, we reached Maokong Station in less than 30 minutes. Once we're out of the station, we took some time to walk around and enjoy the sights. Here is a photo of one of my Taiwanese friends explaining what are the things that visitors can do at Maokong:
Have tea, go hiking, or visit a temple when you're in Maokong.
Because we have an appointment for lunch, we decided to skip those activities and took another gondola back to the city. A bus ride would have taken us about 30 minutes to an hour. The return trip was quite interesting because we decided to switch seats so that we can enjoy a different view.  Also, by that time, my acrophobic companions seem to have conquered their fear and were less panicky.  

Notice the cute animal designs on the gondolas?
Now if I were to ride on the Maokong Gondola again, I would:
  1. Definitely come again on a weekday rather than a weekend. 
  2. Use the EasyCard rather than buy a ticket to avoid the long queue. 
  3. Pick the Eyes of the Gondola over the Regular Cabin.
  4. Ride with someone who is not afraid of heights!
  5. Take a late afternoon ride to Maokong rather than a morning ride so that I won't have to worry about the heat. 
  6. Find out how tea is made at the Taipei Tea Promotion Center in Maokong. 
  7. Enjoy a cup of tea at any of the tea houses in Maokong. 
  8. Take a return trip in the evening to enjoy a night view of Taipei.
Riding on the Maokong Gondola definitely gave me a high!  I recommend this to anyone who plans to visit Taipei and who's not afraid of heights. (Click here for more photos.)

Getting There:
From Taipei City,  take the Wenhu line of the Taipei Metro and get off at the Taipei Zoo Station. From the Taipei Zoo Station, walk towards the Maokong Gondola Station. You'll pass by a McDonald's restaurant and some pet grooming shops. It'll take you around 5 minutes to reach the Maokong Gondola Station. 

You might also be interested to see:  Taipei Confucius Temple.



  1. So glad you enjoyed this! Definitely go back and enjoy the tea at one of the houses. When we did so, we were given a whole introduction / demonstration of a full tea preparation ceremony, with multiple glasses involved in serving a small cup of tea. And we got to take home all the extra tea from our pack! Was a great time!

  2. @Brett: I've got you guys to thank for recommending this! I'll definitely visit one of those tea houses when I get an opportunity to return to Taiwan. :-)


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